UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

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UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:59 pm

Every now and then a deal shows up on Ebay or Craigslist that is too good to pass up.

Case in point: I picked up one of the Chinese M40 CNC engravers in zero bid Ebay purchase for $900. I couldn't let that pass when I was seeing the same laser for $1500 elsewhere. I have worked to upgrade it for Mach3, closed loop water cooling, air assist, and stepper controlled Z axis height adjust. Still I have always hoped that one day I could pick up a higher quality system.

I have the skills to build a system from scratch, but I feel that if the right deal comes along then I can simply fix up a system that has already passed the engineering hurdles. Perhaps you have already seen the build log done by Andrew Kilpatrick on his $500 Craigslist laser - A deal than none of us would pass on - http://www.andrewkilpatrick.org/blog/?page_id=914

Let's consider for a moment what he was actually getting for his $500:

1. A used Synrad RF laser - 25 Watt (of unknown operating condition)
2. High quality linear bearing rails. (likely of good condition since they are very hard to wear out)
3. Stepper motors, drive belt and pulley system. (already engineered for highest efficiency movement.)
4. High quality mirror and lens holders. (with mirrors and lens of an unknown condition.)
5. A Z-lift mechanism already built in.
6. A metal enclosure that has already passed the engineering hurdles for air flow and laser safety.

In a breakdown of individual component cost I would think that the stepper motors and rails alone would fetch $500 on ebay, so this was an AMAZING deal!
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby bdring » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:10 pm

One of the people (forum member jedediah) who worked on the Andrew Kilpatrick project, recently contacted me. They appear to have made more progress than the web page suggests. They did more work on the EMC2 HAL for engraving. He sent me a picture of his work. It is as good or better than anything I have yet to produce with my Mach3 and EMC2 Hacks.

I'll wait to see what he has to post in his own words. If we don't hear from him, I'll post the additional links he gave me.
Bart
"If you didn't build it, you will never own it."
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:11 pm

When what to my wondering eyes did appear.......... :shock:



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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:25 pm

Now of course there is always the possibility that I just got totally scammed. This unit is supposedly on the truck right now making its way from Arizona to Virginia. If it does not arrive, this log will magically disappear. If it does arrive, this log will cover:

1. The purchase
2. Organizing the shipping
3. Photos of the system as received.
4. Detailed photos of the mechanics as I break down the unit for a complete refurbishment.
5. The "build" as I put it back together with original and upgraded parts.

Fingers crossed :roll:

Here is what I know so far about the unit:
1. The guy who sold it to me is in the engraving business. He wanted to upgrade to a newer unit and Universal Laser Systems (ULS) offered him about $500 trade-in value for this system. In order to fullfil the trade-in, ULS really only wanted to take the Synrad laser and the control board that contains proprietory information. They told him he could sell the remaining parts for scrap, so this is how it ended up on Craigslist.
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 5:19 pm

The Purchase

Step 1 : Finding the deal

How does one find a deal like this? It's simply a matter of checking for new postings every single day.

Step 2 : Making contact

We all know that these deals won't last long. You need to contact the seller immediately and get as much information as possible. Many sellers will write a posting that says "Local Pickup Only". Don't let this discourage you. You can always arrange for a shipping company to come to the persons house and make the pickup. Ask the seller if they will hold it for you for at least one day while you research the purchase. Most good people will keep their word and hold it even if other offers come in that day. See if they will send more pictures and give more details.

Step 3 : Closing the deal

If you are satisfied that the seller is a straight shooter and this is the deal you want, make the offer and ask the seller to confirm the question.. "Do we have a deal?"

For my purchase I did the quick math in my head to figure out component value. I knew that the Synrad and controller were gone, but the enclosure, steppers, belts, rails, mirrors, lens, and other parts still made this a good deal in my book. I considered the fact that he was asking $350 and could easily get this from a local call, so I sweetened the deal by $100 to lock it in and another $100 to cover his time and effort to prep it for shipping. I would be the one arranging and paying for shipping from Arizona to Virginia. I told him that I would pay by a check that I would send by Fedex overnight. My offer of $550 was accepted. :D

Check sent.... fingers crossed.... Hope this isn't a scam..... :?
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:01 pm

Arranging for Shipment

This was an experience. :shock: I began by asking the seller the dimensions of the unit once the legs were removed. I also needed to know the approximate weight.

