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Old 06-24-2012, 03:18 AM #1
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Default Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

So I'm at a rooftop party downtown last night and we are attracting some attention with a 500mW green and a 2.1W 445, shooting at the moon and various sky shots.

One of the partygoers sees this and is planning a charity event for Make-A-Wish in October.

He wants to be able to program in the make-a-wish logo and some other stuff like text thanking sponsors and such.

Of course since I have a couple of lasers like no one there has ever seen before (it would be very easy to sell lasers this way!) then I must know how to get a laser show, right?

So... Where do I start? I don't know his budget, but I bet it isn't one of those, "I want to write on the moon for $200" deals.

My thinking is EASY and fairly powerful are first priorities and price is farther down the list. Are there any good lists of commonly available shows broken down by features?

Thanks for any pointers you can provide!


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Old 06-25-2012, 02:08 AM #2
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Powerful reds and blues can be had with the 445 and 638 diodes that DTR sells. Combine 2 and you have a pretty strong laser thats cruising (two diodes aking up the watts) instead of one balls to the wall that lasts 20 hours. For high powered green, you can go to goldenstar winni and grab a 1 watter for $535. While there also grab a case. This leaves you needing dicros, mounts and mirrors. You can get them from goldenstar as well, but I am not sure of their quality.The 3d mounts would be ok, but the dicros I'm not sure. A base plate of 10mm thick rounds out the project, just add scanners of your choice. Once again goldenstar has everything in this department from knock off 20k sets up to DT 40 Wides (the geniune ones, not knockoffs).

This assumes you are going to build it yourself of course.

Scale down for less milliwatts. You can go as simple or as extravogant as you want. I'm replacing the borderline DT40W power supply with a ring transformer and bridges and caps, the defunct B&W tek in my sig is donating its 8A 5V power supply, and I'm going to run a boost supply off that to make 12V for fans.

Goldenstar also make full blown projectors, not just parts. Their prices are VERY reasonable, you can get something under a grand for a 1W model. They post all the specs including div/beam spot size in their machines listing, although do tend to use more blue (cheapest to turn up), so properly balanced you may end up with a 700mw projector instead of 1W cause you had to turn down the 445

Somebody else will chime in about driving the software. Depending on what you want, an ishow driven by the pasta software will do it, or you could go a tad more elaborate with a quickshow/FB3 package. Inbetween sits LSX, but DR Lava's "promptness" for delivering goods has been a bit lacking lately
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:03 AM #3
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Thanks! You were one of the people I was hoping would respond. I've been trying to read up and it is actually suprising to me that there is such a lack of hobby level software and "pre-built packages." I guess the FDA makes it difficult. Seems like someone could do a turnkey just-add-diodes or just-add-lasers package and make money!

There is a lot to learn to get started.

How about pre-built? Are there any easy-to-use packages out there with a good reputation? Ill definitely check the goldenstar site out, thanks for the pointer there. Or any hobbyists with packages, maybe over on the more scanner-oriented sites?

EDIT: don't understand Dr. Lava. I guess lasers can't pay the bills so they take second fiddle, he sure seems to be way ahead of the curve when it comes to having a grasp on things, some of his stuff looks to be a bit older and still unsurpassed, but it is a shame he can't support it well. You would think software would be a big money maker! Very little in ongoing expenses and lots of income. He should also start a bulletin board on his site and let users do user-to-user support. That would be huge in helping. Hard to understand where he is coming from, but I guess there is no telling what is on his plate. It is a shame because he clearly could be the defining person directing the laser hobby if he was able to support his products and keep things up-to-date and reliable. Instead there is a general sense of loathing or irritation at towards him because he has the know-how and ability and is too (busy?) to reliably share it. Oh well.

