35 Watt CO2 Laser - My Amp Building Project - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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35 Watt CO2 Laser - My Amp Building Project

I'm always into learning new things, and one of the things I got to play with a few months back, is a 35 watt CO2 laser. My work purchased it ($12,000!!) to make name tags and signs believe it or not...well, for my sanity (and a few extra $$) I decided to learn how to really use the machine and make some fun stuff for my guitar amp building projects.

One of the guitar projects I'm working on is a recreation of a guitar amp from a company called Trainwreck designed and built by amp Guru Ken Fisher out in Jersey. Unfortunately Ken's health was failing, so few amps were made before he passed away December of '06.

So many of us are trying to help recreate or "clone" the circuits and details of these amps to help keep the magic alive and keep these fantastic amps from falling into obscurity. Currently, a *real* Trainwreck amp can fetch between $25k and $35k on the open market!!

One of the details of these amps is that the faceplate (control panel) was made of wood, and the lettering and "logo" of the amp were burned into the faceplate using a wood burning iron. I decided to try and recreate this process using the 35 watt laser I had at hand.

This laser and the time I spent on it was a life saver for me.....work was kicking my arse and in general I was very unhappy with life. This gave me something to focus my late nights on figuring out how things worked and making some small pieces of amp-artwork so to speak.

Well I got an E-mail from a happy "customer" today, wishing me well on the new house and a big thank you to boot, along with this photo:



It's nice to see my hard work and the difficult times I've been through lately brought something good to light and made some people happy. I'm very proud of the work I did on these amplifires. I have more than 50 of these Trainwreck style faceplates that I've custom made and shipped out all over the world. Another small dent I hope I left in the 3rd rock from the sun.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 03:44 PM
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that's impressive! good work

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:12 PM
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very nice man. its nice to have the tools at work to do cool stuff.

i designed a bunch of stuff when building my car and had it cut on the laser here. instead of making it just for myself i have him make a run of 50-100 and then i usually just give them away to others in need just for the cost of shipping.

so if you ever see a car part with this enscribed on it....it was made by me
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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That's one thing I regret, is that I didn't mark my faceplates. It was suggested that I put my Lonely Raven avatar on the back, but I couldn't find anyone to draw me up a good B&W version of it to use.

I also didn't realize how big of a project this would be...I thought I'd make maybe six or ten of them, and 50+ later I'm like "woah".

I took photos of some of my better works, but with everything going on, the move to a new job, new house and all...most of the photos suck and a bunch got lost.

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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:27 PM
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Did you clean your optics?


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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:29 PM
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I am so close to getting one of these lasers. Seriously considering Epilog or Universal. Leaning towads Epilog. You face plate turned out looknig great. Good Luck with other projects.

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:29 PM
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Do the knobs go to "11"?

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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:32 PM
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Wow. That looks bad-fucken-ass Eric. Nice work!
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:36 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Champ91 View Post
I am so close to getting one of these lasers. Seriously considering Epilog or Universal. Leaning towads Epilog. You face plate turned out looknig great. Good Luck with other projects.


This one is a the littest Epilog. Supposidly one of the best at this price range. I would *love* to get one and setup shop at home. One of the guys that's helping with the amp "cloning" is helping me prep a Business proposal so that I might just go get myself a small business loan and buy a laser for myself. I'm nervous about putting myself $10k+ in debt right now since I just bought a house. We figure even at $10k, the machine would pay for itself in 18 months of light use. If I setup a web page and expand my reach to other amplifiers besides the fabled Trainwreck, I could probably cut that time down greatly. So I'm really thinking about going out and getting one!

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Do the knobs go to "11"?
I can make my knobs go up to whatever I want!

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Did you clean your optics?

.....and stop touching yourself!

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Optics look clean to me!



Here are some basic faceplates I was working on early during the project. This was probably Jan-Feb when I first started:




Here are the first batch I made that really got people interested in my project:



One of those logos is also a graphic that's on my helMOT. The image is only 2" tall! The laser is crazy accurate:


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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-11-2008, 04:48 PM
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thats really cool man!

the laser i use is about 10'wide x 20' long. guess its not the same

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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:40 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LsilverR1 View Post
thats really cool man!

the laser i use is about 10'wide x 20' long. guess its not the same
Wait, 10 feet by 20 feet? Crap, that's a whole nother animal!

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:45 AM
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Nice work!

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:51 AM
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Cool! Out of curiosity, what's a clone amp like that go for?

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Nice work!
Thank you! Hopefully I can learn to build the whole amp from scratch as others have. I've built two from kits, and they are "acceptable", but not up to the standards of the original.

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Cool! Out of curiosity, what's a clone amp like that go for?
Depends on who builds it. I can build it for about $1500 which would include the wood cab, chassis, everything....just plug and play. I know who two or three of the *best* cloners are, but I'm not sure how much they charge. I was just informed yesterday that one guy is charging $5600(!!!) for a good clone. If you want one, I can ask the guys who *really* know Trainwrecks how much they charge. I'm curious myself honestly.

It's still a rather esoteric item, so prices are high. And few truely *know* the amp to make it sound right, and on top of that source the correct parts to make it sound right as well.

I'm part of a new project to built a Trainwreck "Rocket", which is more of a VOX AC-30 clone by Ken Fisher, done in the Trainwreck style. I guess very few of these are in the wild, so finding info is difficult. I have half the parts to build my clone, and I'm sourcing the rest soon I hope.

Now that I have a house, I hope to have a proper "amp fest" at my house with CLSB members and some of my guitar buddies.

