DIY 3axis CNC Plotter Out of Old Printers




CNC router is made from two old printers and old CD player. I used
parts that I found in the basement, I collect a lot of electronic
and mechanical things that I find out the garbage or on the internet.
I made the electronic from passive components. I did not want to use
microcontrollers because it is not easy to obtain them here in
Croatia, there is only PIC to buy here and they are very very
expensive here. All 3 drivers for stepper motors is made of two IC
and output power amplifiers that provide power to motors. CNC
electronics is designed for unipolar stepper motors.. I had only one
unipolar and bunch of bipolar motors, I had to open two bipolar motor
and connected to the coil middle wire to motors become unipolar motors
that I could work with them. Schematics is a very simple and made from
standard parts that can be purchased at any electronics store.
The only thing you need is a CD-4516 which is CMOS up / down counter
and a CD-4028 BCD-to-decimal decoder and its output is connected to
power amplifiers for the motors. Software is the Mach3, and he directs
the signals to the parallel port, you need two pins for one axis.
These pins are step and direction, step determines the speed of
rotation of the stepper. Up / down counter and BCD decoder divides the
signal into 4 pieces for controlling motors. So there is no need for
Microcontrollers! And I made 3 stepper drivers for each axis and plug
it into my computer and configured Mach3 for pins.

Electronics cost me about $ 20 so you do not get rid of old printers,
but make your own CNC machine with three axes, can be a mill, lathe,
plotter! Enjoy video! You can use any CNC software, like EMC for linux

P.S.  I have no idea who is the author of drawn picture, i just downloaded it from devart..

[UPDATE] October 2nd 2011

Unfortunatly, i dont have time so i made schematic, do everything that is inside schematic and
it will work!

here are links to schematic:

You can use up to 32V so it's not only for 12V, and one more thing this schematic is based on Tom McGuire's schematic, i aded few things to make it work because direction pins didn't work on his schematic, so this will work without any problem!

If you have any questions, comment!



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    43 Discussions


    if you want, you can just use a software thats used for 3d printers or cnc mill machines

    for simple use i recommend :


    4 years ago on Introduction


    This is an old post but I am trying to build it and I have a question. What is the function of the diodes on the LPT ports 3, 5 and 7? I see that they are the connect to the output pin of the 555, but I dont see what is the function of that.

    Thank you very much,



    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hello sir i just find epson oki stepping motor 4 wire. and i see on ur cnc using 5 wire. can i use my motor stepper, and how to do that?

    i have read some tutor on
    but i dont know how to use that schematics, maybe anyone can help me.

    thank you


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Sir the plotter you made is the most smoothest in terms of execution among all the potters that I have seen.
    Will there be a detailed Instructable of your plotter in future?
    B'coz we are anxious waiting to make the amazing Machine...
    Good job...Sir,waiting for you Instructable. :-)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Mr worf
    I'm Tin, would you like share shematic to my email. the picture is low resolution, can't see
    and last question.
    How to you connect to PC and calibration it .use EMC2 right?
    Tin Phan


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, what diode you use in this circuit and what king of transitor you use (the small one).

    Thank you


    5 years ago on Introduction

    hello ;°
    can I connect this one without arduino panel?
    how i can made interface for serial Com?

    I have everything setup as is in the schematic for one axis except that I am using LEDs in place of the stepper motor for now.

    When I run the setup with the 555, my LEDs flash accordingly but they run non-stop, with or without the arduino connected.

    With the 555 disconnected as well as the arduino, it appears I am getting noise. One LED is brightly lit and the other 3 flicker randomly.

    With the 555 disconnected but with the arduino running with GRBL, when I run some GCODE through, the same LED remains brightly lit and the other LEDs are flashing in a manner that is consistent each time I run the same code.

    Can anyone suggest what I might do to correct these issues?

    Thank you

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hello! You are getting static noise on input, so you need to connect it to computer and you will get no static noise.. 555 timer is used for controlling machine without computer so 555 is optional..


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Could this design be re-worked to be both a printer AND a scanner, and to be color-capable as well? Interested in building such a one for use with projects that still have yet to make it to the drawing board and do not yet even exist on paper.
    If it were both a printer and a scanner, then these projects could reach drawing boards and exist in practice.

    Thanx either way.

    Thank you for this post.

    Is it possible to use a SN754410NE chip between the 4028 and the stepper motor? If so, could someone post instructions on how to wire them up.


    this is so awesome!! great work there! are there any building plans or instructables yet?? I got all fired up to try and build anything like this


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hola amigo, me encanta su proyecto yo soy de Costa Rica, y no se nada de electrónica ni de programación, pero me encantaría poder hacer una belleza de estas, es posible que yo pueda construirla yo tengo varias impresoras y escaners viejos que no uso y me gustaría aprovecharlos, otra pregunta que tamño tiene la maquina final, porque en las fotos parece muy grande.
    Muchas gracias por compartir tu proyecto.
    Mariano Prado

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooooo - YEAH !!

    IM Sooooooooooooo looking forward to this instructable and electronics made from scratch will be very very interesting, but any chance of making an Arduino Run it all, i mean, im an electronics beginner at the moment so not quite sure i could help there but not many pc's have a parallel port anymore and there are so very many cheap USB to serial converters out there (parallel too ???!!???) i was wondering if an Arduino would be a contender in your construction plans ?

    anyhoo, regardless of my day-dreaming im so very excited to learn from your instructable and also will be making one of my own from your great 'ible when its done !!

    Extremely Inspirational already !


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful piece of work, thanks for sharing! I look forward to the Instructable.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi there, That is a good work you have done, there are some components along with the timer IC 555 where values are not mentioned, please if possible give the values, that would be nice. Thanks


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi there It is good job you have done, but you have not mentioned the values for the components around timer 555. It would be good to know these values too. thanks for your hard work again.