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My Very First Laser Build!!! --- 445nm, 2W (M140), my "Alternative" Laser Host, and Analysis of Build Cost!

nabzim

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Firstly, I just want to say THANK YOU to this entire forum!!! I would not have been able to learn the specific information that enabled me to build something that I've always wanted to build! Thank you LPF, and all it's members, just for being there! ❤️
20201129_224201.jpg
For a very, very long time, I had always wanted to build a laser from scratch. Press the diode into the module, and all that jazz....
Being that I was already very skilled in working with electronics and electricity in general (From my other hobby, building Tesla coils. Oh, and drones too...), it didn't take me very long to understand all that was required to build a laser.

I wanted to build a high-powered laser as cheaply as possible, and so, I was trying to find a solution which avoided buying a "nice" laser host, since it seemed to be the single-most-expensive part I would need! It turns out that it still wasn't very cheap to build! (but probably cheaper than if I had gone with a "nice" laser host!)

I thought, since I'm good at fabricating things without fancy machine-tools (the best thing I own is a drill-press!) I may as well see what I can do with just a bare-bones aluminum electronics-enclosure, and a heatsink for 12mm modules.
Making-sure all the dimensions worked together before buying anything, I found an enclosure that would fit a double 18650-holder perfectly, and have just enough room left over to fit a driver and the portion of heatsink that sticks into the box.

Be sure to check out my dummy load thread (details on making a dummy-load and testing the driver):
laserpointerforums.com/threads/please-help-with-my-dummy-load-design-solved-pics-and-write-up.107681/

OKAY... that's enough back-story. BUILD TIME.
(FYI, Literally EVERYTHING is from eBay!)

LASER PARTS (and supplier):
DIODE: M140, 445nm 2W (Barnett)
DRIVER: Astral SuperDrive V (Barnett)
MODULE: Copper, solid, full-length (DTR)
LENSES: G-2, AND 3-Element Glass (Barnett)

Here's PICS (I was only able to attach a max of 10 files):
20201128_202310_HDR.jpg20201128_202259.jpg20201128_202808_HDR.jpg20201129_225335.jpg20201128_234356_HDR.jpg
I'll admit it... recharging those batteries is a pain in the ass! :ROFLMAO:

20201129_105524.jpg20201129_001851.jpg20201129_214202.jpg

Anyways.... I F*CKING LOVE IT SO MUCH.

Yep.

So Here's a price-breakdown for all the parts:
Build Cost.png
So, the lesson I learned: Lasers are expensive.
But, I'd still say, its one of my less-expensive hobbies!

FUTURE MODS I WILL DEFINITLEY ADD:
My original idea was to have the key-lock switch just enable the other buttons (I have yet to add) including a push-button momentary switch, AND some kind of toggle switch, which I'll wire in parallel with the momentary switch, thereby allowing me to choose which switch I want to use to turn it on and off. There's definitely times where I want to turn it on and leave it on without the need of holding down a button, but I also know that I'd prefer to use a momentary button switch for general pointing around (safely!) and showing-off (safely!), because it's much safer to be able to turn it off super fast by just letting go of the button.

DESIRED FUTURE-UPGRADES (will require a little more research):
1. I want to add an UVLO (under-voltage lockout) to prevent myself from over-discharging the batteries.
2. I want to add some way to make charging much easier, like a built-in USB charger. I was also considering having a power cable and balance plug that hangs outside the box (to charge it using an RC LiPo charger). However, that would look really CHEESEY... So I would like to avoid that. An internal USB charger is my #1 choice!
3. I want to add a 1/4-20 threaded hole on the bottom, for mounting to camera tripods. Just-because...


I hope you all liked my post, and I sure hope it's a worthy-contribution to this great community!

By the power of coherent light, may the photons be with you!
 



nabzim

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Oh, and I forgot to mention, before anyone calls me out: I do own laser safety goggles!
It's the only thing I DIDN'T buy from eBay!!!
Bought them directly from Survival Lasers!
(And I took those photos while wearing them!)
 

RA_pierce

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Nice work. Classic DIY.
If charging the batteries is a PITA, consider installing a USB Li-Ion charger to the build. I put one in my latest project and I like it.

You're right that fancy machines aren't needed for basic fabrication.
I've got a drill press and recently added a belt sander to the garage, but other than that I mainly rely on a good set of files, a hacksaw, and some metric taps. What else do you really need?
 

nabzim

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Nice work. Classic DIY.
If charging the batteries is a PITA, consider installing a USB Li-Ion charger to the build. I put one in my latest project and I like it.

