Updated: May 20, 2019
Firstly, thank you for purchasing a Beaver CNC Heavy Duty Z/X. I hope you enjoy your purchase, I have no doubt it will make your CNC experience quicker and more enjoyable.
To carry out this modification you need basic mechanical skills and understanding of how the Shapeoko is assembled. The installation should take under 2 hours. You will need basic shop tools like a metric set of allen keys and spanners. You might also need a 3.5mm drill bit to clear some powder coat from your Shapeoko frame.
During your installation please refer to the videos provided on my youtube - Luke's Garage. Your kit comes 95% ready to fit, however a number of parts (listed below) will need to be transferred from your existing Z/X axis.
Please use the screws provided, these have been included as the HDZ requires screws of a certain specification. Note the screws used are metric, usually M5.
Note, within your box are 10 small green caps, these fit to your axis slider rails - they have not been fitted as there is a small chance you need to re-align your rails. If you need to loosen the rails and realign do so by loosening the 10 m4 rails screws by half a turn. Then jog your X up/down a few times and re-tighten. Once satisfied fit the caps by pushing them into the holes on the rails ensuring the are flush with the rail - the back of a screw driver does a great job. These help prevent dust entering the bearing block.
Each HDZ comes with the following hardware as standard (this is all required to attach it to your Shapeoko)
1 x Easy Tram Dewalt/Makita spindle mounting plate
2 x M5 18mm screws for the top of easy tram plate
2 x M5 10mm screws for the bottom of easy tram plate
2 x Eccentric spacer for EasyTram
4 X 40mm Z motor supports
4 x 25mm X motor supports
8 x 10mm M5 Screws for motor stand offs
2 x Beaver CNC Eccentric nuts
4 x Heavy duty V wheel
4 x V-wheel spacer
4 x m5 x 25mm Screw for V-wheels
2 x M8 30mm X pulley screw s
2 x M8 Washer
10 x Green screw cap
4 x Black sledge - this is used if you have to remove a carriage
4 x grease nipple
Note a physical non wired limit switch is always included when you buy a set of the proximity switches. If you do not order a set of proximity switches we include a wired Z axis limit switch as standard.
Your first step is to remove your existing X/Z carriage from your existing shapeoko. To do this turn off your machine and unplug it. Disconnect the router or spindle and remove it from the spindle mount.
Remove both sides of your X axis belt tensioners and remove the belt from the X axis.
Remove your electronics protection box, disconnect Z and X motors. Disconnect your X limit switch and Z limit switch.
To remove the axis loosen and remove your lower eccentric nuts on the bottom of the axis and remove.
Your Z/X can now be lifted off your machine.
Remove the X and Z motors from the old axis.
The Z motor will have a gear pulley on it. Loosen the two small grommet screws. In some cases this will still be hard to slide off. We recommend using a screw driver or the back of a claw hammer to lever it off.
Once the motors are off, also remove the X limit switches, and bearings and spacers. along with the spindle mount and screws.
Upon assembly it’s up to you if you use thread lock we suggest adding it after if any screws become loose. If you decide to use thread lock use blue – i.e. light/medium grade.
4 x V-wheels
4 x M5 Spacer
4 x M5 x 25mm screw
2 x M5 Eccentric nut
The HDZ comes with V-wheels, these are heavier duty V wheels with a W profile rather than a M profile. As a result you might find the V wheels bind on the X belt clips, if this is the case please see the video below on drilling out and re-aligning the belt clips. It's recommended you remove your pulleys and clear out the powder coat from the holes using a 3.5mm-5mm drill bit. This will give them a fraction more wiggle room and allow the carriage to clear the belt clips. Alternatively you can exchange the top two V wheels with 2 of the older style V wheels from your old Z/X axis which you should have 8 spare of.
Fit the top two V-wheels first using the provided 25mm m5 screws. Ensuring there is a spacer between the back plate and the V-wheel.
