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Old 08-08-2011, 08:50 PM   #1
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Default From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Say you started from an empty apartment room, with some money in the bank and a few thousand hours to spare. What equipment and devices would be necessary to start making just one laser?

I ask this question because the tutorials always seem to be missing stuff by assuming everyone has "one of those", whatever those happen to be.

So far, I've been able to add these items to my must-haves Wish List:
  • a pair of safety glasses for colors you work with
  • LPM/Laserbee
  • DMM (digital Mult-iMeter) added
  • soldering iron
  • solder/flux/rosin
  • a metal file
  • gray superfine grain sand paper
  • a hacksaw or jigsaw capable of cutting copper/brass/aluminum
  • a stable drill or dremel that doesn't wobble
  • some kind of precision screwdriver for small parts
  • Li-Ion batteries like A123 18650 3.3v, 3.7v, etc.
  • a work table
  • some kind of clamping tool like a soldering iron "third hand"
  • magnifying glass/jeweler's lens added
  • tweezers, foreceps/alligator clips added
  • Vice to press in diodes added
  • a very bright lamp
  • needle nose pliers/wire clippers
  • wire strippers added
  • some kind of wire(?)
  • drivers like a flex driver or linear (saves lots of time)
  • driver parts, like an LM317, resistors, and a small board
    1. veraboard/stripboard added
  • hosts, typically aluminum flashlights, such as Surefire ($10-$20+)
  • anti-static wristband for working with the drivers
  • thermal adhesive
  • heat shrink tubing
  • a power drill with an assortment of tough small drill bits (for diodes that don't fit)
  • White/metal pen for writing on black/metal surfaces (more useful than you think)
  • Some kind of electrical manual useful for making the drivers(?)
  • diodes ($3-$45+ each)
  • heat sinks Aluminum or Copper($10-$50+ if custom)
  • focusing lenses(Aixiz for example, beware of partial threading)

edit: I'll continue updating this list as soon as I know what these things are. I'll probably make a photo album to post pictures too.

I recognize this list is no where near complete, and have question marks (?) next to categories I know little about. I'd like some help finishing this list and making it functional with trustworthy examples. Then It would be fun to tally the minimum costs of assembling one laser.

I also recognize there's full blow shop equipment, and that would be cool to list as well, like a lathe or mill, for instance.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how much this is setting me back before I decide where to go next in terms of investing.
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Last edited by shintashi; 11-17-2011 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Lab PSU
Aixiz modules
Mod9s

Thats all I have for now

Last edited by Jacob32123; 08-08-2011 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

DMM (Digital Multi Meter)
Wire strippers
Magnifying glass/doublet/jewler's lens
Alligator clips/forceps
Veroboard/strip board (if you plan on making your own drivers)
Vice
Soldering flux/rosin

I'll keep adding more as I think of them but remember, some things are optional, they aren't "required" (like a bench PSU) but make the job easier. Some things are a necessity like a DMM, which you need to set/check the current on drivers.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-08-2011 at 10:26 PM.
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

a vice to press diodes in modules
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

(?) Safty glasses are THE most important thing on your list..
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:33 AM   #6
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob32123 View Post
Lab PSU
Aixiz modules
Mod9s

Thats all I have for now

the only thing on there I recognize is the Aixiz module - which I actually don't really know anything about, except it has something to do with lenses or drivers. I couldn't figure out what a PSU was.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevlar
veroboard...
I'll look that up.
edit: a permanent breadboard? I think I get it.

...Seems like a Vice is pretty necessary.

... safety glasses are one of my first concerns but I don't understand the ranking system or whether the glass color matters.
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OEM Lasers OD 5+ 190-579nm Safety Glasses

Last edited by shintashi; 08-09-2011 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

PSU = Power Supply. Great thing to have.
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:24 AM   #8
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARGLaser View Post
PSU = Power Supply. Great thing to have.
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.


Last edited by Kevlar; 08-09-2011 at 02:32 AM.
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Old 08-09-2011, 02:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Yeah, but batteries are a pain to deal with and often you can't find the voltage you need.
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Old 08-09-2011, 03:22 AM   #10
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ARGLaser View Post
Yeah, but batteries are a pain to deal with and often you can't find the voltage you need.

I don't understand. I mean if you are building the laser to use batteries, why would batteries be bad for testing? I mean you are stuck with certain ranges anyway, right? Or do you perform some kind of circuit voodoo that allows you to pretend battery N is battery N*1.11 or whatever?

