BenCutLaser Trouble Shooting Page
The items in Red
are what you MUST do in order to use BenCutLaser on your laser machine! If you do not do these steps then BCL will not work for you!
If you're having problems using BenCutLaser (BCL), check the following tips. These are compiled as the most common support questions I get. I don't mind helping you at all, but there are some basic things that you should make sure you have done, and they are listed here. These items are also the first things that I will be asking you about Mana SE Controller Board
For those who are upgrading to the newer Mana SE controller board, a common question that comes up is where do I plug in my 2-pin laser wire? The Mana SE board has a 3-pin plug labelled 'Laser'.Plug your laser 2-pin connector into the red Motor 2-pin plug.
Remember: the Mana SE already is setup for PWM so you do not have to do the PWM modification!(1) Use The Latest Version of BCL
You must be using the latest version of BCL because the latest version will have all of the current updates, enhancements and bug fixes.
You can download the latest BCL version by clicking on the Setup zip download link in my signature below.(2) Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Modification
You cannot use BCL unless you have done this simple modification. I have made a step by step tutorial on my www.BenCutLaser.us
Click this link to read all about this important modification: http://bencutlaser.us/pwm-modificationNote 1:
Once you do this modification, you cannot go back to using Benbox software.Note 2:
If you have the Eleks Mana SE
-- you do not
need to do the PWM Mod as this board has it already done for you!
-- You must flash using Grbl 1.1.e
. Do not
use 0.9i or 0.9j.Note 3:
If your laser beam seems to always be at full power
and you cannot control it using BCL, the most likely reason is that you have jumper pins under your Nano microprocessor but you have not done the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) modification. See the link directly above this (2) section for instructions on how to do this.(3) Flash Grbl 0.9i or 0.9j or 1.1e
Your laser machine most likely came from the factory with Benbox firmware flashed (installed) into the Nano microprocessor. You cannot use this firmware with BCL. You can start up BCL and click the Setup tab and in the lower left corner of the Setup window, you will see the Flashing Grbl section. Follow the steps listed there very carefully
as they are listed...and you'll have excellent results with flashing a new version of Grbl into your Nano CPU. You can successfully flash your Nano but you MUST follow my steps EXACTLY as I have listed them!Note:
If you can't flash with BCL for some reason, you may want to try flashing with XLoader.exe. This a free utility and now gets installed into the BenCutLaser folder in its own subfolder->XLoader. Here is the XLoader website for reference: http://xloader.russemotto.com
XLoader is a separate product and has no association with BCL. XLoader has its own copyright: "Copyright © 2010-2012 XLoader".(4) SetFactoryGrblSettings
(a link on the COM Port tab)
You can click one link and have BCL set all the needed Grbl settings into your Nano!
This link is on the COM Port tab, to the right of the large Connect button.
Connect to your laser machine with BCL and the Connect button will turn green.
Select Nano from the dropdown list and then click the SetFactoryGrblSettings link. It will take about 10 to 15 seconds to update the Grbl settings.GRBL 0.9i & 0.9j Power (0-255 or 0-1000)?
If you are switching between laser cutter/engraver software and you notice a change in the power, read the following to understand what might be going on and how to resolve it.
GRBL 0.9i & 0.9j use a range of 0-1000 to define the min and max power. Other versions of GRBL like the J-TECH version use 0-255. Be sure to go into the setup tab of BCL and make sure to set the laser power settings to match the version of GRBL that you are using.
Set 255 and then do some line burns at different power settings. If you don't see any difference in the lines, try setting 1000 and repeat the tests. One of those two settings will work.
Again I will say: you MUST set 255 if your controller board is the Mana SE!
Do not enter in other laser power values as anything else WILL NOT work, use only 255 or 1000.(5) Stepper Motors Do Not Work
Check your power on switch on the controller board! Yes, some users have forgotten to turn this switch on to give power to the laser machine!(6) Baud Rates
Flashing: The Nano uses 57600 baud rate for FLASHING firmware.
Connecting: GRBL firmware uses 115200 baud rate to CONNECT.(7) Belt Tension
With your finger, push in on a belt near one of the pulley's. The normal average tension will allow your finger to push the belt in about 1/4 of an inch. If you can push in more than that, your belt is too loose. If you can't push in that much, your belt is too tight. Note: 1/4 of an inch is a general guide. ( 8 ) Do NOT Use SainSmart Nano
Make sure your controller board is NOT using the SainSmart Nano microprocessor! Those CPU's will not work. I have two of them and they do not work.See photo attachment.(9) .NET 4.0 Framework
You will need to have Microsoft's .NET Framework 4.0 or higher, installed on your PC. Most PC's already have this framework.
