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Messages - GD George

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Assembly Help / Home switches...
« on: May 27, 2020, 09:48:15 AM »
What if I cut down a protoboard and used it as a breakout?  Has anyone had any luck with that?


Assembly Help / Home switches
« on: May 27, 2020, 09:11:46 AM »
I've got the control pretty well fleshed out. I'm running Octoprint via Octopi on a/an RPi4. I tweaked some of the $settings using an old post of yours, the thing is running nicely. Now I've moved on to getting a Wyze Cam (running the RTSP firmware) to work with it and installing home switches.

I'll write about the cam some other time, but it's been a challenge.

In terms of the switches, I'l looking at two options. The laser is run by an Eleks L7 card. I have it pretty well dialed in and it looks like I need to get to run my switches in a cirtuit between a couple of pins on the Nano (D9 and Ground). That doesn't look impossible for me solder-wise but it seems to me that there should be a riser that I could put between the nano and the card.

The other possibility is replacing the L7 card with a different one.  I have a Keeyees 4 axis card and shield that is earmarked for a router at some point, and I'm wondering if it would run GRBL without too many modifications. Or (third possibility) I could pick up a newer EleksLaser card with the header already attached.

Edit: the other thing that I should take into consideration is that I'd really like to be able to use variable power control of some sort on the laser.  It's got two wires going to the board but I wonder what i'd need to do to get PWM to work.

Any thoughts?


Assembly Help / Control Software
« on: May 22, 2020, 02:24:08 PM »
The biggest issue that I've had to deal with is finding software to control the machine via a Raspberry Pi. Surprisingly I found only two server-based packages that function via a web based front end: LaserWeb 4 and OctoPrint. I never got the former working correctly and the latter worked out of the box with g-code generated by T2.


In retrospect, this isn't the first time that I've tried LaserWeb and it was problematic for me in the past. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was my experiences with it last time that led me to choose T2. For me it hasn't been simple issue of the package not having a specific feature or two, but rather getting it to run the laser at all. Had I remembered this I probably wouldn't have tried it again.

I did give it a shot though and that I wound up doing was following the instructions here. The short version is that you need your Pi on the network with Internet access enabled. The application is NodeJS based so the first thing you have to do is install that package to a clean and updated Raspian (Debian Jessie) installation. The Github site says that LaserWeb will run on a RPi 2 or 3, and I had no issues installing to a Pi4b. Once you've got NodeJS installed and running, install git if necessary, and pull the repository to your installation, set the server up to start automatically if you want, and then start it. That's the easy part. Pull the IP of your Pi (ifconfig) and point a browser to; http://[RPiIP]:8000. There's a front-end client that you can install to a Intel based desktop. It comes in Windows, Mac, and Linux flavors but I like using a browser for access and it's probably a good place for you to start.

Here's where things went sideways for me.  Simply plugging in the laser usb and power saw the machine traveling on both axes, although I had to reverse the Y axis. It also saw the laser start. And burn. And burn... I cut the power, reset the whole system, and once again I had motor control but couldn't turn off the laser.
Some research led me to update GRBL on my machine. Much to my surprise, I was running version .9 and the minimum for LW4 is 1.1f or better.  So I flashed a version of 1.1f. Upon starting the system, I still had motor control and, lo, the laser didn't light off.  Unfortunately, the laser didn't start when I told it to either. At this point, I started to wonder if I had hardware problems. I knew that the machine had been working when I disconnected it and so I stopped there.

OctoPrint / OctoPi

I pulled the micro-SD card out of the Pi, flashed another with OctoPi, and set that up. For those unfamiliar with it, OctoPrint is a package designed to control a 3d printer. Like LW4, it's free, open source software. It also has really good support and a robust plugin library. The creator, Gina Häußge (@foosel, passionate code monkey, Geek, Gamer) works full-time on development and maintenance of the package and it shows. Additionally, OctoPi is a Raspian-based distribution of Häußge's package, maintained by Guy Sheffer. It can be burned directly to a micro-SD card and starts the OctoPrint server out of the box. After you make the SD, about the only thing you need to do is set up SSH or VNC and add a desktop if you intend to use any of them. They're actually not necessary as the server allows configuration of everything via the front-end. Once you've installed it and started the RPi, simply log to: http://[RPiIp] and you're there. There's a set up wizard that takes you though the basic process.

