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The, "I want to build a laser", Thread

Morgan

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Hi New Member and welcome to LPF! :wave:

If you haven't already then please visit the, 'Rules and Stickies', and, section to familiarise yourself with the forum and the, 'Welcome', section so we can familiarise ourselves with our new member. :thanks: They can be linked to here -

http://laserpointerforums.com/f36/
http://laserpointerforums.com/f37/


So, you want to build a laser then? I can't blame you for that, that's exactly why I ended up here and I hope you enjoy your stay with us.

This thread is aimed to give you a general feel for what you will need to gather, both in parts and skills, to accomplish a well put together homemade laser that will last. It will also hopefully give you an appreciation of why we are all here and what you can achieve if you stick around. The members here are always happy to help but if you try to help yourself first, by doing a little searching, then it is easier to ask a specific question. The links I've put in are subject to change but should get you a head start and ease you in.


Firstly, a quick word on Safety! This is the single biggest thing to be mindful of. Not just yours but that of other people. HIGH POWERED LASERS ARE NOT TOYS!!! I linked to a thread from not so long ago that boils down all the questions to just one!

Do I need goggles? YES! Just, YES! Please follow the links below to see why!
http://laserpointerforums.com/f53/do-i-need-goggles-52185.html
http://jrm.phys.ksu.edu/Safety/LaserSafety.pdf

Now that you've seen what you can do to your retinas, here is a link to help you avoid doing it! It is an Australian site with some basic, 'good practices', and industry standards to consider when dealing with high power lasers, (this is the information missing from the first thread in the LPF Laser Safety section, posted just below.)
http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/policies/working_rules_for_laser_equipment
http://laserpointerforums.com/f53/


Secondly, to be able to build your first laser it is assumed that you know at least the basics of electronic assembly and some theory. You will need some basic electronic tools such as a soldering iron and solder; a MultiMeter, (preferably digital); side cutters; desoldering tool; Helping Hands clamps; ideally some ESD protection equipment, (perhaps not essential for a first red build ;) ); and so on. Without these it will be very hard to complete your build.

Okay, that done, here's a brief guide as to what you will NEED for a successful build -


Driver



This is a device that regulates current to your laser diode to prevent spikes and keeps your diode nice and happy. If a laser diode reveives a lumpy or variable current it is likely to fall out with you and stop working. If you've come here after seeing a certain Maglite Flashlight Hack then you may just have saved a diode's life! Direct driving your laser diode from a battery in this fashion is not recommended for a couple of primary reasons; the first is that standard batteries, like AAs or AAAs, can produce voltage spikes if not used for a while and; second, a battery is a Constant Voltage, (CV), source which will increase current under some circumstances. If you are intending to run your laser diode at the very top of its capabilities, you can see that any rise could push it over the edge to failure. Here is a link that demonstrates this very well and shows why a Constant Current, (CC), driver is required. It was produced by a much respected member here too, so you can be confident he knows his stuff!

YouTube - Constant Current vs. Constant Voltage in use with Laser Diodes

A simple driver, like the one pictured above, can be made by following the link below. There are other drivers available in the, 'Buy/Sell/Trade', or, 'Pro-Shop', sections but I think you can find those yourself. The one in the link was developed by a forum member and is open source. It's commonly called the DDL driver and is a Linear Driver. Others available are Buck/boost or Boost only, have a search around for these and what they do.

Here's a really simple video guide to buiding a simple driver and other links to get you started -

DIY: How To Make A Laser Diode Driver Circuit - Video

http://www.rog8811.com/laserdriver.htmhttp://www.rog8811.com/laserdriver.htm

(Here's a very handy LM317 current calculator to help work out your resistance values. Shhh, ;) )
http://www.reuk.co.uk/LM317-Current-Calculator.htm

http://laserpointerforums.com/f67/driver-compilation-thread-all-drivers-just-one-thread-52799.html


Test Load





At the start, a test load is an essential piece of kit. It plays the part of a laser diode by simulating the same voltage requirement and allows you to, 'set', your driver to a desired current output that will safely drive your diode when connected. It allows you to confirm your driver is working correctly before risking any delicate and possibly expensive diode. A couple of links that will help with this.

http://laserpointerforums.com/f42/diy-diode-test-load-circuit-26772.html
http://laserpointerforums.com/f38/test-load-44348.html#post589052


Laser diode









These are the raw materials of our hobby. You will, in your time, mercilessly kill a number of them as we all have but it all revolves around these for the handheld pointers. There are other types of laser and you will no doubt be exploring those soon but laser diodes, (LDs), are what give us the beautiful light!

