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K40 Laser – First Test Cuts

Posted by Ignatius Havemann on April 24, 2014  /   Posted in Blog

24 April 2014 – The Chinese just keep on impressing me! Although I have to admit you need to do your homework and make sure you buy form reputable suppliers.

Whats in the box:

We received the Group Buy Lasers, all in excellent wood packaging with no visible damage on the outside. I promptly opened one and found everything inside very well packaged and in good condition. We received the K40IV. This model has a new design cutting bed, includes air assist and fume extraction. We also received a water pump, small air compressor, fume extractor fan and a pouch with software on a CD, a USB dongle, printed manual and a piece of acrylic which was cut with the laser for final QA.

 

K40_001
K40_002

K40_003

K40_004

 

Wiring and control:

I found the wiring to be pretty good with no immediate concerns. The K40 is controlled with a Moshisoft MS10105 V4.6 USB board. The laser tube connections are also done well with silicone filled tubing insulating the connections.

K40_005

K40_006

K40_007

 

K40_008

K40_009

K40_010

Operation:

I only needed to change the power plugs and hook everything up to get the laser up and running! The mirror alignment needed a few adjustments and luckily that was fairly easy to do. I’m still not 100% sure its perfect but it will have to do for now. The Moshisoft board inside the K40 is apparently only compatible with the Moshidraw software or a Moshidraw plugin for Corel Draw. I received Moshidraw V9.96 and MoshiLaserSetup. This is where the frustration started… MoshiLaserSetup trips my antivirus so I have not done any testing with that – yet. Moshidraw has powerful text editing features for mainly creating stamps, but be my guest trying to figure it all out. I’m just not interested. I draw my designs in other CAD packages and want to use Moshidraw only as the interface to the laser. After restarting the laser and laptop a few times I got the laser to make some test cuts. In the photo you will notice jagged corners but this is due to the imported bitmap images I used. The biggest problem I have with this version of Moshidraw is that it does not support DXF files. I downloaded Moshidraw 2014 and it does support DXF files but I have not been able to make any cuts. With 2014 you can control the laser head position but this does not seem to work correctly as I need to figure out what micro stepping the motor drivers are setup for. The 2014 version does look a lot more polished so I will definitely try and get it working.

K40_011

 

Oh yes, you might wonder why 4 red hearts? Well, keeping the wife entertained means she wont mind me playing with new toys till early in the morning…

 

Where to from here:

I need to get it cutting DXF files to be useful at all. Currently I have 2 options, either get Moshidraw 2014 up and running, or use the Corel Draw plugin. Will report on that soon. I might also spy on the USB and create my own application to control the laser. A simple program that imports DXF files and then controls the laser should not be too difficult. Another option would be to use Mach3 with a standard Mach3 breakout board. In the long run, I want to add a red dot for easy material alignment. Add a motorized cutting bed to make focusing the laser easier and definitely control laser power from the PC. I noticed the Moshi control board has a header to control laser power but I will have to investigate further to know what that will entail.

25 Comments

  1. Jurie Vorster April 25, 2014 9:43 am / Reply

    Glad to see you have your priorities straight! It is always vital to keep the wife happy and entertained if you ever want to spend time on your projects. Large LED TV, wireless internet and laptop… and yes, biltong or Marmite broodtjies evr so often do the trick mostly.

    As for the laser, soonest I have it up and running it would be great to start collaborating amongst the group buy “members” and any other interested local parties. A facebook group or page dedicated to the laser cutting doodling could possibly work…?

    With this as the “Entry Level” for most of us into laser cutting… I think going forwards with all kinds of hacks and upgrades will be a blast. Looking forward to it.

  2. Uys Fick April 29, 2014 11:05 am / Reply

    Hi Ignatius and others!
    Thank you again for this opportunity to get hold of an affordable little laser. It is quite fun to discover and explore a new unknown (to me) field of technology. My machine has been burning away the whole weekend and I also managed to break one of the mirrors. I allowed some soot to contaminate the mirror which created a hot spot and cracked it into a few pieces. One piece is still large enough to be used, I just placed it accurately an its been working well! Can I buy some mirrors in SA, or should I order it from Lightobject in USA?

    I’ve been cutting various materials, including signwriters PVC, and managed to cut through the PVC without burning the paper backing. 3mm plywood cut well at 7mm/sec but I struggled through 2mm Silcone rubber at 2mm/sec, probably because of the temperature resistance of Silicone. Rubber stamp engraving came out very well with good definition. 4mm polycarbonate produced bad results. Will still try 3mm acrylic.

    I agree that the Moshidraw software is crappy. Will consider a Mach3 conversion.

    This little machine is good value for money, and I’m sure it can give me the courage to build my own with a 150Watt tube. (I like building stuff, it is so much more fun than buying off the shelve!)

    I would also like to connect with the other guys who bought this, as Jurie says we can work together on upgrades and hacks. I will also gladly share my experience gained with building my CNC plasma and CNC mill with the others, and I’m sure I can learn a lot from them as well.

