Introduction: Homemade CNC Machine From DC Servo Motors and Wooden Wine Boxes

About: PLC, Arduino - Do it yourself project

Today, I would like to share how to build a 3 axis CNC machine at home using available or discarded materials. Specifically in this project, I reused 2 old DC servo motors and 2 wooden wine boxes, as well as, taking advantage of my daughter's unused school supplies.

Step 1: Supplies

The main materials are used in this project:


  • Drilling machine with drill bit hole 20mm.
  • Soldering machine.

Step 2: Project Schematic

You can download project schematic in PDF format HERE. My CNC is built from 2 DC servo motors for X, Y axis and 1 stepper motor for Z axis.

There are 3 groups in the schematic, I'd like to clarify as follow:

  • Group 1 - Red: including Arduino Uno with GRBL firmware pre-installed and CNC Shield. Arduino Uno is responsible for sending control signals: STEP/ DIRECTION to DC servo motor driver X, Y and stepper motor driver Z.
  • Group 2 - Blue: including Arduino Mega 2560 and L293D Motor Shield which work like a DC servo motor driver. It received commands STEP/ DIR from Arduino Uno and performs P.I.D control for the X and Y axis. The P.I.D setpoint of DC servo motors in this case are STEP plus DIRECTION signals from GRBL firmware.
  • Group 3 - Brown: including DC servo motor X, Y. (The stepper motor Z didn't shown on my schematic).

Step 3: NISCA DC Servo Motor

Main DC servo motor NF5475E parameters are marked in red rectangular below:


  • Motor voltage: 24 VDC, 38 VDC (E-type). In my case, I used 12VDC power supply to the motor because this voltage level is compatible with L293D Motor Shield. If you want to use a 24VDC power supply, the motor control module must have a higher voltage level, such as L298N.
  • The Encoder needs to be powered by 5VDC and it has two channels A, B. Encoder resolution 200 P/R (200 pulses per revolution) means: Encoder will generate 200 pulses when motor complete one revolution.

Step 4: CNC Machine Assembly

1. Build Y axis

Firstly, I measured the size of the motor, timing belt & pulleys to get the most suitable layout on a big wooden wine box. As you can see, the old dc servo motor has a 20-teeth pulley pre-installed and I used an additional 60-teeth pulley and 200mm closed timing belt to drive the leadscrew.

I used 5 pcs x horizontal ball bearing brackets and 1 pcs x ball flanged shielded bearing for the lead screw and shaft rods. The working surface of CNC machine will be mounted to 4 pcs x vertical ball bearing brackets. I used horizontal and vertical ball bearing brackets because I can do some alignments later in case my drilling work could be incorrect.

2. Mounting working surface on Y axis

I used the cover of big wine box for something else, so I used another wooden plate for the working surface.

To clamp copper nut of lead screw, I used a L stepper motor support and 2 acrylic plate, like picture below. The hole diameter as well as thickness of the L support and copper nut are fit together and strong enough by this way.

Connecting working platform to 4 pcs x vertical ball bearing brackets and lead screw.

Aligning the lead screw and shafts to be sure that the working platform worked smoothly by hand.

3. Build X axis

I used a remaining small box to build the X axis structure. As same as Y axis, I used an additional 60-teeth pulley and 200mm closed timing belt to drive the leadscrew.

The X axis servo motor was hidden inside the box. One acrylic sheet dimension 100 x 230 mm was installed on the X axis and later one CD drive will be mounted on it for Z axis.

The copper nut of lead screw was clamped by L shape motor support and 2 small acrylic sheets as same as Y axis.

The X and Y axis of CNC machine were finished, then I put them together to align and mark drilling holes.

4. Build the Z axis and reinforcement the CNC frame.

I used one CD player for Z axis and the pen/ pencil is clamped by one aluminum flexible shaft coupling 10 x 10mm.

I connected all CNC axis frames together, prepared all wirings and reinforced the CNC structure by some steel supports.

For the plotting platform, I used a black (top) and white (bottom) board, A4 size for kids. I removed yellow plastic border out of the board then I glued this plastic border on the Y axis.

