Author Topic: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser  (Read 2986 times)

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rodsup9000

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Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« on: September 29, 2016, 08:49:30 PM »
+1
 So for my birthday back in July, my awesome wife bought me this cheap laser cutter.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/131503031749?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

  The listing show separate shipping charges now.

 There is others also listed on the bay, but this one had the best feedback rating at the time she bought it and it is shipped within the USA. Mine took 3 days from the time she bought it till it was here.

 
 If you buy one, when it is delivered, make sure you are there to accept it. Open it up and on the rear, you'll see a door for access to the tube. To open the door, mine had a screw holding it closed. Make sure the tube is not broken. Do this before the delivery person leaves, cause if it is broke, it will be notated on the BOL (bill of lading) and will make it a lot easier in filing a claim.
















 Set it up on a good sturdy table or workbench and unpack everything. I'm using a 5 gallon bucket from HD for my distilled water that I bought. I'm still using the pump and exhaust blower that came with mine for now. One of the most important thing to do is to use a very good earth ground on the ground lug located on back side of the laser. You must do this before you ever plug it in. I ran a #12 wire from the lug to a copper water line (I know that I have at least 30 feet out of the house to the main) cause it's was close to where I set it up.

 I have the laser, blower and water pump all plunged into a power strip so when the power to the laser is on, the water pump is pumping water through the laser tube (no chance of power up the laser up without water).

 Next was to test fire at 6 mA. Found out the amp meter didn't work, so I started at the minimum setting and slowly moved the knob higher till I got a slight burn on a piece of paper at the first mirror from the tube. Next was to see if the beam was getting all the way to the focus head and it was. I searched the net for a video on mirror alignment and check my mirrors and they were good. Once the mirrors have been aligned, I don't try to move the laser at all, cause the case is flimsy enough that the mirrors will go out of alignment. I found out the hard way and had to realign them. At this point I still hadn't cut anything yet cause I felt I needed to get the amp meter fixed.   

 Here is a little back story on why I got this laser. About 3 years ago, I started gathering up everything I needed to build a 100 watt laser with a 24" X 48" bed. Back then I bought a 100 watt RECI (one of the best tubes made in China) tube from China for about $800, and when it arrived, it was broke. Fed Ex paid the claim within a few days as I had the delivery driver make a notation of it being broke on the BOL and I had my money back within a couple days. Since then I've put in on the back burner till I was really needing it. I still needed the tube, power supply and controller to have everything to finish it. So the wife had ask me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her I needed to parts to finish the laser, cause the (N scale) layout is ready for me to start building structures. I had made a comment about "buying one of those cheap laser off of ebay" a few times and that is why she bought it for me.


  New Meter and Modifications

  I knew that I wanted a honeycomb bed and learned from some of the videos that I watched that I also wanted to change out the
 Potentiometer to a 10 turn one. Also I learned that I need to add air assist nozzle too. So here are the parts I used.

 Air assist nozzle. The laser comes with a 16mm focus lens and this one uses a 18mm one. I just turned a spacer out of brass to use on mine. I also just used the lower part of the new nozzle.
 http://www.lightobject.com/18mm-Laser-Head-wAir-Assist-Ideal-for-K40-machine-P701.aspx

 Potentiometer
http://www.mpja.com/1K-Ohm-10-Turn-Variable-Resistor-Linear-Taper/productinfo/30471+VR/

 Honeycomb materiel I used to make the new bed. I want to remake it using 1/4" or 3/8"
 http://www.ebay.com/itm/262374763605?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
 Here is what I'll use on the next one I make
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Aluminum-Honeycomb-Grid-Core-Mesh-1-4-Cell-18-00-x-30-00-x-1-00-/252531512137?hash=item3acc0d1349:g:k8QAAOSw-7RVGYZ-

 If you buy one of these laser, you could buy this instead of making you own
http://www.lightobject.com/300X200-Honeycomb-Fit-K40-machine-P705.aspx

 The reason I wanted honeycomb bed is that I want to use a shop vac or dust collector below the bed (I sealed mine when I installed it). That way if I have a warped piece of materiel, I can seal off the rest of the bed and the vacuum will suck it flat to the bed. Also when cutting plastics, it will exhaust the fumes a lot better.



