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Old 08-12-2011, 08:08 PM #17
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to do. Are you looking for round drivers or just a round PCB board?

If you have a large enough host they don't have to be round. BTW, if I need to cut down a PCB I use some wire snips, tin snips, or a dremel type tool. With the dremel tool you can use a cutting wheel or grind the PCB down.

I bought some of these just to strip down (remove all the components) and use as a pill in some DIY handhelds I'm planning on making.

AA and 14500 Circuit Board for 3.7V LED Emitters 3-Pack (1.5V~4.2V Input) - Free Shipping - DealExtreme

If you are converting a torch style flashlight into a laser most of them come with round contact boards.


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Old 08-13-2011, 03:47 AM #18
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

So I went to the Fry's and bought a Hakko FX 888 soldering station
here's a picture on amazon, and some 60/40 23 gauge solder, and a prototyping board from twin industries with plated holes. I haven't opened or used any of these products because I'm not sure if I'm

1. buying the right kind of iron,
2. if my solder is too thick,
3. or if I bought the wrong board.

I guess the next thing I need to do is figure out the parts that go on the board, and get good at beading the solder, or whatever it is you do with a soldering iron, since I only have welding experience for comparison.
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Old 08-13-2011, 03:52 AM #19
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevlar View Post
Variable current/voltage bench PSU, AWESOME to have.

But if you're just starting out it isn't necessary and can be a bit pricey (relatively speaking). For our hobby batteries can accomplish the same goal.

In fact, you don't even need a desk or workbench!!! This is a pic of one of our vets Mohrenberg.

jesus...this picture tends to pop up like every 6 months....

This is a picture of me assembling my first driver ever. a rkcstr microdrive.
this is when i was just getting into lasers. I was pretty excited when i got that driver in the mail!!

for a 445nm you need:
host with a matching heat sink
batteries
aixiz module
aixiz glass lens
diode
jib driver
some wire
some solder
some solder flux
soldering iron


that's really all you need...
then you can get all fancy with the rest of the stuff......

Last edited by Mohrenberg; 08-13-2011 at 03:54 AM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 05:16 AM #20
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

i've got solder, but what is flux? I saw some giant containers of some sort of highly corrosive stuff at the Fry's near the copper scratch boards and the soldering irons, but I wasn't really sure what it was for.
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Old 08-13-2011, 01:11 PM #21
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shintashi View Post
So I went to the Fry's and bought a Hakko FX 888 soldering station
here's a picture on amazon, and some 60/40 23 gauge solder, and a prototyping board from twin industries with plated holes. I haven't opened or used any of these products because I'm not sure if I'm

1. buying the right kind of iron,
2. if my solder is too thick,
3. or if I bought the wrong board.

I guess the next thing I need to do is figure out the parts that go on the board, and get good at beading the solder, or whatever it is you do with a soldering iron, since I only have welding experience for comparison.
The iron you bought looks good.

Can you post pics of the board? I doubt you bought the wrong stuff. Is the solder rosin-core?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shintashi View Post
i've got solder, but what is flux? I saw some giant containers of some sort of highly corrosive stuff at the Fry's near the copper scratch boards and the soldering irons, but I wasn't really sure what it was for.
Flux, or rosin, helps the solder stick to whatever it is your soldering.

Here is a decent video on basic soldering, there are many, many more, just check out youtube

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Old 08-13-2011, 01:11 PM #22
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

I would separate your list above into tools, and parts. The tools you should invest more in, because you'll be using them across many projects and it's nice to have good tools.

- Goggles: Of course you need goggles, but which to get? There are always those $5 red goggles, but if you have some money flexibility, get some good quality certified ones. No, "CE approval" or whatever means nothing because that is for mechanical protection not laser protection:

- 445nm lasers: YLW yellow goggles. Very good visibility and absolute protection against 445nm lasers. My preferred goggles for 445nm.
- 405nm - 532nm: ARG goggles. More general purpose for lasers up to 532nm, but orange color and does not protect against infrared if you're using them for green. Good price.
- 532nm, IR, low-power red: ML7 general purpose goggles. These are great for 532nm because they protect against the IR in most greens as well. Also works for 405nm and low-power reds (<150mW). More expensive than many, but works for many wavelengths.
- Red diodes - RB2 ruby, diode, etc. goggles. Good if you're using high powered reds.

The goggles are expensive, so you'll want to get goggles for the wavelengths you'll actually be making stuff for. You can always buy other goggles later. I don't like the $5 red goggles for 445nm/green that you'll see on Dino Direct or whatever sites. They work, but they're really hard to see anything. The best goggles to get are the ones you'll want to wear.

