Eleksmaker A3 very little laser power control

I have an Eleksmaker A3 engraver, using lightburn and firmware 1.1h and I’m pretty sure I have my $$ settings correct. $30 = 1000, $32 = 1

The issue; I always have to use masking paper because the ‘frame’ and transition lines actually burn the wood (it’s been a decent band-aid solution but not for burning tiny, intricate designs and images), the frame and transition line is much lighter then the actual burn, so the laser is varying the power, but it never goes off entirely, or into a non-burning frame mode.

Also, I can only burn using the offset-fill or line modes - image and fill are just solid blobs.

I appreciate any help and suggestion! Thank you!

Can you provide a few things:

  1. Screenshot of Device Settings
  2. Output of $$ in Console
  3. Screenshot of Laser window->Devices->Click once on the name of your laser

Thanks for answering!

I don’t see anything inherently wrong in the setup that would make power modulation not work.

Here’s what I was checking for:

  1. S Value Max (1000) = $30 (1000)
  2. Confirm that $31 value was 0.
  3. Confirm that you’re using GRBL device profile (vs GRBL-M3 or other)

So this leaves potentially a hardware issue or an issue in the design.

Can you upload a simple .lbrn example that displays the issues you’re seeing?

Also, I’m curious about the laser.

Does your controller look like this?

And did it come with GRBL 1.1H or did you update the firmware? If it was updated, what version came with the controller?

Finally, can you take a photo of the port where the laser module cable plugs into the controller as well as on the laser module side?

This image is about 1/2" x 1/2". Left to right, 800 speed @ 100 power, 50 power and 0 power… no difference there… but you can see the frames and transitions underneath are lighter, so it does change power, just not always. 4th image is fill, 1000 speed, 0 power.

So this is the original EleksMaker from Banggood circa 2016, I never got it working 100%, I was using T2 for some time, but in frustration of always burning the frames and transition lines I broke it messing with every single setting until it no longer worked. I did some poking around the interwebs I found LightBurn free trial and the endurancelasers website with their amazing help, I had successfully uploaded 1.1h and got my laser functioning again. Frames and transitions still burn perfectly… but, I decided to ignore the problem and buy a giant roll of masking which is amazing and keeps from from killing things.

This is what my controller looks like, I guess it’s the version 1.0, lol. Looks like the laser module plugs into the small slot on the bottom right next to the 3 motors.

This is the laser module:

I think the equipment is is old enough that it was designed for an older version of GRBL that did not have variable PWM available but I’m not certain. If that’s the case it’s possible the pinout for the laser isn’t providing PWM signals. It’s further possible that the laser module doesn’t support PWM. I’m not certain on either of these points.

One thing you could try is to unplug the laser connector from the connector and try to connect directly to the Arduino Nano pins.

Red wire to D11 and black wire to GND. D11 and GND would be on the bottom row of pins as seen from the photo you posted. You could try bodging up a temporary solution to prove that it would work and then come up with something more permanent if it does. If you do so, make sure the power is disconnected so you don’t accidentally short something. For a test, you may be able to get away with just sticking a wire into the hole of each pin of the cable and taping the other end down firmly to the respective pin on the Arduino. Not sure how handy you are with electronics.

I’m reconsidering a few things. Can you confirm how many wires there are going to the laser module? Is it 2 wires in a single connector? And nothing else? If so, it almost certainly doesn’t support PWM. Normally you’d need at least 3 leads: PWM, GND, and 12V or similar.

If the module has 3 or 4 wires then might still work.

Do you have access to a meter to run some voltage tests?

I’m not terribly experienced, but somehow what you said makes perfect sense and I think i can do it… Do you think it might be quicker, easier, faster to get a new control board… :thinking:?

Can you recommend something that would work with my other components and isn’t too $?

Faster, probably not depending on your skills. Easier? Possibly especially for a more permanent solution but may not be too difficult if you have a soldering iron. But swapping controllers wouldn’t be all that difficult especially if you went with a current version of the same board.

One thing that occurred to me. You probably only need to bodge the red wire as GND didn’t move from the old version.

One thing you need to determine is whether or not your laser module supports PWM. Can you take a closer photo of the connector on the laser module side? Especially with any markings showing.

Also, if you could take a photo with a different angle of the controller so the markings are visible that might make things more apparent as well.

Also, what type of work are you hoping to do? What types of materials and are you mostly looking to engrave or cut?

My laser is def 2 wire, it’s an old 2500mW from Banggood, my setup is discontinued it’s so outdated. I decided to just upgrade the controller board and a new laser that is still int he 450nm range (I need to stay there because I spent a lot of $$ on plexi for that wavelength).

I am looking at this combination:
10W Laser Module 450nm Engraving Laser Head Wood For CNC Router Cutting Machine | eBay

and… maybe this? I’m completely open to any recommendations you might have under $50.
【US】3 Axis USB GRBL Control Board For CNC Router Milling Laser Machine 3018 PRO | eBay
AmazonSmile: Control Board, Engraving Machine Motherboard Driver Board Stepper Motor Controller with T Type Cable : Industrial & Scientific

I appreciate your help so much, I’ve learned a ton about lasers in the past few years… and always something new. I am really concerned about things I don’t know anything about yet… like limits and Z axis being a problem with the new controller board, and if it’ll work with Lightburn.

Thank you!!

I bought this one on AliExpress, it’s a couple bucks cheaper, but I bought it because it supports the bigger spindle I put on my 3018. Don’t know if that’s something that would be of interest. Free shipping, but it does take longer. Annoy Tools Grbl1.1 Controller Cnc3018 3axis Driver Board Support Offline Xyz Limit Switch For Cnc Router Cnc Engraving Machine - Woodworking Machinery Parts - AliExpress

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