Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

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Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby bdring » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:09 am

Painted.jpg


Project Overview

This was designed as a "self replicating" laser cutter engraver'. What this means, is all of the high tolerance complicated parts can be made on a laser cutter. So, once one laser cutter is done, it can help make others. All of the other parts can either be purchased or made with common home tools.

This is not a mamby pamby little diode laser than can slowly cut through a piece of thin black tape. This will cut real materials, quickly. If you want to know what it can cut, go to a Ponoko type site and check out their materials list.

This was designed to be a dirt cheap, but fully capable laser cutter. Many of the material choices were made to satisfy that goal. I am sure many people will know of better materials, but usually at a higher cost. Feel free to substitute them .Almost everything that is not an off the shelf item, can be made with a laser cutter or router. To kick start the first generation of 'self replicating lasers, I have some kits located here.

The buildlog is presented blog style (most recent entry first) if you want to go view it the other way click here... Take me to the beginning of the build

Drawings are here
Kits are here
Bill of Material is here

How can you contribute to the project?

Participate in the forum.
Suggest changes. A lot of the design comes from your input.
Link to buildlog.net. More people + more ideas = better laser
Donate. Help fund the cost of the web site and costs associated with this project.

Note:
This buildlog started before the forum, so the earliest entries are not shown. To see the very beginning of the buildlog click here.

Grayscale/3D Engraving Tests.

The XMOS contrller appears to be setting the power as it should, but I am getting mixed results with grayscale engraving. Here is a gradient. The white box in the middle was is on purpose to see how well it turned off and resumed power. This about 0.300" inch tall and about 3.00" long. It was on a piece of maple.
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grayscale.JPG
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There is a lot of color variation due to the material itself. I have tried a few gray scale images, but the image usually is overpowered by the coloring in the wood. On materials like granite, the color does not change much at all. On the wood, there is a definite depth change due to the power, which sort of looks cool. I will try to get a picture of that. I need some material suggestions to try more stuff on.
Bart
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby willyinaus » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:47 pm

Glass is something I would like to see.
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby bdring » Wed Jan 27, 2010 11:37 pm

XMOS Video

Here is a video of the engraver in action.

Bart
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby bdring » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:26 am

Hey Willy,

Here is your glass engraving. I had the speed about 12 inches per sec. The power was 140 out of 255.

I think I hit it too hard or too slow. The transitions from clear to engrave is a little rough and can chip off if you play with it and leaves a little bit different look. Look at the bottom of the swoosh. It looked perfect, but after rubbing it with my fingernail, I could get bits to chip off to a smoother look underneath. The interior areas are robust and don't chip.
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triumph_glass.png
triumph_glass.png (606.87 KiB) Viewed 35623 times
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby willyinaus » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:20 pm

Thanks for that, its really encouraging especially seeming your only using a 40w laser.

I have decided to tone down mine a bit so will update the thread in the next couple of days.
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby willyinaus » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:18 pm

Hi bdring, do you think this would be simple enough for a person with no real electronics experience to put together.
I have seen your schematic and i seems quite easy to understand.

I guess I could only try :D
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby bdring » Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:20 pm

Comment From Buildlog Author

Put what together? A basic laser cutter? The whole XMOS Engraver mess?

If you can put together a CNC with steppers, the cutter put is pretty easy. The laser tube & P/S is pretty easy if you are careful. I am never afraid of the beam. The HV part is what scares me.

The XMOS part is not that difficult, but not real user friendly yet. I am working on a schematic to make a complete board. I want it to be real friendly to setup and switch between engrave and cut modes. It will probably take at least 4-6 weeks to get there. I have a million things going on at once now.
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby willyinaus » Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:54 am

Yes I was meaning the xmos setup don't worry I am way off at the moment too many hours at work not enough play time but its all looking positive love the Glass you did thanks for that. :|

Willy
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby bdring » Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:45 am

Comment From Buildlog Author

I can't make any guarantees about where the XMOS is going. Right now it is doing more than I expected, so I am happy. It is actually very simple to get working (no soldering at all, but about 20 solderless jumpers). I plan to at least get a board made to make it all one integrated piece that allows engraving and pass through Mach3/EMC cutting. The schematic is basically done. I want to have some friends at XMOS look it over.

By pass through, I mean it will sit on the parallel port between the PC and CNC machine. In one mode the XMOS takes control and the other mode it just lets the signals go through from the PC to the CNC. The XMOS will still see all the signals so there will be some cool tricks it could play.

I plan to keep it open source and make it so that it could be general purpose CNC board like a simpler version of a smoothstepper, if someone wanted to take it there. The part cost is probably only about $20-30, so it will be cheap.

If you are interested in building a laser, I suggest going for it. Initially set it up as a cutter via Mach or EMC. That will take you a few months. Then, either buy a commercial board like lasersafe1 or maybe the XMOS will be what you want.

I actually don't have a real use for a laser engraver. I am in this just for the fun of it. I would much rather build every piece I possibly can than buy "off the shelf". Even if means it ends up costing me more and the results are less than perfect. I might even make my own tube soon. It will cost me a lot, but it will be cool. :)
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Re: Buildlog.net Open Source Laser

Postby lasersafe1 » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:46 pm

bdring wrote:
Comment From Buildlog Author

I actually don't have a real use for a laser engraver. I am in this just for the fun of it. I would much rather build every piece I possibly can than buy "off the shelf". Even if means it ends up costing me more and the results are less than perfect. I might even make my own tube soon. It will cost me a lot, but it will be cool. :)


You are lucky to have such a passion for building things, and apparently the funds and approval from your wife. Once you have this new tool in your shop you will find all kinds of new uses for it. I already have people asking me about doing some engravings for profit.

With the ever dropping price of sealed CO2 tubes from China, you will indeed spend more making one yourself but the satisfaction will be great. What I would like to see is some really good home built high voltage supply or better yet, an RF tube and power supply. The RF would be the Holy Grail of homebuilts.

I just bought a new car that has HID headlights. I noticed the warning sticker under the hood that reads "Caution: 25,000 Volts". I had no idea that HID's had such a high starting voltage. This is possibly a cheaper source of high voltage since they are now in mass production. So indeed our DC tubes need the high voltage to start the internal plasma, but do they need to maintain the HV for running? I would think that perhaps once the plasma is struck, the running voltage can be much lower. In this respect it would behave much like the HID headlamp driver. All in all we know that whatever if built it needs to be able to switch on and off within the microseconds time frame for rapid engraving. I had a fear that the Chinese DC supplies coudn't cut it, but I am pleasantly surprised at their control speed during a fast raster.
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