Controller Upgrade

I have upgraded my Shapeoko 2 to basically a X-Carve with Nema 23 motors. Since I’m on a budget can I use my original g-shield/grbl Shapeoko 2 controller for the time being?


depends on what current they draw

Yes you can, but you wont utilize the potensial of the Nema23´s.
If on a budget, the cheapest upgrade that can take the Nema23´s to max is TB6600 drivers.
Get 4 and connect them directly to the Arduino.

I upgraded my Shapeoko 2 to current X carve specs. I bought the x controller, a new z axis from cnc4newbies, risers, stiffeners, and 9mm belts. It’s a whole new machine now that is quite capable. I like the X controller a lot.

I went through a similar iteration like Martin and when I finally got the steppers up to their potensial it was a game changer.

I am just finishing upgrading my Shapeoko 2 with wide maker slide, nemo23, 9mm belts. So far I’ve tested it with the stock electronics with no problem, but am very interested in what I’d expect if I were to upgrade to the x controller. Would it allow my steppers to move faster when not cutting, or would it give more power to the steppers under load? I guess I’m wondering what sort of game changer the latest and greatest would be (and maybe I’m looking for an ‘excuse’ to justify my getting an x controller).

Using the Xcontroller will give you same max rapid, but the available torque at speed will be greater on all axes, especially on the Y-axis where two steppers share one driver.
Greater torque at cutting speed = increased reliability / less chance of loosing steps.

If larger rapids are desired, then you need to increase the PSU voltage.
If you want a key-ready match to the XCarve get the Xcontroller.
If you want a controller than will outlive the Xcarve or provide more power then get 4x Leadshine DM556 and a 48V PSU.

I use Nema23´s (269oz/in2) @ 48V with DM556 and DM856 on my 1605-screw machine, if I try to hold back the gantry by hand my machine will slide on the table before loosing steps. (its about 140lbs in total)

Thanks–I will definitely plan this to be my next upgrade. When testing my current upgrade, I did have to play around with the voltage to avoid skipping steps.

I’m interested in this, but am concerned about how difficult it would be to wire up (I’m not especially knowledgeable about electronics). I looked at a post you made about your upgrade, and you mentioned 2x step down converters, to step voltage down to 12V and 5V. I wasn’t sure if I’d need those, and why you used them.

The wiring seems overwhelming at first but its pretty straight forward. Start with getting one to work, then do the rest of the drivers :slight_smile:

As I have a 48V PSU on mine, I needed two step-down DC/DC converters, one for main power Ardunio (15V or so, IIRC) and the other one for 5V Arduino logic (may be skipped).

I realized yesterday that I would also have to figure out how to program the Arduino to work with the Leadshines, since I didn’t see any program online. Any suggestions on how to find one, or how to learn how to write such a program (I can write python programs, but know nothing about Arduino programming).

You can also take a look here. Phil sells and Arduino shield that implements the drivers and saves you a whole lot of wiring.


No programming neccesary, other than setting the Arduino up as a GRBL controller. That is easy enough.

This is a TB6600 driver shown but the diagram apply to Leadshine aswell.

That’s it???
Ok, I must be making this way more complicated than it is! I thought I was going to have to learn a new programming language.
As for setting up the Arduino as a GRBL controller, could I even use the setup off the Arduino on my Shapeoko 2?
I assume the advantages of the Leadshine over TB6600 is more voltage for larger motors?

The Xcontroller / Inventables gshield or basically any other GRBL machine controller like Xcarve use Arduino as its core. So its technically the exact same thing :slight_smile:

TB6600 are dirt cheap but not always reliable. They are also “noisy” (the stepper “sings”)
Leadshine are more robust, more capable both in amp and input voltage and reach beyond what the Xcontroller do.

1 Like

I would also suggest to look at the Demon Controller as PeterJakab1 suggested above.

if you want to do some wiring you could do what I did and that is a complete standalone using a Raspberry Pi and Protoneer CNC hat. It has been rock solid for me.

1 Like