K40 Laser Beginner Insights draft document from FB K40 group

I probably know too little about the prep process and the end result you are envisioning.

When I read “searchable html” I translated that as “simple, flat-structured document html”. That’s where I’m getting my idea that a simple movement from the source document ODT to PDF with internal links and a separate process to move ODT to text-style html is OK. Really, Open Office and LIbre Office produce the html form with “file, save as”. That’s why I was considering a PDF as an OK intermediary for reviewing the document.

I suspect that I don’t understand the fixes you’re having to apply. Help me here.

Sorry, so many other things popping up with COVID-19 I’m not able to respond as quickly.

I’m saying why not make it all posts on this site? Just breaking out what has already been converted into individual posts, rather than trying to build a static site. That means that people can comment on the contents of each section in a convenient place and changes can easily be incorporated.

(I’m totally happy to help with that conversion, I’m just putting family needs first and family has needed a bit more while adjusting to being in the same house pretty much 24/7 except for walks and groceries…)

1 Like

No need to apologize - we’re all dealing with the higher-order needs now.

Sure - I can simply post the document here, I’m mentally parsing this as “post each subtopic here as a separate post” so the topic links can serve the function of a clickable index." Is that closer?

1 Like

That’s definitely what I’m thinking of. (I ended up adding replacing my flaky internet connection to the pile of stuff I didn’t expect to be dealing with these days. First world problems and all that!)

Now looking into making a new category just for getting started documents, to help people find them more easily. It would be moderated and hand-picked. Your getting started document would link into it, and the bulk of the document content would move into separate topics. The new category would be strictly information. It wouldn’t include your ideas about how to make a new cooling system; that would go in the #k40:Mods category; though if it were tested to completion and described, a link might go out from the new information category to the description of how to make it. The goal would be for it to become a resource of which you could reasonably say “If you know, understand, and follow all this, you are ready for K40”. That means it has to be feasible to actually read and understand all the content, so it should be only core information, no noise, no conversation.

… ⇒ #intro exists now :slight_smile:

1 Like

I have now broken out the first two topics from Start here into Getting Started, leaving a few summary paragraphs in the former but moving the bulk of the material to topics in the latter and linking. I hope this makes it easier for new K40 folks to find and digest the information.

@donkjr I think it would be great to link out from these specific pages to specific blog posts on your site that are relevant to the topic under consideration, as the next level of information.


I could not find where this point is integrated?

I am starting to wonder if we aren’t repeating history with this getting started document?
No reflection on anyone’s work BTW.

I for one am finding it difficult to navigate.
Lots of comprehensive information but also overwhelming for the novice.

Could be that I suck at using this tool.

My blog experience and helping users tells me that they go through these phases:

  1. What to buy: For $400 I can do all that, I can cut a 2x4?
  2. Just getting my machine to do something useful: Seriously, It doesn’t work out of the box?
  3. Learning the software and doing cool stuff: Jese this software is awful!
  4. Adjusting and maintaining: Damn it used to do that job
  5. Troubleshooting and repairing: Shit now it’s broken, must be the tube died!
  6. Upgrading: What’s should I add to make this machine behave as I expected?

Note: users mostly focus on the information that is in the context of the phase they are in they don’t read ahead.

BTW: I never took the time to organize my blog this way although the tag cloud shows this phenomenon by usage.

Since the demise of G+ and my lack of participation in the FB group I mostly get users that are in phase 4-6.

(I hope you don’t mind I moved this into the thread for working on the document.)

It’s in Do’s and Don’ts. It said that the digital display wasn’t accurate; I added the power calculation. But that’s in a section I otherwise haven’t edited and separated into “start here” and the “For more information:” parts.

I’m only halfway — if that — through pulling apart the topics so that it’s not overwhelming to get started. I have cut it down from 100K of text to 57K [now 46K and shrinking] of text. 100K is overwhelming, which is why I’m editing, and putting only the key points in the “Start Here” document and all the rest in the Getting Started category.

I think your phases are fairly aligned with topics I’ve put into the Getting Started category.

I expect it to be another week or two before I’m done with my first pass; depends on how much time my family can spare me for on weekends. :slight_smile:

And I’d really love to add lots of links from these documents I’m assembling into your blog. I already started in one or two places, but I think it would be great to add more!

1 Like

@donkjr and @NedMan and anyone else with experience: Do you have specific recommendations for online resources, written or video, for each of these following areas?

