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jdorsh
06-02-2013, 15:40
I just joined this forum. I am interested in building out a laser show system at my house. I have a 3K square foot patio with outdoor kitchen and fire pit and just added a Sonance Sound system - we entertain frequently. I also have some Color Kinetics lighting system outside with color changing effects through my home automation system. The patio overlooks our pond but have neighbors across (8 acres), so I need to tightly control the laser system.

When I was in Grad School, I played with lasers and now I find myself being drawn back. My expertise is LEDs and could easily see myself getting sucked into a DIY project. However, for my first system, I may want to recognize my ignorance here and buy a turn key solution. My goal is to buy system and software that would allow me to fiddle and build the software programs with Pangolin (seems to be the standard) to then wow my guests after a dinner party.

I have been looking at the X-Laser Skywriter 750mW and 1.5W RGB systems. I am open to custom. I am guessing I will need to build a custom screen in the trees (was thinking of an automated black tarp 20x40 - like dump trucks use or automated curtains high up 60ft ish in the tree so would be 20 ft off the ground) unless the laser technology can do arial 3D effects (not sure how this is possible without particulates in the air or background? The throw would be 100 feet from the projector if I build what I am thinking.

My total budget is probably around $5-10K for everything - open to used or new and willing to rent to try out various systems.

I am located in the Boston area.

Thanks for the help,

Jed

mixedgas
06-03-2013, 08:46
Are you planning on un-terminated beams? Boston is such a dense area for air traffic. Under current law, you cannot shoot into airspace without a permit. This may put a damper on your party unless you have lots of trees.

In your case, better control systems, ie Pangolin or LSX, and more power is desirable. 750 mW in a brightly lit back yard is going to be a wash-out without a lot of fog.

Steve

Bradfo69
06-03-2013, 08:52
Hi Jed,

Welcome to PL. I understand you're taking into consideration screens and beam termination but, are you contemplating this for preventing beams going astray or to display graphic shows?

Your budget sounds realistic and, your choices of X-Laser and Pangolin are also both very good. Your intended purpose will help to determine what you may need projector wise. Pangolins Quickshow will probably suffice for your software needs as it's a big jump to go to Beyond or an LD2000 package. Both in price and computer needs.

Since this is outdoors, you MAY very well have to get into reporting regularly to FAA as well. I suspect if the beams are terminated that it's pretty straightforward but, you don't want your show spotted from a plane and then get that knock on the door once they've traced where it's coming from.

~Brad

Edit - Steve touched on it while I was typing.

jdorsh
06-03-2013, 09:23
Hi Jed,

Welcome to PL. I understand you're taking into consideration screens and beam termination but, are you contemplating this for preventing beams going astray or to display graphic shows?

Your budget sounds realistic and, your choices of X-Laser and Pangolin are also both very good. Your intended purpose will help to determine what you may need projector wise. Pangolins Quickshow will probably suffice for your software needs as it's a big jump to go to Beyond or an LD2000 package. Both in price and computer needs.

Since this is outdoors, you MAY very well have to get into reporting regularly to FAA as well. I suspect if the beams are terminated that it's pretty straightforward but, you don't want your show spotted from a plane and then get that knock on the door once they've traced where it's coming from.

~Brad

Edit - Steve touched on it while I was typing.

Brad and Steve thanks for the response. Air traffic did come to mind actually, as well as neighbors. Approach to Logan could be an issue if the beams went astray (not terminated). However, I was thinking if my screen was large enough and I used the field parameters of either Pangolin or Pheonix4 I could ensure the beams stayed on the screen? This would not be a mobile system.

Anyhow, my goal would be to learn to create 3D animation and light shows while entertaining on the patio. Its tough to explain the logistics without a sketch - I can see if I can upload. I think with a 75-100ft throw that 2W Laser would be powerful enough vs the 750mW (I was worried the 750mW would be to dull)? Do you think I would need more power?

I have a 12 person theater in the cellar maybe it makes more sense to try and use this area? Having an outside laser show seems so utopic in comparison though...

I saw this on Youtube and it inspired me to create something similar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef_dg1_YLO0

Jed

Bradfo69
06-03-2013, 10:52
Hi Jed...

Indoor theater? 8 acre pond? Lasers outside and a 3000sf patio? Here's the deal.... adopt me and I'll take care of your laser shows, FAA paperwork and variance. :)
I'd have a hard time in Patriots country though. :(

With the projection zones settings in Quickshow you can certainly make this work well for graphics shows like that. The other nice thing is that you don't need fog/haze/atmosphere AND you don't need stupid amounts of power. Quality over quantity for your graphics shows. 2 watts should be very nice at 100 feet for this. HOWEVER... My ballroom is 104 feet long so, I know what my lasers look like on a wall at that distance. 3 watts, 1.6 watts, 2.4 watts, etc. Power wise between 1.5 and 3 is going to be fine. The problem is, at that distance, you want very tight beams otherwise the resulting image will not be as nice as you would like. Tight beams = better quality/more money. A gas laser of some sort would be ideal over diode or DPSS but, something solid state is going to be much more convenient.

I'm going to go out on a limb here though (as I know Dan from X-Laser well, and certainly wouldn't want to piss him off) and say that their lower priced models like the Skywriter "might" not be as satisfactory at that distance for what you want to do. I'm sure their Dimention model would be great but also a lot more money. I'm not certain about a sweet spot in between with their products and would suggest contacting them directly to discuss it. Another really good option would be speaking with Marc at CT Lasers who is a custom builder and does a lot of outdoor, long throw shows. He can build you a very nice projector specifically gear towards your application. I trust both of them to give you good advice and ultimately a quality product you'll be happy with.

Bradfo69
06-03-2013, 11:02
^What I mean by that is that the further away your image terminates, the bigger those lines that make up the image will be. Usually the green is a pretty tight dot. Blue tend to be a bit bigger and most cheaper reds are pretty large in diameter so, it's going to look a bit fuzzy with reddish fringe at that distance.

Bradfo69
06-03-2013, 11:21
AND another observation... the Youtube video that inspired you looks very much like perhaps it was done with LSX, another software program that Steve mentioned. I think you would be very pleased working with it and it is a bit less expensive but, it does have a much larger learning curve than Quickshow. So, if you're into messing around with software and creating your own shows that LOOK like what you saw in the video, explore LSX too.

swamidog
06-03-2013, 11:23
isn't that the "just keep talking" pangolin show?


AND another observation... the Youtube video that inspired you looks very much like perhaps it was done with LSX, another software program that Steve mentioned. I think you would be very pleased working with it and it is a bit less expensive but, it does have a much larger learning curve than Quickshow. So, if you're into messing around with software and creating your own shows that LOOK like what you saw in the video, explore LSX too.

Bradfo69
06-03-2013, 11:28
isn't that the "just keep talking" pangolin show?

I didn't watch the whole thing to be honest. It didn't jump out at me as one I had seen before. (Actually thought it looked a bit like your handiwork.)

Edit - ok, I just went back and watched it. No... probably not LSX and no, not as good as Swami's work. I stand corrected BUT.... you would still probably be very pleased with LSX and it's worth a look. Take a look at some of the stuff Swamidog is creating these days.

jdorsh
06-03-2013, 12:17
Thanks guys. I left a message for Marc and am going to see if I can get him up to my place to provide a consultation of what I want to achieve and what it will take to get me there in terms of equipment, software, accessories, and cost.

Preferably when my wife is out...she knows I am crazy and this would be further evidence.

Thanks,

Jed


Theater is for The Pats! LEDs have paid for the house and my hobbies.