New guy with k40 & LED

Hi, newish guy here.
I’m fairly recently retired but while I was working I had an Epilog Helix machine in my office at work (I was a university lecturer in the UK). It was probably the only thing I missed when I retired!
Last year I bought a k40. It’s great but a bit ‘clunky’ & it’s in my garage. This thing isn’t something you’d want in your living room(?). My garage is very cold & a bit cluttered so the k40 hasn’t seen a great deal of use.
In my academic career I’d used quite a few very powerful laser diodes. Ten years ago these things were mega expensive! I’ve watched with amusement as the cost of these has fallen & fallen, to the point that I had to ‘audition’ a LED engraver!
I shelled out the princely sum of £103 on a ‘Vevor’ 50x60 machine with a half watt laser. I can’t recommend this machine to anyone who hasn’t assembled something similar! It doesn’t help that half of the nuts & bolts were missing, yet I was left with a completely random pile of bits that didn’t belong at all!
All said & done, I’m very impressed with it. It’s quite something for the price of filling my car with fuel…
I’m much more familiar with CO2 lasers so I have quite a learning curve here. I started with Lasergrbl which is great for free software but it’s a bit limited. I’d heard a lot of good stories about Lightburn & here I am! I’m loving it so far!
So, after all that I DO have a couple of questions for you people:

  1. My half watt laser isn’t very useful. A 5W unit would probably suit me. Rather than buying randomly on the web I’m looking for recommendations. Remember I’m in the UK.
  2. I’d like to make my k40 work with Lightburn. I’ve seen some stupidly expensive solutions to this. I’m currently drawn to the MKS DLC32 but I’m not encouraged by the iffy youtube videos I’ve watched.

I’m assuming you’re running on a 12V system. For a 5W laser the usual suspects would be:

  1. Ortur LU2-4 - note that Ortur has recently transitioned to a 24V line of laser so they support both 12V and 24V modules. Make sure you look at the correct one.
  2. NEJE A40630 - This was their flagship until relatively recently when they released their 10W module that has a dual-diode setup (A40640).
  3. Sculpfun S9 module - This module boasts one of the smallest focus dots and longest in-focus beam.

It’s probably worth mentioning that there are also some higher output modules that have gotten some fanfare:

  1. Atomstack M50 - this is also a dual-diode model. Note that Atomstack also sells an M40 which is in the 5W range but not much was ever made of these.
  2. xTool 20W - this is a quad-diode module and available for pre-order. They claim 20W optical output.

MKS DLC32 is a popular option here for these type of conversions. There might be some more work to get this to work in comparison to a drop-in solution like those offered by Cohesion 3D, Mini Gerbil 3 from AwesomeTech, or K40+ from OMTech.

One other option you can consider is using MeerK40t to run a Ruida emulator that can control the K40 through LightBurn. The drawback with this approach is that you’d have to use the DSP version of LightBurn, but no board swap would be required.

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