Described as a 30w/20w DIY Laser Engraving Machine (Coupon: BG6C7ZG1) – this inexpensive engraver caught my attention over the Christmas holidays and here it is: Normally, Banggood provide brand names but in this case I guess they are branding it as their own product. I note the laser module has tick-boxes for everything from 20-40W. Mine is the 30W (input) and comes complete with green safety specs. February 2021 update: they asked me to point out that they have the unit in both their ES and CZ warehouses.
The kit contains everything you need to assemble the engraver – however, as the provided small manual contains insufficient instructions to complete construction and refers the user back to a video on the website.
“Store provides detailed installation video”
The video itself has no usable sound, only someone humming – and it stops dead around 60% through at which point the user still has no-where near enough information. In case much of this sounds bad — read on – in the end I cracked it and have been happily engraving ever since.
In the photo above from the manual – yes that is a link to a video, yes the instruction is partly in Chinese and yes “more” is the last word. It does look like we have a company or brand name hidden away in there – “Dingqi”.
It has been said elsewhere that Chinese manufacturers tend to state power usage rather than laser output – so – in the data on the Banggood website they state both. The 30w unit which I own has 6.5w laser output power at 450mn. Can’t be clearer than that.
At this point I decided that checking Banggood’s site might be as good idea and sure enough, an ALMOST complete assembly video and three software packages – all in one downloadable RAR file.
Lack of English speech in the video turned out to be NO problem as the person putting the unit together covered every detail and because you can follow the video, pausing as needed, ultimately it took me maybe 3 hours in total to get the mechanics assembled and the video made it relatively easy going.
All the tools needed for assembly are included (essentially three Allen keys) and I ended up with spare nuts and bolts etc.
Right now I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual doing reviews and generally tinkering (what else would you do during lockdown) and so I’m incredibly short of room in my office and workshop. Because of this, the laser engraver was largely constructed on the floor and a stool – which gives you an idea of how (relatively) simple the whole procedure was as I managed it without losing anything! However, it will be obvious below that fitting the wiring and control panel was a minor challenge due to less than obvious information:
In the photo above, you see the pre-assembled control panel – this simply plugs into the power supply (power connector lower left) and PC (mini-USB connector upper left). What is no-where near as obvious is… what on earth do you do with that bunch of bolts, nuts and spacers?
Once I’d assembled all the other parts, I was left with three pieces of plastic – the smallest of which was broken. Of the other two, the larger of the two looks like it could be meant to help mount the control panel onto the front of the engraver.
Something like 3 hours or so after starting this project I appear to have all the hardware assembled.
Note the control panel on the front – and no, I don’t have a clue what to do in order to tidy up those wires. As long as I’m making small samples I don’t suppose that matters too much.
There is no guidance anywhere as to what to do with the sprawling control cables.
When it comes to the wiring, I did not anticipate any major issues as there are basically 4 leads to connect (x, y1, y2 and laser) plus power supply. What does cause me slight concern is the mounting of the control board itself which apparently mounts on the frame and comes complete with several bolts, spacers and two heatsinks but zero instructions as to what to do with these parts!
Actually that’s not entirely true as one of the first photos on the Banggood site hints at the control panel mounting and the two black perspex parts I’ve been trying to find a use for – I wish I’d seen that before assembling the whole thing. Right – done – assembled. Now to figure out what to do with it.
I turned the power on – and there appeared a large red cross – that’s a start…
This engraver connects to the PC via USB (there is a miniUSB connector on the control board). As for the laser itself, my other engraver, the Vigotec laser engraver needs simple visual laser adjustment for different material depths. This time around:
“Engraving can be done without adjusting the focus; The new laser can combine both precision engraving and high-energy cutting at the same time. The laser power of the fixed-focus laser is more stable than the zoom laser”
Not sure even now I understand this “automatic adjustment”. The first question I have is: If this is automatic, why do the files on the Banggood RAR file include a file called “laser engraving instructions -e.doc” which says:
“Turn on the weak light, it will appear a point on the work piece. Then swivel the knob to adjust the point to the smallest.”
I note that the software in that Banggood RAR file includes CNCbox (by the look of it, only Chinese)
Secondly, LiteFire which is in English and does talk to the engraver – I had to manually select the COM port at which point the program responded to “open the larser device” – my spelling here is not an error – theirs is. I’m not missing any steps here.. I plugged in the laser via USB, the program noted that COM4 and COM6 are in use – I tried COM4, it bombed. I should have known better as I have an ESP8266 on COM4. So I switched to COM6 and all was OK. No driver installs, no setup, nothing.
