Buying your First Laser Machine

Video by Russ Sadler

Buying your first laser machine: This is not a machine comparison video that helps you choose the best machine.

No, this honestly discusses the key points to look for in your new purchase and all the dishonest marketing and sub-standard products that are being sold.

At the budget end of the market, any machine you buy from “flea bay ” will be built from many B-grade components. The machine will work “in some way” but as a naïve newcomer to the technology it is likely that you will be blaming your lack of technical prowess for the poor results you achieve. You have nothing to compare it with and it is the fascination of owning a super high tech LASER machine that is being exploited by the Chinese as they sell you a sub standard version of your dream.

Don’t assume this is a total scam, because if you choose the right basic mechanics, despite the substandard main components, you are getting a basic CNC machine at a bargain price. Add about 25% of the purchase price for a new tube and spend some time setting up the machine properly and you will finish up with a reliable piece of kit for a fraction of the price you will pay for a “supported ” plug and play machine imported via a third party local company.

Buying your first laser machine - The Tangerine Tiger as used by Russ
The Tangerine Tiger Laser Machine as used by Russ

Here, the facts about the industry are laid bare and I hope this will help you negotiate the purchasing minefield you are just about to enter. It is really a matter of choosing the least worst. I have had 6 years of amazing fun from this technology even though I admit to being one of those naïve dreamers when I bought my first machine.


Over the last 6 years, Russ has built up a formidable YouTube following for his RDWorks Learning Lab series which currently has over 218 videos.

The original RDWorks Learning Lab series on his “Sarbar Multimedia” YouTube Channel, follows Russ as he tries to make sense of his new Chinese laser machine and to sort out the truths, half truths and outright misleading information that is available on the web.

Six years later with over 4 million YouTube Views under his belt, Russ has become the go to resource for everything related to the Chinese CO2 laser machine user or wannabe user.

Want to read more?

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Buying Your First Laser Machine

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Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript

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Buying your first laser machine

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Haha, so you want to buy a Laser machine?

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Now, look, you are ripe for picking and I don’t want to laugh at you, but you are just the sort of person that the Chinese are looking for.

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You don’t know much about the technology. Therefore, they can sell you absolute junk.

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You’re dreaming of one thing, but you’re going to get something else.

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So the purpose of this video is to tell you about the six years of experience that I’ve

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got myself and from thousands of people around the world that contact me with problems.

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Now, my name is Russ and I’ve got a couple of video channels that I run on YouTube.

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One is called LightBlade Learning Lab, which is a summary of all my learning that I put into some videos for a company that I did some work for.

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And I have one of their machines. The other channel, which is called RDWWorks Learning Lab,

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is basically a channel where you look over my shoulder while I’m learning about this technology and the machine.

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Now, as I said, I’ve been doing this for six years and I still haven’t come to the end of my learning.

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I’m still a student. Okay. Now, I don’t proclaim to be an expert, but let me tell you that I have a lot more knowledge than most people.

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You are going to buy one machine. You will have no experience of any other machine, and you won’t know whether what you’ve bought is good or bad.

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So what I’m going to do today is very quickly run through the key things you should be looking for when you buy a machine.

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This is not a machine comparison website.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money other than to say that if you want to spend anything between a 1000 and 2000 pounds or dollars,

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maybe 3000 pounds or three thousand dollars for a larger machine, you are not going to get a plug and play perfect machine.

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If you want a plug and play perfect machine, you’re going to have to change your budget and move up to somewhere like eight or ten thousand dollars.

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But for the budget end of the market where you’re going to go to eBay or maybe Amazon Marketplace or maybe even buy something secondhand,

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all these machines will be made in China. And I’m afraid you’re not going to get anything other than a project.

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Perhaps I could describe it slightly different and, say, it’s a DIY kit where it’s fully assembled.

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But quality control is not an option that you can buy with the machine.

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You’re going to have to spend time making it good. Now, there are four main parts to a machine.

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One of them is the mechanics of the machine itself, the case, the hardware that goes inside the machine.

