View Full Version : laser animation system help

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uniporn soundsystem
12-13-2009, 06:55
hello im gonna come clean im completely new to lasers but i have been rummaging through stuff and found a piece of kit that i bought on ebay a few years ago that if i could get it up and running would be very useful.
it splits up the laser beam into a drawing on the wall using two mirrors, and i had it up and running but it does work but its kinda of been shoved in a box somewhere n have lost manual and broken one of the mirrors but that is an easy fix. when i bought it i was told that i could connect it up to a computer so that i could programme the animations that it creates.
the laser isnt included but was using a laser pen when testing and that worked fine. it is being controlled at the moment by dimmer switches and would like to know how or what i need to do to it to allow for computer control and what programme i can use to control it?
i want to use to create laser animation drawings on the wall and wondering if what i have is actually useful as only has speed of 10kpps and it is going to be best to completely start again.
thanks for your help in advance

12-13-2009, 08:01
While it might be possible to salvage that setup, the fact that it is only 10kpps is enough for me to suggest that you buy a new 20kpps set from ebay or from someone here. You can get a relatively decent 20kpps system for as little as ~$120US +shipping these days. 10k isn't capable enough to warrant saving IMO.

The red board in the second photo contains a few simple show frames, but you'll want to look into getting or building a DAC of some sort to allow direct computer control.

uniporn soundsystem
12-13-2009, 09:48
thanks elecktrofreak, what is required in building a DAC and what sort of computer control system would you recommend to go for?

12-13-2009, 10:11
The easiest DIY DAC is the sound card DAC. It's a USB computer soundcard with slight modifications and a simple amplifier to boost the signals to your lasers and galvos. There is both free and low-cost software that support it. Here's a tutorial on how to construct one:


uniporn soundsystem
12-13-2009, 16:06
thank you again. which computer programme would you go for in the free to low cost price bracket? i would love to go for teh Pangolin software but finance and quality of kit restrict this at this point.
how easy once i get this up and running will it be to swap parts and improve this laser as i would like to eventually end up with something im proud of but finance doesnt allow at this point.

12-13-2009, 16:17
It's very possible to build your system in such a way as to allow for gradual improvement. Nearly any system can be upgraded as time goes by, but with some smaller enclosures you might have a hard time fitting bigger lasers or more electronics. Use your discretion when determining how big the system will be, but keep expansion in mind. In the lounge section of the forum there are many threads that contain pictures and diagrams of members projectors, which should give you some idea as to what to consider for yours.

Regarding the software, if you want to use Pangolin software, you'll need Pangolin hardware as well. Most mainstream hardware/software bundles are this way. The sound card DAC can be used only with the software that supports it, which is listed at the beginning of that tutorial, along with links for download/purchase. A complete sound card DAC w/software should cost about $120 and a couple hours construction time.

uniporn soundsystem
12-14-2009, 02:35
thank you again electro freak thats really helpful but i have some more questions.
how would you say the dac u built compares to a bought one?
can your dac be intergrated with better software when i have some money?
what programme do u recommend that works with your dac?
whats teh differerence in control from using usb instead of ILDA?

what laser would u recommend on the cheap for a good beam?

12-14-2009, 05:44
There are major advantages to using a commercial hardware/software. In terms of hardware output image quality there is no difference that I have seen. The commercial software does offer superior functionality, but that is to be expected given the difference in price. The most inexpensive commercial option that I know of is the RIYA DAC, which costs just over $200. The RIYA is supported by many of the same software programs as the soundcard DAC. The DIY aspect of the soundcard DAC is a big part of why I like it, though, since I like the idea of building every part of my system.

The soundcard DAC is the most cost-effective DAC solution that I'm aware of, but like most other "cheaper" options it is less functional overall. The main limitation of the souncard DAC is a lack of live-control software. This makes doing a live show slightly more difficult than hardware with software made for doing live shows. It's not impossible with a little ingenuity, though.

As far as USB connectivity, you're actually only using USB to connect the soundcard to the computer. The soundcard outputs are run through a small amplifier and then to an ILDA connector which then goes to the projector. All this info (along with detailed photos and diagrams) is in the tutorial, however, so there's little need for me to type it all again. The same goes for available software that supports the soundcard DAC, but my personal recomendation is Spaghetti, followed by LFI laser player.

uniporn soundsystem
12-14-2009, 12:49
thank you.
so with spagetti you run a preprogrammed show that is difficult to control live.
from the sound of it building a DAC seems the best thing to do at the moment due to cost.
before i was controlling with a simple military laser pen which suprising was still able to work on the clouds.
what would you recommend as a cost effective upgrade in terms of laser?

12-14-2009, 13:06
Sorry, I meant to address that in my last post.

Check for manufacturers like CNI, Viasho or Laser-wave for high-quality imported laser modules. These names are the standard in use in most DPSS show projectors today.

There are more cost-effective options, but they may come at the cost of some stability while being modulated. Here are a couple links:

A very good deal:

I've had fairly good luck with these, but your mileage may vary:
http://cgi.ebay.com/100mW-532nm-DPSS-Green-Laser-Diode-for-Laser-Systems_W0QQitemZ170362922357QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH _DefaultDomain_0?hash=item27aa6be575