    Happy lasing!

    • Ignatius Havemann April 30, 2014 5:08 pm / Reply

      Nice work! Great to hear your laser is up and running!
      Sorry about the mirror :( I do not know of any laser optic stockists in SA. If you are ordering from Lightobject, give me a shout, I might order a spare set for myself and share the shipping.

      I am busy with a control PCB design. I want to base the firmware on the LAOS open source design enabling one to use VisiCut but more on that later.

    • Jurie Vorster May 1, 2014 12:12 pm / Reply

      Hi Guys,

      The extraction fan is probably at fault and is the root cause of your (@Uys) mirror failure. The impeller vanes work much more efficiently if you flip it over… unfortunately the fan casing cannot be inverted. I did some slight modifications to the impeller (@Ignatius can probably edit into this reply the photo’s I’ve emailed). By flipping over the impeller, the vanes now faces the right direction. Cut in the new air flow vent holes into the impeller and fasten it. The extraction “power” has improved significantly. This will now properly vacate the sooth generated while cutting… keeping the insides and mirrors cool and clean.

      Fan Mod 1
      Fan Mod 2
      Fan Mod 3

    • Richard Fussey December 13, 2014 8:41 pm / Reply

      Hi Uys,

      Did you use Moshidraw to produce your stamps? I recently purchased a 40W laser cutter and are struggling to use the software. I don’t really understand the setting on Moshidraw 2014. I have been trying to engrave an image but cannot get it to engrave any deeper than roughly 0.5mm.

      Can you suggest which settings to alter?

      Thanks

  3. George July 29, 2014 4:27 pm / Reply

    We just purchased one of the K40 cutter/engravers for our makerspace. I seem to be following in your footsteps. I am also stuck trying to figure out the machine configuration for Moshidraw 2014. I did find the stepper motor settings and change them to the full step mode as I don’t think the controller supports microstepping. (There are no dip switches or other config capabilities on the controller card, so I am thinking that it is fixed to full step.) With that changed, the Y axis can be moved accurately in 10mm increments using the on-screen X/Y controllers, But, I can’t get the X axis to move at all. Any thoughts?

    • Ignatius Havemann August 4, 2014 3:05 pm / Reply

      I had a look at my Moshidraw config. My steppers run at 8th microstep. I have a V4.6 Moshi controller.

      I would suspect at least some movement or audible noise if the stepper config was incorrect. With these cheap machines my best bet would be either bad wiring or a faulty PCB.

      My plan since the beginning was to replace the electronics with another control board and use something like Inkscape. With my limited experience with Moshi I think it is definitely not a usable solution, to cut or engrave a bit maybe, but not reliable or usable for long term use.

      I have made a stepper controller PCB based on the opensource Smoothie board. Tested it on a 3D printer and the motion is fantastic. Planning to redo my K40 electronics with one of these in the next few weeks. Will do a full write-up of the controller PCB as soon as I receive Rev1.1…

  4. Nubian Man September 26, 2014 6:19 am / Reply

    Greetings, i recently installed the Moshidraw 2014 software, & cant seem to control where the laser starts engraving from, can you please assist with this.
    I have the original machine as it came, I did no modifications.
    Thank you.

    • Ignatius Havemann September 26, 2014 10:50 am / Reply

      I have given up with Moshidraw and uninstalled it. If I remember correctly, select the image and place it with the X and Y parameters. Then, make sure no image or item is selected in the main edit screen in Moshidraw then start the cut. Select speed and other settings such as outline or engrave and click start. That was more or less the process I followed. I do have Moshi installed on an older laptop so if you still have issues let me know and I’ll see if I can give clearer details. Good luck!

  5. Nubian Man September 27, 2014 12:21 am / Reply

    Greetings, thanks for your quick reply, I’ve been doing that, but the machine is only starting the cut in same place, even though I put in for it to start the cut somewhere else.
    This has only been happening since Moshidraw was updated to the 2014 version. Before this, I wasn’t having this problem.
    Any assistance you can provide, will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  6. Greg November 17, 2014 8:07 pm / Reply

    I have everything ready (I hope) and don’t know how to start the engraving process. Help.

  7. Greg November 20, 2014 3:38 am / Reply

    I have a k40 and can’t make it work.
    I get no help from the eBay store owner.
    If I delete moshidraw, what is an easy for dummies software?

  8. David December 5, 2014 12:41 pm / Reply

    Hi All,

    I recently purchased a a Chinese laser cuter the 40 watt one you see on ebay. I purchased it to make stamps but am having trouble with the settings to engrave them. It seems to do large stamps fine -Font 5-6 mill although I need to do about 8 passes with power (machine nob) to full. When it comes to say 4mm you cant make out the letters. I have tried speeding the machine up and slowing it down to about 5cm/s but still not a good result.

    Im using Moshidraw 2014, if anyone can tell me you settings I would be most great-full and how many passes you need to make. Also, do you no if its possible to have the machine do say 5 passes without you needing to press “again” all the time.

