How long did it take you to get "dialed in"?

I’ve had my XC assembled for 2 weeks now and have been “tinkering” with it nearly every night after work for a few hours and I feel like I’m doing super shallow test carve after test carve (since I don’t want to wait 20 minutes just to see if my adjustments worked).

As far as “dialing in” I feel like all I’m doing is double checking my belts, triple checking my v-wheels, and cleaning my work area to keep debris away.

Am I struggling or is this normal? Of course I was dreaming (after 4 wks of waiting for it to ship) that I could get it put together and be carving precisely that same day. no luck!

Let me know if I’m crazy stupid, this is crazy normal, or any crazy tricks to get things as close to perfect so I can start doing some legit carves!


Have you adjusted your current-set pots on the grbl board yet?

I had to adjust the Y one originally.

I also just had to adjust the set screws on the stepper motors cause I just noticed the X axis motor shaft just spinning but not turning the gear. Very delicate screws but moved all axes so one of the 2 set screws goes into the flat part of the shaft

Is this normal though for how long to get it dialed in?

If I’m par for the course, that makes me feel a little better :grin:

I’ve been dialing mine in since I put it together in late July, if that helps. I’m worried about over-working it and breaking bits (happened 3x so far), so I’m going slow and trying to find the right speed for each bit and wood before I try using it. I think I’ve got the pots and belts figured out though. :smile:

After more dialing in tonight, this is the first time I’ve cut deeper than .08"

(test remake of this project)

Feel like I’m almost there (except for attempting to cut deeper than my bit was, burn marks…)

Glad to know my timeline isn’t uncommon!

My experience was divided into 3 stages,

Stage 1 - Every cut was a disaster, Vwheels were not adjusted correctly, belts were not correct and the stepper voltages were way off. I got all that sorted out in about a week once I read enough to understand what the problems were and how to adjust correctly.

Stage 2 - The machine would would work pretty good one day and then make a mess the next day. It took about 2 weeks to figure out that Locktite and nylon lock nuts were my friend. I also learned a lot about daily maintenance and discovered Dry PTFE lubricants.

Stage 3 - The machine was solid enough that I could start learning how speeds and feeds and using the correct bits would effect the carving. Plus I purchased Vcarve Desktop so I was able to start using Vbits and making complex 2.5 D projects. I am now a firm believer that the software you use to create your toolpaths is just as important as keeping the machine tuned correctly. Being able to specify conventional or climb cutting can make all the difference in how a project turns out.

Sill working on it since June! Better instructions than " guitar string tight and thumb tight " would help tremendously. Because its all interpretation, " its not tight enough or its to tight". Maybe some real measurable numbers would help people get it going a lot quicker.

I have my belts at 4.5 lbs at 1 inch and it a lot better now but tomorrow maybe something else.

I ended up dropping my belt tension down to 3.5 lbs to lift 1 inch. I made a video, it’s in the maintenance video thread I started a bit ago: X-Carve Maintenance/Troubleshooting Videos - Add Your Own!

I’m at 2.5 pounds belt tension, and it seems to be working well.

my first 2 months were filled with frustration. everything from broken belts, haywire stepper motors, non working spindles, constantly loose vwheels, crashing software, you name it i probably had an issue with it. i never once had a cutting project that didnt have some sort of issue or error

after 2 months of tinkering and fixing all the minor problems (belt tension, pulley alignment, vwheel adjustment, etc) i decided my main issues were the stock 24v spindle, the UGS software i was using was unreliable and i was having issues setting XYZ zeros consistently. i replaced the spindle with a dewalt trim router and added a metal plate to the X rail to stiffen things up, i upgraded to the 2.0 version of UGS and i started using a touch plate to set my XYZ zeros. since doing those 4 things over 2 months ago i havent had a single problem with the machine or a single messed up cut or error of any kind ***

before each time i run the machine i check the vwheels by running my fingers over them to see if they are loose and i pluck the belts to check the tension. in the almost 3 months since doing the above changes ive only had to tighten 1 vwheel that was slightly loose

*** EDIT — after typing the above i remembered i did have an issue with the bearings on the on the Z carriage Vwheels. i had to replace the washers inside the bearings with felt washers from home depot. other than that no problems!

That makes me feel a little better, y’all.

I feel like all I do is adjust v-wheels and check belt tensions. I’ve only made 1 successful carve so far, then last night I tried to carve a circle, and it made it in the shape of a lowercase ‘e’ , so back to more adjusting… hope tonight I can actually carve something

what do you mean by pots

Pots control how much juice goes to the stepper motors. Here are GRBL steps on calibrating them:

@RobertA_Rieke 's video is also an awesome walkthrough.

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