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Thread: System confusion

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Rotorua New Zealand
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    528

    Default System confusion


    Hi from New Zealand..
    Have enjoyed reading your posts.. It has been a great help to me as a New Laser guy.
    I still need help !!... if you can spare the time.
    I am looking at setting up an RGB system of good quality. My initial thoughts were to buy a 'turn key' system. However thats a mine field. The prices are all over the place and so it would seem is the misinformation. (you know, 'ours is the best, the cheapest, you dont want his because its made in XX etc etc')
    As mentioned above I am new to lasers. I do however have one string to my bow in that I am electronics engineer of ancient vintage still gainfully employed (started in days of 'radio' the '60's).
    So to get a good system I am warming to the idea of building up my own to hopefully avoid the dollar and rubbish traps out there.
    I think I may understand the Software and controller side (eg Pangolin / ILDA etc)
    I have the Galvo thing reasonably clear now (Cambridge it seems is the only one highly spoken of). Anyone know if Eye-Magic are good ?
    I do not understand the table layout / 'Dicros' etc. or how to combine the RGB into white. (I have the concept of relative brightness of the RGB)

    My aim is to make up an RGB full graphics capable unit using DPSS with good equipment something around the 2 - 3 watt area I think but this is linked to budget.
    Any advice, photos, comments or 'go look here' would be real helpful. Particularly on table layout, dicros and any traps for newbies.
    Yes I know this is ambitious and it will cost some dollars to do it right but I believe in trying to do it right. (do it right, do it once, type thing)

    Many thanks look forward to hearing any comments and yes you may laugh at the idea if you wish.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Charleston, SC
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    Smile Just getting started? Some thoughts...

    Hello Pitts! Welcome to PhotonLexicon.

    You are setting your sights fairly high, trying to build a multi-watt RGB projector from scratch on your very first attempt. What you have proposed is going to be *expensive* and time consuming, but it is doable.

    There are several brands of scanners (galvos) that work well. Which set you purchase depends on what you want to do with them and how much money you have to spend. Of course, Cambridge makes some very nice equipment (probably the best available even), but their pricing reflects that. There are less expensive solutions that will give you performance nearly as good for 1/3 the cost, if you're on a budget. The DT-40 Pro's, for example, are nearly as fast as the cambridge units. They're sold by Jian725 right here on Photonlexicon, and lots of the members here use them and like them.

    On the other hand, if you don't care much about graphics and would rather concentrate on beams, then you might consider a set of widemoves, or one of the slower (but much more economical) brands, such as the Pro Scan units. (Be sure to check out the 20Kpps galvos that aijii and dave sell on E-bay. They're also members here, and they stand behind their stuff, plus their prices are hard to beat.)

    The same factors that come into play when choosing a set of galvos will also affect your software and controller choice. Pangolin offers several fine choices on the high end, while other packages like Mamba Black, X-29, and Alphalite will save you some money at the expense of features and image quality.

    I should point out that Pangolin is planning on releasing a new product aimed at hobbyists in the near future that will be very price-competitive with the rest of the market. Unfortunately, it will be licensed for non-commercial use only, so if your goal is to do shows for money you'll need something else.

    As for the laser table itself, basically you need three lasers, and two dichros to combine the beams. A dichro (or dichroic mirror) is an optical piece that will reflect only specific wavelengths while allowing other wavelengths to pass through them. So a "pass green, reflect blue" dichro can be used to combine the beam of a DPSS blue laser with the beam of a DPSS green laser. Likewise, a "pass blue and green, reflect red" dichro can be used to add the beam from a red diode laser to the blue-green beam you just created. Bingo! Now you have a white light beam to send to your scanners. (You get different colors by modulating the power supplies to the individual lasers. TTL means on or off only, while analog means you get millions of possible color shades.)

    For more information, I suggest you read more of the messages in the forums. However, to get you started, I've picked out a few that seem to have a good bit of information about the topics you were concerned about. Don't forget to look in the gallery for some great pictures to help explain everything (espeically the layout of a projector table).