Thanks again for the help! +1
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:27 AM #4
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

It's not the FDA that makes it difficult, but rather that laser shows have traditionally been a very expensive and exotic type of medium to work with. Also access to inexpensive lasers is a recent phenomena. It was only in the mid-2000s that we could even buy DVD burners of decent power to produce red. Greens were also relatively exotic; I bought my first higher-powered green in 2006 in a group buy on CPF. Now we have access to the kind of hardware and software that used to be the stuff of planetariums.

As for turn-key stuff, we do sort of have turn-key type systems from China. They're still relatively expensive because we're dealing with optics. We need to have mounted lasers, inputs, power supplies, and optical components to draw stuff. Even then, the graphics are often pretty darn lame because the mechanical components (galvos, etc.) can't draw stuff very quickly unless you buy something better.

In your case, if you want something simple, like a single drawing, look up LFI. For the hardware, you'll probably have to settle for a sound card DAC. You can also invest in something like Quickshow if you want something more complete.
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Old 06-25-2012, 01:15 PM #5
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Thanks for the info on pangolin. It seems like a good choice.

Pangolin (like most laser show sites) is not immediately easy to navigate through their site though, I assume your $600 gets you software?

Where do you look for a package with decent hobbyist level hardware and software in a single package?
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:18 PM #6
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

For the hardware, I think it you can use Flashback 3 and it comes with Quickshow, so that would give you the entire DAC + software in one. That's about $600 if I recall. LSX will work with FB3 I believe.

Maybe PM hakzaw1 and see if he can get your QS/FB3 cheaper. I think he was selling that for a decent price earlier.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:14 AM #7
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

The problem with laser show hardware and software is like BB said, plus those that are already "in the club" dont want competition. Anything Pasta up comes with copy protection of one form or another that relies on a hardware dongle (e.g. Quickshow only speaks to the FB3 DAC, LSX wont work unless its dongle or the Riya/PC it was purchased for is present). This has come about partly due to piracy (I believe only two laser softs were "patched", one by the chinese, another by a russian), and due to the big boys wanting to keep their "club" an exclusive one. Partly due to income, and partly due to the fact they dont want fly by nighters ruining the lasershow industry by offering their services at a much reduced price, compromising on quality (bunging 2 chinese projectors up on a truss on sound active mode), and saftey (having those several watt projectors aimed into the crowd).

Yes the pango software is expensive. Hell I even thought LSX was expensive. If you just want to draw a logo you can get away with pasta and I think its ILDA SOS. You draw the pattern in SOS, and drop the resultant ILDA frame into pasta. Stretch the frame along the timline for the length of time you want it to play, and your done. Pasta will work with the framestreamer, a capable DAC that can be found on ebay, or Riya's. The next step up is LSX. Hopefully the good DR has gotten on top of things. An LSX setup will cost abour $360. That gets you the lite version (one projection zone), and a Riya dac. After that price balloons, with more expensive LSX options, and of course pangolin quickshow/FB3. Look seriously at quickshow though. I've got my heart set on that after watching some of the stuff it can do. Sure I'll want to drive some satellite greens, but I can set that up on a second laptop, an ilda splitter and my frame streamer, with a copy of pasta. Helluva lot cheaper than a second FB3.

Consider this. The software is a one off purchase. So is the DAC (unless your unlucky enough to have it break down outside warranty), whereas when dealing with red lasers, your bound to pop a few diodes before you have your setup right; unless from the getgo you invest in an expensive commercially built red, and these too aren't infallible. The first KVant reds (640nm) had issues.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:42 AM #8
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Lasersman has a 100mW ILDA green PJ for VERY cheep==with promo code around 112$ reke 91G IIRC. Ship extra

hak can get you FB3 QS for 498$ plus ship. & any PP fees.


. you can create text for that event in 20 min from opening the boxes and connecting-- but you will not be 'legal' so do this at your own risk.. It may help if you gave the forum something better than 'S CrackaLacky' for your location ya know?? .... thats funny and all but not in your best interests IMO.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:45 AM #9
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

hehe good post there hak, and thanks for the price on QS - I'll have my pennies in a few weeks, then contact you on the email address you sent me here in a pm

oh and god the FDA are strict on projectors - all the hoops the poor US guy has to jump through just to display a companies logo in laser!!
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:02 AM #10
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

I just got my reke500 this saturday, and cracked open the box tonight.

