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cstmwrks
11-12-2015, 10:15 PM
With the help of Cory, Ahren and Jay over about half a dozen phone calls, a path to setting up a laser diode on a CNCRP machine has been figured out. It applies to pretty much any machine with MACH3 and a smooth stepper. I have the CRP800 control box and I just wanted to be sure I did not mess anything up. Also, I did not want to do any kind of trade offs that would limit future options like a 5th axis.

First off, this is a simple on / off set up. Jay of J Tech said that the most simple way to control power is with feed rate. PWM and MACH3 still has issues. A DAC would give 256 gray scale control but the next gen version will not be ready for a few months. The current version has issues of it's own, so I figured I'll just wait.

For a bit over $20.00 Cory at CNCRP sent me a ribbon cable and a BOB. The 3rd port on the smooth stepper is empty so the ribbon was plugged in there and the BOB was attached to the side of the power supply with velcro.

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After checking the WARP9 web site I went with pin 18 for signal ground and pin 17 for the signal. I suppose you don't have to get a ribbon cable and BOB, one could just use a friction connector that fit over the two selected pins on port 3.

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How you feed the signal to the laser driver is pretty much your choice. Knowing that it will be a long time before I set up a 5th axis, the empty spot in the case was filled with a DB 9 and the 2 wires from the BOB are soldered to that.

The MACH3 set up is easy. Made a copy of the XML file and named it LASER, then open MACH3 with the laser profile and go into plugin control and use the box in the upper right to set port 3 to output.

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So I went with flood control to activate the laser. Using any part of the spindle control causes a delay in triggering the laser. Tried it and got to see for myself. Flood control wins.
On the output signals I just shut off all the relays as they are set up for running 110 volt stuff through the CRP800 control box. I enabled output # 4 port 3 pin 17.
Why did I shut off the other relays? The laser and driver are static sensitive and my plastic suction hose is REAL close to the laser driver. I just don't want to accidentally turn some thing on that is not needed in laser mode... and vice versa.

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So on the spindle set up, the spindle relay is disabled. Mist / flood is enabled and set to output # 4 and delay 0. Ignore any other odd bits of set up shown in the image, that is leftovers from tinkering with PWM.

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I'll go into the rest of the set up of the laser and driver later. I'm still putting some finishing touches to it. I've made it so the driver and laser can be removed or installed in less than a minute. They don't need to stay on the machine when doing work with router bits. The installation takes into account that the laser has a narrow field of beam focus and every time you put the laser on you don't want to spend time tuning the beam again. Even with different material thickness you use the auto Z touch plate to set the laser hight.

LeeWay
11-13-2015, 06:32 PM
Now this is pretty cool stuff. I am interested in how this goes.

cstmwrks
11-14-2015, 07:30 PM
So this part did not take too long to do. Most was made from scrap around the shop.

A 6 inch strip with one mount hole is what holds it to the Z axis. The top of the strip butts up to the spindle mount. Makes for a set distance every time you bolt it on.
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Short angle held with two rivets.
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Laser with fan. recessed enough that you ram the mount into the sacrifice board before the laser would hit.
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Driver mount bracket:
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Cradle for the driver. Close fit and it snaps in place.
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FandZ
11-17-2015, 11:09 PM
Man this is like the prefect thread for me. I ordered the CRP800 kit this morning and also I ordered a J tech laser a few months ago and haven't had the chance to install it. You are thankfully taking all the research work out of it. I was thinking about mounting my laser in my dust shoe to use the vacuum to suck away any smoke but reading about the sensitivity to static I guess that's a no go. Looking forward to seeing your progress. I may get ambitious and start setting my laser up the weekend after next.

LeeWay
11-18-2015, 04:30 AM
It can mount on the spindle just like a dust shoe. An aluminum plate would do I think.

cstmwrks
11-18-2015, 10:56 AM
It can mount on the spindle just like a dust shoe. An aluminum plate would do I think.
As long as the mount is aluminum. You want as much heat dissipating mass as you can get. I found the Z axis mounting plate to be the simple way to go.

cstmwrks
11-18-2015, 11:01 AM
Man this is like the prefect thread for me.

There will be more info posted later. Thanks to some input from Rob at the Warp 9 forum I've learned the dark art of enabling the much coveted M11 command for lasers.

You can use laser software or if you bought any version of Vectric with your CNC you can do this:
using-vectric-cut2d-with-a-laser/ (http://www.buildlog.net/blog/2011/02/using-vectric-cut2d-with-a-laser/)

And his edited post processor:

Mach3_Laser_Arcs_inch.pp (http://www.buildlog.net/sm_laser/drawings/_Buildlog_Mach3_Laser_Arcs_inch.pp)

His and mine pretty much look the same. I just left the code in that allow moving on to the next file as long as a tool swap in not needed. This way I can define feed rates to control the burn and have it all in one g code file.

jbvries
11-18-2015, 05:35 PM
Thank you! I have an identical setup and will be applying this method this weekend! Thanks for posting!

cstmwrks
11-18-2015, 08:35 PM
So this is how things are set up now in MACH3 to get the M11 command. In the config for the ESS you have to enter the output number# that you selected in the ports and pins tab, this also has to be the same output in the flood control relay set up in the spindle tab. Rob on the Warp 9 forum clued me in on that one.
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I did some tests on feed rate, did three squares all enabled via M07 with about a 100ms delay. The upper right corner shows the start / stop point for each square. M11 has a 2ms delay. Can you tell what corner is the start / stop point?
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FandZ
11-23-2015, 02:28 AM
Honestly. I can't tell on the M11 the stop/start point and can see why it's a big deal. Thank you for posting the info.