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Part two is the laser tube itself.

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Part three will be the controller, which is like the brain of the machine, and part four would be the high voltage power supply.

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Now there are three main expensive components inside the machine.

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They are those components that I’ve just mentioned, the high voltage power supply, which is maybe 100, 150 dollars,

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the tube, which could be 200 dollars, and the controller, which may well be 250 to 300 dollars or something like that.

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So you add those up and it comes to maybe seven or eight hundred dollars and you still haven’t got the machine yet.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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You just bought the three main parts. So how are you going to buy a machine for a thousand dollars, shipped from China built when

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the three main components cost nearly as much as what you are paying in your country.

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So it makes no sense at all for those products to be A-Grade. I can assure you from my

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six years of experience and many other people’s experience that I’ve gathered together,

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that you will not be buying A-Grade components inside your machine.

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The tube will definitely be B-Grade. It could be anything from okay to virtual rubbish because the tubes that they fit to these machines are reject.

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They reject tubes from proper manufacturers. They can’t be repaired.

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So they sell them onto the let’s call it a gray market shall we, for half of nothing.

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So your tube didn’t cost 200 dollars to the person that’s building the machine.

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It might have cost 10 dollars. The second thing is the power supply.

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One of its key features is its ability to respond quickly.

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So there is a specification when you look up a power supply, which is its response time,

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which is less than one millisecond to give you 90 per cent of what you ask for.

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Now, that might mean nothing to you at the moment, but the chances are that the power supply that’s fitted to your machine will again be a B-Grade.

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It’s most likely to have failed this particular test.

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It’s a bit sluggish. You won’t notice that until you do certain things with the machine.

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So, yeah, there’s not a lot of chance that you’re going to have any serious problems with that part of the machine.

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It’s still a B-grade, and instead of costing 150 to 200 dollars, again, that may have only cost twenty or thirty dollars.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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And then finally, you’ve got the controller. Now, I wouldn’t recommend you buying a machine unless it has a Ruida controller.

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And I’ll show you what a Ruida controller looks like. You can recognize it from the pictures that you see in the adverts by looking at the keyboard.

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Ruida controllers cost 250, 300, maybe even more dollars.

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The very complicated computer driven systems. When Ruida to test these,

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they run through a whole slew of tests to make sure that every part of the computer is working properly.

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Now. If, for example,

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there are one or two memory cells that are not working properly, because of the way in which the whole electronic package is assembled and built,

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they won’t take that apart and fix that particular problem.

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They will reject the controller and sell it into this grey market that I’ve been talking about.

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So instead of a two or three hundred dollar controller, they may well be selling this controller on for fifty dollars, hundred dollars.

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It’s only a small proportion of the cost that you will have to pay for a new controller.

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So now you can see with a B-Grade tube, a B-grade power supply and a B-Grade

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Ruida controller costing maybe no more than a 100 dollars instead of six or seven hundred dollars,

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why you can buy your machine for a thousand dollars or twelve hundred dollars.

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So there’s good margains to be made on these machines. Now, the people are building these machines are not machine designers.

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They’re just little assembly factories.

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They buy the components they assemble them to a government approved blueprint, which is basically a skeleton blueprint.

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And then the builder can put his own components into the machine, i.e. they could be cheap components or expensive components,

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depending on which part of the market they are looking to sell the machine into.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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Most of them will be at the cheap end, which is why I’m saying to you they would be filled with B-Grade components.

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They’re not designers, so they will just be assembling these machines with very few skilled people.

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So what you get will work but might not work very well.

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But if, for example, you were to find out you’ve got a B-Grade tube,

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you can’t go back to the company that made the machine because they’re much cleverer than that.

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What they do, they pack these machines into containers and ship them to warehouses around the world.

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So when you look at your advert and find that it’s coming from a local warehouse somewhere and not from China, you will know what the scam is.

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The seller of these machines will not be the person that built the machine, it will be a guy in China in his kitchen with a PC.