 The pot





 Installed with new amp meter I got locally. The shaft on the new pot is 5/32" and I didn't have a knob, so I went to the shop and turned one on the lathe.


 



  Honeycomb bed







 Installed with the air assist nozzle








 Next up will be how I use it from drawing to finished part.
 
« Last Edit: September 29, 2016, 10:34:36 PM by rodsup9000 »
Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

Chris333

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2016, 09:02:57 PM »
0
Do you know yet if you can cut using AutoCAD files?

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2016, 10:35:32 PM »
0
Do you know yet if you can cut using AutoCAD files?

 Yes you can use autocad files with it.
Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

Chris333

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2016, 10:40:05 PM »
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Evil grin  :D

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2016, 10:54:37 PM »
0
Evil grin  :D


 Hey Chris,
 
 To use those files, you will have to save the dimensions and import it the same way I do, and will show, when going from Inkscape to Laser DRW (Laser DRW is the laser's operating software).
Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2016, 01:26:54 AM »
0
   I'll be using Sketchup Pro 2013 (2016 has a free trial for like 30 days) and Inkscape (free) to get what I draw to the laser.
 So if you don't want to buy the "pro" version, you can use Shetchup Make (free) with a "pdf" plugin.


   Now, you all will know how computer dumb I really am. I have no idea how to do a "screen shot" and I'll be using photos of the computer screen. In 2006, I converted a benchtop mini mill to CNC and I tried to learn some sort of CAD program. I had autocad 8 (I think that is what is was) and spent many, many hours trying to learn it, and I never did get it figured out. Fast forward to 2011 when I built my first 3D printer and found Sketchup. With what was on youtube then, I learned it well enough that I was able to draw a DRGW C-16 driver to 20.3 scale in less than two hours. I can draw well enough with it now to draw anything I have ever need to so far. In fact, I guess what I saying here is that just about anybody can learn "Sketchup" and that is what I use for the laser along with the 3D stuff for the CNC router, CNC mill and the 3D printers.

 

  I've learned to draw everything in metric, cause that is the only thing the printers will take. So I'll be showing how to take a drawing drawn in metric to what the laser will take.



 I first added some new folders on my desktop.

  Sketchup Drawings
  Sketchup to Inkscape
  Inkscape to Laser DRW
  Laser DRW Files



 My sample, it just two basic little buildings.





Now I need to draw a box around it about 3mm from the work.


 
   


 Now that the box is done You need to remember the size of that box so it will be sized right when we take it to inkscape. I just put in the description when I save so that I'll always have it.   









   Go under "camera" and check "parallel view" and "top view" as shown here.


 



 Then go under "view" and go down to "face style" and check "wire frame"







  Under "file" look for "export" and click on "2 D Graphic"








 In the window that pops up, go the the "Sketchup to Inkscape" folder.
 








Save it as a "pdf". Name the drawing, add the size of the box and then click "export".




 


Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

peteski

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2016, 03:15:58 AM »
0
LOL!  Your "screen shots" are real photos of your screen!   :D
In MS Windows taking basic screen shots is easy. Find the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard (usually on the upper light of the keyboard).  Press it and you have just taken a snapshot of your entire computer screen.  If you just want to take a screen shot of the active window, like just the SketchUp window (which makes more sense) then make that window active by clicking on it like you were going to be using it, then hold the ALT key down and then press the Print Screen key.  Either of these key strokes saves the graphic image to the copy/paste buffer.

Next open up MS paint (the basic Microsoft graphic editor) and when it comes up, open up its Edit menu (or find the clipboard menu) and select "paste". Now you'll see the screen shot you just took in the Paint window. Next, Save As and save the screen shot to your hard drive. I prefer saving on PNG format but JPG works too. Don't save it as BMP (it creates the largest size files).  Then upload the screen shot file to TRW and you're done.

So you have a 4-step process:
1. Capture the screen or a window
2. Paste it into Paint
3. Save it as PNG or JPG.
4. Upload to TRW.