Finally, I did alignment and clamped the black and white board into the plastic border. By this way, I can remove the board from its plastic border if I need to align or tighten the Y-axis bolts.

Step 5: Control Board Soldering Works

1. Arduino Mega Adapter Shield.

Following the schematic on STEP 2, I cut one PCB prototype board size 60 x 90mm and soldered all the wires connections. Adapter Shield is used for connecting the Arduino Mega 2560 to the L293D Motor Shield, DC servo motor encoders and control signals from GRBL firmware (STEP & DIRECTION) as follow:

  • Top female headers: connecting to L293D Motor Shield.
  • Bottom male header: connecting to Arduino Mega 2560.
  • 4 pins - top male headers: connecting to X Encoders servo motor (5V, GND, Channel A, Channel B).
  • 4 pins - top male headers: connecting to Y Encoders servo motor (5V, GND, Channel A, Channel B).
  • 2 pins - top male header: connecting to X.STEP and X.DIR signals.
  • 2 pins - top male header: connecting to Y.STEP and Y.DIR signals.

Take note the pinout of encoder header on servo motor NF5475E as follow:

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2. Control Board Assembly.

I stacked all the boards in following order from bottom:

  • Arduino Mega 2560.
  • Adapter Shield.
  • L293D Motor Shield.
  • Arduino Uno.
  • CNC Shield.

3. Mouting control boad into box.

I installed control board and power supplies (5VDC - 12VDC) inside the small box and plugged all connections together.

And one power switch was mounted at CNC backside.

Preparing A4 paper for plotting. Done!

Step 6: Programing

The Arduino Mega 2560 code is as below:

   In this project, DC servo motors can be simulated as same as stepper motors and they can be controlled via GRBL firmware for CNC application.

// Timer2 library
#include "FlexiTimer2.h"

// PID library
#include <PID_v1.h>

// AFMotor library
#include <AFMotor.h>

// Quadrature Encoder Library
#include "Encoder.h"

// Create the motor driver instances
AF_DCMotor motorX(1, MOTOR12_8KHZ);
AF_DCMotor motorY(2, MOTOR12_8KHZ);

// Set up pins for the quadrature encoders - Arduino MEGA2560 has 6 interrupt pins.
#define EncoderX_ChannelA   18  // Interrupt 5
#define EncoderX_ChannelB   22
#define EncoderY_ChannelA   20  // Interrupt 3
#define EncoderY_ChannelB   24

// Set up STEP & DIRECTION pins for X and Y axis
#define STEP_XPIN           19  // Interrupt 4
#define STEP_YPIN           21  // Interrupt 2
#define DIR_XPIN            23
#define DIR_YPIN            25

// Turn on/ off debugging for X/Y servo motor
#define DEBUG_X             0   // For X servo motor
#define DEBUG_Y             0   // For Y servo motor

// For calculating the actual movements
#define STEPSPERMM_X      300.0    // STEP/mm is used in the GRBL firmware for DC servo motor X axis.
#define DEADBW_X          30.0     // Deadband width = 30.0 --> Acceptable error for positioning in mm: 0.10mm.

#define STEPSPERMM_Y      300.0   // STEP/mm is used in the GRBL for DC servo motor Y axis.
#define DEADBW_Y          30.0    // Deadband width = 30.0 --> Acceptable error for positioning in mm: 0.10mm.

// Set up Input
double INPUT_X;
double INPUT_Y;

double OLD_INPUT_X = 0;
double OLD_INPUT_Y = 0;

// Set up Actual value
double ACTUAL_X_MM;
double ACTUAL_Y_MM;


// PID controller constants
double KP_X = 10.0;     // P for X servo motor
double KI_X = 0.03;     // I for X servo motor
double KD_X = 0.01;     // D for X servo motor

double KP_Y = 10.0;     // P for Y servo motor
double KI_Y = 0.03;     // I for Y servo motor
double KD_Y = 0.01;     // D for Y servo motor

