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  1. #1
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    CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    With the help of Cory, Ahren and Jay over about half a dozen phone calls, a path to setting up a laser diode on a CNCRP machine has been figured out. It applies to pretty much any machine with MACH3 and a smooth stepper. I have the CRP800 control box and I just wanted to be sure I did not mess anything up. Also, I did not want to do any kind of trade offs that would limit future options like a 5th axis.

    First off, this is a simple on / off set up. Jay of J Tech said that the most simple way to control power is with feed rate. PWM and MACH3 still has issues. A DAC would give 256 gray scale control but the next gen version will not be ready for a few months. The current version has issues of it's own, so I figured I'll just wait.

    For a bit over $20.00 Cory at CNCRP sent me a ribbon cable and a BOB. The 3rd port on the smooth stepper is empty so the ribbon was plugged in there and the BOB was attached to the side of the power supply with velcro.

    Attachment 297802

    After checking the WARP9 web site I went with pin 18 for signal ground and pin 17 for the signal. I suppose you don't have to get a ribbon cable and BOB, one could just use a friction connector that fit over the two selected pins on port 3.

    Attachment 297804

    How you feed the signal to the laser driver is pretty much your choice. Knowing that it will be a long time before I set up a 5th axis, the empty spot in the case was filled with a DB 9 and the 2 wires from the BOB are soldered to that.

    The MACH3 set up is easy. Made a copy of the XML file and named it LASER, then open MACH3 with the laser profile and go into plugin control and use the box in the upper right to set port 3 to output.

    Attachment 297806

    So I went with flood control to activate the laser. Using any part of the spindle control causes a delay in triggering the laser. Tried it and got to see for myself. Flood control wins.
    On the output signals I just shut off all the relays as they are set up for running 110 volt stuff through the CRP800 control box. I enabled output # 4 port 3 pin 17.
    Why did I shut off the other relays? The laser and driver are static sensitive and my plastic suction hose is REAL close to the laser driver. I just don't want to accidentally turn some thing on that is not needed in laser mode... and vice versa.

    Attachment 297808

    So on the spindle set up, the spindle relay is disabled. Mist / flood is enabled and set to output # 4 and delay 0. Ignore any other odd bits of set up shown in the image, that is leftovers from tinkering with PWM.

    Attachment 297810

    I'll go into the rest of the set up of the laser and driver later. I'm still putting some finishing touches to it. I've made it so the driver and laser can be removed or installed in less than a minute. They don't need to stay on the machine when doing work with router bits. The installation takes into account that the laser has a narrow field of beam focus and every time you put the laser on you don't want to spend time tuning the beam again. Even with different material thickness you use the auto Z touch plate to set the laser hight.

  2. #2
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Now this is pretty cool stuff. I am interested in how this goes.
    Lee

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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    So this part did not take too long to do. Most was made from scrap around the shop.

    A 6 inch strip with one mount hole is what holds it to the Z axis. The top of the strip butts up to the spindle mount. Makes for a set distance every time you bolt it on.
    Attachment 297980

    Short angle held with two rivets.
    Attachment 297982

    Laser with fan. recessed enough that you ram the mount into the sacrifice board before the laser would hit.
    Attachment 297984

    Driver mount bracket:
    Attachment 297986

    Cradle for the driver. Close fit and it snaps in place.
    Attachment 297988

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Man this is like the prefect thread for me. I ordered the CRP800 kit this morning and also I ordered a J tech laser a few months ago and haven't had the chance to install it. You are thankfully taking all the research work out of it. I was thinking about mounting my laser in my dust shoe to use the vacuum to suck away any smoke but reading about the sensitivity to static I guess that's a no go. Looking forward to seeing your progress. I may get ambitious and start setting my laser up the weekend after next.

  5. #5
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    It can mount on the spindle just like a dust shoe. An aluminum plate would do I think.
    Lee

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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeWay View Post
    It can mount on the spindle just like a dust shoe. An aluminum plate would do I think.
    As long as the mount is aluminum. You want as much heat dissipating mass as you can get. I found the Z axis mounting plate to be the simple way to go.

  7. #7
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Quote Originally Posted by FandZ View Post
    Man this is like the prefect thread for me.
    There will be more info posted later. Thanks to some input from Rob at the Warp 9 forum I've learned the dark art of enabling the much coveted M11 command for lasers.

