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K40 Control Panels: Analog vs. Digital

There has been quite a bit of discussion as to which K40 control panel is “better”. This article will cover each of these panels and their differences.


The standard analog panel is preferred by a good majority of somewhat seasoned K40 laser users and modders. It has no electronics and displays to fail and the analog meter shows you exactly what your tube current draw is.

This configuration also affords easier panel customization and more room for extra displays, switches, etc… Sometimes simpler is better. This is one of those times.

This panel is perfect especially if you plan to upgrade controllers at some point. With the Cohesion3D, for instance, you dial in your max current once and then never touch it again. The controller does the rest.


The digital control panel looks neat but not only contains additional electronics and circuitry that could fail but the percentage of power displayed is not 0 to 40 watts. it is very very easy to overdrive and damage your tube because you don’t really know what “35%” is.

The “percentage” is based on the maximum possible output of your power supply. 100% power on your machine may be 20mA or 38mA. Without a milliammeter you can not reliably know how you are driving your tube.

If you ever plan on upgrading your controller with something like the Cohesion3D Mini then you will set the power once and forget it so the fancy digital panel is of little benefit.

You can (and should) add a current meter to this configuration. You can also add a potentiometer and make yours a simple, reliable analog panel and remove the bulky display and keypad.

NOTE: Neither panel provides PWM laser control. That is a function of the controller and Laser Power Supply. Most K40 Laser Power supplies are capable of having a PWM controller.


Tech Bravo

My name is Brian and I am a full time geek! Before being pulled in to a real estate firm as their digital marketing guru I was Operations Manager/Senior Network Engineer/Lead Color Digital Imaging Technician for a medium sized Copier/Printer/IT firm. I have been taking things apart since i was old enough to handle a screwdriver and, over the years, have figured out how to put stuff back together. My toys growing up were oscilloscopes, Z80 based microprocessors, tools, and the like and I am heavily addicted to all things technical. I look forward to bringing hi-tech to you! Feel free to contact me if you wish.

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