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Since it's almost the end of the Nanorama Challenge I needed to get my laser focus assembly cleaned up.  I'm reasonably satisfied with the hardware but will still need to do some tweaking of the focusing software algorithms.


I'm basically just moving the MicroView module from the solderless breadboard to a hardwired proto PCB that is directly cabled to the GRBL controller.  I'm going to socket the MicroView so that I can remove it for reprogramming if necessary.  It would have been nice if this had been a WiFi capable module so I could have done OTA updating.


Here are the parts that I need to move from the solderless breadboard to a hardwired assembly.

  • 3D printed insert to attach the proto board to the sensor mount on the laser head
  • Proto PCB cut to size using the CNC by replacing the laser with the spindle motor (it's not recommended to cut FR-4 with the laser)
  • Power switch to shut off the assembly independently from the GRBL controller (now getting power from the controller instead of the USB programmer)

Parts for MicroView mounting


Here is the completed assembly.

  • The wires below are the power and I2C connections to the sensor
  • The wires to the left are the power and probe connection to the GRBL controller

Assembled MicroView mount


Here is the assembly mounted on the laser head with the MicroView inserted.

  • The wires to the left are for the laser head
  • The unattached wires to the right are for the CNC spindle motor

MicroView assembly mounted on laser head


Now I need to clean up the software.  The heavy measurement averaging is affecting the settling time when I search for the focal point distance.  I'm going to play with the settings to find the best compromise.  I'm also doing some longer term characterization of the VL6180X but I'll post that data in a separate blog in a couple of weeks.


Here are links to my previous Nanorama blog posts:

Focus Laser using Micro-LIDAR

Using VL6180X with Averaging

TOF Sensor mounted on Laser

Adding Z Align (Laser Focus) Button to LaserGRBL