I was looking at the lasersaur project to see how they’re doing.
I’ve expressed concern about how long it’s taking them given the funding and the number of sponsors waiting for them.
The trigger for my concern is that the project isn’t really open source so it does not have the benefit of the crowd. That aspect has concerned me because without the crowd the project may not mature as fast. Also the design may not be suitable for as many people.
I think it’s a huge disservice for the project to close the doors to the public.
Myself, I’m pretty new to all this CNC stuff (I took interest in it this passing summer). So I’m just an reasonably enthusiastic newbie.
But I was a little concerned when I saw the statement in the picture I’m showing to the right.
“Finally, the first lines of firmware have been written and the the barebone gantry is moving sweetly. We are more and more leaning towards GCode (or a subset thereof). Many people have commented on this and tried to push the community in that direction — maybe rightly so.
Our initial hesitation was that GCode seemed super messy and bloated for the lasersaur. After taking a look how reprap-related project use a subset of it we think much higher of it.
Reading through the source code of grbl and fiveD is also super helpful. Still if somebody knows of a technical paper on stepper motion, acceleration, deceleration strategies we would use it as our night time text for the weeks to come”.
The statement “leaning towards GCode” got my goat a little for some reason. Like I said, I’m no expert but the whole motion control thing seems really well solved. For instance this CNC system costs about 150 bucks. It includes everything you need to run 3 steppers motors (that can control three axis) from a computer using very well proven software such as Mach 3 or EMC2. A laser really only needs two axis so it’s actually overkill. This still leaves the laser uncontrolled. Well this CO2 laser power control was less than 50 bucks shipped. You connect it to the standard high voltage supply that is used with the CO2 lasers.
My intuition is telling me they are trying to improve or reinvent something that is already working very well.
This is a double edged sword. On one hand it’s important to take new paths. Especially the untraveled paths. So that’s good argument to get off the beaten path. But is the control of steppers a show stopper for people who want to get a laser cutter?
So the other hand is that they are trying to fix something that isn’t really broken.
There must be something else about a laser cutter that makes it difficult to obtain. I guess if the motive of the project is for the participants to learn about motion control from an engineering standpoint, then that’s cool. But the project has a bunch of sponsors so that’s different.
This whole thing is good food for thought for me.
As many of you may know I am working on an open source project called Marauder which will be an accessible CNC mill that can cut plastics, wood and such (and a plastic extruder).
I guess I need to find improvements to make it easier (and less expensive) for people.
One area that I’m working on is different bearing systems. It’s a little like the Lasersaur project because I’m challenging existing solutions that work well.
It really takes a lot of time to figure out what the real barriers to ownership are.