Pocket laser engraver.

FeaturedContest WinnerContest Winner
Picture of Pocket laser engraver.
I have been trying to get my hands on a laser cutter for some time but they always seem out of reach. All the great things that can be done with a real laser cutter tickle the imagination.

I feel it's time to share my latest project - a low cost laser engraver,. The workspace is a bit small but none the less it works and comes so cheap that most will be able to replicate the result. I did take a few shortcuts, as I feel I don't have the knowledge to do all the electronics I opted for readymade but low cost in favor of trying to make my own (and most likely fail). All parts used are however easy to find.

I am pleased with the end result even if there is room for improvements. The small size and low power is a bit limiting but I have made allot of fun things already. Paper cutouts, plant markers and stamps among some. The engraver itself might not fit in a pocket but the workspace limits what you can do with it to fit in the pocket.

A word of warning is in place . This instructable is using a ~200mW red laser. It might nut cut through chunks of wood but it will make you go blind if you are not careful. Never look into the beam, even reflections can be dangerous if focused. Please be careful.

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
haunting3 hours ago

Please help. Source code link is broken., Please submit the source code. I need it. Please Please Please

goldrake made it!9 hours ago

Hi ,

very nice project I have done mine thanks to groover instructions.

More I have fixed the z Axis problem from the homing cycle. modifing the config.h

now hen I use $H the X axis goes on the left far away from motor while if I use X0 goes right. My question is : Do I mirror the inkscape image before use the laserengraver plug in?

BTW this is my calibration:

Grbl 0.8c ['$' for help]

['$H'|'$X' to unlock]

[Caution: Unlocked]

$0=53.333 (x, step/mm)

$1=53.333 (y, step/mm)

$2=53.333 (z, step/mm)

$3=10 (step pulse, usec)

$4=200.000 (default feed, mm/min)

$5=200.000 (default seek, mm/min)

$6=8 (step port invert mask, int:00001000)

$7=25 (step idle delay, msec)

$8=100.000 (acceleration, mm/sec^2)

$9=0.050 (junction deviation, mm)

$10=0.100 (arc, mm/segment)

$11=25 (n-arc correction, int)

$12=3 (n-decimals, int)

$13=0 (report inches, bool)

$14=1 (auto start, bool)

$15=0 (invert step enable, bool)

$16=1 (hard limits, bool)

$17=1 (homing cycle, bool)

$18=69 (homing dir invert mask, int:01000101)

$19=200.000 (homing feed, mm/min)

$20=200.000 (homing seek, mm/min)

$21=100 (homing debounce, msec)

$22=2.000 (homing pull-off, mm)

can you please post your calibration ?

Domy (from Italy)


I am having problems with circles being boxy (flat) on the top and sides. Have you run into this problem?

Tesla6192 days ago

Ummm, is this a rip off of your DIY project but for sale ?

BTW i found this on eBay

fcojav15 days ago

Hi, i live in Guatemala central america and i interest in one but in my country not exist the parts for this project.... you help me? my email is

thakala21 days ago
Hello, I'm excited to start work on my laser engraver this weekend.

I'm just curious if anyone has tried to use this on leather? I got an idea for a leather cuff this morning and I was wondering if this would work to add the design to the leather.

Groover (author)  thakala20 days ago

I did try it on a piece of leather and it did leave a mark. The only problem was that it where a black piece of leather and not that easy to see might work better on tan leather. (engraving pattern, cutting there is no way to weak laser)

thakala Groover19 days ago
Good to know! I'll have to experiment with mine when I finish it.

Unfortunately, this weekend flew by without any chance to work on it. I'm hoping to break open the DVD drives tonight.

lex luther1 month ago
Hi! I'm having relay latching problem. I replaced a relay, the transistor, cable. After i put 3 ferite filters on the cable it looked ok, but the latching hapened again. The laser doesent turn on. After i tap on the relay it works aggain for a few times. PLEASE HELP!
IBH1 month ago

Please can somebody provide the circuit for laser shield in pdf format?

Groover (author)  IBH1 month ago

Here is the board, silkscreena and schematic.

IBH Groover1 month ago

Thanks! But to make the circuit I used ratsnest and it said 2 Airwires and I did not understand this?

Groover (author)  IBH1 month ago

Unfortunately I don't know either. There is one place where I used a jumper wire, that might be what is meant? Hopefully someone else knows and can give a proper answer.

