Every laser cutter enthusiast eventually pops the question: how on earth do I align an invisible beam that’s more-than-happy to zap my eyeballs, not to mention torch everything else in its path? We hate to admit it, but laser cutter beam alignment is no easy task. To greatly assist in this endeavor, though, some folks tend to mix a red diode laser into the path of the beam. Others temporarily fixture that diode laser directly in the beam path and then remove it once aligned.
One deviant has taken diode laser mixing to the next level! [Travis Reese] has added a servo-driven diode laser that dynamically drops into the path of the laser tube when the lid pops up, and then tilts comfortably out of the laser path when the lid closes again.
[Travis]’s beam alignmnent mechanism is Arduino powered and driven by a classic hobby servo. A firmware update moves the setpoint of the laser slightly up and down for adjustment, with about a tenth of a degree per step. While [Travis] doesn’t have all degrees of freedom exposed for alignment, this jig is more-than-sufficient for getting a matching path that’s about eyeball-accurate with the true path of the beam.
Curious? [Travis’] CAD model is up-for-grabs if you’d like to spin your own variant.
Laser alignment is tricky, but we’ve seen a few other solutions out there. For a more classic mechanism that traces the actual beam path with burn marks, have a look at [Stephen’s] method.