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BenCutLaser / Star Wars Fighter
« on: December 21, 2016, 10:23:54 PM »
One of my BCL users made this Star Wars fighter.

See photo attachment.

BenCutLaser / Grbl 11e is now supported by BCL
« on: December 17, 2016, 06:49:22 PM »
While Grbl 1.1e isn't really needed by BCL, to maintain firmware compatibility with T2 Laser, BCL now supports it. So if you use both programs, you don't have to change firmware if you run 1.1e.

BenCutLaser / Grbl to use with BCL: 0.9i, 0.9j and 1.1e ONLY
« on: December 12, 2016, 02:22:59 PM »
To help clarify all the confusion on what Grbl versions you should be using with BCL:

The following are the only Grbl versions I support:

Grbl 0.9i

Grbl 0.9j

Grbl 1.1e (to maintain compatibility with T2 Laser).

As I test and approve newer Grbl versions, I will add them to this sticky thread for all to see!

Please do NOT use other Grbl versions with BCL as I do not know if they will work or not.

Thank you...

BenCutLaser / What does a "Connection" really mean? (The Welcome Message)
« on: December 12, 2016, 09:23:11 AM »
I've received enough email questions from new laser folks that I think a tutorial on this topic would be helpful.

Let's look at what a "Connection" really is with BCL.

BCL is no different from any other app that tries to connect to a COM Port. If the 'settings' are correct, a connection can be made. Settings refers to baud rate, parity, stop bit, data bits and handshake parameters.

In human terms, these settings are like a key. If you're settings are correct, you can connect to a COM Port. If your key is correct, it will unlock a door to a hotel room (you'll see a minute why I chose to relate this key to a hotel with many rooms).

So, if you can connect to a COM Port with BCL, what does that mean? It simply means you've connected to a COM Port and that's all. Does it mean you've connected to your laser machine? No. Your laser machine may or may not be connected to that COM Port.

When BCL starts up, it fetches all the available COM Ports from Windows and populates these in the COM Port dropdown list. You may see more than one com port in this list. If you do, it simply means Windows has detected multiple items that are connected (hence available) to various COM Ports. Your laser machine is one of them. A USB drive may be another. Something else may be connected to a third COM Port.

But which one did you connect to with BCL?

Let's go back to our hotel key. Like COM Ports on your PC, you can have many and like a hotel, there are many doors to many rooms. So now with your key, you've unlocked a door to a hotel room, and you step inside the room. But who is in the room (which device have you connected to?). You won't know until you say "Hello, who's in this room?". If it's your laser machine, it will say back to BCL "Hello it's me, your laser machine and to prove it, here is my Grbl welcome message: Grbl 0.9i ['$' for help]". Ahhh so now you know you are connected to your laser machine.

Let's say by mistake, you've connected to the wrong COM Port. What will happen? What will you see in BCL? We don't know because we don't know which device you've connected to and we don't know how that device was programmed to respond, if at all, to a successful connection. More than likely you won't see anything in the BCL Receive window as far as a message from the device you've connected to.

So, the lesson here is this: when you try to connect to your laser machine, you MUST verify that you get the Grbl "welcome message" (Grbl 0.9i ['$' for help]) so that you know for sure that you're connected to your laser machine.

Another important reason to always read this welcome message is to make sure you have the correct Grbl firmware installed (flashed) on your Nano for BCL (0.9i or 0.9j). You might be switching back and forth with using different software and have forgotten to flash back to the correct Grbl for BCL use!

If you do not get this welcome message, do NOT try and use BCL as it will not work and any behavior (right or wrong) will not mean anything. If you don't get that welcome message, you've got to figure out why and work on getting it before you can start to use BCL.

General Discussion / System to secure material in same location every time
« on: December 05, 2016, 03:03:44 PM »
This modification I made to my work area came from George Gallant @ggallant571 so I want to give him credit for the great idea!

I'm posting this information here because I read every now and then someone asking how to re-position their material down in the same spot. This answers that question so I'm going to make it a sticky.

I switched over to using magnets to hold down my material (usually 3mm wood panels) and installed two layers of heavy gauge steel mesh in place of my aluminum honeycomb sheet I was using previously. To get the same height as the honeycomb, I ended up having to use two steel mesh plates.

