With our new project, JustAddSharks, we are very keen to support the development of open source control software for laser cutters. We are more than happy for people to modify our laser cutters, replace the control system with something suitably open source, and then let us know how it goes. Realistically we’re going to have to figure out how to switch the controllers ourselves so we can guide other people through the process.

There are a lot of tutorials online detailing the hardware PWM features of the arduino and how it relates to servo motor control. This instructable will show you how to use the hardware PWM to control a stepper motor instead. We’ll start with the basics of PWM, show briefly how it relates to servo motors and then show the differences for use with stepper motors.

I used the techniques I learned in this project to create a simple Z axis controller for my laser cutter. I used an Arduino pro mini connected to the z axis stepper motor driver to give me improved control over the up down motion of my laser bed.