OK, that's great but, as we all know, a laser engraver is not a 3d printer. What makes OctoPrint relevant to the world of laser machines is a plugin called Better GRBL Support. It  worked with my machine with no fuss, no muss. I had motor and laser control out of the box. One warning about the plugin: it overwrites settings. Do not attempt to install it on a machine that controls your printer as you will quickly discover why you took that backup. You *did* take a backup first, didn't you?

Link to video of the machine running a simple T2 demo square.


Assembly Help / Rebuild
« on: May 15, 2020, 12:32:33 PM »
Hi Folks,

This thread started as a question in Zax's T2 support thread.  As I move further into the project though, it has become clear that I'm doing a bit more than adapting T2 so I've moved the thread here. 


About five years ago, I purchased a Gear-Bbang-Best 5W laser kit. I think it sat for about six months before I assembled it. I didn't use it much, but as time passed I've had several cool projects including engraving some wooden challenge coins, clocks, and coasters.  I built a 3D printer last year and printed some upgrades that I want to add to my machine, and  I want to put a set of limit switches as well. The other thing that has happened is that due to moving work online, I repurposed my shop computer for my wife's use and I don't see myself getting it back anytime soon. 

The Gear

  • 5W laser (no idea of the specs beyond that.)
  • Generic XY axis aluminum frame with acrylic joinery
  • Dual Y axis, single X axis stepper motors
  • Benbox L7 card with GRBL .9 flashed
  • Raspberry Pi4 controlled (software TBD)

The Project(s)
  • Add focus knob
  • Add air assist
  • Add limit switches
  • Move from Windows box to Raspberry Pi for control
  • Add web cam

So that's where I am, gang. I've started with a lot of this but will try and write up each step as I implement it.


T2 Engraving / Re: T2 G-Code to Laserweb 4
« on: May 15, 2020, 10:32:36 AM »
I'm going to take this to a new thread in the "Other Software" section. I thought my OP was about T2, but it's really about how to use a Raspberry Pi to control the machine.


T2 Engraving / Re: T2 G-Code to Laserweb 4
« on: May 14, 2020, 01:02:07 PM »
Thanks George! I got that sorted. Going to step out in a bit and see what else I can see.

T2 Engraving / Re: T2 G-Code to Laserweb 4
« on: May 13, 2020, 04:21:21 PM »
OK... Further investigation reveals that LW4 requires GRBL 1.1F at minimum.  I used T2 to flash 1.1F for home switches (which is my next project) and the machine moves on X and Y, but now the laser won't start. I think I probabaly have to set the laser on / off commands, but they're not M3 and M5, apparently. So more research.

T2 Engraving / Re: T2 G-Code to Laserweb 4
« on: May 13, 2020, 03:34:28 PM »
Thanks Zax. The axis is sorted with $3=2.

The laser is a two-wire 5W. Card is Eleksmaker L7.

T2 Engraving / T2 G-Code to Laserweb 4
« on: May 13, 2020, 01:20:42 PM »
Hi All,

Been working on my laser a bit and I've run into some issues. I lost my garage computer when my wife and I had to move classes online.  I don't think I"m going to get it back any time soon, and it's where T2 lives. What I want to do is set up a Raspberry Pi with Laserweb to control the machine and still use t2 to generate the code. Right now I'm trying to get the machine to function away from T2 and this has led to some issues. The machine, which runs fine from T2 would not do anything when I first connected it to LW4. I pulled the card, took it in to the other computer, flashed it the GRBL 1.1e version from T2, and X axis works, Y axis is inverted, and the laser is always on.

So what I'm looking for right now is some guidance, I guess. I don't mind compiling GRBL myself, but I think this is something pretty basic. Any ideas appreciated.


