Good morning Kevin. Inventables does sell an upgrade kit for both XY and Z axis. I got both last fall and have been happy with both. If you have not yet discovered him, go onto YouTube and look up Paw Paw’s workshop. Phillip makes some fantastic videos for X Carve and has a couple of them dedicated to the upgrade kits.
I recently upgraded my x-controller to the Demon controller with a rotary switch. Designsbyphil.com, Phil Johnson, designed and made it. You buy his shield and he lists out the materials you need to buy, he provides printable plans for the case. He designed a rotary switch so I can flip a switch and plug in my rotary and it works great. I use openbuilds sender. Or you can buy a put together controller he assembled. Videos and instructions on the site. Works with laser and router. Good luck. Lots of options.
In order of my priority for a GEN 1 X-Carve (what I did to mine):
Stiffen the X and Y rails. X-Carve Upgrade: Stiffening X and Y Axis
Do yourself a favor and just buy the upgraded Wide MakerSlide X Axis from Inventables. I made the one in the video above and could not tell the difference between that and the upgraded Wide MakerSlide. Building the one in the video was a lot of work. Wide MakerSlide for x-axis
Upgrade the belts to 9mm. Belt Upgrade
You can save money by sourcing your own belts and pulleys, but its harder and more work for you.
Upgrade the X axis stepper motor (and maybe Z axis if not already upgraded). 270 ozin stepper motor
You can upgrade the Y axis steppers, but the two motors and double belts of the y-axis will basically match the upgraded x-axis. The upgraded z-axis motor was included in my z-axis upgrade kit from CNC4Nubie kit. I’m not sure its necessary since the lead screw increases the torque like 8x or more over belts.
Upgrade the stepper drivers and drive with an Arduino running GRBL. Stepper Driver
I’m and electrical engineer so I don’t mind building my own electronics. I’m not a fan of the all in one controllers that have the drivers on the board. They can not possibly get the heat out better than separate driver controllers.
You should ask yourself why you are upgrading your x-carve. In my case I was cutting a lot of AL for a High School robotics team. The upgrades made for shorter cut times which was helpful for the short and frenzied 6 week build season. The upgrades improved cut time maybe 2x which was helpful. In the end I purchased a Openbiulds WorkBee CNC. It is much beefier than the x-carve, but requires more build experience. I got another 2-3x improved cutting speed, which got me to useable turn times. Also, I spent less building the Workbee (~$2K) than I did on the completely upgraded x-carve (~$2.5K). If you are not using the x-carve a lot and are not doing it for the enjoyment of upgrading your tool, I would not trade a bunch of money for a slight improvement in speed. Really that is all you are buying in my opinion. If on the other hand you intend to make a business using the x-carve, I would skip the upgrade and go buy a Workbee or professional CNC. Good luck.
Thank you sir. That is super helpful. I’ve enjoyed the xcarve but there a bunch of things about it that sometimes don’t seem like the effort will fix the solution. I like the workbee you sent. Is this it?
The workbee design is open source so theres a few makers and the each have their own spin on it. I have one nearly identical to bulkmans and i like it.
The openbuilds brand one uses a different contoller and they offer a few accessories that require their controller, they also have a bit better quality control IMO.
That said the mechanical kit from bulkman would work as an upgrade to the X-carve but you may need to lengthen stepper wires a bit…
Above is an early photo of the Workbee build. It has changed some since them. Below is the spreadsheet of the Items I purchased to build my workbee . The busman kit is very reasonable, I took a chance with ALIEXPRESS. I upgraded the Z-axis and added an AL T-slot table which are very nice but pricey. I need to find a better way of doing the spoil board. I also went with a 1.5kW spindle. I highly recommend trying to get one that is air cooled rather than dealing with water cooled. It was a lot of work setting up the PC liquid cooler, but it worked well in the end. Let me know if you have any specific questions about my build.