littleBits Piccolo CNC Bot

by littleBits

Published on April 23, 2014

CNC, or computer numerical control, automates and controls tools such as drills and saws that are otherwise controlled manually via wheels, levers and other mechanical systems. This miniature CNC platform allows you to control tools with the littleBits servo motors and various input modules! You can remix the modules on the control panel and swap in a number of cutting and drawing tools! Try it out on a variety of materials.

The littleBits CNC is based on the piccolo CNC project.

The crayon lathe functionality was inspired by our friend, Tmax. Check out his instructable here.

Credits: piccolo CNC

How To Make It


Cut out the piccolo CNC files from 3mm acrylic or some comparable material that is 3mm thick. The cut files for piccolo can be found in the attached file “piccolo_body”.


Gather all of the parts and put the pieces together following the instructions: https://github.com/DiatomStudio/Piccolo/wiki/Piccolo-Assembly-Instructions. The littleBits CNC is based off of the piccolo tiny CNC project; most of the pieces are identical but you will notice a few slight changes from the pieces pictured in the diagrams as pieces were altered to match the littleBits servo motors. You will need 3M screws and nuts, 3 servo modules, and the acrylic pieces you cut out. Notice that all of the pieces are marked with a part number - this will help you figure out which piece goes where! Most of the pieces snap fit together, but you will also need to use screws to hold them together in some places. As you place the motor gears and tracks, be sure they are positioned in the such a way that they are able to slide along the entire track when they turn back and forth!


Once you have put all of the pieces of the CNC together, you will use the bottom board piece to snap it on top of an box platform. The box cut files can be found in the attached file named “piccolo_body” and are labelled as B0A, B0B, etc. You will notice that some of the pieces have tabs that stick out on one end. Assemble the box so that these tabs extend from the bottom side of the box. The tabs will be used to fix the CNC platform to a baseboard. This file also contains the parts for a framed platform that designates the CNC cut area, marked F0 and F1, and the cut files for the rotary attachment holder, marked R1, RH, etc.


Now that you have put together the CNC, it’s time to see if it works! Build the test circuit diagramed in the file named “piccolo_circuit” and slide the servos and dimmers back and forth to make sure your servos are all moving properly. Attach a pen to the pen holder and try to draw lines or a box.


It is time to build your control board. Cut out a base for the CNC from the attached file named “CNC_controlboard”.


Place the CNC machine into the corresponding slots in the baseboard. It should sit snugly.


Screw the frame in the holes right below the z-axis of the CNC so that it is stable. You can use the small tabs on the edges of the frame for securing materials down with rubber bands.


Place 1 or 2 mounting boards (coming soon!) below the frame and glue or tape them down


Detach your control circuit from the servos and rebuild it on the protoboard space. You will need to add wire modules to connect the servos to the controller circuit. You can run the wire through holes on the base if you’d like to hide them, or just try to keep them together with zipties, string or tape.

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