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Odicforce Entry Level Laser Kits

Morgan

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Hi All,


This review is tailored a little to our newer members, (mainly in the UK), who may not have built a laser before and may be about to look for their first kit. There are, of course, many great hosts, kits and services available from members here but I think as an entry level, high power laser this was pretty good. Cheap and to the point, it introduces some of the main skills and although many will have moved on from anything this can offer, for others it could be just the thing.

Here goes...

As some might have seen, I like to build my own lasers so I got a couple of these kits recently to see how they went together as the price is just about the cheapest I've seen for something like this. The link takes you to the page of kits, etc, but the ones I got were second from bottom - http://odicforce.com/shop/category_13/L ... =cid%3D%26 . This kit does require you buy a diode seperately but Jon supplies these, and there are a couple of options too. The ones I used were the 650nm reds from the LPC-815 sled and cost around £8. So, in total this kit will cost you about £20 delivered but the maximum output is above most that you'll see for the price, and the best bit from my point of view? They're in the UK so no waiting for overseas shipment! Delivery was within two days.

So here are some pics of the package, and an explanation of what you get in the kit...


Package. This was impressive and everything inside it was well secured and safe.



Laser Safety Leaflet. This is something often overlooked by most commercial distributors, in my experience, and informs of some of the UK laws and safe practices. I give this top marks for being included. (I also bought a green module at the same time and there was another one inside that package!)



Inner Package. As you can see, very well packed also.





Contents. This was everything in relation to the two kits I received.



Sled and Diode Instructions. The extraction of the diode can be a bit fiddly if you're doing it for the first time. Getting the diode and it's small heatsink out of the sled is not the problem, but you do have to be careful extracting the the diode from its original heatsink. There are a few tutorials on this. Here is one - http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/harvesting-loc-lpc-815-diode-45153.html . Don't let this put you off however; as long as you don't touch the front of the diode, (or die), then they are usually pretty hardy and it's an essential skill if you want to take up building. Good practice can be gained be ripping in to any old DVD drives and extracting the diode from those. Any questions about this then help is available.



Full Assembly instructions. Again, this is excellent documentation. A great basic intro into how to build a laser.





Driver Instructions and Drivers. These drivers are actually nicely matched to the LPC-815 diode. Maximum output from the driver seems to be around 380mA. As these diodes have been used by some at 500mA, even if you have no way to accurately set the diode then you should still be within the safe limits for them. I personally don't usually run mine above 400mA as it can shorten the life, but that's just me.



Driver Setting. I wanted to see the maximum setting available so I wound the driver up to 380mA and backed it off a touch. This is because the little POT will return to zero a little after max so you don't want to be too close to the end. If you don't have the equipment or don't want to mess about and push the envelope then you can just install, 'as is', because the drivers come preset to 200mA. I checked this and it was indeed true. (You can see in this photo that using 6V and setting an output on the driver of 375mA, I get a current draw of 382mA. This is what your batteries will need to be able to supply the driver for this output.)



Diode, After Installation in the Heatsink. The heatsink is there to soak up the extra heat not turned into light by the diode. The higher you have it set then the more heat will be produced. As I was going to the top straight away I used some thermal compound on the inside of the heatsink before installing the diode. Not an absolute necessity with this diode but no harm, right? You'll need to find something to press the diode in. It needs to be just smaller in diameter than the diode, (5.6mm), but with a hole to allow the pins through whilst in the vice. It's then just a matter of gently forcing the diode in until it is just below the surface level of the heatsink as in the pic below.



Lens Assembly. The lenses received were like the one on the right in this picture. You can see the surface has a blue tint and this means it has an, 'Anti Reflective', coating, (AR), and this was a nice touch. The AR coating prevents light from bouncing off the surface of the lens and being reflected back into the diode. This can cause death in some cases, (to the diode!
not to you!), and the higher you go in power the more you risk this. (The lens to the left is a standard uncoated lens that is also commonly used with these diodes without too much incident.)



