Zenbot Resurrection – Part 2

Back in April I had 2 months off with some of my long service, it was around this time I wanted to resurrect my Zenbot, as it happened I ended up going to Shenzhen with Hacker Camp 2016, then when I got home I renovated a bathroom, so I didn’t get a chance to start the rebuild, however in anticipation of this I had already started ordering the parts for the project and already had just about everything I needed.

Out with the old

Here are some photos of it as it is with the old controller and external stepper drivers.

The spindle shown is the current model of the Wolfgang Engineering WW-650 as I’ll be upgrading from the previous one which will allow me to get up to 24000rpm. These original stepper drivers were bought online somewhere and came with limited documentation, they worked well, but for the life of me I cant find the documentation, as there are no external marking on the case. These will be filed away for re-use when I have a bit of time to work out what the dip switched do.

Before the retrofit


Wolfgang spindle
Wolfgang spindle


Zenbot Wolfgang spindle motor
Wolfgang spindle motor

Wiring in the Limits on Zenbot

First thing after removing all the old wiring is to install the limits, this was a very simple achievement as there is plenty of room on all axis to install a limit where it can access the moving carriage only one I haven’t installed is the Z-axis ++, which will be used for the touch probe.

Zenbot Y-Axis Limit switch
Y-Axis Limit Switch

I initially intended to wire them all on the Zenbot in N/C configuration 1) to improve noise problems and 2) in the event of any wiring problems it will fail safe open, however the shield a V3.0 (chinese copy from Aliexpress) only supports N/O contacts.  Apparently the newer version of the board has been changed to allow for either.  

So with this in mind for the future I wired both the N/O and N/C contacts on the switches using 3 servo cable that I happen to have on hand, unfortunately I didn’t have any shielded signal cable so will see how it goes in terms of noise.

The limits I’m using on the Zenbot are just simple mini micro switches mounted onto the frame.

Zenbot X-Axis Limit Switch
X-Axis Limit Switch

To maximise my working area I installed the limits so that when the axis was pretty well at their extent it would just be at the trip point of the switch, from there I can fine tune by adjusting the leaf of the switch if required. This Zenbot machine has a fairly small work area (150mm x 200mm x 70mm) so every mm counts

Zenbot CNC Shield

I’ve decided to try the CNC shield (V3) running GRBL and if I have any issues will look at TinyG. Mounting on the back of the x-axis carriage as a temporary test fixture is via the use of double sided tape.  Once I get things working I’ll look at something a bit more permanent, however from my initial search of thingiverse there are a number of likely candidates. 

Spindle control is achieved via an electhouse 20A single channel Motor Driver, is really compact and more than covers the motor I’m using

To improve noise protection I’ve added ferrite cores to all incoming cables includign steppers and power to the board.

GRBL Shield
GRBL Shield with Ferrites


Spindle Motor speed controller
Spindle Motor speed controller

Here you can see why you dont put in a bit when you do testing…..have a close look…look closer. First casualty of the rebuild dammit! It didnt see any cutting time….RIP 🙁

testing Zenbot with GRBL
All ready for testing

The problem with a belt driven machine is on loss of power to steppers the Z head will drop. I’ve since rectified the problem with a counter balance spring on the Z-Axis of the Zenbot, so no more head crashes when I remove power, either intentionally or unintentionally.

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