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Looking for: Beginner's Guide to a Simple Laser Pointer, Ideally with a one-stop shop for the related parts

Mnemon94

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Nov 9, 2021
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I am new to navigating this sphere, and I can't seem to find a good beginner friendly resource to assemble a basic laser --> everything I find is either:

1. Links to stores where I can buy parts whose function I do not understand without context because I am coming from a place of knowing more or less nothing and don't know where to start or
2. Videos showing me how to turn my DVD player into a kickass cat toy, or an existing laser pointer into a Fallout superweapon that will either blind me, kill everyone in my house, or land me in Guantanamo.

Obligatory "no, I'm not a twelve year old" on this post, as I see on many others with similar questions lol

I want to build a simple thing to start, so I can understand the components, some of the lingo, basic safety principles, etc., then I'll move onto wood engravings, and we can revisit the alien superweapons in another lifetime maybe. ;)
 



Sowee7

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Well the main thing you need to assemble a simple diode laser is just a laser diode (your choice of wavelength and output power), collimating lens+housing and a laser diode driver, you may or may not need a heatsink depending on the diode you use. If you want to assemble a simple DPSS laser, you will need a 808nm diode laser (200+ mw) and an MCA for 532nm you can optionally add an expanding+collimating lens set to lower the divergance
 

Mnemon94

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Nov 9, 2021
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Well the main thing you need to assemble a simple diode laser is just a laser diode (your choice of wavelength and output power), collimating lens+housing and a laser diode driver, you may or may not need a heatsink depending on the diode you use. If you want to assemble a simple DPSS laser, you will need a 808nm diode laser (200+ mw) and an MCA for 532nm you can optionally add an expanding+collimating lens set to lower the divergance
Sorry, dummy here:
What is DPSS and MCA?
 

julianthedragon

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Jun 3, 2020
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I recommend doing a lot of lurking through the forum, I'm talking back to posts from 2010-2016 when the community was a little more bustling with DIY builds and stuff. There's a lot you can pick up just by reading and you'll get a feel for most people's go-to equipment/process/materials. Also of course do other research online where applicable and if you have a simple question just google it.

Sorry, dummy here:
What is DPSS and MCA?
Lasers can be either DPSS or "direct diode". DPSS means that the laser contains a diode outputting a wavelength that is converted to a new wavelength before it leaves the laser. So like an 808nm diode in a laser that outputs 532nm green. The magic happens due to the MCA (Multiple Crystal Assembly) that converts the wavelength using special materials. Here is a schematic of such a typical green pointer.

On the other hand, direct diode means the wavelength of the diode is, well, directly what you get. No crystal assembly. You just need a driver which works as a current regulator for the diode, a power supply, the right wiring of course, a host aka the outer body to hold all these parts (e.g. a pen, flashlight body etc), the correct lens setup, and like Sowee said maybe a heatsink. (most red and violet lasers are direct diode)

Use the search function of the forum and open all the threads you can find and read through them, just start absorbing stuff like a sponge and eventually you'll understand lol

Here are some (hopefully?) helpful things:
Common laser terms: https://laserpointerforums.com/threads/good-to-know-laser-term-guide-for-newbies.58951/
Massive list of available diodes: https://laserpointerforums.com/threads/list-of-laser-diodes-06-02-2021.100402/
DTR's laser shop for parts: https://sites.google.com/site/dtrlpf/
This cool pen tutorial: https://laserpointerforums.com/threads/how-to-build-a-laser-pen-featuring-m462.101576/

Finally, if you find people on here who know what they're doing (with builds) but you don't fully understand just politely message them, 9/10 times they will get back to you and you can also get more involved in the community that way.

Good luck fam!
 

Mnemon94

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Nov 9, 2021
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Finally, if you find people on here who know what they're doing (with builds) but you don't fully understand just politely message them, 9/10 times they will get back to you and you can also get more involved in the community that way.

Good luck fam!
Thank you for all those resources! I'm thinking, and this may give you an idea of how little I know, my first step might be reading a bit about electrical stuff. Like, I know how to solder, but I don't know the first thing about circuits and electricity and stuff beyond hooking up a battery to a loose lightbulb like in third grade lmao. So maybe I need to first find some educational resources about circuits, switches, common symbols, and the difference between all the "electrical" words such as even watts and volts and shit
 

julianthedragon

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Thank you for all those resources! I'm thinking, and this may give you an idea of how little I know, my first step might be reading a bit about electrical stuff. Like, I know how to solder, but I don't know the first thing about circuits and electricity and stuff beyond hooking up a battery to a loose lightbulb like in third grade lmao. So maybe I need to first find some educational resources about circuits, switches, common symbols, and the difference between all the "electrical" words such as even watts and volts and shit
Exactly, I think if you want to get into building lasers then a little background in electronics would be super helpful. You're on the right track
 

icecruncher

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Jan 2, 2008
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Start with a simple red laser diode they are the most basic.

1. Get the diode
A 650nm (color) diode is easy to find and inexpensive - try eBay.
You are looking for an LPC-826 or LPC-836
These are 5.6 mm diodes

2. Get an Aixiz style housing to mount the diode in
It needs to be for a 5.6 mm diode - this is the standard size, but they also come in a smaller and larger size
They usually come with a cheap lens which will be enough for a basic red, but many options are available for more expensive lens and matching the color for best results. (lots of research)

3. Get or build a constant current driver
An AMC7135 is the simplest driver in the world for lasers
Or you can buy a low cost laser driver or sometimes use a LED driver which will work
Look up the specs on the diode you have and match the current and voltage

4. Supply Battery or some way to power it
Usually a 18650 or 10440 or some variant of rechargeable that will supply enough voltage for the driver above - typically 3.7 volts

5. Housing or something to mount it in.

For the absolute simplest one see these links and then do your research.
 




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