Collaborative Effort Gets Laser Galvos Talking G-Code

Everyone should know by now that we love to follow up on projects when they make progress. It’s great to be able to celebrate accomplishments and see how a project has changed over time. But it’s especially great to highlight a project that not only progresses, but also gives back a little to the community.

That’s what we’re seeing with [Les Wright]’s continuing work with a second-hand laser engraver. It was only a few weeks ago that we featured his initial experiments with the eBay find, a powerful CO2 laser originally used for industrial marking applications. It originally looked like [Les] was going to have to settle for a nice teardown and harvesting a few parts, but the eleven-year-old tube and the marking head’s galvanometers actually turned out to be working just fine.

The current work, which is also featured in the video below, mainly concerns those galvos, specifically getting them working with G-code to turn the unit into a bit of an ad hoc laser engraver. Luckily, he stumbled upon the OPAL Open Galvo project on GitHub, which can turn G-code into the XY2-100 protocol used by his laser. While [Les] has nothing but praise for the software side of OPAL, he saw a hardware hole he could fill, and contributed his design for a PCB that hosts the Teensy the code runs on as well as the buffer and line driver needed to run the galvos and laser. The video shows the whole thing in use with simple designs on wood and acrylic, as well as interesting results on glass.

Of course, these were only tests — we’re sure [Les] would address the obvious safety concerns in a more complete engraver. But for now, we’ll just applaud the collaboration shown here and wait for more updates.

9 thoughts on “Collaborative Effort Gets Laser Galvos Talking G-Code

    1. Lightburn does have galvo support as of this writing. The issue is, it only supports the Ezcad2 board. Without the board you won’t get it running. I’m sure Lightburn could be adjusted to talk to the Teensy as a controller if there was a market for it.

        1. Lightburn will talk to grbl devices directly, so apart from how the toolpath is generated, it should be possible. There is an open source software project called “Balor” that talks to the EzCad2 controller that sits in 90% af these chinese laser marking machines – i believe by studying Balor you could make the Teensy emulate the Ezcad2-board.

  1. Hopefully all the safety comments from the previous post about it are still fresh in everyone’s mind and we don’t have to repeat them here.

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