It’s Aliiiive!

Assembled my Totem S LASER yesterday. As how all the low cost CNC machines from China are shipped, it was a box of parts needing assembly. Extremely well packaged, there was no damage or missing parts. Shipping is a science the Chinese have mastered.

The assembly instructions are far from the superior mark. Certainly not Heathkit standards. (If you have ever assembled a Heathkit back in its day, you know what I mean. BTW… It looks like Heathkit may be back in business. They have an Internet presence.

I won’t list all the Totem S instruction faults. The best I can say is they were adequate. The worst was the wiring. But in the end, I was able to fully assemble all the parts, figure out the wiring, and bring it to life!. Typical aluminum channel and T-nuts with all the frustration of T-nut assembly. But it works. 

I have PN with almost no feeling in my fingertips, so there was a lot of extra effort in my case. An assembly video is on line and the person doing the demo wore gloves and had the flying fingers of the worlds fastest typist! The demo stops before the wiring stage. They need a wiring video.

All that said, assembly was not impossible. It might be hard for a newbie.

First Fire-up

I have loaded two software packages on my Win10 computer. The first is called LaserGRBL. It is free and can be found on the internet for download. I discovered it should be the first control software to investigate as it loads the correct USB drivers for WIN10 and provides editing access to the control software loaded on the engraver controller.

The second package is called LightBurn, which is free for 30 days but requires a $40/year subscription to keep it current. It provides a far more detailed interface and complete design editing. I think a very nice package. It’s one major fault is it does not provide a source for the GRBL USB drivers. The reason the LaserGRBL needs to be loaded first.

My intent here is to neither recommend or promote any hardware or software. I will explain my experience and what I like or don’t like or find to be a problem. Sometimes I will explain why I make the choices I do. 

There are a huge number of settings that can be fiddled with on a LASER engraver. Similar to a 3D printer. I am a newbie to the LASER, so I will need to invest considerable time to learn all there is to master. Travel speed and LASER power are the two main variables. The huge variety of materials that can be engraved are all multipliers to the complexity of all the variables.

I fiddled enough with some basic settings of speed and power had was able to burn a simple  40mm x 40mm square on a piece of plywood. I was super impressed, however humble that first burn was. The LASER beam was impressive, so intense!  The steppers were completely silent and smooth. None of the whine of the 3D printer. 

Much more to come as I sort out all the operation complexities. The good news is that it functions and I have a starting point.  I can explore from here.

Here are some pictures from the first day experimentation: 

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