Thunder Laser USA – Nova 51

Long overdue…Highly anticipated…Possibly the worst kept secret…Biggest investment to date…

Thunder Laser USA – Nova 51

  • 100w Laser
  • 55” X 40” work area
  • LightBurn Software
  • Red Dot Pointer, for ‘dry run’
  • Auto-Focus
  • Optimized raster, vector, or combined modes
  • Up to 800dpi with HR Head
  • Roller Rotary (for cylindrical objects)

The Nova 51 was selected from three options presented to the Board by the Laser Shop to increase capacity, expand capabilities and decrease maintenance time.  Thunder laser systems have a reputation for being dependable mid-range laser cutters that can stand a lot of abuse and are backed up by excellent customer support from Thunder, USA.  The order is being finalized and we expect delivery in 3-5 months.

The addition of the Nova 51 to TC Maker will necessitate a few changes as it is too large for the existing laser room.  The space committee has proposed that the current classroom be subdivided into a small kitchenette, electronics workspace, multipurpose room, and much larger Laser Room.  This is where the Board would like your input and help.  If you have any suggestions on what the space should look like or want to help with the build out please feel free to contact us at

Also, with the rapidly rising cost of construction materials, lumber is up 188%, the Laser Shop has started a GoFundMe page to help offset some of these higher than anticipated costs.  Our community needs your help to support making this area of Twin Cities Maker a better place to make, share, & learn. Please help by giving financially, volunteering for the build, or just cheering our team along.

If you are able to give financially please use the following link:

TC Maker Laser GoFundMe

Stay tuned for more updates on the Nova 51 and shop improvements.  The Board and our dedicated shop managers and volunteers have lots in plan for 2021 as we slowly re-open and can come together again as a maker community.



TC Maker Board

The big laser is ready for use.

Special thanks to Steve for his electronic surgery! The laser is working again! We have installed a new tube as well, so remember to re-check your power settings.


You may notice that we also have a new guest in the laser room –

The Epilog laser is almost ready for use. It will require separate training and is a little tricky, but produces very nice and fast raster etchings. We still need to get a few more parts for the HVAC, but then it should be ready for use. I will update the blog once we have this configured.

State of the expansion: 7/18/2018

So as you may be aware, we recently acquired another 3000 or so square feet of space off the wood shop. A number of members have been going like gangbusters last few weeks getting the new space ready for the metal shop, and the former metal shop ready for member storage to take over. I thought putting up some pics would be a good idea for folks who haven’t been around in the last month or so.

Oh, and did I mention we also replaced the air conditioner in the classroom? Because we did, and it’s now cool and comfy again.

Anyway, the pics:

Here’s the welding corner of the new metal shop. Obviously things are still getting set up, but we’ll have 3 welding booths back here. The welding curtains arrived late last week, just need to finish up hanging the curtain tracks.

The blacksmithing corner is mostly set up, and is very nice. There’s actually room to move around the anvils now!

Here’s the former metal shop, getting masked up for some painting. It’s been a long time since this corner of the shop looked so empty — ah, the memories…

So as you can see, things are moving along nicely. Here’s a few upcoming dates you should be aware of:

  • This weekend (7/21-22): Painting the new storage area. We’ll need hands to work with sprayers, rollers, and brushes.
  • Saturday, August 4: Quarterly Cleanup and Member Storage move. Member storage is planned to move on this date, so all of your stuff needs to temporarily go home so we can move all the shelving. See the previous post for details!
  • Saturday, August 11: Painting in the wood shop expansion zone (old member storage).

Huge, huge, mega-mart-sized thanks to everyone who’s been working to get the expansion done. It’s looking great, folks!

Meet the new laser tube / Same as the old laser tube

Good news, everybody! The laser cutter is back from the dead!

Turns out the tube died — yes, the tube that we installed back in June. It was supposedly rated for 10,000 hours, so I’ll be looking into what if any warranty the thing came with.

Luckily we still had the old tube in storage, so Rory and I swapped it in. Test runs are looking good, though you can expect to have to adjust your settings a little since the tube is high-mileage. We will be getting a new tube one way or another, so stay tuned for further updates.


