Sculpfun S9 Limit Switch Installation
The Sculpfun S9 is a great laser and is available at a fantastic price point. Any time the price is low on something you can bet a bell or a whistle was left out to keep the final cost down. One way to cut corners on a laser is to offer them without limit switches. Without switches, the laser will not automatically return to the home position (X0, Y0). Positioning is accomplished manually. Fortunately there is a Sculpfun S9 Limit Switch kit available for purchase.
There is nothing wrong with a laser that does not have limit switches. In fact, some people prefer lasers that don’t have limit switches. A lot of the time, I am one of those people.
Equally safe to say that there are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t own a laser that didn’t have limit switches. Anyway, with the S9, at least you have the option.
The cost of the kit is $27.99 and is all inclusive. The kit works for both the S9 and the S10 models. There are differences in the installation procedures but the kit contains all the stuff you need to install on either model. That probably means you’ll have some stuff left over in your kit when you are done with the mod.
There is an installation video here. It seems to be the only documentation on the procedure I could find. There is also at least one GIANT problem with this video. I should preface that statement by saying “depending on what motherboard you have you might run into a GIANT problem”. More on that later.
Also know that if you install this you will lose a little usable area. I went from 400 mm x 410 mm to 380 mm x 390 mm. I can probably squeeze 5 more mm’s out of each axis but for now I’ll stick with those measurements.
When installing the switch on the X rail they don’t mention in the video that if you install it to the right of the belt tensioning screw that it will reduce the usable area of your laser even more than normal.
I overcame that by loosening the tensioning screw and moving it over to the right. Then I installed the limit switch as far to the left as I could. It fits neatly under the limit switch board and has adequate clearance.
Mounting both the X and Y switch is easy money. Routing of the wires is explained in great detail in the video and I won’t rehash it here. But I will show you a pic of the Y switch mounted.
Position the Y switch as close to the rail as you can get it. And just like that, switch mounting is completed. Route your wires back to the mainboard My board is marked DLC32 and my connections are in the lower left corner of the board.
Here is where it gets ugly. On the YouTube video they provide a link to download the new firmware which must be flashed onto the board.
When I flashed the DLC32 firmware bin file from Windows as per the directions (The Mac tool doesn’t work) it seemed to install. However, the laser, while connected to LaserGRBL or Lightburn, wouldn’t do a single solitary thing. Clearly this is NOT the right firmware for my board. The firmware reports as GRBL 1.1
After scouring the internet for a while I found a post in the Sculpfun section of Lightburn of someone who had the exact same problem I did.
It would seem that the new Sculpfun S9 ships with the S30 motherboard, or at least mine did. Installing the S30 firmware from here worked. And that is to say after you change the Machine Settings to enable homing as per the YouTube video.
NOTE: Once the S30 firmware is installed the GRBL version reports as GRBL 1.1h
I hate when this kind of thing happens. There is absolutely no excuse to not provide the correct link to the proper firmware from the QR code in the included manual. At the very least a manual should ship for the machine with some documentation on what motherboard version your machine has. It’s not unusual for a manufacturer to have multiple versions of a mainboard. And with a global chip shortage it is probably less unusual to do this sort of thing. But by golly, YOU HAVE TO DOCUMENT IT.
I have no beef with the Sculpfun hardware. i don’t have any beef with the operating firmware. But clearly the documentation needs updating.
Limit Switch Recommendations
If you absolutely positively want limit switches and you are technically inclined you can:
- Buy an S9 or S10 and be aware of different main board versions and realize there may be some fiddling needed to find the right firmware.
If you are not technically inclined enough to install the kit with the possible challenges I have presented here then:
- Buy an S30 which comes with limit switches and an automatic air assist.
At the end of the day I got the limit switch kit installed and functioning correctly. Everything works and it works well. And it would appear that I have the latest and greatest motherboard that they ship in their flagship model. That is a win, in my opinion.
Again, my only beef is that it should have been documented either in my owners manual (there is no owners manual that I can find) or it really should have been documented in the limit switch kit. All you are given is a link to a Google Drive folder from a YouTube video.
I really love the Sculpfun S9. It is an amazing laser for its price point. The limit switch kit, also is top notch hardware. It installs cleanly and easily.
But when you install the provided firmware and it doesn’t work and the only solution is found outside the Sculpfun website, then the documentation needs to be cleaned up.
I have reached out to Sculpfun for the correct firmware and procedures and will post them if they provide that information.
UPDATE: SCULPFUN IS SHIPPING NEW S9’s WITH 32 BIT MOTHERBOARDS
The motherboards we are sending now are all 32-bit motherboards with attached ESP32 chips.
We will also use 32-bit motherboards in subsequent shipments.
There are two types of our 32-bit motherboards, one is that the air pump switch can be controlled through the motherboard and the other is that it cannot be controlled through the motherboard.
The motherboard that can control the air pump is used in the S30 series machines. The S9 and S10 motherboards are also 32-bit, but they do not have the function of controlling the air pump switch through the motherboard.
If you do not want to enable the limit switch function by updating the firmware after installing the limit switch, you can consult my video to enable the limit switch function in the machine configuration parameters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et5Fx9_Lovw