Some Nuts And Bolts For XY Stage

Once we can successfully perform XY axis homing in Grbl ESP32 and see that it responds to some simple G-Code commands, it was time to get a little more rigorous about our hardware configuration. Up until this point this machine was mere placed on a dusty table, itself a salvaged piece of equipment.

Based on the appearance of a slot in the middle and a metal shelf underneath, it appears to have been designed for old dot matrix (or maybe even daisy-wheel) printers that use continuous fanfold paper fed through that slot. Given that such printers have a carriage that moves left-right (now our X axis) it was unexpectedly wobbly along that axis. Our X-axis movement now sets the table oscillating.

We may need to reinforce that sometime down the line, but the first task is to bolt our XY stage to the table. Since it is quite powerful and heavy, there’s a lot of momentum involved in its motion and we could not depend on friction to hold it in place: it slides around on the surface. Six holes were drilled in the table for 1/4″-20 threaded rods, each held in place by a nylon insert locking nut above and below. Now XY stage will no longer slide around on the table.

The chosen location is aligned with the front edge of the table, slightly right of center, due to the Y-axis lead screw to the left of the table. This placement left equal amount of space to the left and right for us to plan out how we want to build a Z-axis gantry. The first candidate approach is to use some aluminum extrusion beams that are sitting around gathering dust in the shop. But in the spirit of “build a little, test a little” we want to run a short G-Code file for fun.

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