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Question #: 603

Question: WHAT SOFTWARE CAN BE USED WITH THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

Current Solution

If you take the standard parallel cable BoB (Break Out Board), then you will need control software (Mach 3 or EMC2) and CAM software to make your G-Code (such as CamBam). Personally I use CamBam and Mach 3, they work beautifully but don't expect to turn them on and know how they work out of the box. Give yourself a few weeks to get familiar with the basics. CamBam is VERY powerful software for it's price. I'm surprised how much I keep learning on what I can do with it...I highly recommend it if you want as much control as possible.

Mach 3 + CamBam as a bundle costs $310. EMC2 will give you a free replacement for Mach 3 and is exclusively for Linux.

If you use the USB BoB, it will cost an extra $75 + $75 for the software. This is an all-in-one package so no need for Mach 3 or CamBam.

For etching rasters (jpeg, bmp, tiff, non-vectors, photos), I highly recommend PicEngrave. It has been a labor of love for the past 9 years and John has done a wonderful job with it. It easily compares in quality compared to software that is in the $200-$300 range. John's software runs $40 and can be found here: http://picengrave.com/ (don't let the modest website fool you, this stuff can do amazing things). DotG and the Mach3 engrave plugin are two other options and instructions can be found on Dustans page in the gallery on buildyourcnc.com website.

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Other Possible Solutions to this Question

  • WHAT CAN ADD TO MY BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER MEASURE THE TIME OF USE?

    Hour meter. This will tell you exactly how long your system has been 'on' giving you a more accurate bead on the length of your tubes life.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT CAN ADD TO MY BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER MEASURE THE TIME OF USE?

  • WHAT ARE SOME USEFUL MODIFICATIONS CAN APPLY TO THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

    Temperature probe monitor. Very valuable. This keeps you up to date on your coolant temperature levels.

    Voltage meter. This will tell you the exact level of voltage/power you are running telling the laser to run at instead of an arbitrary mark on a drawn wheel around your POT.

    Ammeter sensitive to 1mA. This will be sure your not over driving your tube and reducing it's life significantly.

    Hour meter. This will tell you exactly how long your system has been 'on' giving you a more accurate bead on the length of your tubes life.

    Exhaust fan upgrade. The current fan included is 100CFM. You can buy 120mm fans that push 250CFM and I have included a guide on how to go about doing this here. http://buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewto ... 8cdd1802bf

    To push the exhaust fan even further, if you have the room/power, I would highly recommend investing in a 600+ CFM "Dust Collector" system. 250CFM is still not suffice to draw all the smoke that can come off of 3mm or 1/8 MDF cutting job.

    A cutting surface. I bought myself a aluminum 'egg crate' mesh from my local HVAC company. They are used a cover for fluorescent lights and work great for low impact cutting surface. They come in 4'x8' sheets and are easily cut to fit. The other side is if you can find a steel honeycomb cutting bed to fit. These can be quite costly or fairly affordable depending where you are looking. The benefit of a steel honeycomb is you can use high power magnets to hold material down.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT ARE SOME USEFUL MODIFICATIONS CAN APPLY TO THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

  • WHAT CAN USE BELOW MY WORKPIECE AS SUBSTRATE IN BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

    A cutting surface. I bought myself a aluminum 'egg crate' mesh from my local HVAC company. They are used a cover for fluorescent lights and work great for low impact cutting surface. They come in 4'x8' sheets and are easily cut to fit. The other side is if you can find a steel honeycomb cutting bed to fit. These can be quite costly or fairly affordable depending where you are looking. The benefit of a steel honeycomb is you can use high power magnets to hold material down.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT CAN USE BELOW MY WORKPIECE AS SUBSTRATE IN BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

  • HOW CAN YOU ENHANCE THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

    Temperature probe monitor. Very valuable. This keeps you up to date on your coolant temperature levels.

    Voltage meter. This will tell you the exact level of voltage/power you are running telling the laser to run at instead of an arbitrary mark on a drawn wheel around your POT.

