So, got home last night and had to suffer through an agonizing 90 minutes while I waited for UPS to deliver, it would be the night that they’re the latest on the rounds that I can recall! But finally, the big brown happy-wagon showed up and dropped this off!
Inside, very well-packed, Inventables had packed a plethora of goodies! The X-controller, as planned, but also an experimentation version of the AC relay box add-on unit, and one of their own Z-probe disks. The package, of course, included all the necessary cables and hardware to attach the unit to my X-Carve.
As you can see, there is no fidgeting around with “which wire goes where” here, nor having to splice your grounds together to get them to fit the proper connection on the G-shield. Everything is very clearly labeled, and each connection has its own dedicated ground port. That alone made the installation here a significant deal easier than the original setup. Directions for the actual connection are more or less un-necessary, just follow the markings on the case. The only time I needed to consult the instructions was for the order of the stepper wires. You can also see that the initial goof in the art for the face printing shown in the blog post has been corrected, and “PROBE” has replaced the vacant spot over the appropriate terminal.
I have not as yet installed the relay box, this is a prototype version without the final production faceplates or plugs, but is fully functional. Once I have verified and gained some confidence in the operation of the X-Controller, I will add this into the loop as well, and be able to turn on and off my spindle and dust collection from within the G-code!
So, with a good grasp on the contents of the box, I approached my X-Carve with a look that by now any reasonable electronic system should be learning to fear. My assembly the first time ‘round wasn’t particularly pretty, but has been entirely reliable to this point. As you can see, I have the limit switches and the stepper wires labeled by which axis they run to, something that has saved me considerable time.
First thing was to pull the top of the box, pull the header plug, and remove the stepper motor wires. If you do not have your wires labeled, I would strongly suggest that you label them now, to avoid having to hunt for which axis is which later!
Next, the new X-Controller has a separate driver for each motor on the Y-axis, instead of running both motors through the same driver. The instructions state that since the new drivers are considerably more powerful, you can really just keep the same wiring setup as before. I didn’t want to do that, though, why not make use of the full capability of the unit? Inventables had thoughtfully sent along a generously-long chunk of stepper motor wire just for the purpose, so my next move was to disconnect the right-side stepper motor from where I had it joined on the connector block and cut off the spades I’d crimped onto it. Tad bit of solder, tad bit of heat shrink, and I had enough wire on that axis to reach the new controller! Incidentally, the solder and heat shrink were the only things I had to provide myself for this entire operation, the rest was entirely plugs and self-gripping screw terminals. I also, as is my usual procedure, tinned all the wire ends before inserting them into the grips, just to make sure that a single stray wire didn’t short to another place. Those can be maddening to track down!
Once that was done, it was a very simple matter of just putting the wires into the plugs in the marked locations and tightening the screws. As you can see, I’ve marked each of the plugs here with the axis again, just to make sure. I’m not sure if it’s actually important, but I attached the left-gantry motor to the Y1 port, and the right gantry motor to the Y2 port on the X-controller. Took less time to do than writing this paragraph, overall.
With all the plugs on the wires, it was the work of just a couple minutes to set the new controller on the bench, plug everything in using the same power cord and USB that I’d used before (they included new ones, but they were both a tad short for my location), and head over to Easel to run the setup program! I was very, very glad for the included emergency stop button when I did! The setup instructions aren’t as nicely polished as the ones for the stock hardware (no surprise, being that this is still pre-release!) and I hadn’t thought to manually execute a G28.1, so it tried to run off to Idaho the first time I ordered a “go to zero” in ChiliPeppr! Estop to the rescue!
I ran out of time for additional testing last night after making a single air-cutting run to prove out the controller, but the first air run was very promising. Probing worked just as it should, and the program ran with no quibbles. Took a little bit of fidgeting on the software side (mostly ‘cause I’m a newb with GRBL) but in less than 90 minutes all told from opening the box, I had the new X-controller attached and running. I will continue to update this as I test it out, and add the AC controller to the loop. So far, awesome! As a completely irrelavent side note, the X-Controller is a fair bit quieter when running than the original control box, and it does away with that periodic little rattle from the metal cover on the electronics housing. Small thing, but it pleased me. BIG perks for the rubber feet and increased mass, no more control unit dancing across the bench! This thing is solid as a rock.