Welcome to Laser Pointer Forums - discuss green laser pointers, blue laser pointers, and all types of lasers



Laser Pointer Store

How does one build a custom laser pointer?

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
Hello,
I'm a newbie when it comes to lasers but I hope that can change with your help. I've browsed through the forum (and I hope I did a good enough job), there are many bits and pieces of precious info scattered around, but I couldn't find any one place where a beginner with no prior knowledge could read up on the subject and get up to speed. Perhaps, this topic could become the place. Or, if there is one that I missed, please point it out.

* LD: It seems that getting a laser diode is the least of the problems, they're not even that expensive as long as you don't want anything exotic. Found these ones on Aliexpress, would love to use any one of these in my first build: 500 mW 638 nm for $25, 200 mW 405 nm for $19, 1600 mW 450 nm, and others.
* Heatsink, diode housing: no idea where to get that. Found a couple related items on sale (one, two), but it has to be compatible with the host and the collimator (?). I see that some forum members machine their own heatsink housings and I understand that some of them do sell their products, but I'm afraid it's going to be too expensive for me, especially if shipped from USA (I live in Ukraine). What kind of $$$ do these things go for, approximately?
* Collimator: also no idea, it has to be compatible with the host, not just any lens (in other words, the lens alone is not enough, got to have a holder that's compatible with the host).
* Host: there are Convoy S2 flashlight hosts, there are threads on LPF from builders who used these hosts successfully. Unfortunately, they didn't mention how they solved the problems outlined above so I'm not sure how to actually use this host. I'm also looking at these cheap devices from LPS: they get OK reviews, are cheaper than Convoy, and have the advantage (?) of being a complete and working laser pointer. If only the dimensions of the LD installed were known, one could swap it out for a more interesting LD with the same dimensions, right?
cheap host 1
cheap host 2
cheap host 3 - I have a green laser in this housing, btw. Tried disassembling it this morning but couldn't get to the LD, probably need pliers and more force to unscrew the LD housing?
* Driver: shouldn't be a problem for low and medium-power lasers. Modern voltage / current regulators are highly integrated and in the basic implementation require very few components. I'm sure even I can make a simple linear driver circuit board, perhaps even a buck converter.

So, I guess my question is: is it possible to get a kit of laser diode housing + lens housing + host off-the-shelf, or only from the fellow forum DIYers? Where can I shop for these items?

And another question: are special tools required for assembly? Can you press the diode into heatsink by hand, or do you need a vise with a special tool to press it in?
 

GSS

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2015
Messages
3,950
Points
113
Welcome:)
Where to begin??
Quick note LPS is just a overly expensive re seller with cheap products, and a example their so called Sanwu Style is a forgery..
Just off the bat that cheap host #3 option with the 301 style host might look and feel good for a build but it's mass produced and uses a lot of glue and un friendly as far as fitting parts that are available.
Survival Lasers has a whole lot of host bundle kits with everything you need minus the diode/driver if your in the US but has the full kit with diode and driver if out of the US.
Diodes do need to be pressed into a module and there are press tools available but some can do it without but have practiced with dead diodes.
Some options included a complete module from DTR's sight with a diode and driver in the module of your choice and the driver preset to what you want. All you have to do is connect the 2 wires to your host choice.
Member "Lifetime17" can machine a custom host or setup a flashlight host with a heatsink and prewired which are basicly plug and play. Connect the wires and slide in the module into the hosts heatsink and tighten it with a set screw and done..
He can also machine you a heatsink for any host you might like if you want a DIY build.. Way cheaper than you might think and nothing is to small for him, so dont hesitate to ask him to what ever route you go;)

Ok I see your in the Ukraine..
Diode's usually come in a 3.8mm 5.6mm and 9mm so you need a module to match what ever diode you go with.
A 12mm module is just about the norm so your best bet is to go with a 12mm and they are threaded for standard lenses and usually come with a plastic lens but if your building something over 100mw don't use it as it will melt.. They fit a glass 3 element, G2 etc.. These are the only lenses you will need for a basic build.
This module is what needs to go into a heatsink thats machined for the host you choose in order to have any run time because heat the enemy.
Driver what ever you choose usually needs to be set and do you have the equipment?

