We will cover where to connect it to the laser driver board and the software modification needed for PWM power control.
This is pretty straight forward. The controller is shipped with small terminal blocks to be able to make easy connections. No more soldering! The laser driver signal is on the SPINDLE (PWM) terminal on the controller. Connect based on the photo below:
You are going to connect it to the laser driver input (ether H4 or H2 depending on whether you have the molex mini fit cable):
Your controller will have one of two versions of firmware on it. Either 1.0C or 1.1f. Here are the instructions for both versions.
Using the pre-installed GRBL firmware 1.0C version
The X Controller comes with GRBL version 1.0C, which is there own branch. They have the PWM DISABLED in this version, so you will need to enable it in your settings to use power control.
In you GRBL settings, $30 is the PWM max power. It is currently set to 0 when it is shipped. You need to change it to:
$30 = 12000
This will give you a max power of 12000. Your commands for turning the laser on and off are:
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 “XXXXX” is a number between 0 and 12000. So, some examples are:
- Laser ON 100%: M03 S12000
- Laser ON 50%: M03 S6000
- Laser ON 10%: M03 S1200
- Laser OFF: M03 S0 (or M05 will work as well…)
Focusing your laser with low power: Use M03 S1200 to set your laser to the lowest power. It will just turn on and you will be able to set your focus very well.
Using the pre-installed GRBL firmware 1.1f version
This version of firmware was developed so you can do variable intensity photo engravings using the PicLaser software. The G Code generated from the PicLaser program will give a different power level for each pixel of an image. Note that this version will still control your router as well. Everything will still be the same.
This version will have “laser mode” already installed on the controller, so no need to update your machine with our firmware. Details on the laser mode are here:
When using this version of GRBL, the intensity value will be a number between 0 and 255. So the laser command will be:
- Laser ON 100%: M03 S255
- Laser ON 50%: M03 S127
- Laser ON 10%: M03 S25
- Laser OFF: M03 S0 (or M05)
If your controller has version 1.0C installed on it, then it will not do picture engraving. It stops for EVERY pixel to adjust the intensity. Now, this might work if you turn your laser power on your driver really low and you are willing to wait hours for your engraving to finish but I think you might have better things to do with your time. This is why the new firmware was developed so the intensity of the laser can change without stopping for every pixel. So, in order to set up your X carve for photo engraving you will need to follow a few steps. Here is the blog post on how to set up your machine:
The X Controller is now included in all of the X Carve machines. To check out the X Carve upgrade go here: