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Old 03-12-2012, 12:44 PM #1
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Default CO2 Build

Hello, I am new here and was just looking around the web for information on optics for my current CO2 laser build. This is my first build of this type, so I figured I would show it off and maybe ask if anyone had any advice. Mostly made it up as I went along taking what I knew from other projects I have done. The goal was to build a laser using mostly materials and tools from the local hardware store up here in alaska ... sans optics, which are ordered.

My background is in electronics, mostly MCU systems as well as analog devices, even going back to valves as well as CRT repair in things like arcade machines.

Details of the Build are at
CO2 Laser


and I have attached a pic of the mounting and adjustment plate. I am still waiting on the optics to arrive, going with ZnSe and gold HR, in the meantime, I tossed a nylon washer I had sitting on my bench into the retention bracket I made. That will be replaced with a gasket and the optics later.

Anyway, first build so any advice would be welcome.

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CO2 Build-co2laser.jpg  



Last edited by ThunderSqueak; 03-12-2012 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:44 PM #2
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Default Re: CO2 Build

That is a nice looking build! It is not often we see true DIY gas lasers spring up, especially for CO2 or 632.8 HeNe since the tubes are (comparatively) dirt cheap to buy factory made.

What pump are you using for the cooling, and are you planning on a reservior or a heat exchanger?

Any plans to try other gas lasers? I've always been a fan of HeHg lasers myself.

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Old 03-12-2012, 03:02 PM #3
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Default Re: CO2 Build

IF you dont have them already, next time your at the hardware store, grab a set of the clear powertool saftey glasses. They will protect you from reflections from this type of laser. If you're not wearing them, this type of laser can do serious damage to your cornea's. Its one of the few lasers that will take its merry time to reach your retina's (and be quite painful in doing so).

Of course I'm sure you know this, considering your building a CO2 - basically a heat ray.

But, I am impressed - not many build like sigurthr said, as the tubes are reasonably cheap on ebay, along with the PSU's. Mainly posted to follow your progress
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Old 03-12-2012, 09:57 PM #4
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Default Re: CO2 Build

Oh thanks

Yep, I have high quality polycarbonate glasses already, and a face shield, among other things already sitting around my home lab, so not worried about that. I am a safety first girl

I know you can get these cheap online now, but I am almost OCD in loving to build things, when I need a new project I walk through the hardware store, or electronics shops up here... sometimes even walmart and just look at the items on the shelves. Where others see a radio or a toy, I tend to see parts and ideas ^^;;

My BF rolls his eyes at it LOL, but ya know... if he doesn't like it, he can take a hike.

Anyway, so far without the optics... the total cost has been about 30 dollars in parts and 10 dollars in cookie supplies (flour, oatmeal, raisins, sugar, etc) for the local neon guy

The optics I managed to get for about 60 dollars. I am converting a free air compressor to a vacuum pump for this application. It is a dual piston airbrush compressor.that works like a champ as is and has a nice handy place to hook up the input valves for the conversion. Total time invested so far in actually building, not counting the time wandering around shops and stores since I do that anyway for ideas, about 4 evenings (maybe 7 hours).

I went with this homebrew system because I want to experiment with things. Possibly different gas mixtures and optics. Who knows, but I have no doubt another hair brained idea will hop into my head while laying in bed recounting the day. I keep a journal there to scribble drawings in or I would NEVER sleep. Ever get those ideas that you just HAVE to try before you sleep, so you hop out of bed and before you know it... the sun is rising?

Anyway, back on track... for my purposes, I think a simple ebay laser tube would have just been too restrictive. It both makes me happy AND sad at the same time honestly, the way prices have come down so much on things like this. Lower cost means more people can easily own one, but, I think in a way that makes the world a more boring place. The DIY spirit ends up deceased in many people as a result. The Magic and wonder are gone. Why bother trying something new when you can simply BUY something ready made of the shelf. This makes sense when you NEED a reliable system for some purpose such as a business but for a hobby? Nah.

I really wish my old DIY site were still around. I had lots of projects on there, everything from CNC machine builds to arcade machine restorations and conversions. This one is off site, which is much better, even if a lot more restrictive in what I can do with the straight html code. BTW, if you don't have it, I HIGHLY recommend renter's insurance.
I can personally say that it is worth it.... especially when you live next to a clone of Tim "the tool man" Taylor. Alaskan people are weird ^^;

IE...

Yes, that is real, and yes, it is equipped with flame throwers. I think the long winters here make people a bit coocoo ... why did I move here again?

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Old 03-12-2012, 10:09 PM #5
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Default Re: CO2 Build

We're not trying to discourage you from making your own, on the contrary, its pretty cool to see someone building one from the ground up.

