SS4544 SyncroStep Motion Control System
Testra Corporation  1201 N. Stadem Drive Tempe, AZ 85281 Ph:(480)560-6141 Fax:(480)907-2876

     The ssLASER control panel operates on a RS-485 network with the ssLASER application  which is running from flash memory in the ss4544 motion control  system.  It is connected to the ss4544 via an RJ-11 4 wire cable which supplies the  power and the communication.  At boot up when power is applied, the panel will first display the ss4544 serial number and hardware version number for a few seconds. This message will then be replaced with the    Operation Display . The display on the panel is a backlit LCD with   four lines of 20 characters each. There is an onboard digital temperature  sensor which is used to temperature compensate the LCD for automatic contrast  control.  There are also two LED indicators for job status indication.   A beeper is available for audio signaling.  Eleven keys are available  for control, along with an encoder knob.  The panel also has a connector that provides high  current control outputs for GAS assist, VENTING, and an AUXILIARY function.   An emergency stop input connector is also provided.  The program that gives the panel its operational characteristics is part of the ssLASER firmware stored in the ss4544 system.

        1.3.1 JOG
        1.3.2 POWER
           1.3.3  SPEED
           1.3.4  FOCUS
      2.1   MAIN  MENU
      2.3   PEN SETTINGS
          2.3.1  SETTING
          2.3.2  MORE
      2.4   BUFFER   CONTROL
          2.4.1  INSERT END OF FILE
          2.4.2  DELETE THE FILE
      2.5  SETUP
         2.5.1 TICKLE
         2.5.2     CONFIGURATION
           2.5.3     DIAGNOSTICS
           2.5.4    RETAIN  SETTINGS
       After the system is powered up, the panel will come up in  the Operation Display Menu with the ssLASER in a state ready to accept files  from a computer over the RS232 interface.  The state of readiness is  indicated by the Ready lamp on the panel.     There are three tasks going on at the same time that are under control of  the panel, Operational, Buffer Management, and Parameter adjustments.   Overviews of these tasks are described in the following sections.
      Since the system multitasks, even while the Engraver is in  operation, you can still move around the Menu System and execute certain functions.  Generally while engraving you would remain in the Operational Display Menu.
     Operational Control is accomplished  using the control button functions on the panel with a Blue background, and  the ADJUST knob or alternatively the UP and DOWN buttons.  These are RUN, PAUSE, STOP, POWER, SPEED, FOCUS, and the ADJUST knob..  The indicators READY and LASER along  with the display and the audio BEEPER   give operator  feedback.  Normally  the display will be left in the Operation Display mode while running the system. The buttons function  as follows:
     When this button is pushed, the currently selected  file will be output to the laser engraver if the system is currently idle and not doing diagnostics, and all safety Interlocks are closed.  If the system is currently paused, the job will continue from it's interruption. If the conditions were true and the output to the laser engraver is started, the   Ready   display will turn on solid.  If there is no file selected, the next file that is output from the connected computer will immediately start Lasing with the first commands received.  A job may be started, even though the file has not been completely received from the connected computer system.
     The Safety interlock is a protection  circuit which  when broken disarms the laser so as to avoid operator  injury. Any time the interlock is broken the motion system is also disabled, and an alarm is indicated by the Laser indicator blinking along with a click from the beeper.  If the interlock is broken while a  Job is running an emergency stop will be created , causing the laser to be instantly shut off and the motion system to stop as rapidly as possible, and then turn off all of the motors.  The LASER  indicator will then blink about 2 times per second, with an accompanying click from the beeper.  The Ready indicator will also be blinking.  Pushing the Stop button while in this state will terminate the job and ther Ready indicator will turn off.  Pushing it a second time will cause the motors to be turned back on, the laser light will quit blinking, and the system will be homed.
       The Ready indicator is lit continually when the ssLASER system  is executing a job file, or if just started up is waiting to output a file as soon as reception of the job file begins.  It can be put in this mode by pushing the Run button after power up, and the first file that is received will be immediately output  to the Laser engraver as it is received.  If the indicator is blinking it means  the engraver system's currently selected job is running but paused or about to pause.   The Ready indicator will be extinguished if during the idle or paused state when the indicator is blinking, the Stop button is pressed causing the currently selected job to be terminated.  The Ready indicator will also blink three timees at the end of a job along with the Laser indicator and the Beeper.
       The Laser indicator is lit while a job is running.  It will blink about 2 times per second any time the Interlock is broken..  If the Interlock is broken while a job is running, the  laser will be forced off, and the indicator will continuously blink and the beeper will click.  It will continue in this mode even if the interlock is restored, until the Stop button is pressed once causing the currently selected job to be terminated, and then a second time to rehome the system.  This indicator will also blink three times at the completion of a job along with the Ready indicator and the Beeper.
       If a job is currently running, and the pause button is hit the Ready indicator will change to a blinking state.  The job will then be interrupted as soon as the current motion vector in progress is completed, at which time the Laser indicator will turn off.  The the lens assembly will then remain at that point..  If while the job is paused, each time the Pause button is hit, the lens assembly will be moved either to the view position or back to the paused position. If the job is currently paused and you are not in the Jog menu and the Run button is hit the carriage will move away from its current position  and continue the job from where it was interrupted and the Ready  indicator will turn back on solid.
      If there is no job running, clicking the pause button will cause the lens assembly to be moved alternately between the view position and the current work zero positiion.
     If a job is currently running the STOP button will have no effect.
     If a job is currently paused, hitting the STOP  button will terminate the job. It will not affect the buffer contents.  The Ready indicator will be turned off.
     If no job is running or paused, hitting the STOP button will home the system.  It will not affect the buffer contents.