Follow this link: http://benboxlaser.us/index.php/topic,1109.0.html
and read about how to download that utility and run it so it can tell you what .NET Framework versions you have installed. (10) Check For Gcode Generation Errors
When you click on the Generate Gcode button, on the right side the gcode gets displayed. Look at the bottom of that Gcode Editor in the error window pane and make sure there are NO ERRORS displayed! You cannot
, repeat, cannot
continue to send that gcode to the laser machine or the VLM. If you have gcode generation errors, you have to STOP right then and there and figure out why and how to get clean gcode generated. If you need to contact me for help, please do so -- but -- do not click on the send to VLM and then email me with the strange results in the VLM and say the VLM isn't working. Do not send this gcode to the laser machine and then email me and say your laser job didn't come out right. If you have gcode errors then you're dead in the water and we have to fix that before you can do anything else with BCL.(11) Match Laser Tool Units with Drawing Units
If your drawing is in Inches, make sure you've selected Inches Laser Tools. If your drawing is in MM make sure you're using a MM Laser Tool. You will have
feed speed problems if you do not match these.(12) Some screen links are 'squeezed together' and/or over lapping each other
Check the zoom setting of your PC. One user received a notebook from a friend and it was set to 150% zoom and caused this problem. Once he set it to a lower zoom value, the issue went away.(13) Vertical Slider Bars
Most BCL tabs have vertical slider bars so you can slide the window panes left and right. See attachment for a photo showing an example of this.(14) Circles are not round -- Arcs/Curves are not perfect arcs/curves
If you are having this problem, your frame and/or wheels and/or X and Y axis aluminum frames are not aligned correctly or are not tight. If your frame setup is correct, you will get perfect
circles and perfect
arcs and curves. The fact that you are not getting that results indicates your frame is not setup correctly.
Try these tune-up steps:
1. Remove the belts from each pulley wheel and hand turn each pulley wheel (slowly). Make sure the belt pulley is tight on the stepper motor shaft. Sometimes, a belt pulley wheel will come loose.
2. Using an Allen wrench, make sure ALL the wheels are tight.
3. With the belts still off at this time, slowly
push and pull the laser head in the X and the Y axis and make sure both axis moves smoothly and easily. If not, check the wheels and replace if needed. You should have a stock of spare parts on hand for this event. The kits usually come with a yellow plastic box, double sided, with all of the frame hardware that you need. I bought an extra box to have on hand for spare parts. I paid $20.00 for it. The company you bought your laser machine kit from will probably sell you this box for about the same that I paid.
4. Put the belts back over the pulley wheels and tighten the belts such that, near a pulley wheel, that you can push in with your finger on a belt and deflect it 'about' 1/4 inch.
Connect to your laser machine and click the SetFactoryGrbl settings link to make sure your Grbl settings are set correctly. This will help. You can have Grbl 0.9i or 0.9j or 1.1e loaded, either one is fine.CAD Files (.dxf)
90% of tech support emails regarding .dxf files are because of 'problems' with .dxf files popping up dialog messages in BCL...and 90% of the time its because the user has not set the Units of Measurement correctly or at all,
inside their CAD program. Please check this first."I can't see my drawing once I open my .dxf file in BCL"
-- This means your drawing is not in positive work space (positive X value and positive Y value). Inside your CAD program, you will have to move your drawing out of its negative work space and into positive XY space. Until you do this you really can't laser your drawing using BCL because the lower left corner of your laser work area is X0 and Y0 so, with your drawing in negative space, it's off of the laser work area!
All of your drawing objects must be
within the positive work space.Text Objects
-- when creating a text object, if it is one line
of text, make sure you select the simple text or text drawing object.
Do Not use an MText object (Multi-Line Text) for a single line of text.Text Positioning
-- this is true for any drawing object: Do Not place any drawing objects in the negative work space. There is a cross hair symbol on the main canvas. The vertical line of this cross is the X axis. Do not place any objects to the left
of the vertical cross. The horizontal line of this cross is the Y axis. Do not place any objects below
the horizontal line of the cross.Old .DXF Files
-- if BCL won't load a .dxf file because it is older than year 2000, inside your CAD program, try doing a Save As and save it to a newer .dxf format. BE SURE AND CHECK UNITS OF MEASUREMENT!!
When someone sends me a .dxf file to look at, 50% of the time, there is no Units of Measurement set.Lines vs Polylines
-- Polylines are nothing more than a group of individual Lines connected to each other. Polylines are extremely efficient compared to Lines. Therefore, where possible, use a Polyline drawing object instead of a group of Line objects.
Polylines will also greatly cut down on your work to identify and create tool paths. I've seen drawings with 300 Line objects that could have been drawn with just three Polylines! Work smarter, not harder.Supported Drawing Objects:
Texts (Single line Text)
MTexts (Multiline Text)
Images (B&W and Gray Scale)