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Thread: Universal Laser Systems - Old and new

  1. #1

    Universal Laser Systems - Old and new

    The search is on
    The current line of ULS is the VLS series (VLS2.3, VLS 3.50, VLS 3.60, VLS 4.60, etc)
    What major difference is there between the VLS series and the V series (V 200, V 300)?
    WHat about differances to the X100 or "M" series?

    Is there any major step up as far as mechanics going from one of these old machines to a newer VLS? (Motors, rails, guides?)
    Is there a major step up in Optics?
    Software and drivers ?

    Looking hard at picking up one of these old machines and refurbishing (new tube, bearings, optics)
    But if in the end I am going to be saddles with a "DOS based driver" and 64 DPI it aint worth it.

    Thanks in advance for any insight ,
    Nick

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Andraka View Post
    Looking hard at picking up one of these old machines and refurbishing (new tube, bearings, optics)
    But if in the end I am going to be saddles with a "DOS based driver" and 64 DPI it aint worth it.
    I've got a VL200 that will be 14 years old this month. Unless it was rather badly abused, I'm not sure you'd need to do much in the way of parts replacement: mine is still on the original bearings, belts, lenses, and mirrors. The motion system is very robust and AFAICT the optics should last forever with regular cleaning. I probably represent the worst-case for this since most of the runtime of mine has been spent cutting wood and MDF.

    The "tube" needs a refill (not a replacement) every 4-5 years...ULS has gotten a bit pricey for that, but there is at least one 3rd party (Evergreen) that can handle them at a more reasonable price. (I put "tube" in quotes, as it's a metal box that looks like the power supply out of King Kong's PC. ) My only major failure was a power supply, again pricey if you buy the replacement direct from ULS but they're now using a readily-available off-the-shelf P/S that only costs about $125 online.

    As far as software goes, I'm running mine off a 64-bit Win10 laptop. Not sure what (if any) differences there are between what I'm running and the current models since most of the processing/job-control/etc is done at the PC end anyway. Speed and resolution are comparable to the current models, if not the same, unless you really need the optional (and expensive) high-res optics package they came out with awhile back.
    Last edited by Lee DeRaud; 02-23-2019 at 3:41 PM.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  3. #3
    Lee,
    thanks for the info and sorry about the late reply.

    I am seeing 10 year old VLS 4.60 (2418) going for 10K
    and clean V-400's go for 4-5K.

    wondering why?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Andraka View Post
    Lee,
    thanks for the info and sorry about the late reply.

    I am seeing 10 year old VLS 4.60 (2418) going for 10K
    and clean V-400's go for 4-5K.

    wondering why?
    The VL200/300s (AKA "Versalaser") like mine came out in 2003 or so, then got absorbed into the lower end of the VLS series when they renamed everything around 2010(?). (Note that the VLS series covers two completely different chassis designs in two different sizes each.) A V-400 is even older design, like 2000-2002...I think the VLS4xx is built on that or a similar chassis, but I have no idea whether the software compatibility aspects will be similar.

    Clearly, as you get further back into discontinued models, any issues with software and spare parts will get harder to deal with, although at least it looks like Win10 drivers for the V-series are still available.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  5. #5
    Lee,
    Yes, the VLS looks like it has the "Desltop" chassis (VLS2.30 and VLS3.50) then the floor models (VLS 3.60 and up).
    Also i looks like the "V" series is only a year or 2 older than the "VL" series?

    When you get down to it,, I doubt much has changed in the last 20 years in the carriage system?
    No design change in the RF tube?
    Mirrors and lenses? (they appear to be available aftermarket.)


    So it comes down to the electronics, firmware, connection and software interface.

    I am used to the some what graphical interface while using a VLS system,, I have not been able to find out if the V and M series of software provides the same level of control and interface?

    I am starting to think if I can accept a parallel port, no HD lens, and older style software interface,, that an older "M" or "V" series machine is every bit as good as a new VLS machine?

