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Old 05-14-2011, 06:17 PM #1
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Default Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

There are a number of small lasers on this forum, and there are a number of beginner level tutorials for building the hotlight or guidesman, etc. But I thought it would be nice to have a tutorial for beginner-to-intermediate level hobbyists combining the two.

So I took the morning to put together this walk-through aimed at building a fairly simple, tiny, low-powered 445 laser. It's not quite as easy as building the infamous hotlight kit, but it's also fairly doable for anyone with decent soldering skills. I've seen this build elsewhere on the board, so I don't take credit for the host or for originality, but this is the first walk-through I know of. The best part? It's cheap, small, ***y looking, has two power levels and a strobe, and it's fairly easy to create! Enjoy!

Sneak peak at the final creation:


Here it is in action:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTr-mj_n07I


Parts Needed:
- TrustFire XP-EF23 (here) for $14
- 445nm diode (DTR, Daguin, etc) for $45
- Aixiz module with acryllic lens (ebay, aixiz, o-like, stonetek, etc) for $3
- 10uF 16V SMD Ceramic Capacitor (anywhere, digikey, mouser, ebay, etc) for < $1
- Plus some solder, thermal adhesive, flexible wire, a tiny bit of shrink tubing, and an afternoon for $2 (your time is free!)
Total Cost: ~$65

Step one, grab the XP-EF23 from DX. Here's what it looks like when it arrives.


Next, you're going to unscrew the LED module from the head of the host. No special tools are required for this. With your pinky finger, just unscrew it counter-clockwise.


The entire LED and driver module are housed in a fairly small enclosure. The driver and battery contact are one item at the rear of this photo (that part you see) and the LED itself is on the other end (facing away from the camera). With an xacto knife, cut the wires at the LED and use some needle nosed pliers to pull the LED off. This part isn't shown, but it's an easy step.


The driver isn't glued to the module, but there are a few tiny lines of solder around the edge of it. You may need to run an xacto knife around the edge of the battery contact pad so that you can remove the driver from the module (as shown in this photo). At the left of this photo you'll see the original metal reflector lens.


Now it's time to prepare the diode. Press your 445 into an Aixiz. Because we're going to use the flashlights original LED driver, we'll want to add an SMD ceramic capacitor to the diode itself, in order to protect it from an misbehavior on the part of the driver. My approach is to solder a ceramic SMD capacitor right onto the diode's leads. This is the only part of this build that might require a bit more than beginner soldering skills. A pair of tweezers will help you position the capacitor across the leads. Then very very short soldering iron contact should do the trick. Remember, discharge your capacitor first in case it has any residual charge to it. I solder one lead, and then let it all cool down, before introducing heat to the other lead. Then, the same for both of the lead wires. Not shown in this photo is the shrink tubing I put around these wires+cap once complete. Make sure you don't use any more shrink tubing than necessary, because this still needs to fit inside another component in the next few steps.


Here's where we put it all together. Feed the wires through the original metal reflector lens, and FILL the reflector lens with arctic silver thermal epoxy. This is a crucial step, because the majority of heat generated needs to flow back to the host via this assembly. The wires come out the back end, and you'll want to clip them as short as possible while still allowing yourself the ability to solder them to the driver. Remove the stock driver leads, and in their place, attach the leads coming off your diode.


Press the driver back into the module, and add a few thin strips of solder around the edge of the driver's battery pad to re-connect the driver's edge to the edge of the module. You need this step because the driver gets the (-) feed from the battery from the body of the host itself, so there needs to be a good connection again.


Screw the finished module back into the host itself, and add a 10440 battery. With a freshly charged (low end generic) 10440 battery, this build puts out 300mW raw optical output. It might go higher with some higher-drain 10440s (like the ones they use in "e-cigarettes" or the ones they sell at LightHound). However, since we're trying to minimize complexity, I want to be able to use the original Aixiz acrylic lens that we got with our Aixiz module. Wisdom on the forum seems to suggest that 300mW is about the maximum output power that you'd want to shoot through an acrylic lens, so keeping the output power restricted to below 300mW is desirable here.


Advanced Mods / Ideas to Upgrade your Build!
There are a few small additional steps you can take to make this build even cooler, for not a lot of extra time or cost!

- Better Driver -
The stock driver here is decent, but there are better alternatives that will fit the same form factor. Consider grabbing the AK-007 driver that was discussed in this thread: New - "A better 1W budget boost driver" - AK-007 You should be able to DOUBLE the output power of the laser, without adding any complexity to the build. Both drivers are the same size, so it's essentially an easy swap.

- Better Lens -
For about $10 from a number of sources online and on this forum you can buy a 445nm coated glass lens to replace the stock acrylic aixiz lens that came with your module. Note that if you do the driver upgrade above, you'll NEED to do this lens upgrade too, because the output power you'll see with the better driver is likely to be too much for the basic acrylic lens.