General Discussion / Re: Controller Card Swap Out...
« on: May 12, 2020, 08:46:17 AM »
I'm sure you've looked into it but the issue with the Lerdge gear looks to be both firmware and connection speed. There are reports on the OctoPrint forum that it worked with Octoprint up to a specific version and then poof.  (The thread move from S to the X series towards the bottom. ) There's also something on Youtube about switching the x over to Marlin.

General Discussion / Re: Controller Card Swap Out...
« on: May 11, 2020, 01:39:56 PM »

  • My network is a mix of Ethernet and cable depending upon where in the house you are connecting. The backbone is two MoCA APs that are running via cable to the FIOS router.
  • In the garage is a MoCA adaptor running into an unmanaged switch. The Pi runs into the switch.
  • The Pi exists with it's own IP address on my network. It is not accessible via internet and I use an SSH connection with port forwarding (into another RPi that acts as a front door) to access my stuff through the firewall as necessary.
Printer Connection
  • The Pi is connected via USB directly to the printer.
  • Setup is via the Octoprint menu and looks like most of the slicer programs that I've seen.
  • I can control the printer via Octoprint over any browser on my network or via an Android app.
  • Starting and stopping is via Octoprint accessed through a brower on my intranet as is any remote monitor that I need to do. I have a tablet that I can leave by the machine. Or my laptop is out there if I'm working in the garage.
  • I can still print via the SD card, and monitor / control with the OctoPi.
  • Octoprint has some built in slicing capability but as the OctoPi is only second generation, I haven't explored it at all. I have a forth generation one that I want to use to control my laser but I'm struggling with software. If I don't get that squared away I may switch that one to the OctoPi.
  • I slice on my desktop (PC, Ryzon7-1700, 32GB) using Slic3r, and that software sends the g-code files directly to the Pi.
  • I tried to set up both the laser and the printer on one OctoPi, and I was able to move the laser. But I did not try to print / burn anything. The issues was that the plugin to make the laser usable overwrote settings that made the printer usable.  I didn't want to screw with it as I know that my current setup works.
  • I know that you can set up more than one printer on an instance but I do not know if you can connect or run more than one at a time.
Probably too much detail but I hope this helps!

General Discussion / Re: Controller Card Swap Out...
« on: May 09, 2020, 01:58:45 PM »
Is there something specific?  Octoprint is running on a Raspberry Pi 2b+. I do my slicing on my desktop using Slic3r, and that send the code directly to the RPi. To set up Octoprint, I used the OctoPi Image and set up the printer using the settings that I had used for Slic3r and Repetier. I don't think there was any trick to it.  The Pi is also running a RPi Cam that does a pretty nice job.  For this go-round, I actually had to reinstall it and then restore a backup as I had added a plugin to control my laser that overwrote a bunch of things.


Printing again! I wound up replacing the RAMPs card. I think that the original and the other replacement card each have a bad MOSFET, one for the bed, and one for the hot end.  While I had it apart:
  • Added the external MOSFET boards that I had purchased some time ago.
  • Generally tightened bolts and screws.
  • Updated Marlin to the latest version that I could find for my printer.
  • Enabled the EEPROM.
  • PID tuned tip and bed.
  • Put some silicon lube on the moving parts.
  • Moved the Raspberry Pi to a more convenient location and added a cam.

General Discussion / Re: Controller Card Swap Out...
« on: May 03, 2020, 09:52:16 AM »
No scope.  I may have a scanner for my car that works as a scope though. But that's a different project for another day.


General Discussion / Re: Controller Card Swap Out...
« on: April 30, 2020, 10:30:56 AM »
MOSFET on ramps is stuck partially open.  (How is that possible?) 

Anyway, I hooked up another external MOSFET and the control LED lit up as soon as I started the printer, and the tip ran away.  Swapped control circuits (to make sure the external MOSFET wasn't the problem) and it responded correctly when I turned on the bed.

OK, I've got another card and just need to swap out parts. The question is: should I just swap motor controllers, arduino, etc? Or should I just replace the while kit-n-kaboodle? I have the parts, but I know everything in the existing setup (except the one MOSFET works...

I guess I could also take a MOSFET off the original board and put it on the current one...


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