There are many of them and new ones will become available but the most common ones we use can be found in the link below. It is by no means a definitive list but one of the ones listed are almost certainly going to be in your first proper build. IMPORTANT: I AM NOT OF THE OPINION THAT IT IS SENSIBLE FOR YOUR FIRST HIGH POWERED LASER TO BE BUILT FROM THE CHEAP, 5.6MM, 300mW, 808nm LASER DIODES AVAILABLE ON EBAY. THESE ARE PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS TO WORK WITH BECAUSE YOU CANNOT APPRECIATE JUST HOW BRIGHT THEY ARE AND THIS GIVES A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR, TAKE MY ADVICE AND STICK TO FULLY VISIBLE SPECTRUMS BEFORE GOING HERE. I SEE SO MANY POSTS OF BEGINNERS USING THESE IT SCARES ME. CHEAP IS NOT A WAY TO GO IN THIS HOBBY. $10 IS CHEAP ENOUGH FOR QUALITY VISIBLE DIODE.

http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/diodes-compilation-all-diodes-data-one-thread-45042.html


Module



This houses your diode and is the first way to draw the inevitable heat away from your precious diode. Heat and diodes don't usually get along and the farther you keep them apart the better. There are a couple of different sizes but you're probably going to be needing one for a 5.6mm diode, (the commonest diameter diode we use). A number of types are available but a little research will turn up what you need.

A note regarding installing your diode... It's always best to get your diode seated as far into the module as you can. This puts it as close as possible to your lens. This is particularly important with Bluray diodes as a common problem encountered is that focus cannot be achieved even when the lens is screwed all the way in. The diagram below illustrates how it should be done. (If you follow the, 'Harvesting', links later in this guide you will see video using the back of a module to press in the diode. This will NOT usually press a bluray diode home enough and will just result in a, 'flush', installation.




Lens



A diode laser will always need some form of, 'collimation', optics to produce a beam. That's what collimating means, focusing light rays to be almost parallel. Most modules you will find cater for a screw-in lens and often come with one included but there are many improvements made by members and again, these you will come across on your travels. (You can see in the photo above that the lens on the right has a blue reflection to it. This is an Anti Reflective coating specifically tailored for use with red laser light and prevents the laser being damaged by reflected light. You may see different colours on different equipment for different wavelengths.)


Heatsink



It is arguable, for a very first build, whether you will absolutely need one of these or not but it's job is to prevent the diode from overheating. They can work in two ways. Either, as their name suggests, they can simply soak up the heat by having a large mass; or they can provide a swift path to the air and therefore will have a larger surface area. As the power of your lasers increase, the need for adequate heatsinking becomes greater. If you have a small heatsink and the laser heats quickly you will need to limit the use, and use a suitable, 'Duty Cylce'. For example, 30 seconds on/30 seconds off to cool.


Hosts and Batteries

A host is the outer packaging of any handheld or laboratory, (Labby), laser. The choice is endless. Anything you choose to put your laser in is a host! Just be aware of heat issues, i.e. plastic isn't always a good choice, and safety, i.e. if you use something that doesn't usually contain a laser then you must sensibly mark it to let someone know it could blind them!

Here is a link to Wiki explaining the different classes and why -

Laser safety - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And here is a link to a free laser warning label thread by a member here twhite828 -

http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/my-warning-label-generator-yeah-i-bored-45360.html

Batteries also come in a large array of sizes, voltages, and capacities. I would recommend rechargeables from the start as your standard Alkalines often don't have the juice for high power builds and will hit your pocket. 9V square batteries are usually avoided. Popular types to use are the, 'Lithiums', with voltages of either 3.0V, or 3.6/7V.


