Raspberry Pi and laser engraving with the CNC EleksMaker A3 Pro

After tests Dagoma Disco Easy and its connection to OctoPi, j & rsquo; have had & rsquo; opportunity to test the laser cutter home EleksMaker sold at GearBest : the EleksMaker A3 Pro 2500mW

 

J & rsquo; have had the chance, by Peter GearBest, to test this machine. I give you therefore share the & rsquo; experience, problems encountered and my impression of this device. D & rsquo; advance I can tell you that I & rsquo; am a fan and that & rsquo; we already tries to sting me for d & rsquo; other projects !

J & rsquo; have chosen the model 2500mW. J & rsquo; I want to be able to cut paper, cardboard and burn on wood. Conveniently cut balsa wood. Here j & rsquo; would be better to take the model above to 5500mW but we'll see. Often for wood, must make several passes (adjustable in & rsquo; tool). The model 500mW even more affordable seemed light. That c & rsquo; is gone !

Step 1 : the great unpacking

Commissioned Friday, shipped on Monday and received on Thursday by DHL. So clearly c & rsquo; is very fast especially since Hong Kong ! No customs fees despite having been so good second spot DHL !

The package is clean and very well packed. Given the & rsquo; protection thickness, Hopefully that & rsquo; one part is damaged !

And here is the package contents in full force :

There are :

  • Food
  • Plexiglass plates to maintain the structure
  • 3 Nema motors
  • A very long belt that & rsquo; shall be cut when & rsquo; assembly
  • aluminum bars for the structure
  • The connection cables
  • goggles Essentials
  • Of course the laser block
  • The controller card based & rsquo; Arduino
  • And all the little screws that & rsquo; it will take to build it all

Step 2 : l & rsquo; assembly

So here ca is complicated. Before starting (in fact from my order validated so j & rsquo; was in a hurry), j & rsquo; have searched the Internet for most of the comments indicate that & rsquo; it lacks a manual.

On the official website, there are some concerns but the doc c & rsquo; is that & rsquo; it does not fit my model. The supports plexiglass at the corners n & rsquo; not the same shape as the & rsquo; old model or the one presented as the current model. Here are the links for you to avoid searching :

Be patient, look good photos and 2 hours max you will have easily finished for this result :

 

A detail, but that I & rsquo; enjoyed, c & rsquo; is the small sheath and bundle the cables of the laser and the associated motor. There are also small grommets for side engines. Clean.

For concerns against c & rsquo; is the position of the card. J & rsquo; do not like the position that gives the & rsquo; printing spill over the cutting area even if the laser can not go that far. Given the foot plexi it n & rsquo; is not possible to put it vertically. Too bad but not dramatic.

Step 3 : the configuration

good worries : l & rsquo; n & rsquo official tool, is available on Windows. Now I own a Mac and well on Raspberry. Moreover it seems quite limited. So I went in search of & rsquo; a tool to control the machine, Compatible multiplatform so the Raspberry Pi as. And it is ! Thank you to the community Laser Web !

In Mac OS, a feature is that & rsquo; it is necessary to install a controller for the USB chip CH340 (everything is here) which are not recognized directly. Nothing terrible, follow the instructions (it m & rsquo; just took a reboot and more) and all goes well and quickly.

Now is the time d & rsquo; initialize your card with an adapted firmware. For this, download the latest firmware GRBL and if you do & rsquo; have not already, Arduino IDE because you have to go through him to send the firmware to your machine. Do not download the .hex but the source code for c & rsquo; is requested by Arduino IDE. Unzip the file.

Start Arduino IDE, in Sketches (Sketches), add a library from a ZIP file and go to the directory of the & rsquo; archive and select the directory under grbl.

Once finished, go to the examples and choose the script & rsquo; upload grbl

Rest in & rsquo; send in the card. Choose the following options in the Tools menu :

  • Card Type : Arduino Nano
  • Processor Type : ATmega328P
  • Port : one where your machine is located connected

So small precision to the port and the connection. You can connect the USB machine without connecting to the mains (and c & rsquo; is on). A small green light on the card must s & rsquo; turn. To the USB port, once connected the port should appear in the list. Personally I connect the machine and I run Arduino IDE.

You can initially control compilation firmware then the & rsquo; send to the machine.

You can now install LaserWeb Version 4 depending on your OS. Everything is here. If you want to install on a Raspberry Pi, follow the instructions here. On my Raspberry v3, it's going fast enough and the web server has been mounted quickly visible from another machine on my local network without problems. So far, so good !

Once all this up, it is time to move to the & rsquo; use !

Step 4 : Security

Good, obligatory passage : glasses. No long speech : eyes we are only 2 so do not make fun you n & rsquo; anything, especially that the pair is provided with !

Important (for me) : I settled in the basement, away from the small family and cats. Like that I am calm and reassured.