IBH Groover1 month ago

Please can you tell me how you made the circuit?And that is the attached circuit correct if made using toner transfer method?

Groover (author)  IBH1 month ago

It looks about right and should work but I have not gone over it in detail. I used a board with photoresist and printed out the trace on overhead paper, exposed in uv light and etched. I have never used the toner transfer method myself.

atymkow1 month ago
I have set $0 and $1 to the value you listed, just double checked. So I guess it must be the easy driver. I'll recheck my soldering tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion.
Once again, great instructable. Really inspired me to make it.
Groover (author)  atymkow1 month ago
Thank you. If you can not find anything in the hardware to explain it you can compensate in software but I would recommend to have a look at the drivers first. If you want to compensate in software you will have to change the steps per mm to a value more suitable. I don't recall the exact value but if it moves 15 mm when you enter ten you would want to reduce it by about a third of what it is now.
atymkow1 month ago

hi there.

i think this is a great project, so much so that i have built on of my own. Just having a bit of a problem though. My prints are coming out stritched.

When you tell it to move X10, it dose. When you tell it to move Y10, it moves 15.

Both motors and drives are exactly the same.

any ideas?

Groover (author)  atymkow1 month ago

Check what your steps per mm is set to. Start a serial terminal and open the port your Arduino is connected to and enter $ followed by enter and you will see the current settings ($0 and $1). If they are the same the only thing I can think of is if the easydriver (or whatever driver you use) is not set up properly, one in microstepping and the other one not or something similar.

dmagryta1241 month ago
could I use a DC motor with a small drill bit attached instead of a laser? would it be able to carve floral foam? are the motors unipolar or bipolar? what is the work area size?
IBH dmagryta1241 month ago
no you cannot use a dc motor because then you would need a z axis to move the drill up and dowm , with the laser it just turns on and off with the relay.The motors are bipolar. The work area is about 1.5"x1.5" inches.
dmagryta124 IBH1 month ago

Ok, thanks.

rjkorn6 months ago
(removed by author or community request)
rjkorn rjkorn6 months ago
sites back online now thanks.. seems to work good with my old dot matrix printer frame machine. only problem is my laser is best on dark materials. it will easily cut through a black plastic cd case but it wont burn light colored wood. did you coat the wood with anything?

try placing a black piece of paper electical tape on top of the wood or anything else light in color

IBH1 month ago

HI, I rely love your Instructable.I have been trying to make my own micro laser engraver but i cannot understand how to wire the stepper motors and also can i use Arduino motor shield instead of easydrivers?

Thanks in advance



DBender1 year ago
Hello friend, first I would like to congratulate you on an excellent project.
Well I am Brazilian and I have difficulty understanding English, would aid her.
I'm struggling to understand how to download the files to the arduino, control the motors, which files should I download?
You could pass them to me by email?
Thank you.

olá amigo Dbender você conseguiu construir o projeto quero muito consegui faze esse projeto, voce poderia me dar algunas dicas,desde já grato

Yes my friend.... My questions in email:
Davebmx2 months ago

Hi always look at this wanting to make one but dont have the time is anyone in the UK able to make it for me if i supply all the parts or £ for all the parts thanks

rcerchier2 months ago

hi, i make the circuit but when i put laser in the terminal it doesn't work..If someone would help me on this problem my e-mail is

508Parkour2 months ago

Could I upgrade this to something like a 1W laser diode? How would I make the changes?

Bashey2 months ago
hi, can i 'print' circuit boards with it or is i to less power? wich power do i need to laser a circuit board? or is it easier to take a cnc?
Hinesdarrel2 months ago

Hey this is something very exciting and interesting. Amazed to see something like this.Never imagined this sort of creativity.

lex luther2 months ago
Hi guys! Does anybody know how to engrave photos on a machine like this? So arduino-grbl laser.

kgaurkhede2 months ago

suggest me some other stepper motor driver other than easydrive

plz help me

rply asap

thnx in advnce

the easydrivers are the best, but if you want something else try the a4988 stepper drivers, you will need to redesign the board

kawa384 months ago

Can I use de grlb to a XY pen plotter ?

Zaund kawa382 months ago

You could basically turn this project in to anything, including GRBL. Instead of the laser just mount a sharpie or ink pen on the Y axis.


Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?


PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!