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Thread: Old laser projector with air cooled argon in it

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Old laser projector with air cooled argon in it

    Well today I went rummaging threw my stuff after a move to a new house. I decided to try to play with this old Lasernet LaserXpress laser I bought years ago while drunk. It was listed as non-functioning and drunk me probably paid way to much for the thing but hey thats what drunk me does (gave up drinking and well sober me doesnt get presents in the mail anymore ). Well it has a air cooled argon laser in it. Now here is where the questions start because I have no idea about gas lasers except from what I've read on here.

    Like I said before it was listed as broken but I'm not really sure that it is. When opening the box I found that the plug was spliced and someone put a 120v plug end on it. Im guessing it might of been hard wired and whoever removed it from its orginal location just cut the end off it and whoever got it after spliced on a 120v plug not knowing what they were doing. Attachment 55070 Attachment 55071 So tomorrow after work will try it with a 220v plug and see what happens.

    Now to what I really am interested about and dont have any experience with the argon laser. The whole projector was made in 1996. Do these air cooled argons go bad with age? There is a hour meter in it that goes from 0-5000hrs and it is split into 5 section and its below the first section if it still works. Is there anything I should do before trying to turn it on? Is there any chance it might still have some life still in it? There are six wires that go into the laser itself. Looks like two power wires near the back of the laser, two sets of white wires on both sides of the laser 3/4 of the way up near the front , two wires that go into the aluminum block at the front of the laser and two sets of white wires at the front that go into a something at the front of the laser.

    I'm just messing around with this not expecting much. Think it would be fun and interesting to play around with whatever software that is on the hard drive if that still works. I like playing around with old software and well just seeing what was able to be done at the time period this thing was made. It also has a wheel in front of the galvos that I think must have a couple different types of defraction gradings. From what I can make out there is a sticker on the mother board that says Wonns HD solid gold with a date of 4/06 . If the argon is long gone Im thinking I could fit it with one of my other lasers.

    The computer itself is a Amd Am486 dx2-66 with 16 gb ram, 6gb hard drive, a 3.5 floppy , 56x cd drive, isa HMC svga card with 4mb ram, and a isa dac. inside the case there is a dongle for at least one of the programs on the hard drive I'm guessing.

    Anyone ever play around with one of these units? Any clue what the extra ports on the dac are for. The one going to the argon is on and off and one going to the galvos and shutter galvo. What could be the other ones on the board? There is a com1 and com2 port labeled and under those two is another plug not label but the size of com1 and 2 combined. couple ports at the end of the board as well. I took some pics of them all and will attach. Im not sure how to put them directly into the post.

    Well thats all. Thanks for any info you guys can provide!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20190208_225112.jpg  









  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Air cooled ion lasers tend to not age gracefully. They can get very hard to start, the longer they sit unused. General rule of thumb is that if you have a working air cooled ion, run it every month or so to keep it that way.

    That's not to say there aren't exceptions. I've heard occasional success stories of people being able to coax unused heads back to life... Just that more often, not.

    If you have access to a handheld oudin coil (aka BD10, violet ray generator, etc.), you can test whether the tube is still gas intact. Be careful you dont zap the starter board or other electronics.

    Also check the cathode resistance to make sure it's still intact.

    I don't recognize the tube in your photos, so I can't give any specifics. Reminds me of a JDS Uniphase Ar tube, just because of the axial cooling arrangement, but I'm sure there were others with similar designs. Air cooled systems are not my usual interest. Others may have more specific input.

    Good luck. Hope something is salvageable.


  3. #3
    mixedgas's Avatar
    mixedgas is offline Creaky Old Award Winning Bastard Technologist
    Infinitus Excellentia Ion Laser Dominatus
    Join Date
    May 2007
    A lab with some dripping water on the floor.


    That is a Laserphysics Reliant PSU and Tube..
    Probably a Reliant 150M or 250M.
    M= OEM/Multimode
    One of the few tubes that ages gracefully, but with a PSU that objects to being shocked with a BD10 Tester. Remove the tube from the unit before testing. (Sorry Brad, you didn't know)
    A bit of googling around here might get you a PSU pinout, but probably for a DB9 or DB15 on a daughter board you may or may not have.
    I have no way of knowing if the PSU DB connector extension in the pic matches the standard or not. Some need an outside voltage to start, others just want shorted pins, some want both, ie isolated daughterboard. I cant remember what is what, its been, what a Decade, since I last had one.. They came in a variety of PSU input voltages, too.. Its not auto-switching for line voltage. In other words I remember a few variations. I'm thinking posts by "DZ" might have the best information.
    If no one chimes in, you'll have to reverse engineer the circuit.
    The show content for that laser system was probably on the CD, I'm not sure you'll find much on the hard drive.
    Other ports would be the color option.
    In the 90s there were a few different systems of that design floating around, made by a long gone OEM in the pacific northwest.
    Check for corrosion around the BIOS battery before you fire it up.

    Lasernet is still in business. Maybe their engineer remembers, and they either remarketed it, or built their own.
    Last edited by mixedgas; 02-10-2019 at 18:45.
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    When I still could have...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by mixedgas View Post
    Remove the tube from the unit before testing. (Sorry Brad, you didn't know)

    Rarely a day goes by that I dont learn something. I will tuck those tidbits away for future use!


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