AJ Negvesky
03-15-2016, 01:25 PM
I have a CRP4848 and have considered adding a laser. How has this worked out for you and are you satisfied with the results you are achieving?

cstmwrks
03-15-2016, 01:43 PM
I have a CRP4848 and have considered adding a laser. How has this worked out for you and are you satisfied with the results you are achieving?

I'm very happy with it. Not the same as having a dedicated cnc laser or software, but as far as an adaptation goes it has proved easy to use. Most of my work is regular router work and only a few special laser projects. Still, it only takes about 4 minutes bolt on the laser and drop in the controller. It would be even faster but I've not gotten around to adding a speed bolt to the laser mount. So it is a bit slow to snug up with an allen wrench do to limited clearance.

Bottom line is that it works good enough that it leaves me looking forward to more laser work AND not in any big rush ( OK.. no rush ) for a dedicated laser. At some point I may even do a 150 watt laser mod.

bonesbr549
03-15-2016, 01:47 PM
Cool thread.

FandZ
07-04-2016, 07:58 PM
Soooo... I'm about to give my jtech laser a go. I decided to use my older CNCRP machine with a G540 as a dedicated laser engraver instead of putting it on my vcon machine. I was reviewing the post processor below and was wonder what triggers the coolent to start (turn on/off the laser). Any more tips or tricks you want to share?


http://www.buildlog.net/sm_laser/drawings/_Buildlog_Mach3_Laser_Arcs_inch.pp

cstmwrks
07-05-2016, 09:16 AM
Soooo... I'm about to give my jtech laser a go. I decided to use my older CNCRP machine with a G540 as a dedicated laser engraver instead of putting it on my vcon machine. I was reviewing the post processor below and was wonder what triggers the coolent to start (turn on/off the laser). Any more tips or tricks you want to share?


http://www.buildlog.net/sm_laser/drawings/_Buildlog_Mach3_Laser_Arcs_inch.pp

It would be the E1P1 / E1P0 that is triggering coolant AKA the laser on and off. If I remember right every port for turning a device on or off would have to have it's own different code.

cstmwrks
11-25-2016, 06:17 PM
So after months of being able to do nice laser line art I just bought a DAC / PWM board so I can do photographs. Anyone already install one?

cstmwrks
11-27-2016, 01:01 PM
This is a gift I made last night. 2 watt laser and still using the stock settings on speed and acceleration in CNCRP's pre set XML file. G code done with Vectric Vcarve Pro 8.5.
Have most of the details figured out on the DAC /PWM install. Just have to add 2 wires from the BOB to the serial port for step and direction from the A axis.
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Rob77
11-27-2016, 03:10 PM
I would love it if CNCRP made a "laser shoe" that mounted in place of the dust shoe.

cstmwrks
11-29-2016, 09:40 PM
Couple of things I thought I would point out. In all of the changes made to run a laser I did nothing to the motor tuning. The above cutting board was burned with the stock 199.98 and 15 acceleration on the X and Y axis. Some of the text looks like it has hot spots from tight node clusters I did not bother to clean up. Am now fiddling with the acceleration and have it up to 65 with no sign of stalling or losing steps.

cstmwrks
12-05-2016, 10:57 PM
Couple of nights ago I finished connecting those 2 wires the DAC / PWM needed. Everything worked the first time. Have to do some fine tuning before posting any of the set up info.

Question for a MACH 3 expert, can you set one axis to have a different jog rate? I know I can change the jog rate in the DRO tab for all of them, But adjusting laser power on start up is tuned with jog keys and it's a very fine (slow ) rate needed.

cstmwrks
12-08-2016, 05:26 PM
So for those of us who have the McLaren P1 of DIY CNC routers, formidable looks, heavy suspension, rack and pinion movements, quite belt driven transmission for all that raw torque! Built to plow a high speed bit deep and fast it also carries with it the grace and finesse of a hummingbird. Just one sample of a laser image from a PRO4848:
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cstmwrks
12-24-2016, 01:28 PM
OK so finally some set up images. So if you have already done the laser set up for line art only using a vector program, then adding the DAC is way simple. The J tech web site shows what the DAC needs as far as inputs. All your doing is splicing the DAC into the system.

The MACH3 set up assumes a CRP800 with the smooth stepper and a BOB plugged into port 3 on that smooth stepper. How you run the ground, signal step and direction from the BOB to the DAC is up to you. I used one of the empty axis slots on the CRP800.

