SO3: Vacuuming shuts down carbide motion

I live in the Southwest where the average humidity is low.
Yes it’s the desert pretty sunny but dry
While running a project with my SO3 if I try to vacuum it shuts down Carbide Motion with an error code.

I am assuming it is static electricity causing the issue with the control board.

Is there a way to ground the control board or the shop-vac so this doesn’t happen?

If I install a dust shoe ( will it require additional grounding?

First thing I would do is check all of your connections, especially the grounds. Static is an issue but something like this is usually a grounding/connection issue - noise from the motor is harming the USB connection.

The second thing I would do is get a ground/neutral checked and check your outlets - are they really grounded properly?

@WillAdams and others can point to some SO3 specific articles. I see you’ve had your machine for a while. There is an add a capacitor fix that dramatically helps many with older hardware (the latest stuff has it built in).

This was written about the Nomad but is useful in the general case of power and ground issues:

Separating and isolating your SO3, vac, and computer is really a good idea - different circuit breakers, if possible. Using a quality UPS - not surge protector - can really help.

Motors and computers just do not get along.

If I install a dust shoe ( will it require additional grounding?

A dust shoe will reduce static but this is often minor. Without a dust shoe and enclosure you’re exposing yourself to dangers if your working in friable materials (e.g. wood, MDF, Garolite, FR4, Fiberglass, carbon composite). Consider a vacuum system and enclosure:


Please see


I had some issues with my SO3 and static electricity. When I used my shop vac with a regular hose, I would have issues from time to time. I switched over to using my Festool CT26 dust extractor, complete with anti static hose, and didn’t experience that issue with that set-up. That’s quite an expensive solution, but having the CT26 coupled with variable suction and being significantly quieter than the shop vac worked for me. There has been much discussion in the Shapeoko forum on this subject with a lot of examples of how others found working solutions…

This is all too common…

Earth all the Axis together and run the vac on a separate outlet,I had to earth pretty much everything to stop the issue,even with the cap fix.

Computers and motors are fine,the connections between them are the weak points,especially now USB is favored over parallel. Computers of a desktop variety are well shielded (make sure you have your I/O backpanel in place tho…) but USB is not a robust system.

Earthing everything usually solves this as b negative said, don’t forget to earth the shielding of the USB cable you use too, this helped me a lot

I switched from my laptop to a desktop and the problem worsened. I was using the laptop on battery.
After reading the wiki article it seems like a little static, grounding loops, USB isolators, ferrite cores,and grounding to earth of the router and frame are all intertwined.
As a non-electrical engineer I wonder where to start?
I ruined a piece of African mahogany with the disconnects and resets.
Is running a wire from the body of the router to the X gantry, from the x gantry to y gantries from y gantry to frame and frame to a piece of metal sitting on a concrete floor a reasonable (ie cheap) way to ground to earth everything?
I read that running a wire inside the vacuum hose as well as wrapping wire around it is a way to ground the vacuum.
Any thoughts?


The big thing, is do it systematically, and avoid introducing any ground loops — follow a star topology. Order of payoff seems to be:

  • separate circuit for micro-controller and vacuum/spindle (but some people have reported this causing a problem — check the house wiring first)
  • updated board w/ capacitor
  • grounding the spindle
  • grounding the vacuum hose
  • grounding the computer frame / USB cable
  • individually grounding all machine parts

Using shielded cable and grounding the drip wires may help as well — it’s what we did in the SO1/2 days. Not sure why it ceased being a standard.

Also, always preview and test paths, and the machine, and never commit w/ expensive, let alone irreplaceable material until confident.

Will thank you for the plan.
I went ahead and started grounding the spindle vacuum hose and frame.
I am not sure how to ground a USB cable, will google.

A couple of questions…

I had to look up the star topology,.
In that configuration would the surge protector be at the center?
I have my spindle on the same circuit (surge protector) as the micro-controller and computer.
The vacuum is on a different curcuit.
Perhaps I should put the vacuum on the same surge protector?

What is drip wire?

Yeah I did 2 practice runs on 3/4 inch plywood that worked fine. Always a good idea, I can only surmise that the static that shut down the controller effected something. Hence the push to end the static!

I’ll check with Carbide support re the capacitor on the board.


The ground connection at the surge protector would be the center, yes.

I think the vacuum and spindle should both go on one circuit, and the micro-controller on another, but good electrical practice says everything should be on the same, so as to facilitate sensible grounding. This part is kind of like witchcraft / superstition — try things until they work.

Ground the USB from either the cable housing connector or the machine frame if it isn’t grounded through the power connection.

A drip wire is the stainless steel wire inside a shielded multi-conductor cable, but which isn’t used a a conductor — instead it gets clipped off at the far end, and wired to ground at the controller end of things.

Good luck w/ your next run!