FAQs

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What information do you need to get a recommendation?

  • We can recommend some motors and drivers but first tell us more about your machine. What is the work envelope of your machine? What type of drive mechanism will you use (lead screws, rack-in-pinion, belt drive, chain drive, etc.)? How many turns to move the machine one inch? Any other details that you can think of that may affect motor sizing.

What is the FOB Origin shipping option for the Comet/Asteroid/Meteor and why is it $0?

  • FOB Origin means the product is ready for pickup at the sellers origin (Peoria IL) and the buyer is responsible for freight and delivery. This is the case for anyone outside of North America, where you must arrange your own freight courier. For customers in the USA, Canada, and Mexico we can ship direct to you with our freight company. A freight quote can be provided by calling our office at 309-691-2643 Monday - Friday 7am-4pm OR via email to support@probotix.com If your order is placed over the phone we can put your freight amount in the shopping cart to include freight in your total. Otherwise your purchase will not include freight and we will contact you prior to shipping to collect the freight charges. The Comet, Asteroid, and Meteor are fully assembled, precision machines that must be crated. We understand this is expensive to ship so we work with each customer individually to ensure the best possible rate.

How do I ship a Comet internationally?

  • The FireBall Comet must ship freight. Therefore you will have to contact a local freight forwarder in your country to process the freight and customs paperwork for you. Unfortunately this is not something that we can do on our end. Tell them you want to receive a package in a crate 48"W x 48"D x 30"H and weighs 320lbs to be picked up FOB from Peoria, IL USA. They will know what to do then.

How to ship a Meteor Internationally?

  • The FireBall Meteor must ship freight. Therefore you will have to contact a local freight forwarder in your country to process the freight and customs paperwork for you. Unfortunately this is not something that we can do on our end. Tell them you want to receive a package in a crate 72"W x 48"D x 30"H and weighs 470lbs to be picked up FOB from Peoria, IL USA. They will know what to do then.

What comes with the Comet and Meteor?

  • With the purchase of the Comet or Meteor, you will receive a fully assembled machine which includes the stepper/motor driver system and a pre-configured EMC2 PC with monitor, keyboard, mouse and game pad.

When I plug my machine in, I get an error message. What do I do now?

  • The software will not load without the game pad plugged in. Your machine was tested with that computer before it shipped. Plug the game pad in and see if that fixes your issue.

Can I get the Comet or Meteor without the motor and driver kit?

  • Unfortunately, no. The machine comes completely assembled and tested. We would actually have to charge more if we then had to partially disassemble it and to offer support for motors and drivers other than the ones that the machine was designed to run with. Unfortunately, no. The machine comes completely assembled and tested. We would actually have to charge more if we then had to partially disassemble it and to offer support for motors and drivers other than the ones that the Comet was designed to run with.

What is the price of the Fireball Comet/Meteor without the computer?

  • We will not sell the Comet without the computer. The tandem motor homing sequence requires a specially configured EMC2 install. By shipping the machine fully configured with the PC, we are able to guarantee that the machine will run as it was intended the moment that you remove it from the crate and plug it in.

What options are best for the V90/X90?

  • If you choose the default options that are selected when you load the V90/X90 product page, you will have the most popular, most complete, best performing package. This includes the Ready-to-run option, where we wire up all of the electronics into a professional enclosure complete with fuses, fuse blocks, power switch, heatsink and fan, motor connectors and all. This also comes with the 40V Linear power supply. You will just need to assemble the machine, bolt on the motors, and connect the control box to your PC.
In addition to that, you will need to choose a spindle. The V90/X90 comes with your choice of a trim router mount. The Dewalt DWP611 is by far the most popular and reliable. It is a 1.25HP and has variable speed. Also, you can buy aftermarket precision collets, bits and end mills for the Dewalt DWP611 router. You will find these parts here: www.precisebits.com
You will need a desktop PC with a parallel port. If you wish to use any of the parallel port based CNC control programs, such as EMC2, Mach3, and Kcam. EMC2 is our preferred software. It runs on a custom kernel version of Ubuntu Linux. Not only is it the cleanest interface and most stable of them all, but is also FREE. It was actually a NIST project that was released to the open source community some years ago. The install CD will install the custom Ubuntu version and the EMC2 software all at once. You can learn more about it here: www.linuxcnc.org
We also have a new USB interface if you wish to use a laptop or if you must stay inside of Windows. This is a hardware/software combination. You can learn more about this software here: http://www.planet-cnc.com.

