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Thread: Good, of the shelf laser

  1. #1
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    Default Good, of the shelf laser

    Hi All. I've been searching for my first of the shelf laser. I'm way to stupid to build one. I've seen loads on eBay, DJTraximus, loads of whole sale shops. I'm slightly overwhelmed by number of laser available, but my budget should limit the number down a bit. I'm only interested in green laser to keep the cost down..and the less powerful the better (need to learn how to operate one before blind myself / set fire to house). It must be ILDA compatable, should be 20K or more, should have good scanning angle. Not be more than 100 mw.
    Suggestions..?
    I will buy the software separately as wishing to buy Mamber Black...what are your views on software?...Pangoline is good but to expensive for me...
    Is Mamber black better than iShow?
    Any other good ones...?

    Cheers, Graham

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserLips View Post
    Hi All. I've been searching for my first of the shelf laser. I'm way to stupid to build one. I've seen loads on eBay, DJTraximus, loads of whole sale shops. I'm slightly overwhelmed by number of laser available, but my budget should limit the number down a bit. I'm only interested in green laser to keep the cost down..and the less powerful the better (need to learn how to operate one before blind myself / set fire to house). It must be ILDA compatable, should be 20K or more, should have good scanning angle. Not be more than 100 mw.
    Suggestions..?
    I will buy the software separately as wishing to buy Mamber Black...what are your views on software?...Pangoline is good but to expensive for me...
    Is Mamber black better than iShow?
    Any other good ones...?

    Cheers, Graham
    Welcome to the forums Graham!

    I guess the first question is how much are you actually looking to spend...? Something of any quality would set you back a few grand, even with a small 100mw greenie. Buy higher quality equipment now, rather than constantly having to upgrade.

    I suggest a FB3 controller from Pangolin, it is worth it, and it comes with some good software. Just a suggestion...

    -Max

  3. #3
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    Hi Graham

    Welcome to the forum. I've been following your posts over on alt.lasers so I know you are on a budget

    If i'm being really honest, this is NOT a good hobby to be involved with if you are on as tight a budget as I suspect you are. However, if you've got the 'laser bug' then nothing I or anyone else can say will put you off this rather expensive hobby

    You may be better off going down the 'build it yourself' route that many have taken before you rather than buying an 'off the shelf' ILDA compatible unit.

    A Pangolin FB3 from memory is around $595 inc. software

    A set of DT40Pro scanners from Jian is around $600

    A 100mw green laser can probably be picked up for less than $500 (remember though that you will pay for quality). Also, beware of some scams on Ebay where a laser advertised as 100mw isn't really 100mw of 532nm green light. It's more likely to be lots of invisible infra red light and a little bit of green. Sellers on this forum are (generally ) reputable, such as Dave at Lasershowparts, although i'm not sure he'll have a green at that price and Jian who sells the DT40's.

    Some members of the forum may have parts they no longer use that they can let you have cheaply. O.K., so these will be used, but it's a good way of getting going on a budget. Just place a 'Wanted' advert in the for sale section & put 'Wanted' in the title of your post.

    Everything else you need can be hashed together from items that you probably have around the home, apart from the odd bit of wire/connector etc. Also, by doing it this way you'll probably get much more satisfaction and learn loads in the process.

    Such time as funds allow you'll be able to add bits to the projector to improve it. Such things as extra lasers, lumia wheels, diffraction gratings etc.

    Whatever you decide to do you've come to the right place

  4. #4
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    Well, I got an 50mW green dpss laser

    Sell it for 145USD incl shipping worldwide (+ 4.5%paypal fees)
    Got it off Lasershow Parts and have not been used.