When the top v-wheels have been fitted, lift the carriage onto the X axis beam. Then fit the bottom V-wheels in the same fashion. The M5 eccentric nuts go into the 7.14mm holes and the screws will screw into these. As you fit them ensure the V-wheel groves are on the rail.
Once on ensure the carriage moves freely left/right on the axis. Don't worry about having the eccentric nuts fully tight at this stage.
The following can all be done with the HDZ on the X beam. Ensure you have easy access by rotating the machine around.
X Pulleys and Supports
2 x M8 Bolt
2 x M8 Washer
Existing M8 Spacers & bearings from old carriage.
Remove the two M8 bolts and nuts from your existing Z/X carriage these hold the X belt spacers and bearings. Fit the spacers and bearings that came from your old Z/X to the included 30mm M8 bolts keeping the provided washers at the head of the bolts. Screw into the new Z from the rear.
Fitted correctly your mounts should look like the below.
Note the Screw head/Washer/Bearing/Bearing/Spacer combination.
X Motor and Supports
4 x M5 25mm support
4 x M5 x 10mm screw
There are four threaded holes in the centre of the carriage just above the M8 bolts. Insert the 4 x 25mm motor supports into the 4 holes. please note these are aluminium. Do not over-tighten them.
When the spacers have been fitted, fit your X motor using the 4 x m5x 10mm screws provided.
Z Motor and Coupling
4 x 40mm supports
4 x m5 Screw
Placing the new coupler on the ball screw slide it down as far as it goes and tighten the coupler.
Screw in the 4 x 40mm motor supports into the top 4 holes on the top of the HDZ. As before careful not to over tighten these.
Slide your motor shaft into this coupler and using the 40mm spacers. Then, fit your Z motor using the 4 x m5x 10mm screws provided.
Once the motor is fitted, tighten the coupling at the motor side. Note you need to ensure these are tight, failure to do so will cause a slip. A small amount of blue thread lock on the motor and ball screw shaft won't do any harm.
Spindle Mount & screws
2 x m5 x 18mm screws
2 x m5 x 10mm screws
2 x m5 non threaded eccentric nut
The easy tram spindle mount is a great feature on the Beaver CNC Heavy Duty Z/X. It’s easy to fit and makes Tramming your spindle allot easier utilising 2 eccentric spacers.
Use your existing spindle mount and screws fit it to the new easy tram mount ensuring the recessed holes accommodate the screw heads and tighten. Feel free to use some thread lock here.
Next place the easy tram mount on the lower front of the Z axis and fit the two provided eccentric spacers to the two 18mm screws. Thread these into the holes of the HDZ.
The side with the grove of the eccentric spacer indicates the lowest point.. Lightly tighten the screws so the eccentric spacers can move (tramming instructions are below).
Fit the two lower 10mm screws and keep these finger tight.
If you are using the 80mm spindle mount there should be no need to tram the motor left/right, as it’s precision milled. Fit the 80mm mount to the holes on the front of the mount. Use the provided M6 bolts. Note you need to use 2 washers on each of. the lower screws.
X Limit Switch
Remove your existing X axis limit switch and transfer this to the HDZ using your existing M5 bolts and spacers to the new carriage. There are two threaded M5 holes on the right-hand side of the carriage for you to use to reattach the X axis limit switch.
Z Limit Switch:
Assuming you bought the non contact proximity switch kit, your old Z limit switch is no longer required. See the instructions on fitting the limit switches at this point.
If you did not order the proximity switch kit then included with your new axis is a new limit switch that is pre-wired to fit onto your Carbide Motion board. Fit the new to the m5 hole at the front of the Z motor mount when you come to attaching your new Beaver CNC Heavy Duty Z/X to the machine.
Here is a pinout for reference
Fitting the new axis to your machine & Tightening the V-wheels.
If you didn't do this when fitting the V wheels here is some detail on how it can be done.
