Photon Printer - Micro Laser Engraver

by Isolt, published

Photon Printer - Micro Laser Engraver by Isolt Jul 6, 2015
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The Photon Printer is a 3D printable laser engraver made from recycled DVD Drives. A list of necessary components is in the instructions.

The Photon Printer started out as a quick weekend project then quickly escalated when I saw that there was room for improvement in the current designs. The design turned out to be quite fun and I really enjoyed seeing it work at the end.

Safety - None of the designs I have seen have any sort of shielding around the laser. Given that even a 5mW diode can be dangerous any sort of engraver should have safety features. These include
• A full enclosure to block reflected laser light
• Roller door access
• Safety cut off switch on door
• Angled ventilation to prevent light leakage

3D printability – Printing allows for a lot of features that are not included in other versions.
• Accurate positioning of components
• Fits a wide range of DVD Drives
• Z axis fine tuning adjustor
• Built in roller door guides
• Custom axis mounts
• Low part count
• Ease of assembly
• Buildable by people without access to machining tools
• All parts have one large flat surface to aid in printing

• Coarse laser height adjust for material thickness compensation
• Fine laser adjust for focusing
• Spring tensioned Z adjust to reduce vibration
• Sliding lugs to fit a range of DVD Plates
• Suits an Arduino Uno and CNC shield for an easy build
• Low parts count
• Low cost


2015-10-01 Instructions updated, Solidworks and STEP files added
2015-09-27 A small gap added to top of nut traps to compensate for sagging during bridging.
2015-09-27 V2 uploaded - Now suits an Arduino uno with CNC shield. Sliding mounting lugs support a wider variety of DVD Drives. Springs are now printed, no need to tap the parts.
2015-07-17 Improved electronics schematic by pepperm
2015-07-15 Electronics Schematic updated in better quality.
2016-05-24 Step files updated


First off get some safety glasses! The laser cutter is fully enclosed while running but you’ll need safety glasses for testing and focusing the laser.
A lot of inspiration and knowledge came from this tutorial
I’ll reference it a lot as I go.

DVD Drives
You’ll need 2 x DVD Drives – They must be capable of writing DVD’s if you want to use the diode out of them. CD Drives will also work but won't have useful laser diodes inside. They will also need end stops inside them. The newer the drive the more powerful the diode will be. After about 2009 they changed the diode package making it harder to use, so aim for something before that.

Here is a link on disassembling them.
You’ll need
2 x linear axes with everything stripped off the sled
1 x red laser diode from the sled (keep both in case you break one)
4 x magnets from the lens assembly on the sled
1 x metal rectangle cut from drive case 100x80mm

I’ve provided a simple schematic for the electronics that can be soldered into a prototype board. The laser driver relies on the regulation of the 5V USB supply. It’s not the best solution but it seems to work. For a better solution see below.
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Laser-Diode-Driver-Constant-Current-Source/#step0 or
Or explore off the shelf TTL laser drivers recommended by Bernardo

The 12V to power the fans and CNC board can be sourced from the Vin on the arduino. You could solder a wire to the cosponsoring pin on the CNC board (which isn't connected to anything).
Alternatively a hole could be drilled in the side of the case for a DC jack.
Run the 12V to the switch then into the CNC board. The fans can also be connected to the CNC board input terminals.

You’ll need

1 x Arduino Uno
1 x Adruino CNC shield http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield/
1 x Laser housing for 5.6mm TO18 Diode (I’d recommend a glass lense)
2 x 40mm fans
1 x 2N2222 NPN Transistor (or equivalent)
1 x 100 OHM resistor
1 x 4.7 OHM resistor 1W
1 x 22 OHM resistor 1W
1 x 100 OHM Trim pot 0.5W
1 x Diode
1 x Micro switch (20x9.5mm 9.8mm hole spacing)
1 x Power switch (suit 19x13mm hole)
Female Headers
Male headers

Print the parts on thingiverse.
Once all the parts are printed follow the instructions in the PDF.
Page 1 has a list of all the fastenings you’ll need

I use GRBL - You'll need to recompile it as below or it wont home properly without a z axis

Gcode generation

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I am having issues with homing X and Y axis!
built it and wired it all up but, i am having issues with homing my x and y axis. When i set pull-off($27) greater than zero the carriage is crashing into the endstop. I disable the Z axis, that worked. I tried it on grbl 1.1, 0.9, 0.8.
but i couldnt get it working. I am using normally open switches, i checked that. I was also playing around with the invert settings($2,$3,$23) and $5.
I would appreciate help

Hi. I'm got a grbl expert, if this doesn't help there are some good forums to try.
does it work if you don't change the pull off?
if you $h does it home toward the correct end stops?
if you send $10=16 it should report the limit switch state. press them manually and see if it changes. If not maybe they're plugged into the wrong pins?

When i try $H it home to xmax and ymax. If $27=0 it stops as it should, but when i try different positive numbers it crashes into the endstops. I set $10=16 but it didnt get any more output. I also tried swapping max and min pins but that didnt work too.

Here is my configuration:

What drives did you design the model around?

This designed to work with almost any DVD or CD drive. The lugs are adjustable to fit a wide range of drives. One person has found a drive that doesn't work but most people seem to have no trouble.

