K40 Laser - Entry 6: Computer to Drive Laser
When purchasing this K40 laser cutter, it became apparent that I would need a computer to drive it since really don't have an extra laying around. We're more of a Mac family and the unit is PC only out of the box. There are some modifications to make one Mac friendly but they sounded too complicated for me at this time.
After some research, it was apparent that it might actually be easier to set up an older machine. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to look for a machine loaded with Windows 7. It appeared that this would probably be the most stable with some of the sketchy software shipping with it from China. Actually, Windows XP might have been even better, but I could not find one.
I perused both locations of REPC, a Seattle area used computer and parts store, and everything was Windows 10 and around $150, with a Windows 7 disk being another $50. I had read mixed reviews about the compatibility with Windows 10, and once again I was trying to keep things simple, and wanted to keep the price around $100 or less so I moved on.
I continued my search on Craigslist and finally stumbled across an ad from Affordable Computer Service in Tacoma. They are located in the Oakland Radio & TV building located at 3901 Center Street South, Tacoma. The two gentlemen working there were polite and friendly, though I needed to knock loud on the door to get in during business hours. They had a few laptops in stock including one that was perfect for my needs!
This is a simple Lenovo Thinkpad R61i. The sound card is not working so I picked it up for $50. Perfect. So a $50 computer and a $362 laser cutter, I'm still under $500 on this noble experiment. Since the installation disk of drivers and such is typically so sketchy with malware, I've decided to keep this machine off line for now.