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Linux-compatible laser controllers

Linux-compatible laser controllers

Postby stevegt » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:58 pm

(Spun off from from a question at https://buildyourcnc.com/FAQ/13985:)

Does anyone have any success stories running a Linux-compatible laser controller that performs at least as well as the Anywells controller in both vector and raster modes? I'm planning on doing something like this with the vertical laser, but it seems like if it works there it could be adapted to any of the buildyourcnc lasers.

An example use case is that of being able to say 'make' in a project's directory on any Linux machine on the network to ship the file to the laser, including power settings etc. I specifically want to avoid shipping it to Windows first, and then manually mousing around to set the laser parameters. This means being able to run a script in Linux to convert and ship the file straight to the laser. With Epilogs, for instance, I used to always bypass the Windows/Coreldraw toolchain by using Gershenfeld's cam.py, sending PCL from Linux straight to the Epilog.

In our small family-owned electronics and hardware manufacturing business, all of our CAD/CAM is done in Linux (openscad, freecad, librecad, cadquery, blender, pycam, python gcode generators...), we use git and Makefiles and other automation scripts extensively, and we need to be able to avoid doing the double-hop from Linux via Windows to get files sent to the laser. We don't even have any Windows machines any more -- we got rid of the last of them years ago, and I'd like to avoid going back.

In our own case, since we make PCBs and wiring harnesses, fabbing the hardware itself isn't a problem. I've been writing code for 40 years, so that's not a problem either. But I'd rather adapt an existing open source system versus start something from scratch.

LinuxCNC is a possibility because it's what I'm already using for our mill, and I'm comfortable hacking on it. But I'm hearing that LinuxCNC isn't as optimized for lasers as, for instance, the Anywells controller. I'm not wedded to LinuxCNC for a laser, but I am looking for open-source flexibility and future-proofing.
stevegt
 
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Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:06 am
CNC Machine: Other

Re: Linux-compatible laser controllers

Postby stevegt » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:33 pm

One possible solution for Linux laser control might be to use the open source controller from the lasersaur (heresy, I know). The software for it is in python and runs on multiple operating systems including Linux/ARM, so with a raspberry pi it should be trivial to put a laser on the network. It appears to support both vector and raster these days.


The price quoted on the nortd web site is on the high side ($755 USD at today's exchange rate) -- they do need to cover their development costs, so I can't fault them. The component cost is low for anyone who does want to fab the board themselves; the M542H stepper drivers themselves are $60 per axis, the components around $80, and the bare board about $80 each from oshpark (min qty 3). The only thing this doesn't include (I think) is the aluminum shield they put over the board, but there are other ways to provide shielding. The PCB files are KiCAD format.

stevegt
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:06 am
CNC Machine: Other


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