Introduction: Arduino Mini CNC Plotter Machine From Dvd Drives

Picture of Arduino Mini CNC Plotter Machine From Dvd Drives

In this project I will show you how to easily build your own low-cost Arduino Mini CNC Plotter!

This project is an update from my previous cnc, with better construction and with more accuracy.

I decided to make this detailed guide to help you make it on a few easy steps.

Small description:

For the X and Y axes we will use two stepper motors and rails from dvd/cd drives and for the Z axis we will use a small servo motor that moves the pen up and down. For the mounting base we will use a small piece of plexiglass.

You can easily attach a pen (or pencil) - irrespective of its thickness - on it. I tried to use an extension of cutting tool (e.g.Dremel) to engrave materials with no success. So this mini cnc can only be used as a small plotter and not as an engraver machine.

The Arduino-based circuit is using the ATmega328 microcontroller, two L293 motor driver ICs and an usb to serial module. You can easily make it with the Arduino uno board and an breadboard.

You can also use an Bluetooth module (e.g. HC-06) to print your texts (or images) wirelessly through your computer Bluetooth connection! Pretty cool huh?

Q & A and updates here:

More cool Arduino projects can be found here:

Watch presentation video below and proceed to next step!

Follow us on FB:
Follow us on Twitter:

YouTube channel

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need

Tip: See the images above.

Visit and buy your hardware from

For the circuit you will need:

Part list for beginners:

  • Arduino uno
  • Breadboard
  • 2x L293D ICs Motor driver
  • Mini Servo Motor
  • 2x DVD/CD Drives

Part list for 'pro' :

  • ATmega328p (with Arduino Bootloader)*
  • 28 pin DIP IC Socket
  • 16MHz Crystal Oscillator
  • 2x 22pF and 1x 100nF capacitors
  • 10K resistor
  • USB to Serial adapter**
  • 2x L293D ICs
  • Mini Servo Motor
  • 2x DVD/CD Drives
  • Prototyping PCB Circuit Board Stripboard
  • 4x 2pins Screw Terminal Connector (or 2x 4 pins Screw Terminal Connector)***

*You will also need an Arduino UNO board to program the ATmega328 micro controller.

**USB to Serial adapter will allow the circuit to communicate with the computer through the USB cable, just like Arduino uno does.

***Why to use screw terminal connectors? Because you don't want to solder and desolder cables from stepper motors until you find the correct working combination!

For the mounting base:

  • One piece of plexiglass 20x16 cm (thickness 5mm) (for X axis)
  • Two pieces of plexiglass 14x4 cm (thickness 5mm) (for Y axis)
  • A few nut screws, nuts and shims (~20)
  • A few spacers
  • Four supporting angles (preferably plastic)

Instead of plexiglass you can also use wood, metal or parts from dissasembly cd/dvd drives


  • Screwdriver
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Drill
  • Cutting tool (e.g. Dremel) (Optional for cutting plastic/plexiglass parts)
  • Glue

Step 2: Stepper Motors

Picture of Stepper Motors

First step to start building this cnc machine is to disassemble the dvd/cd drives and take off them the stepper motors. Use the screwdriver to open and take off them the rails (see 1st image above).

Now that we have the two stepper motors we need to solder some cables on them. Proceed with caution, see the 2nd image above. Now we need to find the correct combination to drive and use them correctly, so take a multimeter with alligator clips (3rd image) and put it on "short-circuit" function (4th image). Usually (5th image), the first and second cables are closing the circuit - the led is turned on and a beep sounds - this means that we have found the fist phase-motor of stepper motor. The other two cables, third and forth, uses the second phase-motor of stepper motor.

In my case, one of stepper motors uses the first and third cable for first phase-motor and the second and forth cable for second phase-motor.

Find the correct combination and proceed to next step.

Step 3: Mounting Base, X and Y Axes

Picture of Mounting Base, X and Y Axes

Follow the steps below and see the images above:

For X axis:

Place one stepper motor (with rails) on a big plexiglass piece and mark it with a pen in order to open the (4) holes for the screws. Make sure that is perfectly align! (use a triangle ruler). Open the holes and mount the motor with nut screws.

Place on one side of it the four mounting angles and then mark it with a pen in order to open the (8) holes required for the screws. Make sure that the distance between them is 5mm (thickness of plexiglass). The second image above will help you to understand more.

