Yep, that was the problem! I guess i misunderstood, and thought i only needed to hook that up if I was using it for 3D printing. Manual controls work great now.
Also, just as a matter of documentation, i saw some posts where people had problems communicating with the board on a Mac. I edited the configuration.h in the firmware, and changed
#define BAUDRATE 250000
#define BAUDRATE 115200
and now i can connect to the board no problem.
Thanks again for the quick response Bert.