INDEXER Rotary Table DIY Gearbox, Stepper Motor, and PLC Controller.




Introduction: INDEXER Rotary Table DIY Gearbox, Stepper Motor, and PLC Controller.

INDEXER Rotary table
One of difficult things in constructing things is cutting or making circles. Hopefully this will help some of you to invent some new ways of doing things. Adding circles, arcs, or curves to your next project may make it a winner.

This instructable shows you how to make your own indexing table to drill hole patterns, to cut out circles, and to cut many other things related to a circle. It allows you to set the index degrees by setting some push buttons. As an example setting it to four divides the circle in four 90 degree segments. This would allow you to drill a 4 bolt hole pattern or cut an arc 90 degrees in a piece of material.

If I won the Shopbot challenge I would use the machine and software start a small business making signs, templates, furniture, jigs, fixtures, engravings and parts out of wood and plastic. I have put together my own cnc mill drill but feel I need something bigger and more accurate like the shopbot to make it work. The autocad software completes the package for anyone to start a small business. Thank you to Instructables, Shopbot, and Autodesk for a great contest.

Features of index controller  

Adjustable index degrees

Adjustable index speed

Single index by run button

Single index by proximity switch

Continuous run button

Brake output

Time lapse camera output

Index count indicator

Reset index to zero button

Index count increase button

Index count decrease button

Add 10 to index count button

Stop button

Self contained controller

Indexer can be connected to CNC computer control

Some Uses 

Cutting holes

Cutting wheels

Cutting round slots

Cutting arcs

Drilling hole patterns on flat surfaces

Drilling hole patterns on round objects

Cutting slots on round objects

Triming pipe ends

Time lapse photography

Panoramic photography

Step 1: How to Set It

Set the index degrees by dividing 360 degrees by a number. The number is set by using the push buttons to increase or decrease by one or by pushing the increase by ten button.

To set it to 36 push the plus 10 button 3 times and then the increase button 6 times. Note you have to zero the count first by pushing the continuous button or holding the stop button on for 7 seconds. This will make the chuck index 10 degrees everytime the run button is pushed or the proximity sensor is triggered.

Check the count by counting the number of times the indicator light comes on in between pauses.

Run button is used to start the index to the next position or the proximity sensor can be used to trigger it to move to the next index position.

Increase button is used to increase the divide number by one.

Decrease button is used to decrease the divide number by one.

Continuous button allows stepper motor to run continuous full circle rotations. After the continuous button is pushed the run button is pushed to start the motion or the proximity sensor can be used. The stop button is used to stop the motion.

Time lapse mode button is held in for 5 seconds to enable that mode. First you need to set your index step amount. To set to 1 degree indexes first zero your count setting. When it is zero the count light will be turn on continuously. Then push the +10 button 36 times to set the count to 360. Then hold the time lapse mode button on for 5 seconds and the chuck will start to index in 1 degree increments. Push the stop button when you are done.

Step 2: Parts Needed to Make It


Programmable logic controller with pulse output ( Mitsubishi FX0-14MT-DSS Transistor Unit ) - Ebay

Programmable logic controller software for FX PLC - Ebay

Programmable logic controller cable - Ebay

Stepper module I used is an STMicroelectronics GS-200S in half step mode but I recommend geckodrives - Ebay or electronic supplier

5Vdc voltage regulator 7805 - Radio Shack #276-1770

24Vdc voltage regulator LM317T - Radio Shack #276-1778

(8) Momentary pushbutton switches - Radio Shack

bridge rectifier - Radio Shack

fuse - Radio Shack

fuse holder - Radio Shack

Multipurpose PC Board - Radio Shack # 276-150

1/2 inch romex connector - hardware store

Box to mount components - surplus

(1) 24 Vdc relay for time lapse output - Radio Shack

(3) On Off switches - Radio Shack

5/8 inch shaft to lathe chuck adapter - brother made it for me

Lathe chuck borrowed from small lathe

24 VAC wall transformer - surplus

Nema 34 Stepper motor - Ebay

Aluminum plates 8 X 4.5 X 3/4 and 8 X 5.625 X 3/4 inch - brother donated

Lovejoy coupling to fix gearbox shaft and motor shaft - Surplus

Gearbox with high gear reduction like 60 to 1 - Surplus
( I would like to upgrade to an actual milling rotary table)

Hardware for mounting everything together (10-32 threaded screws)

Spacers - I made them

Step 3: Buying Parts and Making It.

The PLC that I have used is still found on ebay so you can use the same program that I am currently running. I am still looking to improve the program so I was not going to upload it to instructables yet. But if someone wants to build this right now I will provide the program. If you want to use a different PLC just make sure it has a pulse output that can be used with stepper motors. Your PLC needs to have a solid state outputs to make this work correctly. Mechanical relay outputs will not work.

The gearbox on my indexer is surplus and so others will have to find one that fits their needs. Therefore it makes no sense for me to draw a drawing with all the sizes and bolt holes because yours is going to be different. The goal is to look at what I have shown and make something better that will fit your use. Actually I would recommend a milling machine indexing table to get the stiffness and accuracy needed cut nice parts.

My stepper module is also an older unit and so you will be selecting a different stepper driver for you project. I would recommend one of Gecko stepper drives. Remember most of the Gecko drives are 10 micro step drives. My drive is only 1/2 step drive. The PLC program will have to be changed to allow for this. This is a simple number change but it will slow the maximum high speed the motor can run. I will include a drawing showing a gecko drive being used. I removed the enable switch from the drawing because I do not feel it was needed.

The love joy coupling is ok for my light duty indexer but for accuracy I would use a solid flexible coupling.

The stepper motor on a index table does not have to be real big because if the high gear ratio of the gearbox. Also do not let that little stepper motor hurt you. That high gear ratio gives that little stepper motor a lot of power on the output shaft.

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    8 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. It will sure help me with my projects.


    a prillant end result i wood love to get a coppy of the ladder please

    for another progect


    5 years ago on Introduction

    When you are ready to build and you have questions, let me know and I can help you through the process.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What I want it to do is to have a sophisticated rotary position control by aiming a beam of light and/or fine positioning for drill bits. Honestly, I do not want to spend too much at the moment. I still need something concrete so that I can practice PLC coding while interfacing with real life applications. Thanks again.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I think the micrologix would work even better than the PLC I used. Make sure you get right PLC with the correct solid state outputs. The PTO function is controlled by writing values to its control registers. This allows you to control speed and number of steps. The code would be determined by what you want to do with the stepper. What do you really want the stepper motor to do? I can point you in the right direction.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is an extension to my previous comment. I believe using micrologix1100 can work for this application of interfacing with a stepper motor. The link below seems to verify that is the case: This starts on page 130 of the pdf.

    How would the code be written with a PTO instruction? Thanks


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I believe that an Allen Bradley Micrologix1000 or Micrologix1100 can work with the free RSlogix500 Micro-starter software instead of the PLC that is currently being used. Could you please make sure this is correct and let me know if this will interface with the stepper drive module? For the program a timing instruction block (TON delay) can work. Could you please see how you can help with regards to this as well. If need me to be more specific please let me know. Thanks again for your time.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome instructable. I make bicycle parts, and when i make hubs the hardest work is drill the holes for the spokes. And something like this will make my life easier. Even i could make another function for the drill to go down. The only problem is that the indexing head is really expensive in my country.

    Genial. Yo hago partes de bicicletas, y cuando fabrico mazas, la parte mas dificil es hacer los agujeros para los rayos. Y algo como esto me haria la vida mas facil. Incluso podria hacer otra funcion para hacer que el husillo baje. El unico problema es que el indexador es muy caro en mi pais.