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Thread: How did some of you Laserists get started ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    Default How did some of you Laserists get started ?


    I'm interested in knowing how some of the Laserists on this forum got started.
    1. What kind of background and skills do you have?

    Myself to start.
    I'm an Electronic Engineering Tech. I've self taught myself out of simple curiosity and love of Science and Physics. I have worked in fiber optics, Secure Telecomm and Computing industries. I'm a jack of all trades and enjoy hands on projects. Hobbies are Stained Glass, Astronomy, Electronics, Woodworking, Canoeing, Camping, I'm a Nature nut.... and Love to play with Lasers... safely above all.

    2. What kind of projects have you worked on ?

    All the Laser Shows I ever performed we're for Charities of my own choosing.

    3. What kind of equipment do you use or are you planning to build for laser entertainment ?

    I have the following lasers:
    -a Spectra-Physics 168 white light laser, 2 W
    -a SP 164 Argon laser, 6 W
    -a lexel 95 Argon laser, > 2.5W
    -a Melles-Griot 58 BLD -605 blue DPSS laser, 320 mW
    -a Lambda-Pro 532 DPSS laser 200 mW
    -a MAXYZ modules red laser , 150 mW "want a 400 mW Maxy & Chuck"
    - several He-Ne laser
    - Ruby Laser, several ND-YAG diode pumped lasers and a high power ND-YAG flashlamp based industrial laser. Other miscellaneous AOM's ,

    I have a Pangolin QM32 Pro laser show controller and a Pango QM2000 Basic laser show controller and 2 projectors (one DPSS with Catweazle II galvos for low power) and another using a NEOS 8 channel PCAOM and Cambridge 6800 galvos.

    I make my own Lumia wheels in case anyone is interested in acquiring one.
    I want to complete an RGB DPSS laser projector and a high power YAG 532.
    I have too many projects and require the 9 lives of a cat to work on all of them.
    I have "Laser Beams in My Dreams" and that's why I'm here.

    What are your stories ?
    Profile Redacted by Admin @ 04.24.2010

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    East Coast , Canada



    Well, I started out as a Musician first playing Guitar , Sax, Keys and Bass. After realizing thats not where i want to make my millions. I studied Electronics and an a certified Electronics Tech.

    I started in the laser world when i got a strange call one day from Toronto. A friend had seen ad ad in the Paper looking for a LASERIST... Hell, I didnt know what that was, But applied anyway.... 3 days later i got a call, asking if i would do an interviw, Over the Phone, While it was being Video taped... I said Sure... Did the Interview, sent the tape off the next morning, 2 days later, i was offered to go to the Mclaughlin Planetarium at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.. WOW...

    I was a Laserist for 2 yrs, Fixing lasers , projectors, and performing shows. Attendance was poor, VERY Poor so, i took it upon myself to Produced my own show called METAL ROSES, Featuring Guna nd Roses and Metallica. Brought back a HUGE crowd to the planetarium, and was offered to be a show producer in Orland with the Company ( AV-Imagineering)... The rest is , History

    I have worked on literally Hundreds of Planetarium and Corporate shows over my 12 yrs with them and have many ILDA awards to show for my Show Production and Abstract design...

    I worked with an amazing group of people that have unfortunatly all moved on now that the company is just a shell.. ( SAD)

    The past 4 yrs since, i have opened a Recording and productions facility ( ) and have enjoyed that, But have been once again been bit by the laser bug...

    Last summer i produced a show for the local Drive-in at dusk, using 6800 scanners 300mw dpss laser and pangolin qm32 system.. worked out well and am dong it again this yr, hopefulling adding red, redesigning the projector, and maybe adding an effect or two.....

    We have a white 32x64ft screen and i use the Whole screen for motion, but dont really project images that big, i like the impact of bright so 1/2 screen is about as big as i get , except for abstracts....

    It is Bright enough coming from the screen that you can read a book when the laser show is going.. 300MW is amazingly bright at dusk, and brighter at dark!

    For now, im not taking it much bigger than this, Just gonna do this show and local advertising stuff....Getting into water and power and ect.... Not for now.... BUT maybe in the future!

    Hope this is ok, maybe you know me a bit more now

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    Great idea for a thread!
    Guess I'm next....

    I became fascinated with lasers at a very early age. 7th grade, or thereabouts. I checked out every book in the library and read them all. (Though admittedly I didn't understand half of it.) Then I went to the public library downtown and checked out more books.

    When I was in high school the physics department had 2 small hene lasers. (maybe 3 mw output...) We played around with them, but didn't do anything really exciting. (did the "slap two chalk-board erasers together to see the beam" trick, and re-created the famous Poisson bright spot experiment, but that's about it.)

    Joined the Navy right out of high school, and got selected for Nuc School. Ended up on a ballistic missle submarine and never saw a single laser. But I still read a lot (being interested in science, I was an avid nonfiction reader) and I always dreamed of owning a laser. In the mean time, I learned what I could about computers, electronics, and other interesting subjects...

    About the time I got out of the Navy, I got into the Amiga computer in a big way. (I loved raytracing, though I also played around with digital sound sampling/looping.) Through the local Amiga users group, I met a guy that had a small HeNe that he'd bought from MWK. I was surprised that the prices were so cheap!

