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MaslowCNC State of the Tech 2019

Lots of cool stuff happening here and I felt like it would be good to try to put together a simple, concise list of ongoing work and ideas in one place. I think this will be helpful to try to paint a “big picture” of what is going on and where we are headed to help focus the efforts of the community on moving forward together. So, in the spirit of organization, here is a start that is probably a bit inaccurate. Please comment below with corrections and additions as necessary and I will update the post to reflect that. If there is a “definitive” forum topic that covers an item, please include that in your post and I will link the topic to the item in the post. If there is not a definitive topic on these, I’m happy to facilitate and link back here.


  • Sprockets
    • Stock - 10 tooth, visually set 12 o’clock
    • Improved - 10 tooth, set 12 o’clock with a level
    • Options (experimental) - higher tooth count sprockets

IMPORTANT TOOL - David Lang developed a spreadsheet to inform the theoretical ideal frame


  • Linkage (Triangular Kinematics)
  • Automated Z-Axis
  • Cutting System
    • Stock – Router, Ridgid R2202, although the actual router used is a regional issue and we are at the mercy of manufacturers who will eventually redesign their product.
    • Options:
      • DeWalt palm router which is cheap and available in 120v and 240v versions.
      • Spindle – Quiet and offers a more detailed control over the cutter. This can be considered experimental for the maslow cnc. Cool example project (no feedback from owner on how it cuts, though).
      • Universal Router Clamp – Free designs in Community Garden (Maslow tab) and items for sale (Market tab in garden)


  • Arduino - Available for sale in the Community Garden
    • Stock: Arduino Mega 2560 R2 or R3?
    • Options
      • Arduino Mega 2560 R3
      • Arduino DUE – Development is ongoing. A small group of testers are using it in place of the Mega.
  • Next Gen Controller – Current state is: Ideation among community members on available options. The goal is to keep with the Maslow CNC mission of making large scale CNC accessible to the most people by keeping the cost of the machine as low as possible while providing an easy path for optional upgrades.


  • Stock – Unavailable (SOLD OUT)? – “original” v1.2b compatible with Arduino Mega 2560
  • Options - Free designs available on communitygarden and for sale
    • Shield v1.4 TLE5206, compatible with Arduino Mega 2560
    • Shield for Arduino DUE (v1)


  • Ground Control and Firmware
  • Webcontrol – Developed by Madgrizzle. GroundControl on the web!!
  • MaslowCreate – CAD/CAM software developed by Bar!

Four Motor MaslowMadgrizzle is working a 4 motor maslow as outlined in Bar’s “Musings on a new design” topic.


Love this. For me, it took a lot of post reading to get to “here’s the best thing to use now”. This would have helped immensely.



  • Meticulous-Z (Maslow cut design by @MeticulousMaynard with many community improvements
  • C-beam - many variations towards a more turnkey Amazon / Ali ordered z-axis

yes, and for most things, the jury is still out, depending on who you ask. :wink:

I keep looking for a library that will let me read all of these threads into a mind map.

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I think this speaks directly to the database and baseline accuracy project needing to be launched/revived. Constraints, as noted elsewhere, can be empowering - especially in engineering. Huzzah!


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the controller and software really don’t care what you use for the router/spindle, the only reason to use the ridgid router is easy availability (in the US) and ease in hacking a Z axis to it.

The Maslow does not move fast enough to need the power of this router compared to a cheap spindle that uses 1/5 the power (but sometimes the ability to use the big bits is nice). Using a alternate Z axis and spindle is better in every way, except possibly price. A kit that included the spindle would be a nice option to have. With a router, it’s not going to happen due to shipping costs, but with a 500w spindle it could.

one problem with the ring compared to the other triangulation kits (note, the top mount linkage is one particular kit), is that the ring is expensive it’s very inefficient to cut (lots of wasted metal)

note that with chain slack, there is the option of the slack down the side, but it’s not recommended any longer

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Great post and some interesting reading! I personally believe that the Maslow CNC DIY provides an outstanding opportunity to jump in and get your feet wet, so to speak. The entry price makes it a viable option to do just that. I couldn’t even have considered an expensive turnkey solution. This system also provides a way to turn out cleanly cut woodworking pieces. I used to be able to free-hand cut with a router (and other tools) and get passable results but a recent illness robbed me of that. The Maslow CNC system has given it back to me. I only need help in loading big pieces of plywood onto the frame for cutting now. And with a plan I saw in the garden, I think I’ll also soon be able to go back to buying whole sheets of 3/4" stock and cutting it like the big box stores do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’ll sell quarter sheets or even eighth sheets but this will make it a more affordable option.

