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Old 08-01-2009, 11:40 PM #1
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Default Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Heya guys! I've been doing alot of reading and browsing of the forums over the last couple of days. I think I've managed to narrow it down to a few possibilities.. But I've still got a few questions and such that you'll find scattered throughout the post. Also, this is just kind of a way for me to gather my thoughts and get a bit of feedback. Thanks in advance for your help!

Also, keep in mind, I'm not totally clueless but I'm not an accomplished electrical engineer. The best I can say is that I know how to solder and I aced all my science classes in highschool. hahaha However, when all is said and done, I wouldn't be against making a tutorial for any other "weekend warrior" "engineers" such as my self. xD

So, let's start with the basics. The "host"
(the community's choice of terminology there is a different matter.. My laser diode and driver are not PARASITES, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! lol. )

Price is a BIG factor here. It feels silly to buy a high-tech laser diode for $15, a driver that someone has painstakingly soldered together for you (exaggeration; i know they can be produced pretty easily. ) for $20, then go out and pay another $15 on some cheap flashlight just so you can take it apart and use the plastic/aluminum/whatever casing that it came in. Also, another obvious factor is that I won't have to spend buttloads of money. That being said, is it worth dropping the extra $12-15 on a "host" for my laser? I could probably rig something up with one of those travel-sized tylenol bottles if I wanted to.. LOL, but I think it might be worth it to have a clean-looking finished product that I can show off.

Anyway, if I do get one of the recommended hosts (which I probably will), I'm probably going to go with this one: MXDL 5W Luxeon 3-AAA

My main reasons for choosing that one:
- It's available at High Tech DealZ, Simplifying the LASER Hobby!. They have extremely good prices and almost everything I need, plus I believe they have free shipping! (?)
- It uses 3 AAA Batteries! Those are alot easier to find than the short, fat button cell batteries (I think they call them CR123's or something like that. haha) and also, in a pinch, I would be able to get the cheap no-name brand batteries for a small price. (Q: What kind of battery life can I expect from 3 AAA batteries if I were to use the PHR-803T Blu diode? They run at 100-150mA..)

Now, once I have everything I need, how does it all fit together? Did we luck out and find that the aixiz (and similar) laser modules fit perfectly into these flashlights, or is that a side-function of a heatsink? Would I be able to just rig something up with a few metal washers, or something along those lines? Also, does the module get held in position by the little screwcap/focusy knob? Note to self: search a bit more and take a close look at some build pictures. Note to others: If you know of any threads/tutorials/pictures of people with similar builds offhand, links would be great! ^_^

Now, regarding modules..


As I understand it, a module is basically just a protective casing that you can fit your diode/driver into. It also has a focusy adjustment thing that allows you to focus your beam close for higher intensity/burning power at short range, but more spread at longer ranges. Conversely you can focus the beam far away, so that it maintains a more beam-like.. beam! Is this correct? Also, again, are those host flashlights designed in just such a way that they accept these modules by default, or is a bunch of modifying/tooling required? (again; I do need to look up some specific builds that people have done.)

mmmhmm. I have two choices for modules as I see it.

My first choice is the Aixiz module. A ton of people seem to use it, and it seems to be kind of like the "standard". One plus point for it is that hightechdealz.com offers diodes pre-installed into this module, at little to no extra cost! yay!

My second choice would be the Sure Laser Module. My main reason for considering this module is what it says at hightechdealz.com. "These modules are really good for Blu Ray diodes as the Blu Ray diodes have a short focal length and the Sure Module can screw in further than a normal Aixiz Laser Module, so this lets you focus the Blu Ray lasers further away to infinity instead of 10 ft or so" .. Is that the truth? Do these work better with Bluray diodes compared to the aixiz module, or are they just saying that?

Hmm. I guess we'll hit on heatsinks next!

