Shapeoko 3 XL different reversion?


We have recently been donated, what I believe to be, a Shapeoko 3 XL.

I’m just starting to get to grips with it but on checking the manual I’ve noticed a few minor differences. The spoilboard on ours is separate strips with tie down points in-between and I don’t have any mounting holes on the outside of the X and Y rails, as shown in the manual, for mounting the cable chains.

Was there a slightly different revision of the Shapeoko 3 or do I have something different?


That is a Shapeoko 3 with belt-drive Z-axis in XL size which has the optional T-track w/ MDF filler strips.

It looks like it was assembled w/ the electronics/drag chain on the right, which isn’t as in the instructions, but is perfectly workable.

Please see:

We don’t have the directions for that specific revision on-line anymore — if need be, you can look them up on the Wayback machine.

The proximity switch upgrade kits and Z-Plus or HDZ upgrades would have adhesive plates which would allow securing the drag chains — folks worked up a lot of options for them — bolting some pieces of aluminum angle is the most popular.

More recent models changed the Z-axis to a leadscrew and switched to proximity homing switches. Another concern is which version of Grbl is installed — ideally it will be 1.1 which will allow using a current Carbide Motion:

if it’s 0.9, get CM3 from: Downloads

If you are using CM3 you won’t be able to use the current Carbide Create until that is updated as noted at:

What sort of work do you wish to do using the machine? How do you wish to approach it?

Well I’m assuming that it is using v1.1 as I was able to control it with the latest version of Carbide Motion that I just downloaded, and also used the latest version of Carbide Create to make a simple toolpath that appeared to run ok, in air, on the machine.

This will be getting used in a community workshop for cutting and milling woods and plastics.

Are there any particular quality of life upgrades I should be looking at? I noticed that the Y axis only has an endstop on one side, are there any concerns with the X gantry becoming unsquare?

So long as the hardware fasteners aren’t allowed to vibrate loose the gantry should be fine — some folks will park it at the front and pull it up against the endplates before powering up so as to ensure that it will be consistently square to the machine.

The first thing to do would be to add a Sweepy:

might want to pair that w/ a 65mm diameter trim router or spindle (see below)

The biggest quality of life upgrade would be to replace the belt-drive Z-axis w/ a Z-Plus or HDZ — the HDZ would slightly increase the X-axis working area, so is a big win — upgrading the Z-axis would also get one proximity switches.

The next option would be the various accessories:

  • BitZero — this will allow setting origin relative to rectangular stock
  • BitSetter — this will allow files with multiple tools
  • BitRunner or VFD Spindle — this will allow auto on/off, and the VFD affords speed control as well — the spindle would want an HDZ if possible, and a new mount — this will probably require a new controller w/ a BitRunner connector.

But the only thing which is strictly needed is the Sweepy — a belt-drive machine is perfectly serviceable, and and work quite well so long as one keeps feeds and speeds appropriate to the machine, tooling, and material.

If you do that, whatever force you apply to pull it “straight” will cause uneven pressure in the belts and resistance against the steppers as that amount of force will be locked in against the steppers and belts once the steppers are energized.
Try shimming your gantry to get it straight. And, whatever you do, do not try using a file to smooth or straighten the beam ends. Filing will result in a shorter beam.

It is assumed that both belts are evenly tensioned.

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