Laser - UpdateMore Laser 20 Mar 2015
Finals are over and I had some time to work on the laser. The belts were installed and some holes cut and some things decided. Mounting the belts wasn’t a huge thing, but committing to cutting them was kind of a symbolic way point. I find it hard sometimes to commit to decisions at this point in the process because I always run into a mistake or two and have to redo things. But sometimes you just have to accept the fact that you’re not going to find those mistakes until you make them.
Another big step was the control panel. The old plan was to finish the laser and then use it to cut the control panel, but that was abandoned. I learned this from my 3d printer. It’s best to front load as much of the work as possible and not cut any corners, because once it’s finished you don’t want to start again. If you do, you’re left with a less than ideal machine with wires hanging everywhere that’s unreliable and you won’t use it very often. It’s best to commit to doing it right. So I am designing the control panel and cutting it on the school laser cutter. This will allow me to install it as I finish the machine. The big loss here is that the school machine is not long enough to cut the whole panel in one piece. Instead I will have to cut two pieces with the splice joint in the middle.
I also decided on the final layout of the control box on the side of the machine. I have to stuff all the wiring in here, but I want it to be neat. Another lesson from the printer to make it nice and neat. The whole assembly will be more reliable, and it will also be easier to fix any issues that might come up. In this box there is the Smoothie control board, air assist pump, ventilation fan, laser power supply, and motor power supply. The control panel up top will feature an LCD display, analog ammeter on the laser, switches for each of the aforementioned equipment pieces and the LEDs in the lid. The cooling pump will probably be permanently connected to power so if the machine is on, the cooling pump will be on. It also has a big emergency stop button.
I also did the annoying work of cutting a big round hole for the ventilation fan to couple to the cutting area. I think this should be the last big dirty thing to do to get moving. Now it’s just wiring and putting the laser tube in!