Having said that, I just want to personally thank everyone who has played a hand in bringing this CNC system to fruition and to meager hacks like myself who now have plenty of work to do!



You would think so, but by the time you add a power supply and controller a 500W spindle is actually bulkier than a palm router and more expensive and harder to set up. plus most kit makers do not want the liability of people hooking up high voltage wires to the power supply. For whatever reason all the power supplies I have seen are the Maxwell perforated metal ones with exposed hot wires.

Clone Makita routers from China are about $20 with out accessories like the base, however with shipping and 25% tariffs it winds up being more like $30, which is much cheaper than any 500w spindle I have seen.

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Ring can be made with two pieces with puzzle fit inbetween them, if laser cut right, one can basically hammer it together and then the double hole design would keep it mechanically tight/together. As drawing shows, you get about 3 sets in the same space one would normally be laser cut.

. By using 20x40 t slot aluminum risers that are not adjustable in height but available in different lengths you would have a very stable mounting platform. V slot bearings can be replaced with standard ones with UMHW sleeves friction would be minimized. It would be much cheaper to make this way, but we wound up going with the linkage kit because it is simpler IMHO.


@Metalmaslow You mean 120 or 220v? I guess I don’t think of that as high voltage but I guess I see your point if this is supposed to be for the “masses”. However, I do think that our target audience can handle 120 or 220v, I mean, this is a DIY project that requires you to build a not so trivial frame.

Can’t a kit maker easily provide sufficient warning with the parts (piece of paper), and legalese to the sale terms (not liable/hold harmless etc), to eliminate their liability?

The other benefit of the Ridgid in North America is that it is backed by a Lifetime Service Agreement. If you register it with Ridgid within 90 days of purchase it basically has a lifetime repair/replace warranty, which is ideal for something that could see heavy use.



One word: Safety

This is a piece of industrial machinery and it needs an emergency cut off switch as standard.
I’m going to be adding my own, but it should always have been included in the design.

The arduino controller needs to support sensibility checks when it comes to allowable tool paths. Every movement of the sled and z-axis needs to be passed through these checks.

Ground Control likewise needs sensibility checks built into it for tool paths, feeds and speeds. Feeds and speeds should be front and center in Ground Control so that it’s really easy to manipulate them safely in any arbitrary bit of gcode, and guidance is built in to advise when numbers seem a bit off, and restrictions when numbers are waaaay off.

Note that I’m saying that both the arduino and Ground Control check tool paths. Having multiple layers of safety is incredibly important.

what exactly do you mean by ‘check tool paths’, what checks do you think need to
be made?

Bounds checking - expressly physical bounds checking.

I had ‘stuffed up’ with a file I had imported into Ground Control, in such a way that the gcode was starting about 15m off to the right - I hadn’t realised before I hit play.
Ground Control fired the gcode at the arduino, and it complied. Fortunately I was watching and hit the stop button in Ground Control. But the fact is this shouldn’t have been possible in the first place.

Bounds checking - expressly physical bounds checking.

actually, this would be software bounds checking. That’s something worth doing,
but are you wanting to check it at the beginning of each move? or are you
thinking that you check the entire file before you start doing anything?

this is one of the many features of grbl that we are lacking in the maslow

David Lang

I strongly suggest using a gcode preview like or Camotics to see what your Gcode looks like and is going to do. The point of origin in the CNC operation and the Gcode are the operators responsibility to check. If you instruct it to go where it can’t it will try to comply.

Just one opinion

Thank you

Nope. Sorry to say it so plainly but this opinion is utterly incorrect.

We have a machine capable of causing serious damage to itself and to the people using it.

We have an obligation to produce a ‘safety first’ design. A moral obligation to minimise harm, and a legal obligation to minimise or mitigate liability.

‘Safety first’ ensures maximum usability of the machine, because a high degree of trust can be put into the machine’s innate operation.

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