Upgrade questions

Sorry for two questions in one post, but they are straightforward. I am thinking about some upgrades to my S3 XXL (circa 2019):

  1. Relative to the Carbide spindle kit, how does one determine the version of the CM PCB board installed on my machine? Kit requires version above 2.3, as I understand.

  2. I notice the maintenance kit for Shapeoko 3 lists 9mm belts for xy with pulleys. Are these belts/pulleys an “upgrade” to original? My machine seems to have 6mm belts on xy.

  1. The board version # is silk-screened on the corner — the big thing you’re looking for in the context of the VFD Spindle Kit is the “BitRunner” connector opposite the power and USB — if it’s not there, you’ll need a new controller and enclosure which has that connector and an opening for it.

  2. An XXL really should already have 9mm belts — they were part of the Summer 2016 upgrades — if you do, then this should be because you have a Launch edition machine which was somehow upgraded to XXL and didn’t get the right belts.

Please check in at support@carbide3d.com — send pictures, both a wide shot, and detail photos, for the belts, include a metric ruler or pair of calipers showing their measurement.

That said, what Z-axis does your machine have? If you have a belt-drive, I’d start w/ a Z-Plus or HDZ.

Thanks for quick response, Will.

My belts measure ~8.95 with calipers, so they must be 9mm. Just need belt upgrade, so I may order some steel or Kevlar as I’m trying to boost rigidity.

Thanks for specs on board. Machine sets in an enclosure, but last time it was out and board was accessed to instal a bit setter, I believe the board had the bitrunner connector. Will verify.

I upgraded to an aftermarket (CNC Newby) z axis about a year or so ago. The Carbide HDZ was perpetually out of stock, so this option worked for me and eliminated z belt as it has ball screw and linear rails. I like it so far, and it has practically eliminated z slipping and depth issues. It s/b robust enough for the spindle.

One more question. Does the spindle require additional clearance on top of Z travel? As noted, machine is in an enclosure with top, so I may need to add clearance or remove/modify enclosure.

Thanks again.

We tried steel belts — they were prone to metal fatigue from the tight bends — might be workable if you budget for changing them out regularly.

Kevlar has worked well for some folks, but no experience w/ it.

I did buy genuine Gates-branded GT2 profile 2mm pitch 9mm wide belts from SDP/SI (other vendors include BB Man., and Texas Belting) and found them to be markedly better than the less expensive ones (but maybe that’s me justifying the price) — the Gates pulleys seemed to be more nicely machined and have a textured surface which seems less likely to slip.

Yes, you’ll need extra clearance at the top for the wiring/coolant hoses if nothing else unless you mount the spindle quite low (which increases lever effects) — if you’re getting a 65mm spindle you’ll also want the “Deep Sweepy” bottom:

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