GearHeads Corner

General Category => Arduino Laser Control => Topic started by: Jerrywi on December 14, 2015, 11:06:31 AM



Title: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 14, 2015, 11:06:31 AM
Good Morning All.  Iím in the process of completin g my third cnc router (larger work area, stronger/quieter spindle, upgraded stepper motors, etc.) and would like to expand my work shop and knowledge with a Laser cutter/engraver.
Iíve been looking at building/buying a laser engraver/cutter for years. Iíve been reviewing the web and on line forums for years as well.
I would like any input/information on whether to consider the cheap 40 watt co2 lasers on E-Bay/Amazon or the 1, 2 or 3 watt Diode lasers.  What are the advantage s or performan ce differenc es between the two formats?
What electroni cs would I need, if different than what I use for my cnc router?
One of the main reasons for a laser engraver is my interest in engraving portrait photos into wood or acrylics and of Couse cutting out gears for my wooden clock hobby
Iíve been watching the Arduino laser project and would like to pursue that project if it would fore fill my needs.
I enjoyed building my cnc machines and would consider building a laser engraver/cutter if there were complete step by step instructi on.     
Thanking the group for any insight and wishing all a Happy Holiday Season.
Jerry             


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on December 14, 2015, 08:36:13 PM
Hi Jerry:

  The Arduino project is pretty much dead, its replaced with The augmented controlle r project to be released in about 1-2 weeks.
It will be based on the Pokeys line of IO modules, and will work on near any of them , or so I expect.

   I may even get one of those cheap chinese lasers to retrofit as a test.. but my own laser will definitel y be controlle d by it.

The diode laser may engrave a photo, but very very slowly. If you want any speed you'd need at least a 40 watt co2 to get any real work or cutting done..

Art
 


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 15, 2015, 09:56:26 AM
Thanks Art
you've given me a better direction to follow. I am leaning towards the 40 watt co2 laser but have heard from several sources that the software is very difficult to work with.
others have purchased the laser and modified it with different electroni cs to run with friendlie r software

If I go that route, I'd like to get your insight on the modificat ions.

Thanks again Art
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on December 15, 2015, 10:00:13 AM
Jerry:

  Within two weeks Ill be releasing Auggie, and I dont see why it wouldnt work on Chinese lasers. You'd need to get a pokeys
to do the electroni cs, but as far as I can see, nothing else .. but I guess we'll know more as people join in to test the theory.. :)

Art



Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 15, 2015, 04:09:06 PM
Thanks Art
I'll let you know when I get the 40 watt laser

Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 16, 2015, 04:24:29 PM
Jerry, there's two different cheap K40 laser controlle rs on eBay, which you can tell apart by which software they include.  Stay away from Moshidraw, get the one with LaserDRW.  Neither is very good, but LaserDRW  (which usually includes an old copy of CorelDraw and a plugin for it) is the better of the two, and good enough to keep you going until Auggie hits the streets and you do your Pokeys upgrade.

I'd recommend getting the version with the analog meter, since you'll likely be replacing the controlle r in the future.  I spent a bit under $400 on one from lovehappy shopping on eBay.  Think of it as a starter machine, and expect to fiddle with and mod it.  Kinda like hobby 3D printers.  Mine's torn apart to add a manually adjustabl e perforate d steel cutting table...

There's an active K40 users group on Google+ (yes, there is still some life on G+).

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 16, 2015, 06:07:09 PM
Hello Kirk,
I was just about to leave you a message, rememberi ng you had purchased one recently.
I made a list of all the current sellers on E-bay and wrote down which software they were providing with theirs.
Moshidraw was one(which i've been hearing is hard to work with) Thanks for the heads up.
the 2nd software was coral Draw.
I don't remember seeing your seller but I will look again.
it appears most of them are selling around 366.00 with about 30.00 delivery
Thanks for the additiona l info

Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 16, 2015, 11:44:38 PM
I was slightly off on the name, it's love-happyshopping.  They currently list a handful of K40s, but if you scroll through the descripti on they all mention Moshidraw .

