Shapeoko Upgrade - Quiet Cut Spindle with gShield and Relay

One of the best upgrades for the Shapeoko is to use a spindle instead of the rotary tool that many start with. The 300 Watt Quiet Cut Spindle from Inventables works great with the Shapeoko desktop CNC. It is a great upgrade for many other DIY CNC router designs as well.

To make your life a little easier, we've compiled all the parts necessary for this upgrade into a single project that can be purchased here.

The Quiet Cut Spindle has several features that make it perfect for this application.
  • very quiet, compared to the rotary tool, you barely hear it running
  • great tool holding, with a industry standard ER11-A collet included
  • additional collets available
  • air cooled
  • compact and light weight
  • affordable

Hooking it up to work with the gShield (previously known as grblShield) on the Shapeoko is a pretty simple procedure that only requires a few more items, and most people should be able to perform the upgrade in a few hours. When the gShield is hooked up correctly the spindle will turn on and off with G-code directly with software. To make this happen the Arduino sends a signal as 5VDC though pin D12 to a relay. Although the gShield and Arduino combination can signal the spindle stop and start commands, it would damage them to run the 48 volts for the spindle directly. By using the relay we separate the voltages from the controller and the power supply. Think of the relay like a remote controlled switch. With a more sophisticated controller like the tinyG the relay is not needed and also the speed can be controlled as well with software. A tinyG and Quiet Cut Spindle blog post is in the works.

Additional items:
Parts needed for this upgrade to the Shapeoko

Tools needed:
  • soldering iron & solder
  • wire stripper
  • wire cutter
  • screwdrivers
  • multimeter for testing, optional

Final wiring for all components in this upgrade.

Video Tutorial:

Illustrated Directions:

Step 1) Extend spindle motor wires
Temporarily mount the Quiet Cut Spindle in the Shapeoko. Measure the 2-conductor wire needed to extend motor wires to where the 48VDC power supply and relay will be located. Measure twice, cut once. Extend motor wires by soldering on new wires and covering with heatshrink tubing or by using crimp connectors. Soldering and heat shrink is the preferred method.

Step 2) Wire relay to gShield
Add three pins to gShield used to connect to the relay circuit. You will need to connect to +5VDC, ground and digital pin D12 on the gShield. For this example I soldered on header pins to the gShield and then used female to female jumper wires, included with the relay. Feel free to use whatever technique you want for your application. In the photos and video I used red for +5VDC, green for ground and Yellow for signal (D12). See photos for wire locations.
gShield removed from Arduio to show where pins are located.
Arduino UNO board with arrows to show where to connect to relay.
I used header pins in this example to hook up wires to relay. I soldered these on to line up with the Arduino pins.
I used a "helping hand" tool to hold the glShield and rested the pins on a roll of tape to hold pins in place while I soldered.
Closeup of gShield with wires attached to relay board.
Wires from gShield to relay. Red is +5VDC, yellow is signal wire from D12, green is ground. Blue wire is unused.

Step 3) Wire 48VDC power supply
NOTE: check the input voltage on Power Supply. The default setting is 220V. Use a small screwdriver to slide the switch if needed. I cut the end off of a grounded power cable from Inventables. I stripped the wires to expose the ends and connected them to the power supply. They are color coded. For 110V in the USA green is earth, white is neutral and black is load. You can use a power strip for both power supplies so you can power the gShield and the spindle all at once.

Note power supply switch for input voltage. Make sure to switch to 110v if used in the USA.
Power in from outlet via power cord (shown on right) green is earth (ground), white is neutral, black is load. Please follow local standards in your country if different then the USA. 48VDC wires on left go to speed controller.

Step 4) Wire 48VDC power supply to speed controller
Use some more of the 2-conductor wire hook up the 48VDC output from the power supply to the input side of the speed controller. Note the speed controller can accept both AC and DC power so polarity does not matter on the input side of the speed controller. Also connect the negative wire from the spindle motor on the negative terminal on the output of the speed controller.

Speed controller has input on right side as shown and output on left side.

Closeup of jumper position on speed controller for use with gShield.

Step 5) Wire relay to speed controller
The relay circuit board has three contacts via a terminal block. We are going to use the NC (normally closed) pair. This means that if the relay is not powered the circuit is closed and power is being sent from the 48VDC power supply to the spindle. Once gShield, via the Arduino, triggers the relay via the D12 pin, the relay will energize and open the circuit making the spindle stop. Please see the photos or video for wire locations.

Wires on left connect to gShield, wires on right are the +48VDC wire from power supply and +48VDC to spindle. It does not matter which wire is connected where as long as they use the two right terminals (Normally Closed).

Step 6) Power up and test
Secure the spindle securely in the Shapeoko. Also remove the bit if you have one installed and make sure the collet is secure. Put on your eye protection. Using the potentiometer connected with the 3-conductor white wire to the speed controller move the dial to the middle position. Having both the 24VDC power supply for the gShield and the 48VDC power supply hooked up to the same power strip is an easy way to power both at once. Power on the system. You might hear the spindle start up momentarily until the grablShield initializes. Plug the gShield to your computer via USB and launch Universal-G-Code-Sender. Once you have connected to the machine you can test your connection by jogging the machine via one of the axis. If that works then type M03 (with a zero not an O) in the command line. to turn on the spindle. M05 should stop the spindle.