These are basically just chunks of metal designed to fit into a flashlight and hold your module, while dissipating heat. With the flashlight I mentioned earlier (MXDL Luxeon or something along those lines), would I just be able to pop in some washers and make it fit? I've noticed that some people are offering custom made heatsinks (note to self: Look into those more!) although I don't know how much they're asking for them.. Plus, shipping would probably be more than the part itself. yeesh! However, its something I'd definitely be willing to do, even just to support this awesome community a little bit. ^_^

So, yes. How does the module fit onto the heatsink? Do you just use the twist cap to secure it? If thats the case how do you prevent it from wobbling around when you loosen the twisty thing? I guess it would be as easy as securing it from inside of the light..

OKAY! The more important stuff. The DRIVER! weee.


As far as I understand it, this is just a little circuit thing that, more or less, regulates current and voltage, and maybe has some safety things to make sure your sensitive diode doesnt get hurt. I know I can put these together myself, but I think buying all the components (all I have locally is like.. The Source/Radioshack, and their stuff is GROSSLY OVERPRICED.) will cost alot more than buying one premade. Not only that, it'll be bigger, messier and will take me a long time to make (I can solder but I'm no ninja with it. ), so I've got two choices:

The Micro-Drive.. Because it's cheap! However, with that flashlight, I'll only get 4.5V, and that driver needs a bunch of extra voltage for whatever reason. I think my more likely candidate is the..

Lava Micro Flex Drive!

Its a bit (a lot) more expensive, but it operates on lower voltages, and has a cooler name!

One thing to note.. I don't have a multimeter and I don't know how I would set the potentiometer to the right setting. I know I can have the seller do this but he charges a bit extra to do it. sad face.

and.. I believe the last piece (and certainly not the least important) is the diode itself! The very heart of the device. ^_^

So, before doing my research I was really kinda looking forward to making my own green laser! Weellll, that doesn't seem quite as plausible now. Green laser diodes seem to be alot harder to find (and presumably more expensive).. I'm assuming that this is mostly down to availability, and also the fact that green diodes seem less useful. However, it REALLY surprises me that bluray diodes are more common, and actually very cheap.

So, that being said.. I think my two real choices are Blu and Red. I stay away from red because people (me) seem to associate them with those cheapy old 5mW ones you get from dollar stores. yuck! Besides, other colors are cooler man, get with the times.

I've got two choices of SPECIFIC diodes: The PHR-803T BluRay diode, as I'm sure most of you are familiar with or this red one

The blu one wants about 120mA, whereas the red one is much more lusty (lol) at around 380mA.

So.. By looking at mA, is that a fairly direct way of telling how intense the beam is, and what kind of burning power it has? Is there some kind of difference depending on the wavelength (color) of the laser?

I know that the red beams are basically just on the fringe of the visible spectrum, so we can't really see them as well as say, green, which is right in the middle. Those bluray (are they actually violet?) lasers are basically on the low end of the spectrum, do they have that same "invisibility" problem as the red ones, or do you get the full bang for your mA-buck?

Also.. Because the red laser has a much higher output, will burning ability be THAT much higher?

Basically, a comparison of the two based on visibility (in the air - not on target), range and burning ability would be pretty cool.

Hmmm. So, yeah. I've been writing for awhile and I'd really like to get a bite to eat! haha, I'll surely be editing this post as I think of more questions to shoot at you guys, but I think this is a good start!

Thank you kindly for reading my novel and humoring me, and not just telling me to "USE ZE SEARCH FUNCTION YOU NEWB".. cause I have. Remember, this is also just a way for me to get everything straight before I make my purchases.


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Old 08-01-2009, 11:49 PM #2
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

holy crap you asked and answered your own questions in one of the longest posts iv'e seen niceeeeeeee and welcome aboard
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:54 PM #3
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

LOL well, I understand that nobody's gonna want to help me if I don't help myself first; but I'd still love some advice and guidance. haha
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Old 08-01-2009, 11:59 PM #4
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Quote:
Originally Posted by john_lawson View Post
holy crap you asked and answered your own questions in one of the longest posts iv'e seen niceeeeeeee and welcome aboard

I agree! This new member is an epic win! Glad to have you aboard!

