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Thread: Idea for refurbishing older laser. Controller for RF tube/servo machines?

  1. #1

    Idea for refurbishing older laser. Controller for RF tube/servo machines?

    So I've got an older Epilog Legend 32. Great laser. But it has a few problems. Enough that I don't really want to put more money into a machine with such proprietary hardware in it that is no longer made. I'd hate to get the tube refurbished only for the motherboard to die. And I think my Y axis motor/encoder might have some issues too. That's going to be an expensive fix by itself.

    So... rather than just buying a chinese glass tube laser... what if there were an aftermarket controller/drivers I could get to run my existing tube and servos on?

    Looking at buying a chinese DC glass tube machine is what got me thinking about this. Ruida and a couple of others make "machine aggregator" parts for making DC excited glass tube lasers pretty darn straightforward. Does something like that exist for making servo run RF metal tube machines?

    Seems like such a waste to put such a great machine out to pasture because the motherboard is (or may soon be) bad. For being 20 years old and having some anachronisms to it for that era, my Epilog laser is faster than any DC-excited glass tube machine could ever hope to be. I would absolutely pay to have the old Synrad tube in it refurbished if I knew there was an upgrade path to keep it running even if the motherboard went up in smoke.

    There's so many older epilog, universal, trotec, etc machines out there with good tubes, it seems like this is something that would have a decent market to support it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,792
    Some of the Chinese DSP laser controllers claim they can control RF tubes also. I would contact LightObject (do a search) and ask them what they have. The good part also is they come with software.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  3. #3
    You're right. I perused one of the Ruida manuals and it talks about PWM settings and Prefire settings for RF tubes. Very cool.

    Not sure about the motor control. It talks about "step-servo." Not sure if thats a special term I've never heard or just their shorthand for saying its compatible with either. But it shows diagrams for wiring to motor drivers, so I'm guessing it can work with either.

    Dunno if it would play with the original servo drivers on my Epilog. I think they might be built into the Epilog motherboard. Its been years since I had the covers off to look at the electronics in it.

  4. #4
    I've umm-- debated - the 'servo-stepper' or 'step-servo' descriptions before. I've been told flatly 'servo motors aren't "stepper motors".

    True-- servo motors don't have 'built-in' "steps" like stepper motors, but regardless, they position themselves in specifically spaced steps, based on the digital encoder strips, or discs, used to 'steer' the motor.

    -this is the encoder disc my GCC's X motor uses, before I cleaned it--
    be2.jpgbe4.jpg
    --the "steps" are clearly visible, and servo motors make steps based on reading those lines. (That disc is barely over an inch in diameter).
    So it's my contention (opinion) that the terms Step-Servo and Servo-Stepper are accurate to describe servo motors used in laser engravers and other XY CNC applications...

    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE- make that FOUR now - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,792
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Stow View Post
    You're right. I perused one of the Ruida manuals and it talks about PWM settings and Prefire settings for RF tubes. Very cool.

    Not sure about the motor control. It talks about "step-servo." Not sure if thats a special term I've never heard or just their shorthand for saying its compatible with either. But it shows diagrams for wiring to motor drivers, so I'm guessing it can work with either.

    Dunno if it would play with the original servo drivers on my Epilog. I think they might be built into the Epilog motherboard. Its been years since I had the covers off to look at the electronics in it.
    Did you contact LightObject? They build lasers in house (China) and would know. A servo is a reversible DC motor with the encoder on top as Kev pointed out for feedback. So the controller would need to have those I/O's. Steppers just have outputs that Step the motor and of course no feedback.
    Plan B would of course just plan on replacing those old worn out servo motors with new Steppers, and stepper driver boards. Same wiring just changing the connections.
    Last edited by Bill George; 08-04-2021 at 9:28 AM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill George View Post
    Did you contact LightObject? They build lasers in house (China) and would know. A servo is a reversible DC motor with the encoder on top as Kev pointed out for feedback. So the controller would need to have those I/O's. Steppers just have outputs that Step the motor and of course no feedback.
    Plan B would of course just plan on replacing those old worn out servo motors with new Steppers, and stepper driver boards. Same wiring just changing the connections.

    Yeah, I'll do that if it comes down to it. It would kinda suck to lose out on the speed but a little slower is better than nothing.

    I'll contact LightObject about it to see what they say. I ordered a chinese laser as a backup so I can keep working in the meantime. It was a perfect opportunity to talk myself into more tools anyways.

  7. #7
    I have an Aeon Mira 5 running a 30w RF Metal tube and a Ruida Controller, so it might be possible to do what you are planning.
    Shenhui SG350 fitted with a 60w tube.
    Aeon Nova 10 100w tube.
    Aeon Mira 5030 30w RF tube.
    20w Fiber Laser.
    50w Fiber Laser.
    Located in the Isle of Man, which isn't in the UK but almost surrounded by it.

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