CNCCookbook: Be a Better CNC'er

Want to be a better CNC'er?

Get our weekly newsletter plus a package of greatest hits, special tips, and more, all for free.

I'm Ready to Be a Better CNC'er, Hook Me Up!


Building a Manual Stepper Controller

Here is the original circuit presented by Mariss Freimanis on the Yahoo CAD CAM DRO group:

I modified the original circuit slightly to accept Step In and Direction In inputs so that you can use the controller in conjunction with other sources of stepper pulses. For example, you could run the Step/Dir connections from a CNC breakout card to these inputs and be able to run either CNC or Manual control.

Here is the revised schematic (developed with's free software):

Manual Stepper Motor Controller Schematic


This circuit is untested and unsupported. Use at your own risk. I haven't even built it, and know for a fact there is at least one error (tying the AND gate outputs together) that would prevent it working properly.


+5V Supply


Forward: Ground to start running forward.

Reverse: Ground to start running in reverse.

Potentiometer Low: 1M ohm speed control potentiometer.

Potentiometer Wipe + Hi: 1M ohm speed control potentiometer. Tie the wiper to high and connect.

Select Controller: Ground for controller to drive step and direction outputs

Pass Through: Ground to pass Step In to Step Out and Direction In to Direction Out

Step Out: To Gecko Drive.

Direction Out: To Gecko Drive.

Parts List (BOM)

Circuit Board Layout

Here is what the board would look like according to ExpressPCB:

Manual Stepper Controller PC Board Layout

According to their pricing wizard, you could purchase quantities of these boards from them for the following prices:

2 $98.83 = $49.42 per board
4 $116.84 = $29.21 per board
10 $170.86 = $17.09 per board


$352.92 = $11.76 per board

As you can see, there is a significant fixed setup cost, so ordering lots of boards gets the per-board price to go way down. I've also been told by two different individuals that it would be easy to lay this board out for single layer, which would save a lot of costs. I may take a look at that. I can already see some ways to improve on this layout, and I've also been advised of some errors which I'm working on fixing.

Back to E-Leadscrew Home Page...


Featured Articles

Step-By-Step Guide to Making CNC Parts

CNC Router Cutter Types

Why Use a Single Flute Endmill?

Step and Servo Motor Sizing

The Truth About Tool Deflection

10 TIps for Router Aluminum Cutting

2 Tools for Calculating Cut Depth and Stepover

CNC Machine Hourly Rate Calculator

Special Purpose CNC Calculators

Feeds and Speeds Guide

CNC Cutter Guide

Feeds and Speeds By Material

G-Code Tutorial

  Feed Rate Calculator

Sales, and Special Deals


GCode is complicated.
G-Wizard Editor
makes it easy.

Try It!


Feeds and Speeds:
Made Easy.

Try G-Wizard



Do you want to be a better CNC'er in 37 Seconds?

Get Better Tool Life, Surface Finish, and Material Removal Rates Fast.

It's that easy. You can install and get results in a matter of minutes.


Start Now, It's Free!