What are the ready to run enclosure dimensions?

  • The large enclosure is 10-1/2” x 11-1/2” x 4-1/2”. The small is enclosure 10-1/2” x 8” x 4-1/2”.

What is the Ready to Run enclosure option?

  • The ready-to-run option is all of the electronics professionally wired and installed into an included enclosure. This includes, switches, fuses blocks, fuses, heat sinks, fans, motor connectors, motor wires, etc - everything setup and ready to plug into your PC. It's a lot of work, really, plus all of the parts - the cost of which add up pretty quickly. If you are handy with electrical wiring, fell free to hook it up yourself - many people do. But if you want to save cost and time, let us do it for you. We buy at discounted rates in bulk, so it will likely cost you less to have us do it. You can find more information about the ready-to-run enclosures here: http://www.probotix.com/index.php?view=information&information_id=18
If you choose a power supply upgrade, and you wish to have us wire it all up with the ready-to-run option, you must choose the large enclosure because the upgrade power supplies are too large to mount into the small enclosure.
Also, if you want to expand your system later, the large enclosure has enough room to mount additional electronics, such as a relay board or an additional motor driver for a 4th axis, such as a rotary table.

What are the drive nut options?

  • The standard drive nuts on the X & Y axis may have as much as 0.007" of backlash in them. This can be programmed out in your software configurations, but is not the optimum solution. Choose the anti-backlash upgrade option for the most precision and accuracy. You can also purchase the anti-backlash nuts separately and install them later. The Z-axis does not need an anti-backlash nut.

How many motors can a driver run and what is the operating temperature?

  • You cannot run two motors from one driver. No two motors are exactly alike and it will cause an imbalance in the current and likely fry the drivers. Each motor needs its own driver.
Stepper motors will get hot, very hot. Sometimes up to 180 degrees. This does not hurt the motors, as they were designed to run that way, but it may hurt your elbow if you lean on it. You can turn the current down on them, that would decrease the torque but keep them slightly cooler.

What are the Lubrication recommendations for the machines?

  • Put a couple of drops of 3 in 1 oil on each of the linear rails before homing the machine each day. This will allow a tiny amount of oil to be sucked up into the bearing housings. The Delrin nuts are self-lubricating and all of the other bearings are sealed. The most important thing is to keep any dust cleaned off of the machine especially if you are cutting abrasive materials such as MDF, fiber glass, or carbon fiber.
  • Grease the bearings about once a year with a standard wheel bearing grease that you would use on a vehicle. You could grease it more frequent if you feel the need to do so. The average has been once a year with most of our users. Some grease about every 6 months since they are using their machine heavily in a production environment.  You would use a grease gun on the Z axis. The X and Y axes you would need to remove the bearings from the rails and grease the bearings then reinstall. There is not another way to properly grease them as they do not have fittings.

What are the Breakout Board options?

