Semi-Automatic Milling Machine Control with Pair of Arduino Nanos
The type of CNC machinery that you’ll generally find in garages and makerspaces use stepper motors to position a cutting tool with respect to a workpiece. This is normally controlled with a computer or Arduino setup, which generates movements in a pre-programmed path. Usually this works just fine; however, YouTuber Electronoobs decided to make a sort of semi-automatic machine where movement is still controlled by stepper motors, but instead triggered manually by a series of buttons.
His configuration uses an Arduino Nano and a pair of A4988 stepper driver boards to produce the proper pulses, while a second Nano keeps track of motor rotations and displays distance data via an LCD screen. While — at first — it seems like a strange solution, at around $2 for a second board, it’s actually a pretty cost-effective way to keep track of everything.
As for why one would want this kind of control, it could be a great stepping-stone for learning how a CNC machine works, or for controlling other stepper-driven inventions. One could also image a machine that implements more advanced functionality in this type of machine, such as carving curves in pre-defined diameters, and other functions that extend what a “manual” machine is capable of.