My RGB Laser Engraver Project

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calebarchie
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Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:43 am

My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby calebarchie » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:34 am

Hi there,

I'd like to introduce myself to the crew - Name's Caleb and I'm a student with passion for Photography and building DIY projects, so naturally I like to combine these.
I had an idea to optically print digital photo's (normally done in a wet darkroom with film and an enlarger) with lasers, line by line. Initially the plan was to have a scanhead plotter like system with Galvos to shoot lasers onto a silver-gelatine paper substrate. The project proved much to complex and expensive to go ahead with - I needed a simpler solution

This is when I found Jeff&co's Shapeoko mod and PicEngrave software which is fantastic and essentially, exactly what I want to do with some small additions and modifications.
That being the addition of an RGB laser module in order to print onto colour RA-4 chemical process paper. I have theorised how such a system would work implementing the Shapeoko mod and software to split a colour image into individual RGB channels (resulting B&W images), combine each of their resultant gcodes (keeping XY values the same) and output them through extra axiis and DACs to their respective laser.

Here are some pictures of Wagner to demonstrate the channel/colour separation process:
red.png

(Red)
green.png

(Green)
blue.png

(Blue)

Jeff has so kindly already outputted these three images to a single gcode file utilising the Z, A, and B axiis synchronised so it is very much possible.
All thats left to do it figure out the electronics, source, built and test it! I have started this thread to show my progress on the project as well as allow others to contribute or if I need any kind of help.

There is one small problem with the project - I cannot program :(
I am currently stuck on a way to use DACs in the setup to convert the gcode/stepper values to analogue for Flexmod. It is a big ask but ideally I would greatly benefit from some kind of step-by-step tutorial on installing and coding a DAC for this system as I really have no idea.
For the other electronics I plan on using TinyG to run the CNC and extra axis as it had 6-axis support. I am not sure if I still need to go through PC software such as Mach3 though once I have the final gcode - it is quite expensive.

There are also some other minor problems such as a light-proof enclosure of the CNC and the issues with ventilation.
I would love to hear your feedback and help if possible, it will be very much appreciated especially with the programming!

Caleb

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Picengravertoo
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby Picengravertoo » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:32 pm

Welcome to the forum Celeb,

You will need 5 axis control. Will TinyG run 5 axis's simultaneously from each line of gcode? Mach3 will and so will the UC100 with there controller software.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/UC100-USB-motio ... 1c46045e97

The DAC uses the step and direction signals for an axis and outputs a varied modulation voltage to the FlexMod. It's just a matter of wiring them in and setting the pins and steps it's going to need.

What programming are you referring?

There is no programming necessary for the gcode as I already figured out how to combined the gcode files with PicLaser 3D that was generated with PicEngrave Pro 5 from the 3 images files.

Jeff

calebarchie
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby calebarchie » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:08 pm

Picengravertoo wrote:Welcome to the forum Celeb,

You will need 5 axis control. Will TinyG run 5 axis's simultaneously from each line of gcode? Mach3 will and so will the UC100 with there controller software.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/UC100-USB-motio ... 1c46045e97

The DAC uses the step and direction signals for an axis and outputs a varied modulation voltage to the FlexMod. It's just a matter of wiring them in and setting the pins and steps it's going to need.

What programming are you referring?

There is no programming necessary for the gcode as I already figured out how to combined the gcode files with PicLaser 3D that was generated with PicEngrave Pro 5 from the 3 images files.

Jeff


Thanks again Jeff,

I did not realise TinyG is not a true 6-axis controller - there would probably be some delay between the XYZ & ABC which would not work in this application.

The UC100 controller you linked comes with the red board for wiring motors/dac correct? Like http://www.shop.cncdrive.com/index.php?productID=310
Edit: OK I seem to have misunderstood, the UC100 is just the adapter correct? I still require a compatible CNC breakout board, could you recommend one?

Regarding the DAC, I have had very little experience with such things so I am not entirely sure. Referring to this thread viewtopic.php?f=15&t=31
The user has supplied a chip, schematics and code. However are you saying if I get the MAX chip and assembled adapter there is no need to code anything? Just requiring a wiring schematics in relation to the UC100 board?


