Lets Hack Our 1390LC Laser Cutter!

  • Classroom

    Calling all Makers!

    Pierre has mentioned to me a couple of times that if we decide to get another controller for the laser, then we would be able to do a lot of things with open source software that are not possible in RDworks. While developing the capabilities of the second controller we could make it as easy as throwing a switch to flip between the current system, and the development system.

    As fond as I am for the Adobe CC workflow for digital content, there are a lot of challenges presented in trying to teach vectors with this and other paid platforms. Inkscape seems to be the best solution for teaching because it is free, and the philosophical roots of the open source community fit best with the mission statement of our organization.

    If we hack the controller on our laser, we would be able to basically hit print on the lasercutter directly from inkscape (with some other plugins/software configured), and avoid RDworks altogether.

    That alone would be great, but picture if we connected a webcam mounted inside the laser canbinet that scanned your material, keyed in on the weights placed on the surface, and made the software avoid them.

    Or what if it could scan a partially cut sheet, and repack your parts to fit onto the workpiece with minimal waste?

    Or even just take bits of wast, scan them, and draw a vector path to cut as many palago tiles or snowflakes as possible?

    All of these things should be technically possible, but are outside of my current skillset. I think it would make a really great project longterm, and would love to help. If we did some planning and documentation as we do the modifications it could make some great promotional/educational content as well.

    Anyone interested?

  • Classroom

  • Throwing a switch to swap the controllers would require some risky type re-wiring… The current controller connects to the power supply, motor controllers, and interlocks with ~6 standard 3.96mm pitch PLC type plug-in terminal blocks.

    This type of connector: https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/4pin-Right-angle-Terminal-plug-type-300V-10A-3-96mm-pitch-connector-pcb-screw-terminal-block/1200686_32647063591.html

    It’d be about 5 minutes work to unplug the terminals from one controller and plug them into another, if you made some effort to keep the wiring completely compatible. Step one would be to make up a circuit board that holds all the connectors in the right position, and allows us to connect to experimental controllers.

    I’ve also started work on pricing out a fiber laser module. Mostly because I want to have a “laser 2” show up in the controller software that can cut … ~1mm stainless steel sheet.

  • Classroom

    @pierre, perfect! In my mind what you have suggested is still consistent with a “physical switch” (in that you are physically switching a cable to another controller), even if I am taking advantage of English’s lack of precision.

    This sounds awesome!

  • Classroom

    @pierre any progress with pricing the fiber laser or controller?

  • Design Lab

    The only thing left on the Clay Space grant requirement in the rotary tool and I need to report on that soon to the Arts Commission. Whats the word on this, @pierre ? I know you have a lot on the go; sorry to pester you! You’re just too handy, brother!

  • The stepper motor for the rotary tool has arrived. It should be the same motor as is in the laser cutter now so there is no need for any fancy rewiring.

  • Design Lab

    @Grant-Fraser Let me know if I can help in any way! Will this contraption require a formply chassis? I could make one.

  • @Vaughn the rotary tool design needs to be modified around the new motor. It doubles as a spare motor for the laser cutter because it’s an exact match so I don’t want to pry the pulley off the end.
    @pierre I’ve put the stepper motor in the side cabinet of the laser.