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30 October 2018
Category: Ecobion Labs News
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

We have use of a HUGE garage for continuing our restoration work on the GMC.

14 July 2017
Category: Lab Blog
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

A bit of tidying up with new Repairs and Weekends Projects Categories making it easier to find things.

21 June 2017
Category: Lab Blog
Posted by: Ecobion Labs

We've just received our new JGAURORA Prusa i3 3D printer!

 

K40 Chinese Laser - Unboxing

 The K40 laser is a great, versatile laser suited to cutting thin sheet materials such as plastic and wood, and for etching. It's easy to spend a minimum of 10 times more on a similar "commercial" laser which will do the same, but there's a cost to this low price laser - It may need some tinkering to get it going.

Here's our unboxing for anyone wanting to know what to expect. Delivery was about a week from a UK-based eBay seller, although they shipped the unit from Germany as they had just run out of UK stock. I had to go and collect it from the (not so) local Parcelforce depot, and the first thing to note is that the box it comes in is huge!

K40 Laser Huge Box!

In fact, it was so big, I didn't have anywhere to put it in the lab, so started unboxing on the picnic table outside! There was no box damage, so I was hopeful.

Opening the box revealed a load of polystyrene foam sheets, with the laser lurking underneath.

K40 Laser encased in polystyrene foam sheets

With the polystyrene foam removed from the top and sides, it was time to lift it out of the box. This was made easier by tilting it up in its front then lifting it up and over.

K40 Laser lifting out of box

The packing box was nudged out of the way, and placed on the picnic table ready for further inspection.

K40 Laser out of box

Before continuing I wanted to check that everything was ok with the glass laser tube, being th emost fragile part of the laser, and if there was an issue at this stage, it would be easy to re-box and return.

With the aid of a screwdriver, I opened up the back panel. All panels are closed in place with a screw.

K40 Laser opening back panel

Opening up the panel flap revealed a perfect laser tube, no damage whatsoever. This 40w tube is what produces the laser light that does the work later. At this stage, I removed the black blocks of foam padding.

K40 Laser laser tube exposed

Now in the lab, the next job was to remove all the cling film that the laser was wrapped in.

K40 Laser wrapped in cling film

Opening the front cover revealed all the goodies inside. We have a CD, USB cable and aquarium pump...

K40 Laser goodies inside

... underneath that was the fan which slides into a channel in the back...

K40 Laser illegal dodgy travel adaptors

... and the dodgy illegal travel adaptors. There were 3 of them. I had read previously that some people had problems with the laser because of Earthing problems. The European mains lead had no way of connecting the with the earth in the mains socket, as the adaptor firstly didn't have an earth pin for the lead, and the earth pin that it did have for the mains socket was plastic! So, I simply substituted a normal UK lead, giving earth continuity. I decided to use the other adaptors temporarily as the fan and pump both came with US style 2-pin mains plugs that are not earthed.

Next was an odd bag with a USB stick inside. This is a dongle that needs to be plugged into the computer for the laser to be recognised. The control board has a serial number that relates to this specific dongle. DON'T LOSE IT!!!

K40 Laser USB dongle

Then, a strange note presented itself warning me to remove the sponge in the laser compartment. I already did this.

K40 Laser Strange Note

Finally, with all the accessories taken out of the unit, I almost forgot the vent hose that was tucked away behind the carriage (and possibly helping to cushion it).

K40 Laser Vent Ducting

Everything was given a quick check over, and I noticed that the earth wires going to the earth point connection at the back of the unit were on very loose. Easily enough remedied by tightening the connector bolt.

K40 Laser Earth connection loose

 Before going any further, the insides needed a clean up. Little bits of polystyrene everywhere. Vacuum cleaner sorted that out.

K40 Laser Insides needed cleaning

Next job was to remove the paper covering on the vision panel. I found out that all the lids have a sprung hinge on one side, allowing the panel to be removed. This made it much easier to unbolt the acryllic sheet, remove the paper and refit it. The holes that were made in the acryllic weren't drilled, but melted through, and there were large burrs that I took away to even them out and allow the acryllic sheet to fit back better.

K40 Laser vision panel

The pump would need to be set up next. Two pin American style plug, but the voltage stated it would run on the UK 240V. A brass adaptor screws in the top and this becomes the outlet, which feeds into the silicone tube that enters the laser tube at the bottom. The other silicone tube that exits the laser tube from the top returns the water and any air bubbles. Make sure that this is facing slightly upwards to allow traped air to escape, you may even have to rotate the tube slightly.

The pump then sits inside a tub of cool water, and you should run this for a few minutes before using the laser for any length of time to allow everything to cool accordingly and to purge air. I've discoverd on the Chinese K40 Laser Facebook group (link below) that de-ionised water is preferred. I've been using tap water up to now with no problems, but recently purchased some de-ionised water, so will flush and swap it out. Apparently, algae is an issue so a drop of bleach is also required.

K40 Coolant pump

Finally, the rig is up and running. I had this originally by the door so the vent pipe could extract the fumes, but it was in the way, so was moved, and moved again with a secondary extractor added and longer ducting. The secondary inline extractor I'm using simply isn't up to the job as the fumes are not sucked out all that well, so I'm looking to get a bouncy castle blower motor as one of my first upgrades to suck out all the fumes and I can then keep the door closed - Helpful especially through winter!

K40 Laser Running on a Windows Vista Laptop

There was just enough space on top of the laser to perch a laptop running Windows Vista, but I have since upgraded to the lab computer running Windows 10, without any issues. The CDs that came contain LasweDraw and Corel Laser (which is a knocked off versio of Corel DRAW hacked with a laser control interface). I'm using CorelLaser, and everything seems to work out of the box, but apparently, can work better!

External Links:

Facebook Chinese K40 Laser Group (group member approval required): https://www.facebook.com/groups/888394261237059/

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