Category Archives: Laser

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K40 Whisperer– K40 (Cheap Chinese Laser) Control Software

After months of reverse engineering I am happy to announce that the initial version of K40 Whisperer is available for download under the GPL License.  K40 Whisperer is software written to interpret SVG and DXF data and in turn communicate the design information to the K40 Laser Cutter (using the stock M2 Nano Controller board).  This software is essentially a replacement for the Laser Draw (LaserDRW) software that comes with the stock K40 laser.  When using K40 Whisperer the USB key that is required for Laser Draw is not required.  The initial release only supports the M2 version of the K40 controller board.  If I can get other K40 owners to test with other versions of the controller board future versions will support more board versions.

K40 Whisperer has been tested with Windows (XP, Vista and 10) and Linux.  It should also work on a modern MAC computer, although this has not been tested.  Full instructions for setting up K40 Whisperer are available on the K40 Whisperer web page.  Linux instructions have not yet been written.

K40 Whisperer attempts to solve some of the basic problems with Laser Draw such as the difficulty with properly scaling designs and combining engraving and cutting on one work piece.  A previous attempt at solving these problems was the Laser Draw Inkscape Extension which allows users to send data from Inkscape to Laser Draw.  This Inkscape extension is also available on the Scorch Works web page.

Below is a screen video providing an overview of the operation of K40 Whisperer.

Laser Draw Inkscape Extension for K40 Laser Cutters

A couple of months ago I wrote an Inkscape extension that allows users to save LYZ files that are compatible with Laser Draw (LaserDRW).  Laser Draw is the software that comes with many of the cheap chinese laser cutters.  The Inkscape extension makes it easier for users to get consistently scaled output.  This is especially helpful when doing multiple operations on a single work piece (i.e. raster engraving, vector engraving and cutting).

The Inkscape Extension is free and open source (GPL).  The extension is available for download on its web page: Laser Draw Inkscape Extension.

On the ScorchWorks YouTube Channel there are a couple of relevant videos.  The first video talks about the extension and goes through making a design from scratch in Inkscape.

The second video walks through modifying an existing design for use with the Inkscape extension.

Spring Loaded K40 Laser Platform

I built a spring loaded platform for my K40 laser.  The purpose of the platform is to allow for the use of different thicknesses of material while maintaining the correct distance to the surface of the material so the laser is always focused at the material surface.  I achieve this by having springs push the platform up to a hard stop formed by a piece of angle aluminum.  When an item is placed on the platform a small portion of the material is pushed under the hard stop surface.  Then the springs push the material up until the top surface of the material is positioned at the laser focus height by the hard stop.

I don’t have detailed plans but I tried to give enough information in the video for someone to replicate the design if desired. Below is a list of the materials I used and the tools needed to perform the build.

If you have questions I can be contacted by e-mail at the address in the image at the bottom of the Scorch Works Home Page.

Materials used:

  • Aluminum flat bar, 1 inch x 1/8 inch x 36 inch long  (Home Depot has 48 inch lengths)
  • Angle aluminum, 1 inch x 1/8 inch x 36 inch long  (Home Depot has 48 inch lengths)
  • Angle aluminum, 3/4 inch x 1/8 inch x 36 inch long  (Home Depot has 48 inch lengths)
  • (Qty 4)  Spring, 3/8 in diameter,1-7/8 inch long, 0.025 wire diameter   (From local hardware store)
  • (Qty 8) Machine screw, 10-24 x 2-1/2 inch long
  • (Qty 8) Machine screw, 6-32 x 3/4 inch long (for holding brackets to rails and 3D printed parts to the top brackets)
  • Drinking straw to cover the threads on four of the 10-24 screws (optional, but nice to have)
  • (Qty 4) 3D printed standoffs to set the height of the angle aluminum hard stops (these could be replaced by small diameter pipe or tube cut to length or a small piece of wood with holes drilled)
  • (Qty 4) 3D printed spacers to extend the travel of the springs (these could be replaced by small diameter pipe or tube cut to length or a small piece of wood with holes drilled)
  • Expanded metal sheet, 1/2 inch x 12 inch x 24 inch (Home Depot)

Tools Needed:

  • Screw driver
  • Hand Drill
  • Set of Drill bits
  • Hacksaw (or metal cutting band saw)
  • 10-24 Tap
  • 6-32 Tap