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Thread: Old Airborne Argon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Mesa, AZ
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    Default Old Airborne Argon

    This one is really unique. It's a c1972 Hughes Aircraft Company model 3157H argon ion laser head that was built for airborne use. And "built" it is! The thick metal outer cylinder serves as an "exoresonator" that includes the end caps which hold the mirrors. Water cooling connectors are seen at the rear, and pass through the outer cylinder to an inner cylinder.

    The plasma tube extends out the front (output) end of an endplate, which includes three pass-through connections and what looks like a gas fill connector. The endplate is held in place with a huge snap ring I didn't want to remove. The rear Brewster window and extension is held on by a vacuum flange. All but two screws on this were missing so I assume it has been removed in the past. The tube is not under vacuum.

    The head is 25 inches long and weighs 26 pounds. There's a Navy sticker on it, and the serial number is M3005. I was told it these were originally part of an Air Force contract starting back around 1965, right after the argon ion laser was invented at Hughes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    Jul 2010
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    Netherlands
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    Default

    By the looks of it stuff seems to be missing which is a shame as I'd love to see if it would still fire up but still very cool!

  3. #3
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    The mirrors are gone and the power supply. Here's what I found online: http://www.researchgate.net/publicat...t_Mar_70Mar_73

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    Charleston, SC
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    Default

    I've seen a picture of a laser very similar to this one. It was an experimental argon laser that was intended to be used for under-sea communication with submarines. The idea is that blue light penetrates seawater the deepest. A message would be encoded as a series of light pulses from the laser and then beamed to multiple locations in the ocean. (Multiple, so that the actual position of the receiving sub would not be apparent.) The target sub would be "listening" with an optical sensor on the sail that was tuned to the 488 nm line of the argon laser.

    My understanding is that it never really worked very well, which is why they went with the VLF/ELF system instead.

    Adam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Netherlands
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    Default

    5 Watts?!!!?
    It doesn't look large at all.
    That's impressive especially for such an early argon.

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