Cohesion3D LaserBoard Buyers GuideCohesion3D
There are a number of add-on accessories presented on the Cohesion3D LaserBoard product page – How do I know what I need?
For starters, you’ll probably be buying the Cohesion3D LaserBoard. This already comes with its own Power Supply and a pre-programmed SD Card with the firmware and config files for Smoothie firmware. The same board can also run GRBL-LPC firmware, so you would just put a different file on the SD Card, there is no need to specify anything at the time of purchase. The included power supply is just to power the board with a clean, sufficient source of 24 volts, since the Laser Power Supply can’t do a good enough job of it and will result in unstable operation if you try. However, we leave the Laser Power Supply to drive the laser tube. It does a decent job of that. You can read more about all that here: The Cohesion3D Power Supply
The board works with LightBurn Software, so you’ll most likely be getting that as well. LightBurn is layout, editing, and control software for your laser cutter. With LightBurn you will be able to:
- Import artwork in a variety of common vector graphic and image formats (including AI, PDF, SVG, DXF, PLT, PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP)
- Arrange, modify, or even create new vector shapes within the editor
- Apply settings like power, speed, number of passes, cut order, and much more
- Send the result directly to your laser cutter
LightBurn is a native application that will run on Windows, OSX, and Linux. Yes, you can use your laser with your Mac when you upgrade to Cohesion3D with LightBurn.
The Official LightBurn Camera will allow you to:
- Monitor your laser.
- Position designs on your work material.
- Trace artwork directly from designs on the bed of the laser.
The camera is super cool and lets you scan in physical designs to the program and align your designs onto physical work pieces on your laser bed. You can see a demo here:
Graphic LCD Screen + GLCD Adapter. The Graphic LCD Screen provides a heads up display with Machine Position and Status. The click wheel allows you to navigate menus to do things such as jog the machine. Finally, you can save gCode job files to the SD Card in LaserBoard and use the GLCD to run that, all without having to be tethered to a computer. Make sure you get both the Graphic LCD Screen and the GLCD Adapter to be able to connect it to the LaserBoard – you cannot connect it without the GLCD Adapter!
High Quality USB Cable. The Cable that comes with the K40 (and other Chinese devices in general) is known to not work properly and can cause issues communicating with the Cohesion3D Boards.
4A External Stepper Driver and External Stepper Driver Cable [4 Pack]: LaserBoard has built in stepper drivers for X, Y, Z, and A. These are Trinamic stepper drivers rated up to 1.2 amps (RMS value, which is different than the peak which is how most motors are rated). They can work up to a point, then you will need external drivers. You should look at the motor rated currents, but as a rule of thumb, I say that Nema 17 Steppers up to 48mm long are OK, as long as you are not putting way too much load on them. Here are some quick tips to know whether you need external drivers:
- If you have an M2Nano style board, it has built in drivers for X and Y. You should be OK with the built in drivers. If this is a larger machine than a K40, just know that you will have to change some settings like the driver currents in the board’s config file. We have guidance for this on the forum.
- If you have our Cohesion3D Rotary or the one from LightObject, it should work directly off the board with the built in drivers, just plug it into the A motor port on LaserBoard and set your steps per mm and max speed values in the config file (get these from the rotary manufacturer).
- The small Z table from LightObject also uses a moderately sized Nema 17, it should also be OK with the built in drivers.
- Other Z tables that use larger stepper motors will definitely require an external stepper driver.
- If you already have external drivers because your machine came like that, or are working on a monster laser cutter then you might need external drivers and the External Stepper Driver Cables to wire them.
Note that if you are adding external stepper drivers to your machine, you need a separate 24v power supply to power them like this:
Alternatively, if you do not want to handle AC wiring, or just for simplicity, you could use additional power bricks from us to power the external stepper drivers. This kit would work nicely for that:
So, what all do you need to get? Well, at the least, we’d recommend the LaserBoard, the LightBurn Software, and the good USB Cable. The Camera is super cool and lets you do things with your laser that other machines that cost $6,000 advertise in their marketing videos. Then you can add the screen if you want the heads up display. And external drivers if you need them. Easy. Post on our Community Support Forum if you have any questions or need help with anything.