Wait till the boyfriend see it burning stuff, then he might change his tune

As for that monster outside. Flamethrowers???? Renters insurance indeed! :P
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:12 PM #6
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Default Re: CO2 Build

welcome! wow! my daughter just bought a little hedgehog, looks just like your avatar.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:13 PM #7
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Default Re: CO2 Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigurthr View Post
That is a nice looking build! It is not often we see true DIY gas lasers spring up, especially for CO2 or 632.8 HeNe since the tubes are (comparatively) dirt cheap to buy factory made.

What pump are you using for the cooling, and are you planning on a reservior or a heat exchanger?

Any plans to try other gas lasers? I've always been a fan of HeHg lasers myself.

Welcome to the forums!

Almost forgot to answer you, for cooling I planned on following my goal of "all home improvement store parts and tools" and use a fountain pump and reservoir. If I wanted to get fancy, last time I walked through a NAPA (automotive store) I saw a small radiator used for AC I think, didn't actually read the box, just saw a small 12"x 12" radiator. Not really into cars, but I needed an ignition coil at the time for use in another project
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:16 PM #8
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Default Re: CO2 Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheech226 View Post
welcome! wow! my daughter just bought a little hedgehog, looks just like your avatar.

<3 hedgehogs when it is old enough, give it a toilet paper tube, just set it in front of it... then sit back and have some laughs oh and DON'T put them on a table or couch without close supervision, they have little depth perception and will walk right off the edge.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:23 PM #9
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Default Re: CO2 Build

what do the little guys do with the toilet paper tubes?
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:26 PM #10
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Default Re: CO2 Build

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what do the little guys do with the toilet paper tubes?
They have no depth perception as I said, so they think it is an endless tunnel, and will stick their head in it and run around, even if they hit a wall and are stopped... they will keep running forward. Eventually they pull their heads out, look around, find the "tunnel" again, and repeat

They actually have a lot of fun with it.

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Old 03-12-2012, 10:54 PM #11
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Default Re: CO2 Build

LOL @ photo - looks like he's stuck in there :P
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:14 AM #12
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Default Re: CO2 Build

ok, so I decided to make some changes on my little website to track my builds.

www.thundersqueak.com

Also decided to toss together a little axis laser housing and such to build a small pointer for alignments. So I threw that little howto up as well.

and as for the hedgehog, you know they actually enjoy being like that :P
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Old 03-13-2012, 04:32 AM #13
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Default Re: CO2 Build

TS --
There was a member here a year or so ago from down south who built several CO2 lasers from scratch and they worked!!! One time he got output power from only his exhaled breath which had N2, CO2 and a bit of H2O !!! I could not believe his results.
You have the right idea about a small red laser for allignment but you still need an OC mirror for the front. Will you use an NaCl window??
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The member who I haven't seen here for a long time was "jarrod694 " He made several posts about his projects like yours -"Successful DIY CO2 laser, made from scratch! " which is still here in this forum from ~ 01/11. Go back and look for his input. You will be amazed!
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:13 AM #14
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Default Re: CO2 Build

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TS --
There was a member here a year or so ago from down south who built several CO2 lasers from scratch and they worked!!! One time he got output power from only his exhaled breath which had N2, CO2 and a bit of H2O !!! I could not believe his results.
You have the right idea about a small red laser for allignment but you still need an OC mirror for the front. Will you use an NaCl window??
HMike

The member who I haven't seen here for a long time was "jarrod694 " He made several posts about his projects like yours -"Successful DIY CO2 laser, made from scratch! " which is still here in this forum from ~ 01/11. Go back and look for his input. You will be amazed!
I am using a ZnSe OC for the front as I said earlier :>, but I designed it so I can try different things just for fun. If I come across a nice sutable peice of salt I will try that, been considering growing my own crystal XD
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:30 PM #15
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Default Re: CO2 Build

Back on topic now, I was thinking about various optics to try, one of them that struck me was a hard drive platter. They are usually an aluminum or glass and ceramic substrate that has been sputtered with a mostly nonferrous metal (aluminum) and then carbon. I am wondering how well this would reflect 10600nm, or if it would just absorb it? Would it make an ok HR and if I drilled a hole and used a salt window... an OC ? Too bad they are not copper or gold plated

Guess I could try it and find out ^^
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Old 03-15-2012, 07:46 AM #16
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Default Re: CO2 Build

Well in wandering through the hardware store, I came across some fittings, and had an idea! A new mounting system with possibility for focal lens attachments and more heatsinking for the optics.

Mirror Mounts

for the changes with pictures and steps in doing this. Any concerns or comments, please mention them :> I am, after all, making this up as I go while I wait for the OC to get here.

Thanks!
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Last edited by ThunderSqueak; 03-15-2012 at 10:28 AM. Reason: added some pics
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