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Old 08-03-2013, 07:37 AM #1
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Default Hello from Orlando, FL

Greeting fellow laser enthusiasts!

I stumbled across this site after doing many hours of online laser research into copies of the Firedragon-III(™) style laser found on the DHgate.com marketplace, some for as low as $143 for a 1W 450mW blue laser. What attracted me so much to this style, was the construction and multiple safety features, something I valued from having worked on and off with lasers in the past. This was definitely something I wanted, especially with the increased hazards working with laser light at these power levels. These features include...
  • laser beam aperture
  • key switch
  • power light indicating laser is on
  • constant on/off switch
  • delayed start time
  • large heat sink for 100% duty cycle
What became increasingly evident is that the detailed specifications I was looking for within the ads were missing, like duty cycle times, TEM mode values, wavelength, etc. Believe it or not, some ads would just say blue or violet light!

The final push to rethink my purchase was reading a review of someone who had purchased one of these models, and was lamenting that it worked for only a brief time, and was looking into either attempting a repair or resell for parts. Further evidence into the low manufacturing quality was evident when pictures were uploaded of the unit disassembled. As this was probably a knock-off copy, that does not imply that Firedragon-III(™) has these same shortcomings. But again, that unit is priced what I believe far higher than necessary, considering the current marketplace.

Here's a brief description of my background…

I'm a Computer Engineer by day, and Amateur Scientist by night and weekends. Granted, that's very little with a 2 1/2 year old and 12 hour work day. My interests, time permitting, include building Electrostatic Machines (Whimshurst/Van de Graaff), 100KV+ High Voltage Generators (Marx/ZVS Flyback Driver), Tesla Coils (SGTC/SSTC using IGBT), Acrobatic Electric R/C pilot (foam/balsa/kit construction), and more recently lasers.

Tinkering with lasers has only been a recent interest, after a long hiatus back to my childhood days. In grade school I fantasized about them after discovering the original flash tube pumped Ruby rod version in an encyclopedia. I quickly drew up a crude model that consisted nothing more than a drawing of a box with a 4-digit LED readout, and small button switch to fire a pulse from the unit. I had recently discovered digital electronics and so believed everything needed a digital counting display. The design of the actual laser construction was beyond my capacity at the time, although for many years I kept an eye out for coiled flash tubes and potential sources of already mirrored synthetic ruby rods.

A few years after high school, and having achieved some financial means to pursue hobbies, I learned of a nearby shop specializing in all things laser, ie. power supplies, and HeNe tubes, lenses, mirrors, etc. Armed with the schematic from Gordon McComb's "Gadgeteer's Goldmine: 55 Space-Age Projects" I set out to build my very own laser pistol. It contained a glass HeNe tube, 12 to 2,200v circuit powered by 8 AA's in clear plexiglass. Unfortunately, the circuit design was rather inefficient, drawing over 1A, quickly consuming the batteries if left on for more than a few seconds. The core unit, containing the laser and power supply was latter gutted and refitted into a simple plexiglass tube with 12v power adapter at the rear, making a rather bulky, albeit interesting to look at laser pointer. By luck I still have to this day as part of my memorabilia collection.

I had some mixed success with a TEA Nitrogen Laser. After duplicating the construction based on the old article from Scientific American on the topic, even building the power supply and testing the circuit, I never powered the unit up. Since I could not easily locate a source of pure Nitrogen gas, I didn't believe it would run lacking this critical ingredient. I never considered testing it in open air, as many of the simpler versions on YouTube attest, and ended up giving the device away to a local science teacher to add to his collection of scientific goodies.

For a few years I was the proud owner of a Spectra Physics HeNe model, with at least one of the safety features I mentioned earlier, namely the aperture switch to block the beam output. As an added feature, it also had a phono-plug at the rear, for modulating an audio signal on the beam for voice transmission. With this laser I generated lissajous figures, creating impromptu Laser Light Shows on a nearby projection screen I had purchased for this purpose. The device doing this magic was a another project, consisting of a small plastic enclosure containing 3 motors with small square front surfaced mirrors, a basic 3 potentiometer speed control circuit, with motor direction switches for added effects. Later I purchased a pair of XY mirrors, thinking someday I would build a much more sophisticated Laser System, drawing animated 3D images. Unfortunately, that project never came to fruition.

