EleksLaser Z axis addition

The recent availability of cheap and decent laser engravers using blue light from Eleksmaker and various clones is very interesting. I did obtain an EleksLaser A3, and it has been a lot of fun playing with.

However, I like to cut cardboard boxes with it and it takes a lot of passes due to the fact that the focus is not movable. One can focus on top of the cardboard, in the middle of its thickness, or the bottom, but in any case it takes a number of passes to cut through.

One way of solving this seems to be with a stronger laser. I did order one, but don't have it yet.

Naturally, given the things I do, I thought of building a Z axis to have variable focus, but it turns out that such a Z axis is already available:


Less than $70 for a complete unit, essentially ready to go, leaves me with little motivation to roll my own.

The EleksMaker Mana SE board that comes with the EleksLaser is not capable of driving a z axis on its own:

But EleksMaker does make a 3 Axis board that is closely related, the EleksMana CNC:

That board costs less than $30.

I have been using LaserWeb, and it needs a more recent firmware version to function with the EleksMana boards. Luckily, the firmware for the EleksMana SE also works with the EleksMana CNC.

Paradoxically, the best way I have found to upgrade the firmware is to use T2 Laser:


Its comes with the firmware ready to go and can program the board. This video contains a segment on putting the firmware onto the board:


The mounting holes for the new board are a little different than the EleksMana SE, but Thingiverse came to the (partial) rescue:


Except, that board mount does not allow the frame to stand flat on the floor. So I remixed an alternative mount.

Files here:


and below.

The assembly of the z axis was easy and I used this video to help me:


My existing laser fit fairly well, but there was a little bit of wiggle room, which I took up with some paper wedges. The motor cable that came with the z axis kit fit exactly on the header on the EleksMana CNC board. Plug and Play.

And that's it. LaserWeb knows about the z axis, after it's checked in the settings. I feel I should still do something about cable management, but for now, this is done.