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Hello! Complete Newbie to lasers, would like advice on where to start in terms of first building from scratch

Sigas

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Nov 15, 2020
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Hello! I am a completely new user to LPF and Lasers in general. I have been watching a lot of Styropyro's YouTube videos on lasers for a bit of a while now and have been wanting to get into laser building thanks to him. I have been wanting to start small at first, considering I am still completely new to the hobby of laser building, and I have been. I have spent the last few minutes on this website reading on laser safety: the 4 different classes, the ALESA test, the need for safety goggles, etc. I am mainly asking for things a Newbie like me could do in order to start laser building at first.

I have read in one of the stickied threads in general about JAD kits. I have also read in another thread asking a similar question that if they want to start building, they should start with the Laser Diode from a DVD burner. Would this be a good place to start for me if I wanted to build from scratch or is this too advanced at the moment?

Thanks in advance
 



Alaskan

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Revive the forum activity on lasers!

Go to Survival Lasers hosts and DTR modules (DTR Google Store) and you can make it happen.
 

DreamBeam

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Nov 11, 2020
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My advice would be this:
1. First thing you should get is safety gear.
2. It might be a good idea to get a finished (factory made) laser first to get some idea on how the light behaves and what it can do.
3. Then get some bundles like others stated and try to make your own laser.

I'm just a newbie too, but I think that building my own laser for start is a bit too much for me.

Keep in mind you won't know exact wavelenght of a random diode you take from CD burner for example, making it trickier to get goggles.

I got my starter gear from reputable manufacturer (Sanwu) so I know that laser output and wavelenght are what the label says they are and I know what my safety goggles can or can't stop.
I think it's very important to know what exactly you have.
Example: Standard goggles won't stop IR from DPSS laser, yet that IR light is there and your eyes can't see it, yet it still can and will damage your eyes if it hits them.
 

Dud445

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Sep 4, 2020
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Styropyro videos aren't exactly the best representation for the hobby. It's more for clickbate and braggart purposes that tends to attract the wrong kind of people. We get new members all the time asking how to build a multiwatt laser. It's good to see you aren't one of them and have interest in safety.
To answer your question, are you accustomed to taking things apart? It's relatively simple to take the dvd burner apart but you could destroy the diode if you aren't careful enough. It's up to you if you feel you can be gentle enough to extract it.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
48
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18
Hello! I am a completely new user to LPF and Lasers in general. I have been watching a lot of Styropyro's YouTube videos on lasers for a bit of a while now and have been wanting to get into laser building thanks to him. I have been wanting to start small at first, considering I am still completely new to the hobby of laser building, and I have been. I have spent the last few minutes on this website reading on laser safety: the 4 different classes, the ALESA test, the need for safety goggles, etc. I am mainly asking for things a Newbie like me could do in order to start laser building at first.

I have read in one of the stickied threads in general about JAD kits. I have also read in another thread asking a similar question that if they want to start building, they should start with the Laser Diode from a DVD burner. Would this be a good place to start for me if I wanted to build from scratch or is this too advanced at the moment?

Thanks in advance
Hi Sigas, welcome to LPF!

It's great that you want to get into lasers and laser building, it's a really fun hobby and there are opportunities to learn a lot. I agree completely with Dud445, if Styropyro's videos got you excited about the laser hobby that's a great thing, but his projects aren't what you should be looking to do at first.

As for your first builds, again I agree with Dud445. The "DVD burner diode" scene has a history rooted in the relative unavailability of high powered diodes in the past, so they had to be salvaged. Nowadays, it's easy to buy a diode and driver (or even a combined module of the two) directly, rather than having to harvest a diode from another device. In my opinion, the biggest benefit to salvaging a laser diode these days is that if you can get the devices for free, you might save yourself some money if you're worried about potentially frying a diode due to inexperience, but since low powered diodes aren't expensive, and because if you're careful when you're working on them you won't fry anything, this isn't a big advantage.

Depending on your level of experience with electronics and soldering, I'd start by looking into sellers of diodes and drivers, or combination modules of both. Start with something inexpensive and low power, and work your way up, you'll be amazed how fast you pick up on things. And don't forget to ask a lot of questions - there are a lot of nice people on this forum who would be happy to help.