Now to answer a few questions. The red will be more visible than the blu-ray. As for burning power.. I'd put my 156mA (180mW) PHR-803T against any red LOC/LCC at any current! It seems that more surfaces absorb 405nm better than the red wavelengths so bluray appears to burn slightly better per mW.

Green diodes do not yet exist to the public market. There is speculation of a 515nm(iirc) diode but all of our other greens are a 808/1064/532 pump setup. IR>IR>green.

-Mike
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:13 AM #5
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

wahahah. Thanks for the warm welcomes, guys. much appreciated

It's really a shame that red lasers are more visible than blue, especially considering the observed better burning qualities of the blue. Oh well, guess you can't have everything

So, how did you push yours all the way up to 156mA? How long have you had it for and how often do you use it, on average? I've heard people warn against anything over 120mA.

Also, this is probably the dumbest question I'm going to ask; but where the hell do mW fit in?! lol, please explain!

So I think I've got most of this figured out otherwise. I think the blue diode in the Aixiz case, using the lava driver, with that flashlight should suffice. I'm mostly just concerned about how I'm gonna get everything to fit in without jiggling around. Some words of wisdom on mounting my module would be very much appreciated
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:28 AM #6
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishbulb View Post
wahahah. Thanks for the warm welcomes, guys. much appreciated

It's really a shame that red lasers are more visible than blue, especially considering the observed better burning qualities of the blue. Oh well, guess you can't have everything

So, how did you push yours all the way up to 156mA? How long have you had it for and how often do you use it, on average? I've heard people warn against anything over 120mA.

Also, this is probably the dumbest question I'm going to ask; but where the hell do mW fit in?! lol, please explain!

So I think I've got most of this figured out otherwise. I think the blue diode in the Aixiz case, using the lava driver, with that flashlight should suffice. I'm mostly just concerned about how I'm gonna get everything to fit in without jiggling around. Some words of wisdom on mounting my module would be very much appreciated

mW is the actual power output of the laser. mA is the current (amperage) (the power draw). I have had my PHR at 156mA for quite some time. BrewCityMusic had it for a few days and took it to one of his shows where I am sure it saw tons of use. It metered 142mW @ 156mA with a cheap lens and 180mW @ 156mA with jayrobs 405-G-1. It seems to be a highly efficient diode which is somewhat uncommon.

Really, if it doesn't survive, I have 3 PHR-803T sleds waiting to be harvested.

Go look at jayrobs kit tutorials and you will get a VERY good idea of different hosts and mounting ideas. You can even search his name, go to his profile and view his DIY kits from there.

You seemed to have actually done some research so I don't mind if you fire off more questions. I would be more than happy to attempt to answer everything that is still "grey".

-Mike

Edit: Visibility.... My GGW chews through white paper easily, and I have a green pointer to compensate for my beam envy. :P Get the best of both worlds. Once you build a bluray you will never want any other laser ^_^.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:35 AM #7
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Oh, so mW would be a number that you got from some kind of light output-measuring meter dealie? I guess that's not a number I'd see/be concerned with unless I had that equipment (or access to it. haha)

I'm gonna go ahead and browse the forums some more, and try to get some ideas on how I'm gonna mount it. I'll spew some more questions your way when the time comes.

As always, more suggestions/opinions/words of wisdom are always welcome, if anyone wants to chip in!
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:39 AM #8
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishbulb View Post
Oh, so mW would be a number that you got from some kind of light output-measuring meter dealie? I guess that's not a number I'd see/be concerned with unless I had that equipment (or access to it. haha)

I'm gonna go ahead and browse the forums some more, and try to get some ideas on how I'm gonna mount it. I'll spew some more questions your way when the time comes.

As always, more suggestions/opinions/words of wisdom are always welcome, if anyone wants to chip in!

