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Old 06-16-2012, 08:59 AM #1
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Question Want to get into gas lasers.

So I've been away from the forums for some time and haven't really been paying attention to lasers for a while. Now that I'm back and unfortunately for my wallet wanting a new laser, I figure I should finally get a gas laser. Thing is, I have no idea where to start. I never really do anything with my dad so if I got a gas laser I might be able to work on it with him. What kind of gas laser would you recommend for this? I know that an Argon laser requires at least one run a month, but what else is there for maintenance? I want something that will let me spend more time with him than just setting it up. However I think an Argon will end up costing to much money. Is there much to do with a HeNe? I remember seeing that daguin sells gas lasers and I've been stalking long enough to know that I can totally trust him. So what do you think? Should I get into gas lasers with my Dad or just stick to regular boring old diode lasers for now?



P.S. For those of you wondering my budget I figure I'll be able to spend around 300 but I won't know 100% until later this week.


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Old 06-16-2012, 10:42 PM #2
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

While my multiline argon is by far my favorite laser in my collection if you're new to gas lasers I'd avoid them for a first laser for a few reasons.

1. A decent argon will cost you probably close to your budget; more if you want a multiline. Check daguin's FS Thread if you're interested in one. I bought mine from him and can vouch for the quality of product he sells. Beware that shipping one isn't cheap. IIRC I paid almost 80 bucks to have mine shipped.

2. As you already mentioned Argons require at one maintenance burn per month or over time they can become very hard to start up. I usually run mine 30-60 minutes.

3. They're power hungry beasts that will pull 10-15A at full power and they heat up a room like mad which is why I jokingly call mine "the space heater that makes pretty blue light." Having a dedicated circuit that you can use is a bonus. I use a heavy duty extension cord rated for 15A (my PSU only draws 11A max) and run it off the dedicated 20A washer plug.

That all said I'd start with a couple Helium Neon (HeNe) lasers. They're fairly cheap and a medium to large bare tube looks quite spectacular while running but be warned a bare tube can bite you pretty bad while running and even for awhile after it's off. For a first laser you should look for one with a matching power supply. Some will use an AC supply and others you may have to pick up a cheap DC wall wart to power it with. I'd also suggest visiting the gas lasers section and asking there before buying anything especially on ebay. You can find some pretty decent deals there if you know what to look for but there's also a lot of over priced crap too.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:51 PM #3
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

HeNe ftw! They are cheaply acquired and most last forever if they are hard sealed. I highly recommend a bare HeNe tube because the plasma glow is just as pretty o look at as the laser dot / beam. Just watch out for the high voltages required to run them.

The tubes can store a charge for quite a time after being disconnected, so handle with care to avoide a nasty bite.
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:50 AM #4
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

I also vote for a HeNe. They are cheap and fun lasers. I have 5 reds (3 are bare) and 2 greens. Like others have said no maintenace but they will zap you. Oh you can get them in yellow and orange too.
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:27 AM #5
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

Alrighty, thanks guys I'll definitely stick with HeNe until I have more experience with gas lasers. My dad said that he really is interested in the bare tube and that he will probably make an account here on lpf.

So to go about buying one I should check out daguins thread before eBay? I feel like that's common sense lol. I'll take another look around the gas lasers section of the forum and the b/s/t too. Thanks for all the help and suggestions, I'm certainly a happy camper with this choice.
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If you fall in a vat of choclate always yell 'FIRE' as nobody comes if you yell 'choclate!'

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Wicked Lasers Evolution Pro 60mW (Tail cap BROKEN Button sticks)
O-like 400mW blu-ray 405nm laser torch /adjustable/waterproof
overspec ebay 405nm 5mW laser
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:58 AM #6
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

I don't think dagiun has any HeNes up right now but you could check the BST and LPS forums here for anyone selling HeNe stuff.

One thing I should have mentioned about the "bite" of a bare HeNe tube is while it will hurt like hell in 99.99999% of cases it's harmless to you. The average static shock you feel starts around 10KV. Most HeNes that hobbyists will have operate at between ~1 to 5KV at only a few milliamps. The danger is if you're trying to pickup the tube and drop it. There are a number of ways to safely discharge the tube (it acts like a capacitor) one it's powered off but which way depends on your tube and how it's connected to the power supply. When in doubt just wear gloves. I found a cheap pair of winter gloves for like 2 bucks at Menards a couple years ago that work great.

Oh and one last thing. Once you get one gas laser you'll end up with many more after that first one. These damned things are addicting
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405nm: 170mw 6x SF-AW 210 Guidesman host (thread)
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:44 AM #7
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Default Re: Want to get into gas lasers.

I'll be sure to check out those forums. Thanks again! May the HeNe be with you!

(I'm so cheesy)
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If you fall in a vat of choclate always yell 'FIRE' as nobody comes if you yell 'choclate!'

LASERS

Wicked Lasers Evolution Pro 60mW (Tail cap BROKEN Button sticks)
O-like 400mW blu-ray 405nm laser torch /adjustable/waterproof
overspec ebay 405nm 5mW laser
O-like 100mW 650nm NewWish
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