    Ammeter sensitive to 1mA. This will be sure your not over driving your tube and reducing it's life significantly.

    Hour meter. This will tell you exactly how long your system has been 'on' giving you a more accurate bead on the length of your tubes life.

    Exhaust fan upgrade. The current fan included is 100CFM. You can buy 120mm fans that push 250CFM and I have included a guide on how to go about doing this here. http://buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewto ... 8cdd1802bf

    To push the exhaust fan even further, if you have the room/power, I would highly recommend investing in a 600+ CFM "Dust Collector" system. 250CFM is still not suffice to draw all the smoke that can come off of 3mm or 1/8 MDF cutting job.

    A cutting surface. I bought myself a aluminum 'egg crate' mesh from my local HVAC company. They are used a cover for fluorescent lights and work great for low impact cutting surface. They come in 4'x8' sheets and are easily cut to fit. The other side is if you can find a steel honeycomb cutting bed to fit. These can be quite costly or fairly affordable depending where you are looking. The benefit of a steel honeycomb is you can use high power magnets to hold material down.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HOW CAN YOU ENHANCE THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

  • WHAT THICKNESS OF MATERIAL CAN THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUT?

    A standard 40W CO2 laser will cut up to 1/4" thick of material, be it wood, acrylic, card stock, leather, fabric, foam, cork, etc. (Decent speed and final cut are heavily dependent on a strong air assist upgrade)

    Metals cannot be cut due to the power level and wavelength of the CO2 laser. But it can be marked with special solutions like Cermark or Thermark.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT THICKNESS OF MATERIAL CAN THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUT?

  • HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BUILD THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

    The blackTooth Laser cutter and Engraver can be built in a weekend. Take a look at the build instructions and try to determine if you feel you have sufficient capability to put together the laser system.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO BUILD THE BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER?

  • WHERE ARE THE WIRING DIAGRAMS FOR BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER IN INSTRUCTIONS?

    You can find the wiring diagrams for the blackTooth on step 105 and 106 on the list of instructions on the blackTooth page. Step 105 pertains to the parallel breakout board and step 106 pertains to the USB interface board.

    Additional Information:
    wire size

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    WHERE ARE THE WIRING DIAGRAMS FOR BLACKTOOTH LASER CUTTER IN INSTRUCTIONS?

  • WHAT IS D.O.F OR DEPTH OF FIELD FOR THE BLACKTOOTH LASER AND LENS?

    Depth of Field. This is how far the focal point goes before re-expanding again. With a 2" lens, you have approximately 2-3mm of DOF. This means that you'll have 2-3mm of perfectly focused laser before it starts to re-expand again. If you have a 4" lens, you will have up to 7mm of DOF.

    Additional Information:

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    WHAT IS D.O.F OR DEPTH OF FIELD FOR THE BLACKTOOTH LASER AND LENS?

  • CAN BOOST THE POWER OF MY BLACKTOOTH LASER?

    Upgrade your mirrors to SI coated mirrors, using a HQ ZnSe lens and even pushing up to a beam expander will all boost power. The ideal order of experimenation for lowest cost would be changing out for a higher quality lens labeled HQ ZnSE lens. Next would be SI mirrors, which will absorb less heat and reflect better, the last would be to use a beam expander which expands the beam, reducing the heat signature on the mirrors and makes a tighter focal width.

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    CAN BOOST THE POWER OF MY BLACKTOOTH LASER?

  • I am building the Blacktooth laser cutter. What is the safest and most accurate way to test the output of the laser power supply WITHOUT connecting the laser tube? Can I use a standard multimeter and measure the voltage output of the laser power supply?

    You can test the power supply, but you will need to take extra special care since the voltage on the high tension line can be lethal. Go to this instructable to see all the step on testing the power supply:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-test-and-set-a-Chinese-China-made-CO2-Laser/?ALLSTEPS

    Additional Information:

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I am building the Blacktooth laser cutter. What is the safest and most accurate way to test the output of the laser power supply WITHOUT connecting the laser tube? Can I use a standard multimeter and measure the voltage output of the laser power supply?

