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Old 11-24-2016, 01:01 AM #1
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Default Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Hello guys, new member here. I've lurked around this forum for a long time but have now joined in an attempt to get some help with my build. This is my first build and unless something changes it'll probably be my last. I got the bug to build a functioning laser gun from youtube videos a few years ago as I've wanted one since my childhood in the 80's. My build is an 80's lazer tag gun that has been gutted, added star trek phaser sounds, and a 2W 445nm diode. I have OCD so I even replaced the screws in the gun with threaded inserts, used body filler on the gun body for scratches, and repainted, etc. For all intents and purposes this is an entertainment device that I'd like to pop balloons with. Here are the issues that I'm having that I hope someone can help with:

1. Is there a special tool available for adjusting the focus of the lens? Mine has two notches in it but it is recessed rather deeply in the module. I have tools galore but the only thing that works is a pair of calipers that I can insert into the module and turn. They are very sharp and are gouging the plastic holding the lens and I'd rather not continue this practice as I have no doubt it will damage the lens holder eventually.

2. I bought a glass lens as everything I read said a 2W laser would melt an acrylic one but I found the lens HORRIBLE - when adjusted so that a blue bar can be seen (445nm) there was a lot of "noise" around the bar. After fiddling with it for a few days I decided to try the acrylic lens that came with the module and I found that one to be much "cleaner" with virtually no background noise. I can pop a balloon from 2-3 feet away, but I would like it to be focused to infinity. The lens is very close to the diode necessitating something inserted into the module for focusing (#1 above), however if the lens is too close to the diode the blue bar is seen and if the lens is too far from the diode you get a blue blob. The problem I'm having is that it seems that 1/1,000,000 of a turn on the lens throws the focus WAY off in one direction or the other. I realize this is a precise instrument but I have tried for hours to get it focused and a turn that cannot be seen with the naked eye nor felt with the hand is enough to take the lens from too close to the diode to WAY too far. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong?

I apologize for the extremely long post; I'm just frustrated by the process with as much time and money as I've put into it so far. If anybody has any advice I'm all ears!



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Old 11-24-2016, 01:14 AM #2
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Hi,
The lens is not sitting level in the barrel if i am understanding your issue correctly. this happened to me on one occasion . Or the lens is faulty i can't think of any other reason why the focuses diverting side to side

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Old 11-24-2016, 01:16 AM #3
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by emorrison96 View Post
Hello guys, new member here. I've trolled this forum for a long time but have now joined in an attempt to get some help with my build. This is my first build and unless something changes it'll probably be my last. I got the bug to build a functioning laser gun from youtube videos a few years ago as I've wanted one since my childhood in the 80's. My build is an 80's lazer tag gun that has been gutted, added star trek phaser sounds, and a 2W 445nm diode. I have OCD so I even replaced the screws in the gun with threaded inserts, used body filler on the gun body for scratches, and repainted, etc. For all intents and purposes this is an entertainment device that I'd like to pop balloons with. Here are the issues that I'm having that I hope someone can help with:

1. Is there a special tool available for adjusting the focus of the lens? Mine has two notches in it but it is recessed rather deeply in the module. I have tools galore but the only thing that works is a pair of calipers that I can insert into the module and turn. They are very sharp and are gouging the plastic holding the lens and I'd rather not continue this practice as I have no doubt it will damage the lens holder eventually.

2. I bought a glass lens as everything I read said a 2W laser would melt an acrylic one but I found the lens HORRIBLE - when adjusted so that a blue bar can be seen (445nm) there was a lot of "noise" around the bar. After fiddling with it for a few days I decided to try the acrylic lens that came with the module and I found that one to be much "cleaner" with virtually no background noise. I can pop a balloon from 2-3 feet away, but I would like it to be focused to infinity. The lens is very close to the diode necessitating something inserted into the module for focusing (#1 above), however if the lens is too close to the diode the blue bar is seen and if the lens is too far from the diode you get a blue blob. The problem I'm having is that it seems that 1/1,000,000 of a turn on the lens throws the focus WAY off in one direction or the other. I realize this is a precise instrument but I have tried for hours to get it focused and a turn that cannot be seen with the naked eye nor felt with the hand is enough to take the lens from too close to the diode to WAY too far. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong?

I apologize for the extremely long post; I'm just frustrated by the process with as much time and money as I've put into it so far. If anybody has any advice I'm all ears!
Try and get some pics up. I can't imagine what your dealing with. I'm not aware of a plastic module. Also I would edit your post to remove trolling and replace with lurking or something similar
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Old 11-24-2016, 01:51 AM #4
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Ah, let me clarify - my module is aluminum and the lens holder is plastic. Attempting to focus the lens requires inserting something into the module and its gouging the plastic that is holding the lens. If you're trying to pop a balloon from 20 feet away but the lens is too close to the diode resulting in a blue bar instead of a dot, then turning the lens by .000001 of one turn will take the focus way past the balloon resulting in a blue blob. I can't imagine the focusing lens would be that precise as it makes it unusable. The lens is so deep in the module that it can't be turned by hand. I'll try to attach a pic. Thank you for the replies so far!
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Old 11-24-2016, 02:08 AM #5
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Here's the project so far:
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Old 11-24-2016, 02:28 AM #6
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

The further you shoot from the more exaggerated the focus adjustments will seem. You could try a 2 element lens or 3 element lens. The single element lenses have a narrow sweet spot for focusing to infinity. The 3 element lens can have some peripheral noise. I find the 2 element lens to be great for most of my lasers. Also an acrylic lens in a plastic holder at 2w is asking for issues. If it starts to burn your diode window is trashed. Your glass lens may need to be cleaned also. I use a qtip with some dish soap and dry it off then clean with a lens cloth using another qtip to push the cloth into the lense barrel. Do not try to clean a 2 or 3 element lens this way.
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Old 11-24-2016, 04:04 AM #7
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

The acrylic will melt and as it melts the diode can be damaged and the beam/dot will get worse.