Other point. There is a red diode laser over your next d & rsquo; a button. button down, flashing LED, therefore harmless laser targeted fashion. button released, fixed diode, laser (i hope) off thus activated and therefore dangerous. So glasses on !

Step 5 : l & rsquo; use

In this first configuration part still need to connect to the mains.

start LaserWeb, then in Settings :

  • Create a machine profile
  • In block machine
    • Width: 400 mm
    • Height: 300 mm
    • Beam : 0.2
  • In the File Block Settings
    • Px per inch : 96 pxpi (default for Inkscape)
    • Bitmaps : 300 dpi
  • In the G-code block
    • Start
      • G21
      • G90
      • M4 S0
    • End
      • M5
    • Homing
      • $H
    • PWM Min : 0
    • PWM Max : 256
  • In the Application Block
    • Use Gamepad activated (I think it does the & rsquo; not default)
    • Raster Image Position : BL (Bottom left – Bottom left so)
  • In the Camera block, configured your (j & rsquo; have not tested that of Raspberry, to see if c & rsquo; is like OctoPi)
  • And finally in Tools n & rsquo; not forget to save ! From my side I l & rsquo; have done in local storage and a file.
  • Top click Apply. You never know.

Any final stage. And yes c & rsquo; is long but it's worth it ! In the firmware, there are definable variables that s & rsquo; adapt to each machine. An ultra important : not engines. C & rsquo; is the number & rsquo; impetus to make a complete rotation of the & rsquo; axis. Those that I & rsquo; we got a value of 80. Problem default c & rsquo; is 200 in firmware. Fortunately nothing is easier to change and it'll be final.

If you want to know the current values, type $$ in the input line

You will get all the currently configured values. I give you those that I & rsquo; have used. For this type each following line in the input line :

$0=10
$1=25
$2=0
$3=0
$4=0
$5=0
$6=0
$10=3
$11=0.020
$12=0.020
$13=0
$20=0
$21=0
$22=0
$23=0
$24=25.000
$25=500.000
$26=250
$27=1.000
$30=256
$31=0
$32=1
$100=80.000
$101=80.000
$102=80.000
$110=4000.000
$111=4000.000
$112=2000.000
$120=400.000
$121=400.000
$122=400.000
$130=300.000
$131=300.000
$132=200.000

All explanations for each value are here. But with that the machine should be well adjusted.

You can now test the control commands ! Information for the machine is positioned in guide “landscape” with the controller board to me.

Move the laser at the center of the machine, put on your glasses, connect and power the machine (the laser fan starts up) and remember to check that the laser diode flashes (mode test).

Go to the Control menu, then use the arrow keys to move the head. The bad surprise to me was to see that the left / right are reversed. No worries if c & rsquo; is also home, switch off all, disconnected connector X on the map then reverse the & rsquo; order and this son !

Step 6 : the first tests, results and I think

We start our first test : moving the laser in the center of the machine, put on your glasses, connect and power the machine (the laser fan starts up) and remember to check that the laser diode is not blinking (fashion Kindle Fire !).

Use the controls to position the bottom left head. D & rsquo; also think at the end of & rsquo; use to return to the point 0 to be calm. J & rsquo; have not found how to do it automatically. Surely gcode.

J & rsquo; have therefore sent LaserWeb an image of black circle PNG. Diameter 5 cm. My carrier was a wooden 5mm d & rsquo; thickness not get through. Result : 10 minutes for drawing. no convincing !

So again but this time having made myself a circle in Inkscape to an SVG file. Completion time : 4 seconds !

J & rsquo; I then used white A4 paper 80g / m (the conventional printers). Speed 300, laser power 50% and Twirl file here.

raspberrypi_laser_engraver_laserweb_test
raspberrypi_laser_engraver_laserweb_result_1
raspberrypi_laser_engraver_laserweb_result_2

C & rsquo; is immediately better. Reduce power for not too much burn, reduce speed to improve the fineness, a small fan to prevent brown spots, etc. As many points to further improve the result !

Conclusion on this machine EleksMaker A3 Pro 2500mW

Good points

  • perfect packaging
  • Fast d & rsquo; shipping
  • Quality and finishes with the protections
  • perfect plexiglass
  • Simplicity d & rsquo; use. Allow 3-4 hours max to be fully operational. Far ahead a 3D printer. Yes c & rsquo; is not comparable but good …
  • Result of expectations. Especially on the cutting paper.

Negative points

  • No manual. Patience and observation so
  • Parts not used. A bit like IKEA, I still have screws and other parts. Bizarre.
  • The position of the card I do not find it terrible

And now, j & rsquo; have a rather long list of cutting applications ! Here is a text Inkscape then used to cut brown paper 120g / m

Finally a link useful enough that I & rsquo; have used for some steps that can see a comparison and firmware settings (among other)

Thank you to Peter and GearBest to m & rsquo; be allowed to do this test !

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