I wanted to also chime in here as a new forum member (but long term lurker). I'm Doug, and I live in the Los Angeles area. I'm a sound engineer by trade, and in that field I have often needed to be mildly inventive to circumvent an equipment failure or technical issue. It's been great fun for me to read of the members here who take it upon themselves to build their own custom laser from components, flashlight housings, and machinable stock.
About 15 years ago, a nephew who was about 10-12 years old came to stay with us for the weekend. He had in his possession a small keychain laser, powered by a couple of hearing aid batteries. At first I had an adults sadly typical jaded skepticism, but when we started to use it in a few small experiments (diffracting off mirrors, lighting up the fog in the early morning), I was hooked. His joy was infectious, and in life there are not so many simple joys, enjoy them while you can.
My nephew spent seven years in the navy, and recently came back to our house for a visit. At one point, he casually took me aside and said "hey you might like this, I got it in Thailand". He pulled out a very powerful green laser, which was not very well charged, and gave a very brief demo. I guess if you've read this far, you can understand why I've decided to register and hope to very soon purchase a similar unit. I have many questions, and each day for a week I have dug down into threads in one forum or another. I'll try to find my answers on my own, but I've already had positive communications with Blord and Hakzaw and I'm sure there are many good people in this community.
Anyway, thanks for your attention and good spirits, and for making me feel welcome (already).