Time for an informed decision

A forum for the Arduino based Mach4/Darwin Laser Control Panel
Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

Good Morning All.  I?m in the process of completing 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.
I?ve been looking at building/buying a laser engraver/cutter for years. I?ve 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 advantages or performance differences between the two formats?
What electronics 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
I?ve 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 instruction.     
Thanking the group for any insight and wishing all a Happy Holiday Season.
Jerry           
User avatar
ArtF
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 4410
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:14 am
Contact:

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by ArtF »

Hi Jerry:

  The Arduino project is pretty much dead, its replaced with The augmented controller 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 definitely be controlled 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
Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

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 electronics to run with friendlier software

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

Thanks again Art
Jerry
User avatar
ArtF
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 4410
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:14 am
Contact:

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by ArtF »

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 electronics, 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

Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

Thanks Art
I'll let you know when I get the 40 watt laser

Jerry
User avatar
Mooselake
Old Timer
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:21 pm
Location: Mooselake Manor

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Mooselake »

Jerry, there's two different cheap K40 laser controllers 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 controller in the future.  I spent a bit under $400 on one from lovehappyshopping 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 adjustable perforated steel cutting table...

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

Kirk
Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

Hello Kirk,
I was just about to leave you a message, remembering 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 additional info

Jerry
User avatar
Mooselake
Old Timer
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:21 pm
Location: Mooselake Manor

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Mooselake »

I was slightly off on the name, it's love-happyshopping.  They currently list a handful of K40s, but if you scroll through the description 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 experience with the other, who ships from Irvine, CA (both are chinese companies using US warehouses, all communications 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 misleading 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.com for machined ballscrews and similar DIY CNC parts.

Kirk
Last edited by Mooselake on Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

Hay Kirk,
I located the name you gave me and reviewed the facts page. The first part of the description mentions MoshiDraw and the bottom part of the description 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 difference on which vendor I go with?

Thanks again Kirk
Jerry
User avatar
Mooselake
Old Timer
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:21 pm
Location: Mooselake Manor

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Mooselake »

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 electronics out, put in a PoKeys57CNC  (maybe somebody else will do it and give directions :) ), and sell the M2Nano and dongle on eBay.  You may want to do it somewhat differently.

No pressure on Art or anything like that, but undoubtedly you'll end up with the best laser controller on pretty decent hardware.

Art, anything I should add to the PoKeys57CNC 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
Jerrywi
Old Timer
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2012 10:36 am

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Jerrywi »

Thanks Kirk, I'll send off a message now
Jerry
User avatar
ArtF
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 4410
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:14 am
Contact:

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by ArtF »

Hi Kirk:

  Id find some terminal strips that plug into the plugs on the 57. Personally, 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


User avatar
Mooselake
Old Timer
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:21 pm
Location: Mooselake Manor

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Mooselake »

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

User avatar
ArtF
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 4410
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:14 am
Contact:

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by ArtF »

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 ... xyLN9Semfp

Art
User avatar
Mooselake
Old Timer
Posts: 511
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:21 pm
Location: Mooselake Manor

Re: Time for an informed decision

Post by Mooselake »

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 adjustable table mod.

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

Kirk
Post Reply