X-carve upgrades and compressed air assist

So now that I am back from my series of business trips, I am trying to get back to my x-carve. I have a lot of upgrades I would like to make to make this more effective.

The first two are re-wiring the whole thing with longer cables, and individual cables for the two Y axis motors. This should prepare my setup for the new x-controller. Plus a lot of my issues seem to be related to bad connectivity on the line connecting the two Y axis motors, so I need to replace that wiring anyway. Finally, I want more length on the cables, so I can move the electronics to a lower shelf where they won’t get showered with chips all the time.

Second I am replacing the waste board with a aluminum flat t-slot extrusion to make it easier to attach clamps and vises to the surface.

For the third upgrade I was thinking of adding an air assist to blow the chips out of the cut as cut. For wood, it seems that a shopvac would server this purpose, pulling the chips and dust away from the cut. But for metal, the chips and cutting fluid just form a sludge. A blast from a compressed air can clears it out, but that is manual, and expensive. I was thinking of attaching a compressed air jet to the gantry so that it would use the air to clear the chips as it goes. I was wondering if anyone has tried this? I was trying to figure out what kind of compressor to use. Ideally it would be nice to also attached a hand held jet to the compressor and use it for general purpose chip clearing. (between the X-Carve and my little bench top lathe, I feel like I’m getting buried in chips)

Once I get my x-carve, I’m placing it next to my air compressor for chip removal. As for an air compressor, you want to find one that has a large enough CFM so it can blow the whole time the carve is going without cycling the motor too much. 5-6 CFM is pretty much standard for a 20-30 gal compressor.

Once I get things up, running and stabilized i plan on adding terminal blocks to the table near the wiring outlet of the Y-axis drag chain and terminating all of the on board wiring there using spade connectors.

The next step will be to install longer wire for the steppers, spindle and limit switches to run between the new terminal block and the arduino/power supply, again with spade connectors at the terminal block allowing me to relocate the unit more to my liking.

Am also considering replacing the limit switch wiring with shielded wire, I dont know if it will work or not to prevent the electrical noise from the spindle that has been reported to keep the limit switches from working as just that, “limit” and not just “homeing” with the spindle off.

I had a lot of trouble with noise on some of my limit switch lines. Right now I am not running the limit switch through the chain. I tried adding a filtering cap to lower the noise level, but that lowered the voltage enough (about 4.7V from 4.9V) that it was always read as closed. So I eneded up running new cables for the switches outside the chain. I was hoping to address this with the re-wire, but there is limited room in the cable chain, so I don’t know if shielded limit switch cables would fit.

Does anyone know if the 30mm drag chain here (https://www.inventables.com/technologies/drag-chain) would fit on the stock x-carve brackets? It looks like it might work, but I can’t tell from the picture.

I am hoping that my machine will ship late this week or early next week. Mods planed from the get go are.
Extend to 1800 mm wit at least 2 mid span supports on each rail.
Raise Z 50 mm
Mod Z to take advantage of the added Z height.
Use linear slides and 10 mm ball screw on Z. Z will be reversed with the maker slide moving up and down and the V wheels fixed to the carrage (if I was using the MS and V wheels)
Limit switches located at each end of the X and Y rails using shielded wire. Limit switches and homing all configured in LinuxCNC. Soft limits active.
9 mm wide belts on the long axis with custom made flat rollers. custom built belt clamps that can not slip.
Custom built 30k spindle with draw bar and Tormack TTS style tool holders.
Dust and chip control.
Work surface will be 25 mm thick expanded PVC board. Drilled in place for hold down clamps and locating dowel pins.

System controlled by LinuxCNC and a Gecko G540 4 axis driver. 280 oz nema 23 steppers running at 48 VDC


I would be real careful using compressed air to blow metal chips out of your cut. Because all the V wheels and rail are not guarded you could get chips going palaces you don’t want them.


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Your setup sound awesome, make sure you document all upgrades!

That’s the plan.


Wouldn’t ring connectors be better than spade connectors. Sure you have to take the screw all the way out of the terminal block to install them, but they can’t pull out. I’ve been switching to the better copper ring connectors with the built in heat shrink and adhesive. This is after a couple of the cheap home depot connectors came loose on me.

Putting a terminal block on the back sounds like a good idea though.

I cut the plastic insulators off of the spade connectors, slid a short piece of 1/8" shrink tube on each wire then soldered the wire to the connector after inserting the wire into the connector’s tube. after things cooled back down i slid the shrink tube up into the place of the insulator I removed. Much less bulky.

as for ring or spade connectors, torqued down enough, they should not come loose. But if they do there is always blue locktight! :grinning:

That had to take some time!! But I like that idea and I think I’m going to borrow it if you don’t mind!!

You can also use the ring terminal style connector with a lock washer if you are worried about the spade connector coming out.

I ordered some of these, they come with the heat shrink tubing and adhesive built in. So you crimp it down with the crimp tool, then go over it with the heat gun, and you should get a solid connection.

and a video on this type of connector

Those look like a nice setup!

I’m still curious though. What’s the best way to blow the chips out with air? I see plans to 3D print covers for the v-wheels to protect them and it seems perfect with the .8kw spindle that’s on the way. I’m just not sure what the best way to implement it is. I see plenty of the redirectable hoses on eBay for cheap but am just not sure how to best source the pressure for them.