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Thread: Laser Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    7

    Laser Warning Laser Build

    Hi, I'm new here.

    I want to build a laser fixture from 0. So what's the starting point? Where can I buy parts? What are the parts I need? Diode? mirror? motors? cases? motherboard?
    How can I build a complet laser system?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Fort Mill, SC USA
    Posts
    1,489

    Default

    Welcome! Step 1 is a bit tedious: do a lot of reading. There are hundreds of threads here on Photonlexicon (many with videos) that cover every aspect of how to complete a build from scratch. There are also dozens of reviews of reliable vendors for parts. You'll also want to complete your profile, specifically your location so that people can direct you to regional specific vendors and assistance where appropriate.

    Happy learning!

    -David
    "Help, help, I'm being repressed!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Cleveland Ohio
    Posts
    2,508

    Default

    Step two after completing the profile is to read up on safety. I'd suggest you start with very low power.
    Step three understand the law as it relates to laser projection in your part of the world
    Step four read this forum and search it well
    Step five now decide if you want to build or buy. I suggest you buy the first one and get familiar with the art.
    Step six watch as many canned shows as you can and play with what ever software you chose. Learn it like a musical instrument.
    Step seven go have a real lot of fun

    Understand this is much like a boat. Plan to spend many thousands of dollars and become addicted.

    Yes building can be fun but today there are sooooooo many good starting units that it really makes little sense to build. Once you gain experience or decide foolishly to try and make money....then you can look at building.

    That said, if it is still really in your heart to build and not just an economic decision, then welcome aboard and we will help steer you. This is truly a labor of love of the build much more than the enjoyment of the outcome. I have more fun playing with the optics and learning then the end result could ever deliver.

    Should you decide to build I strongly suggest you go with the DTR RGB bundle as the starting point for the diodes. Go to Daves lasershop to get the drivers, optics, scanners you need to research but I heavily favor the pangolin 506 scanners with PT40 drivers.

    I purposely have not shown you the way to these sites and people as I want you to do some forum reading. Last, I will point you to youtube to find videos from techingredients. He is also known as planters on this forum.

    Your first laser lesson is over for today. Go read your laser scales.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Wow thank you for the answer.

    I want to build my own laser. I'm a lighting designer and programmer but I want to build something from scratch

    I will read about that for more information. Where can I find a cassing?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    287

    Default

    I second everything that has been said so far. It is especially important if you are in the USA to look into to relevant laws if you are planning on using your laser publicly. It is no small task to do a legal laser show here in the US. Other countries have it easier but most still have some type of regulations that need to be considered.

    My first laser was a cheap Chinese projector that cost me about $350. After playing around with it for a couple months and learning how projectors work I decided to try building my own. To be honest, the projector I first started building 5 years ago is still a work in progress (although it is fully functional). A decent projector can be built for about $1000 or less depending on what you want to put in it.

    I especially agree with kecked that you should be prepared to become addicted and spend many thousands of dollars. Personally I am around the $10,000 mark in 5 years and I'm still just getting my feet wet, but I'm loving every moment of it.

    I agree also that your first build would be best to use the diode bundle from DTR. I am about to start a second, cleaner build using these diodes. They aren't as powerful as a lot of what's out there but they have some really nice beams and will require less/no optical manipulation to match the spot sizes. Plus, it will be safer to experiment with them as opposed to diodes many times more powerful.

    I'll throw out a few more names but will follow kecked's lead and leave out the links. Stanwax Laser is a great source for many of the control boards and interfaces (motherboards) you will need.

    My first build is literally sitting on an aluminum plate inside a box I made out of plywood. I don't recommend doing the same but it works on a budget. My next build will be using a case from GoldenstarLasers. They also offer a wide range of other components.

    Welcome to PL and happy lasing

    -Luke
    Last edited by ZeroPoint; 10-31-2016 at 22:12.
    LASERS!!

    1x Homemade 500mW 405nm Projector
    1x Homemade 1.2W RGB Projector
    1x Lightspace Color Ray Series 6W RGB
    2x Lightspace Venus 2W RGB

    ZPL Lighting www.zpllighting.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    7

    Default

    ok so I need diode bundle from DTR, a power supply. But what kind of electronic card I need for control? Which scanner I need? If I buy a case from Goldenstar. Which case do I need to start?

    thank you for anwser

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    373

    Default

    Hi,

    Any scanners you get, make sure they are "30kpps" or better at 8 degrees. That is the minimum for doing any kind of decent graphics/text/logos. For beams only, you can go slower.

    Note that theres a difference sometimes between a REAL 30kpps @ 8 degrees and a "Chinese" 30kpps at 8 degrees. Chinese are known for exaggerating their specs. Read some reviews on the forum for sure. The only decent (in my opinion) Chinese scanners are the DT40 / DT40W / PT40 scanners. Most of the rest is pretty slow or low quality, but my standards for scanners are pretty high seeing I am employed in scanner design and build them every day...

