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Laser L-Cheapo

Another post about laser upgrading ! But I haven’t read anything about L-Cheapo in the forum, so here is my experience.

I bought my 5.6 W L-Cheapo from 3dsupplysource.com. It’s $195 (free US shipping) (October 2017).

It comes whith safety glasses, but nothing else ! No data, no explaination, … Even the 3D printed enclosure was really cheap, the laser moving inside …
So, I drew a new enclosure that can be mount easily on the X-Carve. My intention is not to remove the laser each time, so I drew a mount that is compatible with my spindle and my dust shoe.

Then the wiring : 3 wires from L-Cheapo : + / - and PWM. It needs from 12 to 24 V. I didn’t wanted to buy a new 24V power, so I connected directly inside the X-Controller. Because laser is dangerous, I put a switch and a manual connector : when I stop using laser, I disconnect and switch off : 2 safeties. The PWM goes on the X-Controller “Spindle-PWM”.



GRBL software : the X-Controller uses a GRBL version 1.0c, witch is perfect for our use. You just need to change a parameter to be able to use the pwm. I downloaded Universal Gcode Sender (UGS) : connect to X-Controller with your com port and 115200 bds. Then verify actual parameters : settings/firmware settingd/grbl. You should fin $30=1 (or $30=0 I don’t remember). You need to change that. Type the command $30 = 10000. 0 will be off and 10000 full power (but if your prefer 255, or whatever, it’s your choice ! just remember it, for softwares settings).

Commands :
Laser ON : M03 S(power)
for 10% : M03 S1000
for 50% : M03 S5000
for 100% : M03 S10000
Laser OFF : M05

Focus : at a moment, you will need to focus your laser. Please wear your safety glasses and send a M03 S500. It will light up the laser with a very small power. Then use the crown on the bottom of the laser assembly to focus the laser by screwing the lens. Optimal focal distance is 3 to 4 inches, but you will notice when it’s focus : very bright in a single point.

I’ve read on forums that it’s better not to use Easel for laser cuting or engraving. I found an extension for Inkscape, from JtechPhotonics (they also sell a laser upgrade for X-Carve) : Explaination and download are here : https://jtechphotonics.com/?page_id=2012. In the “laser power” parameter, you will set 10000. Cutting is done at full power. So if you are burning your material, just speed up the “laser speed”.

Of course, you will need to find your parameters for material / thickness / …

For picture engraving, there is a free software : “laserGRBL”. I’ve been unable to connect it to X-Carve, but you can generate the file then sending it with UGS.

AND REMEMBER : be VERY careful, laser is really dangerous : for your eyes : allways wear your safety glass, for the fire risk, for fumes (no way inside a home !), I cut in my garage, door fully opened and big fan extraction system.

Et voilà !

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Hey There. Thanks for your post above. I also have an L-Cheapo 5.5w laser attached to my fully homemade cnc. The question I have for you is regarding the cutting of material, especially ply and MDF. I have done multiple tests with various speeds and powers to cut out a simple square or circle. I am having trouble where it cuts right through the material in some places but not in others. Almost like the light is being scattered to much before it can cut cleanly through. I can see the laser coming through the material all round, but there are just some places where little “fingers” are still gripping it together which does not allow for a simple push out. Any suggestions of what I could do? Thanks

Hello,
I don’t cut MDF nor plywood. Only cardboard, plastics, foam, … But what I’ve noticed: when you focus the beam by hand, you can see that the spot is moving slightly. And with the mechanical vibrations of the CNC, it may do the same during the cut ?
On my side, I have another issue : When I cut for a long time, the power of the laser seems to decrease. Before last week, I was not really sure, then I had a 4 hours cuting and after 1 hour, it was not cutting anymore. I stopped the job and tried to understand : the beam was not focused anymore, and I was unable to focus it. So I supposed that it was too hot (it doesn’t seems, but …) and tried again the day after. I managed to focus the beam, but it was not cutting very well (power set to the max=10000). I tried with other values of power and now, the best value is only 7000…
I really don’t understand what it"s going on with this laser.
As my 4 hours job needed to be done, I cuted it in several jobs, with my “new” power, I tried yesterday morning, with a pause of around 15 to 30 minutes between each. And I saw the cutting getting worse job after job …
I will send an email to 3dsupplysource today to have some help.

There is already a fan on the L-Cheapo.

Thanks very much for the reply. That makes a lot of sense. I will be arming my laser with some compressed air this weekend then. Will let you know what the results are like.

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Air assist will also help with an excessively burnt areas like on wood cutouts. The downside is that the soot lands elsewhere but that’s just a matter of maintenance then because the cleaner cuts are worth it.

Hi Jean. Thanks for the reply. I have found that my laser turns on at S50 (anything less the laser does not work) maximum power at S1000 (any more than that makes no difference). From what I have read, you may be getting buildup on your lense because there is nothing to blow the smoke away from the laser. If you are able to cut without air assistance, then a simple desk fan will be good enough to blow the smoke from the front of the lense. Good luck

Thanks for the tip. Definitely going with air assistance experiment this weekend

you got a new book coming out?

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@Alex1380 Darn it! You beat me to it!

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Hi Phil. Again, that is very useful information, and explains a lot of what I have seen and why people use 255 as their max. So to confirm then, your $31=10 and $30=255. Or is your $31=0. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my simple questions.

Gave the air assist a try.The results were surprising to say the least. I had even less cutting power with the compressed air blowing on the laser spot. Perhaps it was too powerful and actually prevented the burn from taking place. But I will persevere and once a solution has been found will update again. Free time is few and far between these days. Thanks again for the help, hopefully get it sorted out soon.

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I also added a L-cheapo Laser (8W), ran it for 2.5hrs to make this. I do need to run no faster than a feed of 20, My X-carve is not attached to the table and started to shimmy and shake at higher speeds. I am using an external 30Amp power supply and I’m pretty happy with it.

William, I suppose you speak in inches. Here are my settings : travel speed = 120 in/min / Laser speed = between 8 and 20. My X-carve doesn’t move, but sometimes it vibrate a lot !!
Now, my laser is also a 8W, it makes a real difference compare to the 5.6W.

Nice.
I forgot to say that my laser speed between 8 and 20 are for cutting.

I engraved a picture 1 time with my previous 5.6W : 160 ipm / half power

I definitely need a better mount (Leaving the router attached) and to secure the x-carve down to the table. I would love to do the small text at 160ipm. Right now anything faster than 20ipm and the text comes out very wavy (Y axis I believe). Just too impatient to get this one project done!

Are you using a laser enabled grbl?

Yes, I am. That part is working well, I’m using VCarve Pro and it very easy to generate the files. My mount was more of a diving board style mounted on the left side of the router so it vibrated too much on the quick moves.

Has anyone tried building L-Cheapo from parts?
http://robots-everywhere.com/re_wiki/pub/web/Main.LCheapo.html

i just got the 10w l-cheapo, same setup…would there be a way to get the files for the mount you made?