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Thread: Choices

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Choices

    Hey guys,

    Well again we are faced with the proposition of having lots of ideas but not enough gear to fulfill them all at the same time...

    Currently have our nice little RYG projector doing close to a watt... also have our chopped down alc909 argon... now we want full colour.. the way i see it we have a couple of options...

    a) spend 3 or 4 grand on something pissweak like 250mw of chinese blue to make the ryg rbg... and it won't be bright enough...

    b) find a 2nd hand pcaom and put the red in the argon box and get 457nm and 476nm blues and lots of it...

    The main pro's and con's for both, namely portability/air cooling vs better looking colour's and power output.

    What would you guys do ? Would you trade off a better looking show for ease of setup ?
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    Even if you purchase your PCAOM brand new, you're still going to end up about 4X cheaper than going with a DPSS solution at 473 nm. Plus you'd have a lot more blue to play with!

    How hard is it to power and cool that alc909? Do you need 3 phase power for it? (For sure there are some single-phase supplies that will work with that laser - the Aurora comes to mind, for example...)

    If you do need 3 phase power for the supply you've got, do you have a phase converter? (If not, it's going to cost a minimum of a grand to build one, and they are heavy as hell, so it might be cheaper to sell it and buy a single phase supply...)

    I guess you hit it on the head... It's all about how much grunt work you want to do. The argon solution will likely be cheaper and certainly will be brighter. But with the PCAOM and all, it's more complex, too.

    Since I'm on a super tight budget, and argon is always going to be cheaper than any other source of blue, I'm going to stick with argons. But if I had to set up and tear down a bunch of equipment night after night, then I might be convinced of the benefits of all-solid-state components...

    One other thing to consider. If you put the Argon in your whitelight box, that frees up your green dpss, right? So now you can stick that into a separate projector for beams... (Or, better yet, leave your RYG projector alone and just buy a second red diode to go with the multi-line argon.) Of course, this assumes you've got the spare galvos, amps, and controller... (But if you're thinking of dropping $4000 + on a 250mw dpss blue, then you've got enough to buy a set of galvos and amps, and still have enough left for the PCAOM and the second red diode!)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005


    My 2 cents...

    Go solid state... If you need bigger lasers, then rent them as needed.
    Spend $4k to get your ~400mW of blue... Big tubes are well suited to fixed
    installations... Shipping the systems will eat up any profits quickly.

    FYI... The guy who designed the Aurora supply (Gary Stadler) lives a few
    minutes south of me down in Del Mar... He's retired from the laser business
    though he does make runs down to burning man... In my opinion,
    it's a decent early switched PSU design... The coolest part is that the PSU is
    aircooled, so all you have to do is run the tube with small a closed loop
    chiller... (since the PSU is what traditionally generates the most heat)...

    There's two camps about it's robustness in the field, though I've personally
    never seen any problems with it firsthand... According to hearsay, the
    problems with it are related to how it handles the failure of key components...
    basically if an SP265 or similar blow, the PSU is designed to sacrifice itself to
    save the tube... in the Aurora, in failure mode, it has the potential to shunt full
    power to the tube...

    That said, the design of a standard linear passbank is a lot more prone
    to failure (the failure of a transistor distributes the load across the remaining
    transistors in its bank)... SP265's and similar need constant service and
    maintenance to keep them from frying... Not fun even with a curve tracer...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    Wow - you run into the coolest people on the Internet...

    Yadda, I met Gary via an on-line transaction a couple years ago. (He sold me the 3 Isomet AOM's that I have now.) He told me about his participation in Burning Man, and I've followed some of his adventures there via his website.

    Did you know that he was one of the guys that did the wormhole effect for the very first Star Trek movie? (The one with "Viger"...) They didn't have galvos that were fast enough to create the effect so they used AOM's to steer the beam around. Evidently they couldn't get more than a degree or two of deflection, but that was enough to pull off the effect. If you run in to Gary, ask him to relay the story sometime - it's fascinating.

    Anyway, back to the present. How big can you go with 473 nm blue anyway? (Or, perhaps a better question: at what power level is it no longer cost effective to stay solid state for blue?)


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