- Don't Use the Reflector -
Instead of thermal epoxying the aixiz module into the reflector, and then attaching that to the module/driver, you could toss the reflector altogether. If you choose this approach, the aixiz module won't stick out of the end of the build, and the end result will be an even small laser. You may also benefit from better heat conduction (though it's a bit of a catch 22 because you'll also loose the aixiz module's exposure to air for cooling). The added complexity here comes from the fact that you'll need to drill out the middle of the copper-coloured LED module, because it isn't completely hollow inside. It will need to be hollow inside if you want to press the aixiz module directly into it, instead of into the reflector first.
Attached Thumbnails
Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-09.06.45.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-09.08.40.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-09.09.24.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-09.17.34.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-09.45.13.jpg  

Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-10.18.26.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-10.28.16.jpg   Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For !-2011-05-14-10.34.21.jpg  


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SAFETY & IMPORTANT READING (threads authored and contributed to by various members of LPF):
- Federal Aviation Administration - Laser Safety Initiative (link)
- Info release from Laserglow - Default Canadian restrictions on portable lasers (link)
- The Necessity of Safety Goggles (link)


Last edited by rhd; 05-14-2011 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 05-19-2011, 12:35 AM #2
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

Detailed review much? If I had walked on this forum and saw this first, I probably could have pulled it off, because of all the In depth detail. Your newer than me here rhd, and there is still so much I could learn from your mad skillz
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:38 AM #3
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

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Detailed review much? If I had walked on this forum and saw this first, I probably could have pulled it off, because of all the In depth detail. Your newer than me here rhd, and there is still so much I could learn from your mad skillz
Thanks Jake! That's really nice of you to say
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Old 05-19-2011, 06:09 AM #4
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

Thats a really nice tutorial, goodjob
Great for beginners and vets alike

I think I may have spotted your turtles but a random light hit me in the eye before i got to get a close up look, if they were your turtles you better hope their lasers are under 5mW
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Old 05-19-2011, 06:14 AM #5
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!




It won't let me give you rep...
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:57 AM #6
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

Enjoyed seeing another great build tutorial. It's always a pleasure to see skillful building.
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:26 AM #7
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

It's always a pleasure to read rhd's threads. There full of info and good reads for all In my opinion
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:58 AM #8
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

Great walkthrough my friend, this is perfect for me! I am planning on attempting my first build very soon...now i know what to build.
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:49 AM #9
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

IMO, this is the coolest build out there, with the possible exception of the Kryton.

It's clean and very small and looks super professional. WOW
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:27 PM #10
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

is the driver current set , and will most of new drivers power the diode or is the current already two high. what kind of meter do i need to get in order to change ma power?
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:51 PM #11
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

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is the driver current set , and will most of new drivers power the diode or is the current already two high. what kind of meter do i need to get in order to change ma power?
I don't know - but I would bet it is a voltage regulating driver. That seems to be the standard with a lot of LED drivers.

In reality, the inherent limitations of the driver itself are going to make it current limiting though. IE, the driver won't be able to provide enough current to toast a 445. So unless you have some reason to need a specific current within the 445's relatively large range, I think you can wire this, and just rely on its inherent limitations to prevent excess current to your diode.

I don't know what the driver that is included with this host is. It isn't a terribly impressive driver, so I probably wouldn't investigate it too heavily. As mentioned in the build thread, I would probably swap it for an AK-007 if I was making this for a personal keeper laser. My objective in this thread, was cheap and easy (relatively speaking).
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:26 PM #12
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

thanks, i hooked up a 445 diode to a different driver and instantly, it dimmed so i put the diode in my freezer for good luck?
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:28 PM #13
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

if it didn't lase( with some kind of faint beam at least) and just a dim light, it's probably dead and they don't come back to life
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:33 PM #14
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

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Originally Posted by try2die View Post
thanks, i hooked up a 445 diode to a different driver and instantly, it dimmed so i put the diode in my freezer for good luck?
Right...freezer? that's creative?

Nobody should be under the misconception that LED drivers are "plug and play" laser drivers, they're not. Occasionally one works decently well for a laser diode. But more often, they don't. Quite often, the cost to find out is a diode.

I really wouldn't recommend using untested LED drivers to power a 405/445 - unless of course, you're using it for the purpose of finding out if a driver that looks promising really is.
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:48 PM #15
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

ya the thing is new, i keep messen up. isn't there a meter that i can hook up to the +&- diode out put to find out what mw the driver is pushing, because some of my driver sets are set over 1800mw, and i would like to turn them down a little. i think they are pushen to much power. Ive researched and only find weird diagrams....no pics...oh ya this build will give people on welfare a chance to have a laser, 65 bucks that's a super build for the price<THEFIND>
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Old 06-03-2011, 02:53 PM #16
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Default Re: Simple Tutorial: Building a Tiny Chrome/Silver 445 - For $65!

current from a driver is milliamps, or mA, not milliwatts or mW^^
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