My experience with 1000mm build

After perusing the forum and watching some videos I finally placed my order a few weeks ago. I decided I wouldn’t pay the $120 plus shipping for the waste board as a piece of MDF is only about $20. I also decided I was going to go with the DeWalt 611 router and spend the money on the Aspire software package which comes with a LOT of clip-art. Surprisingly just before I ordered they apparently ditched the 24v spindle and started shipping the DeWalt as the default spindle. Cool. Well, while a couple of days before the boxes were supposed to arrive I built a 4’x5’ cart for my workbench. The boxes arrived last Thursday.

My experience over the weekend assembling the X-Carve seemed to be pretty similar to others. The first evening I spent about two hours assembling the X carriage and Y plates. The next day I spent about 6 or 7 more hours assembling the rest of the unit and wiring, minus the router that was back-ordered a week and the waste board. The router and mount being on back-order gave me time to go to the local electronics store and get a new powerhouse laptop to run the Aspire CAD/CAM tools.

While waiting for my router to show up I started playing around with Aspire and figuring out how to use it with the Universal GCode Sender (UGCS). I was able to hook up to the X-Carve and do an air cut. While I twiddled my thumbs looking out the window for today’s brown truck to bring me my router I decided I’d make this post to outline some of the things I noticed or issues I ran into while building my X-Carve.

  • It would be nice when you don’t order the waste board, if there was an option to still purchase the waste board hardware. Now I have to wait another day until the brown truck delivers the hardware I need to mount my own waste board to the X-Carve. Specifically, the T-Nuts and the button head screws to mount the board to the frame should be available as a kit if the waste board isn’t selected as an option.
  • I don’t know if it’s going to be an issue, but my acme screw has a wobble in it. When running it without the mount attached I’d say the end of the screw has a swing of about a half an inch to each side. (I’ll contact Inventables and see if this is something I did wrong or if they can send me a replacement.)
  • Seeing as how VCarve and Aspire are options when ordering, maybe there should be instructions to let us novices know that in order to send our tool paths from VCarve or Aspire to the X-Carve we need another piece of software, like the UGCS app and instructions on where to get it and how to use it.
  • When messing around with UGCS when I tried jogging (once on Z axis and once on X) instead of just jogging the amount I had specified it ran non-stop. The first time it happened it ran then delrin nut clean off the acme screw and I finally stopped it after it had run down about 400mm. I’ll be posting another thread to see what might be causing this as I really don’t want to run the risk of a random runaway in the middle of a real cut.
  • There is one point where you are expected to twist five wires together and stick them into the GND on the g-shield. The problem is that connector only has room for at most three wires if you are very careful. I ended up splicing four of the wires into one of the thicker ones with solder and heatshrinking them in order to make this connection.
  • Some of the wiring connections to the g-shield seem a bit weak and prone to disconnecting. It would be nice if Inventables offered a package where this at risk wiring were inside a case and then the external wiring connected to this case with some type of positively locking connector. Something like Martin’s project here would be fantastic. I guess I’ll have to build my own (or wait for the X-Controller).
  • Some of the parts, especially the screws and lock washers for the limit switches, are oh-my-god small. Make sure your work area is clean or you might lose some of these parts.
  • I had to trim a bit of the drag chain to get it to attach to the mount on the Y-plate as it hit the end of the v-wheel screw. Maybe those screws can be a little shorter…

On the plus side:

  • My Aspire software now has built in post processors for grbl as well as the X-Carve specifically
    (both inch and mm).
  • Instructions were very good and easy to follow.
  • Every single part needed was in its own labeled bag and easy to find, though it was a little nerve wracking that they put in EXACTLY the number of parts you needed, so DO NOT LOSE ANYTHING.

Finally, some thoughts and desires:

  • Unless you’ve a lot of experience with the metric system or have seen 2020 or 2040 extrusions before you may not realize how small the rails are on these units. I definitely see what others are talking about in regards to flexing on the gantry. It would be cool if they could come up with 4080 makerslides and 4040 extrusions so there was a good option for those of us who want to expand to something more in the 1500x2500 range.
  • Look at offering rack and pinion options or using roller chain instead of belts.
  • Consider pre-assembling the two X-axis makerslides with an aluminum bar already between them for stiffness. Or at least offer the parts (furniture bolts and nuts, aluminum bar) with things already drilled. It seems like a lot of us are doing the stiffness mod, so maybe it should be a standard feature.
  • Consider offering an attachable rotary unit for a rotating Y-axis. I bet it wouldn’t be too difficult to figure out how to mount it to the front and back rails. This would go along with the control box with pluggable connections to make it easy to swap the Y-axis plug from the gantry to the rotary unit.
  • When someone DOES purchase the waste board, consider pre-mounting the base extrusions. It would be a simple thing to set up a jig to ensure square for the customer when they receive it.