    I was hooked... I bought a 1.2 mw HeNe from MWK, and picked up a couple red pointers as well, and started playing. The dream was always to put together a whitelight system and run it off an A4000 with the Pangolin QM32 board. (The old Zorro II board, that is!) But money was always holding me back.

    Since then lots of things have changed. The Amiga is obsolete, Pangolin runs on the PC, and lasers have gotten even cheaper. (Pangolin software is still pricey though!) As far as my collection, I've added nearly 30 HeNe's of various power levels up to around 16 mw or so, 3 argons (all SP-161 or similar, with single line 488nm optics doing around 40 mw each), and two 100 mw dpss green units. (Plus my green pointer.)

    I've got a whole collection of old galvos, including 2 or 3 sets of 300 series GS open loop scanners. I've got one of the original MWK lissajous boxes, and a couple un-finished lissajous boards that I never got around to soldering together. I've got a good collection of gratings, lenses, bounce mirrors, and other doodads as well.

    My first set of closed loop galvos are the Dragon Tiger DT-40's, and they're installed in my Alphalite-based projector along with one of the 100 mw dpss green units. I'm already thinking about my next DAC, and looking forward to the day when I can add red and blue to my projector.

    The only "projects" that I've worked on are ones I've started myself, for my own enjoyment. Though I have done a few guest lectures about lasers at the local schools, beyond that all my stuff stays here in the house.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Wirral, UK


    I'm new to PL so what better way to introduce myself than this.....

    I am an electronic design engineer with interests in lasers, electronics in general, radio, high voltage etc....

    I got my first laser when I was 16. I envied my school's HeNe so I saved up and bought a surplus Philips tube. I built a PSU from two 240-110 v transformers, their 110 windings in series on 240V and their secondaries in series into a voltage multiplier stage which had large caps on the running stages and smaller caps on the striking stages. Construction wasn't pretty, and it hissed ozone but it did give a lovely 632.8nm at approx 1mW !

    I also managed to run this tube off a modified camera flash circuit.
    The poor little inverter transformer became scalding hot after a few seconds of use - but it was the first laser pointer in my town. I taped the 4 AA battery pack to the tube as a handle and had a push to make switch in a trigger position, making a laser gun. Sounds fairly sad now but it created quite a stir in its day.

    After leaving school I went to university and did an electronics degree.
    There I saw my first red diode laser and *Gasp* a green DPSS.
    I knew I wanted one but did not have the $$$

    I then got a job as an electronics design engineer which solved my cash-flow problems. I bought a surplus 10mW 488nm Argon Ion tube and built a linear PSU. It ran from a 3.5kVA 240-100V transformer and took over 1kW from the mains to give 10mW of light. A conversion efficiency of 0.001% but it was blue!!!

    Mixed in with this was a couple of red diode pointers as the price dropped under the $100 mark.

    A few years ago I built a DPSS using one of the Casix DPMs and a 1W 9mm diode. Output power was measured at 100mW but I do not know the breakdown of 808, 1064 and 532. Also being a glued DPM its life expectancy is not great - but it is one hell of a laser pointer :-)

    I then bought some laser diode die - I was getting good at surface mount soldering - so I thought how hard could mounting die be.
    The specialist laser die flux I was given was useless - several die died because of solder voids beneath the die. When I got the flux right it became a lot easier and I successfully mounted 1W and 3W 808nm die and a 300mW 660nm (multimode type - not a DVD writer diode)

    Recently I have bought a 200mW DPSS 532 from in the USA and the Dragon Tiger DT-40 galvos from Peijian Xu (Jian) in China.
    (Jian's galvos rock!)
    I have built my own DAC but I am still trying to squeeze the last bit of bandwidth from the PC parallel port. I am limited to 20k Green only at the moment - I think I can get 25k to 30k RGB by writing my own driver for Mamba (work in progress)

    Oh, and I have been playing with DVD writers - the Sony 16x dual layer writers contain a 658nm diode which will do 80mW CW with minimal cooling and pulses up to 250mW. If cooled sufficiently it will do 200mW CW.
    I have also been touting my wares on ebay - I think a couple of you have bought my laser diode driver boards, thanks guys!

    See you all round PL.

    Best Regards,
    Robin Bowden

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


    Welcome to Photon Lexicon ,Robin.

    Hope you find this site an interesting place to visit and interact with the global community of laser & technology addicts.

    Profile Redacted by Admin @ 04.24.2010

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Charleston, SC


    Yee Haaa!

    Welcome Robin! Glad you decided to check this place out.

    For the rest of you that don't know yet, Robin is the guy I was talking about earlier in this thread; he's the one that came up with the diode driver circuit that supports TTL and analog blanking. I'm one of the happy bidders that managed to scarf one of the early production run boards on E-bay. (There were only 6 available.) Fortunately, Robin has expressed an interest in doing a second, larger production run, so hopefully we'll all get a chance to play with one in the future.

    I won't have mine for a while yet - he's gotta send it across the ocean you see... But when I do get it, I'm going to hook it up to one of my DVD diodes and see what it will do. (Spec; if it works as well as I think it will, it might be possible to shoehorn one of these boards inside one of your DPSS units to get true analog blanking...) Long term I'm probably going to try exactly that with my Lasever green DPSS. (Mine is one of the older ones that only has TTL blanking.)

    Some of you have been asking about analog blanking ideas for both pump diodes on a DPPS rig and direct injection red diodes... Robin has some good information to share!

    So, again, welcome to PL Robin!


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