Good luck and welcome!
 

sgtbilkodle

Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
32
Points
8
Hello! I am a completely new user to LPF and Lasers in general. I have been watching a lot of Styropyro's YouTube videos on lasers for a bit of a while now and have been wanting to get into laser building thanks to him. I have been wanting to start small at first, considering I am still completely new to the hobby of laser building, and I have been. I have spent the last few minutes on this website reading on laser safety: the 4 different classes, the ALESA test, the need for safety goggles, etc. I am mainly asking for things a Newbie like me could do in order to start laser building at first.

I have read in one of the stickied threads in general about JAD kits. I have also read in another thread asking a similar question that if they want to start building, they should start with the Laser Diode from a DVD burner. Would this be a good place to start for me if I wanted to build from scratch or is this too advanced at the moment?

Thanks in advance
Howdee.

-Consider it as dangerous as a firearm; in some scenarios even more dangerous.
JUST SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF AND MAYBE USE SOME OF THE ANSWERS TO UPDATE YOUR QUESTION (CAPSLOCK isn't me yelling; just the headline of my answer)...lol
-How old are you?
-What are your experiences? Firearms instructor, never had a knife, ever hurt someone for fun, ever held a powerful laser?
-What are your skillsets and to what level, including whatever you might imagine a build would involve?
--Soldering, machine work, electrics/electronics, battery type knowledge, mechanical and/or electrical fab,
-What is your budget, considering time and money?
-What tools do you have?
--Soldering equipment, vice, drill, full-on machine shop, a bunch of junk laying around the garage like Sanford and Son (me), more, the list goes on...
-How much time are you willing to spend reading and learning?
--This sight has a wealth of information but can be very challenging to gleam everything you need to know from it.

I personally skipped to using these parts for my first build:
-Stuff laying around the garage as the host, to include 2 Harbor Freight flashlights, some pvc, an AN fuel line fitting, my old military uniform with fiberglass resin, aluminum "welding" rods...
M-Type M140 445nm diode from DTR
9.98 volts of LiFePO4 battery power
LoD linear driver from LeQuack, set for 1.8A
Copper module
G2 lens

and these for my second build:
DTR's 2W 445nm M-Type M140 Blue Laser Diode In Copper Module
Hiemel's (formerly LeQuack) 1.8A driver
1.8A in/2W out (not LPM'd)
G2 and G1 lenses w/focus rings pressed into aluminum hose fittings
$5 discontinued flashlight host
3x CR123a LiFPO4 batts
1/4 x 20 threaded tripod
Finned heatsink

I learned MOST of what I know about lasers from here and by exploring places this forum lead me. I still feel like I don't know sheeet. Fortunately I'm smart and determined, so I did well. Also blessed with over half a century of age, a career's worth of experience on mech fab, electronic repair, weapons discipline and automotive performance hobbies.

Built those first 2 in May and June of 2015. The driver finally gave in to my punishment after 5 years and is being upgraded this week...more to come.

I hope you build a sweet laser and handle it properly.

I subscribed to your post and will look in here and there.

Good luck,

Dalton (sgtbilkodle)
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2020
Messages
48
Points
18
Quick addendum inspired by sgtbilkodle's post -

DreamBeam's reply makes a good point: please put the first ~50 dollars you invest in this hobby into a pair of decent safety goggles. Survival laser is a good resource for this. Please please please no eBay laser goggles.

I often wonder what the right approach is when it comes to giving the "safety briefing" to new people, because I don't want to give the impression that lasers are grenades with the pin missing. If you research the safety issues (which it sounds like you're doing) and take the safety measures and responsible use practices seriously, you won't have any problems. We make a big deal about the safety stuff because you're given one and only one set of working eyes per lifetime, so protecting them is no joke.

Outside all the serious safety talk, the fun part is actually getting to build and enjoy the laser. sgtbilkodle is absolutely right, who you are and what you know/have access too matters here. Have you done any soldering? If not, watch some videos and practice. If you can get your hands on a circuit board out of some old electronics that has through-hole components, you can use it to practice soldering and desoldering things. Beyond the obvious, the reason you want to get comfortable with soldering and get good at it is because actual laser hosts are smaller than you think they are. There's really not a lot of space in there, so you need to get comfortable soldering with the shortest wires you can, which takes practice. If you want to build a laser before you're comfortable doing it in a host, even a basic heatsink setup will be just fine for a small diode and you can just run the setup "on the bench".

