Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

mogwild
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:54 pm

Greetings, first post :)

I have purchased a Shapeoko 3 and J-tech 2.8W laser and driver kit (standard lense that comes with it), that I've hooked up to the shapeoko board PWM pins as per the upgrade instructions on J-tech's website, as well as purchased PicLaser lite from J-tech, and PicSender from picengrave.com for the sole purpose of laser engraving. I'm hoping to laser etch leather but have started with wood to learn the process (plus it smells WAY better than the leather being burned :P ).

Am I able to get similar results from those programs and that laser to the ones I see in this thread using those components and software? I did try downloading the demo of PicEngrave Pro5+laser but wasn't sure of the PWM settings, it's the only one not covered in the PDF tutorial, I did some testing but with similar results to the piclaser lite.

I get a lot of really dark black (burned) and the lighter shades don't laser engrave at all. I've had some success with line art because it's strictly black lines, but not any with actual photos or anything with shading. Also it seems to move slow compared to your youtube video's I've seen in this thread.

This is the line art I did that turned out really well but missed any of the lighter lines:



Feed rate was 100
Pixel resolution was 0.0060
Maximum PWM Value 5000 (I think that's 50% laser power? 10000 being full power?)
Minimum PWM Value 0 (wasn't sure what it should be, sorry, all new to this)
X start and y start 0
Engraving angle 45

Image

Original image: Image

These settings worked great (but again, slow) for the line art, but for any piclaser lite photo's it was really black in the darker areas, and non-etched in the lighter areas. I'll purchase PicEngrave Pro5+laser if that will do better, but I can't figure out the settings on the demo, I want to make sure it will work for me before purchasing. I've tried 100 for speed, 300 for speed, 0.0060 for resolution, 0.0010 (that made it really, really slow!)

I could turn the laser down more (I haven't tried turning the "pot" on it yet, maybe it's set to high to cut? and not engrave?), but it's not doing the light area's right now, so I'm not sure that would help. Anything under "3000" in the PWM max power and it doesn't seem to mark the wood or leather, I've tried the laser as it is, and lowered to to the recommended 30mm and refocused with the same result, so I don't think it's height above the material that's the issue. I have the smallest focus I can get, it's a very thin line. So I think I did that right at least? Just the light shading doesn't engrave at all.

Here's another example of one that turned out ok, but any of the lighter detail didn't engrave

Original image (warning, large picture) http://thegraphicsfairy.com/wp-content/ ... sFairy.jpg

And the engraved result (I reduced the picture so the end engraved result was 3.7" wide or so): Image

Any help/advise is greatly appreciated. I'll take some pictures of the unsuccessful photo attempts tonight but not much to see, just black with some light detail a lighter shade of black. In the right light you can make out some of the lighter areas but mostly it's just to dark, with any areas that are light (skin tone) not engraving at all. Perhaps I'm hoping for too much detail in a small area? I'm looking to do wallets so I'm in the 3-5" square range, the truck above was the largest test at 5"x5"ish.

Thanks.
Trev.

picengravertoo
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Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by picengravertoo » Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:46 pm

Hi Trev,

What grbl are you using? The J-Tech LaserMode PWM grbl 9g is the only one completely compatible with the J-Tech Laser driver because of the 1Khz PWM frequency it's set at. The hex can be downloaded from our forum at the bottom of the main page.

http://www.picengrave.com/forum/index.php

It excepts a S0-S255 command range for the laser power. I suspect your loosing the bottom end power range for the lighter shades if your using the standard grbl 9 that is a 7.812Khz frequency.

With the standard grbl 9 the S commands do not execute in real time because it's for spindle speed, not for laser power control. The J-Tech grbl does execute in real time and will run smoother. You will need to adjust some of your grbl settings also, especially the accels for the X&Y axis.

Change these grbl settings after flashing the J-Tech grbl hex to your UNO and you will notice a big increase in engraving speed and performance.

$0=30 (step pulse, usec)
$1=255 (step idle delay, msec)
$10=18 (status report mask:00010010)
$11=0.005 (junction deviation, mm)
$120=12000.000 (x accel, mm/sec^2)
$121=12000.000 (y accel, mm/sec^2)

Set the feedrate to 100IPM and Max Laser Value to 255, To get the lighter shades to engrave, set Min Laser Value between 10-20 as a starting place. A Pixel Resolution of .006" and engrave at 45 degrees is recommended.

