Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 34

Thread: New to laser shows need help building my own please! :)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default New to laser shows need help building my own please! :)

    Hi everybody, I'm Theo. I'm new to Lasers and creating shows I'm very fascinated and I've been addicted to them and what they can do. I don't actually have a laser or any galvos or anything. I'm really looking to create a show even if it is very simple. I really like the aerial shows with all the scans and everything. I am wondering what would be a good place to start.

    I looked at the 20-30 kpps kits on ebay and was thinking to start there, or even the dt40/dt40 pro. Could anyone help me on what I might need to create a simple aerial show so that I can learn? You guys are awesome. Thanks in return.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    DC/VA metro area, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default

    Hi KANG, welcome to PL!

    In order to get good guidance, you'll need to provide some additional background about yourself in terms of:
    * Skill and patience levels for building electronics and optomechanical assemblies;
    * Skill and patience levels for working with kludgy software;
    * Budget available for this particular goal you have.

    See, there are answers where you can spend a LOT of money and have most things pretty much sorted out so you can focus on learning the software and making shows, and there are answers where you can spend a lot less but require you to work harder and longer to get to a place where you can create what you want to create.

    So, to keep from giving you the "wrong" answer, we'll need some more information.

    Also, if you fill in your location, you may able to meet up with someone in person who can work with you to answer these questions and help you when you get stuck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default

    Hi, I'll tell you a little more.
    I am not very good with electronics I.E. building a circuit via circuit diagrams or 2D sketches can be tricky for me. I am a mechanical engineer so it is not my forte.
    I am decent and fabricating parts and or mounts for these assemblies shouldn't be a problem and have access to resources that I can do that. I have a extremely high patience. Sometimes I feel like I am as patient as a rock when it comes to people or projects.
    As far as budget I am looking to spend no more than $600 dollars. I also live in the USA. Colorado to be specific. Hope this helps!

    Thanks for replying

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    4,382

    Default

    Hi Kang and welcome to PL! Being a mechanical engineer will help and having a lot of patience is definitely a big plus. Your budget, however is slightly low for this hobby What color(s) are you wanting for your projector?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    537

    Default

    ^ what he said about budget. I'm well past a nice sports car in this hobby haha
    "This is not "work". It's a disease, addiction and passion. Only slightly cheaper than cocaine, but similar effects."
    -dnar

  6. #6
    Bradfo69's Avatar
    Bradfo69 is online now Pending BST Forum Purchases: $47,127,283.53
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Wilmington, DE
    Posts
    6,036

    Default

    Hi Theo,

    Regrettably, what they have said is correct. Lasers in general are nearly as bad if not worse that boats... which we all know is an acronym for, "Bust Out Another Thousand". Heck... I have $600 tied up in just ILDA cables (the cable between the computer and the laser) and extention cords.

    If you're into lasers but only have a $600 budget, then the best possible way to spend it is use it towards travel expenses to go to a LEM (Laser Enthusiest Meeting) and enjoy these things on someones elses dime. The granddaddy of them all (apropo nickname since it's organizer just became a granddaddy) is SELEM held every August in Newton, NC (and yes people from all over the country come to it) but, there are other, smaller LEM's around the country although none in Colorado. You will get more than your mind can handle in the space of a weekend and it's a HUGE learning experience.

    Since you said you're into the idea of creating shows, let's first talk about how they are created. You need software to do that. Keep in mind that laser show software is a very proprietary thing and has a small niche market so, the cost of necessary software/hardware is higher than say, a word processor. There is some good stuff out there and, there is some garbage. Whatever you do, do NOT be tempted by a cheap package on eBay called iShow. Absolutely garbage and you're throwing your money away. That's not just an opinion... it's a well known fact.

    There are predominately two or three main programs you'll hear discussed on this forum... Pangolin's family of software consisting of Quickshow, LD2000 and BEYOND. Then there is a program called LSX (Lasershow Express) and another one developed by a member here called Spaghetti. Yes, there are other commercial ones such as Phoenix, Moncha, Fiesta, M3 and user developed ones such as Laserboy but, in general, LSX and the Pangolin programs are the most discussed. Each has its fans and each has its strengths and weaknesses. I own just about everything I've mentioned.

