Marc Boon, Feb 2008
The goal is to fabricate a single-sided, through-hole printed circuit board (PCB) using the Fab Lab's milling machine: the Roland Modela MDX-20. There are already several published methods to accomplish this, but I developed a workflow that requires less steps to follow, and less software packages to install.
A main objective is to create a workflow that uses free and/or open-source software and will run on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
The only software tool I use is the freeware version of the Eagle Layout Editor, a software package for designing electronic circuit schematics and printed circuit board layouts. The freeware version is limited to non-commercial use and to maximum board dimensions of 100x80 mm. The output files of Eagle can directly drive the Roland Modela milling machine.
For a short introduction, watch the 3 minute video of my Fab Lab workshop.
Depending on your platform, the following software has to be installed on your computer:
Eagle 4.16r2 for Windows
Mac OS-X (10.3 or higher):
X11 update for OS-X (might already be installed)
Eagle 4.16r2 for Mac OS-X X11
Eagle 4.16r2 for Linux
As an example project, I use the Micro Silent TV circuit by Tetsuo Kogawa. This is a very simple TV transmitter circuit which will broadcast a composite video signal in the VHF band. Using this circuit, the composite video signal from a camcorder or from the TV-out socket of a pc can be received on a nearby (max. 10m distance) portable TV equipped with an antenna.
Tetsuo Kogawa developed a very simple and effective way to build this or any other circuit, without the need for computers, software or a Fab Lab, but for those of you insisting on using the Fab Lab, follow these steps:
Using Eagle for schematic entry and pcb layout, with design rules for milling with the Fab Lab.
Defining the contours of pcb traces and holes to be milled and drilled.
Using Eagle's CAM Processor to generate output files for the Roland Modela milling machine.
Sending the files to the milling machine, which will fabricate the boards.
Soldering components to the board, hooking up a video source and start broadcasting!