Introduction: How to Make PCBs Using Modela MDX-20

This instructable will demonstrate the Modela MDX-20 and how it can be used to fabricate (Printed Circuit Boards) PCBs. After designing your circuit and extracted your final board file (.brd). Follow this instructable to make your own PCB.

Step 1: Safety Precautions

  • Make a note of where the fire extinguisher is before using the machine.
  • Never leave the machine unattended to during operation. If the mill will take too long to complete then make sure to observe the first few mill paths to ensure nothing goes wrong later on.
  • Keep your work area clean. Remove any wax, plastic, copper, boards, samples or debris in and around the machine. You can use a vacuum under a supervision from a facilitator.
  • Do not remove any parts from the machine. If something breaks, jams or fails to function, contact the lab supervisor immediately.
  • Do not open the plastic lid during operation of the Modela Machine, Nor touch any part of the Modela while in operation especially the drill bit since it could cause serious injuries.
  • Make sure of the connection of the power and USB\Parallel port cables.

Step 2: Machine Startup

  • Make sure the 19 Volt adapter is connected to the power jack at the back of the Modela.
  • The machine can be turned on using the ON/OFF switch at the front control panel of the machine.

Step 3: Control Panel

  • You can press the view button in the middle of a mill to view the progress.
  • The up and down buttons control the bits position in the z-axis. Hold the button to permit motion.

Step 4: Platform Setup

  1. Select an appropriate board to start your circuit on.
  2. Place a double sided tape on across the bottom of the PCB.
  3. Place the PCB on the Modela’s platform and make sure that the tape restricts its motion.
  4. Place the two black acrylic pieces on the side of the platform on the board to help disabling motion completely during the mill.

Step 5: Modela – Drill Bit Settings

  1. For milling, use the 1/64th bit.
  2. For drilling the holes and cutting the edges of the board, use the 1/32nd bit.
  3. The job will be paused after milling or drilling is finished, changing the bit can be done at this moment.

Step 6: Nodela Desktop – Software Settings

Special thanks to Mosab Wadea for helping make the browser interface easier to access. Check his github scripts here, and the steps of how to install it. After installing it, follow these steps:

  1. Run Nodela.bat or type “node nodela.js” on cmd prompt.
  2. Drag the board file “.brd” to the area allocated for the circuit on the nodela web app.
  3. You can select the appropriate step size then click the arrows to move the drill bit in the desired direction.
  4. You can select the appropriate step size then click the arrows to move the drill bit in the desired direction.
  5. After you drag the “.brd” file into the Nodela, you will get a screen as shown in the figure.
  6. Make sure that you set the same settings as shown then click on run job to start the milling process.
  7. After the milling process is done, change the bit and change the settings as shown in the figure, then click run job.
  8. After the drilling process is over, click on the mill out button and start cutting the pcb by clicking the run job button.

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