Laser TLC #1


The 6040 laser cutter in Leeds Hackspace has never been fully serviced.

Various types of laser cutter can be sourced from china and its always a mixed bag of what kind of components you get making up yours. The 6040 in LHS is no different, its received incremental updates but recently strange problems have infrequently occurred and band-aid fixes have been applied (both hardware and software based!)

A full TLC service for the laser was long overdue, so the service has now begun!

As specified in the google groups post, several phases were identified.

Wot is our lasor

Our laser is an older type, identifiable by its belt drive system combined with a cylindrical linear bearing on one side and wheels.  Newer lasers come with linear block bearings on one or all sides driven by screw or split belts. Our drive system is usually seen in the “mini” type K40 / 40W machines, with the others in larger more powerful units, sometimes with reduced stepper gears.

First things first

I identified the X and Y stepper motors incase they need replacing.

Y axis is a dual shaft 17HW441ON-03AD02 with standard 4 wire cable; driving a coupled shaft one end with belt gears.

X axis is a single shaft 17HW3448N-15AD with a short 4 wire cable that breaks out onto the ribbon that also carries the end stop sensors from the electronics. This stepper rides on the Y axis linear bearing – again it has the belt gear attached to its shaft. – A potential improvement here would be to use standard cabling (Amp draw over ribbon?) and/or to install mechanical end stops like this that would increase work area.

Remove the gantry frame

The gantry frame was held into the base of the laser by 4 bolts, interestingly the frame rests over the holes where the Z axis shaft bearings are; they are not level so the frame essentially is clamped down ontop of these moving shafts and never fully meets with the laser casing. – An improvement here could be to washer the frame so it has 4 proper points of contact.


To remove the frame required the disconnection of the ribbon cable to the X axis and the stepper cable to the Y, as well as the air assist and laser dot power connected to the gantry itself via zip ties.


The gantry frame is now loose and can be teased out in a specific geometric arrangement to get a square peg out of a square hole!

With the gantry frame removed we can check its construction; its made from special sections of what looks like zinc coated steel that are jointed with mechanical screws. Overall a surprisingly nice frame, lacking horrible welds and scoring points for serviceability.

The frame was checked to be square (it is!) so that rules out one of the major mechanical problems that could have been possible and have been seen elsewhere… frame buckling!

Belts and bearings!

The belt pulleys and gears look to be worn, the tensions were very wrong and the linear bearing is very “bitey”. The tension systems are very simple, but prone to wear and not the same as the ones in the newer split belt systems, they are not a great design as they rely on the pulley as both a bearing and for tension / stability. To give this context, our laser has a pully shaft of 2mm, held in tension with a single set screw: comparison below with a nice big block with ring’ed bearings each side seen on better machines.



The Y axis non linear bearing end runs on a single wheel that is free in the frame channel, no secondary bearing here!  However after a small cleanup and fine-tune the gantry was moving much more nicely, without bite: its very vital that the X axis belts are balanced closely.

A better bit of news is that the X axis power shaft is well supported by decent sealed bearings on both ends.

It would also seem that the Y axis belt clamp on the gantry head is attached on the wrong side, leading to a large angle at the extremes of motion where the head approaches a gear or pully.

The future

A full clean up and reconstruction of the gantry head, along with the gantry wheels should help get everything running smoothly again, hopefully ruling out mechanical issues for the LHS laser!

Posted in Background Info, Laser Cutter, Projects | 1 Comment

New Space Update 9: Workshop & Craft Area Floor

Blue workshop floor, with blue roof and ceiling fan

The workshop and craft area floor is somewhat delicate, and we have been diligently protecting the areas which have been covered in asbestos-containing floor screed from damage. In order to make the space safe for everyday use, and to make cleaning up after minor spills much easier, we decided to have the floor levelled (it was really bumpy, see if you can feel the remaining bumps) and covered with hard-wearing thermoplastic floor tiles.

How well this floor covering will cope with the bitumen substrate and the wear and tear of a workshop environment remains to be seen, but we’re fairly confident that it will work out well. We’re quite a low traffic environment however, and using these tiles normally deployed in schools and offices should do us quite well.

The new floor tiles, looking from the main space across the craft area towards the toilets and kitchen.

