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Author Topic: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review  (Read 3309 times)

P47

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Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« on: September 11, 2013, 08:30:47 PM »

As some of you know, I had been in need to get some acrylic cut on the laser and our has bit the dust. Saturday, I went to Melborne to setup their Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser.



Above picture shows a shield in front of the laser tube, but the laser I setup did not have one.


Setup and overview: Setup wasn't too difficult and was pretty straightforward. The first thing I noticed was their design has changed drastically. From a first glance, the unit seems very sleek and streamlined. The manual controls have been replaced by a capacitance (I think) panel, which proved to be a little on the finicky side. The unit has both USB and Ethernet connections as well as a Micro SD Card slot.





Upon unwrapping, I was taken by the view of the laser tube itself. This was a surprise, as I was used to our laser tube being housed in it's own compartment. The inside area is huge, and the old metal x y frame has been replaced with an extruded aluminum rail system (similar to 3D printers). The rollers are beefy and approx two to three times larger than previous models. Adjustment of the rollers are done via a concentric shaft, and was easy to adjust. The flimsy aluminum of the old laser head/lens has also been upgraded to a much thicker anodized aluminum. In some ways the laser unit seems sturdier than older models (optics, mirrors, x y frame), and in other ways it seems less so (control panel, case, honeycomb platen).





Aligning: Aligning the laser was a lengthy process as you have to adjust the visible red laser beam along with the CO2 beam. The beam splitter, mirror mounts and lens housing are much more sturdy compared to the previous models. Adjusting the mirrors is easy (as long as you have the right allen wrench). The visible red laser mount has a small design flaw that allows the red laser to slip out of alignment. A small machining mod would fix that.


Controls: The control panel is a little finicky to use. Sometimes the panel didn't respond to a button press and it took multiple presses to get it to work. This could have just been a defective panel, and this proved a little frustrating especially when test firing the laser during the aligning process. The panel has jog/home/test fire/menu/... and a lcd display.


Focusing the laser: Focusing is achieved by sliding the lens up and down in the slotted mount. No need to reach under the unit as in older models.


Home and Limit Switches: Awesome addition. This package included opto limit and home sensors. The switches needed no adjustment and worked perfect. This was a welcomed addition as the older models had none, or had to be installed as an upgrade.


Software: Getting RetinaEngrave to connect via usb wasn't a problem. We did a quick test in thin cardboard, and the cut was great.


Cutting: I wanted to see how many passes it would take to cut through 3mm acrylic. Using my current project as a baseline, the results are as follows.


Our laser:    40% speed @ 100% power x 3 passes = 75 minutes
Gen 5 20" x 12":   60% speed @ 100% power x 2 passes = 33.2 minutes


I used the same artwork and kerf offset I used on our laser and the cut was great, and the parts fit perfectly.


This BLEW our laser away in terms of time and cutting. Not only was it faster, but the cut was better. Laser cutters want power, the more the better. Our laser had been governed to reduce the overall power and this could have proved to be counter productive. Our laser ran 2.25 x longer than it could have had it been running un-governed. The laser tube cost $300  and is rated at a minumum of 1,500 hours. If we ran the laser a little over 4 hours a day (everyday) the tube would have lasted over a year. This would be considered a normal consumable.




Pros:

$3,499.00
Big cutting area
Stronger and better designed x y rail system
Bigger and easier to adjust rollers
Better and stronger mirror mounts and laser head design
USB/Ethernet
Micro SD Card
Home and limit switches
Easy to focus
Cuts fast and accurately


Cons:


Control panel is finicky
Exposed laser tube
Case could use a little more support to make it feel sturdier.
Honeycomb platen is a little flimsy and doesn't lock down
Has a hobby laser look and feel




Wrap-up: Full Spectrum has made mostly positive changes (especially in the most important areas). Though it's pretty shiny, it still has a hobby feel to it, maybe even more so then the older models. I can see the end-user modding this unit to strengthen it's weaknesses, and have a great entry level laser. For the budget minded the $3,499 Full Spectrum Gen 5 is a great deal.


Pat
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 09:50:41 PM by P47 »

Simply7

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 10:31:24 PM »

Thanks for the writeup.


ki4swy

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 10:50:53 PM »
good write up, however the person who lived 10 minutes from you said the epilog would of probably cut that in under a few minutes.

would of been nice to got a comparison on the epilog verses the fsl.
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P47

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 11:16:45 PM »
I would have liked to have done a comparison between Epilog and FSL, but that wouldn't be comparing apples to apples. Epilog is a pro machine, and FSL is a hobby laser. I'm a super advocate for pro tools if they can be afforded, and I tried to keep my write-up as such to not compare it to a professional laser.


I opted to go to Melborne, because I could help out another hackerspace, plus I could also cut my plastic. It was a long day, but a win, win.


digitalman2112

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 10:01:12 AM »
I opted to go to Melborne, because I could help out another hackerspace, plus I could also cut my plastic. It was a long day, but a win, win.

I'm sure they really appreciated your assistance getting them up & running :)

willasaywhat

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 02:21:58 PM »
Good stuff, Pat! Glad you were able to get your stuff cut, and good to see FSL making progress.

bethjaneway

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 07:27:45 PM »
Thank you for figuring it out!! Yay that much closer to having a laser!
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AtomicProf

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Re: Full Spectrum Gen 5 Hobby 20" x 12" Laser - Setup/Review
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2013, 10:39:55 PM »
Enjoyed the post.  Thanks
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