Ok, I’ve been lurking around here for a while, and I think I’m ready to order a laser to add to my machine.
I use VCarve Pro and I’m (kinda) competent in using my machine, so I’m reasonably confident I’ll eventually work most things out.
Just though I’d put up a link seeking feedback on and suggestions, hints or “gotcha’s” that others have learned the hard way.
I’m intending to buy the 3.8w kit from jtech as it looks like they’ve got most of the bits and pieces & safety equipment all in one place.
One question straight up - do I need shielding or are glasses (and a few metres) sufficient?
Later edit - is it worth me grabbing a new xcontroller from Inventables as part of the system?
Any and all comments gratefully accepted.
It depends on lots of things.
Do you have adults, children, pets that may wander in while you are using your laser? If yes, I would recommend complete enclosure with a shielded viewing window.
If you are going to restrict attendance to yourself only and don’t have windows in your work area, then you can get by with the glasses if you are careful.
No. Not for laser work. If you want to upgrade to the X-controller for spindle work or just want to upgrade for convenience, let your pocket book decide.
I would recommend using my version of grbl 1.0c with spindle and laser support along with PicSender ($25 license) for convenience in switching between laser mode and spindle mode.
You can use grbl 1.1f with PicSender the same way, but I do not recommend 1.1f for laser work.
Think about how you are going to use the laser. Straight engravings work, 2.8 or 3.8 watt, budget decision.
If you are going to do raster image work the 2.8 watt version has a smaller spot size which would give you better images.
Sage advice as always. Where do I download/purchase your version of grbl? Is there an associated “Idiots guide to…”?
What’s your opinion on post processors? I was going to download the jtech pp for VCarve and play with that, but the Pic series of software seems both popular and inexpensive, is there a strength or weakness with either (I’ll research this so don’t feel you need to spend time on a massively detailed response)?
My use for it will be simple hobbyist work - probably lots of images burned on wood, some stuff on anodised aluminium, maybe playing with some acrylic (once I get some more hose for my dust extraction) and possibly some cutting/engraving in wood as well. Oh, and I went with the 3.8w and grabbed the high res lens - hopefully that’ll be fine.
It’s free to all who want to use it.
Some people use the Jtech No Z post processor (on the Jtech website) for laser work. It eliminates any Z commands from the G-code produced.
Vcarve will do a lot. Especially for engraving.
The Pic/xxx Software is worth checking out. You can download demo versions.
PicSender can send very large G-code files which tend to be the norm for raster image work and has the advantage of being seamlessly integrated with my 1.0c and 1.1f.
3.8 should be fine. Don’t expect cutting to be easy. Laser diodes are just not up to the task.
Thanks for your assistance & opinions Larry. Much appreciated.
My assumption is that these will all play nicely with UGS or is there a specific version I’ll need? (I’ve not updated my UGS, because the version I’ve used for the last couple of years seems stable, so I try not to alter things unnecessarily)
Once my new toys arrive undoubtedly I’ll be back with more questions, but until then I’ve lots more reading & learning to do.
I use version 1.0.9 of UGCS, but it does have a problem with large G-code files. So, I use UGCS for most work, but switch to PicSender for large G-code files and for having the appropriate tuned grbl parameters for spindle or laser loaded into the Arduino/X-controller.
Read this info.
And this info.
New version requires checking “Use Auto Settings”.
Many thanks for your assistance. Everything appears to be working ok. Forgot to adjust focus for this test cut, but it looks like I’ve got things up and running, and laser power seems to respond to spindle speed adjustments.
I’m using your version of grbl and picsender to set it from spindle to laser and back.
This cut was a VCarve tracing sent via UGS. I’ve yet to try picsender and picengraver (although I’ve bought the licences).
Once again, the learning begins…