Things ended up working out nicely-- yesterday I bought an old (1994!) Epilog Summit from a sign company. It was on mothballs for years but fired up right away. It came with a PC running Windows98 and CorelDraw, also a rotary attachment, all for a very fair price
Compared to the less expensive machines on EBay, this thing is built like a tank; looks like I found a different "low road"!
I'm completely new to this and didn't have time to prepare for the laser's arrival-- I had to act fast!
So far I've installed 3" casters on the cart for easy moving, and the old, slow PC works fine. No clue how to set up the rotary attachment; I mailed Epilog for information, hoping I can get a PDF or printed manual.
Most import is that it's working! I've done some simple testing on tongue depressors, thin acrylic sheet, paper, cardboard, a banana, and a tortilla
So... now to tackle some more complicated stuff:
- How to vent and filter the exhaust? I have it hooked up to my shopvac, which is NOT ok for more than testing... and arguably not OK even for testing. There's a window in the office I could use as a vent outlet, if I need one. Looking at the info on ladyada.net (http://www.ladyada.net/library/laser/equipment.html), I need to investigate products from Electrocorp and Purex; any others?
- How to transfer files to the PC? It's running Windows98 and has every slot filled with extra SCSI and parallel port cards. It does have serial ports and a modem, plus 3.5", 5.25" (!), and a CD ROM drive. USB but no ethernet! Best would be to swap one of the port cards for an ethernet card, but I don't want to upset the delicate balance.
- Looks like I need to buy a halotron fire extinguisher.
What else? Any suggestions are very much appreciated!!