bodger: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/ (Bap)
[personal profile] bodger
I decided to buy a cheap Chinese laser cutter, with the intention of replacing its electronics so I could use it with a Macintosh. It is intended for use with a DOS PC with a parallel port, and comes with DOS-only software. I asked the vendor if it was available without the software, and found it would be only $40 cheaper. The vendor also stated the unit would not operate without the software. Yeah, right.

I elected to buy it from the eBay listing, even though it cost me $40 more, so I'd have the eBay feedback process to use as leverage if the unit was DOA. I told them I preferred the engraving software, as that seemed like something I would be able to resell. I also told them I wanted a 110V unit.

When the unit arrived, it showed up in two boxes completely covered in yellow tape, pretty banged up by EMS/DHL. The small box contained the smoke fan, which was a 220V, 50Hz unit (oops). Its motor was also loose on its mounting. It also contained the software and some clear plastic tubing.

The large box contined the laser cutter itself, double boxed with styrofoam spacers. It also contained the (crushed) smoke vent pipe, an aquarium pump (for cooling the laser), a UK style power cord, two UK-US adapters, and a combination "surge suppressor"/ adapter with no ground prong.

The laser cutter was in fairly good shape after its journey halfway around the world. The orange plastic viewing window was cracked (no big deal, I planned to replace it with a clear one, the orange plastic is of no benefit for a 10.6µm laser, it just looks cool or something). There was a loose screw rattling around, and the fuse had fallen out.

The laser tube was intact, but the water cooling channels had some cruft in them (so much for "use purified water"). The water tubing also had random cruft in it.

I hauled it down to my lab, rounded up a bucket and US power cord, hooked everything up, and turned it on. The fan spun up, and the steppers zipped to their home positions. So far, so good. Then I pressed the "laser enable" button, and the "laser test" button. No result. No glow in the tube, no current on the current meter, nothing.

So I had a good look at the innards. The unit has two power supplies, one for the logic (and fan), and one for the laser. The logic supply had a sticker warning "make sure switch is set for the right voltage", and pointing to one end, where there was no switch.

I tried powering it up with the electronics access door open, and could see that the laser power supply fan wasn't turning. I got a voltmeter and determined that the laser power supply was indeed getting power. I also measured its 5V control output, but that only yielded 0.69V. Looks like either the laser power supply is a dud, or perhaps it's a 220V one.

The unit was packed with a polite note requesting that I contact them if there's anything wrong, not to leave negative feedback. I'd do this anyway, naturally. So I sent them email detailing what I'd found. We shall see.

I got back a response:

Dear friend

1. YOu machine is 110V verison and also all the accessary is 110V. please do not plug to 220V or it will damage

2. can you please check the back of the machine and see it is mark as 110V or the 220V

I replied that the machine is marked 110V, the laser power supply still doesn't work, and asking what to do next. No reply yet. I have found the power supply manufacturer's website.

January 2014

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