For Y axis:

Place the other stepper motor on two plexiglass pieces and mark them with a pen in order to open the (4) holes for the screws. Again, make sure that the motor is perfectly align (use a triangle ruler).

Place the two pieces of plexiglass on the X axis (big plexiglass piece) and mark them with a pen in order to open the (4) holes required to fit on the mounting angles.

Complete the construction:

Open all holes and complete the construction (see the 3rd and 4th image above). As you can see I placed a metal surface on X axis to fit a note-paper sheet on it. A note-paper sheet usually has dimensions 75mm x 75mm, but remember that printing area is only 40mm x 40mm. Remember, all parts must be perfectly align with others, this is very important!

Step 4: Z Axis

Picture of Z Axis

That's the most difficult part of our construction.

You will need something to attach it on Y axis, a flat surface. On that surface you will attach the servo motor (Z axis) and the pen base. Pen (or pencil) must be able to move up and down with the help of servo motor. Watch the above image to understand what you need to do to build Z axis.

Tip: Use your imagination!

Step 5: The Circuit

Picture of The Circuit

Now that we have our contraction ready, it's time to build the circuit and test the stepper motors (X and Y axis).

Watch the above image with breadboard circuit schematic.

Steppers motors wiring is something that need patient. On the next step you will find a 'testing' code for x and y axes. If a stepper doesn't work properly you must find the correct working combination by changing the cables between them and the L293D ICs.


You will need more current than one usb port can give, so you must connect one more usb cable, see the 2nd image above. Connect only power cables (usually red and black) with the primary one. The voltage remains 5V, but you have doubled the current! (from wiki: max. current of USB 2.0: 0.5 A and of USB 3.0 & 3.1: 0.9 A).

Note: If you want to use a different hardware (e.g. motor shield, stepper driver IC) you have to make changes on the above circuit and on the Arduino code. Sorry but I can't help you, search the web to find more info about your hardware. This guide is made for L293D IC motor driver.

Step 6: Testing Stepper Motors - X and Y Axes

Picture of Testing Stepper Motors - X and Y Axes

Here is the testing code for X and Y axss, embedded using Codebender!

Codebender is an online Arduino IDE - It's the easiest way to program your Arduino board directly from your browser! Just click on the "Run on Arduino" button and that's it! Try it! It's really amazing!

For X axis:

You have to see the X axis motor moves from front to back side (see the image above with black arrow).

For Y axis:

You have to see the Y axis motor moves from left to right side (red arrow).

Step 7: The CNC Code

Here is the main CNC code, embedded using Codebender!

In this part you will see your pen goes up. If don't, change penUp and penDown variables that controlling the servo motor (just click on the "Edit" button).

Press the "Run on Arduino" button to program your Arduino board from your browser!

Step 8: The GCTRL Program

Picture of The GCTRL Program

Now we are ready to print our first image! To do this we will use the gctrl.pde processing program. This program sends 'gcode' images to the cnc plotter.

What is gcode? Gcode is a file with X,Y and Z coordinates. Header of this file is set to:

M300 S30.00 (Servo down)

G1 X10.00 Y10.00 F2500.00

G1 X20.00 Y10.00 F2500.00

M300 S50.00 (Servo up)

  • Download the Processing from here, and then download and open the GCTRL.pde application.
  • Click the "play" icon/button to start the program.


Update! You can use gctrl.exe, find files on 'gctrl exe for' file.


~Watch the above image~

  • Now press 'p' and select your Arduino serial port.
  • Press 'g' and select the 'TEXT.gcode' or 'gear.gcode' file

(If something goes wrong, press 'x' to stop the plotter and try again)

Step 9: How to Make Your Own Gcode Files

Picture of How to Make Your Own Gcode Files

To make gcode files that are compatible with this cnc machine you have to use the Inkscape.

Inkscape is professional quality vector graphics software which runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It is used by design professionals and hobbyists worldwide, for creating a wide variety of graphics such as illustrations, icons, logos, diagrams, maps and web graphics. Inkscape uses the W3C open standard SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) as its native format, and is free and open-source software. Download and install Inkscape from here (Important: download 0.48.5 version)

Now you need to install an Add-on that enables the export images to gcode files. This add on can be found here with installation notes.

Setup Inkscape for first use

Open the Inkscape, go to File menu and click "Document Properties". See the 1st image above and make the changes, make sure to change first to "cm". Now close this window. We will use the area within 4 to 8 cm. See the 2nd image above.

