Lessons Learned from a Newbie

I’ve had my S4 for 2 months now. I’m completely new at CNC and have learned a lot. My hope is that my experience can help others. The experts are welcome to chime in.

First of all, I have a standard S4.

Belts & Drag Chain
The S4 ships with belts and drag chains for the XXL. So the belts do need to be trimmed and links should be taken out of the drag chains. The y-axis drag chain must be shortened otherwise the gantry can not reach the forward limit. The x-axis drag chain does not really need to be shortened, but if you keep it a full length you need more width in your work area to allow for the full x movement

Be sure to tie up your cables with the cable ties. When I initially set up the machine I did not want to make permanent changes like sticking the ties on. Quite often my YL motor cable would catch on the back of the S4 and get unplugged when the gantry moved forward. This either results in a lot of rumbling on the left or inaccurate Y motion. I noticed it wasn’t cutting perfect circles.

Be sure belts are reasonably tight and the wheels on the spindle carriage are reasonably tight. Loose belts and loose wheels have been responsible for inaccuracies in cuts. Circles are good tests

While carbide motion does show this in their diagrams on probing, the stock is in light grey and not always easy to see. When corner probing, the probe should hang off the edge. When probing zero, the entire probe needs to be on top of the stock including the small black lip on the bottom of the probe. My mistake was to hang over the edge for both type of probing causing deep plunges when just zeroing the z.

Importing SVG

I was using Adobe Illustrator to draw paths since I’ve used it for 20 years. I’m using CS2. I tried exporting with DXF, but some of the closed paths are not imported as closed, so I stuck with SVG. However, the scaling is wrong when importing. You can correct this by scaling the work in AI by 133.333% then save SVG. Then Carbide Create imports the SVG accurate to scale.

I’m still experimenting with workholding.


I believe that if you export, rather than save you’ll be able to specify 96 ppi which will make things come in at the right size in Carbide Create.

AI CS2 doesn’t export SVG only Save As… and ppi is not an option in the save. Maybe serves me right for using an old AI, but scaling isn’t a big deal.

It isn’t an option under File | Save for Web?