well it's not the motors or motor wiring or power supply. I replaced the
controller board with another one I had around that is not the protoneer
RaspberryPi cnc hat where the drv8825 drivers are installed.
the motors are moving properly, accurate, and at the correct speed. they
also lock position as soon as grbl starts, like I'm used to seeing.
the old board has stepper motor drivers
that look like some pololu.com products you have, but there are no numbers
visible. Too bad they are soldered on or I would move them to the cnc hat
along side the drv8825.
my next step is go to protoneer for help unless you've got more suggestions.
Thank you very much for all of the help
(still betting I've got something wrong.....),