View Full Version : Epilog trouble

Martin Boekers
02-11-2009, 6:55 PM
I'm having some issues with one one my lasers,

Epilog EXT 36 Legend 75watt

on smaller detail area (see attached) I have a "drop out"

Through Epilog's service so far I have replaced the X axis motor,
the encoder strip and carriage head PCB.
This did not resolve the issue.

Their next response is replace the laser tube:eek:
Approx $1800 for the tube and $2900 for the core:eek::eek:

My questions before preceeding

Does this seem like a tube issue?
Could this possibly be a lens or alignment issue?

Any thoughts will be appreciated before replacing the tube.
This laser is about 6 years with old moderate use.
I have a second one same model about a year and a half old.
Can I use the lens from the newer one to see if that fixes it or is
that going to open up a new can of worms and may knock out both lasers? Are lens's easily replaced and aligned?

If I do go the tube replacement, how much work and time is involved?

Will the architecture handle an upgrade to 120 watt tube?

Sooooo many questions, Sooooooo little time!

Thanks All!!!!


Doug Griffith
02-11-2009, 7:17 PM
It looks like thin vertical items are not etching. Does it still do this if you slow down the speed and decrease the power?

To further test the problem, I would etch a grid pattern of very thin lines at a high speed.

If the verticals consistantly don't etch well across the table, a tube could be the culprit. If everything fluxuates and is repeatable, I'd look into the alignment or encoder.

If it is quite a bit worse in the lower right corner than the upper left corner, a weakening tube or alignment issues.

If it's a random issue, electronics or tube.

Just my observations,

Dave Johnson29
02-11-2009, 7:38 PM
I'm having some issues with one one my lasers,
Epilog EXT 36 Legend 75watt

Hi Martin,

Does this happen only on thin lines and in that font? Can you try a font like Times which also has thin lines on "W" etc.

I can't see how it could be the tube since it is burning the other stuff although I guess if it is down on power, it is possible.

Have you checked alignment?

Have you checked the lens? It may be a little foggy and absorbing energy.

Have you cleaned the other mirrors?

Can you try cutting 1/8" acrylic (or something) at a setting you know has worked in the past? That would indicate tube output.

Pardon for asking the obvious but are you sure the focus is correct?

I am still thinking............ thinking......... :)

James Stokes
02-11-2009, 8:08 PM
Switching the lens between the two machines is no big deal. There should be no reason to have to realign if you just switch the lenses. But you might check your lens alignment.

David Fairfield
02-11-2009, 8:09 PM
Thoroughly cleaning and oiling the machine, as per manual, might help. Or adjusting speed and power, as Doug suggested. These solutions have worked for me, the few times I've experienced images breaking up. But if it is indeed the tube, at least 6 years was a pretty good run!


Mike Null
02-11-2009, 8:43 PM
I don't see any reason to suspect the tube or the lens.

I would first suspect cleanliness of bearings or rollers or rails. I'm not familiar with your machine but it appears to be skipping.

Does the same thing happen at all places on the table? Have you tried to recreate the file and then run it?

Epilog tech support should be the ones advising you on the power upgrade though I doubt you can go to a 120 watt tube without major modification.

Judith Halliday
02-11-2009, 9:48 PM
Hi Marty,

Have you tried with different substrates?

Give it a shot with higher dpi and at different speeds (increments of 10) and 100 power. If you are still having the same issues, try cleaning the encoder strip.

If that doesn't work, it may be the tube.

I've changed a few tubes and if I can do it, so can you.

Good luck,


Martin Boekers
02-12-2009, 9:51 AM
Thanks all for the input!

First, I did do a "full" clean of the machine before I started to trouble shoot it.

I did a test at all four corners and all were consistant.

I tried one at 1200 DPI and got the same results.

I checked the lens and didn't visably seem any damage or dull areas.

I have replaced the X Axis motor, the encoder strip and the carriage head PCB board.

The testing I did yesterday were at Sp 100 PWR 35 DPI 600
as suggested I ran a test this morning at Sp 35 PWR 25 DPI 600
and it came out fine!

