DIY Arduino CNC Drawing Machine




About: Hey Guys, My name is Surajit Majumdar. I'm from India. now I'm 19 years old, studying at college. Making diy project its my hobby ,passion and I love making awesome diy project from scratch, I had started DI...

Hello Guys, In this instructable I'm going to show you how to make an Arduino CNC plotter from old DVD writers. This is an amazing machine. You can make this machine for your school, college science project. It can write and draw anything. This is also very easy to make. So let's get started.

If you like this project then please do vote for me guys. I really need your support :)

Here's the demonstration and tutorial video.

Step 1: Parts List

We need this following parts to make this CNC plotter.

Parts list:

  • Old DVD writer (2x)
  • Arduino Nano.
  • L293D Motor Driver IC (2x)
  • IC Base (2x)
  • Micro Servo Motor.
  • PCB Board
  • Male And Female Header Pin.
  • Barrel Socket.
  • Acrylic Sheet 3mm

Tools List:

  • Solder iron.
  • Super Glue.
  • Mini Handsaw.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Ruler.
  • Marker Pen.

Step 2: Making the Pieces for Frame

Here I'm using the acrylic sheet to make the frame for the CNC plotter. It is a very good choice for making the enclosure for every DIY Project. Personally, I frequently use this sheet to make the enclosure for my DIY Projects. It is easy to cut, bend and sand. It is also so affordable.You can use the following process to make pieces for the frame.

  1. Take the measurement of the acrylic sheet for the enclosure to your need and mark it with a marker pen.
  2. Then use your handsaw to cut the pieces.
  3. Use sandpaper to smooth the pieces.

Step 3: Making the Base

In this step, I'm going to make the base for my CNC plotter. So follow the step carefully.

  1. First, apply super glue on one piece of acrylic then attach this piece with another two pieces.
  2. Again use the super glue to attach the X-axis frame.
  3. Then attach another two pieces for better support.

Step 4: Removing the Stepper Motor

We need two old DVD writers for this project. You can find old and broken DVD writer on local computer hardware store. Usually, they do not use this DVD writer so they can give you it at the very low price. I got one for free and I had another one laying around. So I decided to use it for my CNC project.

  1. First, disassemble two DVD driver and take off the stepper motors.
  2. Then use your screwdriver to open the stepper motor and rails from the frame.

Step 5: Hacking the Slider for X and Y Axis

  1. First, take off the two sliders from their rails.
  2. Use your handsaw to cut the two little pieces from the slider
  3. Then attach the two pieces using super glue.

Step 6: Attaching the Sliding Rods

In this step, we'll attach the sliding rods to its frame. So follow the step below.

  1. First, take one sliding rod and insert it into the slider.
  2. Then apply super glue to attach the sliding rod with its frame and hold it still for some time.
  3. Use the above method to attach another rod.
  4. Repeat same procedure to attach sliding rods with X-axis frame

Step 7: Mounting the Stepper Motors

Now we'll mount the stepper motors. Use your screwdriver to mount the stepper motor to X and Y Axis.

Step 8: Attaching the X and Y Axis

In this step, we'll attach the Y-Axis on the top of X-Axis. Follow the above picture to attach both axes.

Step 9: Making the Z- Axis

I have seen many people got stuck on this part but I'm going to show you how to make a perfect Z-Axis. So follow steps below.

  1. Take the required parts for the Z axis like Sliding rod, pen spring, compass pencil holder, some acrylic pieces.etc
  2. first, take your sliding rod and insert it into its holder and insert pen spring after that use a small piece of the plastic holder to hold the pen spring.
  3. Then apply super glue on the sliding rod holder and attach it to the acrylic frame.
  4. After that attach a small piece of acrylic on the top of sliding rod, it also works to move the pen up and down.
  5. Then attach the pen holder at the end of sliding rod.
  6. Finally, mount the servo motor using the super glue.

Step 10: Attach the Z-Axis

Attach the Z-Axis to Y-axis using superglue as the above pictures showing.

Step 11: Solder Wire With Motors

First, cut the flexible PCB of the motors, then solder wire with motors. I'm using small pieces of a marker pen to hold my circuit board little higher.

Step 12: The Circuit Diagram

Here's the complete circuit diagram, connect everything according to the circuit diagram. If your steppers don't work properly then you have to find correct working combination by changing the pins of the L293D IC. You can also adjust the IC pins in code.

