Beambox Lessons Learned; Various Matters


#1

Limit Switches… I just remembered if in “Maintain" and it says something to the effect of check “Limit Switches” then double check that the rotary switch is set to 2D (X & Y Axis; on mine it is the straight vertical line) and NOT to rotary (on mine the rotary is shown with a circle). If you are set on rotary, switch it to 2D AND turn machine on/off. If you simply reset the rotary to 2D you will continue with the limit switch problem until you restart the machine. My switch gets reset to rotary frequently (I brush against it).

So, I’ve just replaced the tube having the last one die in a matter of about 30 minutes. I’m in the process of aligning the optics and then calibrating the camera. (Note, for months, “calibrating” the camera didn’t do anything… in the last couple months the software adjustments have been incorporated into the Beam Studio software and “calibrating” really does something… actually quite a bit. But, as I’m going through all that again and taking a few breaks I thought I would share what little I’ve learned or figured out with the caution that I never touched a laser until the BeamBox (BB) Pro and its equally likely I can be wrong as I can be right. With that caution:

Things you may find helpful, painful, or foolish….

For grins, I printed and posted 5 warnings prominently on my machine:

  1. Check and Fill Water Tank BEFORE Each Use (not each burn, but each “daily" startup)

  2. Check Power and Speed Multiplier and Reset to 100% (this is very, very important; see below)

  3. Check 2D/Rotary Switch is Properly Set

  4. FOCUS Lens:12mm or 15/32” from bottom of Lens Holder to Top of Workpiece

  5. Do NOT operate at > 50% power unless essential, and never > 60% power

I’ve also posted the following that helps a simple sailor like me:

  1. 1 Turn of Table Knob is 2mm or 5/16”

  2. Table Knob: Left is Lower table; Right is Raise table

And on the Maintain Screen: Buttons (not all are self explanatory)…

a) “Camera” should show a picture of what is under the laser lens on the Beambox LCD

b) “Power X” is a manual multiplier of the power of the laser… so if you set the software power at 45% and the multiplier is set to 200% you are now using the machine at 90% power… never, exceed 60% (see above). I’ve suggested before every operation the software advise if the multipliers are not set at 100%

c) “Speed X” is similarly a manual multiplier of the speed of the stepper motors moving the lens. I keep getting a warning indicating that I’ve exceeded some speed limit and the software has been reset to a max of 20mm/sec (if I remember correctly). I don’t know for sure but there seems to be a correlation between this warning and engraving/cutting letters.

d) “Motors” disconnects the stepper motors. You will note at certain times you are not able to move the lens… disconnect the motor and you should be able to.

e. “Air Pump” energizes the pump at the back left of the machine that forces air through the lens. The purpose of this is to have a positive airflow out of the bottom of the lens cover to stop soot and other debri from going inside and covering the lens. Its good to clean the lens every so often.

f. “Pump” turns on the water pump; especially useful when you first fire up the machine or after a tube replacement and you need to refill the tube/tank with water. Turn on BB, go to Maintain, turn on pump, wait, turn all off, and refill tank until the tank remains full.

g. “Ventilator” turns on and runs the main cavity exhaust fan at top speed (attached to the 3” or 4” exhaust hose).

h. “Backlight” turns the backlighting to the BB LCD screen on/off.

i. “TouchSig” I HAVE NO IDEA… I’ve asked a few times and either missed the answer or failed to get one. I’ve researched the site before without any luck; maybe there is a description of its purpose now.

j. “Cam LED” turns on/off an LED light to assist in camera views.

k. “Work LED” turns on/off the front an back workspace LEDs.

I’ve been advised if I continue to have Preview (camera) problems I should first upgrade to the latest Beta versions of the software and firmware… so far I’ve seen no negative consequences. I was also advised that sometimes/often it is a result of an overloaded/slow WiFi network and I’ve been advised to hardwire into the ethernet connection. Note, there is an entire instruction telling how to configure for a wired ethernet connection.

Potentially of value… I’ve wondered if I’m actually cutting through or engraving deeply into a workpiece. I read somewhere, and it seems to be true, that if you watch the soot/smoke under the laser while burning: if it is being exhausted ABOVE the workpiece then you are probably engraving and not cutting through the piece. However, if you can see the smoke coming out from underneath of the workpiece at the back, near the exhaust fan then there is a good chance you are cutting through the workpiece. This has helped me a lot.

If you remove the laser lens and clean the lens (as you should… even though there is air exhausting through the hole on the bottom it will still get dirty) remember to replace the lens with the convex side up, the flat side down. The convex is rather subtle and difficult to tell which is which (for an old fuddy-duddy like me). Lay the lens on a flat surface and its pretty easy to determine the convex v. the flat side.

A last lesson learned. I was cutting acrylic with the protective paper on the acrylic. The paper/glue burned and burned hot; hot enough that it melted the acrylic distance device used to measure from the lens to the workpiece. Two solutions resulted. First, I found that

Legines Metric Nickel-Plated Brass Push to Connect Fittings, L-Shaped 90 Degree Elbow, 6mm Tube OD (Pack of 5)

(e.g., https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H3P7DY5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1)

will fit over 5.5mm hose that fits through the hole in the bracket supporting the camera. So, I have the tube into the lens focus, covered with a very, very short 5.5mm hose, over which I placed the 90 degree Push to Connect Fitting; into which was another short piece of 5.5mm hose that went through the bracket hole, with another 90 degree Push to Connect Fitting, into which was shoved the original black air hose. At this point there is only metal fittings near the laser head and if something gives off a flame it won’t burn through the hose. Of course, the hose inside the Push to Connect Fitting can melt but so far that has not been a problem. Second (I told you I learned 2 things) was now I did not have an acrylic measuring device to spin down on the hose to measure the distance from the bottom of the lens holder to the workpiece. I cut a piece of hardwood roughly 1” wide by 3” long by exactly 12mm thick. The last inch of the 1” x 3” rectangle I cut from 12mm thick to 6mm thick in a wedge form. Now I have a wedge that I can place under the lens fitting and crank the table until it presses, or releases the 6mm end to allow the 2” flat to lay flat on the workpiece. When the 2” of 12mm thick hardwood lays flat on the workpiece my lens bottom is exactly 12mm from the workpiece. When the 12mm end is in the air and does not touch the workpiece then I know I have to lower the table. When a slight crank clockwise on the table adjustment knob does not slightly raise the 12mm thick end off of the workpiece then I know I have to raise the table further. The best part is I never jam the table up against the acrylic rod/lens piece and if I’m too high, the wedge fits underneath and I can see my progress towards lowering the table to the required 12mm distance from the workpiece. I don’t miss the acrylic measuring bar at all. If you need a picture let me know.

I hope you find something in all this that helps. Caution, I’m a beginner without a lot of experience but I bring an attitude to the job:)