PicEngrave Pro 5 has more features/options then PicLaser Lite, but the settings are similar. I use the Analog/PWM profile because it has the Feed Rate Change (variable feedrate) option which enhances/expands the shade range.

BTW, at one time I had a 1961 Unimog. It was a beast.

Thanks for posting.
Jeff
Last edited by picengravertoo on Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Shapeoko 2 Laser Diode Engraver-Analog/TTL/PWM
PicEngrave Pro 6 Image to Gcode for grbl/Mach3 controllers-Spindle/Laser
PicLaser: Image to Gcode With Editor
PicSender: Streams grbl Raster/Vector Gcodes
https://www.picengrave.com

mogwild
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:41 pm

Jeff,

Thanks very much for the reply. Your posts and YouTube video's are what convinced me I needed to get into the laser game.
What grbl are you using?
Uh...whatever comes on the Shapeoko :| Sorry, I'm pretty green when it comes to controllers and such. 0.9g I think is what comes up when I connect (will verify tonight)

I will figure out how to flash the Shapeoko board tonight (I see mentions of Xloader in the wiki), from J-tech's website http://jtechphotonics.com/?page_id=3145 it says:

[quote]The new board from Carbide is closed source, but they have provided some details on how to set it up. You just need to solder a couple of wires to the board, or put in a connector on the space for the header under the FAN connector on the right of the board. The left middle hole is the LASER “+” signal and the bottom right hole is the LASER “-” signal. Give yourself enough wire to go all the way to the laser driver, screw it in the terminals of H2, and you are good to go![/quote]

I should still be ok to flash it with the J-Tech LaserMode PWM grbl 9g you linked to? Any way I can backup the current config on the board? (I'll Google how to do the upgrade, I'm sure it's out on the web someplace)

EDIT: found my answer, I just open carbide create, hit "m" and then "$$" and write down the default config, all else fails, flash back and reset settings to default.
I use the Analog/PWM profile because it has the Feed Rate Change (variable feedrate) option which enhances/expands the shade range.
Can I use that setting as well? I assumed (I know...) that since I was using the PWM pins on the carbide board that I had to use the grbl PWM setting in the software. Much to learn I do have.
BTW, at one time I had a 1966 Unimog. It was a beast.
Awesome! 404? I'm currently rocking a '77 406 with backhoe and Vplow (in the winter) :-) It's one of the pictures I'd like to engrave on wood:

Image

Thanks again for all the help, will report back after attempting your fixes when I get home.

-Trev
Last edited by mogwild on Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

picengravertoo
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Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by picengravertoo » Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:19 pm

You can try it with the grbl your using now, you just need to set the Min Laser Value higher (80-90) and set your grbl settings like I posted.

To save your grbl settings for backup before changing anything, use the yellow GRBL button in PicSender. Then select Display Settings, then Save. The changes can be made in the left Edit Settings window, then select Send. You can then save those settings to a different file name.

I'm not familiar with the Carbide board, so if J-Tech has information on there web site about it, that is what instructions you should follow.

It's been quite awhile since I had it. It was actually a 1961 404 with a straight 6 gas engine. It came with a snow plow also, but here in Florida, it was only good for keeping Love Bugs off the front of it. :lol: Here is a picture of it when I first got it to the shop when it was still on our trailer.
DSC00051.jpg
DSC00051.jpg (92.32 KiB) Viewed 2181 times
Shapeoko 2 Laser Diode Engraver-Analog/TTL/PWM
PicEngrave Pro 6 Image to Gcode for grbl/Mach3 controllers-Spindle/Laser
PicLaser: Image to Gcode With Editor
PicSender: Streams grbl Raster/Vector Gcodes
https://www.picengrave.com

mogwild
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Thu Oct 22, 2015 12:40 am

Wow, you never know where or when you'll run into a fellow 'mogger! Awesome!.

I stuck with my default GRBL 0.9g but applied the recommended settings. First test job is running now and holy crap! WAY faster! I tried the following settings in piclaser lite:

Feed Rate 100
Pixel Resolution 0.0060
Max. Laser value 255
Min. Laser value 90
Laser off command M05
laser control command S
Left 45

But you could barely see the blue laser light even on the darkest area's, it slowed down but not enough power to engrave. I then set the same settings but:

Max. Laser value 5000.00
Min. Laser Value 1000.00

It's now engraving with good detail except in the lightest area, but it's a 100% improvement on just charred black ;)

I'll let the job finish, Try a few photo's with piclaser lite and see what kind of results I'm getting, maybe 1000.00 isn't high enough for the min laser value? Or like you say, the default GRBL is at the 7.812Khz frequency, so maybe a re-flash is in order.

