Laser Cutting - Electronics Blog

Archive for the ‘Laser Cutting’ Category

DIY CNC Laser Cutting: what *doesn’t* work

The idea to document a failed project is not mine. When I read this post by Hackaday, I realized that I do have a project that failed which I don’t want to simply trash. Some valuable insights have been gleaned while working on it and I am planning to reuse many of the parts and the software in a different project. I have so many DVD drive parts now that it would be silly not to make another attempt at building a DVD CNC laser cutter, but it will definitely be designed differently, thanks to the lessons learned. So, that’s how this post came about.
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Laser Diode Driver with TTL Control. PCB V2.0 is ready.

Laser Diode Driver with TTL control. PCB V2.0, populated

Laser Diode Driver with TTL control. PCB V2.0, populated

This is another one of my belated updates. It has been about 3 months now since I’ve received the boards for the updated version of the laser diode driver from Olimex. However, I haven’t had a chance to work on any project that required a laser driver until just recently and so the boards were not populated and tested for the longest time. Finally, I can report that the design works, here are some pictures and there’s the Eagle board file for the PCB later in the post. Read the rest of this entry »

DVD-CNC. Laser cutter DIY Project. Concept.

DVD CNC. The whole setup with PC, mechanical parts and electronics pictured.

DVD CNC. The whole setup with PC, mechanical parts and electronics pictured.

DVD-CNC is still very much a project in progress. The purpose of this and the future posts in this series is to present project build notes which will, hopefully, help someone building a similar DIY laser cutting device. The project is not complete but some of the biggest issues have already become apparent. So, if you are interested in building your own DVD-CNC device, read these notes at least to avoid making the same mistakes. Besides, despite the project as a whole is still in progress, some parts of it, such as the TTL-controlled laser diode driver for example, are already at a workable stage and can be used in your own projects.

This project came about as a result of my propensity to never throw away parts that were designed to or can be adapted to move electrons. I am also very interested in mechatronics and motor control in general and so it was all but certain that over time I would have accumulated enough of various discarded data storage devices because they are so cleverly combining parts of both mechanics and electronics. We live in world filled with discarded devices that only a few years ago were the stuff of science fiction. I always feel bad about the discarded yesterday’s technology and it gives me an extra kick to have it re-purposed for today’s needs. Read the rest of this entry »

TTL-controlled Laser Diode Driver. Updated schematics. TTL-Controlled Laser Diode Driver TTL-Controlled Laser Diode Driver

During the course of my DIY laser cutter project I needed a laser diode driver that I could control with a CNC software, such as EMC2. I’ve already made an attempt to build one based on Linear Technology’s LT1121 voltage regulator with Enable input but the driver design that came out was not exactly successful 🙁
So, I took another stub at it … Read the rest of this entry »

P-38J Lightning – CNC Files For The Laser Cut Miniature Model

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - miniature 1:212 laser cut foam model

Lockheed P-38J Lightning - miniature 1:212 laser cut foam model

{adinserter Internal_left}Here is another model I’ve designed around the size limitations of Groover’s micro laser cutter from discarded DVD drives – 1.5″x1.5″. I wanted this model to be in the same scale as my earlier Supermarine Spitfire model – 1:212 scale after seeing a 1944 photo in Famous Aircraft: The P-38 Lightning (by Gene Gurney) picturing a P-38 (F-5 version on a reconnaissance mission) accompanied by a Spitfire and the caption said: “Two of the fastest aircrafts in the world at the time this photo was taken”. I though it would be nice to see them together again, materialized on a much smaller scale 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

Laser Diode Driver Based on LT1121 Voltage Regulator – schematic and PCB

Laser diode driver based on LT1121.  PCB version 1.2,  populated.

Laser diode driver based on LT1121. PCB version 1.2, populated.

01-12-2012 Update
This post is kept alive just to hold the old comments – please see the corrected circuit design here:

I’m having some issues with overheating of both the LT1121 IC and the R1 potentiometer, so I advise you to approach this design with caution. I will be revising it in near future. I would love to hear any suggestions for improving this design from the site visitors!