    You can use laser software or if you bought any version of Vectric with your CNC you can do this:
    using-vectric-cut2d-with-a-laser/

    And his edited post processor:

    Mach3_Laser_Arcs_inch.pp

    His and mine pretty much look the same. I just left the code in that allow moving on to the next file as long as a tool swap in not needed. This way I can define feed rates to control the burn and have it all in one g code file.

  8. #8
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Thank you! I have an identical setup and will be applying this method this weekend! Thanks for posting!

  9. #9
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    So this is how things are set up now in MACH3 to get the M11 command. In the config for the ESS you have to enter the output number# that you selected in the ports and pins tab, this also has to be the same output in the flood control relay set up in the spindle tab. Rob on the Warp 9 forum clued me in on that one.
    Attachment 298326

    I did some tests on feed rate, did three squares all enabled via M07 with about a 100ms delay. The upper right corner shows the start / stop point for each square. M11 has a 2ms delay. Can you tell what corner is the start / stop point?
    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Honestly. I can't tell on the M11 the stop/start point and can see why it's a big deal. Thank you for posting the info.

  11. #11
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    I have a CRP4848 and have considered adding a laser. How has this worked out for you and are you satisfied with the results you are achieving?

  12. #12
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Quote Originally Posted by AJ Negvesky View Post
    I have a CRP4848 and have considered adding a laser. How has this worked out for you and are you satisfied with the results you are achieving?
    I'm very happy with it. Not the same as having a dedicated cnc laser or software, but as far as an adaptation goes it has proved easy to use. Most of my work is regular router work and only a few special laser projects. Still, it only takes about 4 minutes bolt on the laser and drop in the controller. It would be even faster but I've not gotten around to adding a speed bolt to the laser mount. So it is a bit slow to snug up with an allen wrench do to limited clearance.

    Bottom line is that it works good enough that it leaves me looking forward to more laser work AND not in any big rush ( OK.. no rush ) for a dedicated laser. At some point I may even do a 150 watt laser mod.

  13. #13
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Cool thread.

  14. #14
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Soooo... I'm about to give my jtech laser a go. I decided to use my older CNCRP machine with a G540 as a dedicated laser engraver instead of putting it on my vcon machine. I was reviewing the post processor below and was wonder what triggers the coolent to start (turn on/off the laser). Any more tips or tricks you want to share?


    http://www.buildlog.net/sm_laser/dra...r_Arcs_inch.pp

  15. #15
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Quote Originally Posted by FandZ View Post
    Soooo... I'm about to give my jtech laser a go. I decided to use my older CNCRP machine with a G540 as a dedicated laser engraver instead of putting it on my vcon machine. I was reviewing the post processor below and was wonder what triggers the coolent to start (turn on/off the laser). Any more tips or tricks you want to share?


    http://www.buildlog.net/sm_laser/dra...r_Arcs_inch.pp
    It would be the E1P1 / E1P0 that is triggering coolant AKA the laser on and off. If I remember right every port for turning a device on or off would have to have it's own different code.

  16. #16
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    So after months of being able to do nice laser line art I just bought a DAC / PWM board so I can do photographs. Anyone already install one?

  17. #17
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    This is a gift I made last night. 2 watt laser and still using the stock settings on speed and acceleration in CNCRP's pre set XML file. G code done with Vectric Vcarve Pro 8.5.
    Have most of the details figured out on the DAC /PWM install. Just have to add 2 wires from the BOB to the serial port for step and direction from the A axis.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  18. #18
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    I would love it if CNCRP made a "laser shoe" that mounted in place of the dust shoe.

  19. #19
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Couple of things I thought I would point out. In all of the changes made to run a laser I did nothing to the motor tuning. The above cutting board was burned with the stock 199.98 and 15 acceleration on the X and Y axis. Some of the text looks like it has hot spots from tight node clusters I did not bother to clean up. Am now fiddling with the acceleration and have it up to 65 with no sign of stalling or losing steps.

  20. #20
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    Re: CRP800 + MACH3 + J Tech LASER

    Couple of nights ago I finished connecting those 2 wires the DAC / PWM needed. Everything worked the first time. Have to do some fine tuning before posting any of the set up info.

    Question for a MACH 3 expert, can you set one axis to have a different jog rate? I know I can change the jog rate in the DRO tab for all of them, But adjusting laser power on start up is tuned with jog keys and it's a very fine (slow ) rate needed.

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