So changing the settings did help. Sooo the next step does this sound more like the tube is losing power? our should I change a belt next (Mike you felt it might be a skipping problem). Could it be a belt has some minor damage that could be cuasing this?

If it is the tube losing power, does it slowly lose power are will it go out quickly. If it is slowly any ideas on how long? a month 2 months 6 months?

Thanks again!


Scott Shepherd
02-12-2009, 11:29 AM
Marty, it may or may not be your issue, but with any thin line vertical line like that, you may have problems at 100% speed. The laser has to ramp up, full power, ramp down and it's just not enough time to do that when something is .010" wide (1 1/2 beam widths).

Some machines deal with it better than others, but the end solution, I'm afraid, is to pick another font or slow the machine down on the speed. I had a lot of problems with this very type of issue when we had the Epilog.

Martin Boekers
02-12-2009, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the input Scott,

This is Times New Roman, a font I use for 90% of my work.

I haven't had an issue with it until recently, The machine is 6 years old so yes there could be an issue with speed as ramping and breaking are concerned.

My second machine is a year and a half old and it seems to handle this ok so far.

Your thoughts though give me an idea to test the lengrth of the bed with doining the same type the full lenght of it just to see how it is reacting through the whole 36 inch spread.



Dave Johnson29
02-12-2009, 11:59 AM
If it is the tube losing power, does it slowly lose power are will it go out quickly. If it is slowly any ideas on how long? a month 2 months 6 months?

Hi Marty,

Another thought occurred. What about rotating that text 90 degrees and see if it marks better. As Scott says, the thin line at that speed may not be getting much power at all.

The laser may seem like it is either on or off, but in reality it has a ramp-up, a brun and a ramp-down. See the attachment. That logo is 1/8" high and quite magnified but you can see a saw-tooth at the start and end and that is the ramping. I cannot manually focus this camera.

Now if the line is so thin, the laser may never make it to the burn setting before it ramps down again.

The tube will lose power over time, but depending on the manufacturer it could be a long, long time. Synrad for instance rate their tubes at 40,000 hours MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure)

My Synrad laser is dated 1992 and it was an ex production uinit and I have no idea how many hours it has burned. Given the number of parts I had to machine up to get it all working tightly again, I'd say "lots." :)

So, IMHO, more testing is in order before tearing any more stuff out.

Scott Shepherd
02-12-2009, 12:02 PM
This probably isn't the right test, but try this- draw a vertical line the same height as all of your text and place it on each side of the text. So you'll have something like this....


The Y's would be lowercase, but for my illustration, it may have confused the explanation.

See if that makes it any better. That was a fix Epilog told me to do when doing thin lines that we had problems with.

Peck Sidara
02-12-2009, 12:06 PM

A few things come to mind.

*I don't think it's optics related
*I don't think it's alignment related
*I do think it has something to do with the laser and how it's firing or isn't firing fast enough.
* It may be the RF, It may be the laser source.

* It may be a calibration issue with one of the following which is easy to test and costs nothing:
X encoder match
Laser match
Calibrate x encoder
* Make sure you're using the latest and greatest firmware and driver.

**Most importantly, allow our tech representatives to diagnose the problem and provide a solution.

My suggestions above are based on your testing;

"The testing I did yesterday were at Sp 100 PWR 35 DPI 600
as suggested I ran a test this morning at Sp 35 PWR 25 DPI 600
and it came out fine!"

The core charge is a deposit only, it's fully refundable. The other option is to send in the defective unit first (assuming it's defective).

Upgrading the Legend 36EXT from a 75W to a 120W is an option and is offered.

*Epilog's Technical support department is open Monday thru Friday, 6-6PM Mountain time. They can be reached at 303.215.9171 or via email at tech at epiloglaser dot com*

HTH Marty and hopefully our tech group can get you back up and running ASAP.

Joe Pelonio
02-12-2009, 1:30 PM
Their next response is replace the laser tube:eek:
Approx $1800 for the tube and $2900 for the core:eek::eek:

Martin, That's $400 less than I paid for my first 45 watt tube a few years ago, the prices have actually gone down. Also, if it does need replacing, ask them about avoiding the deposit by shipping them the old one before they send the new, they have been very agreeable to that in the past, just adds a day or two to your down time.

