VIGOtec VG-L7x: Introduction

As I previously posted I bought a VG-L7X laser unit and started the project.

I have started the investigation and learning part of this journey.
I was impressed with how simple and small this thing is. We will see how well it actually works, the Bangood video ad was impressive. I can see that at double the power and the right add ons this could be a player for many shops.

General impressions:

  • The unit is attractively simple, Nice not to have HV, water, pump, coolant etc…
  • Comes with the essentials to get started
  • Do to preassembly, build time, <10min


The unit looks well built:

  • Keyed connectors on controller, steppers, laser.
  • Aluminum Extrusions
  • Protected cable harness & management
  • Solid controller mounting with integrated control panel buttons
  • Good gantry mounting, wheels, and bearings
  • Properly sized hardware

The missing [I plan to provide these]:

  • Replacement parts list
  • Schematics for controller
  • Wiring diagrams
  • Source code
  • Fume extraction
  • Air assist
  • Enclosure & safety interlocks
  • Focus adjustment
  • Mechanical CAD drawings
  • Laser temperature protection
  • Laser alignment instructions. The slop in the side plates and laser mounting allows the laser module to be tilted.

Software: (I plan to use Lightburn after tinkering with VIGOworks)

  • The software VIGOworks in a simple executable
  • VIGOworks documentation is cryptic
  • VIGOtek almost did it right. The base firmware is GRBL and the machine interprets Gcode with an Arduino. They added an ESP to the front end when they added wifi and used a proprietary protocol??? There is an alternate ESP firmware or a hardware hack that supposedly uses standard protocol or bypasses the ESP.
  • The ESP firmware or hardware hack makes it Lightburn compatible.

Here is more detail:

Don's Laser Cutter Things: Research the VIGOtec ecosystem


Thinking out loud

  • I am thinking of making a small fume filter box with this filter and an airconditioner recirculation fan. Want to keep it portable. * Amazon.com
  • The enclosure should be straightforward. Plan to attach the enclosure to the side plates with a hinged lid, bottom open. All openings with laser interlocks. The current frame is not stable (tilts) when the gantry is at its extreme. Surfaces will be made using light-filtering plastic. Maybe I can create a shrowd on the laser module as protection???
  • The unit needs an accurate way to adjust the focus. Plan a ramp test to tell me where the focus needs to be relative to the frame.
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Hi Don,

Noted your intention to add a light filtering plastic enclosure. What do you think may be a suitable material?

My current approach is to use a light shield under the diode head made of filter material. The body of the machine may be made from clear acrylic. I do not think it needs to be filtered when combined with the head shield.

Caution: I have not tested this concept. It seems logical that the the placement of the shield [close to the surface] would make a dangerous reflection unlikely. Also, this approach
is being used by others that I think know what they are doing.

JTech is one of the best sources I have found on Laser Diode safety, engraving, cutting and technique.

I plan to replace the prototype shield [disk under head] in the picture with this material as soon as I get the specifications for focus discovered.

250nm to 520nm Laser Shielding – 12″ x 12″

The shield may also serve as the focal adjuster.
To further make this safe I also plan to have a means to turn off the laser if the machine is lifted off the surface. You could also accomplish this with a full enclosure but I am trying to make mine capable of laying on top of various thicknesses of materials, mostly wood. Therefore the bottom of mine will be open.


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Thank you for your reply. I was hoping to fully enclose the 300 mm x 200 mm LX7 machine. The colored acrylic is not overly expensive. This shielding method also provides the opportunity to place a duct and filter over the enclosure for smoke extraction. My searches on the internet have not been very good at yielding suitable materials and a local supplier (Australia). Thank you again for replying.

I don’t want to hijack @donkjr’s post here, but @NotTheMama I want to make sure you have the information you need here, and I’m worried about a possible misunderstanding. If you already completely understand this, please accept my apologies. This is “better safe than sorry!”

I wanted to go back to this, because I’m not sure it was sufficiently clear.

A blue laser won’t cut clear plastic. That means that it goes through the plastic. Therefore clear plastic does not work as an optical shield against a blue laser. @donkjr, who fully understands this, is planning a small optical shield of plastic colored to absorb blue laser light attached to the head (this is the “filter material”), and an enclosure of clear plastic (I assume because it is cheaper) I think for fumes (@donkjr correct me if I misunderstand please). To protect against laser light, you need something that filters out the wavelength that the laser generates.

Acrylic and polycarbonate are opaque to the far-infrared of CO2 lasers, which is why clear plastic is effective as an optical shield for CO2 lasers, and it’s why CO2 lasers can etch and cut them. Glass is the same. This is why you will see references to clear plastic as an effective shield for lasers: they are referring to the very-far-infrared CO2 lasers.

For blue lasers (like these high-power diode lasers), you need blue-absorbing chromophores (such as the orange dye used in 2422) to absorb the laser light, which would otherwise shine right through the plastic and into your eye. (Blue laser eye damage has been happening a lot in real life, thus my concern.)

The BOM for the Engravinator lists the type of acrylic Adam used: New Open Source Laser Engraver Design and from another thread here are the key comments:

Obviously if you buy something not explicitly tested for a laser of a certain wavelength you are taking on responsibility also for determining safety, but… If I personally were enclosing a blue laser I’d buy 2422 orange acrylic.

If you are making the choice not to buy plastic certified for blue laser filtering, having “2422 orange acrylic” as a search term might help you find it more easily. I just did a search for “2422 orange acrylic australia” and it turned up a listing on www.ebay.com.au so that’s a start at least! :relaxed:

I hope at least some of that is useful.

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Hi Michael not need to apologize for giving advice in good faith and spirit. In fact I really appreciate it. I feel a little bit silly because I should have been able to work out from first principles why clear plastic will not be affected by blue laser light while still being a very poor safety shield. I modified my original post to reduce the risk of anyone else getting the wrong idea. I’ll be more careful in future posts.

As my subsequent post may have implied I never intended to use clear material - (I figured that there must be a good reason why commercial machines don’t use it - and you have explained what it is).

I prefer to enclose all of the VG-LX7 with laser safety shield rather than just the area under the laser unit - hence my statement “the colored material is not overly expensive”. I’ve had folk walk into the workshop unannounced while the laser was on.

Thank you also for the lead on the Australian supplier. Shipping from the USA and Europe is often more than the item itself. the key words that I was using in my searched yielded several hundred brands of laser safety glasses :grinning:

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