Passed inspection

April 9, 2010

Comments from the inspector (who thought a contractor installed my system, not me):

‘Man, look how old this breaker box is, those parts must have been expensive’.

‘Lets see, they did…this….and this here…Man, they did this thing right!’.

He was also fascinated with my automation system – not the laser, just the way I connected up all the appliances.

‘I got a cousin, he’s got lights, a fountain, a fish tank…he want me to hook him up with something to run it all — could I use this system? What all this called?!’

We gabbed about X10, his ex-girlfriend that had a laptop just like mine, and how his browser cant run flash. Pointed him to firefox.


Things to do

April 9, 2010

Today is a big day – and one that involves sitting around. The city inspector is supposed to show up and review all the electrical work. Since I have extra time (waiting for the inspector) and will soon have a major green light here’s a list of things I can do once the inspection is out of the way:


  • Install additional quad boxes in work area
  • Install additional quad boxes in storage/grinder room
  • Put the LCD screen on its own circuit (run the tv and welder, and bap! Circuit blows)
  • Install a retractable power cord
  • Install ceiling fan.
  • Mechanical:

  • Anchor drill press, grinders to concrete floor
  • Complete welding table (okay I could have done that anyway)
  • Build concrete work table
  • Make better use of the area underneath the subpanel
  • Install dust collector
  • Ventilation:

  • Install roofcap
  • Mount blower
  • Wire motor, with motor speed control
  • Run ventilation pipe
  • Build a noise suppression box around blower
  • Shoot neighbor who will probably complain about the noise anyway
  • Connect ventilation with welding table or install separate system
  • Laser specs

    April 9, 2010

    just in case you were wondering….and the laser manual.

    Laser beam path length

    April 8, 2010

    Finalizing my plans for purchase of new optics. According to the information from the sales guy at Laser Mechanisms the ideal distance for my new cutting head and collimator will be 350mm. The the cut quality enhancer and circular polarizer are a series of optics and its very hard to measure the length of the entire beam path. The sales rep at Laser Mechanisms gave me this drawing that shows a total length of 8.4 inches. The pic inventories all the distances in the optics chain which includes front brackets, the circular polarizer/cut quality enhancer, and a beam bend. The total is 13.45 inches or 341mm. This is passable because I think I can add another 10mm by adjusting the barrel of the extension out another centimeter.

    Additional beam size information

    April 6, 2010

    We final[ly] had time to ray trace your configuration. We have determined that using a 2.0x beam expander collimator along with a 2.5″ focusing lens will indeed produce a spot size ~150um with a DOF (depth of focus) of 2.2mm. Please note DOF is defined as 2x the Rayleigh Length. This only works however when the collimator is placed 350mm from the laser. It is also important to note that our 2.5x beam expander will not work at this distance. The full expanded beam diameter exceeds our 15mm clear aperture. Let me know if you have any questions.

    Best Regards,
    Gary, Sales Engineer, Laser Mechanisms

    Water temp meter

    April 4, 2010

    Home depot sells an inexpensive indoor/outdoor thermometer which I hacked a little bit to monitor the temperature of the water coming into the laser. I spliced in a brass tube on the line coming in to the laser and used heat shrink tubing to mount the thermometer’s sensor to the tube [link]. The thermometer mounts to the laser frame/support using a laser cut bracket that also has a magnet.

    Water flow indicator

    March 27, 2010

    Goes between the chiller and the laser to show that water is flowing. Was really glad I set it up – it showed there was a block in the system.

    Motion control software

    March 26, 2010

    The control software for my system uses EMC2. EMC2 is quite flexible and has several interfaces including the one that I use called Axis. Axis has a lot of great features including the ability to customize panels. This page has lots of examples of the widgets that can be used to make the custom panels. What’s also amazing about the system is that you can link the widgets to every signal inside the system. In my case I connected the LED lights shown on the panel to digital inputs that show the status of the laser. There’s a dial on the interface that displays the laser power settings, and there’s radio buttons that lets me turn on the appliances like the motor power supply and ventilation. I wrote up some documentation on connecting digital signals to this interface here.

    Earning its keep.

    March 26, 2010

    The arrow points to a bracket that holds the gas solenoid.

    I always like it when the laser makes parts that are used to make the laser.


    March 16, 2010