Best best is the International link of "Survival Laser's" or a Ukraine based store for a complete unit. Do your homework on prices and if you see a host that looks similure to your 301 and is rated at 5000mW and is over $10, run way from that sight it's a rip off.

https://www.survivallaser.com

^^^A 1W 445nm blue complete kit for example^^^ for $100
He offers a added safety glasses deal too which you need to get.
 
Last edited:

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
Thank you very much for the info, I'm starting to understand how it's made and what goes where.

Driver what ever you choose usually needs to be set and do you have the equipment?
The electrical engineering equipment? I have some, definitely enough to adjust the current of a driver.
 

paul1598419

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
14,600
Points
113
To adjust the current of a driver, you will need a dummy load to take the place of a laser diode because you don't want to adjust the current while connected to a laser diode. You can build a reasonably good dummy load using 10 amp rectifiers which can be bought on eBay at $5.00 for 50 diodes. Then you will need a 1 ohm 1% resistor at 5 watts or more. You can measure the voltage drop across the resistor as 1 mV = 1 mA. I use a proto board to mount everything to and header pins and shunts to change the number of diode in the series. You need only use ten of the rectifiers for your dummy load.
 

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
I have a reasonable assortment of ceramic high-power resistors, a current meter, a voltage meter, an adjustable lab power supply... The electronics doesn't scare me, the mechanics does.
 
Last edited:

GSS

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2015
Messages
3,950
Points
113
DTR is a wealth of info and blessing for a source of parts..:)
I your building your own driver than you have to consider the size and a host to fit it.
The Survival Laser link I gave is just the intro to it's International store.. It won't let me link specific complete bundles but for example click on to the blue laser's and you will see a complete easy to put together intro package from 1W+ 445 at $99.99.
The mechanic's are simple to put together and it's shipped a little disassembled for legal reasons.
 

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
I have to say, those kits seem way too expensive given that LPS has 1.6 W Thor M2 for $50 and 3 W for $70 - a complete portable laser. I understand it's probably made from very cheap components and in a cheap way, but still. I'm aiming for $100 for a complete build - looking at $50 for the laser + heatsink from DTR's store and $50 for the rest. Not sure yet whether it's feasible, but it would be nice. Initially, I just wanted to get the Thor, but then thought I may want something more interesting in terms of wavelength as well as build quality.

I understand the LD is pressed into the heatsink in a way that makes it pretty much non-removable, but the heatsinks themselves may be freely swapped inside the same host, is that right?
 
Last edited:

GSS

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2015
Messages
3,950
Points
113
Now i'm really confused, I was under the impression you wanted to do a DIY build??? You even mentioned building your own driver?? The Survival Laser is a complete build "it even says no soldering required". It just ships basicly somewhat apart for legal reason's.
Yes you can get a DTR complete dirver included module, and check out the pic's on member "Lifetime17" sales thread and if you link on his +3 pic's he has some different colored 501B hosts all prewired with a heat sink thats ready for a 12mm DTR setup. 2 wires to connect and your done.. He's a bargain and cheaper than you might think, so it's worth sending him a PM. I have no clue what shipping will cost but Lifetime17 is to be 110% trusted..

At this point if $100 is a your limit you might at well get a Thor unit in kit form that includes safety glasses, the ones they offer should be upgraded as soon as possible though..
Nothing swaps between Thor models and alot of glue is used for assembly.
Something to note, a diode is pressed into a module "which is basicly a heatsink" but what we refer to as a heatsink is an extra machined piece made from AL or Copper thats custom made for a individual host that the module goes into..
 
