When the package arrived, the first thing I noticed was how heavy it was. I put the box in the shop where it sat for a few days until I had a good chunk of time on the weekend to dig into it.
My first impression of the contents was that it was made from quality materials and there sure were a lot of parts to assemble...and I mean A LOT! I had heard that it can take 12 hours to assemble, which sounded intimidating, but I've always loved putting together Erector Sets and Lego kits so I was looking forward to it.
The first step was to assemble 20 wheels and 6 idlers. This involved pressing bearings and washers into some plastic wheels and it was a breeze.
The next step was to attach the wheels and idlers to four carriage plates. They were all basically the same, except one did not have the idlers attached. Motors were attached to three of them.
The instructions warned that the Z-Axis assembly is complex and requires patience. That did not scare me and it was actually pretty straight-forward, considering the parts lists and exploded diagrams in the documentation were extremely helpful. Note: The instructions mention brass standoffs, but these are not brass anymore, so look for nickel the nickel ones shown in my video.
Be prepared to tap 18 holes in the ends of the aluminum extruded MakerSlides. Go slow and use WD-40 as a lubricant. Make a quarter-turn cut forward then two quarter-turns back and repeat until you get to the end of the threads on the tap. Take your time!
Up until this point, the build was a bunch of sub-assemblies that did not resemble a CNC machine at all. Finally in this step, I could see the machine starting to come together by assembling the Gantry, Y-Axis assembly, and the base work area.
Connecting the wiring was really easy with the provided terminal blocks. The wires were connected with screws, which made it easy to correct any mistakes. Plus, I liked this option because it would be easy to disconnect them if I wanted to make a change or do an upgrade, as opposed to soldering the connections.
To complete the electronics, I pressed together the G-Shield and Arduino, then connected the X/Y/Z cables, as well as the power supply and USB.
I used the Universal G-Code Sender App to test the direction of each axis movement. I had never even heard of this app before, but if I can do it, anyone can! After making a few adjustments, I was ready to try the "Hello, World" job with a Sharpie.
In my video, you see my successful attempt which was actually my third attempt after two fails. On my first attempt, the sharpie was raised into the air and began writing above the paper. On my second attempt, the Sharpie was driven into the paper really hard and the tip was pressed into the pen. After replacing the Sharpie and making a couple of directional adjustments, IT WORKED!
I decided my first attempt at carving would be my logo. I thought it would be neat to include it at the end of my video with my usual ending phrase "Thanks for watching!". My first wood carving turned out great and required very little sanding to remove a few fuzzies.
Thanks to Inventables.com for sending me the Shapeoko 2 CNC machine! I really appreciate having it and I plan to pay it forward by making things for people to put smiles on their faces. After getting familiar with it this week, I still don't think I fully understand everything this machine can do, but I sure do plan to have fun exploring the possibilities!
Oh, and one more thing, this machine is a great way to get kids into the workshop and interested in woodworking! My 12-year-old daughter designed this herself with Inventables' EASEL web application and sent it to the machine to carve it out. She's awesome!