  • how to adjust focus
  • how to adjust mirrors for proper light path
  • how to adjust the X-Y axes to be perpendicular
  • how to tension belts

This list is included in the draft document; I would like to turn it into a list of helpful links to information. @donkjr I expect at least some of that is links into your goldmine of a blog! :slight_smile:

@keen, at the end of your document you have this:

The trick is getting some control of the process. Most K40s already have a bucket of water for cooling. Put in a second bucket, fill it with ice and water, and selectively circulate the main K40 water through a copper pipe in the ice water bucket. Use something like an Arduino to measure temps and control how much of the K40 coolant gets pumped through the ice reservoir. Water running through a spiral copper tube in a water bath is a very efficient cooler. The Ice reservoir could profitably be a cylindrical drinking cooler - cheap, insulated, and easy to plumb.

I think this approach could handle holding the K40 water at optimum temperature constantly. One nice thing about an ice water reservoir is that the water temperature is CONSTANT at 0C as long as there is any ice at all. A second bucket, a second pump, and some electronics gives very good control over coolant temperature. And it can be automatic, functioning quietly until it runs out of ice and temperature rises. Then it can honk at you to feed it more ice.

I think that without code and plans a beginner could follow, this idea should live in the #k40:Mods category and be developed there. Do you mind if I delete it from the document as I edit, letting you carry the idea, and if/when it’s complete link to it? I’d like to do the same for the more speculative suggestions, leaving the more concrete suggestions in the document for beginners.

I have a pinned topic on alignment here:

Feel free to pull from that and the other commented replies.

Given that HP Perrson has been reported to accept payment and not deliver product by multiple people on this forum, I’m hesitant to drive additional new forum members to his site where he offers product for sale, where they might encounter the same problem.

Also, one of the other links on that topic is dead, and the wayback machine has recorded only dead content, no live content with anything useful, even as of the date of posting the link, which is confusing to me.

For editing existing content, and for things where theoretical knowledge is enough, I’ve been (I think) competent to expand slightly while editing @keen’s work. But for these specific tasks, I don’t think I’d be the best person to orient them to the resources.

This is a case where I’d love to help edit someone else’s work because my knowledge of the mechanics is theoretical and if I wrote total-new-user-focused introduction to the topic my lack of experience would show terribly. @donkjr’s guides look interesting, but we’re also telling people they should do this alignment before using their K40, so there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem for the first alignment to use the guides that they will later cut, after alignment. But for many of the other guides out there, on the other hand, we’re trying to encourage people to install interlocks before they ever fire their K40, and a lot of other guides tell people to blip the laser with the lid up while wearing laser safety glasses, so I’m not sure I want to point the K40 newbie (like me) at guides that assume that you blip the laser with the lid up, which I rather think I’ve seen. There was a video linked to recently as part of a "make your own laser cutter* series that showed the alignment process without any case in place; great for actually being to show all angles of the process and understand what is going on, but doesn’t quite send the message we’d like on interlocks. :roll_eyes:

It would be great if we could have “how to do your first alignment” — then we could recommend do your initial alignment, cut @donkjr’s guides, use them for subsequent alignment. Does that even make sense?

Also, not every page in the Getting Started category has to be originally written by @keen. If one of you want to write a draft of one of those topics as a comment in this topic, and then we like it, I can promote it to the relevant topic in the category and make sure it’s a wiki that we can all edit together to keep improving it over time.

Was it the floating wombat link? If so that’s a link to my dropbox.

Yeah I agree about the HP Pearson link.

No, it was the smokeandmirrors link from @HalfNormal

Here is a good link

1 Like

We can now host the floating wombat guide directly on makerforums.
K40-Alignment-Instructions.pdf (8.6 MB)

Ditto the smokeandmirrors PDF:
laseralignment.pdf (2.9 MB)


If you, as an experienced K40 user who has helped new users get started, had to choose exactly one of the existing alignment guides only for users completely new to K40, which one would you choose?

  • TimTheFloatingWombat
  • SmokeAndMirrors
  • Don’s blogs
  • Other (please comment!)

0 voters

Also, comment why your opinion.

Purpose: I’d like to link to the general preference from New to K40: Start Here and then have a new page on alignment in the Getting Started category to link to other guides.

Wombat was the first guide that I found that I could follow and get results from when I started my laser journey years ago with a K40. I had tried numerous others, and they seemed confusing to me.

1 Like

Same reasoning as Anthony, the wombatguide was the one that I found easiest to understand and that helped me in the very beginning.

I finished reading both Wombat and smokeandmirrors now, and they are certainly similar. However, Wombat says to disable interlocks and fire the laser with things open, wear safety glasses if you have them, and close your eyes. The smokeandmirrors / JustAddSharks guide says to close the machine up while firing, not to disable interlocks, and is clear about the need for potential tube alignment.

However, smokeandmirrors / JustAddSharks has pictures and assumptions (like moving Z) that don’t apply to K40.

Both have lots of pictures and specific instructions about how to turn the adjustment screws.

If we start with Wombat, I’d like to preface it with a suggestion to instead close the machine back up while firing the laser instead of taking your chances with disabled interlocks.