- Soldering Iron: Make sure to get a decent soldering iron. Don't get some shitty soldering iron from Radio Shack, get a temperature controlled nice soldering iron like this or this. The latter I own, and it has served me well; however, I really only use the SMD hot air heater for the mundane purpose of heating shrink wrap.

- Solder: I prefer leaded solder, because it melts nice, requires lower temperatures, has better mechanical properties, costs far less, and I like that shiny surface it produces. If you're in a country that allows you to buy leaded solder (e.g. the USA), buy that. Unfortunately, it's getting harder to find leaded solder so you may be forced to use lead-free solder, especially if you're in Europe. If you can find leaded solder, get a 63/37 eutectic blend, a good brand like Kester, and in quantities you will use. Eutectic means that the alloy directly goes from solid to liquid when melted, not intermediate "plastic" phase changes which can result in bad joints. Do not buy 60/40 solder; 60/40 blend is not eutectic. It is garbage that is only meant for manufacturers because it is cheaper than 63/37 solder, and the manufacturers have good heat/process control that is suitable for 60/40.

Here is a 1 pound spool of Kester 44 63/37 eutectic solder which is good stuff; however, 1 pound will probably not be used up before it potentially expires. I'm still using the spool of Kester solder I got back in, er... 2003? 2004? I'll probably still have it a decade later. Solder rosin does expire, but usually you can still keep using it despite that.

What you want:

- 0.031 diameter solder (good thin solder, but not too thin)
- Eutectic solder (leaded or lead-free)
- No-wash rosin core (the flux in the solder)
- Quantities you'll use up so it doesn't sit around.

Not Kester, but here is some solder that will do the trick, and you don't need a 1 pound spool:

- 100g spool - 63/37 solder, 0.031" diameter
- 10g tube of the above.

- Vise/Project Holder: If you want a nice vice(s), check out the Panavise selection. I've got the suction-cup base, and a "Jr" vise head for holding circuitboards. Ironically, buying them separately costs less than as a single package.

If you have space, consider getting the screw-on or clamp-mounted vise base (requires the first one) so that it is permanently fixed to your workbench. For pressing diodes, you'll want a standard vise head, but for working on projects, I'd get the Jr. head I mentioned above.

- Flux: Flux helps "lubricate" the solder, in other words it'll let it flow so that it doesn't just blob up and not melt. For most intents and purposes you can get away with no outside flux. Your solder has rosin flux inside it and outside application may not be needed. You can always just apply more solder to your soldering iron tip to keep the solder flowing. It is nice to have some around though, especially when you want to make sure your solder is flowing.

For flux, I would get Kester no-clean flux. Kester is a good brand (I'd also buy their solder too). I use Kester 1544 which is highly activated, but requires no clean-up. Unfortunately, that variety seems to only come in 1 gallon containers. Those will last you many, many lifetimes of use, which you probably don't need, requires special shipping, has a 2-year shelf life (which you can probably extend), and will cost you $50 or so to get. I was lucky enough to get some squeeze bottles of Kester 1544 with syringes of flux for cheap, which will last me for a loooong time. If you have friends who want some flux, maybe it'd be worth it, but I'd look into a flux pen, hopefully one suitable for hand-soldering. It's less active, but at least it's in a pen form rather than a gallon jug. No clean-up though. To summarize what you should look for in flux:

- Non-corrosive / no-cleanup flux
- High-activity (may not be possible)
- Designed to work with conventional soldering (i.e. not exclusively surface/SMD work)
- Easy to dispense. A pen works well, but you can also pour flux into a bottle with a syringe tip.

I wouldn't bother with the flux on DealExtreme. It just seemed to smolder, and not help when I used it. I don't know about its corrosion properties as well.

- Bench-top Power Supply: A benchtop power supply is a useful addition to your bench, allowing you to power up projects without batteries or other weird hookups. I bought a dual 30V 3A power supply at MPJA (full list of PSUs) for about $180, but rarely have needed that voltage range. I have made use of both power supplies, however.

In a pinch, a simple wall-wart + LM317 breadboard power supply (such as this) works great for small experiments.

- DMM: Fluke or Extech are good brands. I would get one that is autoranging, can do continuity tests, diode tests, and measure capacitance. Fluke meters are expensive. I've got an Extech 430 that does the above. Don't get the Extech 450, as it has a useless infrared thermometer instead of capacitance measurement and other modes.

In a pinch, the DealExtreme meters are probably decent enough or even better (who knows?) for most needs.

