Diagnosing CNC Issues
For hobbyists new to CNC woodworking one of the most difficult concepts to understand is what computer programmers call GIGO. It stands for “garbage in, garbage out.” Programmers understand that a computer can only do what it is programmed to do. Since the heart of a CNC is a computer it does exactly what you tell it to do. This is also why it is a machine that can drive you crazy because it does exactly what you tell it to do.
If for example, you attempt to jog the machine on the X-axis and it moves on the Y-axis. Something is wrong. As hard as it may be to admit, the machine is only doing what it was told to do. In all likelihood, this happened because something was wired incorrectly during assembly. This is where troubleshooting begins. First, always refer to the manual. Are the stepper motors connected to the drivers specified in the manual? Are each of the connectors connected to the proper pins? Are they connected in the proper sequence? Has a connecter been mistakenly placed leaving one pin uncovered therefore unconnected?
Since many big problems can be traced to small mistakes, look for simple causes first. Are all the electrical connections plugged in? Is the USB cable connected to the computer and the controller? Are you expecting the machine to move in inches after you have set up your gcode in millimeters? Does the zero point of your workpiece correspond with the zero point specified in your toolpath file?
These are the kinds of questions you need to ask if you want to overcome GIGO.
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