Get creative with the FLUX Beamo laser and open source software

Beam Me Up, Fluxy!

© Lead Image © Tithi Luadthong, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Tithi Luadthong, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 262/2022
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With the FLUX Beamo laser and a Raspberry Pi Board B10001, you can execute your own laser cutting projects on a wide range of materials.

Laser cutting mainly used to be the purview of hard-headed business owners with solid financial backing and a business plan to make sure the laser paid for its upkeep. And there were hobbyists who were more interested in the arts and crafts side of laser cutting and saw the laser as a tool for cutting and engraving materials such as wood, cloth, and acrylics in the scope of their arts and crafts projects. The trouble was, many people were more than a little worried about the Heath Robinson-style, low-budget lasers they could purchase at the time. The foundations of the laser world were to be shaken though, when FLUX – an organization founded by a "group of passionate young engineers and designers," as the manufacturer itself states – launched the Beambox laser cutting machine back in 2018. FLUX quickly followed up with the Beamo, promoted as "the world's smallest laser cutting machine" the next year.

The FLUX laser family not only meant a paradigm shift in terms of laser cutting machine pricing, but also a move towards a community-driven approach. For one thing, the FLUX laser family relies on a Raspberry Pi, in the form of the Raspberry Pi Board B10001 [1], to control the machine. And the downloadable software package that lets users send their ideas (in the form of, say, PNG images or vector diagrams) to the laser runs on your choice of operating system, whether this be Windows, macOS, or Linux. Expanding on the community idea, FLUX users can get together to exchange ideas on Facebook or at regular FLUX community meetings that take place all over the world – even in Germany, where we're based. So, laser-affine readers, let's get started with unboxing and the setup on the hardware and software side.

Unboxing

The FLUX Beamo reaches its new owner in a very large and fairly heavy cardboard box. If you are worried about the state of your back, then it's a good idea to ask a friend to help you lift the beast out of the box. Once you've done this, there are a couple of tasks to complete before you get started on your first project. Besides doing the obvious things like removing the vent hose and attaching it to the duct on rear of the laser with the clamp kindly provided by the supplier, attaching the WiFi antenna, and plugging in, there is also the software setup. This no big deal: After powering on your laser cutter, select Network on the Start screen (Figure 1) and then Connect to WiFi if you are using the machine's wireless interface. Choose a WiFi network, enter the password, and let DHCP do its magic. You can alternatively use the Ethernet cable provided – this can be a good idea if the WiFi connection is too slow or unreliable. Once the machine has an IP address, make a note of the address and move on to the next stage, installing Beam Studio.

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