Suggestion for a small, desktop engraver?

I have a tiny Wainlux engraver which is small, weak, and really not much good except for doing very basic things with wood or leather. However – that’s exactly what I need. Weak as it is, small as it is, it’s perfect for me. However, the one thing I hate about the machine is that it runs from a phone app. The tiny interface and finicky connection means that it can take me multiple tries to get something started, and then I end up with issues just because the postage stamp view of what I’m doing didn’t give me a good sense of positioning and scale.

I want a small, compact machine – something that fits within a square foot of space – for doing very basic things. But I want to use it with desktop software, like Lightburn, so I can get more consistent performance, and print more than one image in a row without having to go through the whole fiddly set up again. I know there are some great inexpensive machines that can do more. I don’t want, or need them. I want something I can sit next to my desk and do small stuff. That’s it. Recommendations?

Have you looked at the Ortur line of engravers? Their initial claim to fame was their mini Laser Master which is basically just 2 extruded aluminum shafts joined at the corner. It’s fairly compact.
See here: ORTUR Laser Master, Mini Portable 15W Laser Engraver, 32-Bits Motherboard Laser Engraving Cutting Machine, DIY Laser Cutter for Wood and Metal,150x130mm Engraving Area

Ortur has since moved onto more elaborate models but still sell the mini models. As far as I know they are well maintained and work fine in LightBurn. I have an Ortur Laser Master 2 which has a larger work area but basically shares a lot of the same guts as the mini model. The machine is reasonably well made and I had to assemble it myself. All parts are clean and fit well. It basically worked as advertised once I got past the initial learning curve.

Have I had problems with the unit? Absolutely. There is a well known issue with grounding that Ortur acknowledged and eventually made a free grounding kit for. My laser module degraded in power after only a few hours of use but again, Ortur came through and replaced it free or charge. I’ve been very satisfied with Ortur’s responsiveness and eagerness to address issues. They’ve been reasonably good with firmware updates to address known issues as well. Gil from Ortur who goes by @OrturTech on this forum is very active here and is extremely knowledgable and does an excellent job of addressing issues.

Leaving now before I sound too much like a shill.

That’s a really interesting choice. Off to do some research on that one.

Looks like I can also get the tiny, cheap, NEJE DK-8-KZ with an upgrade to support GBRL for just over $100. Watching reviews, it’s temping. Chintzy as it is, it’s really pretty much in line with my need to knock out the occasional coaster and wooden geegaw.

Well, so I learned a new word today…

What does the upgrade to support GRBL entail? Is this a board swap? You’ll want to make sure it’s a well understood/supported swap or else you’ll be on your own.

I’m curious if you could upgrade your existing unit to support GRBL in the same way if you’re the DIY inclined.

Fortunately, in this case at least, it seems possible to just order the upgraded version. Though I do a lot of electronics tinkering, so wouldn’t be upset at swapping out a board or chips if I needed to (though I’d as soon avoid anything that required desoldering).

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