Tag Archives: laser cutting

Laser cutting and engraving with Mr. Beam

Mr. Beam – which recently made its Kickstarter debut – is an open source DIY laser cutter and engraver kit for paper, wood and plastic.


“Mr. Beam is able to process materials of variable thickness. Height adjustable legs allow an easy setup for thin paper as well as for a large piece of wood,” a Mr. Beam rep explained.

“[The platform] cuts lighter materials like paper and foil in one pass and thicker materials [such as] leather and cardboard in multiple passes. As with all laser cutters, the ability to cut materials properly is determined by their thickness. Most of the mentioned materials can be engraved in a single pass, others like wood might require several passes.”

Key hardware components include an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU), custom shield and a Raspberry Pi.

So, how does Mr. Beam work? 

Well, the Raspberry Pi (running Raspbian) operates the web interface responsible for generating g-code from the user-supplied input files (the motif). Meanwhile, the Uno runs the grbl software tasked with taking g-code and converting it into stepper motor actions (effectively controlling laser diode intensity). Last, but certainly not least, the custom Beam shield is equipped with various electronic modules and components that handle the input from Arduino/grbl – powering the steppers as well as the laser and regulating the hardware buttons.

On the software side, Mr. Beam’s user interface can be used to select motifs and kick off the cutting process. Future additions are slated to include the ability to easily position, rotate and scale various patterns.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Mr. Beam’s official Kickstarter page here.

Open source camera has Atmel under the hood

Kevin Kadooka has designed an open source camera with Adafruit’s Atmel-based Trinket platform (ATtiny85) under the hood.

Dubbed “Lux,” the 6×6 box camera (120 roll film) was originally prototyped using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). 

Key project components include include Adafruit’s quarter-size protoboard, transistors (TIP120), diode (1N4001), 5V solenoid, rotary switch (10 position BCD DIP), rocker switch (SPST), resistors, 7.4 battery, connectors (JST PH, JST BEC), and a momentary button (SPST w/LED).

Additional specs? PCX lens, positive meniscus lens, mirror, and an electromechanical single-leaf shutter.

“Until now, all of my camera- building efforts utilized parts repurposed from old, obsolete cameras, and for good reason,” Kadooka explained on the project’s official page. 

”Each constituent part of the modern camera, from the shutter, lens, aperture diaphragm, and film transport, are much too complex and delicate for the average hobbyist to reproduce. Borrowing parts from old cameras is usually the go-to solution for most DIY’ers (myself included), however I don’t think this is a sustainable technique.”

As such, Kadooka’s primary goal is to design and produce a fully-fledged using easily purchased off-the-shelf components – without having to rely on anything pulled from a potentially valuable piece of equipment.

“A secondary goal is also to make this camera completely open source through rapid-prototyping techniques such as laser cutting and 3D printing, and the Arduino physical computing platform,” he added.

Interested in learning more about the open source camera? You can check out Kadooka’s detailed instructions and spec sheets here.