// The Output variable motor speed to the motor driver
double OUTPUT_X;
double OUTPUT_Y;
double OLD_OUTPUT_X = 0;
double OLD_OUTPUT_Y = 0;

// Setpoint
double SETPOINT_X = 0;
double SETPOINT_Y = 0;

double OLD_SETPOINT_X = 0;
double OLD_SETPOINT_Y = 0;

double ERROR_X = 0;
double ERROR_Y = 0;

// Direction
int directionX;
int directionY;

// PID controller

// Setup optical encoders
Encoder XEncoder(EncoderX_ChannelA, EncoderX_ChannelB);
Encoder YEncoder(EncoderY_ChannelA, EncoderY_ChannelB);

void setup()
  // For debugging
  if (DEBUG_X || DEBUG_Y)

  pinMode(STEP_XPIN, INPUT);
  pinMode(STEP_YPIN, INPUT);
  pinMode(DIR_XPIN, INPUT);
  pinMode(DIR_YPIN, INPUT);

  // The stepper simulator
  attachInterrupt(4, doXstep, RISING);  // PIN 19 (Interrupt 4) - Interrupt X step at rising edge pulses
  attachInterrupt(2, doYstep, RISING);  // PIN 21 (Interrupt 2) - Interrupt Y step at rising edge pulses

  // Outpout PWM limits
  myPID_X.SetOutputLimits(-255, 255);
  myPID_Y.SetOutputLimits(-255, 255);

  // Compute output every 1ms

  // Setup PID mode

  // Apply PID every 1ms by FlexiTimer2
  FlexiTimer2::set(1, 1.0 / 1000, doPID);

void loop()
  // Read X and Y axis servo encoders
  INPUT_X =;
  INPUT_Y =;

  // Calculating the error

  // For debugging
  if (DEBUG_X)
    // Debugging X motor actual position in mm
      Serial.print("ACTUAL X(MM): ");
    // Debugging position X encoders
    if (OLD_INPUT_X != INPUT_X)
      Serial.print("POSITION X: ");
    // Debugging X stepping input
      Serial.print("SETPOINT X: ");
    // Debugging X motor PWM output
    if ( OUTPUT_X != OLD_OUTPUT_X )
      Serial.print("OUTPUT X: ");

  if (DEBUG_Y)
    // Debugging Y motor actual position in mm
      Serial.print("ACTUAL Y(MM): ");
    // Debugging Y stepping input
      Serial.print("SETPOINT Y: ");
    // Debugging position Y encoders
    if (OLD_INPUT_Y != INPUT_Y)
      Serial.print("POSITION Y: ");
    // Debugging Y motor PWM output
    if ( OUTPUT_Y != OLD_OUTPUT_Y )
      Serial.print("OUTPUT Y: ");


void doXstep()
  if ( digitalRead(DIR_XPIN) == HIGH ) SETPOINT_X--;
  else SETPOINT_X++;

void doYstep()
  if ( digitalRead(DIR_YPIN) == HIGH ) SETPOINT_Y--;
  else SETPOINT_Y++;

void doPID()
  if (abs(ERROR_X) < DEADBW_X) // If servo motor X is in position within the deadband width (acceptable error)
      motorX.setSpeed(0); // Turn off servo motor X
      motorX.setSpeed(abs(int(OUTPUT_X)));  // Servo motor X is regulated by PID controller ouput
  if (abs(ERROR_Y) < DEADBW_Y) // If servo motor Y is in position within the deadband width (acceptable error)
      motorY.setSpeed(0); // Turn off servo motor Y
      motorY.setSpeed(abs(int(OUTPUT_Y)));  // Servo motor Y is regulated by PID controller ouput
  int directionX;
  int directionY;
  if(OUTPUT_X > 0)
      directionX = FORWARD;
  if(OUTPUT_X < 0)
      directionX = BACKWARD;
  if(OUTPUT_Y > 0)
      directionY = FORWARD;
  if(OUTPUT_Y < 0)
      directionY = BACKWARD;

1. Libraries are used in this project:

  • PID by Brett Beauregard (PID_v1):

  • Adafruit Motor Shield Library (AFMotor):

  • Quadrature Encoder Library:

  • FlexiTimer2 Library:

2. Quadrature encoder:

For encoders reading, you can refer to my post: at STEP 4.

