The New MiniGerbil 3 – design improvements thanks to user feedback

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the Mini Gerbil 2 – we’ve worked hard to improve the new Mini Gerbil 3 design.

Our testing included working with a helpful user whose nearby heavy duty equipment (compressors etc) had previously impacted the Mini Gerbil 2. He now reports the MG3’s USB is reliably free from interference. Let us know your questions and we look forward to getting the MG3 out to the laser community.

This summary complements the specifications page and the installation video. In summary, here are the improvments over the MG2:

  1. increased performance – improved circuitry increases the laser’s dynamic range, meaning the engraving benefits from lighter lights and darker darks. Gantry top speed with full step resolution is increased to 400mm/second (assuming your machine is physically capable of this). Also, new circuitry boosts power to the popular air-assist control feature, so a wider range of Solid State Relays (SSRs) can be used with the controller. Additional air-assist features are available for technically advanced users.
  2. improved reliability – the design is hardened against damage and interference from the extreme kinds of electrical noise occurring next to a 20kV laser power supply, with pumps, compressors etc sometimes operating nearby. The USB connection has been tested in high-noise environments and is now ‘rock solid’ (tester’s own words). This is accomplished via higher performance components and complete galvanic isolation of the microcontroller (and thus USB) from the motors, lasers, limit switches, controls etc.
  3. improved LED indication – the new design includes 10 indicator LEDs grouped logically. Now the following operations are clearly indicated: USB connection, USB communications, Air Assist operation, Motor operation, PWM output, Laser On output, 24V input, 5V input, X limit switch status, Y limit switch status. The LEDs help simplify support – just email a photo to the support team to help diagnosing any issues.
  4. easier installation – the connectors are better spread out, with more finger room for fast and accurate installation. The connector layout minimises the wiring overlap and thus reduces interference. Connection sockets are now keyed for standard K40 plugs which ensures correct orientation, and the USB socket position lines straight up with the standard K40 case slot. 
  5. easier upgrades and customisation – the new design includes a keyed firmware upgrade socket, for quick and easily firmware upgrades. Easy-to-change DIP switches are now used for customers requiring customised stepper motor step ratios and/or limit end stop ‘pull up’ resistors.
  6. improved support for larger lasers and custom setups – the new design increases motor driving power, so larger machines can be accommodated before moving to external stepper drivers. Also, additional firmware flexibility suits customers with non-K40/custom laser setups e.g. laser diodes.

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