It goes on as it came off… however there is a difference. On the new Beaver Heavy Duty Z/X eccentric nuts are used not eccentric spacers which feature on some of the original shapeoko’s. Since the eccentric nut is threaded it is necessary to place the nut in position and thread in the screw while preventing the nut from rotating.
Tighten the screw first so its finger tight, rotate the nut to get the correct tension on the V wheel and then fully tighten the M5 screw.
To adjust the tension on a V wheel loosen the screw by 1 turn, rotate the nut to the specified tension then tighten the screw. The axis should move freely but should not rattle. Please note the standard Shapeoko setup does not use as tight a tolerances as this version. It is possible to over tighten - if so you won't be able to slide your X side to side.
Here is an example video:
Refit your X belt and set the tension
Once your spindle has been re-fitted you can tram it using the EasyTram mount. You can now now tram your spindle quickly and easily. As a starting have all your EasyTram bolts finger tight. Rotate both eccentric nuts to their lowest points (slot up) then rotate to level out your Z. Tighten your screws.
Firstly tram the front to back – using aluminium foil as a shim. Once you're happy with the front to back move onto left/right.
Loosen your 4 easy tram screws so they are finger tight then using a spanner rotate the upper eccentric nuts left/right. This will lower or raise one side of the axis, adjust accordantly to tram your axis. Once satisfied tighten the screws. You might need to repeat this process a few times doing a small surfacing cut between to analyses your level.
For advice on tramming please use the community.
The HDZ is pretty much maintenance free. However included with the kit are 4 grease nipples which can be used to insert grease into the carriages. You fit these into the centre screw on the top/bottom of the carriages and insert grease using a grease gun. A quick coat of WD40 to the rails/ball screw every now and then doe not hurt. All parts are rubber sealed but we suggest you keep the HDZ as dust free as possible.
The Black plastic sledges are used on the off chance you have to remove a slider block. As the block slides off a rail, slide the sledge into the block. Please DO NOT remove a slider block unless you are comfortable doing so - ball bearings can fall out.
Re-aligning the guide rails
As you might be aware Carbide motion only supports a limited amount of Z travel it's hard coded into CM – to use this axis to its full you will need to use alternative control software. If you want to continue using Carbide motion to control your machine you will need to put a 50mm spacer between the limit switch and the Z plate - design files for this can be found in the community area of the site.
I use CNCJS as it has a clean easy to use layout, straight forward features and great macro support. You can use any G code sender you like, but this is our favourites.
Here is an intro to CNCJS followed by UGCS as a secondary option.
Here is a look at UGCS Probing, macros and expression removal - not something you need to worry about with CNCJS.
First we want to plug the machine back in, turn it on/connect to it. Assuming you now have CNCJS, open the connection widget and connect. In CNCJS you should see a red warning box. Click the reset then unlock button in the top right. The red warning will disappear. DO NOT DO ANYTHING ELSE BEFORE READING THE SECTION BELOW!
As we have made some chances to your electronics, it’s good practice to check everything works as it should. Check all your switches work. Usually you can see these triggered with a LED on the board. Check each for a light then trigger one with the machine connected. Each time the machine should register by throwing an alarm code as above. Reset and unlock each time.
Now you have done your checks DO NOT INITIATE A HOMING CYCLE.
I REPEAT DO NOT DO THIS BEFORE READING THE SECTION BELOW! Doing so will initiate the machine using the wrong settings, this will likely cause your new Z to move in the wrong direction and wrong speed!
The HDZ uses a different type of motion, we need to change some of GRBL’s parameters. Change one at a time to test. It’s at this point I recommend you do this in CNCJS console module. To change in a parameter, enter the parameter number i.e. $1="the value"
Change these in the order below
$102 - Z steps/mm
This will depend how many micro steps your drivers are set to, unfortunately over the revisions of carbide motions’ boards this changed, there is no way for me to tell you how many micro steps you are using however mine was set to 1/8 as default.