Now the next step is definitely pango/qs. It's going to take a while, but I just can't wait to do more with it.

I am with tsteele93 though, in wishing there was some intermediate out of the box solution.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:18 AM #11
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

If you wanna be writing logos on walls and such, I'd probably veer away from 445 and go for green, as even though 445 isn't all that UV, it's still somewhat more difficult to focus on (And it's divergence isn't great either). Green will give you a much tighter, easier to view logo.

Do you have a pic of the logo you want to draw? Logos are usually very graphic demanding, and depending on it's complexity, you'll need at least 25K to do it with reasonable amounts of flicker, but most likely more. You're not going to get that with cheap out of the box Chinese systems, you'd be better if getting a green lab module with TTL/analog modulation, a set of decent galvo's and a DAC and doing it yourself. Single colour is easy to set up. Heck, you could set it up on a bit of wood, just watch out for heatsinking.

For example:

1W DHOM head: $800
DT30/40 scanners - $400-600
FB3 + QS: $498 from Hak

And you have a kickass logo and beamshow projector for only $1.8K ish.

1W is probably wayyyy overkill for this application, but I'm not exactly sure of the details, so it's just a reference point.

Last edited by Things; 06-26-2012 at 03:22 AM.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:24 AM #12
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Or a aluminium plate. You're still going to need to drill holes, but aluminium will prevent stuff shifting during transport. You'll need to drill 7-8 holes tops. 4 for the laser and 3 or 4 for the galvos. If you get DT galvos, you can get a mounting block from laser show parts that raises the block to the same height as most common commercial lasers like CNI, Viasho etc. So then all you have to worry about is yaw angle and left to right alignment.

A single colour is very easy to set up though. I played with my DT40's on a block of wood, with a green 200mw laser propped up to height on top of the iphone 4, and had a ILDA test pattern displayed in minutes. It obviously was only a test setup - nothing was bolted down. An iphone makes a damn expensive shim block!
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:35 AM #13
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hakzaw1 View Post
Lasersman has a 100mW ILDA green PJ for VERY cheep==with promo code around 112$ reke 91G IIRC. Ship extra

hak can get you FB3 QS for 498$ plus ship. & any PP fees.


. you can create text for that event in 20 min from opening the boxes and connecting-- but you will not be 'legal' so do this at your own risk.. It may help if you gave the forum something better than 'S CrackaLacky' for your location ya know?? .... thats funny and all but not in your best interests IMO.

Len, you know my address. I'm in South Carolina and my facebook is my sig, so nothing is hidden. I don't see how a humorous (to some perhaps) reference to my location hurts anything?

I'm not real worried about legal per se. I WOULD be setting up safely, but for a one-off party at a private residence I'm not overly concerned. Unless putting my info here is a problem.

I would like something more than a single color. Jeff's white fusion looks very interesting, but I don't know if it is programmable or bright enough.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:55 AM #14
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

I'd stay well away from the white fusion for projector use. The amount of time it takes to adjust alignment on the white fusion comapared to nice adjustable dichro mounts makes all the difference.

Aligning a laser projector isn't just a set once and leave deal, in fact I have to align mine before almost every show, because stuff drifts over time, temperature changes etc.
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:04 AM #15
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

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Originally Posted by tsteele93 View Post
I would like something more than a single color. Jeff's white fusion looks very interesting, but I don't know if it is programmable or bright enough.
It would be bright enough certainly... but not programmable
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Old 06-26-2012, 04:38 AM #16
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Default Re: Where do I start? Looking for a programmable show...

the white fusion is a RGB laser with a spyrograph build in, nothing more. For this you definitely need an ILDA ready projector.
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