Tools and parts

The list can go on forever but below is a link with some of the most commonly owned by us. Not all are essential for you first build but you will probably end up owning a fair few of them if you stay with the hobby!

http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/laser-accessories-you-should-own-49082.html http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/pro-tips-w-spyderz20x6-building-your-first-diy-laser-40157.html


So that covers the essentials for the parts. What about the skills? The most obvious one is soldering. Practice makes perfect. If you have any old DVD drives knocking about then you can practice your harvesting skills and extract the diode(s) from there. A lot of people will advise you to ignore them and not even bother but I happen to think the skills learnt on these essentially free diodes will pay dividends later when you come to buy your first proper diode. Very few of them are any serious use as they are either extremely weak or close to IR making them a little risky for a first step as they don't look bright when powered but in fact are!

The use is this though - When you can solder a single wire on to a single pin of a freebie diode in a fraction of a second, then you can solder a proper diode without killing it with the heat from the soldering iron!

Soldering

http://www.solder.net/technical/tips.asp

How to Solder : CuriousInventor Guides


Harvesting Some Commonly Used Diodes

http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/harvesting-loc-lpc-815-diode-45153.html

http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/harvesting-phr-sled-45390.html


General tutorials

http://laserpointerforums.com/f51/diy-how-build-100mw-violet-laser-37022.html

YouTube - DIY: How to Make a High Powered Burning Blue/Violet Laser Pointer (One of the first I saw!)

I-Hacked.com Taking Advantage Of Technology - Building a High-Power Blu-Ray Laser (PHR build)



That is probably all you need to know to get started. I deliberately didn't put any sources for the parts in this thread, (except for the ones that appear in links), as there are many of them and it'll do you good to have a hunt around. There is a, 'Buy/Sell/Trade', (B/S/T), section and a, 'Pro-Shop', section as mentioned before but there are plenty of members who sell and build to order too, and outside sources of course. Check the, 'Companies', and, 'Reviews', section for information as to who's good and who's not. Then you can ask if you're still unsure.

Below are a few links that might be useful and also could lead you to other projects and ideas. One to definitely store is, "Sam's Laser FAQs"! This is literally a gold mine of information for the beginner and the experienced alike so spend some time reading there too!


Other info and useful links

Electronics 2000 - Hobby Electronics - Software, Calculators, Technical Data, Pin-outs, Beginners Guide, Forum, Links...
http://laserpointerforums.com/f53/actual-laser-laws-country-53770.html
http://laserpointerforums.com/groups/diy-group/
Sam's Laser FAQ - Preface, Introduction, What is a Laser?, Safety
Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology - an Open Access Resource of In-Depth Information, Free Articles, Nonlinear and Fiber Optics
http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/important-threads-27864.html
http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/acronyms-forum-42167.html
The Art And Science Of Laser F/X - Video
http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/index-work-progress-62480.html

A list of words or phrases that might be useful to use whilst carrying out searches, (in no particular order):

Diode pumped solid state, or, DPSS; Stonetek; C-mount; Jayrob; protected Li-ion; Aixiz or Meredith; PHR-803T; 405-G-1; Eughemus; BDR-203BK; Laserbee; Harvesting tutorials on YouTube; divergance; Dr.Lava; CR2; fast and slow axis; Odicforce; KTP crystals; LPC-815; High Tech Dealz; modules; O-like; Kenom; Argon ion; single or multi-mode?; 18650; GGW-H20L; Buck/boost or linear driver?; RKCSTR; Group Buy; SF-AW210; case positive/negative?; Eye wear; Flaminpyro; diode efficiency and input/output graphs; Modwerx; (this list will grow)


This is a free site so remember that if you have learned anything worthwhile and gained from the information contained here then drop a couple of bucks into the pot.

Donation

http://laserpointerforums.com/misc.php?do=donate


(It will also be helpful to read any posts that follow this one in the thread. I've tried to keep it relatively simple here but as the helpful members here cannot often be kept down, like any, 'good man', there will be more detailed and useful information contained in them.)

