Tag Archives: GRBL

Make your own Arduino-powered laser engraver at home

Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars, a 16-year-old decided to build his own professional-looking machine. 

If you don’t have a laser cutter, and would like one (after all, who wouldn’t?) you could buy one for thousands of dollars…. or build one yourself. 16-year-old “MichielD99” decided to do just that, and documented the entire process on Instructables.


Control is handled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) running the grbl CNC controller software. This, in turn, runs two stepper motors via driver boards, as well as a laser via its own separate driver. It’s noted that this configuration could even be used as a CNC router if a rotary tool and Z-axis was added.

What really sets this project apart is the beautifully-made physical structure. It’s constructed primarily from 18mm and 12mm sheets of MDF, which translates to roughly ¾” and ½” thick material. It’s been 3D-modeled, and the cutouts are available as PDF images and STL files. This means that if you want to replicate it, all you have to do is print the PDFs out, then use a bandsaw to cut out the appropriate pieces. STL makes it possible to replicate with a laser or CNC router. Some work with a Dremel tool will also be needed, though this could possibly be avoided if using a CNC router to make the cuts.


If you’re going to create one of these yourself, this engraver is a great place to start (right after you purchase a pair of safety goggles meant for your laser’s wavelength). For another take on this type of tool, check out this build using similar electronics with a frame made of aluminum extrusion.

Build a $200 laser engraver with Arduino

This DIY machine can engrave designs into wood, opaque plastic and leather.

Many people have a nice assortment of tools in their garage or Makerspace, but once you get into computer-controlled implements, both your capabilities and, normally, the price of them goes up a notch. Instructables user Macinblack20 decided to step into the world of laser engravers with his project, and according to his how-to article, it can be built for less than $200.


His machine uses an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) running grbl, an open source CNC controller, to actuate two stepper motors. They move a one Watt laser in the X and Y axes on a gantry made out of OpenBuilds components. These parts, as well as a few others, are listed in the “materials” portion of his Instructables page. OpenBuilds appears to be an interesting option for Makers trying to source mechanical parts that can be hard to find or expensive.


Admittedly, employing a laser meant for engraving can be hazardous to your eyes, so you’ll definitely need a pair of laser safety glasses meant for the type of beam you’re using. Although an interesting build, don’t attempt something like this unless you’re absolutely confident that you can be safe with it.


For a seemingly less hazardous build, you may want to check out the CNC EtchABot, an Etch A Sketch with knob controls as well as an automatic erasing mechanism.

CNC router goes xPRO with Atmel’s ATmega328

Spark Concepts has debuted the CNC xPRO on Kickstarter, a versatile platform powered by Atmel’s ATmega328 microcontroller (MCU).

The CNC xPRO can be used to drive:

  • Four-axis CNC Mill
  • Three-axis CNC Mill with dual drive motors
  • Laser cutter with XY, auto focus and rotary attachment
  • Plasma cutter
  • Pick and place for SMD components
  • Wireless robotics

The GRBL compatible CNC xPRO can be powered via an ATX PSU or a dedicated 12V/24V two wire power supply. The board is also capable of driving four motors with DRV8825 Stepper Drivers at 2.5A (peak) with 1.75A (RMS) and up to 1/32 microstepping.

“One driver is capable of cloning X,Y, or Z or being run as an independent axis, [with] hardware support offered for both USB and wireless operation (XBee, WiFly, or RN42-XV),” a Spark Concepts rep explained.

“In addition, there are 12V and 5V outputs for powering peripherals (fans, pumps, vacuums), [allowing Makers and engineers] to quickly connect Stepper Motors and limit switches with 3.5mm screw terminals.”

Meanwhile, an expansion port supports future upgrades, such as a handheld jog controller and integrated spindle speed control.

“The CNC xPRO ships fully assembled and ready to connect (except for those opting for the bare board). All you need to do is screw down your motor leads and limit switches, plug in your ATX supply (or 12V/24V supply) and computer. You can also add a kill, pause/stop, resume and abort switches,” the rep noted.

“To add Bluetooth wireless, simply plug the RN42-XV into the xPRO and pair it with your computers Bluetooth. When paired correctly, this creates a virtual serial port over Bluetooth linking the computer to the xPRO.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the CNC xPRO on Kickstarter here.

Video: Atmel-based Arduinos in a semi-auto production line

Alexander Kozusyev from Kiev recently contacted the official Arduino blog to describe how he integrated Atmel-based boards into a semi-auto production line designed to cast polyurethane foam.

According to Ardunio’s Zoe Romano, Kozusyev is using an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) to read RFID codes and control a number of components, along with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) (+ firmware GRBL version 0.9) to control the CNC.

“[The] production line has two independent CNC 3-axis manipulator. The first [is] spraying of [a] release agent. [The] second [is the] automatic pouring [of] polyurethane into the mold,” Kozusyev explained.

“Before spraying or pouring, [the system] reads RFID unique code for the mold, and then loads the G-CODE from the database server based MySQL. After pouring, the mold is moved to the waiting area.”