When I started out making pickups, I had just bought a bigger lathe and had one of those mini one that I was just going to sell.  I instead turned it into a winder.  I added a counter and made a platen to mount the bobbins to.  Has served me well but it is heavy.  So perhaps it is time to revisit the winder.

This is going to be a simple design consisting of just a DC motor, a PWM motor control (courtesy of Dan Sleep) and a counter.

Still picking out a motor but have ordered the motor controller Motor control via China on Ebay

For a counter, I like the Red Lion Cub series that is also easy to find on Ebay.  Here is a sample counter circuit diagram

Some of the parts are optional like the power indicator led and R1 or even the power switch.  The counter reset is only needed if the Cub you choose doesn't have a reset button on front but instead has two leads for reset.

I used an optical sensor QRB1114 which I think is no longer made but others are available.  I used a washer that I painted half and polished the other half so the sensor can detect and count the turns

The sensor I used was the now discontinued QRB1114 that is in the diagram.  The replacement is the OPB704 available at Digikey for a few bucks.Download the data sheet for the pin out to be able to match the circuit diagram.

Once all the parts arrive, I'll post more including some measured Cad drawings for the base and assorted parts.

PM me if you have any questions


First motor arrived.  Hooked it up and tested.  Lots of torque and good speed control at low rpm.  Motor might be a bit too slow for some but probably better for beginners.  I posted a video.


This motor is 24 volt.  I wanted to test the speed control at the upper limit.  One heat sink gets warm at idle but is fine at speed.  The next motor is 12 volt 1000 rpm.  We will see if that has as good performance as this motor and if it helps the control to run cooler when the motor is idle.  The solution if not is to install a power switch for when the machine is not winding.  The heat sink is big enough, I just like to keep everything running cool.

Next up I'll machine a mount for the motor and a platen to mount the pickup bobbin along with a base to build the winder itself.

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Comment by Don Goguen on May 4, 2013 at 12:48pm

Pretty simple Penny but mechanical counters work poorly at the kinds of speeds most wind at once they learn control and hand patterns.  I often wind at over 600 rpm.  This winder at the speed it goes at would take me forever to wind a coil.  3000 winds at 600 rpm takes only 5 minutes.  This thing might be doing 60 rpm.  Also this he is winding big inductive coils and not small gauge pickup wire.

Comment by Penny Nelson on April 3, 2013 at 4:59am

was checking out youtube for more inspiration on diy counters and coil winders and came accross this gem - like magic! nosoldering required just string and timber lol.... sure it works but my cat would have a field day with this...http://youtu.be/OYDH0ATaP7w

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