Inside An EBay Marking Laser

When it comes to trolling eBay for cool stuff, some people have all the luck. Whereas all we ever seem to come across is counterfeit chips and obviously broken gear listed as, “good condition, powers on”, [Les Wright] actually managed to get more than he bargained for with one of his recent eBay purchases.

In his video teardown and tour of an industrial marking laser, [Les] suggests that he was really just in it for the optics — which is not a surprise, given his interest in optics in general and lasers in particular. The 20-W CO2 laser once etched barcodes and the like into products on assembly lines, but with a 2009 date code of its own, it was a safe bet that it was pitched due to a burned-out laser tube. But there were still high-quality IR optics and a precision X-Y galvanometer assembly to be harvested, so [Les] pressed on.

The laser itself ended up being built around a Synrad RF-stimulated CO2 tube. By a happy accident, [Les] found that the laser actually still works, at least most of the time. There appears to be an intermittent problem with the RF driver, but the laser works long enough to release the magic smoke from anything combustible that gets in its way. The galvos work too — [Les] was able to drive them with a Teensy and a couple of open-source libraries.

Galvos, lenses worth more than $800, and a working laser tube — not a bad haul. We’ll be following along to see what [Les] makes of this booty.

13 thoughts on “Inside An EBay Marking Laser

      1. If I had this, I would be looking to control it with LinuxCNC.
        F-Engrave -> G-code
        G-Code -> LinuxCNC
        LinuxCNC -> Ethernet -> Mesa FPGA IO card with XY2mod module.

        The Mesa firmware is open source. If nothing else the VHDL for XY2mod might be useful, downloadable from the “specifications” (?) tab here; xy2mod.vhd is inside the “hostmot2” zip file inside the zip file…

        But then, this is what I am familiar with, you are probably unfamiliar with all of the above, so should probably stick with what you know.

    1. “Trolling” can also refer to a kind of fishing where the boat moves along at low speed, hence “trolling motor” and the like. It was a term that was in use long before the internet was around. I remember trolling while fishing with my father back in the 1970s.
      Trawling is another kind of fishing, generally done commercially if I understand it correctly.

      1. Trolling seems to be selective fishing, trawling is done with nets and expects a lot of fish.

        There are still shows about fishing here in Canada. A decked out motorboat and a fishing rod.

        1. I used to troll in Lake Quisnel. It was not so selective. You never knew whether you would catch a Kokanee or a Rainbow or nothing at all. If it was a Rainbow, you knew immediately.

      2. I came to the same conclusion as Michael, trolling is selective fishing using bait (and now the Internet usage makes sense, post a bait comment and wait for a fish). Trawling is searching through large quantities of water for a fish using a net. Trawling lots of ebay listings makes sense, trolling eBay by I’d guess trying to tempt sellers into giving you interesting products does not.

    2. The original meaning of Internet trolling is also this kind of trolling — looking for a sucker to bite on your line. The people doing the trolling being called “trolls” comes afterward.

      Citation: me. I was on the alt.s back then.

  1. Laser optics were once expensive items, but they’re common consumables these days. I remember paying US$800 for such a lens in 1983 but today they’re AU$25.00 off ebay. You can thank the prevalence of K40 laser cutting machines for that.

    I just picked up a complete 1325 Chinese laser cutting machine off Gumtree Australia for AU$800.00 although it cost considerably more to ship it the 532km from Sydney to my garage.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.