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He’s selling you a product that he’s never seen, that sitting in a warehouse somewhere around the world.

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And when he manages to sell it, he will get commission.

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So if there’s a problem with your machine, he is the person that’s responsible to you because he is the person that sold it to you.

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But, hey, he’s just a private individual on eBay who could just disappear.

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So the fact that it might say in the advert it’s got a two year warranty or something like that, let me be slightly crude and say absolute crap.

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You are dealing with a guy in China who has never seen the machine.

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He’s not technically competent. If you send him any technical questions, he will refer them back to the factory.

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So this is a very flaky buying mechanism when you work through eBay or through Amazon Marketplace.

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Now, Amazon Marketplace offer you a little bit more security than eBay.

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So whenever you buy one of these machines through eBay, first of all, make sure you pay for it with your credit card.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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If there’s problems, you can go back to eBay and talk to the vendor via eBay so you can raise an official

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complaint with eBay to say that your machine and be very careful how you describe it.

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So there’s a key phrase that you always need to use.

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When you were talking about a machine that is not to your satisfaction, you must use the phrase not as described.

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You can always go back to the eBay advertisement and say why it’s not as described.

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If you’re paying through PayPal, don’t use your PayPal account, pay with a credit card through your PayPal account.

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That way, not only have you got some degree of protection from eBay,

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you will have some major protection from your credit card company who will be there to protect you against fraud.

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And you might have to jump through a few hoops.

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But I have successfully helped 30 people in my five or six years of doing this to get either refunds or in some cases free machines,

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because the guys in China didn’t respond. And after two or three weeks, eBay say that if they do not respond, they will take up the case.

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And in the case of these guys in the states, they’ve got free machines because they got complete refunds.

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Okay, so they’ve got a tube that didn’t work. So they had to pay out two hundred fifty dollars for a new tube.

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But you’re probably going to have to do that anyway.

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One of the other reasons why I’m making this video now is not only to warn you about what you’re going to get,

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which is a machine where you probably will have to replace at least the tube. In about five and a half years,

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I came across maybe two instances where people have said to me, I’ve got a problem.

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How can I get past the encryption that’s on my Ruida controller?

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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Initially, I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but when I researched it further,

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I find out that Ruida have got a piece of encryption software that they can supply with the controller.

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So if you are a seller, as many years ago when I first started this,

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a lot of these machines were sold to start up companies in China who didn’t have the funds to buy the machine up front.

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And so they bought it by installments, maybe two or three payments over maybe one or one and a half years.

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Now to make sure that the seller got paid, what they would do is they would encrypt the controller.

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And that meant that after the first three months when your first payment was due or your second payment was due after the deposit,

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you would have to pay them your money or the machine was basically held to ransom because it would stop working.

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You would effectively have to buy a code to buy another six months worth of use of your machine.

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And then if you didn’t pay, your machine stopped working again.

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So there are a series of payment steps and encryption codes that you have to buy when you use, when you buy a machine in China like this.

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Now, in the last six months, I’ve had maybe 10, 12 emails from people who are suffering with a problem downloading programs.

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I can’t download a program because the keyboard says it’s encrypted.

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Now, I don’t know how this scam works, but I’m presuming

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that somebody has bought a machine and not paid for it and what they’ve done, they’ve ripped out their old controller from a machine,

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from a machine that might cost a thousand dollars in China and for 250 dollars,

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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they’ve put themselves a new controller in and passed off what is maybe a good controller onto the second hand market because it still works.

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It will work for three, six months until the encryption runs out.

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So when the machine was shipped, it ran perfectly OK.

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When you receive it, it may have run out of time.

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This is a scam that’s become very popular just recently, so I need to warn you about it, there is no fix for this problem.

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There is no master password that allows you to bypass the encryption.

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And if there is, which I’m sure there is, it’s not available.

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Ruida are not going to release that master password because it immediately makes their encryption software invalid.