This it’s easy to address. A carbide motion board will either be ¼ or 1/8 steps – so we will cover both, here is the detail to the calculation:
The ball screw offers 5mm of travel per rotation
1 rotation of a stepper is = 200 steps
200 steps/5 = 40mm per rotation
The micro steps have been converted to a fraction – 1/8 so we times the number of micro steps by the fraction:
320 micro steps per mm we change - $102=320
For ¼ micros steps you will be - $102=160
For 1/8 micros steps you will be - $102=320 - this was my settings
$2 - My Z is moving in the wrong direction…
This setting defines the direction of each motor, as the motor Z motor is now rotating in the same direction, as movement the Z direction will likely be reversed. Reference your existing $2 number as below – then change it to the correct profile. Assuming your $2=4 you would change this to $2=0
Please see other options below.
Change $3 = 2
Change these for optimum settings for your motors.
$112=1000.000 -– this will limit your Z travel speed to 1000mm a minute - when plunging this should be more than enough.
$122=200.000 – this will limit your Z acceleration - set this too high and you will find yourself straining the motor.
$130= (X max travel distance) – this will depend on the machine you use. Add 30mm to the existing distance – when you home the machine try moving it along the X – if you still have plenty of space add more mm. $130=120. Note if you are using the suckit dust boot don't change anything.
$132=150 Z max travel distance – I believe this should be around 151. Again test the travel ensuring your Z plate does not slide off the axis base.
Overview of GRBL Settings
Only amend those in bold when you know how much extra X travel you have spare - not this might not change if you're using a suckit dustboot. Note those below are for the XXL - if you have a XL or standard the table dimensions should not be changed.
$0=10 (Step pulse time, microseconds) $1=255 (Step idle delay, milliseconds) $2=0 (Step pulse invert, mask) $3=2 (Step direction invert, mask) $4=0 (Invert step enable pin, boolean) $5=0 (Invert limit pins, boolean) $6=0 (Invert probe pin, boolean) $10=255 (Status report options, mask) $11=0.020 (Junction deviation, millimeters) $12=0.010 (Arc tolerance, millimeters) $13=0 (Report in inches, boolean) $20=1 (Soft limits enable, boolean) $21=1 (Hard limits enable, boolean) $22=1 (Homing cycle enable, boolean) $23=0 (Homing direction invert, mask) $24=100.000 (Homing locate feed rate, mm/min) $25=2000.000 (Homing search seek rate, mm/min) $26=25 (Homing switch debounce delay, milliseconds) $27=5.000 (Homing switch pull-off distance, millimeters) $30=1000 (Maximum spindle speed, RPM) $31=0 (Minimum spindle speed, RPM) $32=0 (Laser-mode enable, boolean) $100=40.000 (X-axis travel resolution, step/mm) $101=40.000 (Y-axis travel resolution, step/mm) $102=320.000 (Z-axis travel resolution, step/mm) $110=5000.000 (X-axis maximum rate, mm/min) $111=5000.000 (Y-axis maximum rate, mm/min) $112=1000.000 (Z-axis maximum rate, mm/min) $120=500.000 (X-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2) $121=500.000 (Y-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2) $122=100.000 (Z-axis acceleration, mm/sec^2) $130=845.000 (X-axis maximum travel, millimeters) $131=850.000 (Y-axis maximum travel, millimeters) $132=150.000 (Z-axis maximum travel, millimetres)
Some people have reported that when starting a job in CNCJS or UGCS the HDZ will retract Z and hit the homing switch, then flag an error code. This will be down to the post processor used. The G-code essentially asks the machine to retract too far before starting a job.
To fix this you might need to change the post processor. I personally find this post processor to be very good and don't have the issue:
For instructions on how to install a new PP in Fusion 360 I found this resource helpful.
Assuming all the above has been done your new Beaver CNC linear Z/X is ready to go.
Take it steady to begin with trial jog commands and run some familiar jobs.
Then get making and go nuts! Tag me on instagram (lukebonathan) with your creations. I want to see them :D
Lastly thank you once again for your purchase, and any questions of for any technical assistance please contact me.