We should pay attention to the term "quadrature encoder". We can increase encoder resolution by counting the rising and falling edges of two channels.

Step 7: GRBL Parameters

GRBL parameters for my CNC are as follows:

$010.000Step pulse time
$125.000Step idle delay
$20.000Step pulse invert
$30.000Step direction invert
$40.000Invert step enable pin
$50.000Invert limit pins
$60.000Invert probe pin
$101.000Status report options
$110.010Junction deviation
$120.002Arc tolerance


Report in inches


Soft limits enable


Hard limits enable


Homing cycle enable


Homing direction invert
$2425.000Homing locate feed rate
$25500.000Homing search seek rate
$26250.000Homing switch de-bounce delay
$271.000Homing switch pull-off distance
$301000.000Maximum spindle speed
$310.000Minimum spindle speed
$320.000Laser-mode enable
$100300.000X-axis travel resolution
$101300.000Y-axis travel resolution
$10253.333Z-axis travel resolution
$11020000.000X-axis maximum rate
$11120000.000Y-axis maximum rate
$1122000.000Z-axis maximum rate
$12020.000X-axis acceleration
$12120.000Y-axis acceleration
$12210.000Z-axis acceleration
$130210.000X-axis maximum travel
$131297.000Y-axis maximum travel
$13240.000Z-axis maximum travel

The important parameters which I have done the calibrations are highlighted in table above.

In Arduino Mega 2560 program, the "X4 ENCODING" was applied so both the rising and falling edges of channels A and B were counted. My X & Y servo motors have a 200PPR encoders and they are X4 Encoding values. I have tested on Arduino Mega 2560 serial monitor by commanding X/Y axis to move a specific distance (ex: 10mm) and counting how many pulses feedback from encoder (around 3000 counting pulses for 10mm).

It was a bit strange that confused me because I assumed that 200PPR to be a value of X1 encoding, and when X4 encoding is used, it increases encoder resolution by four times: 200 x 4 = 800PPR, but it is not correct. In this case 200PPR on servo motor nameplate is counted for both the rising and falling edges of channels A or B.

Theoretically, STEP/MM of leadscrew driven systems is calculated as follows:

  • Servo motor encoder: 200 Steps Per Revolution or Pulses Per Revolution.
  • Gear ratio: 60 - Leadscrew Gear / 20 - Servo Motor Gear (or 3/1).
  • Leadscrew pitch: 2mm.

STEP/MM = (200 x 3)/2 = 300.

Step 8: P.I.D Tunning

My P.I.D optimal parameters which are in accordance to the GRBL setting values in the previous step, were fine-tuned. With these values, my CNC has worked very well.

// The PID parameters
double KP_X = 10.0;   // P for X servo motor
double KI_X = 0.03;   // I for X servo motor
double KD_X = 0.02;   // D for X servo motor

double KP_Y = 10.0;   // P for Y servo motor
double KI_Y = 0.03;   // I for Y servo motor
double KD_Y = 0.02;   // D for Y servo motor

I also applied "deadband" function into PID controller. The DC servo motors worked smoothly. They didn't get hot or overheat even if we kept them working continuously in many hours without "deadband" function.

#define STEPSPERMM_X      300.0    // STEP/mm ($100) is used in the GRBL firmware for DC servo motor X axis.
#define DEADBW_X          30.0     // Deadband width in pulses = 30.0 --> Acceptable error for positioning in mm: 0.10mm.

#define STEPSPERMM_Y      300.0   // STEP/mm ($101) is used in the GRBL firmware for DC servo motor Y axis.
#define DEADBW_Y          30.0    // Deadband width in pulses = 30.0 --> Acceptable error for positioning in mm: 0.10mm.

Step 9: Hatch Fill Image Testing

Some testing images were carried out by my CNC machine as shown above.

The software and extensions are used in this project:

Step 10: Conclusion

Thank you very much for reading my work and hope you enjoyed my article this time!

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