New Carbide Controller or DIY option? What should I buy?

Hi everyone. I am the owner of a Shapeoko 3 - Sparkfun edition.

I’m set on replacing the Stepoko controller this machine came with. What I’m struggling with is the decision on what to replace it with.

I could go for the new Carbide 3d PCB. I’ll also need to get the proper power adapter. I could maybe save $50 by not getting the enclosure and 3D printing something. Or does it have to be metal? The Stepoko isn’t in a metal box so maybe that doesn’t matter? The price of the new PCB is either $100 or $150 depending if I choose to buy the enclosure. Plus another $30 for the power brick.

So with a budget of $130 - $180 should I just go for this? By the time I get an arduino and 4 stepper drivers that aren’t garbage I’d be spending that much anyway right? The other All in one solutions seem to cost more than this (ie. Blackbox). (Not to mention the black friday sale right now saves another 15%)

I’m not hooked on Carbide Motion so that’s not really part of my decision. I’m more looking for best bang for the buck here.

Any advice or input? Thank you!

I am aware I’ll need to add the homing switches to the new PCB. Which means I would be getting the Z plus (the switches are included).

If your budget is in the C3D controller range of things, not a more traditional CNC controller with motor drivers etc. I would say buy the C3D unit.

The C3D package of GRBL, Carbide Motion software, onboard motor controllers, PSU etc. is offensively good value. People grumble about features but as a cost optimised package, it’s pretty dang good.

If your budget stretched to $500-$1000 and included building a control cabinet to put stepper controllers in and your CNC controller then there’s other choices that I’d consider.

That’s my vote, let the buns start flying :wink:


One more point to complicate the matter: The site to purchase the PCB says:

The Carbide Motion PCB in two options for Shapeoko 3:

  • Stand-Alone CM Board (The heatsink and power supply are not included, this is only the PCB.)
  • CM Board with Enclosure (Choose this option if you are replacing a 2.4C board or earlier)
    So does this mean if I get the enclosure, I also get the power supply? It doesn’t state it’s not included like the stand-alone board. Also, if I get the enclosure, I don’t need a heatsink? Can anyone clarify that please?

If you’re willing to make your own enclosure, that should be fine.

The big consideration is that you will need to source Molex connector housings and pins to make the connections to the controller for the stepper motors.


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Hi Will! Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate it. Your site mentions the base PCB as also needing the power supply. But doesn’t mention that if I buy the enclosure. Can you confirm if I need the power supply if I buy the enclosure? Or does that version come with it? What about the wording about the Heatsink? do I need one?

In regards to the molex connectors. My current plan is to just get a bunch of those single pin connectors and stick them onto the motor wire and then just plug them all in individually to the board one at a time. Should be cheap and work fine I think. Thoughts?

You would either need our power supply:

or to source a connector to match and wire that up, or make up the power connection in some other way — only using our power supply would be covered under warranty.

My concern about individual connectors is that things might short out if a wire gets snagged.

I’ve read on these forums someone mention wire extenders for the XXL version of the machine. Do you have those for sale? And do they have the connectors on them? If so, I would slice and dice them on.

You know. I didn’t realize that I could just flash my own updated version of GRBL to this board. The Stepoko is now running GRBL 1.1h.

I guess I’m not going to bother with a new controller afterall.


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