    Nick

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Andraka View Post
    I am used to the some what graphical interface while using a VLS system,, I have not been able to find out if the V and M series of software provides the same level of control and interface?
    Unfortunately the software manual isn't included with the driver download...that would have been too easy. Best bet would simply be to call ULS tech support and ask.

    I did look at the Win10 install instructions for the V-series Win10 driver: it does not appear to support parallel port, just USB. (For that matter, I'm not entirely sure 64-bit parallel port drivers even exist...what was the last time you saw a parallel-port-only printer?) Personally, I think I'd avoid that option entirely, as it means you can't use a laptop, making your workspace logistics quite a bit messier. YMMV.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee DeRaud View Post
    what was the last time you saw a parallel-port-only printer?
    Come to my house, I'll show ya 10 of 'em I use every day! (although they also have serial ports, does that count?)

    And I'd be all over this like white on rice if I hadn't just bought 3 machines recently-- If this is still available and is what it says it is, it's a freakin steal... It's worth checking into IMO (exactly like mine only newer)

    http://phoenix.freeclassifieds.com/c...6CBp_-c45Zzw==
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    Come to my house, I'll show ya 10 of 'em I use every day! (although they also have serial ports, does that count?)
    I should have specified "new", your massive collection of antiques notwithstanding.
    Yoga class makes me feel like a total stud, mostly because I'm about as flexible as a 2x4.
    "Design"? Possibly. "Intelligent"? Sure doesn't look like it from this angle.
    We used to be hunter gatherers. Now we're shopper borrowers.
    The three most important words in the English language: "Front Towards Enemy".
    The world makes a lot more sense when you remember that Butthead was the smart one.
    You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much ammo.

  9. #9
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    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Andraka View Post
    Lee,
    Yes, the VLS looks like it has the "Desltop" chassis (VLS2.30 and VLS3.50) then the floor models (VLS 3.60 and up).
    Also i looks like the "V" series is only a year or 2 older than the "VL" series?

    When you get down to it,, I doubt much has changed in the last 20 years in the carriage system?
    No design change in the RF tube?
    Mirrors and lenses? (they appear to be available aftermarket.)


    So it comes down to the electronics, firmware, connection and software interface.

    I am used to the some what graphical interface while using a VLS system,, I have not been able to find out if the V and M series of software provides the same level of control and interface?

    I am starting to think if I can accept a parallel port, no HD lens, and older style software interface,, that an older "M" or "V" series machine is every bit as good as a new VLS machine?

    Nick
    My Older 2007 or so ULS worked fine on a good quality USB to Parallel adapter. Not all will work however, you can search my old posts and find out the one I had. The printer driver is a a Windows product and I used just fine on Windows 7. However there are lots of used XP Laptops for sale that will also work using a parallel port as Kev pointed out. You create in whatever software you want use at the moment and just send to the machine.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach3

  10. #10
    Our M-300 is a 2002 model. Runs on Win XP happily, on an old PC with LPT, and old printer parallel to centronics plug.
    I had the tube regassed 2 years ago, and sent the mo therboard back to USA to ULS for a refurbishment last Christmas 2017. $250 + post for the fix.
    The physical aspects are terrific.

    My only gripe is the 4 meg RAM, and s ending some bigger engraving jobs can be a pain, but smaller engraving, or vectrs, and cutting are fine.
    Other than the small RAM, it is was superior to the chinese systems we have here- though each is a tool that has its purpose.
    Best wishes,
    Ian



    ULS M-300, 55w made 2002 with rotary. Goldenlaser 130 watt, 1300x700 made 2011.
    Flat bed 2500x1300 150/90watt 2 tube laser, 2018 model.
    Esab router, 1989, 4.5 x 2.0 m, conv. to Tekcel, and modded a 2nd time.
    HP L260-60". Roland PNC-1410. Mimaki GC-130 SU.
    Screenprinting carousel 6x4 and 7x4 ft 1-arm bandit vac table.
    Corel Draw X3, Illy, Indesign & Photoshop CS2 & CS5, Enroute 4
    Pencil, paper, paintbrush, airbrush & dagger-liners & assorted other stuff.

  11. #11
    Ian,
    Is the 4 meg not enough to do a raster etching, like a 12" x 12" picture?
    What is the work around for the memory?

    Nick

  12. #12
    if you tried to do it at 1000 ppi, it will have a hissy fit and crash, or not send the file to the Laser. 500 ppi - ditto for big area files.
    I've done 12 x 8" pictures, but I might have had to drop their original DPI or ppi to say 240, or 200, and then send that, and sometimes have 3 tries, and it will suddenly decide to go, and it comes out fine, then.
    Small pictures eg 6"x4" - no problem
    I've also lasered the full bed in Cermark 24"x12" and that was a BMP file, but I must have tweaked the resolution to something that worked.


    I did actually have some spare 4 meg chips, from an old 486 PC, but inserting them did not help.
    Best wishes,
    Ian



    ULS M-300, 55w made 2002 with rotary. Goldenlaser 130 watt, 1300x700 made 2011.
    Flat bed 2500x1300 150/90watt 2 tube laser, 2018 model.
    Esab router, 1989, 4.5 x 2.0 m, conv. to Tekcel, and modded a 2nd time.
    HP L260-60". Roland PNC-1410. Mimaki GC-130 SU.
    Screenprinting carousel 6x4 and 7x4 ft 1-arm bandit vac table.
    Corel Draw X3, Illy, Indesign & Photoshop CS2 & CS5, Enroute 4
    Pencil, paper, paintbrush, airbrush & dagger-liners & assorted other stuff.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Stewart-Koster View Post
    if you tried to do it at 1000 ppi, it will have a hissy fit and crash, or not send the file to the Laser. 500 ppi - ditto for big area files.
    I've done 12 x 8" pictures, but I might have had to drop their original DPI or ppi to say 240, or 200, and then send that, and sometimes have 3 tries, and it will suddenly decide to go, and it comes out fine, then.
    Small pictures eg 6"x4" - no problem
    I've also lasered the full bed in Cermark 24"x12" and that was a BMP file, but I must have tweaked the resolution to something that worked.


    I did actually have some spare 4 meg chips, from an old 486 PC, but inserting them did not help.
    If you can tell me exactly what the module that does work is, I may be able to back-trace it and work out what control chip is running the memory or work out a compatible set of higher-count SIMMS. It may be that what it's got is all it can take, but there are so many options for memory configuration out there, I wouldn't write off 4Mb modules just yet. It may be as simple as your 486 RAM being in a different pattern or with a different parity chip or running at a different speed that caused it to say 'no'. The original RAM may be ECC (error checking) and the ones you put in, aren't and that sourcing some ECC is the fix.
    Homemade 6W 900x500mm diode engraver
    600x900mm Reci W4 with Ruida 6442G
    300x200mm 50W desktop hacked to bits with mods
    ...waiting on a 1325 Reci W8...

  14. #14
    Thanks, Mike, I might pull it out in a day or two and have a look.
    Yes, I remember the RAM on a 486 was a bit cantankerous and fussy, (and hideously expensive in its day!) and had to be installed in matched pairs too.
    The number of slots won't allow anything newer to be plugged in.
    Best wishes,
    Ian



    ULS M-300, 55w made 2002 with rotary. Goldenlaser 130 watt, 1300x700 made 2011.
    Flat bed 2500x1300 150/90watt 2 tube laser, 2018 model.
    Esab router, 1989, 4.5 x 2.0 m, conv. to Tekcel, and modded a 2nd time.
    HP L260-60". Roland PNC-1410. Mimaki GC-130 SU.
    Screenprinting carousel 6x4 and 7x4 ft 1-arm bandit vac table.
    Corel Draw X3, Illy, Indesign & Photoshop CS2 & CS5, Enroute 4
    Pencil, paper, paintbrush, airbrush & dagger-liners & assorted other stuff.

  15. #15
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    Posts
    3,616
    If you lived closer I have a lot of sim dim chips from the 386 486 and pentium platforms

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