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.

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Is it possible to make this with arduino mega and driver a4988? I am planning to build a 3d printer and maybe it is possible to include a laser engraver. So I just couldn't get how to build the laser circuit. It would be perfect to use if there are any ready to use laser circuit.

Yes. That's how I did mine.

I built a Prusa i3 3D printer which uses the Arduino Mega and Ramps shield (which I think uses the A4988 drivers). I am running Marlin on the Arduino to control the 3D printer, and the best thing is that it will drive my laser without any software modification. I use the print-fan output to drive the laser, so in my g-code files (from Inkscape) I turn the laser on/off by telling Marlin to turn on/off the fan. I drive the laser through two 12ohm/3W resistors to get 360mA (the Arduino power supply is a regulated 12V, so I don't see a need for a specific current regulator for the laser).

It works really well.

Thanks for your reply:) Great news! I'll first build the 3d printer I've linked. Than I'll make Prusa i3 or Mendel90. It is nice to be able to use the laser engraver too.

But still I don't know what to do to build the laser part. I plan to use this item and it is said to use this item but I don't know how to connect them(and these 2 items are enough).

Do you have any diagram or at least photo of the circuit?

I have attached a couple of photos. In case my explanation wasn't clear, I have attached a simple diagram of how I drive my laser. A simple circuit with a couple of resistors. The three pin plug is arranged so that I can have a three pin plug for both the print fan and the laser, but they wire to only two terminals, so plugging in the laser connects to the RAMPS D9 output through resistors, and plugging in the fan will connect directly to the D9 output. I have a photo of the resistors. Not much to it. I printed a little platform for the circuit to mount on the extruder motor. There's another photo of the J-head and laser mount (I just modified the Wade's extruder), and one of the laser cutting.

cutting batman - black craft foam.PNGlaser and j-head together.JPGlaser driver.JPGlaser wiring.png

I had a quick look at the 3D printer instructable. It looks good. The electronics setup is the same as mine (RAMPS 1.4 on Arduino Mega running Marlin). The 'EFB' motherboard selection recommended in the instructable permits you to use the fan control to drive the laser... that's how I did it. The laser housing you linked to is the exact same one I used!. I have two different housings and chose that one as it was the larger one with better cooling. When you get the laser diode out of the DVD burner, you have to mount it in something, and when it's mounted in the housing, you can adjust the lens that is included in the housing to focus the laser. Groover goes through it in step 3. You can put 'diode laser housing' into youtube and you will see some videos of what you will have to do.

I have seen the LM317 often used to drive these lasers. They can be configured as current sources (which is what you want). When powering a laser diode from batteries (as is done in laser pointers), the battery voltage changes as it discharges, so a simple series resistor will not regulate the current. In my case, I powered the laser diode from the fan output on the RAMPS board. When I tell the fan to turn on fully (it's a PWM output), then the regulated 12V supply is switched to the laser. I have 2x12ohm resistors in series to control the current. I get 3.45V drop across the laser, and about 8.6V across the resistors. So I am driving the laser at 360mA (which is high for one of these diodes I think) and my resistors have to be able to dissipate 3W between them (so higher watt resistors are needed). With my regulated 12V supply (a recycled PC power supply) I don't see a need to used an LM317, the series resistor should be fine.
I will take some photos soon and post.

ioanniskar9 days ago

I opened a DVD-ROM and found out it doesn't have a stepper motor. It has a DC motor and there is a 5 wires cord. Is it possible to use it?

I found stepper motor in a laptop DVD-ROM but it's smaller and I don't know its specifications? Has anyone used a stepper from a laptop DVD-ROM? What modifications should I make on the circuit and the firmware?


you can open a DVD-ROM of PC , it very good ex HP, you should open same type!

Sad, you can't use it without the driver.

You can use the mechanism if you find any gear to fit its pitch with a stepper.

What about the second one that I removed from a laptop? It has a small stepper. Can I use it?

yes of course.

if it is the dvd drive's then its just like any other dvd/cd drive.

go ahead use it

I made my laser cutter a little different, but I was inspired and guided by this instructable. Great work!

I have found when engraving wood (ply, balsa), the laser often doesn't start burning until it is part way into the design. Once started, it keeps going fine. I have added a 'dwell' g-code at the start to hold the laser at the start point for 15 seconds or more but this doesn't seem to help either.
Has anyone found a way to get the laser to engrave reliably from the start point?

I am pushing my laser diode at 360mA at the moment, so I don't think I'm short of power (for a DVD burner laser anyway).

Z engraving.JPG

Hey all,

is it possible to kcontrol the laser via D12 with this shield? http://www.ebay.de/itm/191497328774?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

As well as anything that supports ttl, yes you can.

Though I would suggest to buy a laser module that directly supports TTL Control.