I used wood glue and glued a strip of wood 1/2 inch square x 12 inches long, vertically along my X axis and the same horizontally along the Y axis.

These two 'sticks' form an L with the corner of the L in my lower left work area, which is the 0,0 coordinate point.

I can now slide a piece of 3mm wood into this corner and hold it down nicely with some magnets. Because my laser frame is secured to my workbench and doesn't move, I can laser on a panel of wood and then remove it for any reason, and re-install it right back into that L corner, snugly and put down my magnets again and start to laser on the material again in the same location.

It's a very nice setup and now I can remove my piece to check and see if a cut made it all the way through and return the piece right back to the same position. Or you can do some laser cuts and remove the material and come back later on and do some engraving on it, knowing the piece is in the exact same location as before.

BenCutLaser / Can I use BCL without a laser machine?
« on: November 28, 2016, 10:26:27 AM »
The current sale of BCL has prompted many users who do not yet have a laser machine, to purchase BCL, at the sale price, and they have told me, for future use.

I want to clarify to all of you that you can use BCL NOW without a laser machine! How is that you might ask? Simple really and I do it most of the time myself.

The Virtual Laser Machine (VLM) is the answer to this question. And here is how:

1. Create your laser tools and use the default laser tool parameters for now.
2. Load into BCL your .DXF drawing file.
3. Create your toolpath files and (optionally) save them if you wish.
4. Select a toolpath (file) and generate the gcode for it.
5. Send it to the VLM instead of the laser machine.
6. Look at the results in the VLM and run the gcode in the VLM.

If everything works fine in the VLM, that gcode will work the same way when sent to an actual laser machine.

When you lase machine arrives, follow the steps to prepare your laser machine for use with BCL in the Trouble Shooting Tips section for BCL.

Now start up BCL:

1. Do your shape laser tests and fine tune your laser tool parameters for speed and laser power, etc. for each laser tool you have created.

Now that your laser tools are created and their parameters have been set and tested, continue.

2. Load your .DXF file.
3. Select your previously made toolpath file or create a new toolpath on the fly.
4. Generate the gcode for it and now send it to your new laser machine!

BenCutLaser / BenCutLaser Tech Support Help -- Please Read
« on: November 21, 2016, 09:52:22 AM »
Please help me to help you!

Rather than emailing me and saying "BCL doesn't work" and letting me guess at what the problem is, please provide me with the information below. While some of it may seem obvious to YOU, it isn't obvious to ME when I am working with multiple users.

Please provide me with the answers to these 7 questions:

1. BCL version. I must know what version you are on...hopefully, it's the latest version.

2. Tell me exactly what is wrong so I can try to reproduce it. The key word here is reproduce it. I don't have much of a chance to fix something that is working on my system. So I need to be able to reproduce the problem you are having.

It's like going to the doctor and saying "I don't feel good can you give me a pill"? That won't work and saying to me "BCL doesn't work can you fix it" won't work either. I need details please.

3. What is your OS? Win7? Win10?

4. What drive did you install BCL on? C? D? E?

5. If you are using a .csv language file other than en-US I NEED TO KNOW that please! Don't assume just because you are working with nl-NL that I know that...I don't unless you tell me.

6. Not all popup dialog windows are errors. Many are informational or just warnings. Many users email me to report an Error Dialog window they get when they load a .dxf file: 'Some parts of the drawing are in the negative drawing space'. This is a warning that you might want to use your CAD program and move your drawing up and/or to the right, to get it back into positive drawing space. This is not an error window.

7. Please check for the Welcome Message when you connect BCL to your laser machine. I will say this for the 100th time: if you don't see the welcome message you cannot do anything else with don't try...without a welcome message, any further errors you report are welcome message means BCL does NOT have a valid connection to the laser machine so all you can do is disconnect and try again until you do get a welcome message. Most of the time, you forgot to select the correct port your laser machine is connected to.

The Welcome Message is the last line of the connection string: Grbl 0.9i ['$' for help]

BenCutLaser (c) 2016-2017 All Rights Reserved
Developed by Ralph Freshour and Paul Henty

Connected to COM3 @ 115200 baud

Grbl 0.9i ['$' for help]

Attached is a Technical Support form file to help you organize your thoughts and information for me.

Thank you.