All I have is a 3D printer. Do You possibly have an amazon parts list or something. Im not sure if I even have the skills to make this but it looks sooo cool

I don't really have time to look then up individually sorry. If you look at the bill of materials and post links I could check then for you

Jan 20, 2017 - Modified Jan 20, 2017
THEMEEPCLUB - in reply to Isolt

How much time do you think it would take to build. I am not super skilled but up to the challenge

Most of it is just assembly. You will need to do a little soldering or crimping though. Buying a laser and driver would also make it easier and more powerful.

Could you make a version of the side where the slide lug mounting rails are full length, please?
I have a drive tray with only 3 screw holes!

Not right now sorry. I am working on am update though.
I'd just glue/acetone weld the lug in place. should be good enough.

Comments deleted.
Dec 27, 2016 - Modified Dec 27, 2016
Isolt - in reply to SmiteX1

That should work fine. You'll still need some circuitry to switch it on and off though.
It's a smaller diameter than mine so it won't fit easily into the holder. I've designed a new more universal holder and I'll publish it soon.

Comments deleted.

Hi, would you suggest having a second power source for the laser? If not, I was wondering on how to connect that laser to the circuitry that you provided plans for (I'm in Year 9 (Grade 8) and I haven't had to much experience in circuitry)? Thanks!

The wattage is small enough to run off the 5V pin on the CNC board.
You'll want a separate supply for the stepper motor though.
Check this out on how to make a transistor switch

Jan 22, 2017 - Modified Jan 22, 2017
Orangestuff - in reply to Isolt

The laser and motors are powered from separate power supplies? Is a 1a power supply plugged into the the arduino 12v jack not enough to power the motors and laser? Thanks for the work on this by the way. I've spent the last few days putting one of these together and powering the laser is the last thing I need to figure out. Right now I can switch the laser on from the pins on the cnc board but it doesnt have enough current to burn. Can I just use a transistor switch and get power straight from the 5v regulator on the arduino?

There are a few ways to go about this.
The arduino is powered by usb because it's already plugged into the computer.
If you're using the diode out of a DVD drive the 5V on the arduino board should be sufficient. You shouldn't be running the laser off pin the "SpnEn" pin though, this should just trigger the transistor. If it's not burning then either the material you are trying to burn is too lightly coloured, the laser isn't focused, or the variable resistor is set too low to give the diode enough power.

If you are using a bought laser with it's own power supply then run it off the 12V.
the 12V should ideally plug only into the screw terminals of the CNC shield, not the arduino. It should also power the fans.

Thank's for the reply! That makes sense. I have my laser connected directly to the SpnEn pin which is my problem.

In the files is a simple driver circuit you can use.


Comments deleted.
Comments deleted.

Is there a price list for this, or is it simply just dvd writing lasers? Can you use old cd writables?

If you have some electrical components, screws, DVD drives and a 3D printer the only real cost is the arduino and CNC board for about $12
Like it says in the instructions CD drives will probably work. They may not have end stops though. I wouldn't recommend using the laser in them as it's invisible and not that usefull but still really dangerous.

Sep 2, 2016 - Modified Sep 2, 2016

Cordial saludo. instale servo de dvd en el eje Z, como puedo desactivarlo cuando no está usando para evitar que se caliente?

I'm not to sure what you're saying sorry. Are you thinking of installing a servo in the Z axis to adjust the laser focus?

Thanks for the great design and verry helpful instructions!
I finaly found the time to build my own Photon Printer and get it running!

I made some extra parts as i couldn't get my hands on the corflute and had to adjust some small things to my needs.

Keep up the good work :)

Accesoires for Photon Printer

Glad you enjoyed it. Post a pic, I'd love to see it

Can I use those sun/tanning bed googles for a T018? what googles should be used if I use a T018 laser? Finally what is the name of your laser and the goggles you use called?

Isolt - in reply to DLK

I doubt that suntanning goggles would be rated to protect you from a 300mW laser. the laser I used was out of the DVD drive I disassembled, sadly it didn't have any part number. Also the Diode you've liked is an infrared laser. That means it will be invisible making it much more dangerous for a first time laser user. I'd really recommend a laser you can see.

DLK - in reply to Isolt

Thanks for your reply ( : I have bought the TO18 housing. What laser diode would you reccomend? If you could please send a link for me to order as well, if possible?

Isolt - in reply to DLK

I don't really have time to troll through ali express sorry. Just look for something visible that is in a TO18 format. The brighter the better, I think the ones from DVD drives are 150-250mW. I have no idea what your budget is but I've heard good things about blue/purple ones.

Jun 9, 2016 - Modified Jun 9, 2016
DLK - in reply to Isolt

Thank you so much for all your help. I would just like to say that a great project on thingiverse is not only one that is well designed but one supported by a great creater such as Isolt and this thing on thingiverse ticks both those boxes, So thank you very much, for all your help. ( :

how do i set up the cnc board? which jumpers are needed? how should the pololu be placed(rotated?) what about the little "screw" on the pololu's?


Is it possible to get the STEP-File for the Laser mount? This one is not in the Zip-Folder

Oops, I've updated the step files now. Thinking of modifying it?

FYI it's a good idea to not look at this while running, ever. You're using a class III laser outside of its enclosure, it's visible so all the damage will be on the retina as your cornea and inter-ocular lens will not block much of the light. Since the power output is enough to burn wood you're looking at a few hundred milliwatts of optical energy, and the wrong kind of back scatter can still deliver enough power to damage your retina.
This is a neat little device, but so few people understand how lasers can really screw up your eyesight permanently that it should be noted that this device requires some caution there. Using lasers with higher photon energies (blue) with the same total energy output is even more hazardous. The shield or other kind of beam blocker or attenuator needs to be between the user and the laser when on.
Ok, laser safety rant over.