This is just a recap, setting stays the same for turning the laser on or off:

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The A axis was set up to port 3:

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Motor tuning for the A axis has to be changed to this:

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Now with the DAC/PWM control you need a laser based program to make the code. J Tech worked hand in hand with PicLaser so for $40.00 take the easy way out and get that.


You need to set up the PicLaser settings to look like this:
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A note on the pixel resolution. When you look at the set up info recommended by PicLaser they show a value of .006. I started out that way but by changing it to .008 and the image quality was improved. I think this may depend on some of the materials that you may be burning. Beam width may be a true .005, but if material on either side of that bean are charred it makes an effective .007 wide burn. Anyhow I looked an some of my first images under a 10X loop and decided that there was too much overlap. Yours make work best set at .006

cstmwrks
12-24-2016, 04:48 PM
I've not checked my inbox in a long time so a few folks sent questions and may feel a bit ignored. Hope the latest images answers most of the questions. One being the post processor to burn vector files made with Vectric software. I uploaded mine. It was created by a fellow named Tony and Mark, I just modified it to work with my Mach3 laser set up.

Download as text, then run notepad as administrator then save as a .pp file.

GigaWatt
09-16-2017, 12:22 PM
I know this is an old thread however I'm ready to add a laser to my Pro4824 and have some questions for the posters that already have this setup. I'm considering using either the J Tech 2.0 or 2.8. I will use it mainly for engraving on wood however I would also like the ability to cut thin wood like 1/4" pine, plywood & hardboard.
1. How are your setups working any changes?
2. Is the 2 watt laser adequate for most work or should I go with 2.8?
3. Do you have any additional comments that would help in installation, setup or use?

PapaLima
09-18-2017, 08:39 PM
I know this is an old thread however I'm ready to add a laser to my Pro4824 and have some questions for the posters that already have this setup. I'm considering using either the J Tech 2.0 or 2.8. I will use it mainly for engraving on wood however I would also like the ability to cut thin wood like 1/4" pine, plywood & hardboard.
1. How are your setups working any changes?
2. Is the 2 watt laser adequate for most work or should I go with 2.8?
3. Do you have any additional comments that would help in installation, setup or use?

I'm about to add my new 2.8w to my Pro4824 as well, but I'm still working out the details. I think I have the right connectors and parts and hope to have some time soon to put it together.

chri879
09-04-2018, 09:59 PM
Hi, Can anyone share pictures of how you mounted the J Tech laser to your CNC? Thank you!

dharmic
09-05-2018, 07:39 PM
Not a j-tech or CRP-800 but you get the idea. A clamp around the bottom of the spindle, off to one side another clamp for the laser. I 3D printed mine but if you don't have access to one there's no reason you couldn't use the CNC to carve the same kind of thing out of an HDPE chopping board from the two dollar shop.

chri879
09-06-2018, 09:37 AM
Excellent, thank you.

SixOfOne
10-19-2018, 03:43 PM
Hey Cstmwrks, could you send me your Mach3 XML? I have the PicConvert and its giving me some issues and I would like to compare settings.

yooperal
12-18-2018, 07:09 PM
excellent post ty

ubergeekseven
12-28-2018, 08:39 AM
Nice

Gary-Wiant
03-23-2019, 09:56 PM
This is very interesting. What wattage laser is everyone using? How does a 7w diode laser compare to a co2 laser? I thought someone posted something about doing a 150watt upgrade is this a joke or real?

Thank you
Gary

dharmic
03-23-2019, 10:04 PM
Comparing my 3W diode blue laser compared to the 50W CO2 at work is like comparing a butter knife to a bandsaw.

The little diode lasers will do some light marking and cut maybe 3mm balsa (if you go slow enough), will burn paint off metal (nice for marking out steel for grinding :) ) but won't really get near the cutting or fast engraving you can do with a CO2 laser.

Not just the power, but AFAIK the different wavelengths make a difference too.

It's apparently possible with some fairly pricey optics to stack a bunch of diodes to add up to a single output of 100+ watts, but I've never seen it and, frankly, if I needed that power I'd probably be looking at a dedicated machine with proper extraction and eye protection etc anyway.

Gary-Wiant
03-23-2019, 10:20 PM
What I'd like a laser for is to engrave my logo on the back of products that I route.

Thanks

dharmic
03-23-2019, 10:43 PM
What material? The diode lasers will engrave timber and some kinds of plastic.

Gary-Wiant
03-24-2019, 07:07 AM
Mainly wood, some pine & hemlock but mostly hard woods (oak, cherry, maple & walnut) and some PVC & Acrylic.

dharmic
03-24-2019, 07:49 PM
Mine won't touch clear acrylic, but it works ok on the rest. It took a bit of messing about to get working (multiple driver boards, a custom adapter to the breakout board on my machine etc) so if you're just wanting to get on with using it, the J-Tech looks pretty good.