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Old 02-16-2012, 08:43 AM #1
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Default a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Hi all,

after searching for long long time a dream has become true - an ALC60x in good good shape! End of December I found an eBay auction of a guy selling some old laser stuff (HeNe Tube incl. PSU, some mirrors, etc.) not used for a long time (> 10 years). One of the pictures clearly showed something which locked like an dirty but working ALC60x laser head :-) with some blueish light comming out! I paid around 120 Euros (yes, the Europeans still have money!) for all of the offered laser parts. Guess it's an acceptable price for the European marked.

After picking up the parts a few days later - 8 big boxes with a total weight of around 120 kg (264 lbs) - my wife got crazy! But the decision was already made... the ALC60x has become a new member of our family!

To get the first photons out of ALC60x it was a long way to go. The European power lines have around 220-235V but the laser is a 115V US version. This is why the laser also came with some kind of giant size 2000VA transformer. After some first inspection I connected the laser head, PSU and converter and there was just a short "click" of the residual circuit breaker - darkness comes - damned! After checking the PSU and the power line converter I've found some bad things like unisolated cables and ugly modifications (pods and plastic tape everywhere - but the PSU came with original schematics!). So, the first thing do was to check again the laser head, clean up and fix the PSU and to build a new power line converter. Four weeks later the PSU and converter locked brand new!

Time for a second try! Drops of sweat are beginning to form...

This time no click. The wonderful noisy Tarzan started to "blow". And after around one minute the laser flickered a few times (during each ignition pulse) and wooosh there was laser light!!! The most beautiful color of laser light I've ever seen! Something between smaragd and deep blue sky!

After slightly turning up the current the nice thin laser beam became clearly visible and the color became even more greenish.

THIS IS TRUE LASER LOVE! No laser is like a gas laser!

So, the next step is to clean and perfectly align the laser head. The tube itself and brewster windows are still in perfect condition even this laser tube was born in 1983, laying around for more than 10 years and still doing 9 lines!

Will check to make some further shots soon...

Have fun!











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a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_adot.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_beam.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_beam_split.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_mirror_a.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_mirror_b.jpg  

a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_act_lines.png  


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Old 02-16-2012, 08:56 AM #2
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

and some pictures of the head, PSU and my "home grown" converter...


ALC60x head


ALC60x power supply


some of the nice mirrors and base plate shipped with the ALC


real 70's style PSU


and my homegrown power converter (230V -> 115V)
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a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_head_a.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_heade_b.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_mirrors.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_psu_detail.jpg   a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)-alc60x_transformer.jpg  

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Old 02-16-2012, 09:51 AM #3
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Congratulations on your new Argon!!
They are amazing lasers!!
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:53 AM #4
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Pure Awesomeness!! And in great condition too.. i wasnt expecting the internals to be this much clean.. looks great!!
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:54 AM #5
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)



now it looks clean - when I got the laser everything was filled up with dust and some other dirt. But it seems that the previous owner has already removed most of the ugly toner dust. But it still covers some plastic parts (cables)...

this weekend I going to remove the cover from laser head... hopefully no bad suprise...
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:07 PM #6
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Awesome setup! You got a nice deal there for a classic gem of an argon.

I like that optical bread board as well. Nice of him to include it!
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Old 02-16-2012, 02:26 PM #7
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

You're right! A quite good deal - and even some X/Y 20/30k scanners and dicros were included. But I don't have a DAC board to test the scanners
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:54 PM #8
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Wow what a deal - that breadboard sure is nice. And all those optics as well.

As for the laser, you had the same issues I had with my NEC3030 15 years ago. I plugged it in to show my mum and the house went into darkness.

1/2 an hour later I'd found the short, corrected it and had the laser up and working.

Multiline goodness for you - mine will be here soon - cant wait. Nothing beats the pencil thin beams of a gas laser.

Thats a really unique fan setup on that argon - like how you called it "Tarzan". Are you sure you didnt mean "Turbine"
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:08 PM #9
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Hard to believe its almost 30 years old! That's so cool. I love the wavelengths it uses, they're so eye appealing!
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Old 02-16-2012, 07:16 PM #10
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

I wonder when it was last run - if it was sitting in storage for 10 years, it would have been a mighty b1%#@ to start - but it appears this one started after the first few clicks.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:18 PM #11
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Wow. That's a helluva deal! It's even more amazing you get that many lines on a tube that old. My JDSU tube will only do 6 lines although I swear before the first PSU blew up it produced 7.
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:56 AM #12
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

30 years old and has only 925 miles...

This weekend I going to check how much power I can get out of the head... guess it will be not too much - a 30 years old gas laser is already senior

@vk2fro
Even the guy who has sold the laser was somehow astonished. After some "reconditioning" (run the laser at 9 amps for around 5 hours) the laser does now start even with the first ignition pulse. May be a good sign that the tube pressure is still in good shape. Output power seems to be around 60 to 70mW at 9 amps. But I don't have power meter. Just did some comparision with my 80mW 473nm and a TEC.

Will not go higher before I've cleaned up and aligned the head.



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Old 02-17-2012, 04:21 PM #13
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

great find, all those lines!
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:26 AM #14
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

Definatly a good score with such a low milage on the tube. Lets hope the counter isnt telling lies and has actually wrapped around back to 0, but with all lines showing like they do, the tube has to be low milage - I think the lines disappear the longer the tube is run.
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:36 AM #15
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

thx, this time i've been a luck fellow! The argon is doing a good job

But so far no time to measure the anode-cathode voltage and full current.

Regarding the number of line I guess the "green" one should be higher. It starts to lase at high current only... don't know if this is a good sign or not...

Anyone with more expierence here?

May be some pictures of lasing lines?

I've heard that the spectrum will move more into the "blueish" if the tube comes near its end... (hopefully not).
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:37 PM #16
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Default Re: a dream has become true - my first argon laser (ALC60x)

JDSU power supplies (I know thats not what your laser has) punch the current up to full tilt for starting, for a second, then throttle back to the level set on the pot. So I assume that most argons require higher than idle current to get going.

Someone with more experience than I should be able to confirm this or tell you otherwise. Lets hope the gas laser god LSRFAQ chimes in

6 lines at idle is apparently a good sign.
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