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Find the exact features and cost of the missing software for the monster laser cutter #607

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goatchurchprime opened this Issue Nov 22, 2017 · 14 comments

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goatchurchprime commented Nov 22, 2017

Having obtained the extra large laser cutter that hasn't got any software from the Wirral #586
we need to know what kind it is in order to decide what we're going to do.

The reason the software is missing is that someone at the school first disposed of all the computers -- including the only one with the software on it.

We need to substantiate the claim that the replacement software is only available for £6k.

Once that is done the options range from reverse engineering the communication protocol with the controller from the computer, to completely replacing the controller with something like a beaglebone/machinekit combo or another laser cutting board.

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amcewen Nov 22, 2017

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When we were first told about it, we were told it's one of these http://www.cct-uk.com/fb1800.htm

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amcewen commented Nov 22, 2017

When we were first told about it, we were told it's one of these http://www.cct-uk.com/fb1800.htm

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goatchurchprime Nov 23, 2017

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A lot of the software looks like it is for cutting fabric using cameras to spot the wrinkles.

I think what we'd need is Cutting Composer, which has a lot of features, when we are only after the basic controller part.

The brochure is vague about the software, but seems to say this FB series is capable of handling chlorine products such as vinyl, as this one is focused on fabrics.
http://www.cct-uk.com/pdf/CadCamlaserbrochure2012.pdf

It's related to this software, which does fancy embroidery:
http://aps-ethos.com/laser_cutting_software.php

This is someone else's guide for using the software and laser cutter:
https://www.uclan.ac.uk/about_us/facilities/assets/Laser_Cutter_Guide.pdf

We need to get some photos internally of this machine and its motors to see what components make up the controller.

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goatchurchprime commented Nov 23, 2017

A lot of the software looks like it is for cutting fabric using cameras to spot the wrinkles.

I think what we'd need is Cutting Composer, which has a lot of features, when we are only after the basic controller part.

The brochure is vague about the software, but seems to say this FB series is capable of handling chlorine products such as vinyl, as this one is focused on fabrics.
http://www.cct-uk.com/pdf/CadCamlaserbrochure2012.pdf

It's related to this software, which does fancy embroidery:
http://aps-ethos.com/laser_cutting_software.php

This is someone else's guide for using the software and laser cutter:
https://www.uclan.ac.uk/about_us/facilities/assets/Laser_Cutter_Guide.pdf

We need to get some photos internally of this machine and its motors to see what components make up the controller.

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KarlDunkerley Dec 12, 2017

Hi. I'm new to DoesLiverpool but I do know that the FabLab at Beamont College in Warrington uses an APS-Ethos machine. The manager is James Ingman and the main laser techie is Enrique Buenas. The software can be temperamental especially when importing images and text.

KarlDunkerley commented Dec 12, 2017

Hi. I'm new to DoesLiverpool but I do know that the FabLab at Beamont College in Warrington uses an APS-Ethos machine. The manager is James Ingman and the main laser techie is Enrique Buenas. The software can be temperamental especially when importing images and text.

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goatchurchprime Mar 14, 2018

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Some photos of the dismantling and move to first floor are here: https://github.com/DoESLiverpool/somewhere-safe/tree/master/HugeLaserCutterMove

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goatchurchprime commented Mar 14, 2018

Some photos of the dismantling and move to first floor are here: https://github.com/DoESLiverpool/somewhere-safe/tree/master/HugeLaserCutterMove

@goatchurchprime goatchurchprime changed the title from Find the make and model number of the extra large laser cutter and substantiate the costs to Check that the monster laser cutter software is not available Mar 14, 2018

@goatchurchprime goatchurchprime changed the title from Check that the monster laser cutter software is not available to Check that software for the monster laser cutter is not available Mar 14, 2018

@goatchurchprime goatchurchprime changed the title from Check that software for the monster laser cutter is not available to Check that the software for the monster laser cutter is not available Mar 14, 2018

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Thingomy commented Mar 14, 2018

@goatchurchprime goatchurchprime changed the title from Check that the software for the monster laser cutter is not available to Find the exact features and cost of the missing software for the monster laser cutter Mar 15, 2018

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goatchurchprime Mar 15, 2018

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There are lots of alternatives around. Title doesn't say we buy it. But we should know about it and what it does. Are we missing just the computer that generates the plot code (in ascii) or are we missing the whole controller system, steppers and everything?

