Just starting up questions

Hello, complete newbie here in the UK just starting out.

I have decided to develop my hobby from a freehand router making small wooden signs to using a CNC in the process. This is due to health issues, having back pain problems and not able to sit for long periods with a router in my hands, so looking at a way to keep myself and my hobby going. I have already got a number of 2D designs that I route into wood so looking to develop these into 3D.

I have purchased a second hand Shapeoko 3 Sparkfun Edition machine. I saw it working before I purchased and it’s been well cared for over the years, so happy it is a good starting point.

I have a few questions to ask:

I am looking to buy a laptop to use with the machine and for all of my design work etc, what specification would you suggest I look for, RAM, SSD operating system etc.

As for programs I will be looking to obtain Carbon Create, but what else should I be considering or looking out for?

I have already noted that building a cabinet to house the machine and to look into dust collection is a good idea, so that will be my first project to get myself set up and organised, what else should I be considering at this very early stage of starting out with the machine?

The Sparkfun Stepoko is almost literally, the red-headed stepchild of the family.

It no longer works w/ Carbide Motion (unless one rewires the machine to replace the controller) so you’ll need to use an opensource communication/control program (unless the person who sold the machine shared their CM install archive and their “Sparkfun Activation Code”)

See the program list at:

You’ll need to either use Carbide Create v6:

or get a Pro license so as to generate G-code (or, as noted above, you could source connectors and re-wire your machine to use a new CM controller — let us know at support@carbide3d.com)

Any computer which meets the system requirements should be fine — a fanless (sealed) Windows tablet is a popular choice.

If you’re not familiar w/ CAD/CAM concepts see:


Brilliant, thank you. This gives me lots to look into and to start getting my head around.