Answer: 36" by 30" by 24" tall. 235 pounds according to his bathroom scale.

The weight and dimensions immediately ruled out Fedex or UPS normal shipping methods. Out of curiosity I looked at the Fedex Freight shipping method and got an answer that surprised me. $650.00 :shock: Sorry Fedex.. "NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

A friend told me about Greyhound for shipping. They travel across the country every day with extra space in their baggage compartment. It seems that they decided to make some extra money by selling this space for shipping goods. You simply drop off at a local Greyhound bus terminal the the person can pick it up from a terminal across the country. Interesting.... I looked at their pricing and indeed it beats the pants off Fedex and UPS, but unfortunately my unit was still too big for Greyhound.

Next I went online and got quotes from several freight companies. There are many items that can alter the cost, like pickup and drop-off methods. The long haul trucks don't typically have a lift bed or forklift, so if you want pickup or drop off at a residence, they would need to send a smaller truck out, adding about $40 on each end.

Since I had sweetened the deal on my offer to pay for shipping prep, it wasn't too much to ask for the seller to drop off the unit at a freight terminal. The terminals have a forklift to get it from his pickup and into the warehouse. From there it will travel by long haul from Arizona to Virginia. I have a friend that works at a company with a loading dock, so I have arranged the dropoff to occur there. This saves a little more cash on the receiving end since the long-haul truck can pull in to the loading dock.

The seller told me that he had access to a pallet, so I asked him if he could drop by Harbor Freight and pickup a set of four ratcheting ties downs and the 1000ft roll of 16" plastic stretch wrap. When shipping by freight it just needs to be tight on a pallet. No need for a box. I figured the pallet would add 40# to the weight, so I adjusted the quote request to 270 pounds.

The quotes I received from various online shipping companies ranged from $240 to $600. ALL of them claim that they are giving you an 80% discount from the normal fee.

Total Shipping cost after all is said and done: $241.36 from RedhawkGlobal.com. This is less than $1 per pound, so it looks pretty good to me.
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:51 pm

bdring wrote:One of the people (forum member jedediah) who worked on the Andrew Kilpatrick project, recently contacted me. They appear to have made more progress than the web page suggests. They did more work on the EMC2 HAL for engraving. He sent me a picture of his work. It is as good or better than anything I have yet to produce with my Mach3 and EMC2 Hacks.

I'll wait to see what he has to post in his own words. If we don't hear from him, I'll post the additional links he gave me.



Indeed! I contacted Andrew and tried to get more info about the HAL, but he didn't have much to give me. As we have discussed before, Linux should be better than any windows program for jobs like this that require precise timing. I really liked many of the things I saw in EMC2, but it was also lacking some of the features that I was familiar with in Mach3. Perhaps I didn't give it enough time and thought. Once I have finished this UL-25 rebuild, I will have two engravers. I believe I will put the commercial DSP controller in the UL-25 and the M40 will be sold. I would like to get the M40 up and running in a demostrated manner with the EMC2 before offering it for sale. It needs to offer both Vector cut and raster engrave.
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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:29 pm

Arrival Inspection video

The unit has arrived and it looks like it will do quite nicely for a shop cnc laser. It needs some serious cleanup. I will tear it down completely and pressure wash the bare container before rebuilding it. During the teardown I will take some detailed photos of the various hardware pieces. This should help all the DIY'ers with clues about the way the professionally engineered units are built.

Now some might think that showing detailed pictures of the innards of this laser is somehow a violation or a revealing of company secrets that belong to Universal Laser Systems. I gave this some thought and I have justified it with the following: This unit was built in August 1996. If any company were interested in reverse engineering this product for commercial gain then I'm sure they obtained their own detailed photos by September 1996. There are no "secrets" to reveal. If some part of this is patented, then the text and images of the patents are also public knowledge. A hobbiest can use any information, whether it is patented or not, for the construction of a personal machine.

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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:28 pm

A sister model in operation

I found another Youtube video that shows this same machine under the "Hermes" brand. In this video we can see the rastering. It is going to blow your mind when you see how small the stepper motor is for the X motion.

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Re: UL-25E "surplus" Laser Engraver rebuild

Postby lasersafe1 » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:39 pm

And yet another with an even faster raster.

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