Last edited:

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
Now i'm really confused, I was under the impression you wanted to do a DIY build???
What I meant is you suggested an $100 445 nm kit, and I couldn't see it as a justified cost given that there is Thor with the same specs for $50-70. But I fully admit that there probably is a reason for the difference, I just lack experience to see it. Going to read some reviews of the Thor to educate myself. Yes, I do want to build myself, at least to an extent.

When I ask about whether the modules can be swapped out I didn't mean Thor but a typical DIY host. And thanks for clarifying the module/heatsink confusion I seemed to have. So,the proper way to ask that question is: can I swap modules within a heatsink? Assuming the same module size, naturally.

$100 is not a hard limit, more like a goal I would like to aim at with my first build.
I did look at Lifetime17's thread a couple times, he does indeed has very nice and beautiful hosts, but I didn't find any mention of the prices anywhere and I was sure it's expensive. The hosts certainly do look expensive, plus, American labor can't be cheap :) But perhaps I should inquire after all.
 
Last edited:

GSS

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 28, 2015
Messages
3,950
Points
113
Yup, you got it as long as the module's are the same size and the 12mm is basicly the standard. DTR started making bigger ones like the 20mm and 25mm a couple years ago more or less for custom builds..

The Thors have a potential to last just like the 301 you have, and a couple members did get one from LPS to review. "Paul and Diachi were the members I believe..
The Thor line of lasers are probably the "only" ok priced units I would recommend from LPS though.
Go with the Thor for now because I promise you it won't be your last laser, not with this hobby, it addictive.. You will learn quickly to build your own soon.. Get some safety glasses PLEASE..
 
Last edited:

LaserRanger

Active member
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
127
Points
28
Safety glasses for the wavelength you are operating and properly rated for the power output of your laser should be at the top of your list. This is a fun hobby but it can easily leave you blind if you are not careful
 

RedCowboy

Well-known member
LPF Site Supporter
Joined
Jul 10, 2015
Messages
7,460
Points
113
The cheap lasers such as ebay thor could be made from a diode pulled from a well used machine and as they are often overdriven to achieve the advertised output a virgin diode won't heat fade as fast and will output at a higher efficiency.

Fact is a lot of the better divergence blue multi mode repurposed projector diodes come from machines no longer in production, well the m-140 and ndb7875 are popular and cheap when salvaged from high hour machines and that cheap is attractive to Chinese builders so that's likely what you will get, but anything is possible..........I really prefer new/virgin diodes, tin pin NEW pulls are just fine.

Also think about the quality and thickness of the host/heat sink and your duty cycle, lasing has a way of making time go by faster than you think and a heavier heat sink is your friend when having fun.

So if the difference is 150.00 vs. 70.00 and the unit will be used diode/thin heat sink vs. new diode/heavier heat sink I would go with the 150.00 option, but live and learn, if 70.00 gets your feet wet comfortably then go for it, just stay safe 1st and foremost.
 
Last edited:

VioletGiraffe

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2017
Messages
36
Points
8
Thank you for the tips, I was just starting to see the info about used LDs being in wide circulation, didn't connect the dots yet to realize the cheap Chinese pointers utilize used LDs. And I understand what you're saying with that $70 vs. $150 argument, starting to appreciate your point of view. Time is also money, especially the time not spent worrying about a poorly performing or malfunctioning pointer. I'm not rich enough to buy cheap products, as the saying goes. That's not the kind of a difference that makes anyone go bankrupt.
 

paul1598419

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
14,600
Points
113
I and diachi got two Thor H2 445nm lasers that run off two 26650 batteries to review. They output a little better than 1.6 watts on high and up to half that on low power. These are still sold on laser pointer store's website for $89.00 and are not bad at all. I still run mine at least once a month and they use a three element lens which is the reason for the lower power, but have a nice tight dot. They are a pretty hefty host and mine can run several minutes without getting warm to the touch. You can look for the reviews if you are interested. I did one and diachi did another one.
 




Top