    LSX is less expensive than anything from Pangolin and is also a forum user developed and refined program. It's designed to work with a number of different DAC's (the interface between computer and projector). The trade off being 1) it's hard to get your hands on, 2) it can be very intimidating and difficult to use and understand - especially for someone who is brand new to lasers. Heck, it's intimidating to people who know what they're doing! But, it's a powerful piece of software and can do some amazing things. Now... it seems to be better for abstract and graphics shows although some people do put together nice aerial shows with it as well. It's not well suited to doing "live" shows. It comes in a few levels ranging from about $120 to $360 and then you need a DAC, the most popular of which is called an Etherdream and is now about $200. Another company called Riya makes a few DAC's as well but, in the big picture, plan on dropping about $350-$400 for an LSX setup. Be forewarned you could pay for it now but not see it for several months and begin to think you're being scammed. You're not. The developer just doesn't appear to know shit about the ethics of running a business or supplying anything remotely close to what could be called customer service.

    Pangolin is a major international company based in Florida and offers 3 programs as mentioned. Quickshow is their entry level program. LD2000 used to be their professional level program but is being supplanted by their new flagship program called BEYOND.
    Quickshow sells for $595 and includes the DAC (called an FB3) that you need. You can download a demo and play with it if you like. For what you are looking to do, it's probably your best choice. LD2000 came in three levels, Intro at $1595, Basic at $2495 and Pro at $4995 and also came with a DAC of sorts called the QM2000 which is really a PCI card that needs to go in your computer or, purchase a .net box at around $700 that you can attach to a laptop via USB. Beyond has the same price points and can come with either thing... a QM2000 or an FB3. Customer service and support is impeccable. Call on Thanksgiving afternoon and you may very well get the president of the company on the phone to answer your question. There a ton of worldwide users and lots of support. You also have access to hundreds of laser shows you can download and play that have been created by others. Anything you get will also retain it's resale value should you decide the laser thing isn't for you. Used FB3's are hard to come by... those who know... keep them and, when they do pop up, are bought within seconds.

    Spaghetti may also be a good place to start. It's a reasonably priced program (under $100) developed by a forum member that goes by the screen name of JohnYaYa's but his real name is Gary. He doesn't sell a DAC but his software works with a bunch of different ones out there including the Riya and Etherdream mentioned earlier. It's a fairly basic program as compared to LSX or Quickshow but, that's not necessarily a bad thing for a new person and there are a number of people that are perfectly content using Spaghetti. There is a new version currently in development which will have more features and be more robust.

    Anyway... long story short... $600 won't get you far but, it can get you into what you want to do if that's learn to create shows. To actually "watch" them, you're talking at least another $1000+ and you'll need a number of things including a hazer or fog machine and the projector itself.

    Welcome to the insanity! Kiss any hope of financial responsibility goodbye. You have been warned.
    Last edited by Bradfo69; 09-15-2014 at 12:52. Reason: typos... always the damn typos.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Bromley, Kent. UK
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Hi Kang

    Firstly, welcome.

    Secondly, don't get too hung up about the electronics. Everything you need is available ready made, with soldering of wires about the only hot work required.

    Thirdly, you say you're a fabricator. May I suggest having a good search of the site and find the threads of people who have posted about their builds and take a look at the various hardware bits. You will find most of them you'll be able to make yourself (mounts, case, etc), saving you a fair bit of cash for the bits you have to buy.

    Finally (but not least), think about what you are going to do with the projector. Then have another search for threads that will point you in the direction for that use in the terms of power levels, colours and most important of all, safety (there are regulations for this stuff if you're thinking of public displays) but even for private usage you should read up on the do's and don't even if they seems straight forward and common sense.

    Good luck with your endeavours and keep us posted of your progress. And don't be afraid to ask even if it seems like a stupid question (no question is stupid if you truly can't work it out for yourself, what is stupid is not asking).
    Cheers

    Colin.

    Anyone wanting to be a politician, should automatically be excluded from being one!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    DC/VA metro area, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default

    OK, let's think hard about a theoretical bare minimum cost outlay to get a single-color image on a wall in your basement.

    The software/DAC is the hardest part, due to the lack of cheap options, but for $150 (or $170 now?) you can pick up the GetLaserShow bundle with the RIYA DAC and have something that does something, and a DAC you can hook up to LSX or a few of the other packages later (but not Pangolon software; their software, their DAC, their rules.)

    That leaves you about $400. The next hardest thing is the scanner set (galvanometers, or "galvos," and a set of special amplifiers to drive them, and a power supply. You can get a "20K" set of these for less than $100 on ebay, and some come with a showcard, which opens up some other (potentially frustrating, but available) avenues we'll discuss later. These are not the best or fastest scanners out there, and are even "sub-standard," where "standard" is at least 30K actual capability (more like 40K marketed), but it will do beams just fine and low-complexity graphics OK enough to get started.

