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Danny's Corner

It moves

My Shapeoko had been on the back burner for so long, but recently it came back to life!  So lets get up to date on what happened to get here.

Back in 2015, I snapped up a X-Carve upgrade kit for my Shapeoko 2 on a black Friday sale.  All of their first gen plates and most of the gantry parts were included for the bargain price of $120 shipped.  That promptly got put on the shelf and more or less forgotten about as my 3D printers were more fun to play with.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the parts gathering picked up in earnest. Amazon had a sale on a Dewalt 611. I couldn't resist. Of course, that meant I had to get more parts!
I contacted for 250mm x 1000mm extruded plate, a healthy dose of T-nuts, brackets, and other extrusions.  Luckily, they're local and I saved a bundle by picking it up.
An order was put in to for several pounds of hex bolts of various sizes. took some more of my money in exchange for a Dewalt 611 spindle mount and 1000mm maker slide.

With all that done, everything was promptly assembled and then sat.  My Shapeoko 2 wire management always felt lacking and I wanted something that would work well.  So, I started drawing up my wire management solution and came up with something that I think works quite well for testing.  After a few revisions to work out the kinks, it sat again.

I just didn't want to run the gshield, and I didn't want to buy the XController either.  An purchase later and a genuine Protoneer CNC Shield V3.51 kit was assembled and populated with spare DRV8825 stepsticks I had lying around.  I figure the CNC Shield will give me much more flexibility when I figure out what stepper motors and drivers I want to use.  But, it again sat.

When I finally got tired of staring at the Shapeoko in its sad state, I mustered up the courage to tackle the electricals.  Electron plumbing and me just don't get along.  Nevermind that everything I need to do here, I've already done before successfully with my 3D printers and other oddball projects.  It's just not something I enjoy.  It was time though.  A marathon session of wire crimping, followed up with a session of updating software (UGS), firmware (grbl), settings (grbl), and me simply getting over my fear of crashing the darn thing, lead to a successful homing cycle.

Much more to do. SSR's are sitting on my desk and they need a bracket to locate both them, AC outlets and inlets for further testing. I plan on using them to switch both the spindle and a vacuum.  Along with the electric testing, I need to order up beefier steppers, shopvac hose, and some lumber to create an enclosure...  It seemingly never ends.

But it's getting there.

Repairs, printed brackets, and wiring

Spent a bit of time to design and print out some simple prototype bracketry to make my life a little easier as I begin my rewire project for the Shapeoko. I still haven't figured out how I'll arrange these items permanently, but I think form will follow function and a layout will present itself as I go along.

Overall, the parts managed to print out pretty well, but not great. My blue printer needs a bit of tweaking for the PETG filament I'm using. Seems I'm still over extruding, but the rest appears to be firing on all cylinders. The metal shelled connectors I'm using all slotted home just fine and look pretty dashing with their labels above. I'm surprised that the word "Pendant" came out legibly.

Here's a closer shot of the Arduino mount I made. The mount holds not only the Arduino but also a 30mm fan. One of the challenges of using a Gshield is controlling the heat pouring off the stepper driver ICs. So I've added heatsinks both to the top of the ICs and much larger ones to the bottoms of them. The heatsinks on the tops of the ICs will probably do next to nothing, but the bottom ones will be really advantageous. The overall design is going to change a bit more, but as a prototype it's working out pretty great.

I also began working on some of the wiring itself and fashioned out 5 terminated leads that plug into the Gshield and the Screw shield stacked onto the Arduino. My soldering skills need to improve, luckily heatshrink will forever hide my crimes.

Sadly, while my small creations worked out pretty well, something I purchased well over a year ago but never used was defective. The 24v 10A power supply I will use to power the steppers was damaged during shipping. The outer enclosure had a pretty good dent in it and sadly it made noise when I shook it. The toroid coil inductor had broken off the PCB. I fixed it, but I'm not so confident in the power supply. We'll see. It does power on, delivers volts as designed, and didn't catch on fire or go up in smoke during the hour it was turned on. But it's just hard to trust it now?

Safety first

Printed out the e-stop enclosure, and everything came up roses. I did have to tweak my 3D printer quite a bit, but the resulting part came out great.

The wiring of a typical emergency stop switch is pretty simple. All you're really looking to do is disconnect the live (black) AC wire. The ground (green) and the neutral (white) wires can stay connected. As long as you short the live wire, power stops flowing.

Since I'm pretty freaked out about AC mains power, all the wires connected to the plugs were soldered and shrink wrapped. The other ends were all given insulated crimps so it can all be taken apart if necessary. This specific switch is rated for 10A. That's probably enough for what I've got planned. All the wires are 16awg and should be able to soak up 15A or more without a sweat.

More to do, but at least its a start.


Slow progress on things, but that's probably because I lost quite a bit of time recovering after "a late shift" as my mom calls it. That sort of down time means I can just play on the laptop. Been working on various bits of brackets and such for the electronics that run the Shapeoko. This is probably the first one I'm happy with so far. It's a simple emergency stop box. 

Some more refinements will probably be made. I'm still trying to make it as small as possible. I may reverse this part to shave off a few more millimeters.

There isn't much to it though. Two plugs that help shuttle the electrons in and out, with a big fat red switch for when things go south. It could have been smaller if I had some snap-in power receptacles. Ah well. This'll do just fine.

Breaking the cycle

There are a lot of things that can make a project of mine stall out. Much of it boils down to indecision. What causes that indecision varies. In this case, my Shapeoko is in pieces because I can't make up my mind on how to put it in a box with all of the ancillary systems.

For a long while, I was committed to putting all of the electronics into a box. I rearranged them around endlessly until I came up with the above.

But then I got the bright idea of arranging the components to be a part of the box I wanted to put the shapeoko inside of. This box would aid in dust collection but also keep the noise down.

And then I got stuck on what the box should look like and how it would function. And now I'm coming full circle that I do not want to integrate the electronics into the enclosure and instead have a dedicated box off to the side...

This is all probably because I simply haven't used my Shapeoko all that much since I've owned it. A tough realization, but a true assessment. I'm not really sure what my Shapeoko enclosure should look like since I'm not quite sure what characteristics it needs to have. So, to break out of this cycle, I'm going to make a simple box for the Shapeoko to sit inside of. I'll also be bolting down all of the electronics to a board. A simple step. One that will get me using this machine instead of futzing over how I think I'll use the machine.