You can build a 3 axis full step unipolar board like Tom's Easy for less than $30 in parts^ on a whiteboard or by etching your own PCB:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-to-build-CNC-Mill-Stepper-Motor-and-Driver-ci/ Easy to build CNC Mill Stepper Motor and Driver circuits
The design is based on a pair of logic chips, the first one is a simple counter, and Tom has used it to generate logic 00, 01, 10 and 11 on two of the outputs. This is then fed to the second chip which converts it to 1000, 0100, 0010, 0001 which feeds the MOSFET transistors so turning each phase of the motor on in sequence. Another way of doing this is shown here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stepper_Motor_Driver_CD.png
There are a few limitations:
Having said all that, they seem to work pretty well for Tom's little CNC mill design:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL901E6AAC8BC660C3 Tom's Easy to build CNC video playlist
Ref. Qty Description C1 Cap 1 Capacitor 10 volt or more and about 200 uf Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. EEU-FC1J221 Panasonic Digi-Key P10346-ND Ref. Qty Description R1 Res 1 Resistor 1000 ohms [if your voltage is > 15 volts this should be 1/2 watt or more] Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. 5073NW1K000J12AFX Phoenix Passive Comp. Digi-Key PPC1.0KW-1CT-ND Ref. Qty Description R3 Res 1 Resistor 100K ohm Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. ERO-S2PHF1003 Panasonic Digi-Key P100KCACT-ND Ref. Qty Description Zener 1 Zener Diode [ Voltage regulator for ICs] Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. 1N4735A-T Diodes_Inc Digi-Key 1N4735ADICT-ND Ref. Qty Description D1-D4 4 Diodes [ to clamp voltage spikes] Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. 1N4004-TP Diodes_Inc Digi-Key 1N4004-TPMSCT-ND Ref. Qty Description U1 1 IC BCD Up/Down Counter 16-DIP Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. CD4516BE Texas_Instruments Digi-Key 296-2075-5-ND Ref. Qty Description U2 1 IC Decoder CMOS BCD-DEC 16-DIP Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. CD4028BE Texas_Instruments Digi-Key 296-2045-5-ND Ref. Qty Description Q1-Q4 4 MOSFET N-CH 100V 12A TO-220AB Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. RFP12N10L Fairchild_Semiconductor Digi-Key RFP12N10L-ND Ref. Qty Description R2 1 "Lamp Socket [Hldr, Lamp; Wedge; PCB; 23 Series]" Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. 23-35 (PC) Lighting_Components_and_Design ALLIED Electronics 931-2335 Ref. Qty Description Conn. 1 Connector 25 Pin D-Sub Male [You need this to connect to the computer] Part No. Mfg. Source Source Part No. 171-025-113R001 Norcomp_Inc. Digi-Key 4225ME-ND
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