Laser Cutter Update: Great Improvements and Laser Art

A while ago, my church did a silent auction to raise money for students going to a youth conference.  I wanted to donate some laser art, so I found neat designs online and used Inkscape's "Trace Bitmap" and "Object to Path" tools to create a path from an image.  Then, I used a laser engraver plugin to transform the path into g-code for my laser cutter.  I tried cutting the design from black paper, but it didn't work!  My laser cutter (PiKnife) messed up the movements and cut things out in wrong places, making the entire cutout worthless.  I was quite disappointed, so I tried to figure out what the problem was.

One problem PiKnife had a lot was that the stepper motors would sometimes stick and jitter.  Eventually, I noticed that pressing on the input and output wires plugged into the ribbon cable going to the Raspberry Pi would cause this problem, so I deduced that the issue must stem from bad connections.  To fix the connections, I wrote down where everything was in the ribbon cable and then used male-to-female breadboard jumpers to wire each input and output directly into the Pi's GPIO header.  This eliminated the uncertainty of plugging wires directly into a ribbon cable.

Amazingly, that fixed the problem entirely!  I set a new piece of paper on the laser cutter, pressed enter to begin the program, and didn't have an issue again!  While it took five and a half hours to complete the design, it showed the true capability of PiKnife.  It can cut extremely complex shapes for a long duration without problems.
With mere hours to spare, I completed the laser art and entered it in the silent auction.  I also made a sped-up video (above) of the laser cutter working, which turned out well.  Perhaps now that PiKnife really works it is time to expand into the CO2 laser range...