Assembly Order. All the parts in order and ready to go together. You have to assemble the tail cap and clicky switch and install the lens, lens spring and focus ring, but all these are very straight forward. (That's the sled and original diode heatsink in the top of the picture)



Beam Shots

...And, once again, I have let you down as I completely failed to take any beam shot photos! I don't actually have them now so I can't rectify this so I humbly say, "I'm sorry"
. I really must address this. I get too carried away once I see the light and forget to take the most important pics! Surfice to say that this is a nice bright beam and in a dull room you can see it without the need for smoke and certainly bright enough to need goggles if you're going to be working up close!
Jon also supplies these. An absolute must! You cannot skimp on this!!!

I ended up setting both of these lasers at the same current output, (375mA), and the optical measurements came in at ~245mW for the first one and ~240mW for the second which is just about bang on what I would expect with this setup. More output can achieved with a better lens and these are availabe from Odicforce and other places.

Pros & Cons

Pros - A really good, well instructed and cheap starter kit for the beginner with several build options. Lasers tend to be expensive and buying from FleaBay or an unknown Chinese company, or anywhere for that matter, can be hit and miss. Here, you are able to set the output and even if you don't have the means to measure optical output, you know the diode, you know what the driver is capable of and after a little digging for information can make a rough guess, (only rough, mind!), at how powerful it is. If something goes wrong, you put it together and you can therefore repair it. It's focusable and fully supported in the UK.

Cons - The finished laser may not be as slick as one you'd buy from elsewhere and I'd be much happier with a tighter focusing thread but this can be improved with Teflon Plumber's Tape. Other than that, it is what it is, so no complaints.


If you wanted to go for one of these then I don't think you'll find a cheaper way to start in the laser building hobby. There are other colours available too I believe, (a PHR-803T, or Bluray), and you can always ask if Jon will send you a completed laser if you don't think you're up to the building. Some soldering skills are obviously required to complete this build but nothing too complex. The most delicate time is when soldering the pins of the diode but if you have any questions then I'm happy to answer a PM after you've had a search on the forum.

In short, a good laser for the price.

I hope you enjoyed the review and thanks for reading.

M
 
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wizzard67

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Excellent. I've been scouring the forums for a simple build to get myself started, I think I'll give this one a try.

Many thanks Morgan :)
 

Kevlar

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Very nice review Morgan!! I haven't watched that harvesting of the LPC-815 video in a while so I'm not sure if it includes this tip. Before I started sawing away at the original sled heatsink with a file, I put a small piece of tape over the hole on the heatsink to prevent any metal shavings going inside that Open Can diode. :D
 

wizzard67

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I ordered mine yesterday, hopefully it will come soon :yh:

Thanks for the extra tip on the diode extraction Kevlar. :beer:
 

ped

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for anyone buying from odicforce , go for it ,...ive had £100's worth of stuff from them, ive had 5 LPC-815'S off them, one was LED , he sent a new one FOC , all thier stuff is top notch and professionally, antistatically packed...and cheap as chips. Check out thier eBay auctions.

Here is a few pics of my 245mw red build






 

jmgallego

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Congratulations! Good review!! This is great for newbies that wants to build their own!! +1rep for you :D

What was the cost in US Dollars?
 

ped

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Congratulations! Good review!! This is great for newbies that wants to build their own!! +1rep for you :D

What was the cost in US Dollars?

using my (bad) math, it could be on your doorstep for than $25 , and that includes the driver!


>>LINK<<
 
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The guys who own the company is a member here. I remember when he was kicking the idea around. Good to see he got it going. Have not seen him in a long time though.
 

ped

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Im glad he got it going, and he should do well, he's cheap, professional and curteous. One of only two saved sellers on my eBay page.
 

lasersbee

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The guys who own the company is a member here. I remember when he was kicking the idea around. Good to see he got it going. Have not seen him in a long time though.
Hey T_J....
do you remember who it was....:thinking:

Jerry
 




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