Martin Boekers
02-12-2009, 2:14 PM
Good afternoon Peck,

I have been checking with Epilog, they where the ones that first recommended changing

X Axis motor, Encoder strip & Carriage head PCB (the name on the service ticket was Phet)

After I installed these and it didn't fix the problem a follow up was made yesterday I initially worked with Ian, and then Brian (2 of your best!) we updated the firmware and ran the calibrate for the X encoder (option 4 on the maintainence menu) Ian suggested I do a 1x1inch filled square at my regular settings but 75DPI, I did that and emailed him the results.

That didn't fix the issue so I was told to try running at a slower speed and power. That gave me my first change and the image quality became acceptable.

I ran a second test this morning at 100sp 85pwr to get acceptable results,
lower power settings at 100sp were unacceptable. So It can do 100sp at a higher power setting.

I did rotate 90 degrees the effect was a bit different more a pattern through the type as opposed to the drop out I was getting, not visible until pt size was lower than 8pts.

I hate to keep adding parts until it finally goes away but if that's what it takes that's what I'll do!

I just wanted to check with the "forum" before I take the next step with the laser.

I'm in the middle of quarterly and annual awards here on base so I get a bit nervous with just one of the 2 lasers working!

The equipment has been great for me so far as well as the service, this is the first time in 3 years that I've had a machine down for more than 24hrs, that is quite a record in my book!

Right now I haven't had as much time to "play" with this one so I work on it as I fit it in.

Thanks, for the support!


Peck Sidara
02-12-2009, 2:48 PM
Thanks for update Marty.

"I ran a second test this morning at 100sp 85pwr to get acceptable results,
lower power settings at 100sp were unacceptable. So It can do 100sp at a higher power setting."

This statement may be key in finding the solution. This tells me the x-axis components are doing its job but that the laser can't keep up due to one of the following:

*Perhaps it is optics (Lens and mirrors, check all for defects) related in that if defective, you're losing power.

*Perhaps it's an alignment issue in that not all the power is making it thru the beam path.

*Most likely it's a loss of power from the laser tube and/or the RF supply isn't supplying the necessary signal to the laser source to get maximum output.

Phet N. AKA Dan will be in contact shortly. My recommendation is to have him help w/ checking out all the optics and the alignment process. If that checks out then we'll have to proceed w/ the laser source or RF supply.

Follow his lead as he may have more suggestions and take my comments as advisement only. They're the pros, I'm an ex-pro but still know a bit or two about our systems:)

If time is a concern, run your jobs at moderate speed and moderate power until you have enough time to work on the system with the guidance of our tech support group.

Martin Boekers
02-12-2009, 3:15 PM

That's why I bought the second Epilog!!


Kim Vellore
02-12-2009, 3:23 PM
Martin, thinking a little different, it may be the corel file, maybe the horizontal line is thin and the color is not true black or a problem with the font..I would try multiple black horizontal boxes (or lines) at different thickness that can engrave and see how it works, then go back to the text to compare..


Martin Boekers
02-12-2009, 5:21 PM
Thanks for the info Kim, it's always easy to over look starting points like that when you trouble shoot.

I have a second laser same model and power, but a couple years newer so I ran Identical test on both from the same file.

I guess though, even that wouldn't neccessarily show the same result as it has a newer tube and is probably "hotter"


Bill Cunningham
02-14-2009, 9:03 PM
From what I have gleened over the years, 4-6 years seems to be the average life of a laser tube.. Mine died after four years, the replacement was a snap, Epilog gives very good easy to follow instructions. I ordered mine in the morning, and the tube was in the laser and all aligned by the next afternoon, and I'm only 3000 miles from Epilog. 'and' $1800 sounds very reasonable for a 75 watt tube..

Hey Peck.. Since they have not been making the TT for several years now, are any of those plugin 'alignment' gizmos on sale for a next to nothing price? I should have just bought the darn thing when it was here, and now the Canabuck in in the basement again!

Rangarajan Saravana kumar
02-15-2009, 12:07 PM
Hi Everybody,

The suggestions are very very special and i would keenly following then and there for my epilog Legend 24 EX

Really Great stuff to have..