Laser Cutter Build Night: Hardware Finished!

Tonight I completed all the hardware for the laser cutter and confirmed that everything is working!  I fixed the little issue with the X axis by cutting off the offending portion of the platform support and then retaping the entire platform back on to the moving sled.  Also, just for fun, I engraved drawMrSmiley() on the bottom of one of the MDF supports.  It engraved quite nicely.

I also made some workpiece holders out of small neodymium magnets and hardware nuts.  I saw this idea somewhere online - it wasn't my invention.  These will hold nicely on to the sheet metal platform and hold down the workpiece so it doesn't squirm under the intense heat of the laser. :)

As you can see, the magnets work quite well.  On the right are the seven drawMrSmiley() pieces of cardboard I engraved as a sort of stress test.  They all came out quite well and none of the electronics got too hot.  I ended up giving them to friends.  With the cardboard engraving, I noticed that if I set the speed to be too fast, the laser would sort of "skip" parts of lines because it didn't have enough time to fully burn the path.

I also made a really awesome looking bookmark by cutting (rather than engraving) blue craft paper.  I used some "for" loops to iterate through the area of the bookmark.  The laser cutter ended up making 900 holes.  Heh heh heh.  I like this machine.  :)
I am sure glad I didn't cut those by hand!  Even so, it took a few hours to complete.  However, I like that my laser cutter can cut all the way through the paper.  I'd like to point out that I programmed the code to cut squares, but it ended up making rectangles.  This was because of the slight backlash issue.  Basically, the backlash caused on side of the square to be cut shorter than the other, which affected another side, causing the square to squish just a bit.  Not a big issue, though.  Software to the rescue!

So, all the laser cutter hardware is complete.  I am extremely happy with how it turned out!  I also am looking forward to further enjoying its surprising cutting capabilities.  The tiny laser packs a punch!  Looking into the future, I will be starting to modify the downloaded code that reads gcode and moves the motors.  It shouldn't be a very hard task.