Woodpecker CNC

Basic operational overview of the generic desktop CNC

3018 CNC [DRAFT]

This CNC is a cheap and cheerful generic machine from China (Aliexpress special – buy yourself one here if interested). It appears to use a cloned "Woodpecker Controller" to drive the stepper motors, which is basically an Arduino (using the 328p chip) with some stepper drivers. The board is loaded with software called GRBL (we choose to pronounce it gerbil, like the animal).

Attention: This document is very much a draft and has been written more as reference for those setting it up than anything else. Please do not attempt to use the router until proper safety and procedual documentation is made, and a training program is implemented. It is likely to be expected members will need to use this machine first before moving onto the other CNC machines (mill, router[s], etc.)

Quick User Guide

Attention: This information should not be used as a replacement for proper training with an authorised member of the Makers. It is provided here as a simple checklist for approved operators so they can operate the machine safely every time. Only members approved by the Executive team of the Makers are permitted to use this machine.

[Coming soon!]

Software Controller

For now, controlling the machine in 2D is easiest with Easel by Inventables as it is browser based and very simple to use (you will need to install a driver on the host computer though). If you want to use a V-shaped bit, you will need a Pro account – however, everyone gets a few free days of using a Pro account each month which is plenty for occasional use. Hopefully someone can look into getting Pro accounts for our members in the future?

No one has yet looked into how to carve in 2.5D, please update this document if you find something suitable. In the future, it is expected that a standalone controller will be built based on a Raspberry Pi. This will allow users to generate g-code using standard CAM software and to upload it via a web interface - no longer requiring a host computer to stay connected.


Currently, version 1.1f of GRBL is installed. As it is just an Arduino based device with a bootloader included, you can use the Arduino IDE to update the firmware if needed in the future. Once you do though, the machine settings will be for a machine that is not ours. Make sure you reset the various settings so that it runs as expected, otherwise all of your carved designs will be a lot smaller than anticipated.

These are the settings you need:

Code Value Friendly Description
$0 10 $1600
$1 25 $12
$2 0 $1

NOTE: This is currently experimental. It appears to work, but @ben suspects there are some slight issues somewhere.

Needed Work

  • Figure out the exact settings for the controller board to function smoothly
  • Install the hard limit switches and set up the software
  • Look into free Pro Easel accounts for members?
  • Set up a Raspberry Pi based controller