As far as I can tell, there are two big sellers that both use multiple eBay names.  This one ships from Ontario, CA.  I had a slightly bad experienc e with the other, who ships from Irvine, CA (both are chinese companies using US warehouse s, all communica tions seem to come from China), but it was pretty minor.  They also a "Make an offer" button, but after several lengthy delays the best they would do was about 50 cents off.  Better than nothing and within their rights, of course, but it kinda left a bad taste and put them in my misleadin g seller column.  Your opinion may be different .  The prices vary regularly, as does free or paid shipping - I lucked out and got free shipping at about the currently listed prices.

LHS has a good rep on cnczone.c om for machined ballscrew s and similar DIY CNC parts.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 18, 2015, 10:17:45 AM
Hay Kirk,
I located the name you gave me and reviewed the facts page. The first part of the descripti on mentions MoshiDraw and the bottom part of the descripti on says Coral Draw?? I however have a question on north american voltage. out of the dozen or so vendors out there, I noticed a few state 220v and one stating 110v and the others don't mention the operating voltage at all.
I have both voltages available to me, but I would rather use 110v.
Does this make a differenc e on which vendor I go with?

Thanks again Kirk
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 18, 2015, 02:19:18 PM
I suggest sending them a message (iirc eBay calls it asking a question) and ask them directly.  Ask them about Moshidraw vs LaserDRW (the non-moshi board is an M2Nano from LiHUiYU Studio Labs).  My approach would be to become familiar with the machine as shipped, quirky software and all.  Then rip the electroni cs out, put in a PoKeys57C NC  (maybe somebody else will do it and give direction s :) ), and sell the M2Nano and dongle on eBay.  You may want to do it somewhat different ly.

No pressure on Art or anything like that, but undoubted ly you'll end up with the best laser controlle r on pretty decent hardware.

Art, anything I should add to the PoKeys57C NC sitting in my cnc4pc shopping cart?  Guess Mrs. Moose is going to get a late, laser cut, christmas present.  And, FWIW, if you google cnc4pc you get a warning from google that the site has been hacked.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 18, 2015, 03:04:36 PM
Thanks Kirk, I'll send off a message now
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on December 20, 2015, 08:07:23 AM
Hi Kirk:

   Id find some terminal strips that plug into the plugs on the 57. Personall y, I love the terminal strips on the
rest of the Pokeys versions, the cnc has plugs, so I used Ebay to get a few 10 pin to terminal strip and one 20
pin to terminals for the limit switches. .

  Note though, that the 57 has a 25 pin plug which with proper config allows any printer port machine to be
upgraded to a pokeys easily with the one plug of 25 pins to printer port plug... Im using all th eother plugs
myself as each axis plug contains inputs for home switches and such..

Art




Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 20, 2015, 04:24:25 PM
not quite sure what you meant; I came up with
http://www.ebay.com/itm/171802485671
and something like
http://www.ebay.com/itm/290627084223

or the green screw terminals and a small adapter board, have a lot of them on hand.  I couldn't find something that just went straight from ribbon cable to screw terminals, perhaps the search-fu is weak today.

Kirk



Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on December 20, 2015, 04:29:12 PM
Kirk:

  Im gonna use these for each axis.. then theres a 20 pin for the limit switches. .

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Altech-5720-2-L-FBK10-Interface-Ribbon-Module-Cable-10p-Din-Rail-Terminal-Block-/360785074595?hash=item54007759a3:g:EEsAAOxyL N9Semfp

Art


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 20, 2015, 05:46:13 PM
Thanks!  While the board looks nice I've got lots of parts sitting here looking forlorn.  I  ordered the ribbon cables and will try and make some up adapters.  The slow boat will give me time to dink around with the Pokeys and finish the adjustabl e table mod.

Sorry for hijacking your thread, Jerry.  Let us know which laser you get.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: GlennD on December 20, 2015, 09:40:14 PM
I am knocking out a single sided PCB, BOB for the connectio ns.
I can post a picture or the eagle files when I am done and it is working.
I will also provide the part numbers from Digikey if anyone wants them.
Probably should be in another thread I am guessing

Glenn.


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 21, 2015, 10:48:03 AM
Cool, I'd like to see how it works out - start a new topic when that happens.