Step 13: Making the Circuit Board

In this step, I'm going to show you how I made my Circuit board. First, insert the IC bases and all the header pins, then solder its pins, after that make every connection according to its circuit diagram. You have to do it very carefully and precisely.

Step 14: Assembling the Circuit Board

First Mount the both IC, then the Arduino nano and at the end connect the wires. We're done :)

Step 15: Uploading the CNC Code

In this step, we'll upload the CNC code to Arduino.

  1. First, connect the Arduino board with PC through USB cable.
  2. Select correct port and board.
  3. Then upload the CNC code.

Programming Video Tutorial

Step 16: The GCTRL Program

Now we are ready to print our first image. We'll use the processing software to run the gctrl.pde program. This program sends the 'gcode' images to the CNC plotter.

  1. First, open the processing software and open the gctrl.pde program for the cnc machine.
  2. Then click the run button, one new window will open.
  3. Press p button to select the current port.
  4. Press g button to select the gcode.

Step 17: We're Done :)

I hope this tutorial helps you to build your own Arduino CNC Drawing machine. You have made your own CNC project then please send a photo in the comment section. I am very excited to see your own creation.

Later I'll keep updating this instructable.

Thanks for watching project, I hope you liked this project, if you did then please follow me I'll keep posting awesome new projects. Also, don't forget to SUBSCRIBE my YouTube channel.

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77 Discussions


Question 10 months ago

How much external supply u give to a steeper motor because as describe in video the circuit is coonected power through laptop but the laptop can't give more than 5v and the stepper motors required 9-12v for run??

2 more answers
Adip RaiDarshan934223

Answer 11 days ago

6 volt is enough. From my experience, if the voltage exceeds the motor heats up quickly which may impose risk of damaging it. But I used CNC V3 shield.


Question 10 months ago

where did you get the parts for the z-axis in step 9?
From the DVD writer or other?
Thank you.

2 more answers
Adip RaiAndreaC108

Answer 11 days ago

I m sure the author used the slider(laser housing) and the slider rod from CD drive.

Adip RaiAmit4742

Answer 11 days ago

You can look for app in store, it is available.

Adip Raiawesome_arduino

Answer 11 days ago

You must first keep in mind that L293D is a driver circuit, whose role is to control the motion of the stepper motor depending upon the data sent by the microcontroller (atmega chip as in the case of Arduino uno R3).
The coding does depend upon the firmware and the software used to generate the codes.


Question 8 months ago on Step 1

Which type of acrylic sheet I have to use ??

And which aurdino nano I have to use .?can I use robocraze aurdino nano ?

2 more answers
Adip Raiajwin

Answer 11 days ago

I used heater plate (bought it from hardware) to construct. Its cheap.

Surajit Majumdarajwin

Answer 8 months ago

you can 3 or 4mm acrylic sheet and any Arduino nano :)


Question 8 months ago on Step 15

Can you please tell me how to make a gcode?? And can I make PDF a g code? Or only photo?? And how to adjust nib size ??

2 more answers
Adip Raiajwin

Answer 11 days ago

You can use images of jpg and PNG format. In the case of PDF images, you can use snipping tool to copy image and paste it on paint and save it in either jpg or PNG format.


Answer 8 months ago

G-Code is a file type (commonly '.gcode' or '.gco') that consists of "g" commands. Here you can find all the commands in gcode. What the slicer program ( e.g. Cura, Slic3r, Simplify3D) does is it takes your 3D model ('.stl') and chops it up into XYZ coordinates to print. G code would look something like this:

G92 E0


G1 F1500

G1 X2.0 Y2.0 F3000

G1 X3.0 Y3.0

Hope this helps!


Question 27 days ago on Step 13

I can't understand the connection of circuit board and diagram..??

Upadrasta pasyanth harsha

Question 2 months ago on Step 16

Program I don't know what I can do
My cnc circuit is ready but program
I want please send me


3 months ago

DEMOROU, mas conseguiu fazer funcionar o conjunto, agora vamos fazer testes e ver se vai funcionar com outras figuras. Obrigado!


Question 5 months ago

Great project! I was wondering if it were possible to adjust the speed of the drawing arm? I would like to build a version of this that can draw simple shapes (like a circle or a line back and forth) at different speeds. This is for an experiment i'm designing.