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So if you do buy a machine and find that it somehow gives you an encryption message,

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I’m afraid the only solution to the problem is to spend out about 250 dollars on a new controller.

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Now, if you buy the machine with a credit card,

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then you probably have maybe six months to talk to your card supplier about this problem and maybe get a full refund from the seller.

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There is no guarantee you are jumping into the China Sea of lasers.

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It’s full of sharks and stingrays. There may be a few cuddly dolphins in there as well, but you have to look very,

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very hard for the trusted Chinese suppliers. Now, as I promised you earlier on.

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I will show you what a Ruida controller looks like as far as the pictures on an advert are concerned.

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OK, now we’re going to drop in to this company here called CloudRay, who are one of the cuddly dolphins in the sea of sharks.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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This is a company that you can trust. They’re not necessarily the cheapest company around.

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But what you get from here is a good quality product.

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They do not sell junk. You can buy all sorts of products from these guys for your machine,

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but you generally won’t buy machines from them because they only sell the large machines.

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So let’s go and have a look here at controllers. And one of the controllers, the most popular controller that you’re going to get is this one.

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So here’s what a Ruida controller looks like. It’s a little box which is inside the machine, which you cannot see when you buy a machine.

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But what you’re looking for is this pattern here: colours,

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a little screen, the arrangement of the keys and particularly these colours sometimes in these positions,

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which will tell you that what you’ve bought or what you’re buying is this Ruida controller,

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which is that almost industry standard controller for these cheaper machines and mid priced machines.

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The other must have, in my opinion, when you’re buying a machine is a set of good quality linear rails.

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There are some of the rails which are made in Taiwan which are not bad, and some of those that are made in China, which are, um, OK.

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These are copies of an American product called HiWin linear bearing systems.

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Now here’s basically the skeleton of the inside of a good machine.

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OK, this is what you’re expecting to see. These rails here, linear rails.

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They’re basically almost a square section. And they either mount on top of the gantry or on the front of the gantry.

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It doesn’t matter which, personally I prefer front mounted, but that’s a personal preference.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

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And then you’ll find down the side here on the Y-rails, you’ll find the same sort of rails.

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Now, I can tell you from a distance from my experience that because of the spacing of these screws that fix the rails down,

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that this is a 15 millimetre rail set. If you see lots and lots of screws along here, you’ll know that it’s a 12 millimetre rail set, 12 millimetres.

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Okay. It still works perfectly Okay. Personally, I would prefer to see a much heavier duty, 15 millimetre rail, but either is OK.

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OK, look, let’s just take a quick look at one or two of these adverts that you’ll find on eBay, OK?

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Typically, they will cost you around about 12 to 14 hundred or 1500 pounds or dollars.

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And let’s just take a look at this one, that does not look like a Ruida controller because the button colours aren’t right.

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So do they describe in here anything about the controller?

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So you take a look down here. Power supply, you see, that’s not, that’s not a Ruida controller.

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So I personally would pass on that. Now, the chances are all these pictures look the same because they’re adverts that have been

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supplied by the parent company to the people that are selling these for commission.

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So they will post the same set of pictures on eBay.

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00:19:33,710 –> 00:19:38,620
They’re all trying to sell the same products from the same warehouse.

167
00:19:38,620 –> 00:19:42,430
If you take a look, they’re all exactly the same pictures as you can see.

168
00:19:42,430 –> 00:19:49,670
They might say, oh, this looks like a good one at nine hundred and ninety nine pounds, I can guarantee.

169
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It’s not what it appears, that is definitely a Ruida controller, look,

170
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you can see the colour pattern on there, so that is, relatively speaking, good news.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

171
00:20:00,820 –> 00:20:05,990
Hmm. We can’t really see what the bearing rails are.

172
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We could have a look at the specification and see if they give us any more information down here.

173
00:20:12,230 –> 00:20:23,210
And we’ve got some pictures, which is good. Size; a 50 watt tube will be about a thousand millimetres long.

174
00:20:23,210 –> 00:20:32,660
You need an additional 200 millimetres inside the case to fit a thousand millimetre tube.