VERY happy with the progress in the speed and detail thusfar though! Jobs 40% finished and I can see amazing detail! Your software and support rocks!

Thanks again.

-Trev

mogwild
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:11 am

No re-flash needed!

Again thanks very much, this, this I can work with. Amazing and will only get better as I play with the settings. I'll be purchasing PicEngrave Pro5 tomorrow for even more versatility. I just need to lighted up a wee bit more in the wheel well area and run it again, but pretty darn happy with the result:

Original image:
Image

Result on scrap piece of leather:

Image

Settings:
( PicLaser Lite ver. JT1.1.04)
( GRBL Gcode )
( FeedRate = 100 )
( Pixel Resolution = 0.0060 )
( Max. Laser Value 5000.0000 )
( Min. Laser Value 500.0000 )
( Engraving Angle = 45 degrees )

picengravertoo
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Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by picengravertoo » Thu Oct 22, 2015 1:05 pm

That came out very good Trev!

Since that image has all white around the outside (background), PicEngrave Pro 5 has a Skip White feature to optimize the laser's burn path to cut down on your overall engraving time.

Thanks again.
Jeff
Shapeoko 2 Laser Diode Engraver-Analog/TTL/PWM
PicEngrave Pro 6 Image to Gcode for grbl/Mach3 controllers-Spindle/Laser
PicLaser: Image to Gcode With Editor
PicSender: Streams grbl Raster/Vector Gcodes
https://www.picengrave.com

mogwild
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Sun Oct 25, 2015 3:03 pm

Wow, the "skip white background" is worth the purchase price of PicEngrave Pro5 alone! significantly speeds up the type of work we are doing. Not to mention the other great features we've just started to explore.

With Jeff's advice and some experimenting were getting great results on leather.

Here's a few tests we did with PicEngrave Pro5:
Original
1aspencebirdbranchgfairy009a.jpg
1aspencebirdbranchgfairy009a.jpg (117.16 KiB) Viewed 2093 times
Laser engraved onto finished pocket wallet (the two vertical lines are natural grain the leather) Keep in mind we greatly reduced the size to fit onto a small credit card sized wallet:
20151023_205126.jpg
20151023_205126.jpg (108.98 KiB) Viewed 2093 times

Turned out very well! Even though it was resized down to 3.4"x2" the detail is amazing and crisp

Another on a full sized ladies wallet pre-sewn

Original on the left (had to merge the two pictures as only 3 attachments are allowed) and Laser engraved (approx 3"x3"), again, amazing detail after scrubbing the carbon out:
tree test.jpg
tree test.jpg (343.21 KiB) Viewed 2093 times
Sorry for the camera phone picture, florescent lights in the work room make photo's harder to capture. The laser engraved product is very, very detailed, all the lines on the tree and knots are well represented and only one pass was enough to make a good impression in the leather.

Couldn't be happier with PicEngrave's software and how the whole J-tech/Shapeoko combination worked out. Even with resized line-art down to 2"x2" were seeing amazing detail and speedy burning with Jeff's recommended settings and "skip the white" in PicEngrave Pro5.

picengravertoo
Posts: 155
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Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by picengravertoo » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:41 pm

Thank you for your kind words of us and our software Trev!! Those leather engravings came out excellent.

Laser engraving on white leather gives very good results because of the shades between white and black gives the closest to 8bit grayscale reproduction. The only problem is, it needs to be sealed after laser engraving so the soot does not smudge. Don't you just love that smell when burning leather with a laser? :P

Here is one we did a couple of years ago on white leather without sealing it afterwards.
5641607.jpg
5641607.jpg (64.99 KiB) Viewed 2079 times
Thanks again.

Jeff
Last edited by picengravertoo on Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Shapeoko 2 Laser Diode Engraver-Analog/TTL/PWM
PicEngrave Pro 6 Image to Gcode for grbl/Mach3 controllers-Spindle/Laser
PicLaser: Image to Gcode With Editor
PicSender: Streams grbl Raster/Vector Gcodes
https://www.picengrave.com

mogwild
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:01 am

Re: Another Laser Diode Engraving Thread

Post by mogwild » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:44 pm

WOW, do you remember the settings you used? That's some detail!

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