Let's Make Robots!

Vendors I Like

I've noticed a few folks on LMR have mentioned their preferred vendors -- I though I might do the same on my blog.  There are more I'll probably add, but these folks are fresh in my mind. Everyone already knows about SparkFun, Adafruit, Electronics Goldmine, SeeedStudio/NKC Electronics and Gold Phoenix PCB -- this list includes stores I haven't seen mentioned.

__General-Purpose Vendors__

Drill and Mill Bits: Drill Bit City at http://drillcity.stores.yahoo.net/ -- this vendor was recommended in an Adafruit/Ladyada tutorial on PCB making, and I've ordered a few sets of drill/mill bits from here.

Copper-Clad Laminates: abcfab @ ebay -- http://stores.ebay.com/PCB-Laminates-Copper-Clad  -- I think this fellow cuts up boards and sells them.  I just got a brick of 4"x6" SS boards that I can trace/drill -- 50 for the price of 6 at my previous shop.

SMT Components: vakits.com -- This fellow in Florida has 805/1206 SMT components in small quantities for hobbyists to get started on.  I picked up a resistor series, a capacitor series, and am thinking of getting some more parts and a hot plate (a la SparkFun) and doing my next projects with SMT.  Orders >$35 ship free to the USA.

DIP IC Sockets: dipmicro @ebay or www.dipmicro.com -- 20-pin sockets and other stuff, from Canada

Tayda Electronics:  http://www.taydaelectronics.com -- L297/L298 motor controllers on the cheap.  Mouser wanted $11.50 for an L297, Tayda has them for $3.25.  L298 is ~$2.  Thank you, Tayda (ขอบคุณ  (khorb koon))!  Thailand FTW! 

iPod Repair: http://www.digiexpress.us/ -- great site, nice videos -- fixing a smashed iPod screen ($44- incl. S/H) with their video instructions helped get me playing with other electronics (I placed my first Adafruit order shortly thereafter).

__Specialized components__

Minebea PM42 Motors: cpr05 @ ebay -- $2/pc, plus shipping.  These are on my CNC.

ATX Power Supply: TRW Swap Meet in Redondo Beach, CA -- go in person, and if you can find the vendor, $5 buys you a 20-pin 300W ATX PSU with a warranty.


More to come

John_NY_stepper_ppps.jpg100.17 KB

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Thanks for the info! Was looking for a good place to get the L297/L298 combo. Did you ever get the two to drive a stepper motor? Did some searching but only found basic diagrams of how to wire the two together. 


Hi Vince,

The L297/8 combo is modified slightly from the RepRap Stepper Motor Driver 1.2.  My stepper drivers have been working well -- As I'm moving to a Probotix Fireball V90 CNC, I'll see whether they'll be enough to do real routing, but they've done very well for PCBs (pcb-gcode plugin with EagleCAD).

My link/board file: http://letsmakerobots.com/node/15686
Parts List: http://letsmakerobots.com/files/RepRap_Driver1_2.pdf

Here are some more links:




First off I want to apologise about the massive delay in thanking you.

All the details I need in one place! Your post and links answered a lot of questions!

But there are a 2 left (so far),


-In your PDF with the parts list (thank you so much for that one! Makes getting the stuff a hell of a lot easier), there is a part named “Ecap”, I am not sure if it stands for electrolytic capacitor and is just to describe the type of capacitor that is right below it, or is it something else?


-It seems that tayda don’t sell the 1N5919 diode anymore, would the 1N4734 be a suitable replacement? I have no experience with diodes so I don’t know if the fact that the one that you used is 3W and the one I mentioned is 1W would that be suitable or not.  (Trying to get everything in one place)


Again thank you so much for all the info!!

Just to let you know I am not trying to build a CNC (not enough room in the apartment), but I have a few stepper motors from old printers and other appliances and I would really love to do something with them. 

"Ecap" is the electrolytic capacitor.

For the diode ... eep!  It should be 1N5819 ... Schottky, not Zener!

