Archive for October, 2011


Opportunity Knocks

October 31, 2011

So I heard back today from the lab members that headed over to check out the laser. It’s in pretty rough shape, and they decided it wasn’t going to be a good fit/project for the lab. FINALLY my chance has come.  Then I saw the pictures that one of the members posted…

Somehow when I read the initial email, I had apparently skipped over the whole part about the unit having caught fire. I’m starting to have second thoughts if this is really the laser for me, it looks like it’s going to be a lot of work. So what do I do? After thinking it over for a few minutes, I decided it’s too good of an opportunity to pass up, even if all I get out of it is a working laser tube, I’ll at least have a kick-start on building my own system. So I gave Brandon a call, and have arranged to head over tomorrow morning to pick it up.


Sleepless night ahead

October 30, 2011

Got word today that a contingent from the lab is going to check out the laser on Tomorrow. Not sure I’ll get much sleep tonight until I hear back. I’m really hoping they take a pass, so I can have it. MUST HAVE LASER!!! 😉


Membership has its privelages

October 29, 2011

Today is an exciting day, my dream of having an industrial laser cutter could be within reach!

First, A little history.

About two years ago I came across the hacker space community, and found Hacklab here in Toronto. One of the big attractors to me for to the space was that they had an industrial laser that they had bought and then refurbished. It’s an old Universal Laser Systems [ULS] unit that they found on Craigslist for around $500. The electronics were fried, but the laser, optics, and mechanicals were sound. So being the resourceful hackers they are, they made their own electronics and got the thing up and running. You can read more about it here on the hacklab blog with more detail here on Andrew Kilpatrick’s Blog.  I was totally inspired when I saw this, and immediately started trolling craigslist and kijiji for similar deals. Sadly, in two years of casual searching I didn’t come across any deals. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would never find such a deal. In the meantime I found myself using the labs laser for a number of projects, including several for work, which has only strengthened my resolve for having my own cutter, even if I have to build one from scratch.

And that brings us to today…

Paul, one of the hacklab founders forwarded this message the lab received to the members list:

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 10:23:06
From: Brandon
Subject: Donating Partial Laser Cutter

Message Body:

I am the new Technical Director at [a really cool company] and we’ve got an old ULS laser cutter here that we figured you might want. The electronics and laser seem to be in fine shape, but the stepper motors and cutting enclosure have been extremely melted due to a fire years ago so will likely need to be replaced or repaired.

We don’t have the time or the inclination to actually fix the unit, but figured that it would be an excellent project for a local hackerspace. If you’re interested in taking it, feel free to give us a call at (416)???-???? and ask for Brandon.

———- End Forwarded message ———-

Could this be it? Have I finally come within reach of having my own laser-cutter?  A new one at $12,000+ is way out of my budget, and the cheap Chinese lasers on eBay look too sketchy for me to even consider. So a deal like this is really my only chance [short of designing/building my own from scratch].  When I saw this message in my inbox, I just knew I had to go for it. I sent a reply to the list saying that I will take it, if the lab does not want it. I haven’t seen any other takers yet, so I hope I’m not too late to the game. It has been 4 days since the message was posted and it is free after all!


The Adventure Begins…

October 24, 2011

For years I’ve been dreaming of having an industrial laser cutter. I would get envious of everyone that I came across that had one. Wasn’t sure what I would do with one if I had it, but having something that cuts with photons is just so irresistible to a geek like me. I’m one of those people that is constantly dreaming of cool things to build, only to be stopped by the thought of lacking the necessary tools or budget to make it happen. That little voice in the back of my head kept saying “If only I had a laser cutter…”

All that is about to change (hopefully). This blog is an attempt to document my challenges, successes (and I’m sure some failures), as I go through the process of refurbishing an old beat-up industrial laser.