So that's my laser background, granted a bit dated. I am very interested with the recent developments and new colors now available in this field, using laser diodes and passing this energy through various substrates to produce different wavelengths. I find the ever increasing power levels remarkable to what was available in the past. I hope to purchase some and build others, and definitely think this place is a great information source in both areas, from reviews and recommendations, to write-ups of various builds and kits available for the DIY crowd.

Oh, and yes, I will be picking up Safety Goggles! That's a no brainer.


__________________
Lasers I Have Built or Purchased:

337nm DIY TEA Nitrogen Laser
445nm JetLasers PL-E Pro 1.2W *
532nm Military High Power Green Laser Pointer Pen 5mW
635nm Tactical Laser Site <5mW
632nm DIY HeNe Gas Laser 2.5mW

* purchase pending


Favorite DIY Laser References:
  • Small, James, "Nitrogen Laser. Light and Its Uses." Scientific American. pp. 40-43. (June 1974).
  • Stong, C. L., “The Amateur Scientist: A Carbon Dioxide Laser is Constructed by a High School Student in California,” Scientific American Vol. 225, No. 3, pp. 218-224 (September 1971).

Last edited by yeri63; 08-03-2013 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:53 AM #2
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Default Re: Hello from Orlando, FL

Hello yeri63, welcome to the forums. Sounds like this is just the place you were looking for. You will fit right in here, we need more amateur scientists.

Alan
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Keychain 650nm <5mW
Quartet 4-in-1 630-680nm <1mW

AtlasNova 635nm <5mW
MillionAccessories 532nm <5mW broken
M462 462nm one of a kind (in progress)
PLTB450B 450nm 1913mW G2 lens
PL520 520nm 82mW acrylic lens
S06J 12X 405nm 590mW G2 lens
C6 M140 445nm 1.5W 3 element lens
9mm 445nm with G2 lens in a stainless steel host
Radiant Electronics X4 3.7W Laser Power Meter


Everyone please post here: Countries of LPF. Where are you? <link>
___________________________________________
The light that shines twice as bright burns half as long.

Last edited by Pi R Squared; 08-03-2013 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:25 AM #3
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Default Re: Hello from Orlando, FL

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi R Squared View Post
Hello yeri63, welcome to the forums. Sounds like this is just the place you were looking for. You will fit right in here, we need more amateur scientists.

Alan
Couldn't have said it better myself,

Welcome to the forums mate, Be sure to read over all of the stickies in each sub section and also read over the rules, Other than that, Enjoy your stay and good luck for any laser builds you may or may not attempt!
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Old 08-03-2013, 02:07 PM #4
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Default Re: Hello from Orlando, FL

+1 to the best forum introduction I've read since I've been here...

You will like it here. There is immense info in the forum archives and a wealth of very knowledgable laserists that live here.

Be safe and have a blast!

Cheers,
Clayton
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96.85840735 percent clayton... the rest is just pi
405nm >> Skylasers PL405 500mW, overspec generic pen 70mW
445nm >> Blord 3W Dominator
460nm >> laserBtB 50mW pen
473nm >> Jet Lasers PL-E Pro 10-30mW
488nm >> Uniphase 2214-40MLA Cyllindrical Argon Ion
515nm >> Skylasers HL515 30mW
520nm >> Skylasers HL520 50mW
532nm >> Skylasers PL532 700mW, CNI 532nm GLP
543.5nm >> JDS Uniphase HeNe
589nm >> DL Spartan 50mW
632.8nm >> JDS Uniphase HeNe
638nm >> Blord 501B 200mW
650nm >> generic pen 4mW
650nm >> Skylasers HL650 300mW
Lazerbee 5W LPM
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