Buying a Laser Cutter from China (Part Three)

by Stephen Hobley on April 13, 2011

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And things were going so well…

When I first connected the software to the cutter I could get no response at all. I examined the supplied parallel cable and found that some of the pins had been pushed in. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some needle-nose pliers. So I fixed the cable and plugged it back in.

Now I’ve only been able to get the software to work sporadically. Sometimes the cutter responds to move commands, sometimes not.

It looks like the controller board is “partially” damaged. It homes the gantry correctly, but it does not respond all the time, and occasionally it crashes the gantry and tries to shake itself apart.

Soooo…. after talking things over with the vendor it looks like I need to get the controller replaced.

This probably means it’s going to take a while to get fixed.

Doh!

Alternatively I could replace the board with the standard motor controller I have, and run the cutter from Mach3. Andy Slater has already gone down this route, and solved the problem of how to turn the laser on and off. It’s tempting, but I might wait to see what happens with the replacement controller.

Laser Cutter Control board

This is the board they sent with the laser cutter – it is microprocessor driven and so responds to parallel commands (whereas Mach3 run motors are controlled directly from the port itself). I find it a little ironic that the names have been removed from all the chips :)

Does anyone recognise this board? The silk screen is in English – it looks like it was made to control a laser cutter or plotter, as there is only control for an X and Y motor (no Z).

Whatever I decide to do, it’s going to take a while to do it.

As a side note – the vendor (Wang – strong_signstech) has been very responsive – sometimes we have a language problem, but he seems very willing to help.

UPDATE : Having run a few more tests on the controller, it looks like it really is going to have to go back home to China.

So while I’m waiting the 2 weeks for the replacement to be delivered I’m going to hook up Mach3 and try controlling the laser that way. First thing I need to do is create a temporary FFC connector for the stepper motor cable. Then wire up the laser control lines (following Andy Slater’s information). Finally I need to teach Mach3 how to run it.

It also occurred to me that if I made the table (Z) computer controlled I could make multiple depth passes just like a conventional router.

Another update coming soon…

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chaz April 14, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Might be worth trying to wipe the chips with something to try and bring some of the markings back, works sometimes.

Stephen Hobley April 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Yeah, that’s an idea…

electrosthetics April 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

You may want to try a different PC or LPT port, I’ve seen a lot of people have big issues with them all across the CNC world. Dropped commands, generally weird behavior.

Try as short as possible. Use real LPT card or onboard, its all hit or miss with this stuff. You may find better info at CNCZone.

I was looking to get one of these like you, they seem very interesting.
Cheers

thomas October 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm

hi im thinking about buying one of the CO2 LASER ENGRAVING CUTTING MACHINE on ebay for £500, do u no anyhing about thease machines? what is the softwear like ect. if you could help please

Bill January 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm

I purchased a CO2 LASER ENGRAVING MACHINE ENGRAVER CUTTER 50W on e-bay from equipmentwholesaler1 and it was complete junk. The instruction manual was written in broken English, the water pump was burned out so I had to replace that, the machine would not interface with Corel Draw nor would it open the types of files listed in the manual, and after the thing completely quit working the customer support was nonexistent. Seven months later am I am still trying to resolve this issue. My advice is stick to one of the name brands, it’s more expensive but they value customer satisfaction. The Chinese companies just want the money.

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