The procedure I described works in any version of Windows up to Windows 7 (it might work in 8 and 10 but I haven't verified it).
--- Peteski de Snarkski
--- Honorary Resident Curmudgeon

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2016, 11:48:42 AM »
0
LOL!  Your "screen shots" are real photos of your screen!   :D


The procedure I described works in any version of Windows up to Windows 7 (it might work in 8 and 10 but I haven't verified it).

 Thanks Pete,

 It is easy for me to do it that way and my OS is Windows 7.


 I do have a "Print Screen" on my keyboard, so I'll play with it and see how to get the image loaded to my imageshack.



I think I have it figured out.






 But some of it isn't so clear that I can read it like the upper left corner where the file name is.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2016, 11:56:37 AM by rodsup9000 »
Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

peteski

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2016, 01:34:05 PM »
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Hmm, that's odd Rod!   :D
After you paste the screen capture into Paint, is everything still as clear to read as it should be?  Then, when you open the saved PNG screen capture (by double clicking on the file), it should open in the Window's Photo Viewer. Then select to display it in actual size (one of the icons on the bottom).  Or if you used some other program than Photo Viewer, zoom it to 100%. Is is still as clear as the original screen?  If it is then the size is probably reduced (made fuzzy) when you upload it to the photo hosting side.  I just ran through the same test as I described above (except for uploading the screen capture PNG to a hosting site) and the capture stayed as clear as when I captured it.
--- Peteski de Snarkski
--- Honorary Resident Curmudgeon

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2016, 01:40:19 PM »
0
 Pete,
 Got it figured out now. I uploaded that screen shot directly to imageshack.
This one I used paint.


 


Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

peteski

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2016, 01:58:48 PM »
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Very good!  I never realized that one could just upload the contents of the clipboard directly to the Imageshack.
--- Peteski de Snarkski
--- Honorary Resident Curmudgeon

glakedylan

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2016, 02:13:00 PM »
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@peteski that is a good ad helpful tip
did not know that prt sc actually created a graphic file
that can be readily pasted into graphics software
here all the time i was using the snipping tool, which
is fine even with extra steps involved. but, no need to
especially for full screen. thanks! much appreciated...


@rodsup
very informational thread with wonderful detail
thanks for sharing...i continue to follow this thread
as it is excellent!


sincerely
Gary


"...that each may live for all,
and all may care for each..."

peteski

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2016, 03:33:06 PM »
+1
@peteski that is a good ad helpful tip
did not know that prt sc actually created a graphic file
that can be readily pasted into graphics software
here all the time i was using the snipping tool, which
is fine even with extra steps involved. but, no need to
especially for full screen. thanks! much appreciated...


I'm glad that you found it useful. Print Screen is an old shortcut, going back to at least Win 98 (I suspect even earlier than that, but I never played with Win 95 and I forgot if Win 3.1 used it).   You can also easily just trim the screen shot. Once you paste it into MS Paint, you can whatever part of the image you want and paste it into Paint again (into a new file, discarding the original pasted clip without saving it).
--- Peteski de Snarkski
--- Honorary Resident Curmudgeon

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2016, 01:27:47 PM »
+1

@rodsup
very informational thread with wonderful detail
thanks for sharing...i continue to follow this thread
as it is excellent!


sincerely
Gary



 Thanks Gary.



 I hope this thread will help others that is thinking about buying one of these lasers. They are just the right size for most n scale work. It will work OK for HO stuff with some planning in how the cuts are made.

Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0

rodsup9000

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Re: Review, Mods and use of my cheap ($325 shipped) Laser
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2016, 02:31:24 PM »
+1
 

  I've been told that you can draw full size (1 to 1 scale) in sketchup and then scale to 160, but I have tried it. It is much easier for me just to draw it to scale. Another, is that you can draw in imperial measurements and import it into inkscape, and then you can export it out of inkscape in metric. Laser DRW is set up for metric, but you can import imperial, but you need to know the "box" size in metric when importing into Laser DRW.
 

Laser DRW will take these files "emf,png,gif,jpg,tif,wmf,jpeg,dib,tiff, and tzy"



 

Rodney

My Feather River Canyon in N-scale
http://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31585.0