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a ball. Any questions you have then feel free to ask.

Have fun! Safe fun! Enjoy your new hobby!

All the best,

M
:)
 
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Kevlar

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HaloBlu

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How about this? http://laserpointerforums.com/f38/blu-ray-445-diode-test-current-levels-long-life-44746.html

- Diode -PulseP-Effic InPow Volt - Input - Overdrive
----------mw---%-----mw--------ma---- Rec.ma - % Over -- - Power
---PHR -- 100 - 24 - - 417 - 5.0 -- 83 --- 104 ma - - 125%- - - 90mw
-4X/S03- 175 - 24 - - 700 - 5.2 - 134 --- 168 ma - - 125% - - 130mw
-SF-210- 200 - 24 - - 800 - 5.3 - 151 --- 189 ma - - 125% - - 175mw
GGW-20L 210 - 24 - - 875 - 5.2 - 168 --- 210 ma - - 125% - - 190mw
---8X --- 250 - 24 -- 1042 - 5.2 - 200 --- 300 ma - - 150% - - 356mw - Tested over 450 hrs.
---8X --- 250 - 24 -- 1042 - 5.2 - 200 --- 348 ma - - 174% - - 455mw - Failed @ 195 hrs.
--12X --- 320 - 25 -- 1280 - 5.3 - 261 --- 416 ma - - 160% - - 580mw
--12X --- 320 - 25 -- 1280 - 5.3 - 261 --- 424 ma - - 162% - - 600mw - Tested ~ 120 hrs.

445nm - 1000 -25 -- 4000 - 4.2 - 1000 --- 1000 ma - - 4 hours
 
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Morgan

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Nice guide Morgan!! :beer: +1 !!!

I have 2 links for soldering guides that have helped me when I was learning. You can take a look to see which one is better or post both, or neither if you think they are crap!! LOL!!

Here ya go
Soldering Tips and Solder Techniques | Video Soldering Tips from BEST
How to Solder : CuriousInventor Guides

EDIT: Let me know when its complete, or near complete, and I'd like to link it in my sig!!

Both links I think are good and are in. Some clearly advanced stuff in there but the basics are covered.

This will probably be a work in progress for a while but it's when you think it becomes useful that you should link it! :rolleyes: This will also let me know when others are thinking it useful too! ;)

Thanks for the links,


@ HaloBlu - That's good info and will be useful. I won't include it in the first post as it contains detailed information but it's in the thread, and I will suggest reading following posts for other nuggets of knowledge so thanks, you have contributed!

M
:)
 
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Kevlar

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It is definitely one of the better guides out there since mfo took his down. Your right though, it doesn't make any sense not to link it now :yh: It will be update as time goes on.
 

Morgan

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Thanks Stuart. I'm hoping it's going to be found useful. There are a couple of things been added and edited so it's improving too.

M
:)
 

3zuli

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very nice, I'd add some more items:
link to jayrob's kits and some info on battery selection to part Hosts and Batteries
there are also more videos about harvesting (search on youtube)
link to Aixiz, info on different lenses (acrylic, glass, 405G1, 605G1, casio projector lenses etc)
link to modwerx, HTD and stonetek as good shops for laser components
links to other drivers
big warning sign like "high powered 445nm lasers aren't for n00bs as their 1st laser"
and pls change the link colour (I almost can't see it :))
 
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PJP2810

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What if I'm too lazy/clumsy to build it myself, does anyone here (and builds good low powered lasers) live in the UK?

I'm looking for a blue/violet laser soon.

I'm wanting a blue laser but have read bout how delicate they are and I dont want to FK it up.
 

PJP2810

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... PM sent to see if I can help.

M
:)
I cant seem to find the PM Morgan, but am going on holiday to Zante (Greek island) and gonna be there for 2 weeks (taking my 2 lasers pens for a good rave =]) so I wont be able to get back on for 2 weeks as of ..... NOW
 

Morgan

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Whenever you're back PJP2810, I not intending going anywhere! It might be a post count thing re the PM but not sure. Have a good holiday and be safe with those pointers!

See you soon.

M
:)
 




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