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
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. https://www.banggood.com/Geekcreit-CNC-Shield-UNO-R3-Board-4-X-DRV8825-Driver-Kit-For-Arduino-3D-Printer-p-1134845.html
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!