The Story

The journey began a year ago when I purchased a cheap Chinese K40 Laser cutter and engraver from eBay for a 3d printing experiment. Before tearing down the machine for parts I decided to play with it for a bit of fun. I quickly discovered that the Chinese user software with encryption dongle was unusable in order to be anywhere close to productive. It is truly a complex Chinese puzzle, especially since it did not come with any instructions whatsoever.

The solution to this puzzle has lead to a wonderful story of adventure, including our latest development of the Super Gerbil CNC controller.

Having played with Grbl, the open source control software for CNC machines, I thought this might be a good match for the K40.  It would enable the use of Open Source design software and importing cutting files (dxf) from the internet for Laser cutting and engraving. No more limiting proprietary file formats! Looking back on this adventure, I must admit that having said was easier than done. However, I ended up with a working and very productive open source system that was just too good to keep it for myself.

Engraving examples

Low, medium and high resolution engravings (from left to right)


The controller
The Arduino R4, GRBL based controller

So if you own, or plan to be a future owner of a cheap Chinese K40 laser, check this out as an awesome replacement controller!


I'll be launching this controller on in July 2017, so we can achieve a cost-effective package for you:

Programmed and ready to use controller

USB key with the open source Inkscape plugin’s and g-code sender software

a wire harness for the optional control buttons pause, resume and abort).

The secret sauce that makes it work...

Technology insights...

Read my blogs on developing the controller