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Inside an Argon Ion laser

GooeyGus

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So I took my argon head (cyonics/uniphase 2201-40MLA) apart tonight with the intention of giving it a good cleaning. I figured it was made in 1997 and has about 3000 hours on it, it's bound to have some dust accumulation on the heat sink blades inside. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Upon initial inspection of the outside of the head, every single screw looked flawless, like a tool had never touched them. So I proceeded to take them off. Each screw has a locking washer (a washer that is not quite a complete circle, and not completely 'flush') on it. Well, when I removed the screws there was only one mark of where that washer had ever been. Also, every screw seemed to be at the exact same tightness. With this information, I'm guessing this was the first time anyone has gone inside this laser since it was made  :eek:

So I got the outside cover off, and peered inside. Everything was immaculate. I literally gave the entire inside the 'finger swipe' test and couldn't get dust from anywhere. I was really shocked at how pristine this laser is. I talked to the previous owner of the laser and he said he personally removed the laser from some sort of DNA analysis machine, and that it had been idled it's entire 3000-hour life. I'm guessing this machine must have been in some sort of clean room.

ANYWAY... enough babbling... onto the pictures!! (some are a bit fuzzy... cell phone camera  :-/ )

The outside, nice and pretty:



I took a picture of the fan for schrecken in case she could use the info! The fan is all metal and seems very beefy:



The overall inside shot:



This is the circuit board that faces the vents on the side of the head, this is where I assumed a lot of dust would be, but nope:



From the output end of the tube:



The HR mirror at the end of the tube. Also you can see the number for the tube etched in the metal:



This is the output end of the tube:



Circuit board on the opposite side. Some big caps on there!



Another overall view:  (Oh yeah, I was wondering if anyone knew what the white thing on top of part of the heat sink is? It has two wires coming out of it which lead to the fan wiring harness, but on the connector harness the pins are just connected to each other (See the last picture))



Another picture. You can see the electronic aperture shutter on the front:



And here is the picture of where those two wires lead from the white thing on one of the heat sinks. I'm guessing it is some sort of temp sensor, but what is it supposed to control? the two orange wires lead to it. Again, that is the connector for the fan.



And of course, a lasing picture:



So thats it! I really enjoyed taking a look inside, and was really happy about how clean everything was.

The only bad thing that has arisen from the purchase of this laser is my addiction to ebay. Ever since I found this deal I'm constantly scouting for cheap laser stuff. ;D

Did I mention that I got this whole setup for $250?  :p :p :p
 

diachi

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Thats cool, always wanted to see inside one, good that yours is in mint condition inside. I think you are right about the little white thing, it looks like a temperature sensor, must be to control tube temperature so it doesnt overheat, like a shut off type thing. ( I also noticed theres something that looks like thermal compound connecting the sensor to the heatsink )

Diachi
 

GooeyGus

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thejunkmonger said:
the White thing is a thermal switch, when it heats up too much it makes an open circuit
This is what I figured, but I'm just confused because it appears to just loop back on itself. If it opened up, I dont think it would shut anything off at all. :-/
 
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It actually controls the speed of the fan, based on the temperature :) THAT is a question I have for you, Gus - when you use the knob on the front to increase the power to the tube - and the output increases - does the fan on yours speed up, or slow down ? I am confused regarding mine, to the point of getting ready to bypass the integrated fan for an external one instead - because when I increase the output, which increases the temperature as well (these things could EASILY be used to heat a large room when running !) the fan on mine actually SLOWS down ! I was KINDA thinking that it would need to speed up to keep up with the temperature increase ! Let me know how yours behaves - also, contact Sam about a fiber adapter for your Argon :) He has one, and is looking for "offers". I can't offer anything at present, but figure maybe you can - and it is a worthwhile investment !
 

MarioMaster

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the 8th picture with the large capacitors is your igniter pcb, it provides a high voltage impulse to start the discharge in the tube

my argon was a bit different, but still basically worked the same
 

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climbak

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Sure took you long enough to take that thing apart. You should go buy a camera too. Although, if you do get another camera you will need to scar the CCD again.
 

diachi

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That big CCD burn annoys me, it makes all of your pictures look less cool , especially your argon ones, you really need a new camera .

Diachi
 

Things

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Nice! As people have said, that little white thing is just a thermal switch. When the temperature gets high enough, it closes and triggers a fan or something. Simple really. They are in alot of fog machines for simple temp. control.
 

GooeyGus

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Well I knew it was a temp controller or temp switch of some sort, but like I said its not connected to anything. It just loops back on itself. I was think fan control, like Greg said, because it goes to that harness but again doesn't go to anything... So who knows. It really doesn't look like someone went in there and looped the wire back on itself, it looks like a factory job.

Oh, and when I adjust the power via the knob or via current control pot, the fan speed doesn't really change. It drops just a few RPM at higher current, I'm assuming just because the high current draw of the laser is limiting the power the fan can get, but it isn't a dramatic drop. It kinda sounds like in a microwave, when you run it at 50% power (this is the bast analogy I could think of ;D ) you know how it goes high power for a few seconds and then lower power for a few seconds. Well, when the microwave kicks the power back in the fan drops in RPM a bit because of the high power consumption. It kinda sounds like that, but a little less dramatic ;D
 
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I concur with that. My argon fan slows down when I ramp up the current because of the massive power draw on the tube. I am currently looking at a supplemental cooling solution as well as the tube runs at 12.5 amps at max power. It's actually the power supply I worry about, the tiny fan on the back can't keep up with it! ;D
 

diachi

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The power consumption for gas lasers is crazy, for argons they use lots of current and not so much voltage, but then you plug in a HeNe and your using 10KV at 25mA :p ahhh how much i'd love a gas laser.

Anyway, gooey as was mentioned above, take some pictures of the laser running so we can see the tube , that would be awesome
 

GooeyGus

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Diachi said:
The power consumption for gas lasers is crazy, for argons they use lots of current and not so much voltage, but then you plug in a HeNe and your using 10KV at 25mA  :p  ahhh how much i'd love a gas laser.

Anyway, gooey as was mentioned above, take some pictures of the laser running so we can see the tube , that would be awesome
My tube is made of some sort of beryllium/ceramic so its not much to look at. I think Chris was talking about MarioMaster's laser, which looks like it has clear ends on the tube, which would indeed be very cool to see running!
 




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