It sounds similar to what I'm planning to do with left over parts and a project board or two.  It'll help score a few short term points with Mrs. Moose in the "what are you keeping all this c*** for" moments, but I suspect that's a unique situation and doesn't affect anybody else  :)

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 28, 2015, 06:21:07 PM
Hay Art, Kirk.
Just received  my 40 watt co2 laser. for the most part everythin g looks okay. it came with the box packaged inside a wooden crate. no apparent damages.
It came with a cd with several files on it. corell laser software and LaserDrw 2013.02 software.
when trying to install the software my Norton security stopped the install and stated it had "BackDoor Graybird" and Trojan.Ge n.SMH.2. Very High security risk??
It also flagged the Dongle as having a virus. Did any body else have similar issues?
Also, can I hook up the usb cable and power on the laser so the computer can Recognize it without hooking up the water pump?
thanks
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 28, 2015, 07:46:51 PM
I vaguely remember something about a virus warning when installin g, with the recommend ation it can be ignored (but don't take my word for it), but didn't get it on my system.  However, I use the M$ antivirus (seems to go by different names, it's Defender on W10).  You might ask that one on the K40 G+ group.  I seem to recall something about Norton not liking GM in the past, too.

The dongle is a hardware dodad,  no files to have virii.  Strange it would flag that one.

I've never tried to run the laser without the pump going, they're on the same power strip, and I've got a flow switch to install as a safety.  If you do, don't ever try to fire it.  From Art's recommend ation I've got the pump and tubing run into a 5 gal drywall bucket with 3 gallons of blue windshiel d washer fluid in it.  Some K40 G+ users seem to like pink RV antifreez e, which WallyWorl d sells for about the same price.  Either should keep out the dreaded green algae.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on December 28, 2015, 08:44:59 PM
Yes, never run without water. Mine has a water flow switch, your may as well. You can power up, but if you press for power
you can burn your output lens in an instant.. So Id advise being very carefull if theres no water flow switch. ( You might even think of adding one, their cheap and can save you a tube if the pump stops.. ( not unusual situation .. :) )

Art


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on December 29, 2015, 08:00:16 AM
Thanks Kirk, Art,
I will be ordering a flow switch while i'm setting the laser up in my work shop.

Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 29, 2015, 02:18:57 PM
Flow switches are easy to wire, put them in series with the laser enable switch.  However, you might have problems finding one that works.  I tried the T in switch from LightObje cts, on the return line, and there wasn't enough pressure to close it.

After the T switch adventure (I want the switch on the return at the bucket in case a hose comes off, not just to prove the pump is working) I got a couple of these (http://amzn.com/B00AKVEGTU), from a recommend ation I saw somewhere .  Apparentl y getting metric or US threads is kinda random, mine matched NPT fittings at the local hardware store, but other reviewers have said theirs were metric.  I've only blown through them to test switch closure, haven't actually tried wiring them in yet.

Of course, when you convert to Auggie you can make the switch a separate input rather than just inline with the laser enable.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on December 31, 2015, 06:02:17 PM
I did a bit more digging  (3D printer babysitti ng...) into Norton and LaserDRW, but not a lot of luck.  By any chance is it the error discussed here (http://malwarefixes.com/threats/norton-virus-warning/)?

Otherwise lots of general grumbling about Norton, but no specific mention of LaserDRW.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on January 01, 2016, 06:10:33 PM
Thanks Kirk
I went ahead and installed the Laserdrw software on my desk top computer that runs my cnc. it's not hooked up to the web so Im not that worried .
So I got the laser up and running and have been playing around. I've watched limited you tube tutorials (limited results)

Art and Kirk,

It took me a while to wrap my head around Mach3, G-Code, G540 controlle r,nc files, tap files, etc. etc. and cambam so my mind set is based on my CNC knowledge .
So I need to learn more about Laser hardware and software . can I use other design software that will be more user friendly now or after I change out hardware for auggie.
I have one last question, a few years back I purchased some 3d puzzles files that was downloade d as DXF files for 2d cutting on my cnc and EPS files for Lasers.
is EPS the file extension to Lasers as nc is to CNC Router files?

If anyone can point me to a link, forum  that will retrain my brain to better get a handle on the new toy.LOL

Thanks to all

Jerry





Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: DanL on January 01, 2016, 07:00:29 PM
eps is a vectric drawing file not NC, it's the only program I have seen use .eps as a drawing file. if you post the files in a zip some nice person may convert them to .dxf or cut files


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on January 01, 2016, 07:10:02 PM
EPS is a vector drawing format, like dxf .. its specific to drawing programs usually, there is no real standard for lasers, I use DXF most of the
time on my dps driven laser. Ive never used the control you have, my advice woudl be not to swap out the hardware till your done
playing and Auggie is driving a laser properly. .


