It turns out the small laser needs more than a firmware reflash. In the interest of getting the laser working, I dug into the data.
The Leetro MPC6515 V2 manual identifies the proper working status LED signals for the CPU and MC card. The only indicator(s) showing ‘good’ is power on.
On another path, I contacted Rabbit Laser to get the right firmware for a reflash and told them the display never advanced beyond System Starting Please Wait V3.0.14. They said the CPU needs replacing. So two diagnosis paths, same conclusion. Replace the board.
I’d welcome other eyes on this too.
Now as to the replacement, there is still a little money left on the Laser Overhaul vote budget, but not this much.
Rabbit has MPC6525 (newer) replacements in stock for $616 including shipping. (Ouch)
AliExpress, eBay and Amazon can all significantly beat the price, but not the delivery.
Control-MPC6525-MPC6515-Controller $480 CPU, Control panel and cables
Upgraded-Control-MPC6585-MPC6515 $400 CPU, Control panel and cables
MPC6525A-Leetro-Laser-Controller-System-6525A $445 same kit
MPC-6525A-Co2-Laser-Controller-System $430 same kit
I’ve put the manuals and firmware files on the stainless steel thumbdrive on the Laser PC in FabLab if anyone wants to review these.
As always, your input is appreciated.
I’ll be in on Saturday to see what else can be done.
I know very little about how our laser works but would this be a good time to switch away from a proprietary board? I think Lorin mentioned it in an earlier post. It’s my understanding that there are other features available with more open boards.
I’d be willing to help out with the laser. I don’t have much experience with hobby lasers but I’d be interested in learning.
Speaking from my own point of view:
Replacing with a Leetro MPC6525 Controller or other latest version is fairly straight forward - Buy it, Install it, update firmware, Run laserCup5.3 Have a nice day. - It just costs a few days and $600 or less.
Replacing with an opensource board, firmware and software is: A big project. We need some very involved volunteers to dig into a lot of details.
I’d recommend for hardware, a Smootieware Clone board similar to what Lorin has tested for the Delta Dorks project.
Smoothie Clone AZSMZ-Mini-Ver2-1 AZSMZ-12864-LCD It does a very nice job of driving steppers.
I’d recommend following this outline to take a path of least resistance and complexity.
laser-cutter-guide [Smoothieware] smoothieware laser-cutter-guide
There is an extensive list of compatible software in this article.
There are a whole lot of details to determine before taking out the old board and installing the new one. It’s not going to be just plug and play.
Going with the Leetro board gets the Laser Cutter up in at best a few days at worst a few weeks, depending on voting and lead time for parts.
Going with an alternative will be a big time suck. Expect months of development time. Do you want the laser down for months?
We need seriously interested volunteers with micro controller experience to carry this through to completion.
Unless a whole bunch of you read that whole Smoothieware article and say, I’M IN. by the time this comes up for a vote, I’m going to say the known commodity is the best path.
We can add enough money to the controller vote for an AZSMZ Smoothie clone and put it into a development mode. When it’s running nicely on the bench, it could be installed.
So who’s game?
I think proprietary is probably best here. Look when we upgraded the gigabot to an open source board - it went down for what? Two, three years?
I would agree that faster is better. Both lasers have been down for what, a month? Maybe more? I would personally favor working devices sooner over a fancier version in the nebulous future.
Alternatively, If the state of the small laser is such that it is non-functional, requires a bunch more money, and more time to get working again, would it be best served to divest ourselves of it for whatever money we can get and focus all our effort on the large laser?
I prefer the redundancy of having two lasers. This way, if the big one does get an opensource upgrade later, there will the possibility of using the other one.
I understood that the original plan had been that people could still use the small laser while the big one was being worked on. This has not worked out and both are down.
I am pretty sure there are people with laser projects waiting for either one to be available.
I agree faster is better if we don’t have a working laser. IF the big one is working I think having the extra features and a better software stack would be beneficial. Do we really need two working at the same time? If we convert the smaller one first doing the larger one later should be much easier and have what I believe the preferred laser down for less time.
Still requires someone to spearhead it.
Yeah, I say working first, then we can think about future upgrades.
I vote Yes.
One day, I dream of an open source controller. At the moment, the best candidate is grbl and laserweb. Smoothie will be problematic until next version, primarily due to reasons within laserweb computer software. At the moment, the problem is that the best controllers don’t work reliably with the best CAM softwares.
Smoothie = amazing firmware and hatdware. Open source alternatives to laser cut = not yet refined enough to talk to smoothie reliably. Maybe in 6 months or so…
Too much to do already. First we need to add power distribution, relays, a couple more sensors, etc. Those are safety critical, so we can’t afford to think about all this yet. Furthermore, new procedures and training is 2nd importance so we don’t mess up these machines again with dust, crud, and ground loops.
Tiffany: gigabot works, albeit it is a pain, so everyone has been using ultimaker2. That switch was between 2 open source boards. If someone truly needs to use gigabot now, I can help them. If you don’t need to print something 2 cubic feet in volume, use ultimaker2. I’d like to set up gigabot with smoothie and an lcd and sd card interface (like ultimaker2) when I can. I’ve done it before with my own printers.
Gigabot is a great tool to have, and we’ll get to making it more reliable, but printing typical non-huge things is sorta like bringing a gun to a knife fight.
OK, so here is what I’ve learned.
Leetro controllers have done some upgrades. A lot of versions are
obsolete and replaced. MPC6515, 6525, 6535, 6565, and MPC6585 are
Lasercut5.3 is replaced by Lasercut6.1 which no longer needs a dongle.
Saved file extensions change and it has more power and speed settings.
Pricing on MPC6585 (the last to go obs) and PMC8530 are delivered
prices for kits. All delivery dates are theoretically about the same
with expedited shipping from China included in the price. .
$293 AliEx Shenzhen SolarMy Laser Store open 5 yrs
$454 eBay zenjin29 open 2 yrs
$447 Amazon Cloudray
There are lots of suppliers in the $290 to $490 range for the MPC6585
kit on all three etailers.
The Shenzen SolarMy Laser store seems the most credible and lowest cost.
The price difference is due to the fact that this is one of the 25% tariff items. I’m seeing this a lot already since I order from china a lot, as well as the USA. Ebay and Amazon have to reflect this increased cost in an item that is imported in low quantity. Even the math works out, (268*1.25)+50=422.50. That reflects a 25% import tariff and $50 for shipping and any usual customs fees – that would be the absolute minimum for a US Based company to sell it. Customs doesn’t enforce tariffs on small e-packets shipping from China.
Shenzhen SolarMy Laser is reputable. 99% on Ali rating. People use them on the SawMill Creek online CO2 laser forum. I’ve only heard complaints about them not being very good at doing freight to USA (slow / expensive shipping, etc). I trust them for small parts like this.
Good news: AliExpress has a 25% off sale going on the next four days.
The controller upgrade we want is now $198.75 + FedEx IE shipping $46.24 cuts the upgrade costs to less than half the original estimate.
We should budget $300 to cover anything unexpected.
We should also complete the software installation on a second separate Laser control station PC to avoid any weird incompatibility between the new small laser control and the old version on the big laser.