This is my third installment of the CNC Cookbook CNC Kit build.
In the first installment (unpacking the CNC Router Kit), I introduced the project, discussed why I picked the Shapeoko over other kits, included some details about how to do a time-lapse video, and gave a time-lapse video of unboxing the Shapeoko XXL we are building.
In the second installment (assembling CNC Router Kit), I got on with finishing the mechanical aspects of building the Shapeoko XXL CNC Router Kit. Everything went very smoothly and I was quite impressed with the quality of the kit.
This week’s installment is the most excitement because I got make the machine run for the first time and do something!
I know some of you were probably wondering what had happened since there was a good sized delay getting this one out, and the answer is simple–I took the family down South to Disneyland and Universal. I must say, the quality of the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal was awesome. I also have to say, every time I go to one of these theme parks my eyes feast on all the cool stuff that was made on CNC machines. I have a friend who has done a lot of work for Disney and their attention to detail is quite amazing.
But, that’s not why we’re here.
Save one mishap which I’ll get to, the wiring was pretty straightforward and the pre-assembled wiring harness is a very nice touch.
My Shapeoko XXL came with a Makita trim router as its spindle. It looks like a fine piece of kit (as I think our UK cousins might say) and I look forward to trying it.
Carbide Motion Software
With everything hooked up, it was time for the moment of truth. First step was to enable homing and home the machine. I found this a bit arcane, as it required entering some secret incantations into a command line interface, but it was well documented. I did suggest they just put a button to set that up so people can skip the weird stuff.
Homing is actually where I hit my first obstacle on this project, but before that, here’s the obligatory time lapse of me rushing around doing the final touches on this Desktop CNC Router Kit:
Wiring and Spindle Install for the Shapeoko CNC Kit…
A Hitch in Hooking Up the Homing Switches
I want to note that while the wiring step was easy, getting it to work had a hitch. The docs say that the homing switch connectors will be labeled X, Y, and Z. Mine were not, no label on them at all. There were some faint dots on the wires–one had 1 dot, the next had 2, and the last had 3. I suspected that might mean X, Y, and Z, and proceeded to connect them up on that assumption.
Normally, I am used to the idea that homing switches are wired in series with a normally closed configuration. This is done (same for E-Stops) so that if there is a break in the wiring or a lose connection, the circuit opens and nothing untoward can happen. Alas, that’s not how this little control works.
If you fire it up with the switches connected incorrectly (as mine were), and attempt to home the machine, you get a really nasty noise as it crashes into the stop and tries to just keep right on going. I don’t believe it can harm the machine, but it certainly gets your attention and sends you scrambling for the power switch, LOL. I sent the Carbide3D fellows a note suggesting that if they’d set it up per convention, it wouldn’t matter which order the connectors were plugged in and it might save some trouble. I also suggested some kind of stop button on the console so you can get the thing to stop if it is crashed without having a panic.
I wound up having to dig out my multimeter and ohm out the connections to get the situation corrected. No big thing, but I did spend a considerable amount of time fussing with it, and I suspect some beginners wouldn’t be equipped to go that route.
If you should have to do this, here’s a trick. You can’t get the test probe down into the little connector, so I used some resistors I had sitting around and stuck them in the plug and then touched the multimeter tips to the resister leads to check continuity. Worked like a champ!
With the homing problem taken care of, it was time for the machine to do it’s first interesting thing. The docs suggest running their, “Hello, World!” sample g-code and using a Sharpie zip-tied to the spindle to trace the tool path. Seemed like a great idea!
Here’s how that first g-code program ran:
I liked the Shapeoko kit a lot and I’m glad to have it. I’m looking forward to completing some fun woodworking projects with it, and of course I’ll keep you posted. If you have any questions for me about the Shapeoko, sing out in the comments. Keep in mind, I haven’t had much time to evaluate it yet though.
If you want to see the whole process from start to finish, I have created a YouTube Play List here:
Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you’ll see the Shapeoko (and other) projects I put together with this machine going forward. I’ve got something in mind that I’ve already started doing CAD videos for.
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