Placing the laser onto the moving head of the printer was about as easy as expected. I printed this pen holder, which conveniently has a maximum diameter exactly equal to that of my laser. Thus, attaching it physically was achieved with ease.
Electrically, I wanted to power the laser from the fan control (in the last post I said extruder motor control – this is incorrect, as the extruder motor is only ever pulsed to a specific ‘location’, whereas the fan is controlled by PWM, which makes it much easier to just turn it on or off). My laser is rated for 3.3-5V, while the fan controls work at 12V. Unfortunately, I had no standalone voltage regulator at hand, so in the spirit of doing this cheap and quick, I used duct tape to stick an Arduino to the side of my printer, ran the fan power into VIN (which has a ideal upper limit of 12V and a maximum upper limit of 20V), then connected the laser to the 5V output of the Arduino.
This worked great, provided I turned the fan/laser to 100% power. The onboard voltage regulator is clearly not designed to be used for PWM throughput (why would it be?) and flickers at a few Hertz when power less than 100% is used. This is no problem at all, since the laser runs at such low power, PWM won’t be needed.
Next, I’ll whip up a GUI for the slicer, and after that, I’ll have to take a deep dive into G-code, the commands that control the actual machine.