      The adjustment knob is multi-purpose and in most cases may be used in place of the UP and DOWN buttons.  Turning it clockwise is  equivalent to the UP key repeatedly pushed.  Turning it counter clockwise is equivalent to the DOWN key repeatedly pushed.
1.1.8 BEEPER
       The Beeper is a 4 kHz piezoelectric audio transducer.    At the completion of a job,  the carriage assembly is returned  to the  View position, and the Beeper is sounded with a group three of beeps.  It is also used to click while an emergency stop condition has been set.
   The VENT signal from the panel  may be used to turn on an exhaust system for the Laser Engraver.  Whenever a job is started the VENT signal turns on, and 10 seconds after the job is finished, the VENT signal is turned off, giving enough time to exhaust residual smoke and gasses left at the completion of the job.
      The Buffer memory is used to buffer incoming plot data while the Engraver is running or not as long as it is online. The first job received  is given the number 1 as its job number.  Each subsequent job received will be assigned the next number in sequence. Once the job has been received completely and stored in the buffer, it may be selected to run later any number of times.  Since there is only so much memory available, at some point you will have a decision as to delete a job or jobs to make room for another job.  A deleted job's number will disappear from the Job list.  New jobs downloaded will keep getting higher numbers.   To manage the buffer, select Buffer Control    from the main menu.
     Certain parameter may be adjusted directly by pushing dedicated buttons on the control panel.  Other parameters to be adjusted must be accessed through the menu system.
      Hitting the JOG button will only have an effect if the Lasing  operation is Paused or Stopped.  It will switch the system into Jog mode and bring up the Jog Menu. While in the Jog Menu you  are able to move the Lens assembly around the engraving table, and set new  zero points for the Jobs being run.  While in the Jog mode, all of the operational control functions are no longer in effect (blue background).