Is this the chip
http://www.proto-advantage.com/store/pr ... id=2200016

Sorry again for the misunderstandings,
Caleb

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Picengravertoo
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby Picengravertoo » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:43 pm

We have been working with J-Tech Photonics helping them develop a DAC board they are planning to sell on there web site hopefully soon. It uses the MAX 8bit Digital Potentiometer that we developed our DAC with and has been tested very extensively. J-Tech has received a very large request from customers for them to use with Mach3 and similar CNC controllers for laser control. It will have analog and PWM out on it and relays to turn the power on/off with M03/M05 commands. It will be wire up and play.

Contact them and request 3 to motivate them even more. :couchD

http://jtechphotonics.com/ ;-D

The UC100 is USB and connects to a breakout board with the DB25 connection, so no your PC does not need a PP. There are other USB CNC controllers out there also like Planet CNC.

http://www.planet-cnc.com/

That user in the thread you linked has not responded anymore with the results using the Pic Processor, so we are not sure how it worked out. There is others that has tried that also, but no conclusive results from them either.

Jeff

calebarchie
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby calebarchie » Mon Aug 24, 2015 6:03 pm

Thanks for the clarification, so this board is like an integrated solution? How many axis does it support or DACs in that sense as I'll need 5.
Does it have a rough $$$ figure at the moment?

I imagine it will take be a few months to just built up a CNC platform unless I'm lucky and someone sells me a Shapeoko2 right now (In AUS its hard to come across such things).

If I can't use The J-Tech board then I was thinking of something simple along the lines of this:
https://buildyourcnc.com/item/electroni ... kout-relay
To be used with UC100 + software

Did you have to 'code' or program this MAX chip?

Caleb

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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby Picengravertoo » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:04 pm

You will need 3 DACs and a 5 axis breakout board. One DAC for each axis laser control , then the X&Y axis will need stepper drivers wired to the breakout board.

Here is the specs on the MAX DP. The don't need any coding.

http://datasheets.maximintegrated.com/e ... AX5455.pdf

The boards from J-Tech will not be very expensive.

Jeff

calebarchie
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby calebarchie » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:07 pm

Fantastic news. Sorry I thought the CNC breakout board and dac were integrated. Just a few more questions regarding the project:

I need to source appropriate RGB lasers to put in a module with dichroic mirros to focus them into a single beam.
The problem is they need to be lower powered lases for a smaller dot size something ≤100mW is ideal, from there they need to be dimmed down further through ND filters on the lenses.
I have found an appropriate analogue modulated 502nm Green
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Osram-PL520- ... 1278486805

But lower power Blue and Red are usually used in laser show systems only, so only TTL. Does anyone have a source for analogue modulated lower powered lasers?

Are such low wattage able to be controlled normally via Flexmod anyway?

EDIT: I'm learning as I go, I'm assuming I would just be hooking up a diode to the P3 which are neutral? But then there is the hassle of putting a lens on it..

Cheers
Last edited by calebarchie on Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Picengravertoo
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby Picengravertoo » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:30 pm

We have no experience with any other Laser Diodes then the 445nm-450nm to engrave photos. You may want to ask those questions in this forum.

http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/

That eBay sellers web site is here.

https://sites.google.com/site/dtrlpf/

calebarchie
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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby calebarchie » Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:27 pm

Picengravertoo wrote:We have no experience with any other Laser Diodes then the 445nm-450nm to engrave photos. You may want to ask those questions in this forum.

http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/

That eBay sellers web site is here.

https://sites.google.com/site/dtrlpf/


Cheers I have made a thread there also.
Here are the current lasers I am thinking of: (They need to be 50khz analog modulation with corrected spot beam)

- Crystalaser BCL-050-405
http://www.crystalaser.com/Blue375-405-444.pdf

- 520nm Osram PL520
http://www.osram-os.com/Graphics/XPic2/ ... %20520.pdf

- Crystalaser DL638-050
http://www.crystalaser.com/DL635-785.pdf

Any way to find prices without contacting? They probably have insane prices...

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Re: My RGB Laser Engraver Project

Postby Picengravertoo » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:42 pm

You can ask John questions here instead of on the hobbycncart forum.

The MAX DAC schematic Is in the Help PDF in PicEngrave Pro 5. Download the Demo and view it in there.

http://www.picengrave.com/PicEngraver%2 ... 0Laser.htm


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