- Other useful stuff:

- Solder sucker - (Sparkfun, Amazon, DealExtreme). I have the one from DX. This thing is awesome for getting rid of soldering mistakes. What you do is heat up the blob of solder you want to get rid of, and then fire the solder sucker so that it sucks that solder off and into the solder sucker. Eject that cooled solder from the solder sucker and you're done. I can't tell you how many times this has saved my butt, especially since solder wick never seems to work for me, even with flux dripped on it.

- IC hook probes. I hate using the DMM touch probes for adjusting or other longer tasks. Alligator clips equally suck. You can put these in the DMM sockets and clip them to whatever you're measuring, freeing your hands. They also work on your benchtop PSU.

- Headlamp: The bench light may be okay, but will never light up exactly what you're looking at very well. Wear the headlamp to shine on what you're soldering and looking at.

- Part storage containers. A tacklebox works nice for this. If you're not sure if the container is ESD safe, wrap your microchips in tin-foil before putting them inside the container.

-----------

Good soldering tutorials: Tangent's electronics DIY video tutorials.

Pro Tip for your soldering iron (Important!): This tip is described in the Tangent videos above, but warrants additional mention. When you're not using the soldering iron, even for a minute, load the tip up with solder, and leave it in the holder. That goes for when you're done using it. The solder will protect the tip from oxidization, and the rosin in the solder will clean the tip. Wipe the tip off when you want to solder some more.

You should never need to replace your tips if you properly care for them in this way. Also, when you get a new soldering iron, the tip is in its most vulnerable state. Immediately cover the tip in solder to protect it.

Never sand or file down the tip of your soldering iron. Your soldering iron tip is covered with special plating for helping transfer heat to your solder. Filing it away will expose the copper below to oxygen and other impurities and reduce its lifespan. The only reason people do this with other soldering irons is that they bought some piece-of-shit heated nail from Radio Shack, and the tip is not even properly plated.

Last edited by Bionic-Badger; 08-13-2011 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 08-13-2011, 04:01 PM #23
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevlar View Post
The iron you bought looks good.

Can you post pics of the board? I doubt you bought the wrong stuff. Is the solder rosin-core?



Flux, or rosin, helps the solder stick to whatever it is your soldering.
pic posted of wire and board.
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Old 08-13-2011, 07:00 PM #24
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

^^^ Those look good.

Please take the time to read BB's post (he put a lot of time and effort into it for your benefit) and watch those videos he linked to, they are VERY helpful.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-13-2011 at 07:00 PM.
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Old 08-14-2011, 03:25 AM #25
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

In following with BB's post, I returned the 60/40 to the store and got some 63/37 solder instead. also got a "third hand" w/ magnifier.

What parts do I need to buy to make a driver?


edit: found this thread
LM1085 DIY Driver

Going to probably mess with it when my essays are done.

edit 2:Figured out what a pot/potentiometer was, and have looked at more DIY driver rigs. I've concluded to accurately make the right adjustment on the "pot", I need a multimeter. I used to have one but It's been missing for years. Also need some copper wire.

Stuff I've purchased so far:
1. solder station
2. solder
3. third hand
4. circuit board

Stuff I have lying around, but might be useful:
1. electrical tape
2. needle nose pliers
3. sheet metal shears
4. screwdriver
5. power drill
6. hacksaw

Stuff I plan on buying next:
1. copper wire
2. multimeter
3. ???

So far it looks like there's possibly 20-30 things a person needs and around $500+. I still don't know for sure because I'm only a few steps into the process. It's been 6 days, and 3 trips to the Fry's, and I've barely begun.

This is starting to feel like a quest
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Last edited by shintashi; 08-15-2011 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 08-15-2011, 03:39 AM #26
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Here's a good link for the basic LM317 driver:

Laser driver - It can be done

A vice is pretty much a necessity.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-15-2011 at 03:40 AM.
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:53 AM #27
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Glad you got some good solder. That 60/40 is terrible crap.

Here's something that might come in handy for you with your helping hands (third hand): toss that goofy magnifier and instead attach one of the alligator clips to it. Then you can slide one of those clips up and down the rail for better positioning, especially with holding short wires close to where you'll be soldering. Here's a picture:



Oh, and speaking of pressing diodes, if you're going to use Aixiz modules make sure to get one of those diode presses that people sell in the Laser Pro Shop forum. Otherwise, you'll only get marginal results with using the technique of pressing with the back of the Aixiz module (usually just bends the module).

Another nice type of module to start with are the 18mm heatsinked modules from O-like. They also come with a glass lens for red, or 445nm/405nm if you get the other one. The lenses for both are good quality. Really solid construction, good heatsinking, and you don't even need a diode press.
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Last edited by Bionic-Badger; 08-15-2011 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:52 AM #28
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bionic-Badger View Post
Glad you got some good solder. That 60/40 is terrible crap.

