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Thread: UK based laser builder/GURU advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bedford, U.K.
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    18

    Default UK based laser builder/GURU advice

    Hi all

    Next year I have a show coming up in Feb, which will be a return to a club night I was involved in regularly prior to lock down. It's the first time its been run since Covid, and we've got a pretty big name appearing so wanted to improve on our lighting situation.

    I have two multi coloured 1w lasers currently running on Moncha through the ILDA ports which I set up with one master and one slave.

    One laser is a cheap old Lanta unit, which has served a purpose but is probably fit for the bin, which we ran with the other laser which I believe is an old Laser Know How laser from BITD, which is pretty solidly built and I think of reasonable quality. I do not know the full specs at this point, but could obviously get them.

    As the theme of the club night is back to the 90's classics, we always strive to achieve a more minimalist lighting experience in order to make it more nostalgic, so the laser offering is kept to a green beam.

    My question is, I want to upgrade the LKH laser and have a brighter green fitted, and get it performing as close to a more modern laser as possible. I'm not concerned at all about the other colours as these are switched off/redundant during the evening and they will not be used for anything else.

    Next question is is Pangolin Quickshow going to give me better control than the old Moncha software/interface?

    Lastly, if the above is possible, are there any reputable people in the UK that might be able to help, and what might the limitations be, and what possible costs would i be looking at excluding buying the Pangolin software?

    The club is able to take circa 500 people. I am fully aware of laser safety, no crowd scanning takes place and the lights are securely mounted on the overhead lighting gantry at least 2.5 m above head height. Would like it to be bright, but accept that there are limitations within a given space. The main requirement second to the brighter effect would be to get more movement from the beams as the Moncha software seems fairly limited (or is it the laser that is limited??)

    This whole plan is offset by buying a new unit, but i'm unsure of what benefit this would bring as i still only require a green beam so would be paying for the other colours which obviously comes at a higher cost.

    Cheers in advance, any help is greatly appreciated

    Si

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    3,297

    Default

    for one: yes pangolin quickshow for live performing is miles and miles more modern and more suitable for live performing then moncha.

    Had the misfortune to use moncha once at a live event and didn't like it at all.. clunky interface and very limited feature set.
    To top it off having quickshow gives a future upgrade path to beyond as you save the cost on the hardware for such an upgrade.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bedford, U.K.
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Perfect, thanks for the info, will start looking into Quickshow then 👍🏻

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Posts
    1,928

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    If you have a Laser Know How with an SD card reader, there is another member here who was looking for an image of a known working SD card.
    Creator of LaserBoy!
    LaserBoy is free and runs in Windows, MacOS and Linux (including Raspberry Pi!).
    Download LaserBoy!
    YouTube Tutorials
    Ask me about my LaserBoy Correction Amp Kit for sale!
    Either do or do not do. There is no undo!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bedford, U.K.
    Posts
    18

    Default

    So no card reader Iím afraid

    I did take the lid of and have a look today. Cleaned the galvo mirrors as they were filthy which seems to have improved things. Going to look at getting hold of an FB3 interface and see how that goes

    Meanwhile, anyone fancy hazarding a guess as to how good/bad this looks in terms of quality?

    Be honest you wonít insult me I promise! It say 40kpps on the stickers on the galvo metal housing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bedford, U.K.
    Posts
    18

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    Some pics of the gubbinsÖ

    The last one is the green, no visible markings on it even though I took the front panel off as well.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 65730D48-0339-4623-960C-975C076376A6.jpeg  

    DB28A75D-6F9D-4269-A59B-10A72C0BF2B4.jpeg  

    6FF970F3-56D2-4E10-9ED8-9D3600139991.jpeg  

    EB21657F-AF58-401D-A85C-5EE10D396E1F.jpeg  

    08E512F5-E818-475F-A865-3BE1FDFDA731.jpeg  


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    2,147,489,365

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    I'm guessing that projector is more than 10 years old. It looks like the red and blue lasers are both from CNI, and if I'm not mistaken, the blue (MLB 50) is a 473 nm DPSS module. Likewise, it's almost certain that the green will also be a DPSS module (532 nm).

    Looking at the scanner amps, I see they have the notch filter daughterboard. Since you said they were supposed to be rated for 40K, it's entirely possible that these are a set of the original DT-40 Pro scanners, before they were redesigned to omit the notch filter. (For the record, those were good scanners back in the day, and they tend to hold up pretty well.)

    The build quality is on the low side of average for that time period, based on the fact that the dichros are on fixed mounts with no adjustment. At least all the cables are zip-tied out of the way though.

