This machine sucks

I’ve ruined hundreds of dollars in expensive material. Due to inconsistent cutting , skipping ,jumping. All sorts of bullshit. A belt drive cnc is the dumbest idea. I thought so before I bought it but it’s confurmed now. I hate this thing. Works well for about a week or two then it becomes very inconsistent.

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It’s supposed to be about making things not constantly tuning and adjusting belts and exposed wheels. Ridiculous having exposed wheels with debris flying all over them

I’m really sorry you’ve had such a bad experience. Maybe this should’ve been posted in the Sell/Buy forum? Haha just kidding.

In all fairness, I’ve been using my Shapeoko 2 for almost a year and just tuned it up again a few nights ago for the first time since I built it! That is obviously the extreme, and when tuning it I found a few very worrisome problems, but they were easy enough to remedy.

I will say, though, this machine is for tinkerers. It’s designed to be inexpensive and easily upgrade-able/customize-able/etc. I think every part on it is open source. It is definitely a YMMV machine, but it makes me sad that you’ve had so many problems.

These are hobby-level machines but are capable of producing really nice projects. I’ve had my Shapeoko 2 since February of this year and went through some frustration but got it settled down by reading about all of the adjustments and doing something about them. There’s plenty of information on this forum and the Inventables main site that will help get your machine going. The fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are using their machines successfully is the best indicator that the machine is solid for what it’s designed to do.

I thought you were selling your machine, not using it?

I’m probably going to jinx myself by saying this, but I’ve never had to do the slightest bit of repair on mine aside from routine maintenance, and even that has been only mild (periodic tightening of the V-wheels, toothbrushing wheels/slides for dust, etc). Aside from a couple of minor screw-ups (mostly my own fault, I’m still a CNC newbie) it has performed with amazing reliability. I spent a lot of time in assembly getting everything just so, and have been gentle with it since, and it’s worked marvelously well.

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Dude, grab a beer and think it over. Return to keyboard tomorrow.

Does the machine really suck or is it user error?

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Well, it really depends on how you have the fan mounted. Some of them suck and some of them blow.

Not sure it makes much difference, but mine blows.

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In selling it and using it. No don’t do large production but I do need it to make 10-20 pieces in a row all exactly the same. It’ll start off within .2 but later I’ve had it be off almost a mm. Everytime I use it it needs belts tighter and wheels cleaned. Then it might be ok. If those wheels or belts aren’t dead on perfect. Your project won’t be either. Very upset at how much time messing with the machine I have to do. I need something else that needs less Maintanence. This is ok as long as you don’t need repeatability. Sorry to be venting :confused:

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Sorry to hear that you have had a bad experience with your machine. :frowning:
With every CNC design there are trade offs. Belts and wheels make the machine easily upgradable and significantly less expensive, but belts can stretch and slip.
There are rack and pinion or screw drive CNC out there.
You could upgrade your current machine (Open builds sell 1000mm screew drive kits in their store) or invest in a different on one (I have seen several in the $4k to $10k range).
Sadly this does not guarantee a trouble free experience, just a different set of problems inherent to that design.

Things you can do to get a better performance out of your XC if you wish to keep with it.
*If you have the stock spindle, replace it. Either with a Dremel (which should fit the sock spindle mount with a little work) Or a Dewalt Router.
*If you have the 1000mm do the stiffing mod. (If you upgrade to a router this is a must)
*Add dust shields and a dust collection system
*Try a new USB cable and / or a USB hub with it’s own power supply (Many stalled cuts issues are a usb problem. dropped connection or not enough power on the jack to property power the Adriano)
*Check your belts and wheels. New belts stretch and loosen over time (you usually only need to tighten them once or twice then they seem to settle in). Sometime you will get a defective V Wheel, and it will have issues with the internal washers causing them to not spin or align properly. (there are several threads that cover it in detail.)

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You should not be needing to constantly tighten your belts. Something is up there.
You should check out the belt tighten mods people have used.
I did both the “upside down t slot bolt” tricks as well as tie wraps and after the initial stretching of the new belt it settle down.
Check the set screws on your motor pulleys. These have a annoying habit of working loose over time and cause all kinds of @##$% alignment issues. And because you cant see them, see they are loose or missing it gets overlooked.
A bit of lock tight with fix this. Some of the stepper motors shipped didn’t have the flat spot on the shaft for the set screw. Some people filled a flat spot themselves and reported good results.
I was also having problems because my pulleys were not perfectly aligned with the idler wheels. Pinching the belt. This was causing issues as well as starting to fray the edge of the belt. Ti was a pain to get them aligned but once I did thing worked a lot better.

V Wheel cleaning - yeah that is a issue I am still working on this one. Dust shields seem to help with this.

