Start your setup by going to the Github respository and get the files you need by clicking here.
Here are some screenshots to get you rolling.
After you have managed to download the file, just go to your downloads folder and find the file called LiteFire.exe. If you double click the file, it will install the program. Say yes to the prompts and remember where the files all installed to.
If you find the "litefire.exe" file in your downloads folder, you can right click and click on "send to" and "desktop", which will create a desktop shortcut.
Click on "litefire.exe"
Click on "download"
Once you have installed and opened the litefire.exe program, you will see the start window. Plug in your machine.
What I did was to ensure all the motor plugs were in, but I unplugged the laser at first; just in case.
Remember to plug in the computer from PCB to USB on the computer, but also be sure to plug in the PCB to POWER as well! Check to make sure the little blue switch on the board is pushed in. A red light at the bottom edge of the board will come on. If the laser is plugged in, you will hear a fan on the laser turn on. For now, unplug the laser. Safety first!
Once you plug in the machine, you will be able to ask the software to connect to the brain on your machine.
Once you have the machine connected and the Open laser button is pressed, the Open button should change to "Close", which means the machine and computer are talking.
The Port Name is where the machine is connected on your computer. If the machine has troubles connecting, try clicking the arrow and choosing different Ports.
The Baud rate is how fast the machine and computer can communicate. 115200 is typical but try changing it if you have issues.
Use your hand to gently push the laser gantry into the middle of your workspace. Unplug the laser for now. Make sure the machine is plugged in and turned on. The little red light on the bottom edge of the board should turn on and off as you push the switch repeatedly.
Press the Y+ button and see what happens. Do the same for the X+ and X- and Y-. the gantry should move around. We will work on set up next.
If you look at the drawing, you will see the X and Y axis. If you push the X+, it should move to the right. X- should be left. Y+ should be up and away from you and Y- towards you.
If anything else happens, you will have to write code to the controller. No problem, it is easy.
Pick the tab labelled "Device settings", than the box labelled "GRBL settings".
If the screen section is blank, make sure your controller is plugged in, turned on and connected to the computer.
Near the top is a $3 column. If you scroll over, notice the eight zeros... 00000000 The last three zeros control axis direction with an X,Y,Z hierarchy. ie: 00000100 Means X will invert direction. 00000010 Means Y will invert. 00000110 Means X and Y will invert. Make sure you "write" and save your changes.
Head back to the "print picture" tab. Move the gantry to a spot in the middle.
Put a piece of scrap wood under the laser, about 6" square. The wood top surface should be about 2 inches under the laser emittor (black dial)
Put on your eye protection and plug in the laser. Now hit the Laser On (weak)" button. The laser should be visible. If you pick the (Strong) button, you should burn the wood.
You could try hitting the "start" button and see what happens. Be ready to hit the stop button in case anything weird happens.
What? It isn't perfect? My guess is that it isn't perfect, and thats okay. Next tutorial, we will look at focusing the laser and fussing with settings to get a good engrave job. For now, WELL DONE! you have successfully used your keyboard to move a machine and make a super bright light. You may even have burned some wood. That is really pretty cool! 🙂