    Great thread talking about RGB options, software, etc. Start with this one

    DT-40's
    ILDA connector, scanner amps, wiring, etc.
    Dichros
    TTL colors
    Color Balance Theory
    RGB layout
    More table layout
    Red diodes from DVD burners
    Finished RGB projector
    Laser Safety Goggles
    General Discussion
    More Discussion

    One final point I probably should mention. You're talking about spending a small fortune to get to the power level you want. As an example, one watt of green will cost you around $2000, and the green laser will be the cheapest of the three. (Red diode lasers are cheap, but once you get beyond 500 mw or so the cost jumps way up.) Solid state blue lasers in the 1 watt category are *really* expensive. (Consider that just 200 mw of DPSS blue will cost you nearly $1600!)

    You might want to think about starting with something a little less powerful (and a lot less expensive) and see if you're really hooked on lasers before you spend a ton of cash. You can buy or build a nice RGB rig for $2000 that will be able to put out nearly a half watt of white light. (like this one on E-bay) Add some software and a controller for as little as $500 and you're in business.

    Adam
    Last edited by buffo; 03-11-2007 at 16:39.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Central Florida
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    Thumbs up

    Welcome pitts! As buffo so elequently put it good luck and hope you have a friend at the bank. I've got close to $2000 in my projector and I still have a way to go to get it 100%. I'm only running about 250-300mW on a good day and am running popelscan which is freeware. another $1000 or so and I should ber good... I's post you some pictures of mine, but I don;t think ghettofabulous is tghe way you want to go...
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

  4. #4
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    Mar 2007
    Location
    Rotorua New Zealand
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    Default

    Hi again,

    Buffo .. many thanks for all your effort in your reply.. The threads you have given me have been very helpful.

    I do know that this is an ambitious project.

    For this reason I have set what I hope is a reasonable budget for parts. I was thinking about $20,000.00 US$ do you think this would get me in the ball park using good gear or is this still too little for a full colour 'several watts' graphics system. (not including Pangolin software or =).

    It seems turn key systems are around $30K + but I assume that includes all their labor and margins.
    This could be an interesting project in so far as there could be a number of people willing to take on such a build if a good result can be attained. If this works out I would be happy to post the outcome for all to share as I have no wish to go into 'production'. Just want a good laser show system for small local shows etc. Its just the electronics engineer in me that says why not have a go at building one !!!.

    Can anyone comment on the Eye-Magic galvos (apparently European and are supposed to be pretty good at way less cost than Cambridge)

    Thanks for the help so far

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Charleston, SC
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    Thumbs up

    Did you say $20,000?

    Well, if you've got that kind of cash ready to spend, then you can easily hit your target of 3 watts whitelight. In fact, you can probably do it while also buying the very best scanners (Cambridge 6215's) and still have the cash left over for a Pangolin LD2000 Pro setup.

    I'm not really sure which way you're headed with this projector though. What are you planning on doing with the laser? (Graphics? Beams? Both?) Will you be using it in a club? If so, how big is the venue, and would two or more projectors be better than just one big one? With the budget you've got, you have a multitude of options available.

    Also, how are you planning on controlling it? (Directly from a PC running pre-programmed shows, playing "Live" while other music plays from another source, or connected to a DMX board and taking cues from the lighting panel?) Finally, are all-solid-state lasers a crucial factor, or are you also considering ion lasers? (At the budget you're talking, you can get 10 watts if you go ion, but then you need to deal with 3 phase power and water cooling.)

    I will say that at the budget levels you're talking about, you *will* be able to buy at the very top end of the market, so some of the money-saving recommendations here might not apply to your situation quite as much. (A lot of us are doing this just as a hobby, which means our budgets can be quite limited; thus we end up choosing less-expensive solutions - even though they still work very well.) But if having the cat's meow in terms of hardware and software is important to you, rest assured that you've budgeted for it.

    At the very least, I'd say go for the Pangolin hardware and software to run the show. As for the scanners and the lasers - I'll defer to others that have more experience, particularly with regard to the Eye Magic scanners you mentioned. (Though if I wasn't going to buy Cambridge, and I didn't need the wide scan angle of the Wide Moves, I'd take the DT-40 Pro's over anything else. But that's just me.)