Hey @Tatmonster45 I’m sorry you are having some issues. We have a support team available during business hours that you can call at 312-775-7009 or you can email with this form.

We have 5 people on the team that are here to answer questions, troubleshoot, and help you in any way they can to make you successful. X-Carve is indeed a kit that you need to put together and there might be some adjustments or calibrations they can help you do to get it to run more consistently.

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Zach is not going to like what I’m about to say. Sorry Zach.

If you want a CNC router that you can rely on to make the same part every time then you may want to look at moving away from the stock electronics and software. If you cruse the forum you will see that there are a lot of owners that are having the same problems you are.
You will also see that there are a lot of owners that have moved away from the stock electronics and software. They are moving to Break out Boards (BoB) and stepper drivers that have been around for a while with proven reliability. They are also moving to control software that has been controlling CNC for a long time with proven reliability.
Three examples of control software are LinuxCNC, Mach3 and Mach4 there are others also. LinuxCNC is free and very well supported. Both Mach 3 and 4 have a cost but well worth the cost.
As has been pointed out these machines are NOT plug and play. You have to assemble them and adjust them. This works for a lot of people and not for others.

If you were looking for a plug and play then you may want to look into other machines. Be prepared to pay a lot more money.

Hope this helps

Dave
Ariel, WA

I think it comes down to what you expect. It’s really rather illogical to expect the kind of tinker-free, out-of-box performance from a ~$1000 kit-built lightweight machine that you would expect from a ~$15k+ factory-built, floor-standing Laguna, running a full-scale CNC controller system.

With care, diligence, and attention to detail, the X-carve will produce very good work. You will just have to bear in mind the limitations of the system imposed by its simple, inexpensive, easy-to-assemble design. It sounds like you might just need to invest in a more expensive system.

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There is one part about the x-Carve that really bugs me, And I honestly think that it’s a hack that shouldn’t exist, and that is the eccentric nuts for the v-wheels. If the makerslide is made to a tolerance, the v-wheels and the holes n the plates are made to a tolerance, then there really shouldn’t be necessary to use them. And given all the posts about them, they are a real PITA. I’ve seen in done many times, and I have done it myself in my career, but they seem like an engineering fudge factor, for a problem that shouldn’t exist. In this day and age, getting parts made accurately shouldn’t be an issue, and it doesn’t affect cost, at least in the tolerances we’re talking about,

I’d really love to see a better solution than those, no joke! They’re a pain. They DO work, though, albeit prone to shifting, loosening, and requiring frequent adjustment. I added some loctite to mine, which really helped.

I think if I was going to propose a replacement, I’d like to see a slot in the carriage with a threaded adjustment, and the V-wheels on a slider arrangement. Then they could be snugged in a controlled fashion, using a locking nut on top of the threaded adjustment shaft.

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I think expectation management and a bit of reality might be in order here. For one it is a user assembled machine… so the outcome might have something to do with the user. I know several shops with 20K+ CNC machines and they have issues that they have to call out a service rep for. Why else would they offer service contracts. I use the hell out of my machine and make repeatable cuts (ie cutting out 50 stars per American Flag Coin Rack that I make). Does the machine require some user preventative maintenance? YES! I bet if you would take a moment to first take a breath and come at the issue from a problem solving point of view you will get everything where it needs to be and will have a much better experience. I think if you aren’t a tinkerer or a problem solver than this machine isn’t for you. I would challenge you to design and make a better CNC that is in the same price range and is complete open sourced. I just finished my third round of upgrades and am having a blast. I’m sorry you didn’t have the same experience.

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In answer to the adjustment of the lower V wheels on the machine. After measuring the wheels I received, I can tell you for fact that all the wheels you receive are not the same. There for you can not set the holes that the wheels mount to top and bottom so the tension on the wheels is correct. You have to have a way to adjust the wheels. Are there different ways to adjust the wheels, yes. Will they cost the same as the route the X-Carve presently uses. I don’t know.

Dave
Ariel, Wa

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Thank you for all the help. Tonight I took all the wheels off and checked them,cleaned them and readjusted them. We are back on track now. But I really would like to take the belts off and use a screw type set up. I didn’t think I was asking to much for this machine to make 10 rectangles exactly the same. ±.02. But maybe it is. If not for that I have enjoyed the machine and the app.

So, I haven’t used my machine enough yet to really know how bad the eccentric nuts are, but since everyone seems to loath them, I’ve been thinking about the problem on and off…

What about replacing the M5 bolts that have eccentric nuts with longer bolts, then adding a nylon insert hex nut on the end as a lock nut? Get the eccentric nut in the position you want it, and tight, add loctitie if you like, then hold it right where you want it and tighten down the new lock nut.

There may be a reason why it either won’t work, or wont solve the problem, like I say, I haven’t tried it, but it seems like it should help, right?

-Kelly