Now that we have moved in of course, the entire space looks a lot different. The blue is very vibrant, and whereas walking into the workshop was once an overwhelming experience it is very much tempered by the presence of things which aren’t blue and white. Check those pictures out in the next post.

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New Space Update 8: New Door

Leeds Hackspace New Front Door

Remember we picked up a new door a couple of weeks ago? This weekend we fitted it. Replacing the door was quite an important part of preparing to move into the new premises – the old door was not only falling apart and as a double leaf door it was going to be either difficult or expensive to secure in a reliable, electronically controllable way.

Removing the old door was a challenge. Old bricks meant a lot of bolts spun in their anchors and some sections of the old grating had their nuts welded on to the screw thread. We broke out the grinder.

If in doubt, don’t buy a cordless grinder. Just go with the mains. It’s cheaper and probably a lot more effective. You won’t spend half your life running back and forth between job site and battery charger, that’s for sure.

Angle-grinding off the frame

While putting up cable conduit we unfortunately dropped a drill down the back of one of the pre-existing false walls so we had to buzz open a drill-sized hole in the wall with a jigsaw to retrieve it. A quick patch up and covering with some filler was all that was required.

Cutting open the wall with a jigsaw to retrieve drill

Tim, Samson and Tom continued with the electrical installation – all the sockets are now installed. Cables are run back to the cabinet. All that is required now is to run the chunky DB to DB cables and we can start wiring in. The meter installer is coming on Thursday to hook up our proper 3-phase power supply.

The fitting of the door took longer than expected, and as such the lock was installed in a bit rush at the end of the day to make the building secure before everyone went home. Sunday’s job was to take the hacked together strike plate and replace it with something more substantial and hardwearing.

Marking out the strike plate

The strike plate being filed to make the holes straight-edged

Because our door is a little unusual in its design it required some quite drastic modification to work with our solenoid actuated lock. Not to worry though, the strength of the door will not be grossly affected by removing this small segment. The rest of the door is left intact and connected.

Fitted strike plate

There’s still some fettling to do before the door is 100% finished – it sticks a bit when opening and closing, and there’s a section of sharp pointy metal covered in tape that needs to be removed – but there we have it. Our new door, to replace the terrible rotten old wooden one. Time for some paint, and maybe some expanding foam!

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New Space Update 7: Sand Day

Sanding the floor with an electric floor sander

The floor. In the main space. We sanded it.

Full disclosure: It would cost a lot of money to put carpet tiles down in this space, money which we don’t particularly have right now. We might still carpet it in the future, depends on how it works out when in use!

Renting a heavy duty floor sander worked out to be a reasonable investment. It’s not perfect (thanks to the poor condition it was in at the start, and probably a good helping of user error) and never will be, but it’s a metric tonne worth of dust better than it was on Friday morning.

Sanded Main Space Floor

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Hackspace Move Date – 15th & 16th October

TL;DR: We’re moving on the 15th & 16th October. Please box up your member storage (or take it home for safe storage) and lend a hand on the day.

As you are well aware by now, Leeds Hackspace is preparing to move up the road to Unit 14, Sheepscar House. The time has come to commit to the new building and start using it as our full time premises.

We will be moving the current Hackspace from Mabgate Green to the new building on the weekend of the 15th and 16th October.

This is a major undertaking, and when we say we need as much involvement from the membership as possible we aren’t joking.

What do I need to do?

  • Member storage must be disappeared, or boxed before move date.
    If you can take it home, please do! The less we have to move the better. If you aren’t able/willing to take the contents of your member storage home please at least box it, then label it. Just like when it is stored at the Space we don’t take any responsibility for things which are lost or broken during the move.
  • Sort out some rubbish
    The to-hack pile has a lot of extraneous rubbish in that nobody will ever use. Take a look through and place anything you think will be genuinely useful in the “To Hack Keep” boxes that will shortly be appearing in the Space. Everything else will not be brought with us.
  • Responsible for a thing? Get it ready for the move.
    Are you responsible for a thing, like the laser cutter, or a 3D printer, or a display screen? Make sure that everything is well labelled, any spares are boxed together and labelled sanely so that we can just pick it up and go.
  • Got moving equipment?
    Do you have machinery skates, or stair climbing sack trucks? Fantastic, can we borrow them please?