  But generally, most cutting you do on a laser is DXF or other vector formats depending on the flavour of controlle r you have.
Usually you can find a converter to convert between various vector based formats..

Art


 


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Steve Fox on January 01, 2016, 07:13:54 PM
eps is a vectric drawing file not NC, it's the only program I have seen use .eps as a drawing file. if you post the files in a zip some nice person may convert them to .dxf or cut files

I'll give it a shot, if you want.


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on January 02, 2016, 03:50:20 PM
You can import dxf files into CorelDraw with the LaserDRW plugin.  I cut some Gearotic eccentric gears out of acrylic using the combinati on without any major problems, although you may need to watch out for the beam width making the gears smaller than you want.  It was an issue for mod 1.0 gears...

I normally use LaserDRW where DXFs don't matter, partially because I spend too much time looking up how to do things with Corel (learned drafting with organic tools, i.e wood  pencils, none of this modern computer stuff), and partially because I installed things in the wrong order (too eager...) and only get one cut without reloading Corel.  Haven't gotten around to uninstall ing and reinstall ing to fix that yet.

Resurrect ed my 3D printer after 6 months of idleness, needed to reflash it after installin g Z screws that had too little friction (default was to shut the Z motors off when idle, they then drifted down and made nice pancakes), got distracte d.   Next up is to print some mounts to allow an adjustabl e Z table, get the laser put back together, and do some more pre-auggie lasering.  Down the road neighbor kids have discovere d my toy collectio n, have been trying them out, and want to see more of them working.

Kirk




Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on January 02, 2016, 07:16:34 PM
Art, Kirk, Steve and DanL
Thanks Steve, I donít believe I need to convert those files, since they provided two versions of the same
Plans. One they labeled ď DXF for cncĒ and the second they labeled as ďLaser EPSĒ.
I.m using the Laser Draw. The coral is corrupt, states a file is missing.
Itís a journey figuring out the software and what each features does. Right now I can only print letters with a black back ground and white letters.
Canít seem to find out how to print solid letters, without the backgroun d.  Tried changing backgroun d color and letter color fill, but it engraves the same way. Oh well, the journey continues .
Iíd like to thank everyone for their input. Thatís what I like about this forum. So many knowledge able people out there.
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: DanL on January 03, 2016, 12:49:53 AM
art get's ride of A hole fast. I dare you to ask a noob question on the linuxcnc forum


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on January 03, 2016, 07:39:24 AM
>>I dare you to ask a noob question on the linuxcnc forum

:)

 No such thing as a question too basic here, to my mind 90% of software writing is support,
and I dont think in 15 years of doing this I have kicked many or told anyone to go away because
their too dim. Specially here in Gearotic land.

    I know in some places "noobs" get a hard time, or users are scared to ask basic questions
thinking it will look too basic. I dont judge here. I try to guide conversat ions so others dont
either ( which on this forum has never really been an issue). This is partly because the types
of things done here are specialty items, and your generally at a certain level of expertise
when you arrive, but even if your not, the atmospher e here is kept as clean as I can
of any negative feedback based on inexperie nce. (When I wrote Mach1 I didnt know
a G41 from a G42..). By end of Mach3 I knew G-Code fairly well, and I owe much
of that to all the people that helped guide me. In this, I try to pay it forward.

   The most important one to help is the one who needs it most.. so if you ask me
what a "Computer" is, I wont laugh, though I may snicker internall y. I was always proud
that the Mach3 group with thousands of members has lasted all these years and continues
with a very nice tone usually, (though its dying out now compared to the old days),
and with Gearotic, perhaps because one needs to ask to join, its always been an
extraordi nary place to get advice. For me as well. As the code jockey I get
a lot of advice and ideas from this group...

  My thanks for that to everyone. .

Art





:)



Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: BobL on January 03, 2016, 03:01:11 PM
Jerry;

 I believe it was reference to some newbie questions on linuxcnc forum, no need to be alarmed.. As Art mentioned feel free to ask any questions, I know I sure do...


