Reduce laser power

I am just now firing up the laser head that came with my 3018 CNC device, having done quite a bit of work with the router using Easel. I typed $32=1 as per the “Changing From Carving to Laser” topic and the device is doing a perfectly fine job of tracing out the design in my svg file, and even turns the laser off and on whenever it lifts vertically to travel to the next section. The problem is the laser power. My daughter-in-law asked me to burn designs on leather and the laser is burning the bejeebers out of it. What I need is a simple command - perhaps of the form $XX=YY - that cuts the laser power from 100% to 50% or 8% or whatever works best.

What program are you using to run your laser?

As usual, the software that came with my 3018 is Windows-only so it’s unusable for us Mac guys. I’m using the web-based Easel program. It is not fancy, but it works. Anyhoo, I load an svg drawing into the Easel page like I would for a router project, then I edit the gcode (Machine tab → Advanced → Machine Inspector) by typing $32=1 in the Console edit field box. At this point, the laser burns lines like a champ but the laser is too bright for the leather.

The discussion I see online is confusing me. Part of it has to do with $30 and $31, which I can set (I’m assuming) to put the laser at some output power that is constant. But there is also some online content about M4 Dynamic Laser Power Mode which isn’t clear. Is this automatically enabled when I type $32=1 or is it an additional thing I have to type?

Well you lost me with a mac user. If you can not figure out how to turn the power down maybe try speed the laser up.

Many of the lasers control their power using spindle speed. In easel click on “Machine”, then click on the word “Advanced”. The advanced settings menu will pop up. Change the spindle from manual to automatic. You will see an RPM setting. Play around with that setting it fairly low like 500 or 50 or something else. Try that and see if it affects the laser output level.

Going this way, you will not be able to change the level up and down during the course of a run, but you should be able to run at reduced power.

Well, that’s really interesting, Harry. I’ve never paid attention to the Spindle Control part. When it’s set at Manual, does that mean the RPM/laserPower is always set to max unless reduced (I’m guessing here) with (maybe) $30 and $31? I also suddenly wonder if switching to Automatic is how you get access to “M4 Dynamic Laser Power Mode.” Thanks very much for the tip - I’ll be giving it a whirl as soon as I’ve had some coffee!

That’s done it, Harry! Many thanks for the tip!