Linear Z-axis drops with each pass

Hey folks, I need help. I recently upgraded to the linear z-axis from cnc4newbie, GT3 9mm belts and built Phil’s Controller. I thought everything works fine until today when I started the first 3D carve with the new setup. After 1/2 hour carving I realized that my z-axis cuts gradually deeper with each pass.

Right now I have no idea where to start troubleshooting. Is it due to interference, microsteps or something mechanical. I hope you guys can point me in the right direction.

One thing I was wondering since the z-axis upgrade is that my $102 value is 251.968 mm/steps, way different than others have posted. This is a 3/8-16 screw and a half step is 6400.

The driver for the z-axis is set to 2A

Here are my grbl settings:

Grbl 1.0c [’$’ for help]
[’$H’|’$X’ to unlock]
$0=10 (step pulse, usec)
$1=255 (step idle delay, msec)
$2=0 (step port invert mask:00000000)
$3=0 (dir port invert mask:00000000)
$4=0 (step enable invert, bool)
$5=0 (limit pins invert, bool)
$6=0 (probe pin invert, bool)
$10=2 (status report mask:00000010)
$11=0.020 (junction deviation, mm)
$12=0.002 (arc tolerance, mm)
$13=1 (report inches, bool)
$20=0 (soft limits, bool)
$21=0 (hard limits, bool)
$22=1 (homing cycle, bool)
$23=3 (homing dir invert mask:00000011)
$24=25.000 (homing feed, mm/min)
$25=750.000 (homing seek, mm/min)
$26=250 (homing debounce, msec)
$27=1.000 (homing pull-off, mm)
$30=1. (rpm max)
$31=0. (rpm min)
$100=26.629 (x, step/mm)
$101=26.629 (y, step/mm)
$102=251.968 (z, step/mm)
$110=8000.000 (x max rate, mm/min)
$111=8000.000 (y max rate, mm/min)
$112=700.000 (z max rate, mm/min)
$120=500.000 (x accel, mm/sec^2)
$121=500.000 (y accel, mm/sec^2)
$122=100.000 (z accel, mm/sec^2)
$130=787.000 (x max travel, mm)
$131=787.000 (y max travel, mm)
$132=125.000 (z max travel, mm)

You should probably use More current (use 2.5A) and measure your Z steps based on the calibration steps you can find here with a search.

The dip switches on the drivers are set to 2.5A and the $102 value is after the calibration

Sorry your original post said 2A and the steppers are 2.8A steppers and I remember Phil set his to 2.5A.

Is it a direct drive unit or a belt driven? If there’s a belt, is it properly tensioned?

Do you feel any play in the Z? Have you jogged up and down with a ruler and made sure it didn’t drop while just jogging it? Could it be your bit slipping? I just had a bit come out on me.

Have you verified your wasteboard is on the same plane as the X/Y axis? Mine was at an angle and what appears as cutting deeper is actually because the material is closer to the axis and your Z is staying the same.

It looks like you changed your Z accel value from the default. Have you tried changing that back to default and cutting? That might be too aggressive of an accel for a belt driven Z axis, assuming your Z is belt driven.

Hey Justin I forgot to mention that it’s a direct drive and all 4 steppers are the 269oz.

The more I read about these lead screws and compare the different z-axis it seems like mine is a single start with 16 turn/inch while the others are 2 start with 6 turn/inch. Now I’m wondering if I should set my driver to full steps instead of 1/2. Which would be 3200/25.4 = 125.984 step/mm. I don’t know anything about these driver settings, I thought you just do the calibration of your steps/mm and your good to go.

Also check that your 4 motor wires are all good, if one is broken the motor will spin as usual but direction will be random (most likely in the direction of least resistance aka downwards)

I’d try playing with your Z acceleration settings. Your drive rod may not like the increased acceleration.

So I checked the coupler screws, they were tight and the flat spot on the motor shaft had an indent from the screw. While I was on it I filed a flat spot on the screw as well. Then I visually inspected the wires and connections and they were good. I guess I need to take the time and actually measure them with a multimeter. I changed the z acceleration back to to default.

This time I ran the finishing pass only and was impressed how rigid the machine is, but after 1/2 hour or so I noticed that the z-axis is going down again.

Any more thoughts on that ?

This doesn’t really address the problem that you’re having but you can upgrade to a 4-start leadscrew that they sell. I was doing some 3D carving and didn’t like the motor working so hard/taking more time at ~252steps/mm, so I asked them if they had a 2 or 4-start leadscrew and it turned out that they do, I just had to install it. I upgraded to it and it works great.

The price for this kit is 28usd + shipping.

The kit included:

-4 starts leadscrew 8mm/turn
-matching antibacklash nut
-2 new flange bearing.
-2x M3 screw

Could that be an overheat issue?

Hmmm. If it is loosing steps due to low current then reducing the micro stepping will help.
Micro stepping is good because it results in smoother movement, but it does divide the holding current by the same amount. So you want some. But the Z axis may need more strength due to the weight of the router and such. :confused:

When it is idle but energized, If you grab the z-axis motor coupling with your hand can you torque it enough to make the motor “slip”? If it is really easy to make it slip by hand then you probably need more current.

Also I recommend tugging the wires at the terminal blocks. Visual inspection might look ok, but they might be loose enough to make intermittent contact once things get moving and vibrating.

Thank you guys for all the suggestions, will try them as soon as things go back to normal. Right now I have an eye on hurricane irma heading towards florida.

Wish me luck that we don’t get hit too hard

@PhilJohnson Sorry for the confusion. By 2A I meant the setting for microstepping 2A/2B. The amps are set to 2.5A on all four drivers. That’s why I thought if for my z-axis which is different than yours a microstepping set to 1 could be better. You think I should set the Amps for the z to 2.8 ?

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