Good thing they don't have 1N5919, or you'd have a problem!  Zener diode with 5.6V drop would give you a 11.2V potential difference between your motor power +/- terminals.  The motors run at 12V or 24V, so it would probably short out and burn your diodes.  Sorry, that was a bad typo!



I have used the stepper driver for some other stepper projects -- here I have a badly designed positioning stage... (because the threaded rod is bent, and the rails don't prevent vertical movement, it tilts forward and back as it moves so it's only good for integer number of rotations of the threaded rod -- rotating halfway tilts the stage forward about 3°).



Got my order from Tayda yesterday.

Thanks for the correction on the diode and the updated and clearer parts list.


That setup you have in the picture, the seeduino with the driver is exactly what I want to build to test and play around with the steppers.


Now all that is missing the board, not sure yet how to make\get it yet. I don’t have any equipment for making PCBs although it wouldn’t be too hard to get (presynthesized pcb, transparent plastic to print on, developer, etching chemical and a box) and would be useful in the future. Might send it off to batchpcb or even ask Krummlink... will have to make a decision on that one.   


If I had my CNC hooked up, and if you lived in a country that's cheap to ship to, I'd volunteer to print two copies of my driver and mail it out.

However, the CNC is not hooked up right now, and is being used as a shelf ...  If you let me know the country you're in, I'll see if I feel like clearing off and making use of my expensive shelf.  I've been looking for a reason to set it up again...

However the reason you'd order from Batch PCB or DorkBot (http://dorkbotpdx.org/) is because you wouldn't have to solder 17 jumpers across the face of the board.




How dare you use it as a shelf?! After all that work! ;)

Well I live in Ireland, but if you were to go through all the trouble of printing the boards the least I could do is pay for shipping! And I wouldn't mind paying for the copper boards as well. 


The 17 jumpers don’t bother me at this point since it will be my first time messing with a stepper motor and driver, all I want is it to work without too much fuss. 


Get the fire extinguisher!

I expected that I'd be able to plug in the CNC, and print you a board this morning.  For some unknown reason, the CNC electronics aren't working as expected, and the lead time on those boards just jumped forward 2 weeks...  :-/

By "electronics aren't working as expected", I mean that the CNC is having a seizure and dumping lots of heat into the heat sinks.  I highly recommend a big "Emergency STOP" switch for CNC machines (it saved my drivers!).

I'll see if I can get it working in reasonable time, but you might want to price other PCB options (seeedstudio, batchpcb, dorkbot, and many others), or consider some prefabricated options (sparkfun starts at $15, seeedstudio starts at $13)...


ps -- so the only problem was that the Arduino ground was not connected to the Stepper Driver ground ... this caused epilepsy and a phenomenon that resulted in the death of one driver.  So maybe I'll have the boards printed, but not today.  <grumble> of all the stupid problems to have... I should know better... </grumble>



Why is it that whenever you try to do something for someone or show them something it never works, no matter how many times you have done it before, something will always go wrong…


I’m just glad you didn’t walk off while it was doing the cutting!!! It could have done even more damage. Sorry to hear about the death of one of your drivers (and the frustration in finding the cause), all because of one stupid pin….

Thank you for trying to print them out so soon! I feel kinda bad ruining your day… the smell of burnt electronics is hard to forget and tends to linger around.   


I’ve seen those ready to go options, but I would much prefer something “homemade” if possible, and I already have most of the parts so…


There is no point ordering a single sided PCB so this might be my chance to mess around with eagle, I barely ever used it and having something to do with it will make learning a lot easier.  It will be some time before I get a chance though, long work days and university doesn’t help much with hobbies. 


It's not the first time I've forgotten to ground the steppers to the Arduino, but last time I did it, it was on the Valkyrie I2C drivers.  If I can make that mistake twice, it's a design flaw, and I should fix it.   If I add a ground pin to my 3-pin "Direction/Enable/Step" header, to make it "Direction/Enable/Step/Ground", then when I connect the headers, they'll share a common ground.

You might want to add that to your design, so that when you connect your steppers to the Seeeduino with the Dir/En/Step you also connect a ground wire on the same header.  That way you can't forget.

My next driver should have a L298N socket, into which I can plug new drivers when the old ones burn.