Wait a second, is the space even finished?

It’s very close, it just needs the final touches. We’re getting an electricity supply installed shortly, and the actual electrical installation will be completed very soon. At the very least the utility provision will be no worse the current Space. Did I mention that the new Space has three toilets and two sinks?

Still do do is floor, door and electrics. Busy stuff, but we can do it!

There will be disruption over the next few months as we rearrange and build furniture, but this is stuff we need to do once we’ve moved in.

What else do I need to know?

There will be no advertised open night for the general public on Tuesday 18th October, we’ll still be unpacking and getting things sorted. All members are of course welcome on the night to get the unpacking moving forward at a reasonable pace.

The days leading up to the move will be busy – essentially from the 11th October the Hackspace will be closed for personal projects. Please come along and help pack boxes and things instead.

There will be a party!

Probably in November. Date TBC.

Thanks, see you in October!

Leeds Hackspace Management Committee

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New Space Update: 6th Edition

What’s been happening at New Space this week? Lots, that’s what.

Workshop wiring is nearing completion – we installed the final length of wire for the workshop-wide e-stop loop (which will cut power to the marked single sockets when pressed) and when the continuity was tested it worked out perfectly. Dado trunking facia plates have been installed in all areas that don’t need any extra wiring doing. Alongside the e-stop button in the video below you can see the backbox for the speed controller which controls the incredible fan we have mounted to the workshop roof. Fan not currently working, no power, but illustration included below.

Spinning Fan in Workshop
Samwise (swwils) & Aidan (adnbr) went to Huddersfield on Friday and bought a new front door. The current wooden one is not not only falling apart, it’s also incompatible with the access control systems you have come to know and love. The new door will be installed over the next two weeks.

Door in back of van being tied down with a ratchet strap

Andy (Andy51055) and Samwise have been sanding the Foyer floor ready for a coat of varnish. When the carpet adhesive was laid in this area it was simply poured out of the tub instead of spread out with a comb. The red carpet is long gone but a thick layer of glue remain making this a soul-destroying job. (Ab)using a random orbital sander is gentler on the somewhat fragile parquet flooring than an actual floor sander but is still more aggressive (with a coarse grit) than doing the job by hand or with a power sander.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week (26th – 28th September) will involve a layer of varnish being applied to the Foyer area of New Space, so don’t be surprised if you have to perform a hop-skip-jump over the wet areas if you come down during the day.

Floor sanding with Random Orbital Sander

Electrical installation spearheaded by Tim (timpin) means that the electronics bench (located on the wall underneath the workshop window) now has 24 general purpose sockets available for utilisation by oscilloscopes, soldering stations, work lights and who knows what else. Tom (toldbury) has championed additional sockets in this area to allow various tools to be available for instantaneous use. Arranged in 3 groups of four these sockets will enable three entirely separate in-depth electronics projects to be underway at any one time.

If electronics or metal/woodwork isn’t quite your thing the craft area is starting to take shape, thanks to the installation of sockets to this area.

The current distribution board will be moved to the workshop and be replaced by a larger one which will offer more flexibility in segregating separate circuits.

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New Space Update Episode V: Electricity Strikes Back


Early this morning I was greeted by the sight of sunlight streaming through the upper window in the kitchen, illuminating the entire room. No chance of this being covered by suspended ceiling now, it lets an incredible amount of light in, if only for a short period of the day (which most of use are likely to never see…)

Today we began the installation of the electricity – that is, the wiring and sockets that will eventually carry power to tools and computers throughout the space. All the wires in the section completed today lead back to a Workshop distribution board ready to be screwed into terminals connecting them to 3 phase electrons.

A number of E-stop switched sockets are available to power in heavy machinery. A push of one of the four Emergency Stop buttons which will be scattered around the workshop will cut power to the single sockets with a yellow surround by tripping out a high current contactor. Machines will of course have their own No-Volt-Release controls and E-Stops to complement this workshop-wide fail-safe.




