About two weeks ago Hacklab acquired a Universal Laser Systems ULS-25P laser engraver. Ted found it for sale used for a small sum. But it had broken, ancient electronics which was the reason the unit was sold. We decided that it might be fun to try building our own electronics to get the unit going again. Exactly one week ago Dan and I came into the lab in the evening and tested the laser. We made a little Arduino program to send the laser the correct control signal. Amazingly, it worked! We burned a hole quite successfully through a piece of paper. With a 25W CO2 laser it would be possible to etch and cut a lot of materials under computer control!
A bunch of us worked all last weekend and a few nights this week building electronics, learning to configure and use the emc2 CNC software, and install a place for the unit to sit and proper ventilation to extract smoke and fumes from the etched material. And I am happy to report that exactly one week after initially testing the laser we have a fully working system! Below is a video of the very first run with the laser on.
We still have more to do learning about g-code and the CNC software, calibrating laser power and so on. Also, the machine needs to be moved to its final home in the bathroom with proper ventilation. I’ll be writing a complete page about all the technical details, including schematics, firmware, photos, etc. soon. For now enjoy the video, and please check it out next time you’re at the lab or ask on IRC.