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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 03:08 PM
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Just went to Epilog's website. They have a smaller 25 watt unit that might be good to get started with. Biggest down side I see with it is its 30 IPS vs 80 IPS of the Mini posted above. No prices listed I requested more info.

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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Just went to Epilog's website. They have a smaller 25 watt unit that might be good to get started with. Biggest down side I see with it is its 30 IPS vs 80 IPS of the Mini posted above. No prices listed I requested more info.
Depending on what you use it for...I feel the 35 watt is the lowest you should go.

Most web pages that sell "laserable media" base the burn settings on 35 watt since it's the most common starting grounds for people.

With the 35 watt Mini, I had trouble burning through some more dense and oily woods like Bubinga, Purpleheart, and even Koa. I had to do multiple passes to cut through 1/8"!

And for those that are wondering...35 watts barely scratches metal...typically just reflects off of it. Though it can cut through powder coating and anodizing for engraving parts, just not really etch or cut metal.

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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 04:14 PM
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True but with a slower IPS it might compensate for it.

I just got off the phone with them. I have pricing and literature coming.

Multiple passes cutting mignt not ba all that bad as it pushes the focal point lower and you should see less beam deflection. Take it for what its worth but the salesman stated the 25 watt is good up to 1/8" thick cut and the 35 should do 1/4" but your right wood density would have a great deal of impact on that. ATM I dont plan on doing alot of cutting. Im mostly thinking about the engraving. Specifically on my sliders and some other metl parts I might actually make this fly. I plan to send them some product to do some tests and make a recommendation.

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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 04:36 PM
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great work on the amp. The details are awesome with the small figures. Have you checked out Craftsman CNC engraving machine?
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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 05:12 PM
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post #21 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 05:49 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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True but with a slower IPS it might compensate for it.

I just got off the phone with them. I have pricing and literature coming.

Multiple passes cutting mignt not ba all that bad as it pushes the focal point lower and you should see less beam deflection. Take it for what its worth but the salesman stated the 25 watt is good up to 1/8" thick cut and the 35 should do 1/4" but your right wood density would have a great deal of impact on that. ATM I dont plan on doing alot of cutting. Im mostly thinking about the engraving. Specifically on my sliders and some other metl parts I might actually make this fly. I plan to send them some product to do some tests and make a recommendation.
Ok, if your *only* etching anodizing and power coating, I think you'll be fine. There are also other products you can use that spray on like clear coat, but turn black when the laser hits it. So you can add graphics and lettering to silver parts as well.

Just keep in mind, a simple faceplate like this one, which measures 17X2, took over 35 minutes on the Epilog Mini. Now imagine me sitting there burning six to ten of these a night and you'll see why I shudder at the thought of a slower 25 watt laser.



Here is another example of the work that can be done with a CO2 laser. On this faceplate, the amp owner supplied me a selection of graphics and had me pick out which one I thought would be the most impressive. I picked this grizzly logo, and I used the 3D setting on the laser.





And the finished product:



And some other works I was a small part of:



Again, I only made the faceplates, and the Trainwreck logos. I didn't have the facilities or the wood stock to make those fine cabinets...but now that I have a house, I'm working on putting together a little wood working corner so I can make my own guitar cabs.

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post #22 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Champ, if you get a laser, maybe you can let me rent some time on it?

At least keep me informed as to how much you get it for and how that 25 watt laser works for you!!

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post #23 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taledarkside View Post
great work on the amp. The details are awesome with the small figures. Have you checked out Craftsman CNC engraving machine?

A CNC engraver would be fun for larger things, but the detailed artwork (and other future projects) I like to do would be out of scope for a CNC engraver.

Back when I was *trying* to build guitars from scratch, a CNC router would have helped a bunch!

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post #24 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 09:59 PM
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The price diferrence is about $2k less for the 25 watt. Probably better thought to step up to the 35 right away. I was hoping the pricing would be better and the 25 would be a good way to get into the business.

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post #25 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, that's kinda dissapointing. I'd spring the extra $2k just to save my time!

A guitar friend of mine who really wants me to get a laser just sent me this:

http://cgi.ebay.com/40wCarving-Laser...QQcmdZViewItem


http://cgi.ebay.com/New-CO2-Laser-En...QQcmdZViewItem

Lasers from China is a really scary thought....

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post #26 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:00 PM
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Interesting stuff Eric and Pete. Do the lasers burn straight down? or do you get angled burns?

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post #27 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-12-2008, 11:16 PM
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I like that....a lot!
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post #28 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickC1957 View Post
Interesting stuff Eric and Pete. Do the lasers burn straight down? or do you get angled burns?
They burn straight down. BUT... The deeper you cut the wider the beam gets and will flare out. I was told it would take about a 1/2" cut to really notice these 25/35 watt units dont have it in them to cut that deep anyway.

As far as those Chineese units on Ebay. Forget getting replacement parts for the parts that will break. They only have a 10x10 bed and go around 10 IPS Now thats really slow.

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post #29 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 12:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Interesting stuff Eric and Pete. Do the lasers burn straight down? or do you get angled burns?

Yeah, straight down, but you can create angles by varying the power and the speed of the optics. Basically making a bevel.

Not the same thing I know, but there are ways of working with the lack of angle.

I've even made rubber stamps for some projects, and those need to be mirror, reversed (positive cut), and beveled. They came out pretty well.

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post #30 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-13-2008, 12:16 PM
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I programmed a larger laser (3200W) before and it was impressive how a large machine like that could do fine definition work without a lot of dross to maintain definition.

What do these use for an assist gas? With wood I imagine you are just using compressed air.
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