Number 06 – RDWorks Learning Lab 214 – Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting Z to a New Zero Position

The Top Ten RDWorks Learning Lab Videos

These are the top ten RDWorks Learning Lab Videos ranked by average number of views per month. In this session, Russ explains the operation of the Laser Cutter Z Axis and comes up with a solution for quickly setting a new home position.

Contents

How to modify your laser machine to to make it do exactly what you want with regard to where the Z-axis equals zero. You will need a Z-axis stepper motor and stepper driver fitted to your machine.

Discussion on the shortfalls of the “Pen” type autofocus system.

The different ways to set the Z-axis home position.

Using the Home offset in the Vendor Tools.

Adding an additional switch to the Z-Axis circuit.

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Laser Cutter Z Axis - Top Limit Microswitch
Laser Cutter Z Axis – Top Limit Microswitch

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position

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0:00today is going to be a nice quick

0:02session

0:03with no real thinking involved today i

0:06thought i’d take a few moments out

0:08and show you how to modify your machine

0:12to make it do exactly what you want with

0:16regard to

0:17z equals zero i’m lucky enough on this

0:20machine

0:21to have a controllable z-axis stepper

0:24controlled

0:25and that’s because originally this

0:27machine had an auto focus

0:29on it now those of you that go back far

0:31enough

0:33will remember that i’m not enamored with

0:36the autofocus system

0:37on this or any other machine the

0:41pen system that was on here

0:44was quickly removed a

0:47i found it to be fragile and it was very

0:50easily

0:50gummed up and got sticky and the

0:52autofocus system could only be accessed

0:56through the menu on the keypad so you

0:58had to hunt through the menu

1:00to find the autofocus function and then

1:02press it

1:03and then it would carry out the

1:04autofocus function and it may or may not

1:07complete the function

1:08correctly it really depends on how your

1:11table was set

1:12and what work you had on your table

1:14whenever you changed the lens

1:17you had to set the autofocus system up

1:20completely

1:21i got used to it and i was able to do it

1:22in two or three minutes but anybody

1:24that’s not used to it is frightened of

1:25it

1:26would do it in maybe 10 or 15 minutes

1:29it was a really tedious process and of

1:32course

1:33the final thing is

1:36there is no such thing as a focus

1:40there are lots of focuses depending on

1:42the speed that you’re running at

1:44i really couldn’t see the point of an

1:46autofocus system on this machine

1:49so it was ripped off but i love the fact

1:51that i can control

1:52the zed on this machine because there

1:55are times with some of the programs that

1:56i’ve invented since

1:58where i use the zed very conveniently

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

2:00for controlling the position of the

2:02table

2:02the problem is the position that i want

2:05to control the table from

2:07is not always at the same zero position

2:11but one of the things i’ve been

2:12promising to do is to make myself a very

2:15quick fix that allows me

2:17to select exactly where i want zero to

2:19be

2:20on the table position right let’s start

2:23off at the beginning

2:24and show you all the different ways that

2:27zero

2:28can be set now if we go to the user

2:30settings

2:31you’ll see that by default

2:34in the auxiliary settings home

2:37position or home parameters it says auto

2:40home x

2:41yes auto home y yes auto home said

2:44no well that’s because i just switched

2:47this on and i’ve not actually read

2:49the machine parameters so i’m going to

2:51read my machine parameters now

2:55and you’ll see that my machine

2:56parameters say yes yes

2:58yes so i’ve selected auto home z

3:01equals yes and written it back into the

3:03machine that is one way that you can

3:05make your

3:06machine automatically home to zed to

3:09lower the table

3:11[Music]

3:14so i’ve manually forced the table down

3:16now but if i want to reset

3:19at any point in time without turning the

3:21machine off

3:22i can just press the reset button

3:28and that again will reset all three axes

3:31of the machine including zed there we

3:35are we’re back to zed

3:36zero

3:37[Music]

3:38[Applause]

3:41[Music]

3:43you wouldn’t normally have the auto home

3:45zero

3:47if you’ve got an autofocus system

3:50because you want the autofocus system

3:52to do your zero setting for you now

3:55hiding away in the machine here

3:56somewhere

3:57i remember throwing

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

4:02the autofocus pin now i’ve not

4:04disconnected

4:05the autofocus system

4:08i’ve just removed the pen i’m not going

4:10to press

4:12autofocus i’m going to press reset

4:15again

4:17[Music]

4:24and you’ll notice i’ve pressed the

4:26button and i’ve stopped zed

4:28[Music]

4:31set that table to that position via the

4:33auto

4:34focus pen because something in that pen

4:36has caused this table

4:38to stop and reset zero at this position

4:41which is fantastic i could technically

4:44have a switch here and just press it and

4:47it sets my table where i want it

4:49so let’s just drop the table down and

4:52over in this corner of the machine here

4:54you’ll see that there is a microswitch

4:58[Music]

