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Cheap Chinese Laser Cutter

experiences with a Chinese laser cutter

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Martyn K01/11/2019 11:20:54
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5041 forum posts
3677 photos

Got mine working with many thanks to Chris Larkins. His little startup guide was really helpful.

A quick question or two..

Q1 It was mentioned that a pond pump could be used, but my pond pump but my pond pump pumps water. Would a fish tank aerator pump be adequate. I suspect that only a slight draught is required to disperse the smoke.

Q2. How do you keep the motor and laser leads from getting in the way? I was thinking of an elastic suspension from the shed roof but it would be in the way somewhat

Q3. I am getting burn marks when the laser first starts a cut but before it starts moving. Any tips please?

Thanks

Martyn

Andy Meade01/11/2019 11:34:28
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2724 forum posts
698 photos

Hi Martyn - these are fish tank aerator pumps, so only used to push air, not water. As for the leads -I've extended mine and bungee'd them from a shelf over the cutter to keep them out the way. They are ludicrously short in the kit, imho. Can't answer the burn question, still tweaking mine!

 

Cristophe - I used Ooznest

Edited By Andy Meade on 01/11/2019 11:36:02

chris larkins01/11/2019 21:16:28
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210 forum posts
145 photos

Here is what I have done which seems to work ok, although I have only used it once since.

I used some soft rubber bands which are hooked onto the back and sides of the enclosure, this supports them just about when the laser is close to the back but has enough stretch to allow the laser to move to the front

elastic.jpg

christophe dauvergne04/11/2019 16:33:07
8 forum posts

Hello

how many passes does it take to cut 2mm balsa

Can you give your complete setup as well as the software you use for the cut.

Regards

christophe

FlyinFlynn05/11/2019 10:09:13
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122 forum posts
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Posted by Martyn K on 01/11/2019 11:20:54:

 

Q3. I am getting burn marks when the laser first starts a cut but before it starts moving. Any tips please?

 

Thanks

 

Martyn

 

Does your electronics support M4? I use an arduino/cncshield with GRBL and that does. I am not sure if the eleksmaker does. Using M4 instead of M3 to start the laser causes the intensity of the laser to build up as the laser moves from stationary, this means the laser in not stationary at full power so is less likely to burn the workpiece at the start point. You may also need to make sure the laser is turned off for Z moves ( I don't think,in it's basic form, eleksmaker has a Z axis so not a problem in this particular case). This is normally achieved by using G0 instead of G1 for all Z moves. There *may* also be dwell commands (ie G04 P5.0) in your gcode to prevent the laser from moving until it has cut to the correct depth as some materials will require heat to be built up in the workpiece at the start of each cut (i.e. aluminium).

 

For cable management you could use some thin carbon flat strips that are popular with the depron flyers inserted under the spirowrap with the wires to keep the wireform arched upwards..it bends well!!

Edited By FlyinFlynn on 05/11/2019 10:12:24

Martyn K05/11/2019 10:14:47
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5041 forum posts
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Thanks for the suggestions,

Regarding M4, I have to admit, I have no idea. Does anyone know where I need to look?

This is a new language that I need to learn, its a very helpful response.

Thank you

Martyn

Geoff Gardiner05/11/2019 14:07:48
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453 forum posts
812 photos

I use Inkscape which allows you to set the M4 command.

Have a look at my Oodalally build log here, I have some pictures.

Hope that haelps.

chris larkins05/11/2019 18:05:29
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210 forum posts
145 photos

I have finally got around to making the lid for my enclosure, it's made from 5mm foamboard glued with UHU POR and reinforced with white gaffer tape. The window is A3 sized 3mm tinted acrylic. I have tried it and it completely contains the burning smell and the extractor fan vents this outside, happy that making the enclosure was worth it.

I am still waiting for my air pump to arrive, I'm hoping that this will make the cuts much cleaner.

I have also purchased a more powerful laser module which will hopefully be more suited to cutting, just got to figure out how to hook it up as it has different connections, as usual with Chinese stuff there are no instructions either.....

lid.jpg

window.jpg

laser.jpg

FlyinFlynn06/11/2019 10:38:44
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122 forum posts
85 photos
Posted by Martyn K on 05/11/2019 10:14:47:

Thanks for the suggestions,

Regarding M4, I have to admit, I have no idea. Does anyone know where I need to look?

This is a new language that I need to learn, its a very helpful response.