An important part of the phone call will be when they name the price, we have to ask what the work-arounds and alternatives are when we can't afford it. They could say: Well, it generates G-code which only experts like us know how to generate, or they could say: Well, it's locked down with proprietary closed source encrypted stuff so you can't work around it. These are quite different answers, and I don't know which they would give.

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goatchurchprime commented Mar 15, 2018

There are lots of alternatives around. Title doesn't say we buy it. But we should know about it and what it does. Are we missing just the computer that generates the plot code (in ascii) or are we missing the whole controller system, steppers and everything?

An important part of the phone call will be when they name the price, we have to ask what the work-arounds and alternatives are when we can't afford it. They could say: Well, it generates G-code which only experts like us know how to generate, or they could say: Well, it's locked down with proprietary closed source encrypted stuff so you can't work around it. These are quite different answers, and I don't know which they would give.

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goatchurchprime Mar 18, 2018

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Someone left the cover off everything and we have a thick layer of dust over everything, electronics, belts, gears, etc. It's going to need a serious stripdown and cleaning now.

Meanwhile, I have looked at the basic issue with the electronics. Externally it's run from an RS232 cable from the outer computer. This probably downloads a whole G-code or HPGL file to the internal computer (now full of dust), which has a couple of boards, the top one probably just to control the display.

The XY motions are run by some very small servo motors. The X is a pair of servos with two belts onto the same drive wheel. This is pretty weird, but probably a hack when one of them was underpowered. There is a "Computer Optical Products Inc" encoder on one of these motors.

Our options remaining are to:

(a) reassemble this computer and attempt to reverse engineer the code that is downloaded to it from the controller computer (the one that is missing). We could get help with this if we can find a similar machine (eg in Warrington) and have the capability to sniff the data that's going 2-way through their RS232 cable. I guess this would be like a splitter wire we could put in-line with their cable (using the sockets) and a computer that takes the baudrate and streams out the bytes into a file for inspection.

(b) strip out the computer and replace it with machinekit on a beaglebone using one of the boards used on the machine tool and some spare servo motor drivers we have kicking around. It would be best to configure as much as possible through the machinekit config files (like homing spots, end switches, laser-on or off (eg using spindle speed or z-height as proxy for intensity, who knows), etc).

(c) find some other laser controller appropriate system like machinekit (or adapted from machinekit) which has the features of varying the laser intensity according to the feed speed, so it does corners properly.

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goatchurchprime commented Mar 18, 2018

Someone left the cover off everything and we have a thick layer of dust over everything, electronics, belts, gears, etc. It's going to need a serious stripdown and cleaning now.

Meanwhile, I have looked at the basic issue with the electronics. Externally it's run from an RS232 cable from the outer computer. This probably downloads a whole G-code or HPGL file to the internal computer (now full of dust), which has a couple of boards, the top one probably just to control the display.

The XY motions are run by some very small servo motors. The X is a pair of servos with two belts onto the same drive wheel. This is pretty weird, but probably a hack when one of them was underpowered. There is a "Computer Optical Products Inc" encoder on one of these motors.

Our options remaining are to:

(a) reassemble this computer and attempt to reverse engineer the code that is downloaded to it from the controller computer (the one that is missing). We could get help with this if we can find a similar machine (eg in Warrington) and have the capability to sniff the data that's going 2-way through their RS232 cable. I guess this would be like a splitter wire we could put in-line with their cable (using the sockets) and a computer that takes the baudrate and streams out the bytes into a file for inspection.