How to print texts

Put text, if you want you can change font and size. Now click on cursor icon and center the text like the 3rd image above. Select Path from menu and "Object to Path".

How to print images

This is more difficult than texts. Images must have a transparent background. Drag and drop your image in Inkscape. Click ok to the next window. Now you have to re-size the image to fit the printing area, see the 4th image above. Click Path from menu and "Trace Bitmap". Make changes as the 5th image above. Click ok and close the window. Now, move the gray scale image, and delete the color one behind it. Move the grey image to the correct place again and click from Path menu "Object to path". The 6th image above show how to delete image outline.

Export as gcode file

Final, go to file menu, click save as and select .gcode. Click 'ok' on next window and that's it! Ready to go! Use the gctrl.pde (or .exe) app to print the gcode file on your new Arduino CNC Plotter!

Step 10: Well Done!

Picture of Well Done!

You have successfully completed this tutorial and you have your own Arduino mini CNC Plotter!!!

I hope you liked this, let me know in the comments, I would like to see photos of your CNC machines!


svenhb made it! (author)2017-11-18

I used A4988 drivers and a battery pack. To control my GRBL I use my own control software GRBL-Plotter - with it you can drag and drop any SVG file...

bravobhr (author)2017-10-20

Hi...Friend. i want to aks about this. So If i change a mechine dvd rom into mechine printer canon, it's same with sketch dvd rom ? if it not same , can you tell me sir. Thank's

MuhdA51 (author)2017-10-16

what is the measurement acrylic at y-axis on the dvd write?

misterxp made it! (author)2017-09-30

Well thanks for the instructable. It was not as easy as expected though. I got through a couple of motors and took a lot of late nights but managed to get it to work in the end. The result is not perfect but think it just needs some calibration.

I would just like to ask if the only calibration to do is measure the distance it takes for 100 steps? my figure comes out as 6.7 but it did not seem to make a difference if I changed the actual value to this. In fact it seems worse. Anyway, I will play with it some more. I would like to use it with a laser too and then, eventually make it into a 3D printer.

HyosikB made it! (author)2016-10-10


I changed pen to laser, so it is mini engraver. it's very good.~ ^^ thanks....


misterxp (author)HyosikB2017-09-20

Hello HyosikB,

I am very interested in your version. I saw your wood is cut with laser. Is it the same laser as you used here or more powerfull?


StephaneL2 (author)HyosikB2016-10-17

How did you connect the laser?

HyosikB (author)StephaneL22016-10-20

I use 500mW laser, It is easy to connect to Arduino, but it needs regulator, 3.5 V to 5V or 7.5V.

also you should change the source code, penUp() / penDown() to laserOn(), laserOff().

Then it will be working well. ^^

plz ,, give me the code.

This version has some bugs..

It use SD card, and you should make 2 kinds of files.

1. config.txt

It has only 1 charactor 1 to 9. it controls delay time to stay. ( i.e it can controls power of laser )

2. draw.bmp

it is image of you want to draw.

it must be 240 by 240 bit map format. ( if it is not 240 by 240, there is some bug. T.T )

after move 2 files, and power on.

Then , you can draw your ouwn image.

#include <SD.h>

#include <Stepper.h>

// CS----------------------------------PIN 4
// SCK (CLOCK)-------------------------PIN 13
// MISO--------------------------------PIN 12
// MOSI--------------------------------PIN 11

#define Laser 1
// step 1 = 2,3,5,6
// step 2 = 7,8,9,10

#define Laser_Speed 200
#define Start -240
#define STEPS 200

const int chipSelect = 4;

Stepper stepperY(STEPS, 2, 3, 5, 6);
Stepper stepperX(STEPS, 7,8, 9, 10);

int delay_time = 500;

File dataFile;
int Image_Height;
int Image_Width;
int Image_Data_Low;
int BitsPerPixel;
char buf[32];

void Image_File_Open();
void File_Close();
void Init_Step();
void Draw1();
void Draw24();
int Power=1;

void setup()
Serial.println("Initializing SD card...");
if (!SD.begin(chipSelect)) {
Serial.println("Card failed, or not present");
Serial.println("card initialized.");

dataFile ="config.txt", FILE_READ);
if (dataFile) {
int N=0;
Serial.println("config Open OK");,1); // Power Control 1 to 9
delay_time = N-48; // char to num
Serial.print("Delay time = ");
Serial.println(delay_time);,3); // depth
Power = atoi(buf);
Serial.print("Resolution = ");
} else {
Serial.println("error opening config, set default");
delay_time = 3;
Power = 1;

if ( BitsPerPixel == 1 )
else if ( BitsPerPixel == 24 )

void Image_File_Open()
int N;