Finally: LASERGRBV3.0.10 (updated online as soon as I ran it for the first time – still no idea what it does but it talks to the engraver – oh, with no drivers installed or anything else, I could get the program to move the laser around – can’t see example files)
I’m beginning to wonder if someone has, without a clear idea of what they are doing, cobbled together software from various free sources…
I do think I’m on safe ground griping about the documentation, if it was good I would not be stumbling about in the dark here. I think I have the unit on the lowest setting but am actually doing reasonably deep engraving into plywood – my last engraver made it quite clear that the low setting would not engrave anything but was for line-up only. If these crosshairs actually shone where the laser shone – then I could see that such a low intensity setting would not be necessary. See above the line of dots – no-where near that red crosshair.
Now, here’s the thing… not having ANY information to check if the laser is auto focusing or manual – I just started the ball rolling on “Laser On (Weak)” – one of two power options. Well, it seems to me to be pretty powerful for a “weak” setting. There is a set of cross-hairs – which unlike the laser are not entirely in focus – and I’m not even sure of the point of them – surely you might expect the centre of the cross-hairs to be where the laser will burn?
What you are looking at above is 5mm thick plywood, The image is 25mm * 20mm and the engraving looks to be maybe 0.5mm deep. The largest image this engraver can handle is 40cm*38cm. At this point I’m hunting around in the dark wondering if anyone knows any more than me about this engraver. Sure, it works – and seems to work without any setup – but I can’t help the feeling I’m missing something. That’s an observation, not a complaint. I’m having fun.
RIGHT – NOW WE’RE COOKING. My initial impression as I stumble about is that here we have a nice piece of hardware. The Program which loaded up under the name “LiteFire.ex.exe” is, it seemed, actually called Engraver Master by DIY8000.taobao.com (turned out to be made by BatchinMaker?
Right now it is printing out the second sample image I’ve tried. If you look in the accompanying 3-page documentation, it says the software is called “Minilaser” – how’s that for confusion. In the original software (2016 version) software itself is a help link “http://184.108.40.206/wiki/doku.php?id=Engraver+Master” – which doesn’t work. Note the date on the main page of the software:
Then I stumbled upon this link. http://my.bachinmaker.com/wikien/doku.php?id=engraver_master and that has a 2017 date…AHAH. SETUP.EXE from that link: “2020-04-23 Windows 10” – THAT’s more like it. I set WEAK LIGHT ADJUST to “1” – looks pretty powerful for a weak light to me… smells it, too and unlike the original software, that was less focussed.. it turned out that I needed to manually focus by adjusting the distance to the wood – eventually I’ll figure out a better way to adjust focus. I’m not seeing a focus ring.
The partial image of the dog is sharp, this new horse (or whatever it is) looks blurry? I need more wood. I’m on a learning spree now. The laser is definitely not “auto-focussing” – and “laser on (weak)” didn’t do anything out of the box – however it is easy to adjust the laser in “settings” from 0 to 100% – I originally had it set at 100% and somewhat out of focus. At 1% it is easy to check focus and I’m trying 20% for engraving.
In the above series, I’m happy with that 1% laser – no notable burning at all. At 20% the output overwhelms my phone camera and my eyes (through the supplied green safety glasses) but the image you saw above now engraves in the plywood nicely. I’m guessing 0.2mm line width and 0.1mm depth.
I do seem to have some restrictions on speed – probably just down to the documentation or lack of it. For the sake of it I tried the free software “Laserweb 4.0.998” which stated that the “firmware grbl 0.9j” was detected and that I should have at least version 1.1e. I took a chance and clicked on firmware upgrade in “Engraver Master – this upgraded the grbl to 1.1 at which point on testing Laserweb, the dialog said “No supported firmware detected. Closing port COM6” but at least now, back in the “Engraver Master” package, “Laser on (strong)” and “Laser ON (weak)” now work – so that’s a plus – and by adjusting “burning time” I get some control over speed.
There is a small aluminium cylinder which I still can find no use for.
I need more WOOD. Meanwhile for those of you wondering about the significance of 450nm, the wavelength of the blue/violet laser light. 450nm borders violet and blue on the spectrum with red at the other end centered around 695nm and green in the middle.
Comparing the Vigotec and this anggood-branded engraver with my original Eleksmaker A3 Pro Laser Engraver (early 2019) there are points in favour of each – the Eleksmaker DOES run standard 3rd party software and I hope in the not-too-distant future to take a look at an updated version of the latter – but the first two are in fact pretty straight forward to use and certainly for beginners there’s a lot of fun to be had with either model.