All instructions for upgrading machines are all done at the buyers or viewers own risk. Lasers are inherently dangerous and all safety measures are the responsibility of the buyer or viewer. While we provide some safety features on our laser kits, it is not a complete laser machine, so all additional features are up to you when you build your machine including interlocks, fume extraction, and fire prevention. Inventables is not affiliated with J Tech Photonics Inc. and they in no way endorse these instructions.
These are the instructions for the newest models of the X Carve with the Controller. We no longer mount the laser driver on top of the Z Axis. We figured this allows for more upgrades of the Z Axis, including the Z axis slider upgrades. It also just cleans up the upgrade and makes it easier to install. We just did our install in under 10 minutes.
If you have the older mounting kit with the laser driver mounted on the top of the Z Axis, then you can find them here: OLD VERSION OF MOUNTING INSTRUCTIONS
Let’s now get started with the upgrade!
In order to complete the following instructions, you need to purchase the laser and mounting kit. You can get them here:
Paw Paw’s Installation Video Guide
This video will walk you through the installation steps. You can also look below for the step by step instructions as well.
Lightburn Software Setup Video
We recommend lightburn software for running your laser. Here is how to set it up on your X Carve.
You have the choice in the X Carve Kit option to either have a shrouded laser or not. Also, there is the option to have either the standard or a dust boot. There are two options to choose from:
- Standard Front Mount
- Dust Boot Mount
The standard mount will work with a dust boot, but you need to take off the bottom part and leave the rails. The dust boot mount will have the laser off to the side so you don’t need to remove anything, including the bottom of the dust boot from the machine to use the laser.
If you want an older mount, just let us know and we will get it for you. We have been offering the X Carve laser kit since the beginning, so there have been multiple iterations.
The wiring is pretty easy on the upgrade. You will need to start with the 10′ extension cables at the gantry and route them back to the laser driver on top of the controller.
For the input signal, simply connect the Molex mini fit Jr. 3′ cable included in the Mounting kit from the laser driver to the controller. You can shorten the cable if there is a lot of extra. There are two signals you need to connect to: SPINDLE PWM and GND.
Wire the cable to the Controller:
- Red Wire (Laser + Signal) to SPINDLE PWM on controller
- Black Wire (Laser GND) to GND on X Controller
Here is the wiring diagram for the newer machine:
Using the pre-loaded GRBL
The newest controllers coming out with the X Carve come pre-loaded with GRBL 1.1, which will have our laser code in it already. No need to upgrade to anything else to be able to run and even do pictures.
It is best to check to make sure your settings are correct though. You can send a “$$” command to list your settings. The ones you need to check are:
$30 = 255 (max Laser Power)
$31 = 0 (min Laser Power)
$32 = 1 (Laser Mode Enabled)
You can change the values by just sending the setting and the value you want. For example, to change the max laser power you send “$30 = 255” and press send.
To turn on and off the laser the command is:
- Laser ON: M03
- Laser OFF: M05
If you want to use power control for the laser (via Pulse Width Modulation) the laser command is:
Where the “XXX” is a number between 0 and 255. So, some examples are:
- Laser ON 100%: M03 255
- Laser ON 50%: M03 S127
- Laser ON low power: M03 S11
- Laser OFF: M03 S0 (or M05 will work as well…)
Running the Machine
We recommend not using Easel to control your machine when using the laser. If you are using the firmware installed on your machine (the firmware that came with your machine) then you can use Easel when routing.
There are a lot of different “sender” programs that will work with your machine. In the inside of your machine is something called “GRBL” that directs how the machine moves and interprets the G Code file. The G Code file is the “instructions” and GRBL just needs some program to “send” it to the GRBL that is in the firmware of your control board.
We now recommend using Lightburn Software. It is an all in one solution for doing vectors, pictures, and running the machine in the same program. Here is how to set up the Lightburn software:
Step By Step Upgrade Instructions
So now that you have the overview on how to complete the upgrade, lets get into the details on how to put it all together. These instructions show the 1000mm kit installation. On the 500mm machine you will probably not need the power cord extender.
Let’s get started!
STEP 1: Put a Zip Tie Holder on the Back of the Z Gantry Plate
We are going to start by routing the laser and fan extension cables. This zip tie holder will hold the ends of the extension cables in place.
This will make sure your ends are in the right place.
STEP 3: Zip Tie the Extension Cables to the Drag Chain
Put Zip Ties on the outside of the cable chain and attach the extension cables to it. If you have not started building your X Carve, put the extension cables on the INSIDE of the cable chain. If you have already built yours, it is very hard to get them inside the chain, so we opt to just put them on the outside.
STEP 4: Keep Doing Zip Ties on the Side
STEP 5: Put Sticky Tape on the Bottom of the Laser Driver (you can skip this if you want)
Not needed, but maybe nice to keep the laser driver from moving around. You can put the sticky tape on the bottom of the laser driver and then place it on top of the X Controller.
STEP 7: Connect the Fan cable to the Laser Driver
STEP 8: Connect the Laser Cable
STEP 9: Connect the Laser Driver Input to the X Controller
Take the Molex Mini Fit Jr. 3′ cable and connect it to the X Controller back side signals. You can shorten the Molex Cable if needed. Connect them:
RED WIRE -> SPINDLE (PWM)
BLACK WIRE -> GND
STEP 10: Connect Input Cable to Laser Driver
STEP 11: Attach the laser mount
Dust Boot Installation:
To mount the magnetic dust boot mount, put it on the bottom two holes on the OUTSIDE of the spindle holder slot.
Front Mount Installation:
For the newest front mount, use the M4 12mm screws for the left side and the M4 16mm screws for the right side. Put the RIGHT side in front of the slot for the spindle hold down and use the two M4 20mm Screws and Nuts to hold it in.
STEP 12: Put Zip Tie Holder on Gantry Top
Place a zip tie holder on the top of the gantry to clean up the laser and fan cables. You don’t need to do this if you want to be able to remove the laser quickly.
STEP 12: Clean up the Cables and Connect Extensions to Laser and Fan
You can attach the extra cable to the zip tie holder on the top of the gantry. Then, connect the extension cables to the laser and fan cables.
STEP 13: Focus the laser
Laser Shroud Focus
If you purchased the laser shroud, then your laser came pre-focused to 1/8″ above the work surface.
If you did not get the shroud, then the focus is set to the bottom of the base of the black heatsink.
You are now DONE!
We put a FEIN Turbo vacuum on our machine to suck the fumes out, and we mounted two lasers to our machine so we can do testing here easily with both the 2.8W laser and the 3.8W laser. You can see ours doing an image engraving in the picture. Of course you can add laser shielding to your machine for more protection!
Running your X Carve with a Laser
Make sure to press the red reset button to enable the laser driver:
You can read on how to focus the machine in the following blog post here:
Make sure you have all your safety equipment and goggles on before you start your laser. Always keep a fire extinguisher available as well close by. We have not had any problems, but it is always a good idea to know where on is when using lasers.
You should not need to do anything to change between using your router and using your laser. Just make sure you have your laser driver turned OFF so you don’t accidentally burn something when using just the router.
So there it is! Now you are ready to start creating!
Remember Safety First!
The laser used in this project is very powerful and all safety precautions must be taken. Use proper safety eyewear to prevent injury to eyes. This is a project and J Tech Photonics, Inc. is not responsible or liable for any and all damage or injury caused to people or property. The use of these instructions to make a laser cutter is under your own discretion and all safety precautions should be followed. J Tech Photonics, Inc. is not affiliated in any way with X Carve or Inventables and they may change hardware and software at any time making these instructions invalid.