Well apparently Dr. Pepper has caffeine. So, I'm up later than I want to be on a Friday night. I have had a circuit setup on a breadboard to run some steppers. Tonight I found a scrap of PCB that was big enough to transfer the loose wires to something more permanent.
The board is quite simple, a 555 sets up a step pulse (similar to what EMC will send via the parallel port) into RA2 on the PIC16F716 which is programmed to output a full step wave drive to 4 pins. The PIC is programmed to reverse when RA3 is high - I have not yet soldered in a switch to pull that line up, so for now it just drives forward.
This will be used when building assembling the CNC frame / guides while away from the computer to manually drive the various steppers. It is also a test bed for programming the PIC to drive the steppers, and future evenings will have me build a couple of PIC only stepper drivers (no 555, just step & dir input lines).