    All in all, it's an old projector with old lasers that has probably seen a lot of use. But if the scanners are still in good shape, then all it really needs is a thorough cleaning. Still, if the total power output is just 1 watt, I would NOT use it for beam shows. (Not bright enough, especially for a venue with 500 people.) It would probably be OK for graphics, but given that it's using DPSS lasers for both blue and green, the modulation performance is going to suffer (especially on the low end as you fade to black).

    The good news is that you could easily upgrade the internals if you wanted. The simple option would be to rip out all 3 laser modules (and the dichros) and then just drop in an all-in-one RGB laser module and a single bounce mirror on a kinematic mount to steer the white light beam into the galvos. Goldenstar sells a 3 watt RGB module for ~ $350 that would be a cinch to install.

    On the other hand, if you wanted to go down the DIY route, then I would replace the fixed dichro mounts with kinematic mounts (MM1s), ditch the existing lasers, and install all direct-injection diodes. DTR's Laser Shop has the diodes, lenses, and mounts that you would need, and you can buy the drivers from BBe here on the forum. Admittedly though, this would end up being more expensive than just buying the all-in-one module from Goldenstar, but it would make for a fun home project. (Note: Goldenstar also sells higher-power RGB modules that you might be able to squeeze into that case, but be mindful of the need for heat removal...)

    Replacing just the green laser is actually going to be more difficult than replacing all three lasers. That's because you'll need to match the beam height of the new green laser to the existing lasers, but you have no adjustable optics to assist you, so your mounting will have to be absolutely perfect. This would be the least-favorable option, in my opinion.

    A final consideration is that for a beam show you normally want at least two matching projectors. So even if you upgraded this one, you'd probably want to do the same to the other unit as well so you could have a matched pair for your show in February.

    Adam

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Bedford, U.K.
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    Wow! What a great response

    Thanks very much Adam, totally appreciate the time and effort you went into your reply, exctly what i was looking for cheers. It's definitely older than 10 years old, probably closer to 20 i would say, but I'm a sucker for repurposing where I can rather than create more stuff for landfill so certainly interested in upgrading rather than renewing.

    I will look into the Goldenstar 3W option, sounds perfect in terms of simplicity and cost.

    Just need to find someone who could do the work for me here in the UK, does anyone have any recommendations for specialists down south? I'm in Bedford. Would be good if anyone was local to me who i could actually go and see in person.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    East Coast of Southern Virginia
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    476

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    I second the recommendation for a RGB module. They make the installation easy and come already aligned. From my experience Goldenstar has some quality hardware. Their drivers work OK. The support is also OK. Since you are in a club you may want to go up in power a bit keeping the future in mind.

    The GoldenStar W3000 has 0.5W of Red, 1W of Green, and 2W of Blue. The next step us is the 4W which gives you a full 1W of Red. Going up to their 5W gives you a full 2W of Green. The Red is 1W and the blue remains at 2W. WIth GoldenStar and other laser module manufacturers you really need to look closely at the amount of power for each color. The manufacturers tend to go blue heavy on the lower powered RGB modules. The more powerful RGB lasers give you more of the Red and Green typically since they are more expensive.

    If you are willing to look around a bit or even get something off of Ebay there are some equivalent units for a bit less $$ than GoldenStar. For example this 10W one from TechHood: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/143282402482
    I have purchased a couple of 1W from Goldenstar and some 400mW ones from Techhood. Both mechanically were good quality. The ones from Techhood I didn't have to do any work on the drivers. The Goldenstar arrived with the greens underspeced (50mW instead of the advertised 80mW... they later mentioned this) and the green driver threshold voltage was incorrect and made them barely turn on. Their support tried to help but didn't solve the issue however I was able to fix it with some replacement resistors in a voltage divider on the drivers. Now they work OK. PL members might have more opinions on where to get a good RGB module.

    I think my main point is since you have a club, look at a higher output than 3W and also beware of the color balance.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
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    Bedford, U.K.
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    Ok thanks for your help as well

    Pretty sure Iíll go down the all in one drop in unit. As it looks like there is very little in way of local specialists to do this just what would I actually need to do once I have the replacement unit to get it fitted?

    A step by step overview would be good, but appreciate this is a big ask!

    Obviously the unit needs a power supply, so can I use the one already fitted and what do I need to do in terms of setting up the new one? Sorry for the lack of understanding and poor prior knowledge, but this technical stuff is very new to me, even if seemingly simple for you guys!

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