Something like this:


so you don't have to worry about the driver or the ttl module.

I got the 2W 445nm 105$ https://sites.google.com/site/dtrlpf/home/diodes/4...

Will taht work with a CNC Shield and grbl?

Yes, with the driver integrated you will just need to arrange a relay to turn it on/off by arduino automatically.

I found this cheap 1 at ebay. You will need to just remove the line type lens from the module and it will become the dot type.

larystoy29 days ago

Will 3/4 inch vertical be enough for etching wood and burning paper. Also what heat sinking will it require. Thanks

chintans1 month ago

Can any1 describe the parts in the circuit layout please?

I'm a total newbie to electronics and don't know the codes.

As a electronic newbie myself, I bought a laser driver on ebay.

works fine.

can this work?


It is wierd. It looks like an average power supply.

Plus, you won't be able to drive it via the arduino. What I have is a PCB laser diode driver.

laser driver big2.JPG

check this DIY laser driver : http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Laser-Diode-Driver-Constant-Current-Source/?ALLSTEPS

I do have the driver but it does't have the relay.

Can u suggest anything?

There is no relay on mine.

(see pic) 2 power in, and 2 power out.

laser driver big2.JPG

Please which pins of the arduino did you connect the laser driver power input (+ve and -ve) to?


For the laser connection, I set the + to the pin 12 of arduino, and negative ti GND.

Alright, I'll do it your way! One more question though, my ready made laser driver has an input rating of 4.2V, please how do I make pin 12 give out 4V or less, this is my first arduino project


Can u please upload the pic of your pcb?

I mean how you wired it to pin 12 of arduino with GND and VIN.

I have nearly completed the assembly of whole unit except the laser driver :(
I have attached the picture for reference of my assembly.


In the Groover's diagram there is a relay from the arduino data pin#12.

You are using a ready to use board on your own.

You can help other newbies like me on how does your arduino turn the laser on off without the relay.

Did u modified any code and using +5v pin from arduino itself?

I guess the relay on the schema is for the Fan not for the laser.

JaunS1 month ago

Hello, I have built all the hardware: physical structure, and have completed in entering the GRBLtoArduino and all the software. I have used the Universal GCodeSender and has successfully interpreted the software for is says " Grbl 0.8c ['$' for help] ". I've soldered the stepper motors (for I'm using steppers from dvd roms) to some salvages wire from a printer I took apart. I installed some female sockets in order to connect to the male pins on the CNC Shield ver. 2.01 . The orange light from the arduino flashes and in the Universal GCodeSender ver. 0.8 completes the operation b/c is says " ok " . I have no idea whats wrong. I know the steppers work b/c ive used a 9v battery to pulse the motors and they do indeed pulse. Ive used a multimeter to check its resistance and it works. I've checked the current on the motors once connected to the cnc shield and there's current. I have tested if the drivers are in fact getting power and they are. I've attempted the code " x=100 " , " $7=225 " but no motor movement. Can ANYONE help me ?

chintans JaunS1 month ago

Check your cnc shield for your step and direction wire are the correctly connected or not.
Also check for current stepper will need atleast 500mA to work correctly.

9v battery loose its current very fast while driving a motor.

Grab an adaptor/charger with atleast output power of 5v@500mA.

JaunS chintans1 month ago
Everything is wired correctly . I have a supply of 12 v and 1 amp. What else could be the problem?
chintans JaunS1 month ago

you will need to config it as groove said

upload the grbl from above

config its steps



and finally to move it

X10 Y10

both axis will move 10mm exactly from base

grev1 month ago

I've tried to use the laser engraver extension in inkscape and I've followed the video of workflow Groover put in his instructions, but I keep getting an error message "Inkscape has received additional data from the script executed. The script did not return an error, but this may indicate the results will not be as expected." and that's where I get stuck. what am I missing?


grev1 month ago
_bose1 month ago

I'm going to build a laser engraver using PIC16f or PIC18f series. Could you please help me how can i interpret G-Code to this microcontroller?

buckhebb made it!4 months ago
Thank you so much for this tututorial, I started this project several years ago and finally got motivated and finish. Now I want to go bigger!
zacker buckhebb2 months ago

is that jeep engraved in metal? I wanna engrave the slide on my Glock G19 and laser engraving looks better to me than rotary (Mechanical?) engraving. I just don't know if this would go deep enough. thanks!

"probably not. you can with a 40w laser if you use a special compound on the metal. but engraving bare metal needs about 120w . perhaps if you have a makerspace or fablab near you you can ask them. they'll be happy to help"

Yeah, we don't have any of that type of cool place to do this stuff near by yet.. at least not as of the last time I checked...lol Thanks for the input though. Perhaps I can send it out but id much rather do stuff like this myself.

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