Note: the CAM program you are using is probably putting M3 or M5 in already near the beginning and end of the gcode. If not, it is usually an option somewhere or in the post processor. Also M3 and M03 are usually interpreted the same by the machine controller, so either will work. Same for M5 and M05. Please open up your G-code in a text editor or Universal Gcode Sender and preview before running your job.

Type directly in the command line to turn the spindle on and off M03 (on) and M05 (off). You can then add this directly to your G-code. If your spindle does not turn on check the potentiometer on the speed controller.
NOTE: there are no software changes that need to be made to make this work. The M03 and M05 commands are standard G-Code commands and are already included in the libraries.

If you are not getting the spindle to power up check the following. Do you have a green light on the power supply? If not check the input voltage and wiring. You may need to power it down for 10 seconds or longer for it to reset. Check the lights on the relay circuit to see if they are being triggered by the Arduino and gShield. Also check the speed controller potentiometer. Set the dial to the middle position when testing. Once it is working well set it to full power unless you need to slow it down for the material you are cutting. If you need more help you can send an email to help@inventables.com.

Mounting of the Quiet cut spindle:
Due to the smaller size of the spindle you may have to change some mounts on your Shapeoko depending on the size of material you want to cut. We will cover some of these different mounting options in an upcoming blog post.

50 States Contest Winners Announced!

Inventables Announces Winners of Contest For Public Maker Spaces
to Win a 3D Carving Machine in Every State in the US

Chicago, IL, June 2, 2014 - Inventables wants every person in the United States to have access to the newest digital manufacturing technology, 3D Carving. To that end, they announced a pilot project on May 12, 2014 to give away one of their Shapeoko 3D Carving machines to a publicly-accessible space in each of the 50 United States.

“We believe that to ignite the digital manufacturing revolution, we need to provide free access to these important 3D carving tools to as many people as possible.”

The donated machines will be shipped to the winning organizations starting the week of June 16, 2014 and will be set up and ready for public use by mid-July.

3D carving, also known in industry as CNC milling, is a powerful technology capable of creating precision parts and designs from real materials like wood and metal, unlike consumer-grade 3D printers which can only use strands of plastic to create objects.

The machines work with Inventables’ free software Easel to allow anyone to go from idea to making in five minutes without any specialized knowledge or training. Inventables hopes that access to a free machine and free software will help reboot American manufacturing education, and allow people to start their own small-scale manufacturing businesses in the United States.

In addition to libraries, Inventables is partnering with “Hackerspaces” across the united states, which are community gathering places where people with an interest in learning and technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.

One such Hackerspace that Inventables has partnered with is ATX Hackerspace in Austin, TX. Founded in 2009, ATX Hackerspace has recently added a Startup Incubator program, where members can rent office space to turn the ideas they’ve been building into small business. There are 12+ small business that have started within the space over the last year since the program was started.

ATX Hackerspace Co-Founder Martin Bogomolni: “Our members openly share their knowledge and expertise on a whole host of subjects and some of those ideas are being turned into viable small businesses in emerging technology fields. It’s a very exciting time to have ideas and make real things.”

Small businesses that manufacture physical products are a quickly growing sector of the American economy. The Internet of Things and the larger umbrella of Digital Manufacturing are being driven forward by low-cost digital manufacturing tools being more widely available to the general public.

ATX Hackerspace Co-Founder Martin Bogomolni: “At least a dozen small businesses have come out the hackerspace and at least two successful Kickstarter campaigns as well. We’re moving away from an era of mass manufacturing into a time of individual customization and small manufacturing, and hackerspaces are a breeding ground for that kind of innovation.”

Inventables CEO Zach Kaplan: “The majority of net new jobs come from startups and small businesses. These 3D carving machines present the opportunity for America to get back into manufacturing with a business model that makes sense in the new economy.”

Map of all applicants:

List of winners: (contact information for each space is available upon request)

Mobile Makerspace
Anchorage Makerspace
Heat Sync Labs
The Launch Pad
Ace Monster Toys
No response

D Studio
Tampa Hackerspace
7Hills Makerspace
Maui Makers
East Bonner Public Library
LevelUP Youth Makerspace
The MakerHive
The S.T.E.A.M. Room Fab Lab
Johnson County Library Makerspace
LVL 1 Hackerspace
East Baton Rouge Public Library
Maine Fablab
Baltimore Foundery
The Hack Factory
No response

Science City at Union Station
Bozeman Makerspace
Omaha Maker Group
New Hampshire
MakeIt Labs
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Staten Island Makerspace
North Carolina
North Dakota
MELD Workshop
Tulsa City Librarium
Academy at Palumbo
Rhode Island
Cranston Public Library
South Carolina
MakeLab Charleston
South Dakota
MidSouth Makers
10bit Works
Cache Makers
Burlington Generator
757 Makerspace
West Virginia
No Response

Appleton Makerspace
Powell Middle School

About Inventables
Founded  in  2002,  Inventables’  mission  is  to  ignite  the  digital  manufacturing  revolution  by simplifying  the  path  from  idea  to  finished  product.  Recognized  as  the  hardware  store  for designers,  Inventables  sells  desktop  manufacturing  machines  and  thousands  of  materials  in small quantities. Small manufacturing businesses purchase raw materials and machines from Inventables’  online  store  daily  to  use  in  manufacturing  their  own  products  from  jewelry  to eyeglasses  to sell to customers. When a  material from the site is needed in a large  volume, Inventables assists in making connections to the manufacturer or supplier.


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