Unable to complete any basic project. Random "crap out". Help?

Hey all,

I am losing faith that this is actually a machine that I can run a basic project on.

I bought my X-Carve about 10 months ago, put it together, then we had another kid Needless to say, I haven’t been able to really spend any time on it. In the last few days, I have gone back out to play with the machine and am not having much success. The first few issues were mine … feed rate, pass depth, etc. After figuring that out, the machine works, If I send it a project, depending on the size of the project, it might complete. But mostly, it appears to be flawless for part of the project (X,Y,Z steppers are accurate) and then it’ll move to the next section of the project and skip a step or something which throws the coordinates off and destroys the project. What ensues after that I can only equate to full-on road rage … CNC Rage, if you will.

This project is in 3/4" MDF
80 in/sec feed rate
.07 depth/pass
DW 660

Here is a pic, so you can see how it is all going well … until the 3rd section. It is not supposed to overlap the second section.

I am sending the gcode with UGS 1.09. All of that is fine. Like I said, while it is working, it is … well, working. Then it just craps on itself. I am getting close to selling it as I barely get out to the shop and can’t deal with the aggravation. At this rate, I’ll have spent my life savings on MDF by the end of the week.


First, I would use the daily build of UGS, not v.1.0.9. http://bit.ly/1hftIhy

Second…are you really going 80 inches per second?

What speed setting is the dewalt on?

I really hope he ment inches per minute.

It is the DW660. Not the 611, so there is no speed setting. I was considering a speed controller but have read mixed messages on whether they are good for the DW660. Is 80 in/sec too fast?? Haha! No, my mistake. I meant 80 in/min.

I will try the latest UGS, although it doesn’t feel like a UGS issue. But, at this point, no idea.


Have you done the adjustment to the stepper motor power? That could be why you are losing steps.

Stepper motor power adjustment? I don’t think so. Where do I find out about that? Wouldn’t I be losing steps more frequently?

I have a possible theory, but might be silly. Could a table that isn’t sturdy enough cause issues? I thought maybe that it is causing a little extra momentum when the Y-axis moved a little farther than it did on the other two sections that could have caused it to skip? Complete guess, but maybe someone had an issue like that?

If you have never adjusted the stepper motor power, that is more then likely the problem:

I read that and although I don’t really understand it, I could do it, if need be. I have the NEMA 23 motors, though.

Are the majority of people that buy the 1000mm X-Carve doing this? I am concerned about doing this if it is easy to short the pins. In other words, I am wondering if all of the YouTube videos I see of people doing their projects performed this tweak.

Almost all of the issues with the machine losing steps is due to the motor power needing to be adjusted…from what I have seen on the forum. I know I had to adjust mine as well…the nema 23s.

Watch the videos first…it is very easy to do this.

Okay. Thanks! Also, is that link you posted @PhilJohnson just to the overall page of videos or do I need to also do the X-axis stiffening mod as well??

And I definitely know it isn’t the machine. It is more if I have the time to put in to it right now.

Don’t worry about any mods for now…get it dialed in and you will be pleased.

I’ve been where you are so I understand completely. I would be very surprised to hear that it’s the voltage to your motors causing the issue. Here’s what I can say from my experience-it’s usually the simplest things. While there is tons of great info on the forum it’s very easy to get lost in it all and overwhelmed.

Check the basics of the machine, belts, eccentric nuts, and pulley set screws and slow down your feed rate. I made thousand of dollars worth of product on my machine before doing any of the mods or adjusting the potentiometers, (basically because I had to- Christmas rush.)

Things weren’t perfect and I had to cut slower than I wanted to, but I was able to get the job done.

I kept reading the forum and asking questions but I still only took on what I understood at the moment.

Only recently did I have to the time to do the gantry mod and then only last week did I adjust the voltage to the motors. Both things made a huge difference in accuracy and speed, but they weren’t necessary for the machine to work, they were improvements. Before these upgrade I never cut above 40 in/min. And while that was slow and conservative it got the job done and I learned.

Also, I’m not suggesting you wait as long as I did to improve your machine these task really are pretty easy, I’m just saying take your time understanding your machine and the reason for the mods so you will better grasp why are you are doing and what it is supposed to achieve.

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Excellent information! This should be a sticky for everyone new to the X-Carve :slight_smile:

My two bits:

  1. 80 in/min is pretty fast. I would slow it down (The Easel default for MDF is 40 in/min). I generally use 65-ish. Once you’re getting good cuts, then slowly step-up your speed.

  2. When I first started I was getting results like this. My issue was heat. I’m in Florida and I use my X-Carve in the garage. I got a small desk fan and pointed it at the controller and a large fan just to generally circulate the air more. Also, VERY early on my “case fan” on the controller was installed upside down. You might want to just double check that also.

Had another go at it today. Much better results. I checked all of the v-wheels, nuts, etc. I also spent some time using UGS to jog the X-Y-Z axis. It seemed that the Y-axis was fine up until it hit the dead center of the machine. At that point, it would kind of … make a wobble sound. Not sure that it was skipping, but it definitely didn’t sound right compared with other areas of the table. So, depending on where I set my workpiece and the size, I might not always see it. Figuring it might be the tension of the belt (after watching one of the videos on the proper belt tension), I redid the belts and am seeing a lot better results with a feed rate of 80 IPM and .0625 depth/pass.

I am putting this here for others to see in case they are having issues. Thanks for all the help and if I have any other issues, I’ll follow the other videos.

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I agree with Nam37 on the speed being too fast. I’m curious why you would double the recommended cutting speed to begin with?

Good question. Just from all of the reading of the feed rates people used on the Shapeoko and X-Carve and test videos on youTube of people doing 100 IPM. Figured reducing to 80 IPM was reasonable. I am also not using Easel so I was unaware (until this thread) that they had MDF at 40 IPM.

I made an error cut tonight, 1/16" bit @ 70 IPM and a depth of .625 (5/8") in MDF and it cut just fine.

I would have had bits flying from Austin to California if I did that.