The buttons along  the right side of the panel marked X,Y and Z  may be used to select which  Axis is to be jogged, and what jog increment is to be used.  Z is a special case for the ssLASER application which will bring up the Focus Menu.  When for example the X button is hit, a blinking cursor will appear over the tenths digit of the X position display.  Once the X position has been selected, repeated hitting of  the X Jog Button will move the cursor through the hundredths digit, then the thousandths digit,  then back to the tenths digit.  While one of these digits is highlighted by the blinking cursor, the UP and DOWN keys may be used or the ADJUSTMENT  Knob may be turned clockwise or counter clockwise.  Turning clockwise or hitting the UP key will increment the position by the significance of the selected digit, and counter clockwise or the DOWN key will decrement the position.  The standard adjustment knob has 32 pulses per revolution.  Any of the system axes may be adjusted in the same manner.  If either the UP or DOWN key is held down more than 0.5 second, the key push will automatically repeat at a rate of about 10 pushes per second.  Hitting either the ESC or ENTER key  will turn off  the jog function and move the cursor over to the SET selection in the Jog menu.
    While in the JOG mode, the PAUSE key is still active.  You can use it to rapidly move between the WORK ZERO position, or the VIEW position.   The STOP key is also active.  You can use it to HOME the system with a single keypush.  It may also be used for a quick way to set work zero on flying optic systems if the operator has access to the carriage assembly.  If the STOP key is held down for a couple of seconds, the X and Y motors will be temporairly turned off.  The carriage may then be manually moved to the work zero positiion.  Click the ENTER key while the cursor is at the SET position in the JOG menu.  The system will then be homed, but it will remember the position that you manually set the carriage to and load that into the WORK ZERO POSITION.
    After making adjustments to the motion system position using  the Jog function, the resulting position may be used to set  a new zero reference point for the Jobs being run using the SET selection.  Other selections may also be made.
The selection  is made using the panel UP key or DOWN key to move the blinking cursor to  one of the four selections.  If the SEL key is then hit, the selected  function is executed.  If the ESC key is hit the jog menu is exited.  CORNER SELECTION
    For most applications data is output in a standard cartesian coordinate system, with the LowerLeft corner being x0,y0 and positive x increasing to the right and positive y increasing to the top of the drawing.  Some Windows programs use the UpperLeft corner as the x0,y0 point with positive x increasing to the right while positive y increases down from the upper left corner.  This is because screen references in Microsoft software were set up this way.  When using any of our software such as the ssLASER printer driver, this should be always set to LowerLeft. SET WORK ZERO POSITION
    This is the normal and most common use of the JOG function.  If you click on this menu item, the current x,y position of the Lens assembly is set as the x0,y0 reference point for your job. CLR CLEAR WORK ZERO
    Making this selection will set your work x0,y0 reference back to the CORNER you have selected. ROT SET ROTARY Y AXIS POSITIION
    This allows you to position your Y axis over the centerline of a Rotary Fixture if you are going to use that feature.
If a fixture is mounted with the R-axis motor plugged in, the y-axis will automatically move to this saved position when engraving, and all y-axis data will be wrapped about the rotary object.
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   Pushing the POWER button will cause the Operation Display menu to be selected and the cursor to be moved to the power setting P on the bottom line.  The power may be adjusted using the UP and DOWN keys or using the ADJUST knob.  The power setting may be adjusted at any time, even while a job is running.  If the power has been originally set by software override from the ssLASER windows driver, the adjustment of the power while the job is running will also be stored in the job file in the buffer, so if the job is repeated it will use your adjusted power levels.
    Pushing the SPEED button will cause the Operation Display menu to be selected and the cursor to be moved to the speed setting S on the bottom line.  The speed may be adjusted using the UP and DOWN keys or using the ADJUST knob.  The speed setting may be adjusted at any time, even while a job is running. Warning!  Changing the speed currently will cause any lag compensation for rastered images to become invalid.  So for raster adjustments you should only use power.   For cutting it should be fine.  If the speed was set by software override from the ssLASER windows driver, the adjustment of the speed while the job is running will also be stored in the job file in the buffer, so if the job is repeated it will use your adjusted speed  levels.

     Pushing the FOCUS button brings up this menu which allows you to adjust the relative position of the focusing lens to the work.
      The menu system is controlled by the four buttons on the panel highlighted in blue/green, UP, DOWN, SEL, and ESC.  The ESC key is used to escape or back out of a menu or variable adjustment.  If the ESC key is hit repeatedly, you will eventually get to the top or Main menu.  The UP and DOWN keys are used to move the menu selection  cursor around the menu, and adjust variables up or down.  The ADJUSTMENT  knob may also be used interchangeably with the UP and DOWN keys.  The  SEL or select key (ENTER on a PC keyboard) is used to select and cause execution  of the menu item indicated by the highlight or cursor.
Main Menu The Main Menu can be  reached from any menu by continually hitting the ESC key, which backs you  up one menu level for each push of the ESC key.  From the Main Menu you can go to one of the following menus:

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The OPERATION   menu is  automatically selected on power up initialization of the system.     Otherwise it is accessed through the menu system from the MAIN menu. Repeatedly   hitting ESC will  always back you up through the menu tree and you will eventually   end up at the MAIN menu.    When a job is running or paused and   the operation display has been selected, the display will  be basically as  shown here.   If the system is idle, the cursor will be in the upper   left corner of the display on the first line which is the file selection.    When in this state, you may select a different file with the ADJUSTMENT knob  or use the UP or DOWN keys .  The number on the line is the file number  in the local buffer memory.  The name following is the job file descriptor.
      The next line shows the number of Copies run of the current   job followed by a time descriptor.  The first time a file is run, the   time descriptor shows the current elapsed time of the job as it is being  run.  During any repeat of the job, the time descriptor will be counting  down, showing how much time remains to finish the job.
  The final two lines of the display show the current pen selection information.  The first item on the third line shows the pen identifier or layer color.  This is followed by flags for GAS, VENT, and AUX which are only visible if that particular function is set on.  The bottom line has first the current SPEED which is indicated by the letter S followed by the % of full speed.  The second parameter is the laser power indicated by the letter P followed by the % of full power.  The last item is the setting for pulses per inch indicated by PPI followed by the number.
   The power may be adjusted at any time by hitting the POWER button.  This will cause a blinking cursor to appear at the P on the display.  The power may then be adjusted with the ADJUST knob, or with the UP or DOWN keys.  Hitting any other keys will take you out of that function.  In the same manner you may adjust the speed by hitting the SPEED button.  A note of warning here, if you are doing raster engraving and you have lag compensation, the compensation is currently done in the Windows ssLASER driver, so adjusting the speed will screw up the compensation.  A future revision of the ssLASER application will fix this by moving the compensation into the ss4544 firmware.
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Pen Settings Menu     If you SELect  the Pen Setting the cursor will move over to just past the pen number where you can select one of the eight pen settings or the SW pen setting which is the default. When you do this selection the menu will change to the SETTING mode which will show you the Resolution for that pen as well as its Speed and Power setting.  For each selected pen you may adjust any of it's parameters.  On this menu you may only adjust Speed or Power for the pen.  To adjust any other parameters you will have to Click on MORE which will bring up another menu.
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Appears only while selecting a Pen.
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3.2 MORE
More Pen Settings This menu allows you to change the other pen parameters.  The GAS parameter controls the output signal on the panel which may be used to turn on a valve for gas assist to the laser.  The AUX function is similar to the GAS parameter and may be used for any other function desired to be associated with a pen.   The third function controls the resolution for firing of the Laser and may be set  up to a maximum of 1000 pulses per inch.

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4.0 BUFFER CONTROLBuffer Control Menu
  The Buffer control menu is used to manage the job data stored in the large  memory buffer.  The last line of this menu shows the amount of buffer  space remaining for jobs.  The cursor starts out on the first line which  shows the currently selected job in the buffer by its number and description  from the job file.  If this is selected, the UP and DOWN or ADJUST knob  may be used to scroll through the buffer to see what is in it.  Once the  correct file has been located, hit the ESC key to get back to the menu selections.   To delete the job file, move the cursor to Delete the File and press the SEL key.  This will take you to another Delete the File  menu that asks if you are sure giving you another chance if pushing the button was a mistake.  Once a file is deleted, you will have to reload it again from your computer if you want to re-run the job.  Also since the buffer memory is volatile if power is turned off, all of the files will be lost.
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Used to manually insert an EOF mark in the buffer. This feature is necessary for files that are sent to the ssLASER application in the ss4544 that come from programs not compatible with the ssLASER printer driver.
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Used to delete a job in the buffer.

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5.0 SETUP Setup Menu
  The SETUP menu is used  to access primarily maintenance functions and would not normally be accessed by a machine operator.  These functions include the following menu items:

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Adjustments for a CO2 Laser
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Back to Table of Contents JOG, ZERO SET
Used to reload default parameter settings.
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5.3 DIAGNOSTICSDiagnostic Menu
   The Diagnostics menu allows you to test the buffer memory in the ss4544 system that is used to buffer jobs downloaded from your PC application or from the ssLASER driver.  The size of the memory installed is shown in the bottom left corner of the menu.
      To run the memory diagnostics, you will first have to either  terminate or let finish any job that is running.  The running of the  memory test will destroy any jobs you have downloaded, so they will have to be reloaded after the memory test is run.  With the cursor on line one in front of Memory Test push the SEL key.  This will bring up the MEMORY  test menu.
   To run the Motion Test you will also have to terminate or let finish any job that is running.  Then move the cursor down in front of the Motion test selection and press SEL
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Memory Test Menu     The memory test may be Canceled at any time by hitting the SEL key while the cursor is positioned in front of Cancel.  Otherwise position the cursor in front of Yes and hit the SEL key.  This will start up the memory test.  The memory test will run continuously until you terminate the test by doing a Cancel.  At that point you can leave this menu by hitting ESC.
    The memory is broken up into pages of 65535 bytes.  As each page is tested the page number displayed will be updated.  Any failures encountered will be added to the Fails counter.

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You may either cancel or accept the settings.

Updated July 28, 2001
If you have comments or suggestions, email us at
Testra Corporation   1201 N. Stadem Drive  Tempe, AZ 85281  Ph. 480-560-6141  Fax: 480-907-2876