It hasn’t all been wire cutting and stripping though, Andy has been scrubbing the kitchen floor clean of lino adhesive to reveal an attractive tile pattern underneath the grime. The end of the main hack area has also now been boarded off to allow the mounting of the trunking that will run power to the electronics workbench. It’s been screwed into the rather sturdy RSJ, it’s not going anywhere quickly.


Thanks to everyone who came down today to help out, we got a lot done. Whilst we’ve still got a lot to do on the electricity front, next up is the flooring (screeding the workshop, carpet tiles for the main area) and the RFID controlled front door. Anybody who’s looking for a quick and easy job to do over the next week, paint the new section of MDF wall white! Everything must be white.

Posted in Blog, LHS Update | Tagged | 1 Comment

Space Update #3

It is with sadness that we report that Samwise (swwils) is stepping down as a member of the management committee. Never fear, he’s not going anywhere and you will see him around the space.

Now, what else is happening in the space?

  • HackTheSpace happened on Saturday, and things certainly happened. Check out the previous post for a brief overview, or see the changes for yourself when you come down to the space and help paint!
  • We’ve received an MPAN number for our meter at the NewSpace. Harriet is currently gathering quotes from energy suppliers in preparation for the electrical installation.
  • The oscilloscope is here! It’s currently tucked up safely in its box.
  • There’s been a bit of a reorganisation of the Wiki. Check out some of the changes, including a push for useful categorisation. Michael in particular has been tidying up the Electronics section. Want to help to make the wiki better? Ask on the mailing list if you don’t have an account.
  • Better Slack/IRC integration – Slack users can now query the space status using the ?status command that the IRC users have been loving for so long. Slack users can also check the temperature of both new and old spaces using the /temperature command.
  • Inductions – It will soon be easier to get an induction for the laser cutter. Streamlined induction processes and digital forms will help you get access to that sweet, coherent light all the quicker.
  • We’re always looking out for awesome projects – if you have done something cool then please let us know so that we can tweet pictures and videos!
  • That’s all for this instalment. Next up we will be setting a date for the move. We’ll really need as many people as possible, watch this space!

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New Space Update #4 – Paint, paint, paint


HackSpace 3.0 is coming along nicely – there is trunking installed ready and waiting for electrical cabling and the Hack The Space day this Saturday was well attended. People picked up job cards and got to work, meaning that we now have (amongst other things) clean and tidy toilet, at least three coats of white paint on the kitchen walls, a few coats of paint on the foyer area and a door handle moved to the correct side. A sincere thanks to everyone who came down to help out, every little helps.


The toilet cubicles themselves have also had another coat of paint to bring them all up to the same level. Please don’t try and open the middle cubicle window, it might fall off its hinges! Re-installation of door hardware will be happening this week meaning that we will have three (yes, three) working, individually partitioned toilet cubicles ready for use by the weekend. Nav has installed the mirrors
Andy has built a cupboard in the back of the toilet block – this is where you will find blue roll, toilet paper and eventually the hoover. Importantly, this is also where cleaning products are located.

Back Corridor

Back Wall

If you want to lend a hand but really aren’t sure where to start, simply ask on IRC (#leeds-hack-space on freenode), Slack or the Mailing List and someone will be able to point you in the right direction.

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New Space Update #3 – Wall Edition


Walls have appeared in the new space!

The new partition walls and boarding are a major (£2000) undertaking in the new space – they serve to create the new porch area, workshop which is sound isolated and the divide the kitchen / wetdark room area.

Various items of work are involved in erecting a metal stud wall and help is needed!


We’ve started work with both our own electrician member, the landlord and the electricity board to re-enable what looks like a 63A 3 phase supply to the space – this will take time and the existing electric supply we have been using in the newspace is a very temporary arrangement. Avoid items with large draw and inrush currents!

Once the supply is in a better state, design of the phases in order to balance use within the space can be better put into action. – Sources for electrical materials such as sub boxes, dado trunking and fittings are welcome!


Hackspace 3.0 on 20/07

There is a new shared album with photospheres from the workshop here:

Other work

The new space is now ready for more hands! Work such as painting, filling, designing, sanding and being handy is starting to pop up so be sure to check it out!

A big weekend

Its looking like the 23rd and 24th will become a BIG weekend at the newspace – add to your calendars if you are able to help out.

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