Hello all; please excuse what will be a lengthy post so it will appear in stages. I finally found enough time to spend some of it with the application (Lightburn) that was written exclusively for laser users. My first issue was getting it to talk to SM1 but I suspect that the difficulty connecting was mine on two fronts.
I could not get Lightburn to accept or pass on any commands to SM1 via my Macbook Pro. It needed the USB/Serial port connected before opening the application. There may be a way to save the machine configuration but as yet, I have not found the Mac version. The baud rate was supposed to be 250,000, so I was given to understand but in the event, Lightburn appears to be happier at 115,000 baud on the Mac.
Having got the Mac and my SM1 talking to each other through Lightburn, I want to look briefly at the Lightburn GUI along with a cursory glance at the facilities it offers. I have some video that needs to be processed before I upload it and some additional screencast material, which also needs to be processed to reduce the huge memory overheads. I will also post some example lasered plywood image files so that people can assess the quality of Lightburn’s output for themselves.
Onwards! First the image below is a screen shot which provides the reader with an overview of the graphic user interface and I will discuss each section and the available commands in this portion of this post.
The graphic interface screen on loading the application is clear to read and many of the icons used will be familiar to users of computer software that incorporates any aspect of design and arrangement of graphical or written elements.It needs to be understood that Lightburn is a 2.5D application. It will assist you to represent 3D but only in a single flat plane. Initially, the GUI may look busy but it is logically arranged and further choices lay behind the tabs which are visible in the sections with the red title bars.
Being a true cross platform application, it operates like Mac software in that you can set the preferences from the title of the application on the menu bar. Another setting that is not obvious from this view but very useful is that you can set up the grid spacing and divisions and how visible the grid lines are. I set the grid for 1cm lines and made the lines as feint as possible. I also specified that the grid should extend to 13cm square to mimic the maximum area available on the Snapmaker 1 table.
The next image of the same GUI has a highlighted area encompassing the first ten icons from left to right; under the Apple menu bar. The highlighted icons represent file operations and appear in the following L-R order… New - Open - Save - Import - Undo - Redo - Copy - Cut - Paste - Delete.
The following GUI image includes the next five highlighted icons which control what the operator sees on the work area of the screen (e.g. my own 13cm squared SM1 table). The icons from L - R represent the following actions to adjust your view: Pan/Drag View - Zoom to Page - Zoom In - Zoom Out - Zoom to Frame Selection.
Those icons are followed by a camera, which if it is a USB camera, can be used to adjust the background. My computer’s built in camera can be controlled by Lightburn. The next icon is a computer monitor and this represents a means to access the preview of what your work will look like. I can provide some video footage after I have reduced the file size. This icon is arguably a really important icon, if like me you ended up round-tripping from Luban; to any external applications to assess whether the GCode for you work required adjustment before being sent to the Snapmaker.
The next image demonstrates what pressing the preview icon produces. It is a subsidiary screen which overlays the main work area once it is invoked.
The most valuable aspect of the image preview after the file has been processed by the software is the ability to delineate the layers in the order they have been specified. This can show you when a file is being cut in the wrong order. You can select speeds for replay that are real time divided by 10, 5 or 2 then 1x all the way up to 40x speed. have highlighted the distance I had to have the laser beam on in order to carve the image into a 2mm plywood coaster. This was a .svg image comprised of hundreds of separate segments.
You will see that the highlighted distance to be cut was 4062mm which is just over 4 metres. Just under 3/4 of a metre was movement of the module only. The time spent cutting was a very speedy 2 minutes and 41 seconds. This equates to around 3 cm travelled every second. There is a video of the engraving process once I have processed the file to reduce the massive size.
The next image is a sample file of the .svg file of the owl seen in these images and engraved onto a 2mm plywood coaster… There are very slight scorch marks from the smoke but after I reduced the power from 100% to 50%, the smoke marks were no longer an issue. All comments are welcome.
OK, that is the first instalment of what will be a very lengthy post. It is provided in the hope that it will help other people who want to try the laser module and are not sure what they can do.
DISCLAIMER: I will say at this point that I am not employed by the Lightburn company nor do I know any of their personnel. No Lightburn employee has offered me any inducement to write what I have written. It is all my own work and therefore it is also my own opinion. Please do feel free to disagree with anything I have written.