IntroductionIn short: If you want to control a laser engraver with a PC you'll need a microcontroller (connected via USB/WLAN to a PC) and drivers for the stepper motors. The microcontroller (in this case the arduino) needs software, which can take gcode-commands (coming form the PC) and turn these into signals for the motor-drivers. Thankfully this software already exists - it's called grbl (homepage on github, backup: zip-file). grbl is intended for three-axis cnc-machines. In order for the homing-function to work properly, you have to change the following lines in the config.h-file:
HardwareFirst, I wanted to build a laserengraver by myself. After several attempts though, I realized that buying a kit / something where everything already fits, would cost me less (in parts, time and nerves). So I bought the makeblock xy-Plotter with the Laserengraver head. If you are interested in building your own, a search on instructables might help you. Otherwise looking for projects on kickstarter might be a good idea (laserengravers/-cutters appear periodically).
|makeblock xy-plotter with laserengraverhead|
ControllerAfter the assembly and testing the recommended software, I managed to burn out one of the stepper-drivers. Not wanting to buy a new one and already having a plethora of electric components form my first attempts, I made my own pcb.
|Laserengraver-contoller with Arduino Pro Mini|
If you google grbl + shield you'll find that there are several people who have done the same and are selling their boards (there is even one for the raspberry-pi). If you don't want to buy one: I drew mine with fritzing and used the direct-toner-method for etching.
In order to control the laser (needs 12V DC) you can use the pin A3 (originally for the coolant-control).
|connections for grbl|