I developed an obsession with laser engravers and CNC routers and 3d printers. I first bought a Printrbot that worked perfectly out of the box. For two years I played with it, adding minor upgrades like a heatbed. I decided to print myself a laser engraver that used NEMA17 stepper motors. After a few tries, it came out nearly perfectly. I used an Arduino Uno with the super cheap GRBL shield and A4988 drivers available on eBay (<$10 worth of electronics to control this project). I never had an issue.
Following this success, I decided to get a CNC though. With 3A 24v NEMA23 steppers, the intention was to use the exact same electronics and just turn up the little power controls on the stepper drivers. This caused nothing but problems, and after hours of frustration at these little, underpowered devices, I decided there must be a better way. But I still wanted to use the Uno and the GRBL shield from eBay because they had worked flawlessly on the laser engraver.
After hours of research, I discovered cheap $5 single-axis stepper drivers on eBay called the TB6560 Stepper Driver. I ordered up 5 of them and fell in love a couple hours after setting them up as they fixed all my problems. After setting them up, I decided to try one out on my second 3D printer (a cheap delta on which the extruder stepper motor skipped during fast printing). Of course, it worked great. As there was almost no documentation anywhere online, I set out to make this instructable.
The Important Part (TL;DR): The A4988 stepper driver sucks for many reason. The TB6560 single-motor driver board (not one with a parallel port that is designed as an all-inclusive controller board) is cheap and great! The RAMPS/GRBL driver/breakout boards, when connected with an Arduino and have the GRBL/RAMPS firmware, work great and have widespread support. This instructable goes through the wiring procedure for using all of the same electronics as if you used an Arduino/RAMPS/GRBL/A4988 (obviously not both RAMPS and GRBL), but replaces the tiny A4988 with a large, useful driver called the TB6560. It is rather simply, and makes everything less self-contained, but overall it will significantly increase torque and ease of configuration of larger motors.
1. All of the parts required to build a CNC or 3D Printer (way beyond the scope of this tutorial). The important part for this tutorial is the stepper motors.
2. Either a RAMPS Shield for an Arduino Mega (designed for 3D printer control) or a GRBL shield for an Arduino Uno (designed for CNC control)
3. Either an Arduino Mega or an Arduino Uno (depending on the decision made in step 2)
4. As many TB6560 controllers as you have stepper motors (plus maybe an extra in case you accidentally break one)
5. Male to Male header pin cables (pack of 40 is sufficient)
6. ~18 to 24 Gauge wire
7. A board to mount everything on, as well as screws to mount everything (I'd suggest getting this from a hardware store after you have the rest of the parts to view spacing, etc.)
Where to buy: Everything listed above (with the possible exception of the mounting board) can be purchased on eBay (it's where I got all my parts).