Author Topic: Need help figuring out my new laser.  (Read 1460 times)

Uglulyx

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Need help figuring out my new laser.
« on: December 15, 2016, 09:58:29 AM »
Hi guys! This is my first post here.

I just received my latest toy in the mail a few days ago. The Eleksmaker A3 2.5W http://www.banggood.com/2500mW-A3-30x40cm-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraver-Picture-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1003863.html Which I assembled the that night, this morning I finally got around to playing with the software end of things.

Before purchasing I had watched a handfull of youtube videos and reviews for similar products. Paul Jenkins (An Australian youtube woodworker) suggested flashing on Grbl and using Laserweb3. Instead of bothering with the Benbox software I decided to cut right to the chase and go straight to using Grbl.

I followed this video from another youtube woodoworker who had purcahsed the exact same laser as I had. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PijjOQbtZo&list=LLGx5AIPp7IOISNYQZNXl7kQ&index=1

Now to the problems I'm having.
1. Jogging the laser in Laserweb3 is yielding strange results. The issue I'm having here is that jogging the laser 10mm, actually moves it approximately 35mm. This is same on both the X and Y axes. X is maxing out (just bumping in the gantry) at 120mm and Y at 100mm, with 0,0 being the bottom left.

This leads to issues with scaling of the images as the image bounds are much larger than those fed into the program.

For my first test burn I had to set the bmp DPI to 1200. The image was ~14mm square according to Laserweb but the burned image actually came out at about 40mm. There's also a gap of 2mm between each pass that the tool made.

2. In an attempt to trouble shoot my problem I set the machine size to 120x100 (Where is was maxing out before). I still had to modify the DPI to get the bounds to fit within my piece, the units are still far off.

Now I attempted to do another test piece and the laser doesn't seem to be getting hot enough to burn. I tried again after confirming that the max power was set to 100% (apparently this diode doesn't have scale-able power). Still not burning. So I tired once more with both Min and Max power at 100%.

I also did a few more tests setting the feed as low as 1mm/s. Oddly the feed speed doesn't actually seem to be affected by any of the feed or travel settings. Then I reset all my settings back to what I had before and still the same result.

To clarify; The laser isn't burning material (wood) which I had previously done a (hardly) successful test burn on. The laser does turn on, and it's brighter than the low power positioning light, but it's not burning. I also ensured that it's focused.
End of my problems.

Thanks for taking the time to read through and help me with my problem. I'd love to get this running so I can start experimenting. It's also kind of important to get it running reliably since my workshop doesn't have access to internet (or even cellular data really) so I won't be able to do much google troubleshooting out there.

Bonus Questions That I Could Also You Help With
1. Should I be concerned about the temperate of the environment I store it in? The shop gets as cold and 5C in the winter, but is heated with wood when I'm there.

2. Currently the control board is in the upper-middle, with home at the lower left. I noticed with my tinkering that the cables for the laser and X motor fall down in the engraving area when it moves up the Y-axis and I'm concerned it might get caught in the path of the laser.

Should I just wrap some wire around the the plastic cable guide to make it a little more rigid?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 09:59:14 AM by Uglulyx »

Agastar

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2016, 10:45:30 AM »
First off, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately you can't just load GRBL and fire up Laserweb3 and start running right away. There are a few things that need to be configured before everything will work correctly.

Here is a copy of the hex file for GRBL 1.1. This one has the MAX Spindle RPM set to 255 instead of 1000 so just make sure that Laserweb3 is set to match this for the max power value. The scaling issue might be caused by the steps per mm value for the X axis, Y axis, and Z axis. This hex has them set to 80.00 and should fix that issue.

After uploading the hex file and then connecting to your machine from Laserweb3, send this command $10=2. The live feedback for Laserweb3 relies on this for determining the current position.

Give that a try and let me know if that helps.

Uglulyx

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2016, 03:28:14 PM »
Thanks for the warm welcome and the help!

$10=2 was accepted with the "ok" message. What does this function do by the way? Also would  I have to reenter that command at each launch?

Double checked power setting.

Sadly this hex doesn't seem to change the scaling issue. :/ I had put a mark on the gantry before then after jogging made another, then measured the distance between the two marks. (High-tech right?) It's still jogging the same amount. If this is something I'd need to tinker with on my end I'll need a run-through.

So you're thinking my issue is more likely with GRBL than laserweb? I wonder if trying a different software would help, maybe if I go back and give Benbox a try?

Also before we go too far I should ask, do either of these programs have an incompatibility with Windows 8?

Edit:

Did some googling and found the commands to set steps/mm. So I played with $100 and $101 (I don't have a z axis so didn't bother with $102). I set them to 80 and now it seems to be stepping properly. Have yet to test burning though.

Do I have to do anything to make those settings permenant?


Edit #2:

Jogging correctly now (though I still have to confirm if those setting are permenant) The magic numbers are $100=75 and $101=80.

Did another test burn, still no smoking wood. :/

Edit #3: Tried another test burn on card stock. Still isn't strong enough. It's definitely brighter than the weak light test. Out of morbid curiosity I turned the machine off and plugged the laser in the other 12v port. Turned it on for a split second to see if it would burn, and it does.

