CD Drive CNC Machine Steals Matt Groening’s Job, Says ‘Ha Ha’

CD Drive CNC Machine

DIY CNC Machines are fun to build. There are a lot of different designs all over the internet. Some are large and some small. Some are made from new material and others from recycled parts. [Leonardo’s] newest project is at the absolute far end of the small and recycled spectra. His CNC Machine is made from CD Drives and can draw a mean Nelson.

First, the CD Drives were disassembled to gain access to the carriages. These were then mounted to a quick and dirty wooden frame. Notice the Y Axis carriage is mounted with bolts and nuts that allow for leveling of the bed, not a bad idea. A Bic pen mounted to the Z axis carriage is responsible for the drawing duties.

[Leonardo] does something a little different for generating his g-code. First he takes a bitmap image and converts it to monochrome using MS Paint. The image is then imported into Cadsoft Eagle and using a modified import_bmp.ulp script. The bitmap is converted into what Eagle considers wire traces and then outputted as x and y coordinates for each wire complete with a command for lifting and lowering the pen.

A PC sends the move commands via USB, through a PL2303HX USB-Serial TTL Converter, to a PIC16F628A which, in turn, sends step and direction signals to the three Easy Driver stepper motor drivers. The stepper motor drivers are connected directly to the original CD Drive motors.

Check out the video after the break….

CD Drive CNC Machine




10 thoughts on “CD Drive CNC Machine Steals Matt Groening’s Job, Says ‘Ha Ha’

    1. I expect a lot is fairly obvious (power lines, grounds, etc) and the tricky bit (the PIC to stepper wiring) can be established by looking in the source code (at the very start it lists which pins are the dir/step signals for the 3 axis). I certainly wouldn’t go by the photo as it looks a nightmare of wiring!

  1. “There are a lot of different designs all over the internet.”
    Yes, and a lot have been covered here!

    It’s interesting the differences that [Leonardo] went with compared to the one over on Hackaday’s own project site (, or the quick/no-budget build from last year ( and even the 3d-printer which also uses drive trays for motion (

    Hmm… given the propensity for people to complain that hacks (while new and subtly different) are often “repeats”, it may be an interesting exercise when some of the newer, less-detailed hacks appear, to expand it into a retro-summary of some of the other closely related builds that have already been covered in the past (with any updates that they may have had). Arguably more work but always interesting for those of us with longer memories.

    1. I’m doing something similar, but the CD drive motors and hacked together frame won’t perform very well with a load such as an engraver. It’s surprising how much force is needed to hold a spinning motor or dremel in position, even when it’s just cutting through thin copper cladding.

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