How to find other locals using Xcarve

I’m having issues squaring my machine. I’ve tried everything. I feel like a lot of it is just going over my head. I’ve checked belt tension, screws, wheels, etc. I still get a constant drift on circles to make ovals. Also, even straight patterns that take several passes, you can see it start drifting to right in its channel which leaves steps on the left hand side of the pattern.
So after hours of watching it drift, and unable to cut circles properly, I’d like to see if anyone is local to north Alabama that could come and teach/help me. I’m trying to trouble shooting category first, if not I’ll just republish to categorized.

Hey! Have you resquared your base?

Are you talking about a full disassemble and checking it? If so, I tried over a month ago, didn’t notice a difference. But I have the 1000mm kit and it’s pretty heavy. So maybe I rushed it.

Cutting ovals instead of circles usually means your X/Y axis are not calibrated.

Could you go into further detail on your preferred calibration techniques? I’ve checked the belt tightness and the wheels. However, I’m still trying to find a definitive way of test the correct tension on the v wheels. Also, I’ve incorporated the test of seeing if the axis is moving more or less that it should be by laying down a ruler to check distance called. Pretty much if I tell it to go 20 inches, it does exactly that.

Yes, I know it’s a pain in the butt, but making sure the base is squares up is a big factor. It would throw off the Y axis and x axis. Another trick is to loosen your Y end plates, move your gantry all they way to the front and make sure it’s squared up then retighten. Repeated for the back as well.

I’ll try that this evening and report back then. The oddity that was throwing me off was that it made circles fine on some woods and ovals on the other. So for a while I assumed if was the wood type. However, I know now that that wasn’t the case.

The drifting issue (and potentially ovals) indicates lost steps. Steps/mm are important to get correct but lost steps should be more important.

Is this a new Xcarve or an old one? Every pulley that has set screws needs Blue loctite on it. Pulleys on motors (if not pressed on), needs the screws to sit on a flat of the shaft. I recommend changing them to be a hex screw so you can actually see if its missing or loose. I used M3x8mm but M3x6 or M3x7 would work as well.

For steps/mm, you put a ruler down on the surface. You tell the machine to go X mm and then you measure how many mm it actually travelled. Then you can calculate what the steps/mm should be based on what the current value is (Phil has a good calculator in his help topic).

Here’s great video showing how it’s done.

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That was one of the first things I check for what those silly little rice grain sized screws. However, it is the new version so they aren’t there. I tried that ruler and calculation process. Pretty sure i did use Phil’s calculator. I also watched a video on the math to do it myself. The change was very, very small. Still changed it in Easel though.

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How’d you check your belt tension?

Sent the router all the way to the back on Y. Found the mid point on the Y belts. Used a luggage scale and raised them an inch on each side. Saw a video on how to do it that also included the recommended poundage.

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What poundage did you use? Did you do the same for the X axis with the gantry all to one side? And you had it all the way to the fixed end of the belts and not the adjustable end, right?

I used 4.5lb’ at the time maybe. I saw the 6lb’ a lot also, but it had mixed results. I used the video from manhatan wood project. However, you are making me question which end I sent the gantry to while doing this. I’m pretty sure I did it the way you described, which is also how the video shows it.

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Make sure the adjustable v-wheels are not too tight. I ended up with mine a little more loose (looser?) than what I felt was right but it solved my problem with circles.

Have you measured the machine base on each diagonal? Measure from back left to right front. Then measure back right to left front. They should be the same. If not, slightly loosen the bolts holding the wasteboard to the base, as well as the screws on the end plates. Figure out which diagonal you need to move and remeasure.

Its possible you may need to shim an endplate or two to keep it square. Once square, retighten.

This alone may not solve all of your problems. Square cuts are dependent on the X axis rail being perpendicular to the Y axis rails.

You probably have noticed that with the power to the steppers off it is easily possible to move one side of X gantry without the other side moving at all. This if the machine was ever square and one side moved but the other didn’t it will no longer be square.

With the power off move the gantry all the way to the front. See if both sides stop the same distance from the end plates. If not, cut two small blocks of wood EXACTLY the same size as each other to place on each side to ensure the gantry is the same distance from each end plate. After the blocks are in place, and the gantry tight against them, turn the power on. The powered steppers lock the gantry ends in the new relationship. Use the blocks every time you power up. Carve and enjoy.