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Five Months of Building *Lots of Pics*

ScooterMcGooch

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Over the past few months, my interest in lasers has become an addiction. This post chronicles my builds from the last few months (including the first laser I have built).
It all started last fall when my roommate and I were thinking about starting an engineering project. He is a sophomore computer engineer, and I am a freshman electrical engineer in college. Robotics has always interesting to both of us, and so we decided we would build a robot. I am not exactly certain how the final idea came about, but in about a week we had decided to build a laser wielding vehicle. (Think beefy RC car controlled via computer over Wi-Fi equipped with a laser turret). Though the robot is nowhere near complete, I finished the laser around the end of November.
Since this was my first laser build, and at the time I thought it would be my only, I was set out to do it right. I spent two months building this monster, and I am proud of it. The host is entirely custom; it’s made from a gutted “Namco Light Gun” made for the PS1. As for the internals, she is a 9mm 445 diode from DTR running at 2.4 amps via an X-Drive. I was so paranoid about accidentally frying the diode, I ordered one of his pre-assembled modules so I could just wire the rest of my circuit; needless to say, a dirty dorm room is not exactly a place I could count on avoiding ESD. Nevertheless, I managed to toast a driver playing around with the module before I mounted it in the pistol. I have to thank DTR for all of his help. He tested the driver, and mounted a new one for me. I also want to thank everyone who has helped me on this forum- I really appreciate how helpful the community is here.
I wanted to add a few safety features to the laser, so I installed a voltage monitor for the 7.4V Lithium-Polymer battery that fits in the grip. The entire circuit is cut by a key switch under the “barrel” as well.
Though I am in the engineering department, I have been working on some connections in the physics department lately; they have a KILLER laser laboratory. One of the professors I have been speaking with allowed me to meter my laser on the school’s Thor Labs OPM. I was really excited when I saw the reading! I had been dreading metering the laser because I really wanted to hit 3W. I almost didn't want to look at the results, but when I asked the professor what the meter was reading and he said “Why don’t you look for yourself?” I have to admit I got pretty excited. I checked it, and to my amazement it said 3315 mW ! I’m sure a lot of you see that reading all the time, but for my first build ever seeing that number made me nothing less than ecstatic ( well, that and the look on the professor’s face when the first shot of the laser missed and instantly burned the rubber ring around the power meter’s Ophir head! ).
Well, without further ado, here are some pictures of the 3.3W beast. The beam shots are poor, when I get somewhere outside of the city I will take some nice pictures.
 

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jimdt7

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Very cool looking pistol! :gj:
+1 :beer:

Jim
 

ScooterMcGooch

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While I need to wait for the budget to bounce back to start anything big, I couldn't resist building some more lasers.. I talked my roommate into splitting a bag of 75 red 5mW modules with me for 25 cents each. The last week has been fun! So far I have made three builds with them; two of which run on 3 AAA batteries, and the other uses one 18650. I decided to use some flashlights from the dollar store as the hosts, and they actually work pretty well. For the bigger laser, which uses 7 diodes, I had to put two of the little flashlights together. The bottom half works as the battery compartment and the top holds the modules. While these are nothing special, they are fun to make and they only take about 30 minutes to put together. I also decided to put a 405 module I picked up for $8 in one of these hosts as well.

So, here are some pictures!
 

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