Thank you

Martyn

If you open your gcode file with notepad (I use notepad+) and look at the start of the file you will find the header info setting out the parameters....here is an example..

G17                                                 sets the working plane
G21                                                 sets metric
G90                                                 absolute positioning
M04                                actually sets spindle direction but is used in laser mode to link laser power to head speed
G0X0Y0Z0                                      rapid move to home
F2000                                             set rapid speed
S0                                                   turn off laser power
G0X26.6723Y18.2340                    rapid move to start position
G0Z0.0000                                     rapid move Z to zero with the laser off
F450                                               set cutting speed
G1X26.5271Y18.3686S1000          X Y coordinates to move to and the max power to use for the laser.

because M04 has already been specified the laser power will ramp up at the start of the move and down at the end. If you have an M03 instead of the M04 the laser will fire up at full power and will tend to burn balsa as it will be too long in one position

Don't worry.... I'm just getting started with gcode too.........

 

Most of the laser packages give you both two wire and three wire looms to connect to the control board. the 3 wires are usually 12v, ground and pwm sometimes called ttl because the control signal is Pulse Width Modulated at zero to +5v. Transistor Transistor Logic only operates at +5v. This works with the +12v supply to the laser as they use a common ground but do not try to feed +12v into the pwm pin...+5v MAX. The 2 wire loom is used if PWM is not required and you only want the laser either on or off.

Edited By FlyinFlynn on 06/11/2019 10:40:53

Edited By FlyinFlynn on 06/11/2019 10:42:07

chris larkins06/11/2019 17:03:34
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210 forum posts
145 photos

Well my air pump has finally arrived, it is rated at 35 litres per minute. I made up a bent brass tube which directs the air straight at the cut.

pipe.jpg

pump.jpg

FlyinFlynn06/11/2019 17:08:52
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122 forum posts
85 photos

Wow Chris...that looks like it would be used to cool down molten steel.... I was thinking about a cheap and cheerful chinesium aquarium pump....

chris larkins06/11/2019 17:32:32
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210 forum posts
145 photos

It was £21 inc p&p from eBay so not too bad

chris larkins06/11/2019 17:41:00
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210 forum posts
145 photos

I am having trouble connecting my new laser and getting it to work correctly. My control board used 2 wires to connect to the old laser and this worked well & switched the laser on/off as required and fired it up in test mode.

I can't get the new laser working correctly, it is always on unless I hit the reduced power button, I have tried various combinations using the 2 wires from the control board, the nearest I have come to getting it working is in reverse i.e the laser is on when stationary but switches off when it is moving and should be cutting.

Can anyone help?

the bottom 2 pictures are the separate driver board that came with the laser.

control board.jpg

 

connections.jpg

driver board.jpg

Edited By chris larkins on 06/11/2019 17:44:44

Geoff Gardiner06/11/2019 19:57:01
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453 forum posts
812 photos

Hi Chris.

Looks like you have the same laser that I have got - is it a 5w?

Are you powering the laser from a separate power supply to your control board?

I had similar issues with the laser staying on when powered from the supplied PSU. You need to make sure the laser and your 'laser box' share the same GND (-ve). I ended up ditching the PSU that came with the laser unit and powered it directly from the 'original laser box' and everything then worked fine. Hope that makes sense.

Andy Joyce07/11/2019 18:36:41
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149 forum posts
27 photos
Posted by christophe dauvergne on 04/11/2019 16:33:07:

Hello

how many passes does it take to cut 2mm balsa

Can you give your complete setup as well as the software you use for the cut.

Regards

christophe

Think this must be a closed forum topic, as I also did not get a response to a general query on the topic. Still from what I can see it looks feasible cutting balsa and thin ply so have re-started learning Autocad to allow me to draw objects in CAD. Think without an ability to generate drawings, one of these cutters are going to be money wasted.

FlyinFlynn08/11/2019 11:57:37
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122 forum posts
85 photos

Chris...your eleksmaker control board has not had the socket fitted for the 3 wire connection to your new laser, it is the one next to the 2 wire connector you used with your old laser. You will need to hard wire the 3 wire cable you were supplied with your new laser. You can see on your new laser power supply board a single 3 pin connector labelled + - PWM/TTL ....that ties up with the 12v/GND/PWM from the diagram below.