Great points. That's what I've tried to address with this model. All the other designs are unshielded.
If you read the description you'll notice that this one features a door with an interlock that only allows the laser to active when the door is closed, making it a laser with an enclosure.
Safety glasses are still recommended though, better safe than sorry.

Hello , this is arduino model should I buy?

4 x A4988 Stepper Motor Driver with Heat Sink + UNO R3 Board + CNC Shield Expansion Board for Arduino 3D Printer Diy kit

That sounds correct

At first thanks for the amazing Project and I have two questions at first do I need easydrive stepperdriver if I use the Arduino UNO with CNC Shield or does the Shield the Job ? and second One witch safety Glasses do you recomand thanks ;)

If you use the CNC shield it should come with some drivers, or you'll need to buy 2 Pololu type Drivers.
I'd recommend safety glasses from a trusted supplier that match the laser wavelength you're using.

And what kind of laser driver do I need?

There's a simple driver schematic included in the instructions or explore off the shelf TTL laser drivers recommended by Bernardo

I have problem using GBRL 0.9j it doesn't home at all, it just seizes up and stop responding to commands when sending homing command. What version of GBRL are you using? I'm able to move everything around, my endstops work right, I have the laser diode driver hooked up (even burnt some stuff already) but I Didn't run any G-code yet and I can't get homing going. On top of that, where did you get your corflute from? mine is a little too thick

Mar 13, 2016 - Modified Mar 13, 2016
Isolt - in reply to zenekNY

I got my corflute from warehouse stationary in New Zealand, I suppose that wont help much though. You could carefully cut the the back edges off to the right depth? It'll run a bit rougher in the channel though.

Ohh I've updated the instructions to include a link to this. Sorry had the wrong link up.
"During testing I found that Grbl would hang on the $H (homing) command. I suspected this was a problem with the Z Axis as the MicroSlice does not have one.

To fix the probem we must remove the Z Axis options from the Homing Cycle. The commands are contained within the config.h file in the source code.

1 | Download the source code from Grbl (link).

2 | Unpack the archive.

3 | Open config.h in your favourite text editor.

4 | Locate the following code

"#define HOMING_SEARCH_CYCLE_0 (1< #define HOMING_SEARCH_CYCLE_1 ((1<"

5 | Replace the code the following, Remove the quotation marks "

"// #define HOMING_SEARCH_CYCLE_0 (1<"
"#define HOMING_SEARCH_CYCLE_0 ((1<"

6 | Locate the following code

"#define HOMING_LOCATE_CYCLE ((1<"

7 | Replace the code with

"#define HOMING_LOCATE_CYCLE ((1<"

6 | Save

7 | Recompile the grbl.hex file. I used my Raspberry Pi to recompile the hex. In case things go wrong I have included the modified hex file for you below. You'll need to flash your Arduino with the new hex.

If everything has worked, and all the settings are configured correctly you should be able to run the homing cycle ($H) and see the MicroSlice zero itself and then you should be ready to go create!"

Love to see a photo when it's done

yes! this is exactly what the problem was, I found out after reading almost entire GRBL Wiki. I didn't alter the firmware yet though, to skip that problem I hooked up an additional switch and imitated the probing using the switch. I will modify the firmware just now, thank you very much! I have another issue though.. my limit switched are on left of the X axis and closer to me on Y axis. No matter how would I configure the probing and invert the axis directions when I start engraving it wants to go in to positive direction from X0/Y0 (the new GRBL uses all negative). Supposedly this is how most advanced and professional CNC machines operate. The G-code created tells the engraver to go in the opposite direction then what is desired.

I have the same issue. I haven't seriously looked into it but did come up with a couple of work arounds, tell me if you find a better solution.
1: add some start commands to your gcode. Home then set X and Y to 40 with "G92 x40 y40" now all your work area will be in positive space.
2: Draw all your stuff in negative space in inkscape. I use guide lines to draw a box off the "page" the shift my lines into it.

For now I move X axis all the way to the right and the Y axis as close to me and reset the zeros. It prints upside down with a 0/0 at right far corner and work it's way back to me and left. I reverted only Y axis. At least I don't have to invert (mirror) the picture.

The config.h file doesn't have the pieces of code that you quoted, I'm using 0.9j is that what You use too?

will ya make a tiny
3d printer?

Did you use 1/16th microstepping for the drivers?

My original one used easydrivers which only did 1/8. The CNC shield will do 1/16 http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield-v3-00-assembly-guide/#MicroStep
You'll need to set the steps/mm to 106.67 though

I get it! Thank you for pointing it out. Otherwise the arduino would send the same amount of pulses and get only half of the motion

It seems that every part that I print doesn't fit. Did you have to file any of the parts up? I printed many calibration prints before to make sure my printer is tuned in and it appears that the printer runs fine.

Which parts exactly? If you mean the X and Y Brackets they have a 0.1mm clearance all around and a 0.5mm at the top in the CAD model. Mine fitted together nicely with no filing. I could upload ones with a larger clearance? 0.2mm? 0.5mm?

Pretty much every part. I filed most of them but I still didn't touch the bed mounting bracket. The 3 m4 nuts won't fit in the slots. It needs very little clearance but few parts are just hard to file. I think I will manage to file it up wherever I have to and get it working. Great work though!

Thanks! How wide are your nuts?

