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:)Hi everyone!

Still exploring the forums and finding lots of useful info here - I really should have joined a long time ago. Finally decided to do it, and decided heck if I'm going to join maybe I should actually post!

A bit about myself... I saw my first laser when I was in 5th grade in elementary school. It was a HeNe, probably 1mW, and the teacher that showed us it was also likely my first real crush. At age 10, I was lucky enough to have a mom with an interest in hobby electronics, and my parents saw my own growing interest and gave me a Radio Shack 150-In-One project kit for Christmas one year. I ran with it and never stopped... I adored electronics then and I still do, although I'm so much better at it now.

When I was about 29, I got my first few laser diodes to experiment with. They were a couple of 5mW reds and a couple of 7mW reds, and one of them is still perfectly functional, residing inside the casing for a toy jigsaw I found at a dollar store back then. That was the first time I designed a driver board, first time I built a laser device, and I thought it was the height of comedy that it said "Junior Power" on a sticker on the handle. I built it to be of variable output power, and capable of beam modulation via a pair of RCA phono jacks. Although it's just a low power laser, I am still very proud of it. It was a big step for me.

Since then, I've seen a lot of improvements in my ability to design in general, and I now have vastly higher powered lasers as well. Shortly after I built the "Junior Power" lab laser (lol), I built a small 5mW red laser module into the head of a 2 AA cell plastic Dorcy flashlight. Both lasers still work perfectly. A couple of years ago, I designed my first high power laser - a 0 - 200mW pocket sized 660nm running off a Canon NB2LH lithium ion pack and driven by my first current regulator board design. I experimented some with 405nm violets, but had a lot of problems with failure of the diodes, so I became a bit distraught by them. That first high power red, by comparison, seemed indestructable. About 6 months ago, I found a source for cheaper 200mW red diodes, so I got some of those and redesigned my pocket red laser that I call "Athena". The violet 405nm version, I called "Diana", and considered her a somewhat lesser Goddess than Athena, naturally. I wish I'd named them opposite, though, because recently I got a single blue 445nm high power "1 watt" diode and decided to name it's version "Diana II". Had I really realized what insane power I'd be dealing with, I'd have probably named it Godzilla or maybe Galactus, haha. Anyway, I'm currently refining the design of the pocket (I know... scary... 1 watt in a pocket sized unit seems a bit too much like packing a gun) version, and am really amazed by how well it is working out and frankly astonished at the performance. Like all my serious minded designs, this one is meant to be variable from 0 to full power (just over a watt), and I intend for this one to be modulation capable and decked out for lab type uses, but still compact.

So that's where I'm at, laser-wise. I describe myself as a geek/nerd/whatever people are called these days that build crazy things for fun. I've done enough with lasers so far to where I have begun to get a little bored (bad sign) with 200mw reds, but can't conceive yet of feeling relaxed around this new and scary blue. I've never used anything Class IV before... I still feel a bit shocked when watching what it can do at close focus and pushing over a watt. You definitely either have to respect these or avoid them... or maybe both, lol.

Ok, rambled enough for my first post. It's nice to be here, thanks for "listening" to me go on and on, and mucho thanks to the forum staff and owners for making this place available to laser hobbyists! :thanks:

Rick NR417

Edit: I can't believe I forgot to mention my greenie! Back when I was first getting into lasers, I plunked down almost $200 for a Leadlight 5mW green laser pointer. I modified it a bit to put out more power, and I think it maxes out at about 50mW or just under... It's a DPSS of course and it's output varies pretty wildly with temperature. It's the first laser I ever owned that hurt my eyes to look at the dot on a white wall.
 
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