Lasers Wonkiness

Hello makers,

Yesterday I did a few hours of engraving and a little bit of cutting on the laser. It was awesome, as it had been a while since I used it. AND it was shiny and clean. However, upon returning today to do some cutting it was misaligned. It did not return home, and oddly enough, the cut was shifted unpredictably from the engraving. I turned it and the computer off and on. I even blew on it. While engraving THE MIRROR fell off at one point, creating a very cool but undesirable effect (I screwed it back in). And I could not solve the random offset cut error.

Is our robot dying?

Another wonky pic

Did you put the mirror back on and try again. sound like the lens was cleaned and not put back together correctly

Tyler-- the problem that you’re describing seems to be referenced here:

I don’t know if that procedure has ever been done. As far as the homing problem, it’s my [wild-ass] guess that either the X or Y axis (or both) are skipping steps. It’s also possible that the home position was somehow set to something funky, and we can’t set it back.

Greg and I talked last night about how we think the Zing needs a teardown and full maintenance overhaul. This would likely involve scheduled downtime to troubleshoot current problems and a full assessment of the state of the optics and moving parts. Epilog publishes guidelines for user-serviceable maintenance above and beyond the basics. If we want the cutter to be around for the long haul, we should take action to maintain it properly.

Let’s talk about this at the board meeting. I’m also going to introduce the idea of “one use - one clean” policy, a “pack out your off-cuts” policy, and possibly a user log/sign-in that shows the date, time and who used the cutter, AND the date and time for who cleaned the cutter.

From the Epilog Knowledgebase:
“Regular system maintenance is crucial to the longevity and performance of your machine. By performing just a few simple tasks on a regular basis you can add years to the life of your laser. For more maintenance tips, be sure to check out Epilog’s whitepaper System Maintenance: Keeping a clean and productive laser system.”

Ed Note: I’m personally interested in learning more about how to correctly service and maintain this cutter, but given my current lack of availability, and my current track record with the 3D printers, and the inordinate length of time it’s taken me to get them back up and running, I’m probably not the guy to tap for this right now.

Also, given what I’ve learned from that experience, this should not be in the domain of one single person-- a dedicated, technically confident team should approach this with a clear plan and schedule in mind. That said, do we want to pay someone to come and do this overhaul? (my vote is an emphatic “no”, but if no one will step forward to tackle this, we may need to).

Thanks for reading!

related: next time im at the space, id like to place a pen and paper “use log” on the zing. it would be good to keep track of how much its used and encourage logged users to clean. Casey, for example, was happy to do it when I asked him to.

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cc @finck

@Elliot_Wells encouraged me to hop on the phone with the epilog folks today to resolve this problem. Turns out, the optic sensors were dirty. So they talked us through cleaning them. Image attached on where they are.

FYI - Don’t ever use the shop vac on the machine. Do use compressed air.

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I’ve added the photos and advice to the Zing wiki documentation page. @Xanthe_Matychak: any other info on the cleaning process?

I’d encourage folks to add details like this whenever you troubleshoot tools in the space. The photos are particularly useful.

For zing advice and documentation, I would propose adding the official zing tech support number prominently. On multiple occasions they have been there to provide really high-quality guidance (and they are getting paid for it!). The number is currently written on masking tape on the top front of the machine.