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PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:26 pm
by generalsocial
I have enough junk lying around the lab to run my laser off Mach 3 or EMC2. I have a converter that can convert the output of Mach 3 to adjust the laser power (perhaps with spindle speed or with the Z axis).

Now I see that there are three other choices around:

:arrow: Thunder Laser DSP (What's DSP stand for in this context anyway?)

:arrow: Light Object DSP

:arrow: Retina (I'm not sure what that is yet).

I see a big drawback with Light Object that it needs Corel Draw which costs a few hundred bucks.

I'm told that the Light Object DSP has more features so I'm leaning towards that a bit. But I'm not fond of buying software.

Can somebody help my by convincing there's a good reason to pick one of these?

Or am I okay with Mach 3?

Re: options

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:44 pm
by bdring
DSP Stands for Digital Signal Processing. It means the CPU can do some pretty complex math in a single instruction. It used to be a bigger deal than it is now. Many processors do it including some little 8 bit ones.

Don't worry about the cost of Corel. Ligitimate copies are cheap on eBay.

I'll stay out of the LO/TL isuue.

Re: options

PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:49 pm
by andrewblanejr
bart's right, previous versions and/or used copies of corel draw are cheap.

The DSP controller (from either LO or TL) supports running jobs without a computer(straight from a usb memory stick), this is very useful is you intend to re-run the same job many times.

The RetinaEngrave card from Full Spectrum Engineering offers full print driver support so it doesnt require Corel Draw.

I bought a ThunderLaser DSP card. As i understand it they made the card, LightObject was just a distributor, and now they have ended their relationship and make competing cards (this is a VERY new development).


Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:28 am
by generalsocial
Yeah, I just checked and ebay is full of inexpensive versions of corel.

Oh it's just DSP normal. I thought it might be something different in this context.

That RetinaEngrave sounds interesting if it's not specific to a graphics tool. Then I can develop the files in Inkscape and can still do it from my linux computers since Inkscape runs everywhere.

Can the retina do that thing where you use a USB stick instead of plugging to a computer?

But if I got the Retina, what would I be missing that I would get from the other solutions?

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:02 am
by macona
I have heard from a little birdie that the retina engrave is being redesigned from the ground up.

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:33 am
by andrewblanejr
retina engrave currently cannot run without a pc, it cannot read directly from a usb stick (without a pc). the "DSP" solution can.

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:25 am
by r691175002
Inkscape can be hit or miss with RetinaEngrave. From what I remember, it doesn't close all its shapes and breaks some curves down into discrete lines when printing which can produce weird or suboptimal cuts.

I take everything I cut through coreldraw to be safe although other programs do work. I haven't really experimented much beyond that.

I choose the retina because I didn't want to be stuck with an old version of coreldraw forever.

Neither solution is ideal. The retina wasn't fully compatible with my keling drivers when I got it (although it should be okay with polulu). Fullspectrum ended up writing a custom version of the firmware for me but it was a hoop I had to jump through. Technically they don't offer support for DIY machines so its something to keep in mind. As far as I'm aware the DSP doesn't get much in the way of updates or support.

In terms of features the retina wins. They recently released a new version that was basically redone from scratch that has a lot of stuff.

Poke around the forum and changelogs to get an idea if you want: ... um.php?f=7

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:48 am
by generalsocial
Ah, that's probably why Inkscape is giving issues with our Epilog laser. The way we're working around is by exporting the Inkscape to a PDF then printing the PDF. Given that Corel is available in ebay on the cheap, I think that makes me a little more open to it.

You mentioned your Retina wasn't compatible with your stepper drivers? I thought those things were generic (with a step and direction pin etc.). If they rewrote their firmware for your driver that's pretty good support.

So the place to buy retina is here?

I take it that's the new one and I'm to pick the dropdown that says $449? Ouch, they don't have paypal.

I lightobject one seems to be $485 at ... -P321.aspx

And they have paypal.

I can't find anywhere to buy the Thunder Laser one. There's no buy link at their site (I've emailed them but no answer yet). I did find a whole laser in ebay that looks like it uses the Thunder Laser controller. It's pretty nice looking but it's 8000.00. I'd save my pennies for it but according to the dimensions I can't get it in my front door. :)

Is there a place to buy the Thunder Laser one? Thunder Laser's in China right?

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:04 am
by macona
That looks like it.

I assume it is the new one. Mentions there being a micro sd card slot underneath it in the forum so that mist be it. Looks like they make a variant with the same connections as the leetro. But at double the price? You have got to be joking. Pheoenix connectors don't cost THAT much.

Whats the big deal about not accepting paypal? Its a good business decision with the rates they charge and paypal being able to hold your money at any time for no reason.

Thunder Laser is in china and you would have to have it shipped direct to you.

Re: options

PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:04 am
by r691175002
Thunder laser makes the DSP and lightobject re-brands it as far as I know. I read somewhere on this forum there might have been a falling out and might become the future distributor or something but don't quote me on it.

I'm international so they made me send a money order to buy the retina. I wasn't a huge fan of sending 500$ without any recourse if things went sour but turned out okay.

The pulses from the stock retina are 1uS while kelings slow optoisolators need a full 5uS and fairly high current. The pololu and pretty much any other driver out there won't have that problem. This was a long time ago so they might have fixed it.