    Either way, keep us informed of your progress. (Pictures!) I'd love to see the final product in operation...

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Rotorua New Zealand
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    Default

    Hi Again,

    Boy that was a quick reply !!
    It sounds like a lot of money but I sold something to get something, you know how it works !!.. (the little lady sure does !!)
    Its a hobby for me too I just want to get a good system together.

    It needs to do graphics... to a good standard.

    Any suggestions on where to buy good reasonable priced laser modules ..Red, Green, Blue, I keep reading bad things about these Chinese units that looks a bit scary or are some Ok. I see someone was saying that there is one good Chinese manufacturer with USA engineers involved.
    All of the 'higher' power laser modules I have seen are very expensive like $20,000 for just one color... I must be looking in the wrong place.

    Although I have a reasonable budget I cant afford to 'blow it' 'she who would be obeyed' would not be amused.

    Regards
    Ray

    I hope to use the Pangolin system or = if there is enough pennies left when this hardware bit is all over.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Well, I guess the first thing to decide on is the color balance you want, so you'll know what power level to look for in your lasers. For 3 watts total, you're looking at around 1.7 watts of red to 950 mw of blue to 365 mw of green for a perfect balance.

    The 1.7 watts of red is going to be expensive. Roughly a watt of blue is also expensive. 400 mw of green is cheap. So cheap, in fact, that I'd recommend going up on the green power to give your beams more punch. You can always dial it back to get your color balance back in sync. (Color balance not being nearly as important as you might think - see several threads here on Photonlexicon talking about the phenomenon.)

    A less ideal mix might be 1.4 watts of red, 1 watt of green, and 800 mw of blue. This shoots your color balance out the window when everything is at full power, but when dialed back slightly - to around 2.5 watts of total output - this mix can still deliver perfect color. (You can always crank it up to 3 watts when you want more visual punch.)

    That's the beauty of analog blanking - you can dial the lasers back to get the perfect color balance when you want it, then crank up the power when you need the beams to be bright as hell.

    I'm sure some of the guys here with more experience in higher-power DPSS units will chime in here with their recommendations as to specific brands...

    Adam
    Last edited by buffo; 03-13-2007 at 03:05. Reason: Math error in calculations of color balance

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    If you are going to be using Pangolin you do not have to worry about prefect color balance. Pangolin takes you through a color balance routine so when you are running graphics shows it uses your analog blanking to give you prefect color balance and when you run beam shows it runs full power. The software knows when you are running beams or graphics.
    "Gravity its not just a good idea its the law"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Lancashire UK
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    Hi Ray

    a lot of the chinese lasers now are quite good quality

    I know have 5 of them

    Dave and Adrian from Lasershow parts are here on this board and are based in Australia and can supply 40K scanners and Dpss lasers at great prices and they are cool guys to deal with

    I know cos i have bought some .....

    where in new zealand are you ... ?

    im flying into auckland on the 21st then to wellington on 26th then up to Levin on Hyway 1

    i was at the wellington carnival a couple of weeks ago .... it was wicked
    especialy the dancing girls on the floats wearing nothing but a coat of paint

    all the best Karl

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    SoCal
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    If you're planning on doing shows commercially on a budget, then I actually recommend focusing on power first and add color as you go along...

    In your budget, I would get 5W of green, make sure it's analog modulatable,
    and then you can go about adding the rest of the colors to suit... Next I'd
    recomend a Lexel 88 argon w/ a 240V single phase PSU to add the blue with a 4 or 8 channel PCAOM. Then you can add a 400mW red just to have it and worry about adding more red as you get more money. In terms of laser show software/hardware, I'd recommend talking to a dealer on a discount on Pangolin QM2k Intro. That should leave enough money for optics and offboard equipment like a DF-50 hazer...

    (Also note that a "real" hazer is the cheapest and best investment for a commercial laser show company as it'll easily make a laser brighter than a unit twice as powerful shining through a fogger.)

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