Matt's ZenXY V2 Build

The journey to Zen begins. Ive printed all the parts, cut my rails and finally assembled it all together this past weekend. I figured I would just clamp the corners down to the table with some wood to hold it in place for testing. I first tested it with A4988 drivers, then switched to TMC2209 drivers, which are used in the video below. The noise level difference is amazing. I have gone with a 24x24 draw area, which I now realize is a bit large, but oh well! I will keep this thread up to date as I move along.


Now that I have assembled and tested the mechanism, it is time to build the table itself. I just finished constructing the main area where the mechanism is mounted and the sand will sit. All fits well and looks good. Next step is to get the electronics mounted in and wired up. I will have to route out a pocket for the screen to sit in the 3/4" thick wood I am using. One step at a time though.


That was quick. Looks good.

Thanks Jeff, I am kind of making it up as I go. So we will see what it looks like in the end. Right now my main concern is the glass. Debating on whether I should use glass or thin wood for the sand bed.

With the Zen, the bigger the better!!! Exciting to see another Zen coming into the world.

1 Like

Would it be so bad to go one way and then have to change it later? If you can sort of replace it without too much trouble, just give it a shot. My first try was 3/32 hardboard and it worked for my prototype, but the magnet did scrape the bottom.

As in you mean you had to put the magnet so close to the bottom of the wood in order to get the ball to move well?

This was with the first version of the ZXY. It didn’t have an adjustment on the magnet. I just remember that it scraped in the center and not at the edges (indicating to me that the hardboard sagged more than the gantry). If you added a piece of hardboard, and you couldn’t adjust it well, what would the consequence be? A few dollars of lumber and some hard earned knowledge. That was what I was trying to point out. It would work, and it would tell you some things and if it worked out, you would have saved some money.

I completely agree. I’m gonna try out some wood first and see how that works. I’ll keep ya posted

1 Like

Magnetic fields decrease in strength by the square of the distance, so if you can decrease the distance from magnet to ball by 30%, you double its holding power. When you’ve got 1/8" (3mm) material, a difference of only a couple tenths of a millimeter closer can make a large difference in how steady that steel ball is when tracking through your sand.

My V1 Zen had a some points where the magnet would contact the table bottom too. That was shimmed by trial and error

My V2 table, I see some abrasion on the top of the magnet, but I can’t see any actual contact points. I can’t get a sheet of paper between the magnet and the table in the center though. (It’s 1/8" hardboard base) I wanted that gap to be as small as I could arrange it. I would be OK with contact, so long as I couldn’t hear it.

Yeah as long as I can’t hear it and there’s no mechanical disadvantage, I don’t mind it rubbing the bottom either. I will have to see what happens when I get to that point. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Update. Screen installed. Used the trusty MPCNC Primo to route out a socket for the screen to fit into my 1x wood material (3/4" actual thickness). Turned out pretty good in my opinion. I created a DXF file for the layout of the 12864 LCD Smart Display if anyone is interested in using that to route out a socket as well.

NOTE: The cutout for the SD card is slightly off in the pictures below. I have since corrected that and rerouted it out, but did not take pictures of the new panel.

1 Like

Update. A little labor on labor day. I was able to get the IO/data ports installed as well as the power switch. After a few hours of playing with wires, I decided to tackle the legs. Overall happy with the way its all turning out. Still need the glass. Getting there.


Update. Built the table top piece. Cut the grooves in the bed area for the sand glass and in the top for the table top glass. Also, finally got around to staining it. Picking up a piece of glass this week and should finally be able to draw something. After the glass, just need to poly the table and should be able to consider this done.


Update. Issues to solve. I got the bottom glass installed and put some play sand in it. Does anyone have experience using play sand with their system? I am having trouble moving the ball consistently, or at all, through it. I have two issues:

  1. The sand seems too heavy. Should I switch to baking soda?
  2. I am using 1x wood pieces. Which measure out to roughly 3/4" thick. I am using 1/4" thick glass, so I cut a 1/4" deep groove around the wood for the glass to sit in. This will leave roughly 1/2" below the glass to the bottom of the wood. So there is a substantial gap between the magnet and glass. I actually cannot raise the magnet up high enough to get so close without the magnet coming out of its pocket. Any suggestions on how to get the magnet closer to the glass? I suppose I could remove the glass and cut the groove deeper so the glass sits deeper into the wood (closer to the gantry), but I have already caulked it in place (wish I didn’t). Is 1/4" glass too thick for the magnet?

Any suggestions?

1 Like

Definitely try baking soda. It really works.

I am guessing 3/4" is too far. I can’t think of a good way to boost it more up. You could try a small dab of hot melt glue on the magnet.

I used some of those figure 8 brackets. Screwed into the wood to hold up my glass. IIRC I had to shim the machine down a mm or two to get it to clear them though.

1 Like

If it is far enough, you can use two magnets. One on top of the other. You really need that magnet as close as it can get to the glass without touching.

BS for sure, sand is loud and lower resolution.

1 Like

Two magnets… now that just makes too much sense. That should definitely solve the problem. I’ll order another magnet and try it out. I will also switch to BS. I’ll report back once the new magnet comes in.

Updated. I removed all the sand and added in baking soda. HUGE difference. I still have a decent gap between the magnet and glass, so the ball does get stuck some and you can see how the ball bounces around a bit. I also need to dial in the perfect BS thickness. The second magnet should arrive today so it should improve even more. But so far, I am happy with this initial test.


Looks good!

You can play around with the depth of the BS too (I keep reading this as Bee Ess and I my sense of humor is still rather immature). I think it rolls well when it is like 1/3 the ball height, but it needs enough to push around.

I am sure that second magnet will make it much smoother. This is definitely going to be an awesome table.