// see if the card is present and can be initialized:
dataFile ="draw.bmp", FILE_READ);
if (dataFile) {
Serial.println("Read Open OK");
} else {
Serial.println("error opening draw.bmp");
},10); // Dummy,4); // Image Start point read
int Image_Start = N ;
Serial.print("Image Start=");
Serial.println(Image_Start);,4); // Dummy,2); // Image width.
Image_Width = N;,2); // Image width.
Serial.print("Image Width=");
Serial.println(Image_Width);,2); // Image Height.
Image_Height = N;,2); // Image Height.
Serial.print("Image Height=");
Serial.println(Image_Height);,2); // Image Height.,2); // Image Height.
BitsPerPixel = N;

Image_Data_Low = ((int)((BitsPerPixel*Image_Width+31)/32))*4;
Serial.println(Image_Data_Low);; // go to Image Start ;
void File_Close()

void Init_Step() {


Serial.println("Step Motor initialized.");


void Draw1()
int i,j,k,N;

Serial.println("Draw1 Start");

for(i=0;i<Image_Height;i++) {
for(j=0;j<Image_Data_Low;j++) {
for (k = 7; k >=0 ; k--) {
if (!(N & (1 << k))) {
void Draw24()
int i,j,k,N,cnt,n1=0,n2=0,n3=0;

Serial.println("Draw24 Start");
for(i=0;i<Image_Height;i++) {
for(j=0;j<Image_Data_Low;j+=3) {
N = 0;
if ( j >= Image_Width*3) {
Serial.print("Image Height = ");
Serial.print(" Image Width = ");
Serial.print(" SKIP = ");
N = (int)((n1+n2+n3)/3);
N =((int)(N/Power))*Power;
Serial.print(" X=");
Serial.print(" D=");
Serial.print(" N=");
void loop()

bonatius (author)HyosikB2016-11-28


could you write what kind of laser do you use? Thank you.

roccog7 (author)2017-09-19

will someone make me one I will pay you

crazyg12 (author)2017-09-01

how to edit this code to use the motor shield

ajd21 (author)2017-08-24


Thank you for your tutorial, i followed it and X axis and Y axis testing programs are working fine :)

But when I upload a program from a picture/text, the Y axis start runing and got stuck directly on the frame and the motor keep running in this direction...

I don't know where the defect comes from, can you help me?

I am using an arduino nano V3 atmega 168 like from aliexpress

ShahjalalB (author)2017-08-22

please systematic laser diode cnc

sekharvp made it! (author)2017-07-31

Thanks for the fantastic project. I have made one. Here is the video of my version. Thank you once again.

sisodiakaran made it! (author)2016-11-18

Thanks for the awesome tutorial. Here is my version of the machine. I have created a test run video, you can see here:

RAJESH-MrX (author)sisodiakaran2017-07-22

can u give me the code

sisodiakaran (author)RAJESH-MrX2017-07-22

Which code you are asking for?

naveen9542 (author)sisodiakaran2017-02-04

My cnc is not drawing correctly it draws what ever it wants please help

MaxA55 (author)sisodiakaran2017-01-05

did you use arduino nano instead of UNO?

sisodiakaran (author)MaxA552017-01-05

Actually I used Arduino Mini...

Sdyasin (author)2017-02-05

Hello I made machine ........But after uploading the code it isn't working but the servo motor is giving slight motion.. Please any one help me

RAJESH-MrX (author)Sdyasin2017-07-22

same in case of me

umairahmadh (author)Sdyasin2017-02-05

How you power up the system? Did the stepper motors work in the test part of this instructable?

Sdyasin (author)umairahmadh2017-02-06

Hey its ok now and I have a small problem,inkscape isn't saving the gcode at last it is showing some errors please help me.

Itihash (author)2017-05-29


My servo motor (Z axis) runs but DVD stepper motors (X and Y axis) don't run. what i need to do?

itavaci (author)2017-04-14


Is gctrl compatible with Windows 10, I did run it a couple of times, cannot do any selections, pressing "p" or "g" button does not work. Your help is much appreciated.

hyG made it! (author)2017-04-01

Hello everyone!