Changes to the Machine Shop

If you’ve been to the Hack Factory over the last couple of weeks, and specifically today, you may have noticed big changes!


The Twin Cities Maker Board of Directors decided in the last meeting to sponsor a change in direction for the Metal Shop… with a more focused set of machines, lower barrier to learning, and a formal train-up process (much like the Wood Shop pioneered over the last year).


As a result, Steven Anderson has stepped down as Manager of that Area with a new community has formed to execute the above vision.  You will see that Steven has been assisting this process heavily by clearing out all the equipment that does not fit the vision.  Hence, what you will see is a much clearer space ready to be re-imagined.


Please contact me, as I’ve been coordinating this effort, if you have any interest in helping with the Metal Shop community.  I hope you are as excited about the new direction as the Board is!

That new laser tube smell

That bright crisp smell you’ll notice in the laser room is the smell of new laser tube. It’s accompanied by undertones of fresh mirrors and beam combiner, with a smooth realignment finish.

Please test your settings the next time you run a job! The replaced optics and tube basically give us a nearly-new laser cutter, so you may be able to lower your power settings and/or speed up your cuts.

Huge thanks to Rory Johnson and Mark Tondra for helping out tonight. Also an extra huge thanks to Rory for doing the laser maintenance over the past months.

Now, anyone want to try taking an old laser tube apart?

The laser cutter is down, oh noes! (Updated x2)

Update 5/24/2017: The new laser tube will be delivered on Tuesday 5/30. It’s likely I’ll be installing it on Thursday evening (6/1), as I have Friday off so I can take the time to get things adjusted nice. The new power supply will be put in this afternoon/evening; if that gets the old tube back to life we’ll at least have something to get us through the next week or so.

Want to help get the new tube and optics set up? Send an email to and I’ll let you know what the schedule is!

Update 5/20/2017: Most of the parts have arrived — a new power supply, mirrors and a beam combiner. The laser tube is unfortunately out of stock in LightObject’s US warehouse, so it’s coming from Hong Kong. The estimate is two weeks; I’ll update when I have more specific info.

Just like the weather, the laser issues are pouring down. The power feed into the laser room died on Wednesday, but thanks to Steven’s heroic efforts power has been restored. So when I can I’ll try putting in the new power supply, just in case that’s where the problem lies…

Original post:

It saddens me to report that our beloved laser cutter is down. Currently we’re still in the diagnosis phase — might be the power supply, might be the water flow sensor, might be the tube. We were going to replace the tube anyway, and I’ll be ordering a new one, plus new mirrors and a beam combiner, on Wednesday 5/10. I’m also going to check with our supplier as to testing the power supply. (Anyone got a voltmeter that can handle 35kV?)

I’ll update this post as soon as I have any further information. Rest assured we’ll get it fixed ASAP!

There is joy in Laser-ville!

kablooiePictured at the right is our test run with the new laser power supply. On top of the coaster is the cause of the power supply failure. That’s a Fairchild Power Switch module, or rather it used to be. That little bit on the right is supposed to be the front face of the piece on the left — it’s been blown clean off. I’m figuring there was some sort of power surge on the supply line; we’ll be getting a power conditioner to protect the new (and significantly beefier) power supply.

After the power supply was swapped in, we took a bit of time to really clean out the laser cutter. In particular there was some schmutz on the focus lens which took some patience to get cleaned off.The laser is now running much better than before. In fact you might have to adjust your settings a little bit, the laser seems to be cutting and engraving with a bit more gusto!

I ordered the new water chiller this evening, after getting some funds shuffled around to cover the larger-than-expected shipping cost. So we should have a fresh water chiller soon-esque.

Thanks to everyone who helped get the power supply in and the laser cleaned up and ready for use! I have of course forgotten all of your names, because I am bad that way, so remind me who you are and I’ll update this post. Egoboo all round!

Oh, and I’ll get the Laser Cutter Basics class rescheduled ASAP. If you were registered for the canceled class, I’ll send you an email to confirm the new date.