You're right that fancy machines aren't needed for basic fabrication.
I've got a drill press and recently added a belt sander to the garage, but other than that I mainly rely on a good set of files, a hacksaw, and some metric taps. What else do you really need?
Thank you!
For one of those chargers, do you think they have any made for charging and balancing two cells in series? (sorry I haven't looked yet, haha)

True about the tools! But, in my honest opinion, even though nice big fancy tools aren't entirely necessary, I think they'd probably help a lot! (Just thinking about using a hacksaw makes me cringe... Definitely a last resort for me.)
And some slightly-fancy things DO come in real handy from time to time. I own and use a Dremel a lot, and sometimes, I honestly don't know what I'd do without it! I recently splurged and got an EZ-lock for it, now there's no going back! (but now I also need new rotary bits made for the EZ-lock mandrel, lol)
But I totally use files a ton also! although I don't know if mine can be considered "good", since they're from Harbor Freight!! hahaha
 

gazer101

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I think its beautiful! Definitely could have cut a few corners on the driver and host (I'm all about affordability lol) but it seems like a sturdy build
 

RA_pierce

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Thank you!
For one of those chargers, do you think they have any made for charging and balancing two cells in series? (sorry I haven't looked yet, haha)

True about the tools! But, in my honest opinion, even though nice big fancy tools aren't entirely necessary, I think they'd probably help a lot! (Just thinking about using a hacksaw makes me cringe... Definitely a last resort for me.)
And some slightly-fancy things DO come in real handy from time to time. I own and use a Dremel a lot, and sometimes, I honestly don't know what I'd do without it! I recently splurged and got an EZ-lock for it, now there's no going back! (but now I also need new rotary bits made for the EZ-lock mandrel, lol)
But I totally use files a ton also! although I don't know if mine can be considered "good", since they're from Harbor Freight!! hahaha
Of course the fancy tools would make life easier... I could do a job that takes me 4 hours by hand in 1 with a mill. But thats 2k that I don't have laying around right now so it's the old-fashioned way for the time being.
Hacksaws are definitely more... well, "hacksaw" than "scalpel." But they are very effective for material removal when rough cuts are acceptable and nothing else will do. I'm not going to cut through 30mm x 10mm aluminum-bronze stock with a file.
I have an old dremel... I need some new tooling for it so thanks for reminding me.
 

MurphyMurph

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Nice job with the DIY! I like the key switch. I also recently did a similar diy build in the thread "DIY Project Box Enclosure Build". The 1/4-20 thread to mount to a tripod surely does make aiming it so much easier!
 

nabzim

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I think its beautiful! Definitely could have cut a few corners on the driver and host (I'm all about affordability lol) but it seems like a sturdy build
Thanks!
I definitely first had thought of just mounting everything to a proto/perf-board, just so I could get my laser-fix...
In the end, I decided I'd rather have it look really nice!
 

nabzim

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Of course the fancy tools would make life easier... I could do a job that takes me 4 hours by hand in 1 with a mill. But thats 2k that I don't have laying around right now so it's the old-fashioned way for the time being.
Hacksaws are definitely more... well, "hacksaw" than "scalpel." But they are very effective for material removal when rough cuts are acceptable and nothing else will do. I'm not going to cut through 30mm x 10mm aluminum-bronze stock with a file.
I have an old dremel... I need some new tooling for it so thanks for reminding me.
No problem! Show that old Dremel some LOVE!

Well-agreed on the mill. Big fancy-shmancy machine tools not only cost too-much money, but they also take up too much space!
I wish I had the money (and room) to own a lathe! 😢
 

nabzim

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Nice job with the DIY! I like the key switch. I also recently did a similar diy build in the thread "DIY Project Box Enclosure Build". The 1/4-20 thread to mount to a tripod surely does make aiming it so much easier!
OHHH! I had totally forgot, I had seen your build, before biting the bullet on deciding to use the aluminum enclosure!!! In fact I was thinking about building it more similarly to yours, until I had started exploring options for enclosures and heatsinks. So I'd say my build was partly inspired by yours, for sure!!!
I was thinking I was going to go with a larger box originally, but then I found this box and I really liked the idea of it being more compact and hand-held. I wasn't sure If I'd need a fan or not, but gladly this thing barely gets warm running the max 1.8 amps in DTR's solid copper module, with that eBay-heatsink and lots and lots of thermal paste!
And Thank You! I love the safety of the key switch, inspired by those Laser 303's (never owned a 303, but I have a similarly-cheap and over-spec'd Chinese dpss green laser, without a key switch)
But thanks again, and thanks for the inspiration!!!
 

pados1002

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Jan 14, 2021
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Hey guys, i m totally new in laser staff but i m thinking the last months on either buy one 2-3W laser or diy one... I had bought in 2017 a diode and i was about to try and build one... But by the time diode arrived i had lost my interest... Now this fire returned and now i m following this exact tutorial and ordered everything that i may need. Housing, driver, switch, copper, heatsink, lens, 18650 battery housing. Those parts may take some time to reach me here in Greece but i have to pre-solve my questions!

My diode is the osram pl450b and the seller 's testing recommends a 1.8A on 5.1V max. 1.6A i think is the manufacturer recommendation.

So how exactly will i set the driver (Astral superdrive v as this project) to match those values? I will use 2x18650 batteries but i dont know if i have to go parallel or series. I may sound stupid but i m just now reading and trying to learn! @nabzim i hope you can help a little! Thanks in advance!
 




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