(b) strip out the computer and replace it with machinekit on a beaglebone using one of the boards used on the machine tool and some spare servo motor drivers we have kicking around. It would be best to configure as much as possible through the machinekit config files (like homing spots, end switches, laser-on or off (eg using spindle speed or z-height as proxy for intensity, who knows), etc).

(c) find some other laser controller appropriate system like machinekit (or adapted from machinekit) which has the features of varying the laser intensity according to the feed speed, so it does corners properly.

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KarlDunkerley Apr 11, 2018

Just been told by Simeon Diaz at CCT-UK that; "Machine SN 051004FB676: is FB Laser - FB1550 (Sheet Only) with Universal 50AC laser".

Here's a link to the product page on their website;

http://www.cct-uk.com/fb1500.php

KarlDunkerley commented Apr 11, 2018

Just been told by Simeon Diaz at CCT-UK that; "Machine SN 051004FB676: is FB Laser - FB1550 (Sheet Only) with Universal 50AC laser".

Here's a link to the product page on their website;

http://www.cct-uk.com/fb1500.php

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magman2112 Apr 11, 2018

When we took this machine apart to move it upstairs, I remember quite a few photographs being taken of the machine, to help with it’s reassembly. Are these collected or hosted anywhere at present? If not, can they be?

I can likely be available on Saturday this week if some folks want to have a go at putting this machine back together again.

magman2112 commented Apr 11, 2018

When we took this machine apart to move it upstairs, I remember quite a few photographs being taken of the machine, to help with it’s reassembly. Are these collected or hosted anywhere at present? If not, can they be?

I can likely be available on Saturday this week if some folks want to have a go at putting this machine back together again.

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skos-ninja Apr 11, 2018

When it was moved @jackie1050 took all the photos however I'm not sure where they are now

skos-ninja commented Apr 11, 2018

When it was moved @jackie1050 took all the photos however I'm not sure where they are now

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KarlDunkerley Apr 11, 2018

We need to get the latest addition to our laser-powered fleet up and running. Here's what I have discovered so far thanks to simeon.diaz@cct-uk.com who supplied the machine originally;

"The price for the software will be £1565 +VAT + delivery. The price includes the software Aps-Ethos V17 and a USB dongle. The software will allow you to create the designs and send them to the cutter.

It includes 1 year software support if you find any bugs we will try to resolved them.
Our software is backwards compatible but the warranty will be limited considering the age of your machine (2004). In the unforeseen event that Aps-Ethos V17 can’t be fixed to work with your machine we will refund you the cost of the software, after receiving the new dongle."

38543181-c3de64a0-3c9b-11e8-8851-4611d28a3ac5

KarlDunkerley commented Apr 11, 2018

We need to get the latest addition to our laser-powered fleet up and running. Here's what I have discovered so far thanks to simeon.diaz@cct-uk.com who supplied the machine originally;

"The price for the software will be £1565 +VAT + delivery. The price includes the software Aps-Ethos V17 and a USB dongle. The software will allow you to create the designs and send them to the cutter.

It includes 1 year software support if you find any bugs we will try to resolved them.
Our software is backwards compatible but the warranty will be limited considering the age of your machine (2004). In the unforeseen event that Aps-Ethos V17 can’t be fixed to work with your machine we will refund you the cost of the software, after receiving the new dongle."

38543181-c3de64a0-3c9b-11e8-8851-4611d28a3ac5

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KarlDunkerley Apr 11, 2018

Comment by Thingommy;

I like the name.

I regard this price as utterly insane -- especially given the ethos (pun fully intended) of maker spaces. Do we have any experaince of open source (or even other comercial) options?