All in all, I love the unit and can’t wait for those brown trucks so I can start cutting. Even with the few minor issues noted, I have no problem recommending to a friend. This is a great unit that is easy to assemble.


I didn’t get the t-nuts and screws used to attach the waste board to the base.

I just received my backordered router kit. I had to email support because the screws received were the wrong size. Based on their past responses, I’m sure they’ll take care of this expeditiously. I asked them for a non-wobbling ACME screw.

This is a really well-written and thought through post. Thanks for sharing it. Rather than start another thread with the exact same name, I will add to this one.

The Not-So-Good

I. I agree 100% with this comment and ended up doing something similar to what’s described here.

“There is one point where you are expected to twist five wires together and stick them into the GND on the g-shield. The problem is that connector only has room for at most three wires if you are very careful. I ended up splicing four of the wires into one of the thicker ones with solder and heatshrinking them in order to make this connection.”

II. I will go further to say that of all the things on this machine, the Arduino/G-Shield/Controller assembly is the most poorly engineered and flat out “janky” thing. If you assemble it according to the instructions, you end up with a mess of wires and an unwieldy glommed together box of electronics. It could and should be better out-of-the-box.

III. The calibration steps are insufficient as they are now in the instructions. I feel that if one follows those instructions alone, they are virtually guaranteed to have a less than optimal experience the 1st time they turn on their machine. At a minimum people should be guided through checking their diagonal distances and doing squareness checks.

IV. Limit switch functions are not properly described in the installation manual. I had no idea that jogging the machine bypasses the limit switch functionality. I’ve grenaded my Z-Axis switch and stalled my X-Axis motor learning this the hard way. I don’t have a problem with how they work, I have a problem with the lack of a cogent description of how homing and limit switches work. Ideally this would be in the “Getting Started” manual.

V. There is an overall paucity of operating instructions for this machine. If one assumes that many of the buyers of this machine are 1st-time CNC users, there is almost nothing to help someone get started. Yes, Easel helps in this regard, but as a user you don’t know that Easel is going to help you with this until you fire it up. A 1st time user should not have to troll the Forum in order to figure out how everything works.

VI. Easel needs a (better) User manual and Getting Started guide. It’s an awesome piece of software and I’m pretty sure most people don’t actually realize how cool it is. I didn’t until I looked at what it was doing in a browser debug console. That being said, there is NOTHING to guide a 1st time user in how to put a project together using it.

VII. The belt-retention clips and tensioning system is a PITA and needs to be re-engineered. Yes, it sorta works, but surely there has to be a better way to - A) attach the belt to the machine in a more positive, non-slip manner and B) to ensure proper and consistent tension.

VIII. There is NO formal information whatsoever about how to use any other G-Code controller software with this machine. While Easel is a great piece of software, I fully intend to use Fusion 360 (or something else) at some point o design my projects. I would really appreciate having some documentation that formally describes the correct default settings to use in other G-Code controllers. I am now in the process of figuring this out by braille. I also think it would be useful to have a brief “G-Code 101” tutorial that helps newbies understand better how their machine works.


The Good

I. The overall quality of all the parts is fantastic. I could never have figured out all the things I needed to put a machine like this together. The gantry and slides, the v-wheels and rollers, all that stuff seems really good quality to me and I appreciate it very much. NEMA 23 motors out of the box… awesome.

II. The use of Arduino and Grbl is awesome. I love that it’s not a proprietary board with super-secret-squirrel drivers and features that don’t ever get updated.

III. The combination of videos and written instructions are great. I had no problem figuring out how to put stuff together and I was reasonably confident that the instructions were current.

IV. The Dewalt 611 router works really well. It’s not perfect, but it’s a damn nice choice to go with. The fact that it has LED lights is a bonus.

V. As I mentioned above, Easel is awesome. Once you figure out how things work, it’s amazing how much functionality Inventables got out of a browser based app.

VI. The Forums and the Community are amazing. Thanks to all of you for your posts and your help.

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