Should be 7mm by the standard, but I will measure it when I get home.

it turns out that my printer was not as accurately tuned in as I thought!! the larger distances ie. (hole to hole) were spot on, but the shell thickness was too high and even though my calibration cube was 20mm as it should, the openings and tolerances were smaller. This much filing because of a few lousy numbers!

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were trying to do it without the DVD carriages. Personally I don't think it's possible to do it without the carriages. The carriages are what is moving the laser and the platform on the X and Y axis. You need the motion so the laser wouldn't burn in just one spot. Unless you plan on using some other way to move the laser around (which will not be as easy as using DVD drives).

Hi, I would like to build this but using Laser diodes purchased together with holder and heatsinks not from DVD drives. What do I need to do to make sure it fits without the DVD carriage? Thanks.

I'm trying to do the same thing. I bought a TTL driver that will work with a diode that I purchased. You'd need to make sure that the diode maintains steady current for which it is designed. Did you buy an entire module with the diode already installed in the holder and heatsink? I bought suggested holder to avoid problems with mounting the holder

I bought a suggested holder mount and heatsink which came with instructions to assemble unit, but did't say how to solder diodes "after installed in holder" - an impossible task, wires need to be soldered to diode before insertion into holder.
But how to mount the whole without the dvd carriage?

CD Drives should also work if they are easier for you to get.

Could you send me one?

I really want to build this, however do you know any drives that you KNOW will work/be easy to disassemble and reassemble?

I used light scribe drives out of old HP workstations, model GSA-H60L. Anything pre 2008 should work though. I tried to make the design as universal as possible, I've tested it with about 5 different drives. Even CD drives and post 2008 DVD drives should work, but you wont get a usable laser out of them. Cheers

​hi, i made the engraver but i am facing a problem, the motion is working fine just needs some calibration but the laser is not burning anything. it is being turned on and off but it just doesn't burn anything what can be the issue

OK that'd be a laser focus issue. Are you using the same laser holder as in the instructions? If so wind the lens all the way in to get the shortest throw. Get a piece of black Paper or plastic then move the laser slowly closer until the laser dot is the smallest. Use the fine adjust screw to adjust the laser until you see smoke. If the laser seems very bright and focused but still doest burn then it's either not powerful enough (not a DVD burner) or it's not receiving enough amperage and the variable resistor needs to be adjusted.

thanks for your reply, yes i am using the same laser holder will try as suggested, how much should be the external power supply to the system like 12v (n)A

The external supply only drives the motors and fans. 500mA should be OK.

Hey, I love the design, I'm halfway through competing it!!

On to my question, on the PDF it showes the four tabs on the bottom that attach the four corners of the Y axis, why did you decide to remove the back two from the STL?

Thank you!

Look at page 6 of the instructions. You need to print the Y lugs and slide them on. They allow for adjustment depending on the size of your DVD drive

Couple of comments:

  1. this rocks i am making one. but having some printing issues... i could use some materials/slice setting recommendations. i am using a flashforge creator pro and have access to ABS, PLA, PLA+ PetG the sides are not sturdy enough in PLA and keep coming apart where the rails and mounts join the case.

second there are alot of typos and numbering mismatches in the otherwise beautiful blueprint PDF. take them with a grain of salt. especially when it comes to grub screw lengths. your sled may require longer ones.

third, while i too LOVE Nyloc Nuts and would prefer to use them just about anywhere, the nut traps and mounts will just strip or break unless your nyloc nuts are broken in or lubricated in some way there is just too much torque. pre assemble with standard nuts, then add loctite, fix with hotmelt glue or replace them with nylocs when you have everything just so.

Coreflute is a trade name for Plastic cardboard panels. its available in colors at kinkos and sign printing shops or in white as a lawn sign kit in the mailbox isle at home depot. some office depot and staples locations also cary large sheets as "Presentation boards" for kids science projects etc.

InkScape and the G-Code sender plugin are something you will want to download for your OS to use it. I cant seem to find a good predefined Sketch for this to upload in Arduino with all the correct settings, if anyone has one please share.

I have no hidt for cad, but would love to see a couple of additional mounts for common laser tubes and heatsink/driver packages.

I have a laser tube that have an OD of 12.04 mm. they came with a heatsink that is 22.10mm x 58.32mm (with a 5 hole pattern in the back 4 3mm threaded spaced 40mm High x 16mm Wide and one in the center threaded m6

another that has a mount 35x30 with non threaded m4 holes in a 5mm High and 12mm wide pattern

the ever popular 50mm high 33mm wide heatsink/driver/laser combo with fan hole pattern 6 x 3mm threaded holes.
40mm tall x 16mm wide plus center holes between them at same height.

perhaps a mount customizer? i have no cad experience or i would make the additions myself.

this is one of my favorite things here, and understand, EVERYONE who is a maker should have one, just trying to help steer folks in the right direction.

Thanks for the feedback!
Do you have any pictures of the failures? It may help me improve the deesign. I printed them in ABS 0.5W 0.25H at the temperature that gave me the best interlayer strength. Try these for calibration http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:35088

Any chance of proofing the PDF for me? It was a rather rushed job, but I'd be happy to improve it. I really want to give back to the community but I'm finding life a little overwhelming at the moment.
The length some of the screws is very dependant on your DVD Drive, I should make more of a note of that.

Hmm yeah the nylocks can be problematic. I made a note about supporting the nut traps when tightening. They may be better off replaced with standard nuts. I could redesign it to suit.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to come up with a universal DVD mounting solution. I haven't really looked into a universal Laser mount. Maybe something with cable ties would be good? I haven't learnt OpenSCAD so unfortunately I can't make a customiser yet.