    Down to $300. You'll need a laser. Basic on/off switching (or, "TTL modulation" in the lingo) is cheaper than variable brightness control (or, "analog modulation."). You can spend thousands on a single laser module, but you don't need to to get started. The laser snobs will look down their noses at you, but for less than $30 you can get a green or red chinese laser module from ebay that will draw pictures. Will it have a nice a beam as an expensive laser? NO. Will it last as long? NO. Will it vary in brightness and maybe be unstable? PROBABLY. Can you buy ten of them for the price of one really good laser? YES. Will they make lines on the wall and beams in the fog? YES. Many of us got started with umodulated, lower-power lasers costing 100x as much thirty years ago, and we loved every second of it!

    Down to $250, or hell, all the way to 200 if you've splurged on the laser or the scanners. You're going to need a board to mount everything on. Lots of people like to use heavy aluminum plates to wick the heat away from their TEC-cooled laser modules and keep three or more colored beams in alignment, but if you have something relatively stiff lying around in the garage, it will get you started with a single-color arrangement. If you don't, $15 (plus shipping) will get you an 8" x 8" x 0.25" aluminum plate from McMaster-Carr. Would we recommend something thicker and larger for a more advanced projector? YES. Do you need it to get started? NO.

    You've got $150 left, and you'll need some wire, mounting hardware, something to make a cover, and some cash to buy beers for the guys who will help you do the wiring stuff you don't want to mess with. Probably something I forgot as well. But the point is, you can do SOMETHING with your budget, enough SOMETHING, I would think, to give you a taste of seeing your creations in the air and on the screen and to know if you want to spend more money on this hobby in the future. Most of the parts I mentioned above DO NOT PROVIDE YOU WITH AN UPGRADE PATH. They are pretty much the end of the road in utility, and it's unlikely you'd re-use many of them in a more advanced, capable projector. It's also unlikely you'd be able to sell the result for much, maybe half what you put in to it if you parted out the bits to other folks looking to get started. But, if you're looking to see if you want to spend more on parts that could find a home in a better projector, that's the lowest cost point of entry. Spending more up front will get you more capability, more resale value, and more possibility of re-using the component in a higher-quality unit, but if you decide this ain't for you then why bother?

    Your other option is to purchase a low-end projector from a halfway respected chinese manufacturer; it will almost certainly do more than something you can put together for the same amount of money, when it works. Look around at the goldenstar and eightonlight/lightspace threads in the buy/sell/trade area. Don't take any price you can find as gospel; PM them for current prices. That's just how it works.

    I second the recommendation to get to a LEM. You will get to see and learn about equipment you can't afford. There's a good chance someone will show you how to operate it as well. At SELEM I spent half an hour making 7 RGB projectors dance to the music with BEYOND and an APC40, which would just not be possible for me anywhere else (thank you guys again for setting all that up and making it available!)

    The "other avenue" I mentioned is to use free software, namely LaserBoy, MonkeyTools, and/or BMP2ILD to create art, put it on an SD card, and then let a showcard play the file. Going this route you can save $200 on the GLS / RIYA DAC combo. I do NOT recommend this route. I did this for several months and just got burned out on it. The delay between doing something creative and seeing the results is too great to iterate the art. But, it is a possibility. Heck, if you want to go this route, you can spend less than $200 on the spencer 3D laser party light or its equivalent and try it out. But, having been down that road... I do NOT recommend it as a path to seeing what's possible with more capable, DAC-interfacing laser software.
    Last edited by tribble; 09-15-2014 at 17:28.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    GuangZhou, China
    Posts
    273

    Default

    IF you don't again Chinese cheap laser product, it is a good way to start.
    USD600, you can buy one 1W RGB and an ISHOW, if you have good communication, you also can get one short ILDA cable.
    The scanner may just 15K, but you can upgrade to 20K or what so ever later on.
    L.A.S.E.R.
    Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

    Laser system: Pure Diode 3W & 6W RGB Laser.



    www.facebook.com/saifer.sy
    www.laser-viva.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Colorado, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default

    Hey guys, thanks for all your kind and helpful feedback I think I am going to love this hobby. I am on a budget just because I want to get my feet wet. I don't want to spend more than I can handle, because that would be like jumping into the deep end of a pool and not being able to swim if you get my idea. If it means I have to start with bad quality Chinese products then that's okay as long as I am learning and progressing. Ultimately, I want to spend thousands of dollars on this hobby. Tribble mentioned a lot of what I will be doing for now. Thanks again guys. I will keep you updated with my progress and let you know how the my learning process and any questions I might consider while I wait for some parts to come in.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •