I have a CNC router with a Mesa controller board and a NEJE Master 20W laser.
I wonder if I could place the laser head onto the CNC and control that with Lightburn?
LightBurn supports many Grbl, Smoothieware, Grbl-LPC, and Marlin driven GCode controllers. Which firmware are you using to drive this motion control board?
If it is Grbl by chance, you will want to understand how to adjust your CNC settings for Laser work, explained here: Common Grbl Setups - LightBurn Software Documentation
We always suggest trying out LightBurn to see if it meets your needs. We offer a 30-Day free trial for just that reason. Download & Trial - Try before you buy – LightBurn Software
We also provide some help in getting started here: Home - LightBurn Software Documentation
And offer some videos here as well: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-TdV9ThMD6E4MZztA6eZsQ/videos
No. In short
Which model do you have, and what app do you use to control it now?
Most of the Mesa boards I’ve come across are LinuxCNC-compliant, they are computer/controller hybrids.
You can create your job in LB and export it to LinuxCNC.
I’m a happy user of Lightburn. The hardware from NEJE is a kind of toy… No way to adjust Z (focus) after each pass. That is why I would like to put the head on the CNC.
LinuxCnc is not on your listed firmware I’m affraid… Too bad.
The control board, Mesa 7i96, is an “Ethernet Step/Dir Motion Control Interface”. All support software is included.
The 7I96 standard firmware is designed for low overhead real time communication with a host controller so implements a very simple set of IPV4 operations. These operations include ARP reply, ICMP echo reply, and UDP packet receive/send for host data communications. UDP is used so that the 7I96 can be used on a standard network with standard tools for non-real time applications. No fragmentation is allowed so maximum packet size is 1500 bytes.
Any way that Ligntburn communicate via Ethernet?
If not, export via GCode might be the way, if LinuxCnc understand Lightburn GCode… I’ll look at that.
Thanks for your answers
The Mesa card is a hardware interface to a controller, rather than being a controller in its own right.
In the case of the 7i96, the ‘controller’ is LinuxCNC - you can’t run the card without something else doing all the planning and look-ahead, etc. that is quite different to the DSP-type of controller we see from Ruida, Topwisdom, etc., which do all the motion planning, laser timing, comms, etc.
CNC systems don’t need to be anywhere near as fast as a laser DSP, which is why so many rely on non-realtime OSs like LinuxCNC, Mach, etc.
As an example: a dot-off-dot-off scanning pattern at .1mm line interval making a pattern 100mm x 100mm at 300mm/s means 333 on/off operations per second - so each command needs to be issued at 0.003 sec intervals.
That’s beyond the capabilities of PC-based systems.
Communicating via ethernet isn’t going to be the issue, it’s the sheer amount of data you need to get from the LinuxCNC interface into the network cable.
Because it’s a ‘dumb’ control card, all the instructions need to be given to the card in ‘plain English’ - move from 0,0 to 100,0, turn on the laser, move to 100.003, 0, turn the laser off, move to 100.006, 0, turn on, move to 100.009, 0, turn off… where the DSP cards are given the vectors and power parameters and do all of that at ~125MHz internal speeds. As a comparison, the motion thread in LinuxCNC kicks off and runs once every ms - 1000Hz, vs 125,000,000Hz.
Then you have the limit of UDP packet transfer over ethernet, which isn’t real-time and LinuxCNC’s poor handling of GCODE interpretation.
You could probably get away with lines, but raster will be almost impossible at anything approaching a decent speed.
And don’t discount the issues with moving a large, heavy gantry, compared to the <1kg X head in my machine. My home-build CNC has about 25kg in the Y and the X is nearly 12kg with spindle, etc.
That’s the reason LinuxCNC is fine for spindles - they just don’t move very fast and turn on/off much less frequently.
You’re the boss!
You convinced me it’s a bad idea to place laser on top of a big CNC machine.
All your explanations sounds right.
Thanks for your time explaining
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