GRBL recommendation

I’m new to laser engraving/etching and trying to make my own laser engraver. I have a 20w neje tool laser (12v/3a) and a macbook laptop. I would like to know which GRBL controller people recommend for this set up? Or if i should use something else besides GRBL? Any advice (helpful) would be greatly appreciated.

Nice to see Neje copying my design :slight_smile:

Theres no such thing as a 20W diode laser. The most powerful diode laser on the planet is ~7W - the majority of Chinese and Russian makers lie through their teeth about the capability. They achieve ‘20W’ by ‘over-volting’ the diode, which when used at the correct voltage should last 100,000 hours - when pushed to 3x the rating, lasts ~50 hours.

Your kit is pretty small and will not need a huge amount of power, as it won’t be able to move very fast with a 12V power supply, so you can pretty much use anything that supports GRBL: Arduino, TinyG, G2, Smoothieboard, and the version you use should be the latest, unless you have a compatibility issue.

For such a small machine, you won’t be busting the speed of light, so get something cheap to begin with and if you find you are hitting performance limits, upgrade.

To start, a basic Arduino Uno 328P-equipped ‘CNC shield’ controller with fairly simple drivers will run you about $20.

Engraving beats the heck out of GCode and grbl on an 8-bit or 16-bit controller will probably result in dropped commands. You should look at grbl-lpc and an LPC-chip controller, like the Smoothieboard, and it’s variants/clones.

They’ll run you about US$80-120.

Thanks for the info!

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Hi John.
That’s correct about the laser power. The 20 watt I’ve seen advertised looked to good to be true.
Thats because it was. Just out of curiosity I emailed Gearbest who sell the Neje 20 watt.
I don’t know where you bought it from, but if it was me I would be asking for my money back.

This is the reply I got.

Dear Stuart,

Your original question is “What is the real power of the laser? 20 watt is a bit far fetched for a diode laser. Or is it being overdriven, meaning it won’t last long? Thanks.”

Here is the answer from Our Customer service Team:
Hello Stuart,

NEJE 450nm 20W Continuous Laser Module

Application: Paper cutting, Wood cutting(<5mm), Depth Engraving(<3mm), g-code drawing…

Engraving material: wood, gray paper card, non-transparent plastic, leather, paint pcba, etc.( flat, opaque and can be burned black)

Weight: 202g

Input: 12V2A (about 20w)

Output Optical Power: 5.5W

PWM: 50KHz-20KHz / 3.3V-12V

Temperature Sensor: yes

Focus Range: 30mm-50mm

Max Cutting Thickness: 5mm (Light diameter: 0.1mm-0.2mm)

Minimum Focus Diameter: 0.1mm

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