Print Temperature Calibration Piece

Would the blue laser diodes from lightscribe dvds work for this?

I don't see why not. You may need a better driver though, I'm unsure of the mW draw of them or if the USB output would be sufficient.

Looks good.
The mounting holes on the board won't line up though, might need to glue it in or figure something else out.
Same goes for the laser driver heatsink, it's square not round.

Hi Isolt,

I'm very interesting in making your project, I've studied all your docs, but I saw that main schemes were designed for the V1.1 version, I understood the great lines of the transfer on an arduino UNO +CNC shield, but I still have some doubts about the way to mount it. So I made a scheme that figures the CNC shield and the way I understood we have to mount the project. Cause I'm a real beginner in electronic I'm sure I made some mistakes So could you kindly take a look at my scheme and eventually make some comments to correct it. thanks for your help.

Super now it's clear for me, thank you very much Isolt.

Hi Picolorigolo.
The schematics are the same but connect to different places on the new board.
I've corrected it here.
Post a picture when you're done!

it was instruction, where you used Arduino Nano and prototype board, can you give me it, pls? i have prototype board, that was in old instruction, arduino nano and arduino uno.

Check the "Photon_Printer_V1_Legacy_Files.zip" under thing files. All the old parts and instructions are there

Would you nice little laser guy here be able to make a pcb? I have seen a method in which black spray paint covers a pcb, and then a laser cutter is then used to burn it off in the desired pattern. Do you think this diode would be capable of this? Or would you recommend getting a better diode? Have you ever tried it?

Thanks a bunch!

Sorry I've been meaning to try this but just haven't had time.
I haven't figured out how to make inkscape do solid infill. There may be a way buy I imagine it'd be slow
This guy is doing something similar http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-PCBs-using-a-DIY-Laser-Engraver/

I have experience with this. If you would like I could send you some gcode files of a simple test board.

What's the line spacing on the solid infill? I imagine that'd need some tweaking depending on the power of the laser. I can give it a go.


Awesome project

I have all parts needed for Your first version without laser driver with nano arduino, I have no experience with electronics so I was wondered can You send me some pictures how to wire everything I would really appreciate it.

I am starting to learn electronics and I wanted to this be my first Arduino project for learning.

Thx in advance

Hi luxemate.
Did you download the original electronic schematics? if not they're still available in the legacy zip file.
It's pretty much a point to point soldering job, just follow the connections on the schematic.
Here's a pic of the final board.

Sep 29, 2015 - Modified Sep 29, 2015

Hi Isolt,
Been following your Photon Printer for some time, quite an amazing project! It caught my son's eye and was exactly what he needed to get him interested in electronics and learn how to solder (LOL, which is how I got involved). I've got an electronics and programming background but never played with the Audrino and had been looking for an excuse, so this also worked out perfect for me too, but don't tell him that.... The one challenge I am having being a noob to the Arduino is in figuring out what product to use. In your latest update you mention "Arduino Uno with CNC shield". How do you figure out which Arduino model? For example, there is this 3 or 4 driver on eBay: http://m.ebay.com/itm/261865186324
Or off Amazon I found this:
Arduino UNO R3 board with DIP ATmega328P

Or this
IEIK UNO R3 Board ATmega328P with USB Cable for Arduino - Compatible With Arduino...


And for the CNC board do you go with something like this: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0157ZZ33Q/ref=mp_s_a_1_7?qid=1443532265&sr=8-7&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=arduino+uno+cnc+shield&dpPl=1&dpID=513eaaT2%2BGL&ref=plSrch

I figure I have to start somewhere so any help yourself or anyone else can offer will give me the stepping off point I need to get started.

Hi Azimuth45.
I'm glad people are enjoying my design! Hope you two have fun!
I haven't got around to updating the bill of materials yet.
I'm not an arduino expert but it looks like any of those options will work fine.
The Uno R3 is an official Arduino, so if you buy it the money will help support the Arduino foundation (sounds like some sellers sell fakes though, comments below say Mp3Car and Canakit are OK)
You don't need to buy a genuine Arduino though, the design is open source so as long as they're not claiming it's genuine that's no problem.
Anything UNO compatible will work. "R3" is revision 3 I believe, but is forwards and backwards compatible.
The ebay one has a smaller USB connector so there will be a bit of a gap in the case, but not the end of the world.
You only need 2 stepper drivers but a spare or 2 wont hurt. especially if you plug them in backward/

Hi there,

Thanks again for that new build.

I just got a stupid question regarding the new electronic build.
I allready got that GRBL shield for another project, and I feel there is no "laser diode driver" build in.
How did you managed to power that diode ?

Hi Skoup.
You'll still need to build your own driver, there's a schematic in the files. There is a 5V pin on the top of the CNC board to power it and the spindle pin turns it on and off.
Or you could buy a driver and connect it. You could even get a fancy TTL one

And my next stupid question is : is there a place in your build to place it properly ?

The DIY one would just be a small rectangle of protoboard. 6 male headers that plugged into the SPnEn/SpnDir/CoolEn should support it pretty well. I'll post a picture when done.
If you bought a driver I'd mount it to the left hand side wall. I haven't make any attachment points as they're bound to have a variety of shapes and holes spacings.

Hi Isolt.
First thing congratulation ! Very well shape design you've shared to us.

Second thing, I just wonder when your v2 design will be ready ?
Cause I'm that kind of unlucky guy that killed 4 dvd burner without having one really compatible...