BenCutLaser / How To Email Ralph
« on: November 19, 2016, 11:06:42 AM »
If you need to reach me via email please use: support at BenCutLaser dot us

It is now also in my signature.

BenCutLaser / How to Determine .NET Framework Version
« on: November 17, 2016, 09:24:37 AM »
Attached is a free utility that you can run on your PC and it will display what versions of the .NET Framework you have on your machine.

It is a .zip file so please unzip it into its .exe file.

BCL needs at least .NET 4.0.

This file (an exe file) is also now part of the BCL installation and is installed into the BenCutLaser folder.

If you need to install Microsoft's .NET Framework 4.0 here is a link to download that software:

Rules / Keep Posts On Topic
« on: November 14, 2016, 07:51:48 AM »
In the spirit of trying to help each other, which is why this website exists, let's keep our posts on topic please. Anyone who can't do that will be banned...there are plenty of other websites where you can make political statements, but this is not one of them. Thank you for your cooperation.

How To Register / How To Register
« on: November 14, 2016, 07:45:37 AM »
Every 24 hours, this forum receives over 1,000 new registration requests. 95% of them are spam. The number of requests is increasing. To help combat this spam and bots, a new sign up procedure is now in place. Guests who wish to sign up for membership on this forum please keep reading.

Before you can register for a new account on this forum, which will allow you to post, you must email the administrator and request a registration key. You will need to enter this key when registering.

To request a registration key use this email address:

Emails sent to this address are automatically transferred into a spam folder. The admin will look over incoming emails and reply to the ones which look legitimate. Emails that do not look legitimate will simply be ignored. Emails in this folder are automatically deleted every 24 hours.

Email addresses that end in *.ru will not receive a reply.
Email addresses that have a lot of random characters in them will not receive a reply.
Email addresses that look like spam will not receive a reply.
Email addresses that contain "Benboxlaser" will not receive a reply.

BenCutLaser / Z Axis Support (RESOLVED)
« on: November 09, 2016, 11:17:27 AM »
I'm working on Z axis support to cut through thicker materials (thicker than 3mm).

The design will work as follows:

See Z2 attachment.
1. Select a laser cutting tool.
2. Check the checkbox "Z axis drop on cutting".
3. Select the material thickness from the dropdown list. There are two numbers in each list item. The first number tells you in mm or in inches how thick your material is for this laser tool. I always work in 3mm so I would select 3mm for my wood thickness.
The second number is the selected thickness in decimals. So, "3mm 0.1181" means 3mm is 0.1181 decimals thick. 3mm is for humans to more easily select what they need and the decimals is really for BCL to work with as described below.
This information (3mm 0.1181 and the checkbox state) is saved into the laser tool library file for the selected laser tool.

That's all YOU have to do.

What BCL will do with that information:

When using a laser tool with multiple passes, BCL will find the decimal thickness of the material (3mm/0.1181 in this example) and note the number of passes for the laser tool. It will then take 0.1181 and divide it by the number of passes and get 0.0393 for the Z axis drop per pass.

In other words, the Z axis drop calculation is automatic.

To use a very simple example:

Let's say your material is 10mm thick (same math if using inches) and you've set your laser cutting tool for this material (what ever type it is) to cut it in 10 passes. After the first pass, the Z axis will be dropped down 1mm, per pass, until the cut is done.

The structure is now in place but won't be activated in the next release. I will be looking for users who have a Z axis on their laser machine to help me test this new feature. If you are interested, please email me.

General Discussion / T2 Laser and BenCutLaser (BCL) Video Tutorials
« on: November 07, 2016, 02:55:36 PM »
Two software alternatives to using the factory 'Benbox' software are T2 Laser and BenCutLaser (BCL).

Each one of these software programs have many video tutorials to help you get started using them and to understand what they do.

In a nut shell, T2 is for engraving images and BCL is for cutting out parts.

T2 Laser Youtube Channel:

BCL Youtube Channel:

There is another engraving software program called RobotLaser. It is in early beta testing phase at this time.

RobotLaser has its own software board on this forum, located here:,51.0.html
Click on that link and read up on what RobotLaser is all about.

Questions should be asked in the specific software section for each one of these products!

Thanks to @Ross for this suggestion to help the newbies on the forum!

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