Oh, and speaking of pressing diodes, if you're going to use Aixiz modules make sure to get one of those diode presses that people sell in the Laser Pro Shop forum. Otherwise, you'll only get marginal results with using the technique of pressing with the back of the Aixiz module (usually just bends the module).

Another nice type of module to start with are the 18mm heatsinked modules from O-like. They also come with a glass lens for red, or 445nm/405nm if you get the other one. The lenses for both are good quality. Really solid construction, good heatsinking, and you don't even need a diode press.
what's a diode press? I've heard horror stories about people using various clamps and it seems like "vice grip" is really popular for some people.

I was about to go get a multimeter but a lot of the brands don't do over 200mA. What kind of multimeter is good for these 5mW to 3000mW lasers, or are they like laser goggles and I need more than one type?
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Last edited by shintashi; 08-16-2011 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:56 AM #29
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shintashi View Post
what's a diode press?
Here is a link to the diode presses Flaminpyro sells, it's the same I have. Works great!!

Diode press for sale $15.00

I'll let BB suggest a DMM. I actually picked up a nice one on clearance but you don't really need it to go over 200mA for what we do because we set the current of the driver with a dummy load using the mV setting. You put your DMM leads over the 1 Ohm resistor, put your DMM on mV setting, and thanks to ohms law, 1mV = 1mA.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-16-2011 at 02:13 AM.
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Old 08-17-2011, 03:42 AM #30
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

So I went to the Fry's again, and we bought two different colored spools of 26 gauge copper wire, a 4001 diode, two 10 ohm resistors, an extech mn36 autoranging multimeter shown here, and my first breadboard.

Fry's did not have any pots anywhere closer to 25-100 ohms, but they had several in the 1000-100,000+ range, so I had to order a 100 ohm pot from Amazon.

More surprisingly, they didn't have an LM317 I recognized and tried to sell me something they said was similar, but looked completely different. I don't know enough about specs yet to know if their version would have worked, so I ordered that from Amazon as well.

Finally, I tried to get a 35V 47mF capacitor, but they didn't have anything close to those specs at the Fry's, and I noticed you guys use a variety of capacitors, so I figured I would wait and ask.

4 trips to the Fry's and 9 days later, I'm inching closer to an actual laser... I think.

edit: Created a Paypal Account, because it seems important for buying and selling some stuff. Ordered some diodes from a place called Odicforce, including a 405nm and some reds for testing. I don't plan on messing with the 405 until I can get the cheaper diodes working.
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655nm Swiss Army Knife Mini-Laser 0.8mW
650nm my first" DIY failure" laser 100mW (?)


OEM Lasers OD 5+ 190-579nm Safety Glasses

Last edited by shintashi; 08-19-2011 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 08-20-2011, 05:25 AM #31
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

So today we went to a new electronics store, about a mile from downtown. We found an astonishing variety of pliers and capacitors, and even found LM317's in bulk, but didn't find any potentiometers below 500 ohms.

During the evening, we found a Radio Shack with a huge variety of electronic components including the 47mf/35v capacitors we couldn't find anywhere else. They even had 25 ohm pot, but its huge.

So now I have my next question while my laser diodes are being shipped:

how do I make a driver small enough to fit inside a 30mm host, if my potentiometer is enormous? Am I supposed to use one of those almost flat button sized potentiometers? I know this seems like a stupid question, but the demos i've seen all use this kind of image:


(google thumbnail)

There's no way that giant thing is fitting inside my host.

Capacitors?
I'm also curious about Capacitors. The Info I've gathered from the forums says I want my voltage to be around double my total battery output, so if I've got two 18650s, I want 3.7x2 = 7.4 x 2 = 14.8+ V.

But what about the farads? What do they do and does it matter if I'm using a 20mW or a 1200mW diode?

I've got the following capacitors to play with:

4.7mf/50V
4.7mf/100V
47mf/25V
47mf/35V

All I understand is the 4.7s fill 10 times faster and the 100V can handle lots of batteries.

This makes 6 visits to the electronic store, 12 days from start.
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445nm Yobresal 1200mW
532nm Green Laser/Flashlight tactical 5mW
655nm Swiss Army Knife Mini-Laser 0.8mW
650nm my first" DIY failure" laser 100mW (?)


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Old 08-20-2011, 11:45 AM #32
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Here are a couple pots:

Digi-Key

I were me I would use a 47mf/25V because thats what you have on hand and it will work. I'm not electronics expert but there are several on the forum, maybe they can chime in and give you a more definitive answer.

Try PMing eudaimonium about the caps and fitting your driver in your desired space, he is very good and a nice guy.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-20-2011 at 11:46 AM.
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