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Thread: finally built my diy laser

  1. #1
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    Default finally built my diy laser

    hey everyone, iv been on this forum for a good bit, i hit it up every day after my google news haha. anyways i wanted to do this project for a long time, figured id share. its a simple rgb projector, using dt40's with a pangolin dac, i used a 700mw sharp red diode. (maybe next time ill try correstion opicts or a few single modes) 450 diode and a 520 1w. the hardest part of the build was getting all the measurements correct and tapping all the mounting holes and heatsinks, used a 1/2inch baseplate and drilled and tapped all my stuff by hand with out a press. the next problem i had was i got a driver from opt lasers the had a shitty rework done due to the board not having the traces supn right so i had to do some resistor moving. and adjusting jumpers to opamps. the heatsinking is also kind of wack bc its the 3 channel driver. anyways i got it working and somewhat balanced. and wanted to thank everyone for their forum posts and love of lasers and science. I work in the semiconductor industry as a maint. eng. on chemical vapor dep thin film tools and love troubleshooting things, well actualy smei hate it but u know what i mean. one day ill move on to my gas laser dream. i work with poly doped ashe/sih4 and lots of n2/hcl/h2 and ag purge gasses. one day, we can all dream anyways heres my laser thanks guys!!!
    Last edited by prosnurfer; 08-27-2021 at 17:42.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Thanks for sharing! Got any pics of the inside of the projector? Would be nice to see your optical layout.

    I agree that drilling and tapping the holes in the baseplate is a bitch without a drill press. Some people don't even bother tapping the holes; instead they through-bolt everything with nuts on the underside of the baseplate. But if your baseplate is also the bottom of your projector, then this doesn't work very well. (It also gets very messy if your baseplate has fins on the bottom for heatsinking.)

    As for your gas laser dream; that's a lot more affordable now than it used to be. Everyone is ditching their ion gear in favor of solid state. Of course, to get any real output power from an ion laser you still need access to 3 phase, which for most people means either a generator or a rotary phase converter. (Neither of those are cheap.)

    Adam

  3. #3
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    Default

    Congratulations! There's a special feeling of pride when using devices we build ourselves, that you'll enjoy every time you turn it on.

  4. #4
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    Default Good looking PJ

    Nice work. I Remember the feeling i had when starting up and getting my first projector-build to work. It was 1 watt rgb - buildt into a suitcase!!! Hand tapping a baseplate made of stainless steel (use what you have at hand). It still works great, but not put to work to often. Keep up the good work, and see them $$ fly away as your thirst for more power and quality gets stronger. Be prowd of what you have done. Many lessons learned along the way also. First one always take a long time, but the next one will have new challenges to overcome.

    One tip though is to build a pair, as you almost never are able to build two units with the same beam profile, response and colours, when done months or years apart. A A matching pair always looks much better doing shows. At least my experience building projectors from bits and pieces.

    Would love to see the inside of your build. Not two PJ look the same, and good ideas are alway welcome.

    Espen
    __________________________________________________ __________

    More projects than time available.
    More projects started than finished.
    More money spent than earned.
    More failure than success.
    Just got to love lasers!

  5. #5
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    Mar 2011
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    Chicago area, IL
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Eidetic View Post
    Congratulations! There's a special feeling of pride when using devices we build ourselves, that you'll enjoy every time you turn it on.
    +1 on that, nice job and thanks for Sharing! Also would like to see the insides that is always interesting.
    -Jason

  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    Default pictures of the pj

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    hey everyone! thanks for the comments, was on vacation for a week at the beach, it was great! Took these pics before work.
    - the box itself is just some project box i got off amazon, i need to cut the window for the front and mount some glass still.
    - the dichro mounts were actually not the ones i had ordered but made them work, thats why they are set at a 45 degree angle.
    - got the laser mounts off ebay but cut them to fit.
    - the heatsinks and diodes are from dtr. (thanks dtr! i always make my diode and heatsink purchases from you, good stuff)
    - scanners are dt40's
    - the driver is 3 channel 5A from opt, was less impressed with this, you can see the rework, there was some re soldering and kapton tape adjustments and i needed to move a cap/ resistor stack for slow start id assume to the underside of the board.

    Its not my best work, there was alot of beers involved, but i had alot of fun with it and learned a bunch! for my next laser id like to find a better driver, one for each diode like the flexmod p3, maybe you guys have some insight on that. also figure out a better 2 layer setup so i can have the optics on a different level. id like to use 2 reds and corrective optics to get that color balance and tight graphics. the optic alignment is so finicky sometimes but i was able to balance the color as best i could with quickshow.

    my take away from all the fun is i have so much more respect for the time and engineering it takes to get top quality precision made devices. i just finished rebuilding a applied materials cvd chamber rotation, and its unbelievable the precision each piece is made to. i guess why thats why it costs 20-80k. I better go leak check that now before the end of the night haha.

    have a great day everyone and thanks again! there will most certainly be more lasers to come!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0088.jpg  


  7. #7
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    Default

    Thanks for posting the pictures! I like that project case you found on Amazon - it looks great! I'm also envious of the huge honkin' aluminum baseplate you've installed. I'm sure it's rock-solid.