The eleksmaker isn't designed to produce greyscales so it is originally wired to just pulse the 12V on and off so if you use the 2 pin (motor) connector AND the PWM pin you will be double 'pulsing' the laser when you use firmware that does support PWM.

eleksmaker.jpg

Martyn K08/11/2019 17:46:15
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5041 forum posts
3677 photos
Posted by Andy Joyce on 07/11/2019 18:36:41:
Posted by christophe dauvergne on 04/11/2019 16:33:07:

Hello

how many passes does it take to cut 2mm balsa

Can you give your complete setup as well as the software you use for the cut.

Regards

christophe

Think this must be a closed forum topic, as I also did not get a response to a general query on the topic. Still from what I can see it looks feasible cutting balsa and thin ply so have re-started learning Autocad to allow me to draw objects in CAD. Think without an ability to generate drawings, one of these cutters are going to be money wasted.

Not closed at all. I think we are still experimenting. I am avoiding using full power. At 2000mm/min, I need 2 passes on 0.8mm balsa and 4 passes on 1.5mm balsa so guessing 8 passes. Regarding ply, I still haven't got through 3mm liteply but am upto 20 passes and about 2/3 through at 500mm/min. Still 80% power.

Martyn

chris larkins08/11/2019 22:26:19
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210 forum posts
145 photos

I bought a new controller which was £17.89 with free postage on Amazon, it turned up today and after swapping it over I have success. I did have to add a common ground as described above so the controller and new laser have their own power supply but after that it worked straight away.

The laser is quoted as being 15W, I know that this is impossible and is a wild Chinese claim and is more likely to be about 8W true, however the power increase is very noticeable. It cost me £76 for the new laser so total cost to upgrade with the new controller was £93

I did a test engraving on 3mm birch ply and I'm really happy with the result, I also did a cut and it took just 3 passes to get all the way through at 200mm/min, with my old laser it took over 40 passes in 3mm birch ply.

YouTube link

Andy Joyce09/11/2019 10:48:51
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149 forum posts
27 photos
Posted by Martyn K on 08/11/2019 17:46:15:
Posted by Andy Joyce on 07/11/2019 18:36:41:
Posted by christophe dauvergne on 04/11/2019 16:33:07:

Hello

how many passes does it take to cut 2mm balsa

Can you give your complete setup as well as the software you use for the cut.

Regards

christophe

Think this must be a closed forum topic, as I also did not get a response to a general query on the topic. Still from what I can see it looks feasible cutting balsa and thin ply so have re-started learning Autocad to allow me to draw objects in CAD. Think without an ability to generate drawings, one of these cutters are going to be money wasted.

Not closed at all. I think we are still experimenting. I am avoiding using full power. At 2000mm/min, I need 2 passes on 0.8mm balsa and 4 passes on 1.5mm balsa so guessing 8 passes. Regarding ply, I still haven't got through 3mm liteply but am upto 20 passes and about 2/3 through at 500mm/min. Still 80% power.

Martyn

Thanks very much Martyn. Still pondering if this is another toy that will not be used as have too many unfinished models without starting yet another

Out on interest has anyone tried cutting covering film such as solarfilm to make complex shapes.

Andy

FlyinFlynn10/11/2019 11:35:03
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122 forum posts
85 photos

It might be useful to state the laser rating when stating your cutting parameters, I have just fitted a 6W laser - this one and with it I was getting the following results -

1.5mm balsa - speed 1000mm/min - 90% power - 3 passes to cut through (0.5mm per pass)

2mm liteply - speed 500mm/min - 90% power - 15 passes to cut through (0.13mm per pass)

I found the higher speed reduced the burn on the balsa. This was done with a test cut of a 20mm square. If thicker material is needed then the cut becomes slightly 'V'd as the material on the side of the cut becomes burnt on successive passes.

I also tried solarfilm... there were 3 issues..keeping the film flat on the bed, offcuts tended to spring up and possibly get in the way of future cuts.. getting the right settings to cut but not burn the film - I found 25% power and a speed of 1500mm/min meant the shape had to be 'teased' out of the film without causing problem no.3 - sealing the backing sheet to the film. top one had the power too high, the backing sheet was welded to the film on the cuts, the middle one was still too much power as the edges were a bit ragged and the bottom one was about right with the holes needing to be teased out. So it shows that cutting shapes out of solarfilm would be perfectly do-able..just need to find the right settings!!

solarfilm rib.jpg

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