4:59now that microswitch is actually the

5:02thing

5:03that gives us zero on the table

5:07the bearing comes up hits this

5:11and tells the table i now want to set

5:14zero

5:14let me just do that manually i’m going

5:16to press the reset button

5:18and everything is going to start

5:19happening the table’s going to come up

5:22it’s going to stop and i’ve pressed the

5:24button twice

5:26but i’ll stop that table at that

5:28position there because i’ve performed

5:30a zeroing opposite operation on this

5:32switch

5:33just under here now that operation is a

5:35very simple procedure that the machine

5:37follows

5:38it comes up and makes this switch

5:42it then drops down and disconnects the

5:46switch

5:46once it’s disconnected the switch it

5:49then creeps

5:49up again very very slowly until it makes

5:53the switch again

5:55and then it drops down very very very

5:57slowly

5:58until it just disconnects from the

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

6:00switch and as soon as it disconnects

6:02from the switch

6:03that is when it sets table zero

6:06z equals zero so there’s only that one

6:09function here that one operation

6:12that always sets zero this

6:16auto focus pen that you saw me messing

6:18with has really

6:19only interfering with this switch

6:21circuit

6:22when i switched that on and off i was

6:25doing the same

6:26as switching this on and off there’s

6:28nothing magical

6:29about this auto focus system up to now

6:33if i want to set this to a different

6:35position

6:36i normally do a bit of a budge there’s

6:38the bearing block there

6:40and the switch is up the top there i can

6:41make that switch

6:43by doing something silly like this

6:47i can just sit a block of material on

6:50there

6:51which is one inch thick and that will

6:53now stop the table

6:56one inch down and set the zero

6:59one inch lower than it was previously

7:01that’s a fairly quick way

7:03lazy way of changing the table zero

7:06position now there is

7:08another official way that you can change

7:10the table

7:11zero and that’s to go into vendor

7:13settings

7:14rd when we look at the z-axis

7:19you’ll find that we’ve got breadth 650

7:23millimeters

7:24it really doesn’t matter what what

7:26breadth you set because that’s basically

7:28the depth of the table

7:29but on this machine it doesn’t really

7:32matter

7:32because on the bottom of the stroke

7:35there is a limit switch

7:37which even if i tell that to go to two

7:39miles it will only go down as far as the

7:41limit switch

7:42and then it will stop so it really

7:43doesn’t matter what set what which you

7:45set the breadth to

7:47then you’ve got this thing here called

7:49home offset now what you’ve seen my

7:51table do

7:52is to come up to zero drop down

7:55come up very slowly drop down and at

7:58that point there

7:59it sets zero on the keypad

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

8:03now if i change this

8:06to something else like maybe 25

8:10and let’s just do it

8:1325 and i’ll now write that back

8:17let’s go and look to see what effect

8:18i’ve had on my zero

8:20table position it’s coming up and it’s

8:23going to hit this

8:24switch down here and set first attempt

8:27at zero it says

8:28okay we’re nearly there but this is not

8:31accurate enough so we need to drop down

8:34and we’ll come up and we’ll drop down

8:36and we’ll find where real zero is

8:39there it is but hang on

8:43and down and down

8:47okay so now what it’s done it’s set

8:50machine

8:510 25 millimeters lower

8:55than the switch that sets zero

8:59so i’ve actually created a table setting

9:03zero which is what i want which is much

9:05lower

9:06but my goodness me what a faff just to

9:09get the new table

9:10zed position that’s why i don’t do it

9:13the vendor setting way

9:15and i use that rather cheap dirty and

9:18very quick

9:19method of resetting a table zero one

9:22inch lower than what i need

9:24i mean it could be four inches like that

9:26it doesn’t make any difference

9:28there are two other ways that you can

9:30set

9:32zero via the keyboard let’s turn the

9:34light off so we can see the keyboard

9:36nice and easily

9:37right down the bottom here we’ve got

9:39auto focus so when i want to perform an

9:41autofocus

9:43first of all i’ve got to come in here

9:44and press the zoo button

9:46then i’ve got to decide whether it’s

9:48quicker to come all the way down to the

9:49bottom

9:50here or whether it’s easier to go up

9:52from the bottom

9:54to autofocus either way around autofocus

9:57is right in the middle of a list

9:59okay so i haven’t got the autofocus pen

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

10:00on the machine at the moment

10:02but is that going to make any difference

10:04the answer is

10:05no because look what’s going to happen

10:07when i press auto focus

10:09enter first of all it’s going to set

10:11zero against that switch in the corner

10:13there

10:13it’s not going to take and you notice

10:14the autofocus pen because the autofocus

10:16pen isn’t there

10:18and then what it’s going to do look it’s

10:19going to set the table

10:2125 millimeters lower because that’s what

10:23i asked it to do

10:24okay look i’m going to take that offset

10:27away

10:27because it’s nothing but a pain so there

10:30is one other way that you can access

10:32a zed reset and that’s to come into the

10:35zoo button again

10:37and you’ve got this menu and if you look

10:38at the last item in the menu it says

10:40access reset

10:42let’s go up one and we get to access

10:44reset enter

10:45so if we select zed

10:49and press enter and we’ve reset said

10:53at table position good as well i thought

10:55this is going to be a quick session

10:57now very conveniently that switch has

11:00got

11:02pull off connectors on it and it’s the

11:04middle one and the top one

11:05it doesn’t matter which is which because

11:07it’s just a circuit

11:08it’s as simple as that really all we’ve

11:10got to do is to put another switch

11:13in there and i have a very convenient

11:18little push button switch right so that

11:21job’s done

11:22we’ve just connected two wires

11:25onto that switch now we’ve got another

11:27switch

11:28out here and hopefully that switch out

11:30here is doing

11:31performing the same function as that one

11:33so let’s see what happens when we turn

11:35this machine on

11:36can we interrupt

11:41yes we can

11:45there we go it’s as simple as that now

11:49we can stop that zero and that is now z0

11:54there if i don’t like it

11:58i can press reset

Transcript for Laser Cutter Z Axis: Setting the Home Position (Cont…)

12:01have it a little bit higher

12:04stop watch it go down it’s pressed again

12:09and there we go it’s as simple as that

12:12now

12:13and hey perhaps you’re just as annoyed

12:15with your zero as i was

12:18and you can now attempt the same very

12:20simple fix

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