I think I heard somewhere that's what a driver was for... but I'm still at "knows how a flash light works... and knows lasers have more parts" level.
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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 (?)


OEM Lasers OD 5+ 190-579nm Safety Glasses
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by shintashi View Post
I don't understand. I mean if you are building the laser to use batteries, why would batteries be bad for testing? I mean you are stuck with certain ranges anyway, right? Or do you perform some kind of circuit voodoo that allows you to pretend battery N is battery N*1.11 or whatever?

I think I heard somewhere that's what a driver was for... but I'm still at "knows how a flash light works... and knows lasers have more parts" level.
ARGLaser didn't say batteries were bad for testing just that they are a pain to deal with. You have to use battery holders or tape wires to the ends.

I used batteries only a couple of times before I bought one of these:



Enercell Universal 1000mA AC Adapter : AC Adapters | RadioShack.com

I wouldn't ever use this to power a laser diode directly but it does a decent job powering drivers. It doesn't have all the voltage ranges like a bench PSU but it gets close enough and it only cost ~$20
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Old 08-09-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

I show some of the things I use to make a selectable dummy load in my youtube video.



Most is optional... but very handy to have.
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Old 08-10-2011, 04:21 PM   #13
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

So I went to the Fry's electronics store to purchase my first soldering iron and parts, and I noticed they had silver solder, but it needed a hotter iron, and they were trying to sell me a digital iron but those were like 2-10 times more expensive - some were over $200. I also noted some had butane torches and others were just electrical.

I was wondering if I would want silver solder, and what kind of soldering iron? I figure the driver is super small, but it could get hot really fast, so I wasn't sure if regular solder was a good idea.

I also noticed all their veraboards were super huge, and none of them were the tiny circles I've seen as laser drivers. I could really use some help in sorting this all out. I jsut received a money order for my birthday and I don't want it to go up in a puff of smoke.
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405nm 600mW violet tactical
445nm Yobresal 1200mW
532nm Green Laser/Flashlight tactical 5mW
655nm Swiss Army Knife Mini-Laser 0.8mW
650nm my first" DIY failure" laser 100mW (?)


OEM Lasers OD 5+ 190-579nm Safety Glasses
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Old 08-11-2011, 02:20 AM   #14
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

I hope you watched bobhaha's video, it should be very helpful to you.

This is the soldering iron I use

Amazon.com: Weller SP40L Marksman 40 Watt Soldering Iron: Home Improvement

Works good and doesn't have a problem with the silver solder. Digital soldering stations are very nice and I wish I could afford one but it's one of those things that IMO are optional. They might make the job a bit easier but not necessary.

Once in a while I will use some "silver" solder but the silver content is very low and in our applications isn't really needed. Here is the silver bearing solder I use sometimes:

Silver-Bearing Solder (1 Oz.) - RadioShack.com

It only has 2% silver. Normally I just use a rosin core solder, something like 63/37. And if I'm setting the jumpers on a flexdrive I use a little extra flux/rosin. One thing you don't want to use is plummer's solder, way too much lead.

As far as the veroboard all you need to do is cut down to the size you want.

Also, make sure you take care of your soldering tip and use a very thin one, like a pencil tip. It's important to keep your tip "tinned" when it's just sitting there or else oxidation will occur and solder won't stick to it. I use way more solder just keeping my tip tinned than I use for actual soldering of components.

There are some threads on here, I can't find them right now but try searching, on how to solder and take care of your iron for a long-life.

There are also several websites and youtube videos on how to solder correctly. Just google and youtube search "how to solder".

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Kevlar; 08-11-2011 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:34 PM   #15
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

what is a PCB?

I'm trying to find out what those round drivers are called so I can buy them, but I was only able to see images by typing "LED PCB" in google images. When I tried finding how to cut a circle out of veroboard, I saw recommendations for a hacksaw but they said a hex or octagon would be about the best one could hope for. I've definitely seen a lot of circle shaped boards in this forum so I'm wondering if they come "blank".

It should be clear I don't have a clue.
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405nm 600mW violet tactical
445nm Yobresal 1200mW
532nm Green Laser/Flashlight tactical 5mW
655nm Swiss Army Knife Mini-Laser 0.8mW
650nm my first" DIY failure" laser 100mW (?)


OEM Lasers OD 5+ 190-579nm Safety Glasses
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: From nothing to Laser - What's needed?

PCB is short for printed circuit board. It's the thing you solder components onto.
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