If your real unlucky I've seen 1w+ 445 get hot enough to melt the lens inside the module.

Get a 3 element lens they're like 5 bucks and have good divergence. I prefer those G7 or 3 element for a cleaner dot... I don't use acrylic for more than 5 seconds in any 2w 445.
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Old 11-24-2016, 08:33 AM #8
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

The glass lens I tried initially was a 3 element lens from eBay so I can't attest to its quality. However, it did appear to suffer from the same problem I have with the acrylic lens in that if the balloon is 6 or so feet away and the focal point is too close to pop it then a turn of the lens that is too small to be seen or felt is enough to move the focal point WAY past the balloon. I didn't have my makeshift adjusting tool so it definitely warrants another try with it. I just can't imagine that an adjustment so infintesimally small could make that big a difference. It's so difficult to focus that I feel like it must be something I'm doing wrong.
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Old 11-24-2016, 11:35 AM #9
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Grind down tweezers or something close for a make shift tool. Like Lifetime said make sure the lens is centered and flat in the barrel and I use a stubby type screw driver with a wide blade to screw the inner barrel set ring. Its just wide enough to fit and not fall in a scratch the lens. Now this is if I think is what your issue is.
Some put together projects and modules just don't get the right focus with standard barrel lenses. You can try a 7mm barrel instead of the regular 9mm.
It also doesn't take much of a turn to change focus..
Can I asked where you got the Star Trek sound board from? I love these builds!
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Old 11-24-2016, 01:55 PM #10
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Ah I didn't think of using tweezers; that's a good idea. The Star Trek sound boards was taken from a new toy phaser off of eBay. You can buy them all day long for $10-$15. They are light blue instead of the screen correct colors. The only issue with it was that the trigger directly touches the board instead of using a separate switch so when I put it into mine I couldn't just wire it in with existing wiring. I reused the speaker in the lazer tag gun. The lazer tag gun has a switch on it to silence the gun (stealth mode if you're playing the game) that was still functional so I wired it into that and the sound can be turned on or off at will. I went with a Star Trek one because I wanted something that made the same sound as long as the trigger was pulled. I did find some Star Wars ones that continued to make sound as long as the trigger was pulled but they were all more of a "pew pew" sound that didn't really fit the theme of a constant laser beam to me.

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Old 11-24-2016, 03:12 PM #11
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Ah Ha, the "Rubie's" phaser. Yup can't go wrong for $10. I did see the seperate battery setup for it on your pic at least I think you did. Re using the tag gun speaker has to be a good thing as these Rubie's electronic's are pretty cheap but totally agree the that constant "Star Trek" phaser sound and beam at the press of the trigger is just so right
Just this morning got a prototype focusing nozzle and heatsink for my new Rubies project from member "Lifetime".
Not to hi jack this thread but any progress on the focusing?

Edit: Looking again it looks like you got a complete in module diode, driver, just hook the wires up setup? Any links?
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Last edited by GSS; 11-24-2016 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 11-24-2016, 03:17 PM #12
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

You could try out a focus adapter:

Extended Length Focusing Ring - Blue Anodized

That'd certainly help with your adjustment issue. Although, I don't know if those fit your specific module. Would need more detailed pictures of the module.

There are other colours available too - under the accessories page.
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Old 11-24-2016, 03:51 PM #13
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Here's the latest - the heat sink consists of 5 "ribs" and the lens sits completely down inside of it. So far it has not gotten remotely warm as it's only on for a second at a time. I cut off two of the ribs which allows the lens barrel to sit outside of the heatsink enough to get a focusing ring on it. Using that this morning and focusing by hand as it is running is a major improvement. What I'm seeing now is the beam can be focused to a nice crisp blue bar but not a dot. The bar is small at 15 feet or so but definitely nor concentrated enough to pop a balloon. The bar is about 1" long at 15 feet and focusing in either direction yields a blue blob. Any ideas?

The driver is separate from the module and is glued to the gun body where the notch is just behind the module. It was definitely the most precise solder job I've ever done. It looked a lot larger in the picture when I bought it.
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Old 11-24-2016, 04:02 PM #14
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by emorrison96 View Post
What I'm seeing now is the beam can be focused to a nice crisp blue bar but not a dot. The bar is small at 15 feet or so but definitely nor concentrated enough to pop a balloon. The bar is about 1" long at 15 feet and focusing in either direction yields a blue blob. Any ideas?

The bar is a result of the laser diode. All of the high power blues have a similar beam profile unfortunately. There isn't really anything you can really do about it without correction optics in place.
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Old 11-24-2016, 04:25 PM #15
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Hmm. So I need some correcting optics. What would that entail? Is it another lens in use along with the one I'm already using?
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Old 11-24-2016, 04:35 PM #16
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Default Re: Tool help - focusing help - NOOB HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by emorrison96 View Post
Hmm. So I need some correcting optics. What would that entail? Is it another lens in use along with the one I'm already using?
You need two optics, and you still won't get a round dot - you'll get a square/rectangular dot.

Lots of threads on the subject here: Optics - Laser Pointer Forums - Discuss Laser Pointers

The 3 element glass lens alone will provide a better beam in the far field than a G2 or G7, but you lose some power with the 3 element too. And it'll still be a stripe without correction optics.
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