You get a power reading from a Laser Power Meter. One of our members is the owner of a company that makes them. Laserbee I (I will let you guess his forum name :P). Typically if you do not have a LPM there are quite a few around here that don't mind testing your laser for you. All you have to do is ask.

-Mike
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:57 AM #9
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

ahhh, I'm not too worried about knowing ALL the specs. Ill just be glad if it works, is blindingly bright and doesn't die right away! xD

So I looked at jayrob's stuff, and its all very useful but unfortunately he uses heatsinks that he fabricated himself.. haha. I know he does offer these heatsinks for sale but they're kind of pricy ($25 plus shipping! almost half the cost of the rest of the laser.. ) so I'm still hoping to find an alternative. Are there any other good sources for that kind of thing that you know of?
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:05 AM #10
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

If you want a small host with a heatsink jayrob is the way to go. Otherwise you could look at a lab style build. There are a few other members that build heatsinks for labbys. Really it all depends on your personal prefrence.

Look at it this way.
Jayrob host $45
Flexdrive $25
PHR-803T $13
----------------
$83

For a very professional build that will have a reliable 100-115mW power output. (assuming a safe 100mA~ is set).

You could just buy a small flashlight host from dealextreme.com and cut the reflector out. You will have a limited duty cycle without a heatsink though. At 90-100mA a well heatsinked PHR will almost have a limitless duty cycle.

This is a somewhat costly hobby. Try to not let the "sticker shock" bother you too much. Once you complete your first build you will have a different view.

-Mike
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GGW Open can 6x 196mA (405-G-1 Lens)
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:16 AM #11
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

Ohh, I know it's not cheap, but it doesn't have to totally empty your wallet either xD

Besides, its the DIY-factor that I love about it. I probably wouldnt be this interested if I didnt have to put it together myself. If I need to spend a bit extra on that little metally bit, so be it, at least I get to support the community a bit..

BUT, if I can pull a macgyver on it with some metal washers or something, I'd be alot more content xD
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:24 AM #12
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

If you go the washer route I would suggest copper "crush" washers because of coppers heat transfering abilities.

-Mike
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GGW Open can 6x 196mA (405-G-1 Lens)
(metered results coming soon!)
DL V-75 75mW Green handheld
150mW o-like in Ehgemus host (in progress)
LOC Keychain mini @ 386mA (AixiZ acrylic)
IPC class II/III solder certified

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Old 08-02-2009, 02:41 AM #13
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

I'm not sure so about that... (welcome aboard btw)

Washers work great if you can get them in the right size and all squeezed together inside a host. They are also great just for how well they dissipate heat. But I'm going to have to vouch for Jayrob's heatsinks on this one. His work is done very professionally! His heatsinks have set screws in the side, so that you can be sure that your module is quite secure for the best heat transfer possible. His machined pieces look very professional. Not to jump on anyone else's DIY spirit, but if you're not a machinist, your DIY heatsink is definitely going to LOOK like a DIY heatsink. Not something that was meant to be there.

I'll be happy to give any advice or answer any questions for you. I'd answer them all here for you but I'm having trouble keeping track of what has been answered and what hasn't. You can bring those questions down here, or you can send me a personal message. Hope this helps!

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Old 08-02-2009, 03:14 AM #14
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

I have a comment to make...

I dont want to rain on your parade or anything(or seem like the bad guy..), but, don't expect a victory on your first try. I broke a lot of diodes before i finally got one to last. I am sure if you are careful (soldering quickly, SHORTING THE CAP ON THE DRIVER!!) and taking your time, you will be fine. It is part of the DIY experience...Dont give up...It is a really really great hobby. Once you build your first, you will be addicted.
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:06 PM #15
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

jayrob's excellent tutorials and heat sinks are here
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Old 08-03-2009, 09:19 PM #16
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Default Re: Newbie DIY Laser Build!

these will help to build your test load

http://laserpointerforums.com/f39/fr...ors-42409.html
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