I would sugest that priorities for selection would need to include:

compatible with hardware
user friendly and easy to pick up fast given how many users will be involved
fully featured (by some definition)
reliable (not that the old solution is, given the inkscape compatibiltiy issues to name one)
extensable (ie compatible with Sophia and Gerald, should we want to go down that road later)
easilly implemented (at the bottom of the list for a reason, I don't expect that to be very liklely)
A quick search identifies:

LaserGRBL -- Usability wise this isn't great as it reduces us down ot the same workflow that a 3D printer, needs with a separate "slicer" tool. -- I think

Laserweb -- this looks the bomb -- there are some vids on youtube -- uses grbl (or others) on the firmware side, which is fine, but that would mean retrofitting steppers in place of the servoes -- there is liklely a gcode to servo motors firmware option in existance?? -- others around here have more experiance with this than me, so please chip in.

KarlDunkerley commented Apr 11, 2018

Comment by Thingommy;

I like the name.

I regard this price as utterly insane -- especially given the ethos (pun fully intended) of maker spaces. Do we have any experaince of open source (or even other comercial) options?

I would sugest that priorities for selection would need to include:

compatible with hardware
user friendly and easy to pick up fast given how many users will be involved
fully featured (by some definition)
reliable (not that the old solution is, given the inkscape compatibiltiy issues to name one)
extensable (ie compatible with Sophia and Gerald, should we want to go down that road later)
easilly implemented (at the bottom of the list for a reason, I don't expect that to be very liklely)
A quick search identifies:

LaserGRBL -- Usability wise this isn't great as it reduces us down ot the same workflow that a 3D printer, needs with a separate "slicer" tool. -- I think

Laserweb -- this looks the bomb -- there are some vids on youtube -- uses grbl (or others) on the firmware side, which is fine, but that would mean retrofitting steppers in place of the servoes -- there is liklely a gcode to servo motors firmware option in existance?? -- others around here have more experiance with this than me, so please chip in.

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KarlDunkerley Apr 11, 2018

I've heard on various forums that LightBurn is very good for usability and features eg multiple passes. Also heard it is compatible with quite a lot of kit. There is a trial version and the full version is around £80. All the reviews suggest it is money worth spending. Would be worth a try with the trial version.

KarlDunkerley commented Apr 11, 2018

I've heard on various forums that LightBurn is very good for usability and features eg multiple passes. Also heard it is compatible with quite a lot of kit. There is a trial version and the full version is around £80. All the reviews suggest it is money worth spending. Would be worth a try with the trial version.

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KarlDunkerley Apr 11, 2018

Comment from GoatChurchPrime;

https://lightburnsoftware.com/ supports "most GCode and Ruida based controllers. GCode controllers, including Grbl, Smoothie, and Grbl-LPC, and Ruida controllers, including the RDC6442G, RDC63344, RDLC-320A, and the R5-DSP are among those supported."

https://github.com/LightBurnSoftware/Documentation/blob/master/DeviceWizard.md

What kind of controllers do we have on Sophia and Gerald? They're a pretty common sort, and if they're not in the list, it's very unlikely that this one will be. For obvious reasons, their controller list includes the open source ones (grbl and beaglebone based ones).

One problem is we let plaster dust get into every part of the machinery, it's disgusting. I found the whole thing uncovered one day and thickly layered. Possibly all the belts need taking off and washing. The metal machine tool also got quite a coating as well.

KarlDunkerley commented Apr 11, 2018

Comment from GoatChurchPrime;

https://lightburnsoftware.com/ supports "most GCode and Ruida based controllers. GCode controllers, including Grbl, Smoothie, and Grbl-LPC, and Ruida controllers, including the RDC6442G, RDC63344, RDLC-320A, and the R5-DSP are among those supported."

https://github.com/LightBurnSoftware/Documentation/blob/master/DeviceWizard.md

What kind of controllers do we have on Sophia and Gerald? They're a pretty common sort, and if they're not in the list, it's very unlikely that this one will be. For obvious reasons, their controller list includes the open source ones (grbl and beaglebone based ones).

One problem is we let plaster dust get into every part of the machinery, it's disgusting. I found the whole thing uncovered one day and thickly layered. Possibly all the belts need taking off and washing. The metal machine tool also got quite a coating as well.

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