CupCake CNC build, part 7: Building the Y-stage and adjusting the Z-stage

3D Printing & Imaging Robotics
CupCake CNC build, part 7: Building the Y-stage and adjusting the Z-stage

Before we go ahead and make the Y-stage, lets go ahead and level the Z-stage. It’s a really easy process. All you need to do is adjust the nuts on the Z-stage threaded rods until they are all the same height. You did add an extra nut on each of the threaded rod, didn’t you? I used a mechanical pencil as a reference point, but you can use anything, just get them all at the same height. Note: It’s always best to get a second opinion, be it human or feline.


Now it’s time to build the Y-stage. This only takes about 30 minutes and goes together fairly easily. One thing to note, some of the parts are laser etched on the wrong side. Take a close look at the pictures and make sure everything is going together the proper way. Apparently this is only an issue with CupCake CNC machines from batches 6-9.


Let’s start by assembling the build platform. My kit came with a few extra, which is a good thing since the one in the picture doesn’t work! The build platforms need to have (3) holes in the top to accommodate the (3) screws that are on the Y-stage assembly. I guess they redesigned the Y-stage and forgot to change the build platform. Oops! However, I received (2) additional build platforms in the kit, and both of them have the (3) holes allowing them to sit flush with the Y-stage. Problem solved!


The build platform is held in place with rare earth magnets. It’s a great system. Just keep in mind they all need to be inserted in the same orientation. This is really easy to accomplish by stacking all the magnets up, and then using a washer to push down on the stack of magnets until each magnet is seated in the square hole.


It’s the same procedure for the Y-stage too. There are five magnets here too. Use the same procedure, making sure when the two pieces of wood meet, they attract each other, not repel!


Next up, it’s time to install the bearings. Simply place them in the left and right side of the Y-stage assembly. They should be a little snug, but not tight! Add a dab of hot-glue on the inside to hold them in place. Hint-Hint: I waited until the carriage assembly was complete to add the hot glue. Once assembled, I used the (2) rails of the Y-stage as an alignment guide. Insert the rails into the bearings, and then add the dab of hot glue to the bearing. Now they are all in perfect alignment!


Now it’s time to add the belt. Make the clamp as described in the directions and clamp the 196-tooth belt in place. It’s simple.


Now you can go ahead and assemble the carriage. Make sure it matches the pictures, since some of the parts may be laser etched on the wrong side. It all goes together with the same M3 nuts and bolts as most of the other build assemblies.

That’s it. Next up is making the X-stage assembly.

Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. Thanks!

Want to know when my next build entry is done? Follow me on Twitter @devinck!

Build history:


    Having just arrived home from a quick trip to the hardware store, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large, unmarked, cardboard box sitting on my front steps. This isn’t an uncommon event, since I am constantly checking out cool products and projects for the Maker Shed, however this box was a bit larger than normal.

    Oh wow, it’s the CupCake CNC kit from MakerBot Industries! I’d ordered it weeks earlier and had completely forgotten about it. (The truth is out: I have an atrocious memory, sad but true.)


    And so the adventure begins! I’m going to document my “out of box experience” with a MakerBot. How many posts will the series be? I’m not sure since I’ve never built one. How often will I post about the build? Again, not sure, but I’ll try to do at least one a week, maybe more, it all depends on how much free time I have between all my other maker-ly projects.

    A little background: My CNC experiences


    I’ve been tinkering with CNC for about 10 years, and consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. I do own a few CNC mills, routers, and lathes. I have retrofitted old mills, and even build one from scratch. Pictured above is my mobile CNC machine, dubbed the “MobileC.” I stuffed all the components into a mobile tool cart so I could bring it to hackerspaces, workshops, and events, all in the hopes of helping out fellow makers.


    The mill is a Sherline 5400 that I retrofitted for CNC. Also, I added a few extra parts to make it even more useful. It has a longer reach, thanks to the headstock spacer block on the column, and a larger table that I simply mounted to the stock table. It’s a sweet machine. I love my little Sherline!


    All the electronics are housed in the cart too! There is a 19″ LCD monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, desktop computer, and CNC controller. It’s a tight fit, but it works perfectly. There is even an extra full-size drawer for tooling and accessories.


    I’m thinking of replacing the computer, keyboard, and mouse with an HP TouchSmart, but I have to save a few more pennies for that upgrade.

    Does anyone want to know more about my MobileC? Let me know in the comments. After I build my CupCake CNC, maybe I should do a series of articles on CNC machining?


    I purchased the CupCake CNC kit with my own hard-earned cash. I waited several weeks for it to arrive, just like everyone else that placed an order. No favors, no freebies! Why did I buy one? Well, for two reasons.

    • Reason #1 – I like what MakerBot Industries is doing for the open source community and open manufacturing, so I wanted to support them!
    • Reason #2 – I am going to document the build for Make: Online, and if I like it, I’ll let you know, and if I don’t… well, I’ll let you know that too! No biased reviews here.
    • Reason #3 – I am a CNC junkie, and I had to have it, even if my wife was questioning whether I really needed another machine in my studio! “Ha!” I said, “You can never have too many machines!” Oops, only two reasons, right?! :)

    Questions & suggestions:

    Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or a hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer all of them as best as I can. Thanks!

    Build history:

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