Considering 2.2 kw spindle upgrade SO 3 XXL

Hi All!
I have been considering upgrading my Dewalt 611 and switching over to a 2.2KW air cooled spindle. Before I start ordering the wrong stuff would like your opinions.

  1. Can I control the spindle with my SO3 control board? Any particular concerns or extra electronics needed?

2I use carbide motion or Vcarve pro depending on the project. Post processors to enable control of the spindle?

3 Water or Air cooled? (Was trying to avoid more cables and tubing for the water tank etc)



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  1. Can I control the spindle with my SO3 control board? YES Any particular concerns or extra electronics needed? NO and you can even control the spindle speed.

2I use carbide motion or Vcarve pro depending on the project. Post processors to enable control of the spindle? not familiar with CC or CM to say

3 Water or Air cooled? (Was trying to avoid more cables and tubing for the water tank etc) water as it’s very quiet

1 - Yes. We use the same controller as for the Nomad

2 - Yes, so long as it’s wired up to the appropriate pins on the controller

3 - My understanding is air cooled is simpler, water cooled quieter

IMO, the only reason to get a 2.2kW spindle for a Shapeoko is that it’s required to get a cheap (Chinese) HF Spindle that supports 1/2" endmills (which you likely don’t need). Lower power and smaller (but more expensive) quiet electric fan (rather than shaft driven) air cooled Italian HF Spindles are available that support 1/2" endmills.

If you’re only cutting wood, there are lots of router bits with 1/4" shanks you could use and get by with an apparently decent 800Watt Chinese HF Spindle.

The following shows that 2.2kW (2,200Watt) and 800Watt HF Spindles are capable of 7.7475 and 2.8173 lb-in of torque respectively. Dividing those torques by half the endmill cutting diameter will determine how much cutting force the machine would be subjected to at those torque levels. Stock Shapeokos can support a maximum of about 18 lbs force, and likely a usable force of around 5 lbs. So 800Watts should be more than adequate.

I have been looking to do some aluminum work and capacity to use different diameter endmills. Figured that a spindle with an ER20 collet would be versatile and could accomodate 1/8 through 1/2 in router bits and endmills.

Not opposed to inexpensive either… :slight_smile: Looks like water may be the best route to go for sound.

How do you program the speed parameters into the CAD side of the project? Not clear how the spindle speed is controlled from the Gcode I send to CM.

Thanks for the replies!

IMO, Mechatron professional series spindles are currently the best HF spindles currently available for aluminum because they support speeds up to 60kRPM.
I really don’t understand the need for software control of spindle speed (faster is almost always better), but people here disagree and some (like @julien) know how to do it.

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I have a 1.5kw air cooled spindle and it can get a bit toasty after a long job so would recommend water cooled. I’m going to upgrade at some point!

As someone who has a 2.2Kw water cooled spindle it is the best, and worst choice I’ve ever made. There’s some things worth noting that haven’t been mentioned yet.

  1. Speed control is fantastic, as you get more advanced you’ll find that Fusion 360 can take advantage of this with the out of the box post processor.
  2. You will need a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD). Most of the time these come in a kit, with the spindle. This will also require a bit of setup that specific to the spindle you select, and with a little google-fu you can find some excellent tutorials. This is what you will connect the SO2 too.
  3. GET AN HDZ, the spindle weight will definitely be more than the router, and even higher with a water cooled spindle. That plus the weight of a larger spindle holder and you will exceeded the weight that the Z axis springs can support. Trust me life is much better with the HDZ.
  4. While water cooling, is well, cool, and I we like the feeling of absurd power it brings to the table. Now the puns are out of the way; IMHO it’s 70% of the time not worth it. If you’re cutting long jobs at high speed or require the max spindle torque and its fairly often then yes, totally worth it to save the spindle life. For most of us, it’s aluminum and we have so many other concerns with work holding, tool life, tolerances and surface finish, high MMRs at low Torque, that we’re not pushing the SO2 to the extreme. It’s a lot of extra setup pumps/sumps/coolers/ect and at the end of the day on a 2hr job I’m seeing a <1°c change in water outlet temp. Now that probably translates into a warm spindle but not enough to degrade performance or life. On the other hand I have a lot more mass than if I went air cooled so I’ve had to slow my feeds and adjust my speeds to get good results; in the end it’s just not worth it to me.
    So VFD spindle YES, water cooled… Ahhh depends on what trade offs you’re willing to make and the work you want to do. Watch Winston’s channel on YouTube, some impressive metal work without the need for a water cooled spindle.

This is helpful! Thank you so much.

I already have the HDZ and love it. I have already “burned” through one Dewalt and it took forever for the warranty repair. Figured that the spindle may give me a bit more flexibility.

Looking to dive into aluminum work and threading as well, so wanted the ability to reverse and slow the speeds down. I also wanted to be able to use some of my 1/2" bit collection and moulding bits too… ( speed control… :blush:)

I also upgraded my wasteboard to a threaded aluminum base from the Ohio Diesel folks.

Will need to research a bit on misters/cooling sprays setups etc. I was trying to avoid more tangles with the water tubes but looks like its the best way to go.

I will order the kit with the VFD will need to figure out how to program it and control it with the C3D board.

I use mostly Vectric’s Vcarve Pro to create my projects so will have to make sure that is set up corectly too…

Be sure to check out the GPenny choices at AliExpress, 4 main bearings and a choice of either steel or ceramic. @Julien documented VFD setup here VFD Parameters (Huanyang model)

@neilferreri has authored tool change capable post processors for Fusion 360 and VCarve. Plus macros for CNCjs for tool changes using the Bitsetter and probing using Carbide’s and other probes.

I use 2” x 1/2” shaft facing mills frequently enough to appreciate the speed control. Although for most other work, especially aluminum, I agree with @gmack, max speed on the spindle.

I’ve been messaging GPenny to up their game by offering 40-60k spindles. No response but we can hope. Maybe if all of us started pestering them they’d come up with one.


The VFD is actually fairly straight forward to set up. You’ll just need to know some information about the spindle, and hope your manual includes english, as mine did not…
There’s some great board schematics on here that will show you where to connect everything for the PWM output for the spindle, I cant seem to find the post right now but if I do I’ll put a link here for you. Just remember use the settings for the spindle you buy, not something generic.

It’s also worth buying a trusted name, I personally did not, and returned the first two spindles I purchased. Mostly due to poor bearing construction resulting in visible wobble of the shaft. I’m now 60Hrs of runtime in and I’m starting to see the same effects on this Chinese spindle. I haven’t done the research yet, but you should definitely look at what @Griff suggested as I know GPenny has a following.

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I have a water Cooled 1.5KW and absolutely love it, not because of the cooling performance on the spindle or coolness, but the noise level makes the whole cnc experience a different ballgame for me.
I did it easy, no cooler for the water but I dropped the submersible pump down into a fairly big reservoir, no issues with high temperatures.
I would recommend water Cooled over air-cooled everyday

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Yup can’t comment on air cooled, but it is so quiet, I was able to bring it into the house and out of the garage. Definitely a pro that I missed, I’m curious @Nessk is the air cooled as loud as the DeWalt, I’ve never had experience with one?

No it’s quite far from the Makita at least, much less noise,. I’ve never heard the dewalt.
My friend has a 2.2 aircooled of a unknown Chinese brand on his CNC, its noisy enough for him to be jealous at my water Cooled setup.

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