{adinserter Internal_left}I’ve been using an off-the-shelf laser diode driver for my CNC laser cutting projects and came to realize that I need a different driver. Maybe not so small as to fit inside the laser diode enclosure but capable of driving both red diodes in 100mA-200mA range and blue diodes in 75mA-130mA. In fact, having the driver inside the laser diode housing proved to be inconvenient for this application because it is hard to monitor the current and also both the driver and the diode emit considerable amount of heat and I see no good reason to put them together to double that heat up inside a small enclosed space. Read the rest of this entry »

Laser Diode Power Output Based on DVD-R/RW specs

Unknown red laser diode - what performance can we expect? -

Unknown red laser diode - what performance can we expect? -

{adinserter Internal_left}I’ve opened about a dozen different types of CD and DVD drives so far (of both read-only and burner varieties) and every time it’s a thrill to find a working red laser diode in there. But it would be useful indeed to know what performance can be expected from the laser diode once it’s free of its mounting hardware (AKA “sled”) – if it’s the laser diode you’re after, the drive may not even be worth opening. It would be nice to know that before wasting some time on opening it. Although it would be hard to know the exact specs of the diode down to the part number, some of the specs can be found rather quickly doing an Internet search. Here is how I do that.
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Laser Diode Housing from Hardware Store Parts

Laser Diode Housing, MacGyver'ed

Laser Diode Housing, MacGyver'ed. The focus is not THAT horrible, the camera picked up too much splatter.

{adinserter Internal_left}I never seem to be able to finish my laser engraver/cutter from broken DVD-RW drives project (inspired by Groover’s pocket laser engraver) because I keep opening new DVD drives and keep finding reasons to go on tangent mini-projects. Most of those mini-projects are brought about by my admiration of the amount of useful parts a DVDs has (even a broken one, apparently) and some are caused by specific challenges each new opened drive brings. So, at some point I opened an HP SDVD8821H DVD R/RW/RAM Drive and found this laser diode inside:

Laser diode on a chip with PD arrays (front)

Laser diode on a chip with PD arrays (front)

Laser diode on a chip with PD arrays (back)

Laser diode on a chip with PD arrays (back)

It’s a weird looking laser diode (LD) that is mounted in the same case with the photodiode arrays which makes for simplified optics but I did not have any housing for this shape/size diode. By the way, if anyone reading this knows a professionally made housing for this type of LD, please post a comment with the reference, I would greatly appreciate that. The diode is just slightly smaller than your more standard 9mm LD – it’s smaller diameter is 6.50mm and the larger diameter is 8.25mm so it fits neither 5.6mm nor 9mm standard size housings.
This made me think that I may not be the only one stuck without a proper housing for a laser diode and I decided to see what it would take to build a housing for a laser diode out of parts available only in the disassembled drive itself and in a local hardware store. Here is what came out
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CNC files for Bumblebee – the miniature laser cut rocket

CNC Files for Bumblebee - the miniature laser cut rocket model

CNC Files for Bumblebee - the miniature laser cut rocket model

{adinserter Internal_left}I’m going to build the Groover’s Pocket Laser Engraver at some point in the future but so far not much luck with CD drives I’m disassembling (two so far). Both were very old drives (1996 and 1998) and (shocker!) things were much simpler back then Read the rest of this entry »

CNC files for laser cut miniature airplane model – Supermarine Spitfire

Postal stamp sized model of Supermarine Spitfire MKIIPostal stamp sized model of Supermarine Spitfire MKII

{adinserter Internal_left}

The idea for this model came to me when I was browsing Instructables and came upon this nice project – the Pocket Laser Engraver. Basically, its author, Groover, describes building a laser diode cutter not unlike the one I’m using here but based on parts of discarded DVD-RW drives. In fact, the diode he’s using is also salvaged from one of those drives. I got intrigued by the project due to the fact that I never throw anything electronics away and I have a little stash of CD and DVD drives myself that I would love to put to some fun use.

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Coming soon ...

Recent Comments
  • Zafar Ahmed Abbasi: aim 60 years old retired man experiment of laser diode 808nm,910nm for dental use your help...
  • Rakibul Hasan: But, I want to know (+)and(-) pinout
  • Wayne Allsopp: Hi i find this site very interesting I have a Scorebot ER4PC and i cant figger whats the problem i try...
  • michael: Hi Your sin(x) wave is going from zero to PWM-max value – so you are driving maximal possible current....
  • Subhash G Gadiyar: thankyou very much, i knew pattern matching concept by using for loops but in right time u made me...
  • Bruno Cabral: Do you think this kind of laser and optics is enough to vaporize black ink in a painted PCB?
  • Bruno Cabral: Is this the one you’re wanting to source? m/4000117844997.html...
  • Bruno Cabral: Just for clarification, the mount is diode -> compression nut -> washer with lens -> mip ->...
  • Bruno Cabral: Never mind, I found it!
  • Bruno Cabral: What are that 1/8 golden color parts? Do you have english names for it so I can google something...