Cheers
Bob


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Mooselake on January 03, 2016, 03:15:15 PM
ďart gets ride of A hole fastÖĒ
I thought it was a lead in to using arcs with auggie...   Dan was a joking, Jerry, a poke at less friendly sites where the pseudo know it alls don't know enough to help others.

While linux related forums seem to attract flamers that's never been the situation here.  Even my questions and comments have been graciousl y tolerated, with any laughing, snickerin g, and eye rolling done where they couldn't be heard.

Getting the right install order for the laser software involves some obscure arcania, and I wouldn't be surprised if the direction s on the CD (which I found after the fact) are also wrong.  I remembert he order being given on the G+ K40 group (https://plus.google.com/communities/118113483589382049502) (which answers beginner questions btw) , and have seen them listed elsewhere - probably on the cnczone.c om forums.  I have the parts designed (and one printed) to install my K40 table project and get the laser going again.  Until then you can turn up some laserDRW options discussio ns in english that will help you figure it out.  For letters you need to engrave (raster scan) rather than use vector cutting (one technique is to vector cut the outlines to sharpen the edges, then raster to fill them) to get them filled in, and check the "pour" box in the text options.  I've zipped and attached something I did for a local shop that might work as an example.  I practice on cardboard (cheap) at very low power settings, just watch so you don't set it on fire; keep a spray bottle of water handy and (like 3D printers) a fire extinguis her where you find it.

Kirk


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: ArtF on January 03, 2016, 03:41:09 PM
Jerry:

  Yeah, don't take any of this thread wrong, no flames were intended, in fact the point was to point out
we dont flame people here. lol

   On this forum you could ask what flavour cigars are best , and probably get an answer. I have a very
wide tolerance policy on discussio ns, so long as they help someone in a related field to what we play in
here the sky is the limit, and we all started somewhere . I dont even pretend to be a laser expert, I just
know I like playing with them and a project like Auggie will help alot of people understan d or learn things
they didnt know.

             Trust me, no need to fade into the backgroun d around here, Im about to start teaching scripting,
and Im hopeing questions will run the gamut from "whats a variable" to "Hows a person generate a cycloidal
curve in script." , so whenever you feel curious or in any way feel youd like to understan d something
better,post!. Im very much likely to bore you with an extended answer of how I understan d something to work,
 and have a propensit y to go on for words and words and words when the mood hits me..
 (See....lo ok at the length of that...  )

:)
Art




Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: DanL on January 03, 2016, 04:31:25 PM
Jerrywi it was just a comment that art and bob looks after his forum members and if anyone is rude or nasty he jumps on it fast, the noob question you can ask any question you want to ask here, I have ask some silly questions myself and got a nice reply from other members art was on holiday.

if you ask a noob question on the linuxcnc forum you quite often get torn a new one.


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on January 03, 2016, 06:57:43 PM
WOW!!
I totally turned that post 180 degrees to the negative. I took it as a personal dare to ask a noobie question on the linuxcnc forum and not to bother this forum with basic questions .
I am literally turning 50 shades gray/ RED at this moment and angry at myself for not seeing the well-intended meaning in the post. Not sure why I got defensive/sensitive after reading  it.
I usually do a lot more research before I feel stumped and then reach out to the forum members for help. Admittedl y I did not do my homework and got lazy and threw a bunch of questions out there for a fast answer. For that I apologize .
I owe this forum a Hugh apology for my unwarrant ed outburst and rant and on the other hand thank you all for clarifyin g the context of the post and reassurin g me that any question is welcomed.
DanL, I personall y owe you an apology for misunders tanding your post and welcome any future help you can give me.
 Iíve peeked in on other forums and your right; some members were chastised for bringing up basic questions and that is a definite turn off.
Thank you all for your patience and understan ding.
Jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: DanL on January 03, 2016, 08:28:47 PM
it's ok I thought I put it wrong and upset you by mistake anyway it dont matter. we move on, I have upset other people on other forums my self by them getting me wrong.
it's all good I am a noob when it comes to coding and using 3D printers and lasers. I get the idea behind it all and can read it but getting it from head to keyboard is a different matter.


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on January 03, 2016, 08:35:12 PM
Thanks Kirk
I got the zip file
jerry


Title: Re: Time for an informed decision
Post by: Jerrywi on January 03, 2016, 09:39:59 PM
Thanks DanL
Jerry