So depending on your release date, I will wait or create my own fork / remix :)

Hi skoup. Sorry life's been busy recently. I've printed a couple of prototypes of version 2. I'm pretty happy with where it's at but want to print one last piece. I'll upload the files this weekend, the documentation may lag behind quite a bit though.

New files are up!

Sorry for the late answer,

Will try to print it this weekend and I'll let you know ;)

I did start by making the electronic part, e did respect the schematic, and i start to test the laser to check if can burn something before proceed, but did not work, :( i have review and replace the components twice and the problem is the same, laser activate but don't have power to burn nothing :(

I did confirm and the diode is the correct one is red, ( GSA-H60L 16x DVD-RW DL )

I did measure the power that get's to the diode, and i think that is very low ( between 2V with diode in place / if i remove the diode and measure i can get up to 3.32V )
The external power adapter i'm using is 5v 500mA
I'm sure i'm making something wrong, i just can't find the problem, if any electronic friend can help me i appreciate.

I let here some links of my test PCB:

Looking good! From the looks of it everything is correct.
With a DVD laser you're never going to be able to cut white paper, it just doesn't have the power.
A 16x drive will probably be safe run at 200-250mA. So connect a multimeter and gently turn that variable resistor. If you see a sudden jump in brightness back it off immediately!
Once you're happy with amperage put a piece of black cardboard/plastic in front of it and move it back and forward until you find the focal point, you should see some smoke! remember your safety glasses!
If you want to push it further read up online about it. Apparently you can visually see the output change when it nears it's maximum wattage.

This is my list of questions, please endeavour to answer them all:
What software can I use? I would like to export from vectorworks.
I don't have stop switches on mine and don't want to put them on, are they necessary?
How can I be sure the platform is level enough for prints?
Are heat sinks necessary?


You could manually push the X and Y to 0 then send a gcode command "G92 x0 y0" to set the machine to 0. You'd have to disable homing in GRBL though.
Use a square to square the 2 axis. Use a vernier or ruler to level the bed against the DVD Drive frame
Heatsinks don't seem to be necessary but I'd recommend them.

K thanks!

Could you add a BOM to the downloads? would be much appreciated for me when i make my own,

Check page 1 of the instructions PDF for a BOM. Electronics BOM is in the instructions page.

Great Job!
I'd like to build this thing!!!
Unfortunately, my DVD drives aren't compatible to your design.
The Solidworks files don't work. I don't think that it's a problem of older or newer file versions.
I work with SW2014 and I can't open any file. Same error " Error trying open your File. Please contact technical support".
What is your version? Could you open the files by downloading them?

Thanks a lot!

Just tested the uploaded files, they all seem fine. They were saved in 2015 though, so 2014 wont be able to open them because of a frustrating lack of forwards compatibility.
I'm about a week away from uploading version 2 that will work for almost any DVD drive. I just want to print it and confirm it works first.

That is really frustrating! Maybe you can upload the files in parasolid or step format.
I'm looking forward on Version 2.


That's a god idea, they'll be more editable than STL's

Does also old CD-ROM contains all parts?

Some that I've looked at didn't have end stops, you could always add a microswitches though.
A CD drive won't have a red laser. If it's a CD writer it will have an infra-red laser, but these are more dangerous to use as you can't see them. I wouldn't recommend using a CD laser if you don't know what you;re doing.

Comments deleted.

I have the mechanical parts assembled, one of my disk drives was slightly larger, so had to do some working around. I'll upload photos soon. Thanks for the upload :)

Is it capable of making a pcb?

I would like to know the same

Aug 8, 2015 - Modified Aug 8, 2015

What are the specifications for the laser diode I think I might buy one online because I'm having trouble getting the diodes out.

5.6mm TO18 package.
150-250mW depending on the DVD drive.
A higher powered diode would be better if you;re buying one rather than harvesting one.

Could you give me a link to a higher powered diode if you can?

I can't find it anywhere

How the heck did you find orange coreflute!!

What is this engraver capable of cutting

Dark coloured paper, or dark thin cardboard/plastic.It'd be capable of more with a more powerful laser.
Please edit your comments and add to them rather than spamming multiple questions.
Got the corflute at a stationary shop

Could this be adapted to laser engrave metal?

Yes, but you'd need a much more powerful laser.

What would you suggest?

Hello, Isolt.
Can I use L298N modules instead of EasyDriver? In this case I must rework arduino code or something else?
Thank you.

Ok. Now I started to build your Engraver with some modifications. 3 DVD's gone to heaven :)
I must to rebuild almost all in X_Mount and X_Laser_Mount.

Comments deleted.

Sorry to bother you with all of the questions but what is that component on the bottom right
The one withe the thick line and three wire connecting to it

It's listed next to it.
2N2222 NPN Transistor.

Also how did you hook up the dc power component Is it in the circuit graphing?

Top right of the diagram shows the 9-12v input.
Top left shows the 5v output from the arduino

Are all of the ground wires connected to each other or the one heat sink

All ground are hooked together. They shouldn't be connected to any heat sinks

Aug 5, 2015 - Modified Aug 5, 2015

How would you hook up an lcd screen to the laser engraver also were did you get the heat sinks for the stepper driver

I don't think GRBL currently supports LCD's. You could try looking for an alternative gcode interpreter.
One option could be Reprap electronics, lots of those support LCD screens.
The heatsinks came from a graphics card.

