Introduction: Bantam Biplane

About: Our grandkids keep me busy!

From time to time I am asked to evaluate various forms of equipment and devices. One such device is the DK-8-KZ "Mini Engraving Machine" provided to me by the kind people at Gearbest (, the printer specifications are here:,

To be honest, I'd never seen nor heard of a laser engraving machine, much less a "mini" one. So when it was delivered, I was astounded at how small this device really is.

And then there's the engraving part; I'm not into engraving. I used the machine to engrave some giraffe photographs (it easily converts photographs for engraving) for my wife (she's addicted to giraffes, they're everywhere throughout our house), to engrave a photo of her with a giraffe, and to engrave more photos and sketches of giraffes and, well, it does engrave extremely well and with great ease.

But, when I was young I was notorious for doing somewhat foolish things like using a flat bladed screwdriver as a chisel (no, you really shouldn't do that), without safety glasses (and no, you really shouldn't that either), and even running with scissors (no, no, no!), etc. So in keeping with my youthful foolishness I decided to purchased a box of .3mm thick brown card stock, download some "pixel pushing" software, design a model to cut and assemble, and use this engraving machine as a laser cutter. This quite diminutive Bantam Biplane is the result.

If you have this engraver, or plan to purchase one, then follow the instructions that come with the engraver to unpack, setup, load drivers and software, and use the machine before proceeding.

Also, you will need .3mm card stock, thick (gap filling) cyanoacrylate glue, a small straight pin to apply the glue, tweezers and perhaps eye glasses to assemble Bantam Biplane.


The cover photo now shows two biplanes; the original .3mm card stock on the left, and a new .4mm baltic birch on the right.

Step 1: Cut the Parts.

This part is easy. Start by loading two sheets of .3mm card stock stacked one upon the other into the engraver. The top sheet will be the cut parts, and the bottom sheet will protect the engraver bed. Follow the mini laser engraver instructions on how to focus the laser.

I've include two .BMP "bitmap" images, each being 512 pixels wide by 512 pixels tall, the exact size required by the engraver. The first bitmap outlines the biplanes fuselage, lower wing, upper wing, two struts and the propeller (top to bottom, left to right in the bitmap). The second outlines the horizontal stabilizer and two landing gear (left to right in the bitmap). These images bring back memories of the Tetris, Robocop, Predator, Microscopic Mission, Michael Jordan in Flight, and a number of other "pixelated" video game designs from my earlier days. Sigh...

Anyway, I digress. Load either of the two bitmaps into the engraver software (I recommend starting with the stabilizer / landing gear to test the settings of the engraver). Set the "burning time" to 110, press the "Send Image To Machine" button, and when complete, press the "Start" button. When the burning is finished, don't move the card stock, just press "Start" again and allow the machine to finish burning a second time. When the second burning is complete, carefully, without moving the card stock, attempt to remove a part from the card stock, and if it's still not completely cut, press the "Start" button again. The parts I burned always came free after the third burn.

Repeat this process for the remaining bitmap.

Step 2: Assemble the Parts.

Take the lower wing (the wing having 4 slots cut in it) and slide it into the long slot at the front of the fuselage. Center and level the wing, then using a straight pin or other very fine tipped tool, apply very small dots of thick cyanoacrylate glue to hold the wing in position.

Install the wing struts into the lower wing by sliding the tabs on the struts into the outermost slots of the lower wing. Carefully align the struts, then glue in place as before.

Install the upper wing to the struts by sliding the remaining strut tabs into the upper wing slots, then glue in place.

Install the horizontal stabilizer into the fuselage by sliding it into the short slot at the rear of the fuselage. Center and level the horizontal stabilizer then glue in place.

Install the landing gear into the two inner most slots in the lower wing and glue in place.

Finally, attach the propeller to the front of the fuselage and glue it in place.

That's it, hope you like Bantam Biplane!

Oh, and guess what will be cut next...