    You mentioned that you bought the diode mounts on e-bay and then cut them down to fit... How did you cut them? Do you have access to a mill, or a band saw? I know you can cut aluminum using a table saw with a carbide blade if you go slow enough, but I can't imagine trying to do that with something as small as a diode mount. Just wondering what your solution was. (For small dimensional changes, I've even heard of people using a belt or disk sander to shave a few mm from the bottom of a mount.)

    Regarding your idea to upgrade to the Flexmod driver, I doubt you'll be able to find any of those drivers these days. As far as I know, Dr. Lava stopped selling laser diode drivers many years ago. What's worse is that lately several people have commented that he is almost impossible to get in touch with, so even if he had a stash of the old drivers in a drawer someplace, it's going to be very hard to reach him.

    For a while, people were purchasing the simpledrive drivers from Bbe here on the forum, but I don't know if he's still selling those or not. I remember that those drivers had a good performance history though. Hopefully others will chime in with suggestions on where to find a reasonable driver.

    Adding secondary correction optics is a laudable goal, but it will require a little more space. (And money, of course. Always more money!) I think you've still got plenty of room in the existing case to add some cylindrical lenses; you'll just need to move the diode mounts back a bit. (Which means moving the driver module, and probably the scanner amps as well.)

    Adam

  8. #8
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    Mar 2013
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    vermont
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    Default

    thanks buffo!

    for the diode mounts i used a dremmel cut off wheel and a vice. then filed a lil. also had to file the dichro mounts a lil to accept a 10/32 hex bolt bc i had pulled the riser plate for those out of the garbage scraps and it already had 1 tapped hole, was being lazy haha. i wish i had a gradge with a shop, but housing prices are insane in vermont are insane right now. my apt is filled with electronics lab, tools and car parts at the moment.

    and yea i will try for the corective optics and a diffrent layout, prob a whole new projector tho. maybe a diffrent blue diode (that has a 450nm) and 2 reds, (i have the 700mw sharp diodes in that and they are set at there upper limit of 800ma)

    the driver thing i did alot of searching and its deffinatly hard to find simlar analog modulation drivers with also the pots for current bias set point and such. maybe somine has made a board desigin with the gerber file and the bom, could get oshpark to spin it up and i can populate it.

    my laser hobby goals as of now are: really learn the softwhere, maybe get beyond. build another round of projector maybe 2 togeather. and then once i get a decent space and a shop get my hands on a ka/ar gas to tinker with.

    such dreams will come in time. thanks for the replys!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by prosnurfer View Post
    for the diode mounts i used a dremmel cut off wheel and a vice. then filed a little.
    Wow - that sounds like a lot of work! I'm guessing that there was more than just a little filing required to get a flat, smooth surface on the bottom of those diode mounts.

    I admit that a Dremel tool with an oxide cutting-wheel (especially the fiberglass-reinforced ones!) has been my go-to tool for a long time now, but I always hate myself afterwards. You can never get the nice, smooth results that you want, unless you spend a lot of extra time sanding, filing, and polishing. I've had good luck using the rounded stone grinding tips to clean up the edges when cutting sheet metal, but when you are working with thick slabs of aluminum, your only real choice is to break out the files.

    One of these days I probably will break down and buy myself a mini-mill, but then I'll have to spend untold hours learning how to use it... For now I don't have the space, or the time, or the funds, so I'll be sticking to small hand tools. (I'm also not building things nearly as often these days, so there's less pressure to upgrade to proper machine tools.)

    I wish i had a garage with a shop, but housing prices are insane in vermont right now.
    In fairness, housing prices are insane just about everywhere right now. Houses here in Charleston go on the market on a Wednesday, and by the weekend they are under contract. What's even more bewildering is that people are offering 10 to 20% OVER the listing price! It's just crazy right now...

    my apt is filled with electronics lab, tools and car parts at the moment.
    I understand. Clearly you're still able to get by though. Having a good vice helps, and as you've already shown, you can accomplish an awful lot with just a Dremel tool if you are patient. I will say that having a table-top drill press is super helpful though. I picked one up at Harbor Freight for like 80 bucks about 10 years ago, and I'm really glad I did. I don't use it very often, but when I do, it's a great tool to have! (Otherwise it sits on a shelf out of the way.)

    its definitely hard to find similar analog modulation drivers with also the pots for current bias set point and such
    Agreed. Back around 2013 or so I spent a lot of time trying to pull a driver design together with help from several experts here on the forum. Turns out that a really *good* driver is a challenging problem to solve. We never could get a single circuit design to work well for both low current single-mode diodes and high current multi-mode ones, so we had to have a couple different versions of the driver, which increased the cost. By the time we had everything stable, the cost was high enough that it wasn't really worth doing. (Our unit would have cost around $90 in quantities of less than 100 pieces, which just wasn't competitive at all.)

    Here's a link to an old thread talking about the "Stan_Ham" driver from Rob Stanley (Stanwax here on the forum). (Warning! LONG thread spanning several years!) It goes on for several pages as people suggested all sorts of improvements and upgrades, and towards the end they had a completed circuit that people seemed to be pleased with. This might be a good starting point for you if you were thinking about building your own driver.

    On the other hand, it appears that Stanwax is still selling drivers on his website. I don't know if these drivers are similar to the old Stan_Ham design or not, but they are listed for 24 pounds Sterling (~ $33 US). Might be worth buying one just to check it out...

    Adam

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