Aug 5, 2015 - Modified Aug 5, 2015
AdrianG - in reply to Isolt

What's a graphics card?
And do you need the heat sinks when you have the fans (I'm a kid so I have very little experience in electronics

Comments deleted.

Article about Endurance diode laser cutter 2.1 Watt L-Cheapo BY MICHAEL MOLITCH-HOU how to convert 3D Printer into Laser Cutter / engraving machine

Love the project! I had been collecting dvd drives to attempt to make a small 3d printer, but you sold me on the idea of turning a couple of them into a laser engraver. As expected, my DVD drives need completely different mounts and attachments than your files provide, Furthermore I discovered (sadly) that your SW files were likely saved in a newer version of Soldiworks than I have (2013 here), I have basically rebuilt all the files for my specific make, short of the lid handles, tightener knob and vent.

Waiting on a laser housing and a couple of fans to come in to finish this up.

Thanks for the inspiration and great instructions

Jul 29, 2015 - Modified Jul 29, 2015
Isolt - in reply to Wpilgrim

Yeah it's annoying how solidworks isn't forward (backward?) compatible.
Sounds like you're on top of it though.
Did the sides not work either? I was hoping that the frame holes were at least consistent.

Tell me about it, compatibility between versions of SW is annoying. As for the sides, unfortunately no they weren’t usable for me. One of my drives looks as if it would have lined up, but the other did not and it even had mounting pads that weren’t on the same plane. Just luck of the draw I suppose. Either way it was a fun project for me to do the modeling on.

Great design, looking forward to trying this myself. I love that you actually made it look like a commercial-grade product, rather than what normal DIY projects look like, e.g. a bunch of scrap parts bolted together.

Two questions:

  1. If I'm not mistaken (which I might be, don't have too much experience in electronics) you made your own laser diode driver out of the various electronic parts. Would I be able to replace that with a commercial laser diode driver?

  2. Is there anything actively cooling the diode housing? DVD burners seem to have ~150mW diodes from the info I've gathered, but I was hoping I could try to replace that with a 1W diode for a bit of extra power. That would generate quite a bit more heat, so I imagined it would need something to actively cool the housing.

Thanks karlzhao314!

  1. Yes I made a very simple driver. There's no reason you couldn't buy one to match your diode. Just make sure it fits in the enclosure.

  2. There are two 40mm fans that are primarily for cooling the drivers and smoke extraction. Looks like there should be enough room for an additional 40mm fan on the left side of the enclosure to cool the diode.

Thanks for the quick reply. I'm going to try to build one, as soon as I can get all the parts in.

I look forward to seeing this project develop. Something tells me it could be something huge :)

If you want a fan hole cut in the model just message me.

How much is it cost to make the hole thing

If you get the DVD drives free $10-20 depending on how good a laser lens you want. Maybe even cheaper if you shop around a little. Check down a few comments for where I listed some parts links.

There have been a few requests for easier electronics. I'm working on a new design for an arduino uno and a CNC shield. I've ordered both but it could be a while till they turn up. Anyone interested in trying the design?

I'd definitely be interested in giving this a shot. If the total bill of materials can be kept under $50-$75, I'm game for attempting to follow your instructions.

The Uno arrived today so I should be able to prototype a bit.
Still looking cheap
Even cheaper if you buy all the pieces separately.

i would be interested in trying the design once you get it figured out

OK it'll probably be a few weeks until the parts arrive.

Thankyou so much!!!!!!!!!!
Your the man.

is there anyway I can get the right side stl file with no photon printer text on it. having a heck of a time printing this part. too many short moves for my printer.

OK uploaded as an option. Hope it helps!

Other than printed plastic, about how much is the actual parts cost in the US?

If you get the DVD drives free $10-20 depending on how good a laser lens you want. Maybe even cheaper if you shop around a little.
Check down a few comments for where I listed some parts links.

I'm in the process of making this right now! I have all my parts printed and am just waiting on additional parts from China.

Which nm of safety glasses did you buy?

That's great to hear, post some pics when you're done I'd love to see it!
If you're using the red laser out of the DVD drive it's 650nm.
If you're using the IR laser it's 780nm. I'd advise against the IR one though as it's invisible.

So that new schematic...is there a beginners one that's easier to interpret?

I find this one easier.
Just get some protoboard and connected all the pins that are connected on the drawing. The green rectangles are male headers for connecting things to. I used female headers for the arduino and drivers to plug into.
The other option would be buying a ready made CNC shield
I'm still working on a good way to mount it though

with this you light up at night?

It's so bright I have to wear special light reducing safety glasses, even during the day!

This is way beyond cool!

Cheers! Glad people are enjoying it.

I have drawn a schematic of the electronics that I think you are using, how can I get it onto these comments?

Have you seen my schematic pdf I uploaded with the part files? Might be useful
You'd need to upload it and link it. Maybe http://tinypic.com/ or dropbox/gdrive if you have one of those.


Please grab this file and stick it in your "thing files" if it is any use for you. It wont be shared for too long I suspect...

One note on the electronics
Question 12 http://www.schmalzhaus.com/EasyDriver/
"The Easy Driver is able to operate in 1/8th, 1/4, half, and full step (2 phase) modes. These four modes are selected by the logic levels on the MS1 and MS2 input pins. Normally, the pull-up resistors on the Easy Driver hold MS1 and MS2 high, which results in a default setting of 1/8th microstep mode."
So I think you can do away with those connections MS1 & MS2. I don't have them connected on mine and the microstepping seems to work fine.
As you pointed out that diode is probably superfluous.
VIN on the arduino nano can go unconnected as it's powered by USB.
Any chance you could update it?

