Making a GCode file - VCarve Pro (old instructions)
On the computer for the laser cutter, there is a version of VCarve Pro that is set up to work well. Please avoid changing anything if not necessary. Since this is the same program used for the CNC routers, please do not use the program on this one for the CNC Routers as they have different settings like clearance height, feedrate, etc etc.
- Open VCarve Pro on the Laser Cutter Computer
- Draw/Load your design into the program
- Go to "Edit", "Job Size and Position", and make sure the "XY Datum" is set to the bottom left corner
- Open the Toolpaths tab on the right side of the screen. Hit the pin icon in the top right corner.
- Select one or more of your drawing objects, then click on the "Profile" toolpath button
- Under the "Tool" section, click the "Select" button, and find one of the tools named "LASER". There are multiple, each set up with a different power % for convenience.
- If you need a specific power %, please create a new tool or modify one that has "TEMP" in the name.
- Enter in your desired power % in the "Spindle Speed" textbox.
- Enter in the speed in the "Feedrate" textbox.
- Ensure that it is only going to do 1 pass. If it is not, you can click the "Edit Passes" button and make it one pass.
- In the "Machine Vectors" section, select "On" so that the laser will follow right on the line of your drawing.
- Scroll to the bottom in the Toolpaths tab and hit "Calculate"
- If the preview looks good, hit "Close" on the bottom right and click on the "Save Toolpath" button (which looks like a floppy disk)
- Save the toolpath using the Post Processor named "J TECH GRBL (MM) (*.gcode)"
Making a GCode file - Inkscape (old instructions)
Instructions on JTech Photonics' website - link here
- The scale of the drawing is based on the measurement in pixels (px). Basically treat px like it is mm. Don't change the drawing units to mm or inches or you will have issues with scaling.
- The two arrow objects with (0,0,0,) and 0,100,0) also determine your scale and "origin" or "home." Moving the arrows will move your origin. Changing the distance between them will change your scale/size when you make the gcode.
- The units are in mm/min, which is different from how they are measured in VCarve (mm/s). Remember to make your cut speed in the right units! Multiply by 60 to turn mm/s into mm/min.
Running the Laser Cutter (Pronterface) (old instructions)
- Turn on the power strip with all the components for the laser cutter and computer
- Ensure all external components are on: Fume Hood, Air Compressor, Water Pump
- You may need to turn on the fume hood manually
- Get the key and insert into lockswitch, turn on (fluorescent light inside laser should turn on)
- Open the Pronterface program
- Click Connect (usually connected to COM4)
- Click Load File, and find your file.
- Look at the preview and verify that is the correct file
- Place your material in the bed of the laser cutter, making sure it is well-aligned and parallel to the sides of the machine
- Use the interface in Pronterface to move the laser cutter to the bottom left corner of your material. You can use the "Test Fire" button to burn a dot to see where the laser is over your material.
- Click the "Set Origin" button at the bottom of the screen in Pronterface
- Click "Print" and watch it go. Keep an eye on it in case anything goes wrong. If there is a problem, hit the big red emergency stop button on the top of the laser cutter. After you do this, you have to click the "Laser Off" button in pronterface, and close pronterface. Only after that can you twist and release the emergency stop button.