  • HOW TO COOL THE BLACKTOOTH 40W LASER TUBE

    Cooling is not as tricky as you might think. There is 3 ways to approach this, only 2 really matter for a low scale 40w setup. First one is the cheapest and easiest. The higher the temp of water the worse your performance will be, from what I understand anything in the 30C range is about the most tolerable it gets. Lower is better. But not frozen...from what I've been told a very experienced cutter, he found 8C was the highest power he achieved.

    1. Use a 5 Gallon resovoir system which gives you a fairly large space of water to heat up before you need to tend to it. Add about a cup of anti-freeze to the mix of DISTILLED water. You don't want ANY minerals in the water that might build up in your system. The anti-freeze works to keep algae and other ickies from growing in your water.

    2. Use a smaller resovoir system (or even closed loop) and install 1 or more radiators found in CPU cooling systems with 120mm fans attached. This will continously cool your water system to ambient room temperatures, but with a tiny resovoir it will be difficult to add things like ice-packs to drop the temps if the ambient is quite hot.

    3. Using an industrial coolant system. Overkill and unless your cutting A LOT, this is a very expensive option to take. You can also explore the idea of Peltier cooling but it is extremely expensive electricity/BTU wise compared to an industrial cooler.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HOW TO COOL THE BLACKTOOTH 40W LASER TUBE

  • HOW HARD CAN PUSH MY BLACKTOOTH LASER?

    These tubes are rated for 18mA. The power supply is able to push up to 21mA. This is a very dangerous thing to do. If you are pushing the tube beyond 18mA you will cut it's life by QUITE a bit.

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    HOW HARD CAN PUSH MY BLACKTOOTH LASER?

  • WHAT ARE THE BLACKTOOTH LENS SIZES AND FOCAL LENGTH SPECIFICATIONS?

    The lens is 20mm wide and a 50.6mm focal length (the one included). This lens will stand up to at least 30PSI air assist.

    The mirrors are 25mm wide mirrors.

    Focal length is the distance from the lens to the material for the laser converge into the best focal point. If a lens is listed as 2". You measure 2" from the lens to the material, this will be the tightest point the laser can go before it starts to re-expand again losing focus.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT ARE THE BLACKTOOTH LENS SIZES AND FOCAL LENGTH SPECIFICATIONS?

  • WHAT ARE THE BLACKTOOTH SHIPPING DIMENSIONS?

    The blacktooth ships in 3 boxes.

    Structure 38x22x5 #54

    Components 14x13x13 #30

    Laser Tube 35x7x6 #4

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT ARE THE BLACKTOOTH SHIPPING DIMENSIONS?

  • WHAT MATERIALS CAN THE GREENBULL MACHINE CUT? LASER ETCH?

    The Greenbull machine can cut a very wide variety of materials ranging from foam to aluminum. We recommend the use of our 2.2kW spindle to allow the greatest flexibility. Aside from that, the most important thing is to use an appropriate end mill for the material you are cutting and to use appropriate speeds and feed rates.



    BYCNC Response:
    Our 40W laser can cut up to about 1/4" materials ranging from wood and acrylic down through lighter materials such as leather, fabric, foam, etc. Speed and final cut are greatly enhanced by an air assist upgrade. We also offer an 80W laser which has approximately twice the capabilities of the 40W.

    Additional Information:

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    WHAT MATERIALS CAN THE GREENBULL MACHINE CUT? LASER ETCH?

  • DOES ANY OF THE SOFTWARE THAT COMES WITH IT COMPATIBLE MAC 10.6?

    There are several CAD/CAM programs out there for MacOS. Here is a list of a few: http://www.macuser.de/forum/f53/3d-2d-cad-395058/#post4499316
    I've also read good things about punchCAD: http://www.punchcad.com/
    Of course, there is always SketchUp if you are in a pinch. There are a few CAM plugins for SketchUp as well, but I've never used them, so I can't vouch for them.

