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The CNC Controller

The CNC controller is the brain of a CNC system. A controller completes the all important link between a computer system and the mechanical components of a CNC machine. The controller's primary task is to receive conditioned signals from a computer or indexer and interpret those signals into mechanical motion through motor output. There are several components that make up a controller and each component works in unison to produce the desired motor movement.

The word “controller” is a generic term that may refer to one of several devices, but usually refers to the complete machine control system. This system may include the protection circuitry, stepper or servo motor drivers, power source, limit switch interfaces, power controls, and other peripherals. Owners, operators, designers, and builders of CNC devices should understand the tasks performed by these components and how they affect machine performance.

The following sections will discuss the primary task of each component in the controller and how they work together to create a complete CNC system.

CNC Controller Sections

CNC Controllers background
This section covers the history of controllers and where they have advanced to today.

Controllers Components
This section covers the components that make up a CNC controller system and how they work together to control the machine.

Open Vs. Closed Loop controllers
This section covers the difference between open and closed loop CNC systems

CNC Control Signals
This section covers how the control signals used by a controller system to operate

Breakout Boards
This section covers the function of a breakout board and how it integrated into a CNC system.

Communication Port pin information

Stepper Motor Drivers
This section covers stepper motor control. The different types of stepper motor drivers will be compared.

Uni-polar vs Bipolar Drivers
This Section covers the differences between uni-polar and bipolar stepper motor drivers.

Stepper Driver Step Modes
This Section covers the different step modes such as Full, Half, and Microstepping.

Buying Stepper Motor Drivers
This section covers the features to look for when buying stepper motor driver.

Servo Motor Drivers
This section covers servo motor control. The different types of servo motor drivers will be compared.

This section covers enclosures for your controller hardware. Often overlooked, the enclosure is an important part. Bad enclosures can cause overheating or shorts due to debris.

Controller Prices
This section covers generic controller prices. What you should expect to pay and also some tips for saving money.

Where to buy controllers?
This section list a few good resources for buy controller parts and kits.

Controller Power Supplies
This section covers the power supply. Choosing the right power source is crucial for proper machine function.

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Builder's Guide
Check out the Builder's Guide. The Builder's guide walks you through the important decisions and design considerations when building your own CNC router.
Check out the calculators and charts section.
CNC Controllers
CNC Controllers
Check out the CNC Controllers section. The CNC controllers sections convers all aspects of CNC control; Stepper motor control, Servo Motor Control...

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