Saturday, December 12, 2020

Laser Infrastructure - Part 1

This past summer I got a divorce and bought a new home to live in. One of the unfortunate consequences of this is I have to re-build all of the support infrastructure that is required to operate my laser engraver. Although the laser is an amazing tool for both my wargaming and radio-control aircraft hobbies, it does require a large amount of infrastructure to operate safely. This is part one of what I hope will only be two installments on this subject. This does include efforts that spanned several months, but for brevity I am including them all here in one update.

To the left two switches and an outlet. The outlet is an always-on 110 volt AC outlet to power the laser. Not shown are the two receptacles that the switches operate, both are elsewhere. Eventually this wall will be covered in drywall. On the opposite side of the wall will be an airbrush compressor run by the left-most switch. This blows compressed 30 PSI (2 bar for you non-Imperial types) air in the path of the laser to clear smoke which would impede the laser's ability to cut.   

The right-most switch is a three-way switch that operates this 600 CFM (0.3 m^3/s) exhaust 'blower' that evacuates the combustion byproducts from the laser. This keeps the air in the laser cabinet clear of power-sapping smoke as well as prevents it from asphyxiating the operator. Very important that this works properly! The other partner to the three-way switch is located where my spray booth will be, allowing me to use the exhaust system for both purposes by adding in some 'blast gates' for the vent pipes. 

Finally, an all-metal vent added to the exterior of my new home. This was by FAR the most nerve-wracking part of the operation. I needed to buy a proper mounting plate and line up everything so that it fit properly over the vinyl siding. As far as I'm concerned, it looks pretty good to me!

Part two of this will be running all of the interior piping for the exhaust system, including the blast gates and junctions for the spray booth and laser. Some of this is going to require me to order some specialty parts not offered at the local home center. Luckily, now that I have the external work done, I can do the exhaust piping even during the winter months - possibly during Christmas break since I won't be doing a lot of visiting with family due to the ongoing pandemic. 


Ed M said...

Nice to see things falling into place: I recall when it was all just empty basement.

Matt Crump said...

DIY on a fairly big scale......out of interest what do you use the laser for in terms of wargaming ?

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Matt, Bases, and lots of custom made terrain. Check out for more info.

Miles said...

Very impressive - I'm usually very terrified when cutting in a outside vent to the house and usually end up way over complicating. Looks like you did a very fine job. I've hesitated about getting a laser cutter because of the venting issues but never thought about combining it with a spray booth. I may be redoing my workshop!

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Thanks Miles. I would encourage you to do it. If you need, you can have a professional cut the hole in the exterior of your home. I used a commercially available dryer vent. I made sure to get a high-quality steel one and not a plastic one.

TinDictator said...

Hey AJ, Merry Christmas.
Quite a project you have there.
I think I would have just set up in the garage and left the door open.
But, your weather is a bit cooler than mine. So maybe less practical for you.

Let me know when you're up and running again.
I'm still in need of some more bases.

Penguin Power !