    SPECS:
    Operating Modulation : TTL Blanking Effect
    Wavelength: 532 nm
    Operation Mode: CW or modulation
    Beam roundness: >80%
    Beam Diameter (1/e2): 2.0 mm
    Power Stability: +/-10%
    Operating Temperature: 0~40c
    Lifetime: 5,000 hrs
    Dimensions: 85(L)x35(W)x35(H)mm

    Pangolin FB3 QS/LivePro/SMS2Laser
    Riya MultiBus
    Pangolin LD2000 Pro

  5. #5
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    Default

    there are these projectors-
    this one's price needs to be clarified-

    http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ead.php?t=2423

    if it really is $550 and has 5000 hr lasers in it,it could be one of the only plug and play ilda projectors i've ever seen at this price.
    that's about the price of a 5mw "stinger"style,green only,automatic disco scanner.


    he has a 500mw rgb unit for i think $1900.
    here- http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ight=500mw+rgb
    and here- http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ight=500mw+rgb

    there are questions if these units are varianced to be sold in the u.s.
    if not,they likely won't make it past u.s.customs,and if they do they will be illegal.

    it would be interesting to get clarification on his price for the rgy,and confirm the 5000hr laser lifespan.

    if you want to do it yourself,i know you can get plenty of good advice and help from people here but it will take cash for sure.
    you can get a nice strong 100mw cni greenie from lasershow parts for approximately $310 us.
    it'll almost certainly put out more than 100mw but if you just want to play around with it with diffraction gratings and such you really need to be safe.
    consider goggles.

    hey,maybe you could build a beam table for starters.

  6. #6
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    Thanks to all for replying.
    Yeah your, right I've got the bug, and no flu jab is gonna cure it.

    However I think building one from scratch is probably way out of my depth although I'm willing to give it ago.
    I have very little experience in soldering and circuitry. Will this be a major problem? I do however have a shed that nobody uses at the end of the garden

    OK I've had a look around ... hey aren't these scanners...http://tidyurl.net/a7Dft
    the ones used by NFI Export in there RGY and G ....http://tidyurl.net/q4Dec ?

    And these
    http://tidyurl.net/i4Lhg for their RGB ones


    Some unborn newbi questions.


    In one description is says that there are suitable for DMX and contain pre-programmed patterns, is this where the sound to light bit is taken care of or does this mean stand alone?

    DMX - which one is the best...are these INs and OUTs? ... http://tidyurl.net/o4Oaf ... how come the one with 4 channels is more expensive than the one with 16 channels ?

    LASERS ::
    I want an RGB system..
    From what I gather there are three ways....
    1)Three separate lasers...R,G and B
    2)Two separate lasers , air-cooled argon and a helium-neon laser
    3) One white laser ( way to expensive I guess )

    Can I still use the PCAOM method of splitting the beam using any of these laser combinations? If I don't use PCAOM what is a beam table?

    Which method is cheapest , which one is easiest and which is the best?

    What about size of the economy lasers compared to the CNI lasers, http://tidyurl.net/e2Mvl ... they are much smaller, if you wanted to upgrade how much space do you need to leave? How big should the casing be, are casings premade?

    Too upgrade, is it a case of simply swapping the laser for the better one..?

    When we talk about Wavelength of a laser beam, do we mean brightness?

    Phew...that's a lot of questions. I hope you don't get bored answering them.

    I would really like to give this a shot, I've just used Lasershowparts.com to tally up an incomplete system and it came to 2600 Ozy dollars so for me that ends up about 1140...I'd be willing to pay that...plus tools etcTwo more questions....
    What tools would I need....and how long should a profject like this take...
    Ok no more questions...lol

    Really appreciate all your answers...
    Thanks again.
    Graham

  7. #7
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    Thanks to all for replying.
    Yeah your, right I've got the bug, and no flu jab is gonna cure it.
    I've got the same issue... but patience is a good thing too... and a lack of funds really helps force you to be patient. However, dont let a lack of funds keep you from buying eyewear, you really need it!

    However I think building one from scratch is probably way out of my depth although I'm willing to give it ago.
    I have very little experience in soldering and circuitry. Will this be a major problem? I do however have a shed that nobody uses at the end of the garden
    When it all comes down to it, the soldering and building is quite rudimentary just make sure you ask many questions, take a lot of pictures, and measure twice and cut once. Many of us have built our own projectors, and we'll help in any way to get you going as well
    Some unborn newbi questions.

    In one description is says that there are suitable for DMX and contain pre-programmed patterns, is this where the sound to light bit is taken care of or does this mean stand alone?
    It depends on the unit, Generally "stand alone" means that it can be ran by sensing the sound. However, here it says control with DMX, which means a lighting console outputting DMX can trigger the pre-made effects in the scanner.