175
00:20:32,660 –> 00:20:36,920
That case is not 1200 millimetres long.

176
00:20:36,920 –> 00:20:43,070
Therefore, that is basically a 40 watt, 800 millimetre long tube.

177
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It’s not what it claims. So let’s have a look at the bearing system.

178
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I can see that it has got a 12 millimetre linear bearing rail system on the top here.

179
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Can you see that? And look how close the screws are together. Yeah, this has got some promise.

180
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You can see, the bearing rail and the screws are very, very close together.

181
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So that’s a 12 millimetre bearing rail system. What else can we see?Hmm the side bearings are

182
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more difficult to see down here, but it looks as though these side bearings are round rod bearings, which is not good news.

183
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And in addition, what I see on here is a strange bed shape, which basically is the same bed shape that you get in a K 40 machine.

184
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So this probably is like an overblown K 40 machine.

185
00:21:39,170 –> 00:21:43,340
Now, for a 40 watt machine, you will not need a chiller. In fact, that’s not a Chiller.

186
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That’s a CW3000, which basically is a radiator, a reservoir and a fan, even though they call it up here

187
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a chiller, it’s not. So if you live in a warm climate, 40 degrees C, for example, in the summer, you’re going to heat your water up with that.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

188
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You’re not going to cool it down. So on balance, I would probably buy this in preference to a K 40, but I would tend to steer clear of it.

189
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Seven hundred by 500 (mm) is what many people go for.

190
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Let’s have a look at this machine. Well, I can see at a glance the controller on there is not a Ruida controller.

191
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So here we’ve got another 60 watt machine, which I can immediately see has not got a Ruida Controller.

192
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50 watt machine hasn’t got a Ruida controller.

193
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It worries the Hell out of me when I see a machine that looks like that which they’re selling you, or are they selling you that machine?

194
00:22:48,880 –> 00:22:56,920
Oh, there we go. So it’s not a Ruida Controller. So I think you might get a flavour for what I’m trying to get to here.

195
00:22:56,920 –> 00:23:00,790
You need to be very, very careful what you’re buying.

196
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You can ask questions of the buyer, but don’t expect honest answers because remember, in most cases, the buyer is not a company.

197
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It’s a private individual. When you buy a machine that costs you 1500 pounds like that, you may need to factor in another 250 pounds for a new tube.

198
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If you go about it the right way, you can complain to the vendor that the tube is not as described,

199
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remember that key phrase, through eBay,

200
00:23:34,510 –> 00:23:44,290
so there is a record and you can possibly ask for maybe 150, 200 pound refund.

201
00:23:44,290 –> 00:23:49,630
Remember, what you’re doing is eating into this guy’s commission.

202
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So don’t be too greedy. Just accept the fact that maybe you’re only going to get 120 or 150 pound refund.

Buying Your First Laser Machine Transcript (Cont…)

203
00:23:58,180 –> 00:24:04,030
But any refund is better than having to spend the whole amount out on a new tube.

204
00:24:04,030 –> 00:24:09,250
And when you go looking for a new tube, do not go looking on eBay.

205
00:24:09,250 –> 00:24:19,840
Go to this reputable company that I was talking about earlier, CloudRay, for a known good quality, A-Grade tube.

206
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The chances are if you go onto eBay, you’ll get a great bargain,

207
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you’ll be replacing rubbish with rubbish because there’s a good reason why they’re cheap and I’ve told you what that reason is.

208
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So if you’ve got any doubts or queries, add a comment to this video.

209
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Post a link to the machine that you’re interested in and I will give you an honest opinion of what I think of that machine. It’s your money.

210
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I can’t tell you how to spend it. I can only just warn you to spend it wisely.

211
00:24:52,760 –> 00:24:57,530
Thanks for your time and patience and good luck with your new purchase.

212
00:24:57,530 –> 00:25:00,961
And welcome to the Laser community.

Buying your first laser machine

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Last updated August 26, 2021

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