So I guess that means whatever my problem is with the laser is somewhere either on the board or the software?

 

 
« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 04:18:35 PM by Uglulyx »

Agastar

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2016, 04:44:17 PM »
The $ setting stay until you change them, even if you turn the machine off.

$10 sets the information that is returned when the software asks for a status update, machine position, work position or both.

Here is a link to the settings and what they do.
https://github.com/gnea/grbl/blob/master/doc/markdown/settings.md

Have you set the spindle max rpm value in GRBL and made Laserweb3 match that?

Sounds like you're making good progress.

Uglulyx

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2016, 05:24:34 PM »
Where should I look to get started with that? Most of the info on that page is like reading latin for me. :/

Laserweb is set to 255.

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #5 on: December 15, 2016, 05:29:44 PM »
Yes, welcome...!!!
Ralph--Admin -- support_BenCutLaser_us
http://www.BenCutLaser.us/BenCutLaserSetup1.8.3a.exe.zip
http://www.BenCutLaser.us/BCLVirtualLaserMachineSetup1.8.2.exe.zip
BCL Paid license: $39.95
VLM Paid license: $19.95 (stand alone version)
via Paypal to bclpp@primemail.com

Agastar

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2016, 07:38:36 PM »
To see what you have you can send $$ and it will report back all the settings.

$30 - Max spindle speed, RPM, this needs to be set to the same as Laserweb3 (255).
Send $30=255 if it's not 255 already.

$32 - Laser mode, boolean, this needs to be set to 1.
Send $32=1 to turn laser mode on.

In that link there is a description for each of the $ settings and what they do.

Uglulyx

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2016, 05:09:34 AM »
Hey thanks for the help guys! I'm getting close!

http://imgur.com/a/XaXKi

I'd call this fairly successful, still some scan line on the Y-Axis and it missed a couple little details. There was still a couple spots where the laser was on but didn't burn.

I'll try set the steps/mm on the Y axis to 79 and see if that fixes the scan lines, shouldn't distort anything too much hopefully.

What settings should I be tweaking to help with the missed spaces? Beam width maybe? Or the DPI?

Edit: Should probably clarify that the logo image that you can see in the pictures is stamped on, not engraved.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2016, 05:13:11 AM by Uglulyx »

Zax

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2016, 06:56:46 AM »
Well at least you're making smoke.

I am not familiar with LW3 but it looks like you need to increase the scan resolution, perhaps you just have it low while testing.

What operating system are you using?

Agastar

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2016, 08:40:10 AM »
LW3 has a setting for beam width, set this between .1 and .15. This is similar to T2L's resolution setting.

Uglulyx

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2016, 10:39:11 AM »
Well at least you're making smoke.

I am not familiar with LW3 but it looks like you need to increase the scan resolution, perhaps you just have it low while testing.

What operating system are you using?

I have bitmaps set for 300 DPI. Is that what you mean by scan resolution?

Windows 8

LW3 has a setting for beam width, set this between .1 and .15. This is similar to T2L's resolution setting.

So 0.5mm is way too big then. That might be the lion's share of my issue. I'll give 0.15mm a try later and let you know.

More Questions
I'm also just curious about the time it's taking for an operation. The little scorpion is 42x42mm and took around 7 minutes (I didn't actually time it). Does that sound reasonable or do you think I could tweak the feed rates up a little?

I'm using the 2.5W laser and as far as I know it doesn't have scale able power I did another test on cardstock and it burned right through and into my backerboard.

So I guess what I'm asking is what you've found to be good feedrates for wood (and other materials).

Also if I ever get around to doing any cutting (Say leather for instance) I'm assuming I should feed the machine a vector image instead of bitmap correct?

Zax

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2016, 10:45:12 AM »
I just checked the scorpion image at the same size and resolution, T2Laser estimated 1 minute 38 seconds but if you select 0.1 resolution it is 7 minutes 21 seconds. I would expect LW3 to be similar although I've never used it.

Agastar

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2016, 11:53:31 AM »
.5mm is what I started with as well and quickly changed to .1mm. Others have stated they use .15mm and that worked well for them which is why I mentioned it.

Time is dependent mostly on feed rate and that you will adjust based on how dark you want the engraving  to be.

If you end up using T2L, you will have the ability to use the dithered mode to do images which will give you a more greyscale look. This should work well with non-TTL laser modules.

nottingham82

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2016, 11:57:01 AM »
good god. i just watched the youtube link.  I'm glad i have T2 and didnt have to do all that crap. I might have yelled.
Laser: 2500mw A5 eleks maker
OS: Windows 10 all in one pc
Software: T2
http://www.gearbest.com/3d-printers-3d-printer-kits/pp_290386.html Paid $160 in 2016

Zax

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Re: Need help figuring out my new laser.
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2016, 12:08:31 PM »
That's why I asked what O/S he was using, as for me LW3 is a good option if you use Linux but otherwise too much trouble.