CNC DIY Notes!

Last update: May 29, 2003

This is a page of information and links to help people with CNC problems. On the surface, CNC sounds fairly easy. Buy or build a CNC machine, design something, and run the design on the machine - easy right?

In reality there are many snags that can easily overwhelm, or just tick you off. With any luck, some of the hints and tips I have found will help you out.

If you have any info that you feel others would benefit, please drop me a line. I will certainly give credit where credit is due!

Scanning in Corel and converting to vector. This is a great article located at TorchMate

Cool Book The CNC Workshop available from Torcom ISBN # 0-201-33145-4 This book is recommended from Tom Carr a machinist friend of mine. It comes with a multimedia CD. It apparently is out of stock at, and there are some negative comments on it.

Making your own PCB's While the best way to manufacture Printed Circuit Boards (in my opinion) is to design the layout in a CAD package of your choice, and send it to a professional prototyping house. This however is costly for "one of's". Alternatives are using photo-resist (next best, but expensive), toner transfer (good but messy with acids) (good artical here), or drawn on/rubbed on resists (messy again). A fast, fairly easy alternative to using acids are mechanical etching using a small engraving cutter. If you use an engraving cutter, I am told that 6" per minute and dremel on medium is the way to go. Check out this document for more details.

Using computer power supplies for CNC is one of the most cost effective ways to power up your steppers. Try to find a used power supply at your local computer store that has a high current +12VDC output (4-6Amps). Make sure you have more current capability than the TOTAL of ALL the steppers requires (for example if the stepper is 1.5A, and there are three of them you should have a supply that is capable of supplying MORE than 4.5A). Once you get your supply, I would recommend purchasing a large 10,000uF or larger capacitor and tie it across the +12VDC output. This will help the regulation of the supply, since these supplies are primarily +5V supplies. Remember, if your supply is not working well, neither will your machine!

Load your +5V John Klienbaur has discovered that if you do not have enough load on your +5V line, you will have a lower +12V output than you expect. Tie a load resistor across the +5VDC line while monitoring the +12VDC with a voltmeter. Check John's site for more details.

That's all Folks!