  9. Uys Fick January 20, 2015 12:55 pm / Reply

    Hi Everybody,

    With Moshidraw and Moshilaser software it is inevitable that you will loose your sanity. So I decided to change it to a system that I know, and that is the combination of Mach3 and Sheetcam.

    Got it working last night and find it to be a huge improvement.

    I purchased a 3-axis stepper driver/breakout board from Micro-robotics in Centurion and replaced the Moshiboard with that. Connected it to an old PC with windows XP and now it is a “proper” CNC machine.

    I am using the direction pin of the A-axis, slaved to the Z-axis, to switch a small Omron Solid State Relay, which in turn trigger the laser.

    If anybody is interested, I would be glad to assist.

    Cheers,
    Uys
    0834583575

  10. Mike Esdaile February 7, 2015 5:11 pm / Reply

    I use the moshidraw software to produce stamps. Moshidraw is really difficult to fathom out, and there are virtually no instructions.
    I have managed to work out how to use it, by doing all the layouts in CorelDraw, and exporting it as a 600 dpi B+W BMP file. This can be opened in Moshidraw, and nothing needs to be done in the first stage of Moshidraw. I leave most of the settings as default, and none are changed at all in the first stage.
    Select ‘Output’ then ‘All Page’ to go to the second stage.
    At the top there is the X and Y position, which are both set at 10 mm by default. This can be changed to set the top left corner starting position. The speed setting is something that can be set. A smaller number is slower, and cuts or engraves deeper. Too slow will cause the work to burn. And then for stamps, if it is not already reversed it needs to be set to versa. The convex & cave settings are to set if the black or the white is engraved.

  11. Bill Parker February 14, 2015 6:01 am / Reply

    Hi I just got the K40 with moshidraw but ca not work it out as to what i NEED TO DO TO USE THE MACHINE
    1 A software installation video in Chinese
    2 k40 instructions in word 9 but my computer says its not word 9
    3 Millsone presentation all in chinese
    4 Millstone software pdf in English
    5 Moshidraw left
    6 Moshidraw 2014
    7 Moshilaser cad setup
    8Moshilaser setup English
    9Ms10102 help v9.0
    10 The usb drive zipped aplication
    11something in chinese in word9.0
    I have tried loading it in win7 but errors then a clean xp pro install but errors can anybody please help as to best operating system and order of software to load and wha t software I need loaded or any Better software I need to get please. I have not been able to even plug it in yet due to software problems.
    Cheers
    Bill

  12. Uys Fick February 16, 2015 12:06 pm / Reply

    Hi Bill,
    Your problems are not unique: Just browse the comments on sites such as cnczone and you will realize that Moshi is rubbish. I found my own solution as described in my previous post, but Mike Esdaile may have found the easier and less expensive way. Ignatius Havemann changed to 3D printer software, maybe he would be so kind to share that information with us?

    As mentioned before, I will gladly share my solution with anyone who may be interested.

    Good luck!

    Uys

    • Ignatius Havemann February 16, 2015 12:28 pm / Reply

      Uys, I designed a stepper controller PCB mainly to be used for 3D printers but it is a generic board capable of controlling any CNC based system – Arm Cortex M3, 5 axis, 8 outputs, 6 end stops, 4 thermistors, ethernet, SD card etc. It is based on the SmoothieBoard project.

      I have not done a blog post on it yet but will soon. Have a look here Speedy Stepper Controller

      You could easily use any CNC controller and PC software to control your K40. You only need 2 axis (157.48mm/step) and 2 output pins to fire the laser – PWM preferable. I first tried to drive my laser’s power supply ENABLE pin with PWM directly but I did not get reliable results. I then made a simple first order low pass filter DAC – http://www.ti.com/lit/an/spraa88a/spraa88a.pdf. By applying a PWM signal to the DAC input I get a variable voltage out for the current setting. I then enable/disable the power supply during the cut while setting power levels with the PWM DAC.

  13. Martin September 1, 2015 11:38 pm / Reply

    nice blog. I’m using a TinyG board for driving my 40W china CO2 laser. It is more powerful than a arduino. I replaced the moshidraw controller by a TinyG CNC controller board to get better results and more setup options. The Board works very well and the results are very good too. here is a short video https://youtu.be/OYt-rW-dlwo

  14. Denise January 7, 2016 7:54 am / Reply

    Hi! I purchased a 40W chinese laser engraving machine to make rubber stamps. Could somebody teach me the correct settings for me to get a good result on the engraved rubber. I did a lot of trial and error, wasting more than 2 rubbers sheets already. I am to engrave names but when I test it, the markings/imprints are not readable especially on long names.
    My textspace is just 26mm x 9mm. My rubber 2.3mm thickness. I’m using Coreldraw. Can somebody help me with my settings?? PLEASE…. And by the way, what’s the difference between the DPI on coreldraw And the DPI of the laser machine?? Thank you so much in advance.

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