    CAD/CAM will get you as far as designing your parts and producing the g-code, but if you also want to run the CNC machine with your Mac, you will need a piece of software similar to Mach3 or EMC to run the g-code. I haven't been able to find anything like these programs that runs on Mac, so you may have to run Mach3 or EMC in Windows using Boot Camp or a virtual machine such as VMware or Parallels.

    Personally, I would use the Mac to do all the CAD/CAM, then use a cheap PC to run the CNC machine.

    Additional Information:


    Additional Information:
    EasyDNC for OSX
    www.dnc-x.com

    Additional Information:


    Additional Information:
    Hi guys I’m new to the cnc and I’m beginning to learn how to operate and cad-cam software also my cnc runs on Mach3 my questions is if I should use MacBook to do all designs if I can have all this software to run on Mac or I have to use windows software to operate it? I have separate small computer connected to the cnc table who have Mach3 on it please help. Also if you know any other software much easy for beginners please let me know thank you guys!
    My email if needed is r1jastrzebski@gmail.com

    Additional Information:


    Additional Information:
    Hi , thank you for your advise!

    Additional Information:
    Hi , thank you for your advise!

    Additional Information:
    Hi , thank you for your advise!

    Additional Information:
    Hi , thank you for your advise!

    Additional Information:

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    DOES ANY OF THE SOFTWARE THAT COMES WITH IT COMPATIBLE MAC 10.6?

  • HOW CAN ENHANCE THE BLACKTOOTH?

    Temperature probe monitor. Very valuable. This keeps you up to date on your coolant temperature levels.

    Voltage meter. This will tell you the exact level of voltage/power you are running telling the laser to run at instead of an arbitrary mark on a drawn wheel around your POT.

    Ammeter sensitive to 1mA. This will be sure your not over driving your tube and reducing it's life significantly.

    Hour meter. This will tell you exactly how long your system has been 'on' giving you a more accurate bead on the length of your tubes life.

    Exhaust fan upgrade. The current fan included is 100CFM. You can buy 120mm fans that push 250CFM and I have included a guide on how to go about doing this here. http://buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewto ... 8cdd1802bf

    To push the exhaust fan even further, if you have the room/power, I would highly recommend investing in a 600+ CFM "Dust Collector" system. 250CFM is still not suffice to draw all the smoke that can come off of 3mm or 1/8 MDF cutting job.

    A cutting surface. I bought myself a aluminum 'egg crate' mesh from my local HVAC company. They are used a cover for fluorescent lights and work great for low impact cutting surface. They come in 4'x8' sheets and are easily cut to fit. The other side is if you can find a steel honeycomb cutting bed to fit. These can be quite costly or fairly affordable depending where you are looking. The benefit of a steel honeycomb is you can use high power magnets to hold material down.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HOW CAN ENHANCE THE BLACKTOOTH?

  • WHAT LENGTH OF MOTOR CABLE SHOULD BE USED WTIH THE BLUECHICK V4.2

    The recommended total length of motor cable should be 15 feet for the blueChick v4.2

    Z - 6 feet
    Y - 5 feet
    X- 4 feet

    20 AWG 4 conductor

    If your drivers will be positioned farther from the machine, you may need longer cable.

    Additional Information:

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    WHAT LENGTH OF MOTOR CABLE SHOULD BE USED WTIH THE BLUECHICK V4.2

  • HOW BAD IS THE SMOKE AND EXHAUST USING BLACKTOOTH?

    I'll be honest, it can be pretty awful at times. You'll want a dedicated exhaust line. Cut a new hole, make a dedicated line. Also, invest in a charcoal air filter, it will help. Trust me. They can also be done DIY very inexpensively. Buy a "Universal Pre-filter" and simply wrap it around a screen and have air push down through the screen wrapped in the charcoal laden felt. $20 + fan + screen. Away you go =)

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HOW BAD IS THE SMOKE AND EXHAUST USING BLACKTOOTH?

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