By: Jeff Davis

 

My first step was to find sources of affordable stepper motors and controllers. I wanted to know how much this new hobby would cost me. After the first day of searching the NET and finding people selling CNC kits, parts, and complete systems, I had a good idea of what I wanted and what price I was willing to pay.

I made a list of parts that I would need to control a 3 axis mill:

1) A Computer (PC)

2) A G-code Interpreter (Step and Direction Software)

3) 3-Axis Stepper Controller (Bipolar or Unipolar)

4) Stepper Motor (one for each axis)

5) Milling machine or Router (something to control)

I found a site that sold a complete 3 Axis unipolar kit for a good price. This kit was a 3-Axis controller and 3 small stepper motors. It was from a site call Stepperworld.com. Pictures are below.

This controller and these motors are too small to do any real work, but the learning experience I got from them made it worth it. The next thing I needed was the G-code interpreter software. This software will convert G-code to step and direction signals that the controller board will recognize. I made my choice to get "CNC-Pro" from Yeager Automation. This software will aid in the learning process for this first step. I can also use it for the finished goal of my CNC project.

Since I had an old laptop computer already I figured I could use it for this first step. After I had the first four items from the list above, I could play with the motors, making them move clockwise and counter-clockwise. I could change the speed from very slow to as fast as they would go. The first thing I noticed was the motors were pretty strong as slow speeds (I could not stop them by hand). When I would increase their speed they would get weak (I could stop the motors with my fingers). I learned that this is a problem with stepper motors. This would mean that if I wanted to use these motors I would need to keep the speed down so the strength would stay high.

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