  • USB to parallel adapters do not work. The parallel port based software (Mach3, LinuxCNC, etc) requires low-level direct address register access to the parallel port in order to provide a smooth pulse train to the steppers. The USB to parallel port adapters are emulated parallel ports and do not give that low level access. Without that smooth pulse train, the steppers will stall. If you must use a USB connection, you will need a special purpose USB CNC controller like the one found here: https://www.probotix.com/pxb-usb_usb_interfaced_cnc_controller/
The PBX-USB and its control software combination moves the stepper motor control functions to an off-board micro controller where USB latency has no effect.
The standard PBX-2 breakout board is a direct connection to the parallel port. The PBX-RF breakout board adds isolation to protect your breakout board in the event that something would go wrong on the high voltage motor side of things. Both of the breakout boards use any of the parallel port based control software such as MACH3 or LinuxCNC. The PBX-USB uses the USB port instead of the parallel port and works only with the CNC USB controller software from http://www.planet-cnc.com


The PBX-BB is the new CNC breakout board for the BeagleBone. It works perfectly with Charles Steinkuehler's Beaglebone port of LinuxCNC. It features 15 total outputs and 5 inputs, all software mappable to whichever signals you need. The PBX-BB features the same RF isolation circuitry found on the popular PBX-RF, protecting the Beaglebones' sensitive 1.8V and 3.3V circuitry from potentially damaging noise and spikes that can come from high voltage stepper motor drives.

The PBX-BB has 5x PBX-Headers for easy connections to our stepper drivers and relay boards. Additional signals are present on the screw terminals for driving up to 5 motors and 4 relays.

New on the PBX-BB is a 5V/2A switching regulator that accepts voltages up to 76VDC. The efficiency of a switching regulator reduces heat. The 5V rail is bussed out to the PBX-Headers just like our other breakout boards, allowing you to drive the logic supply of the drivers from a single power source.

Do any of your breakout boards have an input for a touch probe?

  • All of our breakout boards have inputs for a touch probe. You can use any of the inputs on either the PBX-2 or PBX-RF and configure the software accordingly. The PBX-USB breakout board has a dedicated input for a probe.

What are Gantry type machines?

  • Gantry type machines are not well suited for metal milling. When you have metal cutting metal, the tool will want to chatter. The only way to eliminate that is with mass. Metal working machines have heavy iron columns. There is a reason why metal working machines with the same work envelope of the V90 start in the $30K range.
The other issue is with available tooling and cooling. There is very little selection in 1/4" shank aluminum cutting tools. Also, aluminum is very gummy and will pack in and clog the bit. You have to be able to run a lubricating coolant.
With that said, we use V90s/X90s to cut out thin aluminum face plates for electrical enclosures. But in that application, tool deflection doesn't affect the finished product and we mist the bit with WD40. I wouldn't be afraid to do ornamental type aluminum (think aluminum belt buckle), but I would never expect a gantry type machine to be able to make precision parts for my RC helicopter.

What additional info do you have on the V90/X90?

  • The V90/X90 needs needs no lubrication. Delrin is self-lubricating and does not require any additional lubrication. Also, the oilite bearings are self-lubricating and will not need any additional lubrication. So basically the V90 is maintenance free. The anti-backlash nuts will eventually wear and will need to be replaced. But that depends upon how often and how hard you drive your machine. Normally, they will need replaced about once a year.
Base model V90 weighs 46lbs. (50 with packing materials)
Fully loaded V90 weighs 70lbs. (75 with packing materials)
Base model X90 weighs 55lbs. (60 with packing materials)
Fully model X90 weighs 80lbs. (85 with packing materials)

Are your power supplies compatible with my voltage?

What do I get with the base V90 and X90 machine?

  • The base machine is offered for the many folks who already own a stepper motor driver kit. With the base model you get the entire mechanical machine frame ready to bolt on a NEMA23 stepper motor driver kit. This includes the frame, linear rails and bearings, ACME lead screws, shaft couplers, spoil board, Z-axis, shaft couplers, and a tool holder of your choice. We currently offer Bosch Colt, Dewalt DWP611, Porter-Cable 450 and Rigid 2401.

What tools do I need to assemble the V90/X90?

  • To assemble the V90/X90, you will need:
7/16" Nut driver and wrench
3/32" and 7/64" Allen wrenches
#2 & #3 Phillips Screw Driver
Large Flat Screw Driver
Acetone & Rag

Where are the assembly instructions for the V90/X90?

Where can I find the aluminum spoil board assembly instructions?