    We offer a pretty low cost scanner called the Compact 506 for $350 which can get you up to 50kpps with small beams and 30kpps with a 5mm beam. But we don't offer a driver for these right now so you would have to modify an existing scanner driver to use these. Not sure if that is something you would be interested in or not. Your best bet for a turnkey set for a first build might be a set of "PT40" scanners from a Chinese vendor, if you have a tight budget. Otherwise a set of C506 with 3rd party amps will give you much better performance but you'll have to find some amps.

    Our Saturn 1B scanners can do 90kpps and are the only scanners in the world capable of doing 90kpps. But these are really a professional scanner set and for an end user will run you around $2395 +/- depending on what options you need...
    Sincerely,
    Ryan Smith
    ScannerMAX Mechanical Engineer
    ryan {at} scannermax.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    287

    Default

    The board you need to buy depends on how you plan on controlling the laser. Do you plan on controlling it with software that uses an ILDA input, do you plan on using DMX, or do you simply plan on putting files on a SD card? Personally I have no experience with DMX and, from what I hear, the SD card route can be kind of tricky. Personally I would recommend purchasing some form of laser software in which case you would need to get an ILDA interface card from Stanwax. This is the board that will receive the information from the computer and deliver it to each of the components inside the projector. There are a few different variations of this board but which one you buy all depends on how you want to build your projector.

    You will also need 1 or more drivers for your laser diodes. You can find single or multi channel drivers all over PL and eBay. You will need 1 channel for each color laser so that means 3 single channel drivers or one 4 channel driver would each work. For the best color palette you want a driver that has analog modulation and not TTL modulation. TTL will only give you 7 colors from an RGB laser but an analog driver can (theoretically) give you 16.7 million colors. I can't really tell you what the popular drivers are these days because I haven't purchased one in a few years. I know DrLava's Flexmods used to be the go to driver but I don't think they are still available, at least not regularly. Keep in mind that whatever driver you decide to go with needs to be able to supply enough current to the diode. Look into what the max current ratings are for the diodes you plan to use and then compare that number with the max current output of the driver. Also keep in mind that if you are using a milti-channel driver the listed max current could be per channnel OR for the whole driver. You'll need to confirm that each channel of the driver will be able to supply each diode properly. Fortunately the DTR bundle isn't that current hungry so it shouldn't be hard finding a suitable driver/s.

    As for the scanners, this also depends on your intentions with the laser and what you'll personally be happy with. My first scanner pair cost me about $80 from china, it does between 15-20kpps and I still use them today. They are a bit noisy but they do beams just fine and can even handle simply graphics without too much flicker. If you want nicer graphics, animations or abstracts then I would go with better scanners. I think on this forum you will see a few brands recommended over others. From my understanding (although not from personal experience) the list is like this:

    (Budget scanner)- PT-A40
    DT-40
    EMS-8000 (I'm still personally researching these)
    C506
    CT62** (There are a couple model numbers but I've never used any)
    (Top of the Line) Saturn 1b

    Again, that list is subjective and is not based on my own personal experience since the only scanners I've used on the list are the PT-A40s. The price range on that list is from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars. There are cheaper scanners out there (goldenstar) if you don't mind sacrificing graphic quality.

    As for the size of your case, I can't be too much help here as it all depends on the size of components you buy and how to choose to mount them in your laser. Some people are very good at being as efficient and compact as possible while others tend to spread things out to allow easier access and tinkering. My plan is to buy the mini case from goldenstar but you might prefer something bigger and be a little more forgiving, then again perhaps the mini case is plenty big for a basic first time projector (like I said, I've never used a case before so I'm still learning it too.)

    Hope this gives you a little more insight.

    -Luke
    Last edited by ZeroPoint; 11-01-2016 at 14:00.
    LASERS!!

    1x Homemade 500mW 405nm Projector
    1x Homemade 1.2W RGB Projector
    1x Lightspace Color Ray Series 6W RGB
    2x Lightspace Venus 2W RGB

    ZPL Lighting www.zpllighting.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    7

    Default

    next question : where do you take your dichroic mirror? and what are the mount I need to hold them?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    287

    Default

    Dichroic glass can be purchased from any of the sites listed previously. The glass will reflect light of one or more colors while passing light of other colors. You can buy kits for rgb projectors but then you are forced to arrange your lasers in a way that's compatible with the kit. I would recommend drawing out a sample layout that you would like to use and determine the combination of glass necessary to accomplish your layout.

    It's important to remember that there is inherent and unavoidable losses to laser power each time a beam passes through or is reflected by a lens or mirror. Higher quality glass will have less losses but still losses nonetheless. Because of this it is best to position the lowest powered/least visible laser closest to the scanners (optically speaking). By minimizing the number of optics a beam passes through will maximize the beams power after the scanners.

    It's also important to note that green light is perceived by the human eye better than red or blue. I say this because the green laser in DTRs bundle has the lowest power but may still be the most visible. Take this into account when deciding on your layout. Ultimately, though, you can arrange the three any way you want.

    As for mounts, Stanwax offers kits with mounts but they are more expensive. They are, however, more convenient to align. Lasershowparts sells flexmounts which are cheaper but more tedious to align. I'm currently using flexmounts and they work just fine but I will probably go with the more expensive 3-axis mounts next time.

    -Luke

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