My advice in my first post regarding the combined driver/diode modules is mostly for ease of use, if you want to get practice with laser building, buy them individually. If you go on DTR's website, I think you can order drivers already set to the current you need for your diode, if you aren't ready to buy or build a test load to set driver currents yourself. Start with an inexpensive, lower powered diode and get yourself comfortable with the building process. Once you have that under your belt, you'll feel a lot more confident about doing a bigger project, like a more expensive diode in an atypical wavelength for instance.

Also, one last point that doesn't really have anything to do with safety or practicality for the build you're talking about, but it just comes from my own experience: try to learn everything you can about the things you're doing, even if you don't really need to. Read about how laser diodes work. Look into how a constant current driver works, and try to get some understanding of the electronic design that goes into them. Will stuff like this be especially important to you if you're buying components and not planning to build your own drivers from scratch? No. But they're just awesome things to know, and I think learning about the behind the scenes stuff is a great way to get the most out of this hobby!

As always, if you have any questions in general or as you start looking into particular components for a build, I and lots of others are happy to help if we can.

Cheers,
LM
 

sgtbilkodle

Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2015
Messages
32
Points
8
Quick addendum inspired by sgtbilkodle's post -

DreamBeam's reply makes a good point: please put the first ~50 dollars you invest in this hobby into a pair of decent safety goggles. Survival laser is a good resource for this. Please please please no eBay laser goggles.

I often wonder what the right approach is when it comes to giving the "safety briefing" to new people, because I don't want to give the impression that lasers are grenades with the pin missing. If you research the safety issues (which it sounds like you're doing) and take the safety measures and responsible use practices seriously, you won't have any problems. We make a big deal about the safety stuff because you're given one and only one set of working eyes per lifetime, so protecting them is no joke.

Outside all the serious safety talk, the fun part is actually getting to build and enjoy the laser. sgtbilkodle is absolutely right, who you are and what you know/have access too matters here. Have you done any soldering? If not, watch some videos and practice. If you can get your hands on a circuit board out of some old electronics that has through-hole components, you can use it to practice soldering and desoldering things. Beyond the obvious, the reason you want to get comfortable with soldering and get good at it is because actual laser hosts are smaller than you think they are. There's really not a lot of space in there, so you need to get comfortable soldering with the shortest wires you can, which takes practice. If you want to build a laser before you're comfortable doing it in a host, even a basic heatsink setup will be just fine for a small diode and you can just run the setup "on the bench".

My advice in my first post regarding the combined driver/diode modules is mostly for ease of use, if you want to get practice with laser building, buy them individually. If you go on DTR's website, I think you can order drivers already set to the current you need for your diode, if you aren't ready to buy or build a test load to set driver currents yourself. Start with an inexpensive, lower powered diode and get yourself comfortable with the building process. Once you have that under your belt, you'll feel a lot more confident about doing a bigger project, like a more expensive diode in an atypical wavelength for instance.

Also, one last point that doesn't really have anything to do with safety or practicality for the build you're talking about, but it just comes from my own experience: try to learn everything you can about the things you're doing, even if you don't really need to. Read about how laser diodes work. Look into how a constant current driver works, and try to get some understanding of the electronic design that goes into them. Will stuff like this be especially important to you if you're buying components and not planning to build your own drivers from scratch? No. But they're just awesome things to know, and I think learning about the behind the scenes stuff is a great way to get the most out of this hobby!

As always, if you have any questions in general or as you start looking into particular components for a build, I and lots of others are happy to help if we can.

Cheers,
LM
LaserMicroscope, I love your advice on learning "everything"! Beers...
 

hakzaw1

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
Messages
10,453
Points
113
Questions about you are NOT us being nosey-
just making safety #1

Read and follow the links we have placed in our sigs FOR MEMBERS JUST LIKE YOU'
Especially laserpointersafety.com -< I check there very often as new stuff is added every day.
 




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