Cheers, uploaded here now.

Thanks pepperm, much more professional! I'm working on part files that will suit an arduino uno if that's something you'd be interested in. Should make things more standardised and suit CNC shields.

Yes I have seen, and have ordered a CNC shield. I have also ordered the HAT for a raspberry pi to play with. This has the drivers and an arduino on board.

Jul 16, 2015 - Modified Jul 16, 2015
Isolt - in reply to pepperm

Do you have a link to the CNC shield you got? I want to make sure it'll fit. New files will be up as an alternative option when I'm happy with the way the uno is mounted. Cheers

Try looking around here http://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield/. I ordered mine on eBay for u dear £5 the raspi version comes with an arduino nano and is more expensive. Also from eBay and from New Zealand.

What voltage are you using for the Vin and hence the motor drives please?

The Drivers take 6-30V. I'm using 12V because my fans also run off the Vin. The fans are a little noisy though, so less than 12V would be fine.

Hell yeah! Nice work!

Lovely design and very makable... I'm giving it a go, but... where do the end stops connect to on the Arduino please? I can't figure it out from any of the pictures and they don't seem to be included in the schematic for that other project that you refer to.

End stops are pin D9 (X) and pin D10 (Y) on the arduino. You're right I can't see that in hi schematic, it may be part of his eagle file though.

Also, what is the reasoning for the diode in the Emitter circuit of the 2N2222 Laser Diode switch circuitry? And...what have you been using the connections to A0, A1 and A2 for? Are they just there for future expansion or are they actually connected to something?

The diode is to stop the 12V feeding back into the arduino 5V regulated output, I'm not exactly an electrical engineer though...
Ahh good spotting on those pins, I haven't documented that yet. They're for future expansion, but I haven't used them so far.
A0 reset/abort
A1 Feed hold
A2 Cycle start/resume

The transistor will stop the current passing back. I suspect the diode is superfluous I am afraid. It is just upping the emitter voltage on the transistor for no real reason at all. The laser diode connects to 5V anyway and not 12V...

Nope, it's not in the Eagle file either. Thanks for the pointers to D9 and D10.

Jul 14, 2015 - Modified Jul 14, 2015

It's absolutely beautiful, both visually and engineering.
Sir that is just masterpiece!!

Thank you! It was quite a fun project and I learnt a bit more about electronics along the way

Jul 7, 2015 - Modified Jul 7, 2015

couple questions,

  1. do you have a list of where i can buy the parts? (i need to ship to the netherlands)
  2. how expierinced do you have to be to be able to make something like this (and let it work)? we had to work with diodes, wired and resistors on school sometime, making a small flashlight onto a board. but never somethig big and i am not really good at all this.
  3. for the slideable lit, i only have abs plastic, do you think that will still work, even though it's not a plastic that will really bend.

I got most of my parts from Ali express, they're sometimes slow but they offer worldwide shipping and have a good range of stuff.
Laser holder http://www.aliexpress.com/item/1845-House-Housing-Case-w-Glass-Lens-for-5-6mm-TO18-Coated-650nm-Red-Laser-Diode/32247650886.html
I go this cheaper one but the lens isn't that great http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-1PC-New-5-6mm-T018-16x50mm-Industrial-Laser-Diode-House-Housing-Case-Lens/1890957182.html

Easydriver http://www.aliexpress.com/item/1Set-EasyDriver-Shield-stepping-Stepper-Motor-Driver-V44-A3967-For-Arduino-Brand-New/1988274102.html

Arduino http://www.aliexpress.com/item/A96-Free-Shipping-Nano-3-0-Controller-Board-Compatible-with-Arduino-Nano-CH340-USB-Driver/1942774368.html

A stupid amount of transistors http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-100pcs-2N2222-NPN-40V-0-8A-Transistor-TO-92/664923114.html

This project is surprisingly plug and play. the arduino is all ready to go, the stepper drivers are pre-packaged, the only thing you'll need to build is the laser driver. My simple driver design is only 3 resistors and a diode, you could build a better one or buy one though. You'll need some soldering experience, but it sounds like you have that.

I'm sure that you could find some corftute, it may be called something different though. Try a stationary store, it's sold here for mounting paper on as a display board. Failing that corrugated cardboard or just thin cardboard should work

Comments deleted.

wahou !!
very good job , thanks .

but where is your electronic shema please ?

I've put my simple schematics up now. A much better design is here though http://www.instructables.com/id/Pocket-laser-engraver/step5/Electronics/

This design has no end stops, well none that I can see and the veroboard layout in the design is very difficult to read. Is there a better circuit diagram for this particular build please?

Jul 14, 2015 - Modified Jul 14, 2015
Isolt - in reply to pepperm

Sorry I didn't realise it had been compressed so badly. I've uploaded a better quality one in the thing files.
End stops are pin D9 (X) and pin D10 (Y) on the arduino.

what part did u use for the door that slides down?

Corflute corrugated plastic, it's used for signs. I slit the back of the door piece so that it would bend.


Brilliant use of corflute! What's a good source for the laser goggles? ebay?

I can't reply with any links form some reason .
Make sure you get something certified, a pair i got off the internet appears to do nothing...

Do you think that an arduino uno and a stepper shield could replace the stepper drivers? Or even some pololu drivers from an old reprap?

Easily. You'll still need a laser driver though. There's even a board designed for GRBLhttp://blog.protoneer.co.nz/arduino-cnc-shield/