Rotary Shapeoko Compatibility Questions

Hi - I have a Shapeoko with a GRBL controller - wondering if there’s anything special to do to hook up the rotary attachment or if I can directly plug X or Y to it.

thanks in advance,

Hi - what is the max height of a stainless cup that I could put in the rotary attachment?

And, more generally, what are the dimensions of the attachment?

thanks in advance,

cohesion3d, anyone there?

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your interest. Yes, I am back in the office now after the holiday weekend.

So you have a diode laser on a Shapeoko CNC?

There are 2 main areas of interest: Fitting the rotary and material (cup) under your laser head, and making sure of compatibility with the electronics.

The rotary dimensions are:
Roughly 320mm plate to plate length not counting the motor and screw heads/ sticking out.

Roughly 360mm full length including the motor sticking out, screw heads, and some clearance.

Roughly 180mm wide with the thumbscrews on the sides.

The rotary can fit some pretty large items on the wheels.
Just for kicks I put an 8 inch filament spool on the default large wheels. Not that you should do this, but it can turn it.

One interesting thing to note about cups is that with the small wheels, you might just be able to get the tension arm in there which will help stabilize the cup. It is near maximum extension now so just keep that in mind. What I found with doing pencils and other long items is that the driven end stays on the wheels, but the other end on the idlers would bounce up when being turned. The tension arm fixes this. A similar thing occurs with empty cups because of the light weight, and the tension arm seems to help.

Your real-life limit is room under the laser head + focal distance.
In the K40 laser cutter, this looks like:
The rotary comes with large wheels. You can engrave roughly a pencil.
You can install the smaller wheels and have room to engrave some larger items, to an extent.
For even larger items people will need to cut the floor out of their K40.

Your version of this would be removing the spoiler board and elevating the machine frame to get to the desired height.

As for electronics, I have a good idea of what’s in your machine but I’d like to be sure I advise you properly. Can you please send some pictures of your machine, the board in it, and look into what size the stepper motors on your machine are?
Typically you would unplug the Y motor and plug in the rotary instead. Providing the information above will help me tell you for sure.

Hi Ray - I hope you had a good holiday and thanks for all the in-depth info.

Here are a few pics that I hope answer your questions. I don’t know the “nema” size of the motors, but can find out if that’s needed.

I can set the rotary stage down adjacent to some of those aluminum extrusions - that is, I can make a “floor” by attaching some more extrusions at 90 degrees to the under-side of them, so that there’s lots of available z height. In one pic, I’m holding the laser where I usually attach it.

I’m not convinced that the laser I’m showing (5W blue solid-state laser) is powerful enough to etch the stainless (using cermark), but that’s another issue. I’d appreciate any recommendations you might have.

Thanks in advance for your help -

I looked into i, your pictures match the resourced I found on the internet. Your motors are Nema 23 which are much higher current and there does not appear to be a way to adjust the current on the board or a set of step and direction signal pins that could be used to hook up an additional external driver for the rotary.
I would love to be wrong on either point, particularly the second one - if you want, you can ask around in some Shapeoko forums.

I think you should be more concerned about this. I have a number of strong opinions about mixed use machines, and believe that one should have dedicated machines for dedicated roles.

If you can swing it, I think you’d get much better results if you got a $300 K40 which is a 40 watt laser cutter, put our LaserBoard in it, and then you’d have a dedicated laser that can actually cut more than paper, like 1/4" woods and acrylic plastic, and you can put the rotary in there and be much more confident about it actually being able to perform.

Your total cost on this should be under $1k. I typically tell people to budget $700 all in for a K40 ($300 on ebay as of this weekend, that’s as cheap as it ever gets, and prices will go up for the holiday season), C3D LaserBoard ($200), LightBurn Software ($40), and several other small but important upgrades like an air assist head, better exhaust fan, etc… You’d also need the rotary on top of it.

So, I don’t see a straight forward way to get the rotary to work with the stock board in your machine, I have concerns about your plan to use a diode to mark metal, and think you will get better results in general if you get a cheap CO2 laser like the K40 and upgrade it.

Hi Ray -

Sorry for the delay getting back to you. I meant to thank you for all the great feedback, exactly what I was looking for.

I think the down-side to the K40 is just the lack of interior height / volume. I’d like to make things much larger than pencils. :slight_smile:

That being said, I may end up with a dedicated CO2 laser, as you say. I also doubt that the 5W laser will do anything on SS/cermark even with multiple passes.

thanks again -

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This is why people eventually end up cutting the floors out of their K40.

Best resource for C02 Laser Selection (I spent 3 weeks chatting with him and he turned my brain dump into this magnificent video):

And Part 2 covers installing our board into such a machine :slight_smile: