Looks like my nexus one doesn’t upload properly anymore. Oh well. Manually uploading fixed that.

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Long delay

Sorry about the long delay here, it’s been a crazy few months. Between work, family life and my CNC computer’s hard drive crashing I didn’t get any time for my the Laser530. But slowly things are settling down. I even managed to squeeze in some time to fix up my work area.

I found an old door in the rafters of the garage and decided that would be perfect for my new work bench. So I went to the local home improvement store and bought a few 8ft 2×4’s for $2.30 a piece. Now instead of this small dinky desk I have a good sized work area!

With the new work space all setup the tools organized somewhat and a new hard drive in the PC I reinstalled EMC. After about 2 hours I had the CNC running again. Including using the new interface card that I had made a few months ago.

With some tweaking I now have the scale setup properly and the axis completely perpendicular! I took a video of my new setup in action with my nexus one but after uploading it’s not showing up in youtube. I’ll have a look at this again tomorrow.

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Seed studio PCBs arrived

Well that took a while. But the PCBs made by Seeed studios arrived today. I didn’t get a chance to populate them yet. Maybe I’ll get a chance to work on that tomorrow.

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Plastic Engraving

I’ve done some work on the CNC machine yesterday and I was able to engrave some really fine text onto plastic. This is the first application for the machine that I have in mind. At work we make some hardware. I’d like to engrave the serial numbers in those cases. As you can see the engraving can easily be done at a lower laser power. Which leads me to the realization I need control over the laser power from EMC2. Maybe Drive4Die or Flexmod.

Also it looks like I’m going to need control over the Z axis to focus the laser on different height materials without having to refocus every time.
I’ve also noticed the machine isn’t quite orthogonal, which is not too much of a surprise :). I’ll have to work on that a bit as well. All in all it’s looking very good.
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LPC-815 Diodes

The LPC-815 sleds and goggles arrived today. This guy made a great video showing you how to extract the diodes without harming them. Note that these are LOC (long open can) style diodes. That means the internals are not protected! Yikes. To prevent filings from getting into the diode I put some tape over the hole at the top. Then before I snap the thing open I carefully cleaned the filings away.

I was a little shocked when I finally got the diode out. It looked as if I had broken it. They really mean “long open can”! I Carefully placed the diode in the new holder and attached the wires. Negative on the top lead and positive on the left lead for this particular diode (YMMV).

The datasheet for this diode can be found here. Note that it says that 400mW is it’s maximum and should only be driven this high if it’s pulsed… Clearly the guys on the forums disagree. LaserPointerForums has this nice graph up. Also this thread has a good collection of the various diodes out there. This list says this diode should handle 350-420mA…

The goggles came today, both from Wicked and LaserGlow. Wicked runs a terrible operation they didn’t even know the glasses had shipped and I ended up asking them to cancel the order. Now I have two safety goggles. I took the Laser Glow goggles home with me to test.

When I hooked up the new LPC-815 diode I thought I had killed it as I saw no laser light while wearing the goggles. I was expecting to see at least some dot of light. To my suprise I noticed that the laser WAS on the goggles simply blocked it fully. Tomorrow I’ll try the Wicked goggles they are a lower OD rating. I would like to see the laser a little if possible.

Sadly I had forgotten my multimeter so I am not sure how much current I was putting through the diode but it’s burning just fine! It went straight through the thin balsa wood! Maybe I can use the CNC cutter to make some airplanes 🙂

Things are looking good!

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Parallel Port Interface PCB rev 2

With what I learned from revision 1 of the parallel port interface PCB I designed the new version. The goals I wanted to achieve compared to revision 1 are:

  • Better protection of parallel port.
  • Input / Ouput selection for bidirectional ports.
  • Actual working relay up to 2 amps at 12v.
  • Smaller (3.2 x 1.6″).
  • More GND outputs.
  • Always on 5V output (VCC).

Features from Rev 1

  • Efficient Power supply (using switching power supply).
  • Easy connectors.
  • Reasonable priced components.
  • ESTOP relay shuts down 12 and 5v lines.
  • Integrated pull ups for input lines.

So the new revision does that I believe. I’ve ordered 10 PCBs from Seeedstudios. This means I’ll have a few left over. If anyone is interested in them let me know. I’ll have all the components as well.

The new schematic includes a 74hc245, a bidirectional buffer. The inputs have built in pull ups and protection resistors. And the relay switches both the 5v and 12v lines on and off.

Looking around on LaserPointerForums today I found this guys’ build he has a very nice looking Laser CNC made out of metal.

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Monday update

gt;I didn’t get to work on the laser530 yesterday due to Halloween. Hope everyone had fun, we sure did.

I canceled the order with WickedLaser for goggles today as they have still not shipped nor given me an order number. They really suck. Buyer beware.

I ordered these more expensive glasses from Laserglow. Don’t forget to check laserpointerforums for discount coupons. I also ordered 2 open can red laser diodes from 20x speed DVD drives from Modwerx. They should put a bit more power out.

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First engraving!

I was able to spend another hour and a half tonight on the project and I’ve made my first engraving! Yes you read that right. After 8 days of working on the project, with a full time job and kids (basically only time I could work on this was after 7pm). I’ve gotten the CNC to the work! Does it still need work? Yes of course, there is a lot of tuning to do. But it sure is satisfying to see the darn thing work!
Here is a photo of the scrap piece of balsa I engraved with the text “Laser 530”. Some of the letters didn’t quite come out but mostly this is looking very promising. The laser was running at 160mA. There still is some room to go up. I believe I’ve seen figures of 200mA to be possible and not burn the laser out. Also I need to work on the focusing, which will be a lot easier once I have the goggles.

I generated the G-Code for this sample using a tool I found on this page. It basically does the work for you. Not bad! Below is a short clip of the laser burning the text.

  • Up Laser power
  • Focus Laser
  • Turn off laser in between letters (use Z height instead of Spindle maybe?)
  • Clean up cables

Good Night!

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ESTOP relays fried

I found out this morning what was wrong with the ESTOP relays, they were fried 🙂 I could have sworn they were good for up to 500mA, with the steppers taking about 100mA… Lesson learned get a good relay!

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Success!!! Both the X and Y axis are moving

Good news guys. The with the new PCB and the correct IO address for the parallel port I now have the table and the X axis responding!! I put together a very simple G-code file and recorded the result!

N100 G0 X0.00 Y0.00
N100 G0 X8.00 Y8.00
N100 G0 X8.00 Y4.00
N100 G0 X4.00 Y4.00
N100 G0 X0.00 Y0.00

For some reason I am having trouble with the home switches on the first port of the card. I hope I didn’t burn them out somehow 🙂 Though I wouldn’t be surprised.

It was quite confusing configuring the motor parameters but trial and error did the trick. The interface board works mostly. One tiny thing is not working though, the relays do not respond to the ESTOP signal. I thought that they did work at the office. Gotta figure out what is going on there tomorrow.

I’ve also received the shipment from Aixiz, I had ordered a laser holder (12×30), glass lens and a driver with TTL input. First off this thing is impossible to open by hand, secondly taking out the 5mW laser that is inside is even more impossible. Looks like they put some kind of glue on the threads, why? Oh well, nothing a little brute force can’t fix. The DVD laser has been installed and has burned it’s first victim. A random leaf. WickedLasers is incredibly slow, they have not yet shipped my goggles! Beware.

The Axis, revisited.

Remember my post a few days ago,.. I have the axis labeled incorrectly. EMC2 uses the axis rotated CCW by 90 degrees, switching the names. The bridge is the X-axis, the table is the Y-axis.

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