View Full Version : Indexer automation

02-21-2010, 10:16 AM

I was considering a small project to get me learning about mixing computers and machines. I have an extra, small lathe headstock that I have torn down and cleaned up and also an extra laptop that I keep in the "shop" (garage). I would like to marry the two and have a computer controlled indexer to use on the mill for gear cutting and such activities. (I have a rotab with plates so this is purely a "learning" sort of project)

Where to find the motor, software, controls etc for this project. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


02-21-2010, 10:27 AM
A lathe headstock into a rotary table eh? Hmmm, Well, at least you are starting off with some good bearings!.. I hope :)
the gears are kinda a plus... I mean, gears, bonus. but im not sure if they are quite the right shape to engage a worm...

You might wanna state what I/O ports the laptop has. (USB, Serial, LPT) as that will affect what kinda driving hardware and software you can use to some degree.

Also, if you have a prefrence in OS or not. Windows tends not to be the best for CNC control due to poor realtime proformance, requireing hacks to help correct it. If you plan to use the laptop for other stuff, realise that no matter what the OS it may be unable to do much of anything while CNC is operating, and a dual boot setup would be highly recommended to go beween CNC and 'user checking his e-mail' mode. You don't want your CNC messing up all of a sudden one day because some malware or browser toolbar or tray icon thing is acting up.

02-21-2010, 10:48 AM
Thanks Black_Moons,

The lathe head would basically just be the spindle, bearings and casting. I don't see using any of the gearing. I was looking for something similar to John S and his "automated 5c indexer" posted in the "shop made tools" post. I would build a housing on the rear to hold the motor and belt drive to the spindle.

As for the computer. I don't use it for anything at this point. It is running Windows XP professional but this could be dumped and replaced by any OS that will run on the thing. One limitation is that it only has 512 megs of ram and 5 gigs of hard drive storage if I remember correctly. It has the standard s-video, usb (version 1), serial ports.

My goal is just a heavy spindle with good bearings that I can control with a computer. The spindle matches the chucks and collets that I have in the shop for workholding. One that I can program to advance and hold while a machining process is conducted and then advance to the next point. Nothing to fancy. Like the 4th axis I see on some of these cnc videos.

02-21-2010, 11:01 AM
Stepper, DC power supply, stepper driver, breakout board, you will probly have to use some sort of reduction system, coged belt? Your laptop may not have enough 5V. output to work?
Rotary table rout will be cheaper and less work.
I used a vertex rotary table, mount a stepper directly to the hand wheel and you are off. I use this on a CNC mill and do helical work with it as well. If you are thinking of going with a CNC mill later in life this rout will be a plus. Then you could use your lathe head with a tailstock on the CNC mill to do CNC lathe work. Or better yet sell the head to me. :)


john buck
02-21-2010, 11:15 AM
Go to cnczone and search for KWACKERS . He will show you how to make
a controller.

John Stevenson
02-21-2010, 03:25 PM
Looks reasonable simple to me, you have most of what you need.

Look on this page http://www.divisionmaster.com/
Under examples of use and look at the setup Tony used on his Myford, just below the pic's of my 5C Spin Indexer.

He's basically done to a Myford head what you need to do to your Logan head on the bull gear.

Unfortunately for computer to be useful without spending oodles of dosh on a serial or usb board, it needs a parallel port.

As John says Steve Ward [ Kwackers ] has built a look alike division master, you can also use one axis of TurboCNC or Mach3

Lee in Texas
02-21-2010, 04:43 PM
Here too


02-21-2010, 05:11 PM
Thanks guys,

You have all given me some things to think about.

John S. I like the idea of the "plug and play" unit cuz I have not a clue on making/wiring boards. My old laptop has a parallel port so I would be able to use this version as a slave and a stand alone.

John. Using the lathe head was just one option, I could hook the stepper up to the rotab or better yet build one to work on either.

Lee, that looks good but I could not (at this point anyway) build a controller/driver unit like that.

After some "googling" and your feeback it looks like I need:

Computer with cnc software-driver board-stepper motor (and if the motor is of big enough then a larger power supply for the driver)

Is there a product similar to "division master" that is sold here in the states, just a consideration on the shipping charges?

John Stevenson
02-21-2010, 05:37 PM

Take a look at this


It's a stand alone program, runs on Windows 98 to XP and outputs to the parallel port. You then need a simple breakout board, stepper driver, stepper motor and power supply.

02-21-2010, 06:06 PM
Lot of discussions taking place on this topic here:


02-21-2010, 07:14 PM
so what do you think of this as a "starter kit" for this project. it would give me an extra motor/driver but I'm sure I would find a use for it.

This should be compatible with my laptop and a good cnc program.


John Stevenson
02-21-2010, 07:30 PM
Too expensive for what you need.
Get the second stepper motor down, the cheapest breakout board and the driver.
Use a 24 volt laptop power supply and a parallel cable and that's you set.


02-21-2010, 08:29 PM
Thanks John,

I know it must seem you are talking to a child on this but I really have no experience with such things and am using this as a learning experience. Thanks for your patience.




and a 24 volt laptop power supply.

down load the schematic for wiring and go from there?

02-21-2010, 08:29 PM
For less trouble wiring take a look at this-


Power supply,heatsink and driver all in one and it will drive any motor you hang on it.All for $199.

Then as John said a cheap breakout board and your set.

11-26-2012, 10:42 AM
This is an old one, I know, but I have been looking at this and have an idea for you all to approve or shoot down.

Does this work?


So the totaliser would be something generic like this ebay link.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/12V-4-Digits-Red-LED-Counter-Panel-Meter-DC-Up-Down-Totalizer-with-Relay-output-/261090726585?pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Test_Measurement _Equipment_ET&hash=item3cca3852b9

You would calculate the steps required for the move and enter that number. Then fire in a load of pulses and it would stop at the count.

1. an electronic pulse source. Touch a button and the motor would move.

2. a pulley/gear drive to shift the pulses/turn ratio to something more useful than 1600.

Will it work?

11-26-2012, 02:29 PM
I have done it. I use Mach to make it go. I also included a high torque DC servo motor to run it as a lathe in the mill.


11-26-2012, 10:55 PM
I have done it. I use Mach to make it go. I also included a high torque DC servo motor to run it as a lathe in the mill.


You might know. Evan, that is genius at work.

Carry on.


11-27-2012, 07:47 AM
I'd use a CNC4PC breakout board, a Gecko G251 stepper driver and a stepper motor and LinuxCNC. Scrounge up a power supply and you should be GTG. Your not needing super power just positioning right?


11-27-2012, 09:33 AM
I'd use a CNC4PC breakout board, a Gecko G251 stepper driver and a stepper motor and LinuxCNC. Scrounge up a power supply and you should be GTG. Your not needing super power just positioning right?


You might have trouble getting LinuxCNC to run on your notebook. It doen't like machines that share program memory with the video hardware, which is common in notebooks. You'll probably want to download the bootable CD image and give it a try before loading it.

Deja Vu
11-27-2012, 10:31 AM
You might know. Evan, that is genius at work.

Carry on.


I hope, Evan, that you will post more videos of your machines in operation.
...If you might have any latent clips to throw out to us, links as such as the one above you posted, bring in a huge amount of information while assuring us that you are indeed, as I see you, a genuis!

You complement this web site ...and any where else you may exist.

And of course, a genuis would be none if not also a teacher. You teach me!

p.s. Okay, I'm not say'n it takes one to know one, but how does one know what a genuis comprises if not experienced in the field. ...er, what exactly IS a genuis? ;)