First, big thank you to an author of this tutorial. I can't believe I completed it, but on the other hand, I am proud of myself. I came across a lot of problems, but every time I solved one, I learned new things. I also learned how do CNC machines work and I got into the robotics. After completing this project I will be probably trying to make a CNC laser cutting machine. My version of the machine, shown in pictures, works pretty nice. I wasn't expecting that, but it is pretty accurate (but less than the author's one, judging by attached video). Some things could be done in better way, but I am still happy with what I have :)

BIG, BIG and once again BIG THANK YOU to the author and sorry for mistakes in language :)

nepenth0 (author)2017-03-14

Got the steppers up and running with gcode but the servo for the z-axis doesn't move, only makes different noises when penUp or penDown reads. Any suggestions?

Asadh (author)nepenth02017-03-31

power your circuit from external source. USB terminal not provides enough current that may drive 3 motors together.

IshanD13 (author)2017-02-16

i have a problem

FahimF (author)2017-02-11

Can i use an adruino nano instead of adruino uno???

PratikG36 (author)2017-02-06


Can you please tell me how to connect Bluetooth module hc-06 and the codes also


tanvirmahadi (author)2017-01-28

I Don't Where i solder This Item

  • 16MHz Crystal Oscillator
  • 2x 22pF and 1x 100nF capacitors
  • 10K resistor

    Please Give a Clear Circuit Diagram please ....i stack in this point .

    I Purchased all the Component But Don't Understand where to Solder. and the Full Circuit.. someone please help. For Pro Version.
umairahmadh (author)tanvirmahadi2017-02-05

Check this. Is this you ask?

tanvirmahadi (author)umairahmadh2017-02-06

Exactly I asked for this one ... Do u have the Full Breadboard Diagram of Pro Version ... like Full ...Connection with two L293D ICs Motor driver ..?
I need Complete diagram ...Please Help.

umairahmadh (author)tanvirmahadi2017-02-06

I couldn't get one exactly you asked. But this might give you an idea. Compare the ATmega328p's pin outs with arduino uno's pin outs.
Then you got what you want.

Hope this would help. :)

Abhinav987 made it! (author)2017-01-06

I use old floppy disk cover for bottom part.By doing like this we can plot any where, even on your body.Thanks for the genius brain behind this tutorial

b10101 (author)2016-10-08

Hello All,

Mine moves but stays heavily in one corner, doesn't use the whole 40x40 and prints garbage. I tried to find the Testing stepper motors - X and Y axes as per Step 6 to calibrate as per sketch ie: comments at lines 53 to 55 in the main sketch, but could not find it. Anyone know where the test code is and has anyone had a similar printing issue they have solved.



HưngĐ8 (author)b101012016-12-05

i got this problem too, have you solved? plz help

SubashT1 (author)2016-07-09

Hey hw can i increase the printing area like fOr (A4)

what are the changes i need to make in the coed.......

Please help

Thank you

TanzinA1 (author)SubashT12016-11-12

u will need bigger X and Y axes.

AdithA1 (author)2016-09-15

I too made it.. but iam having problem. My cnc plotter prints the mirror image of what ever I input to inkscape (text,drawing,images etc)
Can u hlp me to solve this. Plz

randobi (author)2016-08-28

This is a good project. I am working through it but I can't seem to make the GCODE P150 work, there is no pause. Can you help?

Waheed ullah (author)2016-08-24

please send a circuit diagram o 2d mini CNC ploter.

Edward Phantom (author)2016-01-08

On time : the new version of inkscape have a bug with the g-code plugin , always download the version 0.48.5 , or you will not sucessfull export the g-code.


phyogyi (author)Edward Phantom2016-08-20

Hello after using this old version 0.48.5 , is need to add-on or plug-in extension zip file from this?

and please guide to me about how to copy the contents of src/.

Copy the contents of src/ to your Inkscape extensions/ folder.

I don't understand how to copy to under extension folder.


felipehfj made it! (author)2016-07-31

(br) Obrigado pelo tutorial. Eu também fiz a minha. Para a conexão com o computador eu utilizei um modulo bluetooth.

(en) Thanks for the tutorial. I also did mine. For the connection to the computer I used a bluetooth module.

About This Instructable




More by Ardumotive_com:MIKE - Arduino Line Following Robot for Beginners "GRECO" - Arduino Object Avoiding Robotfor BeginnersArduino 3D Printed Digital Thermometer With DHT-22 Sensor
Add instructable to: