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BenCutLaser / Added: If you have the latest BCL release
« on: September 24, 2016, 10:41:09 AM »
Starting with the next BCL release...please see attachment.

This was a suggestion made by a user and I thought it was a good one. This eliminates the need to keep a mailing list to notify users of updates.

An internet connection is needed for BCL to fetch the latest version number from the website upon startup -- but -- nothing bad will happen if you don't have a connection. You'll just see an 'Unknown" instead.

BenCutLaser / Full workflow Text engraving video now available
« on: September 23, 2016, 08:30:44 PM »
Again, I am responding to some of the emails I have received asking to show the full workflow sequence of BCL.

This new video shows the full workflow for Text engraving. BCL does an absolutely beautiful job of Text engraving. Text can generate a lot of gcode so it might take more than the usual 1 or 2 seconds to generate the gcode for might take 5 to 10 seconds!

Once Rulers are added to BCL, this workflow will become even easier because you will be able to see in the main canvas your drawing scale and if there are any problems with scale. You'll also be able to see your scale in the VLM with its rulers.

BenCutLaser / Coming Soon to BCL (Gcode Editor)
« on: September 23, 2016, 08:23:11 PM »
Coming soon to BCL:

1. Gcode Editor. A full blown gcode editor with syntax highlighting and full gcode language parser built-in. Now, for the first time, a cost-effective stand alone Gcode Editor. Also will be fully built into BCL itself. So you'll have two choices on how to get at the new gcode editor!

2. Rulers! Drawing canvas Rulers. Responding to customer needs, BCL will soon have X and Y axis rulers to help check and verify your drawing scale. Rulers will be part of the main drawing canvas and part of the VLM canvas.

Introduction to Cam-Tech NC / Introduction Cam-Tech NC
« on: September 23, 2016, 03:48:03 PM »
A new adventure is about to unfold here at the support forum.

I am very pleased and excited to introduce the first online DIY laser machine service, testing and repair shop: Cam-Tech NC.

The following members has expressed a collective interest in providing various services to those who are looking for component testing help, repairs and modifications for their laser machines.

Services include but are not limited to:

-Controller board modifications, repair and testing.
-Grbl firmware modifications.
-Stepper motor repairs, testing and replacement.
-Complete laser machine sales.

As the Administrator for this forum, I am providing space for this new project, however, I will not be involved as a partner. Your communications and inter-actions with these four individuals will be between you and them only.

I'd like to introduce them now:

George Gallant Username: ggallant571

Richard Boulanger Username: Lob0426

Allen Merrell Username: kn4ud

John Seaton Username: Agastar

If you have any questions about what they can do, plan to do, etc., please post your questions in one of the three boards.

Thank you...

General Discussion / IMPORTANT -- Anti-spam suggestions wanted
« on: September 22, 2016, 12:27:22 PM »
I'm spending way too much time removing spammers from this forum. I have to find all their spam posts and remove them, then find them in the database so I can ban them. I've spent hours this morning cleaning and removing spam.

I cannot continue to do this each day. This is taking way too much of my time.

I've beefed up the registration process but spam registrations continue to come in

Does anyone have any ideas on how I can stop the spam sign ups? I have to work within the confines of the forum software which is SMF.


Video Tutorials/Information / Stepper Motor Basics Video
« on: September 15, 2016, 04:47:31 PM »
If you want to know about stepper motors in general, this is an excellent Youtube video.

Laser Accessories / Clamping down wood panels
« on: September 10, 2016, 08:14:27 PM »
I recently added a wooden 'frame' (3/8 inch x 12 inches) to my laser work area. I sized it so I can lay down my honeycomb sheet, then place my 12x12 inch 3mm thick Craft Plywood panel right inside the 'frame' panels. I get a nice, snug fit. These 12x12 wood panels are my main wood working material.

I then attached 4 easy on/off clamps with adjustable rubber boots to apply just a small amount of pressure to hold the 12x12 inch panel in place.

Why did I do this?

I wanted a way to laser a cut line and then be able to lift the wood panel out and inspect the back of the panel and make sure it was cut completely. I found that some panels don't cut 100% of the way through in some small spots. Other cut lines are perfect along their whole length. I can then replace the panel, clamp it down and continue with laser burning other drawing objects.

I don't have a need to be able to start up and laser over the same lines again, but I did check just for fun and I can replace the wood panel back into the frame to within 0.10mm. For those line cuts that didn't make it 100% through the wood, a little razor knife on the back side is just enough to complete the line cut. Usually if there is a line cut issue, it only affects about 10% of the line length. It's just the nature of the woods.

After replacing the panel, I start in on laser burning another drawing object.

BenCutLaser / MOVED: 5.5W laser PWM setup instructions
« on: September 05, 2016, 01:34:25 PM »

General Discussion / Milestone: 1,000+ sign ups
« on: September 05, 2016, 09:48:43 AM »
Today we reached a milestone: we now have over 1,000 sign ups!!!

However, with 821 actual members, this tells you have much spam there is. Almost 1 in 5 new account requests are either not approved by me or terminated after spamming.

Hopefully most of you never see it. @Ross and @Zax help me find the spam and they report it to me as soon as they see it. Thanks for the help guys.

Anyway, I am very happy that this forum has grown the way it has. I can still remember the day I received my 2.5 watt laser machine. No assembly instructions and that Benbox software...what I didn't know then and what I've learned since those early days. We see that pattern repeating a lot around here, but now there is this forum with folks who can help newbies.

I get emails every week from users telling me how thankful they are that this site exists and I am glad to hear that because that is why I created it. When I was trying to assemble my laser kit and trying to figure out how to use the Benbox software (a lot of fun, right?), I was like someone who fell overboard into the ocean...but I didn't have a life boat to climb into and prevent me from drowning. But, while in the water, somehow, I built a lifeboat ( and was able to climb in and save myself...!!!

We've had 821 folks climb into this boat and I've thrown out 179 sharks!

BenCutLaser / Virtual Laser Machine Video Tutorials Uploaded
« on: September 02, 2016, 08:13:42 PM »
Just an update on the VLM progress. It's taking longer to do but its getting there.

From the emails I've been getting on this new item, not everyone realizes that what this 'thing' is that I keep calling a Virtual Laser Machine is also known as a Gcode Visualizer!

The VLM will show you the drawing objects in the color of the laser tool assigned to each drawing object. So the laser work area view (the VLM) will look pretty much like the main drawing canvas. The big difference is in how the VLM drawing objects are made on their VLM canvas: the actual gcode is being sent to the VLM canvas which is very different in how the main canvas drawings are done. This **guarantees** that what you see is what you'll get on your material. So, you'll be used to your laser tool colors and therefore you'll be able to identify the correct drawing objects are being done with the correct laser tools.

To add some realism to the VLM canvas, there will be another visual mode to choose from: this will be a shades of gray coloring, showing by shades of gray and line thickness, the line burn results from the laser head feed rate and laser power setting. I kind of think of this visual view as a kind of simulated view of the final results of your laser job. Like taking a picture of your finished work, but in black and white.

BenCutLaser / Test Wood Box Cutting
« on: August 31, 2016, 08:21:17 AM »
These photos show my first tabbed box cutting test project...using my new 1.6 watt laser diode.

After this successful test, cutting out box tabs, I then moved on making the complete wooden box (the 4x3x2 inches) shown in the post immediately below this one.

I want to add this important point: if you've taken your time setting up your laser tools and have tested them well to do their task, you'll get excellent results. The cuts on this test piece came out absolutely 1.6 watt cutting laser tool was setup and shape tested to make perfect cuts of all the test shapes...and that's exactly the results I got...perfect cuts...!!!

BenCutLaser / Wooden Box Project
« on: August 30, 2016, 10:01:46 PM »
I'm attaching a .dxf file that I created from an .svg file that I downloaded from

It's a 4x3x2 tabbed box in inches.

I plan to make a video to show how I modified it into Polylines as it had a lot, and I mean a lot, of Line objects. I'll show you how to trace over the Lines with a single Polyline. In the mean time, I'm attaching the finished .dxf file for anyone to use as is.

I lightly engraved the panels so I would know which panel was which. I wasn't going for perfection with the Text, so its very light, but serves the purpose.

The drawing is in Inches and I cut the panels using my 1.6 watt laser diode which worked perfectly with BCL. I created a set of laser tools, in Inches, and for 1.6 watts.

Tabbed box panels are a bit complex to design from scratch and try to get all of them to fit on the first cut, so I decided to download one from the makercase website. The files are in .svg so I had to open it up in QCAD and then save it as a .dxf file so I could load it into BCL to send to the laser machine.

Once in the .dxf format, there is a bit of work that has to be done to make it ready for production and that's what I want to cover in the upcoming video.

Now that I've done my first box from this website, I can now add personal Text to what ever panel I want and *know* its the right panel. I plan to wood glue the 5 panels together and leave the top as a pressure fit panel but I want to put a ball-type knob on the top lid to make it easier to pull the lid off.

The tabs pressure fit absolutely perfectly and I did not have to make any adjustments to the original design for that...the tabbed fit just came out perfect.

BenCutLaser / Flashing Instructions
« on: August 26, 2016, 10:42:31 AM »
It was suggested that I post the BCL flashing instructions here as well as them being inside BCL itself in the Setup tab.

If you follow these steps EXACTLY as they are written, you WILL be successful in flashing your Grbl hex file!

1. Start up BenCutLaser.
2. Click Setup tab.
3. Un-plug USB cable from PC and plug in again -- or -- just plug it in if it's not connected (key step here).
4. DO NOT click the Connect button.
5. Select correct COM Port.
6. Select correct CPU. Note correct Grbl file will auto-load in textbox.
7. Browse for the Grbl Hex file if needed (inside the BenCutLaser folder)
8. Click the Flash Controller Board button to start the process.
9. A command line window will open and display the progress.
10. WAIT FOR THE PROCESS TO FINISH, then close the cmd window.

Connect to your laser machine and verify the new Grbl version is installed. This is done by looking for the Grbl welcome message that is returned upon a successful connection. The Grbl version will display as part of the welcome message.

UPDATE: If you do this modification, you can also unleash the full power potential of your laser diode. As shown in the attachment, on the Setup tab of BCL, set the "Max laser power value" to 1000. Normally, the maximum laser power value is 255 but if you are using Grbl 0.9i or 0.9j and have done this PWM modification, you set the laser power to 1000.

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