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Here's what I've learned so far


New member
Aug 5, 2010
First and foremost, never trust a fart after you hit 50, but if you're already 50 or above, you know this. I just wanted to give you youngsters something to look forward to. :D

Lasers have fascinated me since I was a little kid. I watched the KipKay videos on youtube and thought wow, I wish I could build one of those! and then I ran across a schematic.

So, being the arrogant, elitist prick that I tend to be, I told a couple of my friends that even a drunk monkey could build one of these. Oh, how the mighty do fall. After all, I can build out a secure communications channel between mainframes, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, so a mickey mouse little laser couldn't be too much of a challenge could it? So I began to order parts and I ordered at least three of everything I thought I might need. That was a wise thing to do in retrospect. The items began to arrive and I began assembling my first laser. The following is what I have learned in no particular ranking:

1. It is more important to learn how to de-solder than it is to solder because you will need to learn that first. It's the technical equivalent of the chicken and the egg.
2. It is very important to learn how to solder with precision and when that fails see number 1.
3. Just because you think this pin is (+) positive doesn't make it so. I don't care what the diagram or photo depicts.
4. If you guess, you will fail and I can prove it. You remove the unused pin from the diode and then, one would think, that there is a 50/50 chance that you will guess the polarity correctly. This is wrong because there is a 50/50 chance you will not get it right and a 50/50 chance you will get it wrong.....pppffffzzzzztttt.
5. Having test equipment, like a multimeter is very important.
6. Knowing how to use it is more important. It makes you look smart to have one, but it makes you look like a dipshit, like me, if you don't know how to use it. Mine is still in the box on the kitchen table so that everyone that visits will know how smart I am.
7. You need more arms than an octopus, the eyes of an eagle, hands the size of a toddler's that are as steady as a rock. Or, you can just go buy one of those magnifying glass and alligator clip things with a heavy base and use that.
8. When you discover that you're still 4 arms short, go buy a panavise to hold the stuff while your shaking hands attempt to apply a tiny droplet of solder, with precision, on your board. Upon completion of this step, see number 1.
9. If you're not sure which diode you're using in your build, you will fry the most expensive one first. I fried my 300mw blue last night....ppppffffzzzzttttt
10. Test, Test, Test, if you can figure out how.
11. Eenie, meenie, minie, mo, is not a protocol in the scientific method

I'm sure I'll be adding to this but this is a good starting point.

I have been a lifelong sportsman, hunting and fishing, but living in the city doesn't afford much opportunity for those hobbies. This will be a lot of fun if I can get the hang of it, but a drunk monkey can do it right?

Speaking of drunk monkeys, let me add item number 12.

12. There is a direct correlation between consuming copious quantities of single malts or other inferior libations and the amount of recreational money you blow on your project. So it's actually best to do it while drinking beer. It'll save you money.



New member
Jun 24, 2009
Well said!

we do indeed learn through our mistakes. It's always infuriating to utterly destroy an expensive component because of carelessness or plain stupidity (hint: HeNe tubes have this annoying tendency to roll off tables). ;)

This is a good list to start off. Let me add another item:
13) Always be mindful of your wiring. Wires tend to cross paths at the most unexpected and unfortunate of times. Always watch out for shorts or intermittent connections. Zzzap!

Your item #12 is quite accurate, I would also add that the construction skills of a hobbyist are decreased proportionally with the amounts of spirits consumed. Case in point, I impaled my right hand with a screwdriver a few weeks ago and spent the night at he emergency, after consuming a fine double hops IPA... :banghead:



New member
Jul 25, 2010
14) Check polarity of diode case. (see. #3 & #4)


Well-known member
Apr 2, 2009
ROTFL--Your OP remended me of another Joke---

what is invisable and smells like rotten bananas??

a monkey fart...


Please join our sub(versive) group

'Lone Star Laser Fans'-- we meet the fifth tuesday every Feb.

Hak in brazoria-

ps-passing thru Dallas next Thursday afternoon on the way to the big laser meet in NC(SELEM)-- I have an hour or three to kill- any interest in looking at a few Gas lasers I need to sell?? I have a complete Argon SL and a few red HeNes...PM me back---glad to have you and your sense of humor at LPF--Len


New member
Aug 11, 2010
nice words you shared for the beginners like me , thank you . . . !!!