Hello Guest it is August 19, 2019, 01:06:49 PM

Author Topic: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3  (Read 579 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« on: February 13, 2019, 01:47:08 PM »
Hello everyone.  I will start by saying I've tried to find what is surely an existing discussion (or 3) about this, but the search engine wasn't getting me anywhere, so with apologies....

I am an existing Mach3 user, driving a Leadshine Mx4660 and 4 axes.  I've just acquired an Endurance diode laser that I would like to mount on my CNC table and control without changing up my wiring.  I don't use spindle control presently, so would like to use that for the laser (I think that makes sense so far).

One of the issues I've read about with Mach 3 is that there were delays in processing the laser on/off and intensity levels such that direct control of laser by Mach3 wasn't really great.  There are add on modules from places like J-Tech Photonics, but these are a couple of hundred $US plus the cost of a 5th axis stepper driver, and I would still be running Mach 3, which is getting long in the tooth.

Has Mach4 solved the laser issues?  ie, can I directly control laser on, off and intensity as required for raster / variable intensity picture engraving without an add on module? 

If so, then I would rather manage the upgrade to Mach4 than add hardware.

Thanks in advance for your patience in answering this question (for the nth time)....

John

Offline Tweakie.CNC

*
  • *
  •  7,884 7,884
  • Super Kitty
    • View Profile
    • Tweakie.CNC
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2019, 05:15:10 AM »
Quote
One of the issues I've read about with Mach 3 is that there were delays in processing the laser on/off and intensity levels such that direct control of laser by Mach3 wasn't really great. 

 That may have been the case when the Mach3 M11/M10 command set was not working correctly but that problem was fixed when build R3.043.056 was released some 6 years ago. Mach3 has been working just fine for me ever since.


Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2019, 10:06:53 AM »
Thank you for this update!

I'd also be interested in learning if you had any success using Mach3 to engrave grayscale images and your thoughts on Mach4.

Cheers
John

Offline Tweakie.CNC

*
  • *
  •  7,884 7,884
  • Super Kitty
    • View Profile
    • Tweakie.CNC
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2019, 10:45:59 AM »
I think that I have had reasonable success at engraving grayscale images with Mach3 over the years and a couple of pictures are attached.

With Mach4 it is still early days with raster engraving (mainly because it is the job of the motion controller to set the variable PWM signal required) but it is progressing.

Tweakie.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2019, 10:59:35 AM »
I would call that success!    I am running ArtCam Premium still, which I think uses a very similar post processor to Vectric.  Would you mind sharing what software you used to produce that art?

Thanks again
John
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2019, 01:11:01 PM »
Great work Tweakie! This pictures are made with diode laser and Mach3?
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2019, 08:24:06 PM »
An add on question - do you use the smoothstepper with Mach3 or mach4?  Is it necessary with Mach 3 to get the results you did?

Thanks!
John

Offline Tweakie.CNC

*
  • *
  •  7,884 7,884
  • Super Kitty
    • View Profile
    • Tweakie.CNC
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2019, 01:46:04 AM »
Hi Guys,

The pictures posted were all produced using a CO2 laser and the Impact/Laser Engraving plugin for Mach3 using just the LPT Parallel Port. This plugin and my introduction to it can be downloaded from here; http://tweakie.byethost10.com/Engraving.zip
The plugin is not particularly easy to use as getting all the settings just right can be a little tricky but it can be done. The original images that I used for testing were not modified but they were chosen for good contrast and no background.

As mentioned, Mach4 requires a motion controller and I use the ESS. Warp9 have now included Vector and Raster engraving routines within their plugin and further details are available here;
https://www.warp9td.com/index.php/faq/faq-mach4#LaserSetup

Another Mach4 motion controller is the 57CNC from Polabs and they have included some special routines to allow laser images to be reproduced with the free software Auggie. Further details can be found here; https://www.machsupport.com/forum/index.php?topic=12444.msg248511#msg248511

Hope this helps.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2019, 05:17:29 PM »
Another quick question if you don't mind, just to clarify for me!  I'm using Mach3 with the Warp9 ESS. My Win7 computer doesn't have a parallel port. Would the ESS plugin for Mach4 also work with my Mach3? 

Would the Mach3 laser plugin work with my ESS?

Or how would you suggest I get mine setup?

Would adding a parallel port into a pci slot work?

I have read hundreds of posts and can't find a definitive answer and I thought that you Tweakie are the right person to ask.

TIA

Offline Tweakie.CNC

*
  • *
  •  7,884 7,884
  • Super Kitty
    • View Profile
    • Tweakie.CNC
Re: Using a PWM controlled laser, Mach 4 vs Mach3
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2019, 01:04:46 AM »
Quote
Would the ESS plugin for Mach4 also work with my Mach3? 

No

Quote
Would the Mach3 laser plugin work with my ESS?

No

Quote
Would adding a parallel port into a pci slot work?

Yes (The Mach3 plugin was intended to operate with a 32 bit PC - I have never tried using the Parallel Port with a 64 bit PC).

Hope this helps,

Tweakie.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.  Winston Churchill.