Upgrading your Shapeoko 2 with NEMA 23 motors

A lot of people ask us about upgrading their Shapeoko 2 to use NEMA 23 motors on the X and Y axes. To make that process a little easier for everyone, we decided to offer up a project that includes all the components necessary, click here for the shopping list.

Important notes: 
  • This is an experimental modification
  • Your results may vary
  • You might do something weird and accidentally burn out your motor driver board
  • If that or something else catastrophic happens this is not our fault, you crazy hacker!

That said, here's the instructions. You crazy hacker you.

1. Head on over to the project page and order the list of parts. There's a convenient "add to cart" button that has everything you need.

1. Remove the motor carriage plates from your shapeoko. This basically means: disassemble your Shapeoko most of the way. You need to remove the motor carriages completely from the makerslide, and the easiest way to do this is to remove the screws that hold the makerslide to the plates and frame.

2. Remove the NEMA 17 motors and all the mounting hardware. You should now be left with something that looks like this:

3. Organize your mounting hardware for the NEMA 23s. Each one will need 4x button head cap screws, 4x spacers, 4x washers, and 4x hex nuts.

4. Mount the screw through the motor's mounting hole, then add a spacer, then pass it through the plate, then a washer and the hex nut and tighten it down. It's easier to get all 4 screws in and put the spacers on, then push them into the motor plate all at once. You might want to leave them a little loose until the later steps.

5. Repeat for the other motor mount plates.

6. Attach the pulleys to each motor shaft. You'll want to line each pulley up with the smooth idlers so the belt can travel in a straight line.

7. Once you've got all the motors mounted, you need to slide the motor carriages back onto the Makerslide and reassemble the machine. Here's where it gets tricky:

The NEMA 23's must be mounted on the bottom of their path of travel for the X-axis makerslide to be able to mount properly. Otherwise, the motor will get in the way and it won't work. it will be very frustrating.


Here's that same error from another angle:

If you move the NEMA 23 to the bottom of the mounting holes, it will look like this:

Once you do that, the Makerslide will drop into place easily and square up. So satisfying!

8. Once you get the mechanicals back together, reattach and thread your belts and tighten and calibrate everything. You're now free to experiment with this radical and unorthodox means of Shapeoko movement, including the highly dangerous process of adjusting the amperage on the Gshield motor controllers to give these 23's a little more oomph. 

Good luck, and you should probably check in on the Shapeoko forums to see how other folks have fared before you attempt this.

-Michael Una


Unknown said...

Is there a reason why this can't be done for the ShapeOKO 1?

Zach Kaplan said...

The hole pattern doesn't match on the Shapeoko 1.

seigen blues said...

Any information on the travel-per-revolution settings to use for GRBL or TinyG with the nema23 belt drive?

Bart Dring said...

The travel-per-revolution is set as steps/mm and is the same as a stock Shapeoko 2. The pulley tooth count is the same.

x and y = 40.02 steps/mm

See the docs pages http://docs.shapeoko.com/software.html

cbeauvois said...

Looking at these pics, was the layout of the motor holes recently changed? The motor plates that we have (received 10/3/2014) seem to match the ones in the store (https://www.inventables.com/technologies/upgraded-shapeoko-motor-mount), but the NEMA 23 holes in the pictures here appear lower. The problem that we’re seeing is that the Makerslide will not clear the motor nut on the plates that we have.

Garry said...

cbeauvois: My mechanical kit which arrived 10/30/2014 has the same issue. The plates definitely seem different than the instructions describe. I was able to work around this by notching the Makerslide slightly to allow it to clear the screws. I also flipped the top screws/nuts around so I didn't have to notch quite as much as the button heads are smaller than the M5 nuts.. Seems to work fine but it was frustrating.

DaveDD said...

I had the exact same issue as cbeauvois trying to get the Makerslide mounted. I ended up filing down a small portion of the slide, just the actual triangle/rail, to make them fit. They're perfect now.

RayM said...

Just putting together a Shapeoko 2 kit with the NEMA 23 steppers, and found that you need to add a washer under the heads of the bottom two BHCSs to keep the end of the screws from rubbing the makerrail. This applies to all three carriages.

Ray M.

Samantha Alaimo said...

Hi Ray, Thank you for the feedback. I will relay this to our product team and edit the instructions.