Ready to purchase an X-Carve! just a few questions

Hey Guys!

This is my first post on this forum but I have spent a lot of time researching the X-Carve and other machines and I am certain this is the direction I want to go. I have the money saved up, and I am laid off for a few months so this is the perfect time to order it and start learning.

I want to start off simple and do small woodworking projects, and maybe progress into aluminum and other materials. Just looking for a little advice and if I should pick one thing over another etc.

Now, I currently have a Macbook Pro and I have upgraded to 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD, I am sure that is within the specs of whatever I will be running to use it. Is there anything other than Easel I will need right off the bat?

I’ve selected the fully loaded machine with the Dewalt 611 spindle and mount. If I order this machine is there anything else I will need to purchase to run it out of the box?

I’ve seen people saying that I should purchase an X-Controller from the start if I am going to purchase an X-carve new, but it doesn’t look like it is an option yet?

I’m not sure about using Easel with Mac since I still have a PC but I do use the X-Carve quite regularly in my woodworking business and it has long paid for itself. I would recommend looking into some dust collection for the X-Carve. I purchased one for mine but there are several guys here that have made their own. The X-Controller is available to purchase but isn’t offered in the configuration menu for the X-Carve. I thought that I would run out and order one as soon as it was available but since my machine is already set up and operational I haven’t. I think it falls in the nice to have category but only you can make the call if the extra $300 is worth it. If I was just starting off I probably would have purchased it if i was available at that time. Good luck and feel free to fire away any questions you have. This forum is a wealth of knowledge (and personal opinions).

The X-Controller is not required, but if you think you want it you should order it now. Since if you order the standard controller and power supply to get started, you will just put those components on a shelf if you later upgrade to the X-Controller. I have the X-Controller and really recommend it for two main reasons

  1. the wiring is much easier and neater. This is much more important than you may first believe. Since it seems that about 50% of the problems people have with their new X-Carve are electrical related. Having a very reliable and solid piece of gear like the X-Controller will help eliminate lots of those problems from the start.

  2. the X-Controller is capable of driving larger motors which is something you may need if you want to mill metals down the road.

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Based on the pricing Inventables has posted the Grbl Shield, Arduino, enclosure, power supply and the power Supply PCB is about $196. The X-Controller which replaces all that is $329. So by my math the X-Controller upgrade should add about $133 to the total cost.

I think it is well worth $133 incremental cost.

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Thanks for the quick replies! I appreciate any info I can get. I have tinkered around with Easel a little bit and it seems like it will take me a bit to build something with complexity in that software. I’m assuming that the more expensive softwares are way different?

As far as the X-controller I understand exactly what you’re saying. So since it’s not an option in the X-carve building section I’ll remove the power supply and the PCB from my order and just get the xcontroller instead…

I am definitely willing to spend more now to save money down the line.

Another thumbs-up for the X-Controller; it greatly simplifies the wiring and makes it that much easier and quicker to get the machine up and running.

Also, issues that I had previously with homing / limit switches (if you are interested in using them) went away when I switched from the gshield setup to the X-Controller …

I also recommend you purchase a dust collector. I started off using a shop vac and it would rapidly overheat and eventually burned out. I found the Harbor Freight 2hp DC on sale of about $170 and it has been one of my best purchases. It is much quieter than a shop vac and it can run all day without getting warm. Plus with the 4 inch hoses (dropped to 2.5 inches to connect to my dust shoe) it really picks up all the dust and keeps the shop air very clean.

Do you have a link for this dust collector?

Thank you all.
So its really as simple as ordering the x-carve package and running easel on my mac at first?
I was intimidated about dropping this much money on the machine in fear that I was going need to spend a substantial amount on something else in order to get up and running.

Also like the X Controller a lot. Ordered it before they had shipped the first unit so I figuring on it coming much later. It arrived before my X-Carve did. Never even unpacked the original power supply arduino/gshield. I probably should get around to selling those. BTW: don’t procrastinate on the XController if you want one. They ordered 400 hundred and as of today there are still some available. Once those are gone you have to wait until April for the next batch.

Here it is, be sure to register with them to get the 20% off coupon.

I’ve been running my X-Carve from my old Mac Book Pro, I think it’s a 2011 or 2012 model, works fine with Easel.
Since Easel can import .svg files, you can use vector drawing programs like Adobe Illustrator, which will allow you to make much more complicated designs. I’m eventually going to start learning Fusion 360, but for now the Illustrator/Easel combo has been able to get everything done.

Well there is the part where you have to put it together, square it all up, tune it, break a few bits, tune it again, ruin a few pieces of really nice hard wood, tune it again, put all the bolts back in that shook loose, get some loctite, reassemble all the bolts, tune it some more. Then you can start learning all about gcode and the 100 other things you need to know to operate it properly. And then start making really nice stuff.

Then when you know what you are doing you can start looking for new CAD/CAM software that can cost as much as a small used car. Then the shop really could use a planer, and a new table saw. Better get a belt sander, and a drum sander is also nice to have. And you will need approximately 328 endmills, vbits, ball nose, and tapers, oh and don’t forget the collets with about 4 or 5 shank diameters.

So yea, basically just buy it and you are good to go! But seriously, you are getting a good machine that you can make great. Just set your expectations knowing it will take some time to tune and lean how to use properly.

I understand the direction it will take, and I know that this is something with great depth. I just want to be able to build and create the things I want to design. This seems to be the most cost effective way of getting there.

Everything I’ve read about these machines has warned me of the tuning involved. I know that it will be a process to get it exactly how I want. Having this forum to help me along the way is a huge key. Thank you for leading me in the right direction

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This is exactly what I was looking for thank you. So utilizing the Illustrator/Easel combo I can take an image or sketch and transfer over to easel. this is only for 2d designs right?

2.5 is a better way to describe it.

Like Joe said, sort of 2.5D as you can cut shapes to different depths with different shades of grey. Like if you want to make a 3D topographic map model - each level of terrain would be a different shade of grey, with the darker shades cutting deeper and white not cutting at all.