[Speculation] Gutting a cheap cnc machine to use Inventables Grble

My dad and I were talking and we could not figure out if it would it be possible to gut the computer components from one of the low cost CNC Machines or getting one without the computer and converting it to use GRBL with a Power Supply, a G-Shield, and an Arduino uno? Could it interface properly with Easel for example?

Your post has me curious. The X-carve is around $1000. Is this a cheap CNC machine, or are you thinking that you could get a CNC machine for less than that?

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Yes, this sort of thing can be and has been done.

It just requires that the motors be matched up w/ stepper drivers which Grbl is able to drive to send the correct signals.


The a minimum 500x500 is about $800. When looking before we bought the X-Carve, we found some of the used 6040s, 3040s, and 2030s less than $300, $200, and $100 respectively. The idea I had was those would be cheap machines for if you are doing a lot of small engravings that don’t justify something like the X-CARVE, cost and size wise, and you do not want to deal with difficult to use software, which is one thing I always heard about.

@WillAdams can you elaborate, would you need something outside of a G-Shield or is the G-Shield the stepper driver?

What you would need depends on the amount of torque needed to operate the controls of the machine. If you could use the stepper motors (NEMA 23) that Inventables sells then you would need the Arduino and a motor driver like the gShield or a similar stepper driver. There are several to choose from and there are many in the $50 - $60 range.

If you need stronger motors then you would have to get a more robust driver like the X-controller or a Gecko system.

Then any of the software that you can use with the X-carve should work with your hybrid.

I looked at e-bay and I didn’t find any that cheap, but there were some deals there that would work.

Keep in mind that grbl is limited to 3 axes so if you are going to use grbl you can’t use a machine with more than three axes without losing functionality.

The G-shield is a board which has stepper drivers on it.

Larry pretty much covered it — one control board which might be suited for this is Panucatt’s Gradus M1 Pro: http://www.panucatt.com/product_p/gm1pro.htm