    DMX - which one is the best...are these INs and OUTs? ... http://tidyurl.net/o4Oaf ... how come the one with 4 channels is more expensive than the one with 16 channels ?
    here you are looking at a DMX relay (the 4 channel board) and a DMX to TTL conversion. A DMX relay is a DMX controlled switch, again with a lighting board you can send a signal to it and have it turn on something like a motor for a diffraction wheel. The DMX to TTL converter would actually send a +5v signal to some item, such as a TTL controlled Laser. I am sure some other members have some better insight to this.

    LASERS ::
    I want an RGB system.. we all do
    From what I gather there are three ways....
    1)Three separate lasers...R,G and B
    2)Two separate lasers , air-cooled argon and a helium-neon laser yeah its pretty expensive, heavy and it has some difficult to come by utility requirements on a hobby goer's level.
    3) One white laser ( way to expensive I guess ) also very expensive, heavy and it has some difficult to come by utility requirements on a hobby goer's level.

    Can I still use the PCAOM method of splitting the beam using any of these laser combinations? If I don't use PCAOM what is a beam table?
    I dont have any experience with PCAOMs pretty much all I know about them is they are pretty expensive. But a beam table is simply something (usually a 1/4 inch aluminum plate) that one uses to mount all the projectors components to, it also acts as a heat sink. You will have a beam table whether or not you have a PCAOM.

    Which method is cheapest , which one is easiest and which is the best?
    I would say Cheapest and easiest would be going the RGB setup route, which is why most of us build RGB systems. It doesn't require much maintenance, or costly PCAOMs. The best route would be 1 mixed gas laser (Assuming the output isn't a concern) since the beam divergence (the amount the laser beam will increase in size over time) will be the same along all wavelengths, plus you can get deeper magentas and other hard to achieve color that are lacking in Solid State lasers. The best in term of total output power with respect to price would be a combination of 2 mixed gas lasers. If you want me to clarify that I will... I am trying to be as clear as possible.

    What about size of the economy lasers compared to the CNI lasers, http://tidyurl.net/e2Mvl ... they are much smaller, if you wanted to upgrade how much space do you need to leave? How big should the casing be, are casings premade?

    Too upgrade, is it a case of simply swapping the laser for the better one..?
    How much space you leave depends on the size of the laser you want to move to in the future... But usually by then you will probably end up re-building it all again, since that is the most fun part anyway!

    When we talk about Wavelength of a laser beam, do we mean brightness?
    Wavelength is a measure of the color we see. Humans can see from the low 400nm (deep blue/violet) up to the high 600nm (deep reds). Dont confuse nm (nanometers) with mW (milliwatt) which is the measure of power output. We rate light bulbs with Watts. Ex 100w which would denote that it uses 100 watts to produce light. Light Bulbs are only like 10% efficient so really they're only putting out 10 watts of light when using 100 watts. Imagine all the light from 100 watt bulb concentrated into an area thats about 3mm in diameter. Thats essentially what a laser does! But a 10 watt laser is a BIG laser and for our purposes one watt is a fairly large unit of measurement hence we take it to milliwatts. 1 watt = 1000mW

    What tools would I need....and how long should a profject like this take...
    Standard tools would be a drill, soldering iron, machine screws, washers, scrap wires, mostly stuff we all have laying around the house. And the amount of time depends on your ambition. I had mine running in about a night, but I spent about a week cleaning it all up and making it very neat looking.

    -Max

  8. #8
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    Smile

    Great reply Max! Some good info in this thread...

    Graham: To add to what's already been said above: If you are just getting started, and especially if you are on a budget, FORGET ABOUT GAS LASERS.

    They are expensive to buy, *very* expensive to operate (they often require water cooling and 3 phase power), and *very* expensive to repair. Not to mention you'll want a PCAOM to give you full control over the output color and blanking. (Which adds even more to the cost.) Plus gas lasers are cantankerous; they require alignment periodically, and can go high pressure if left sitting for too long. They're heavy, bulky, and unfriendly to beginers.

    Solid state lasers are a hell of a lot easier to work with. They're basically plug and play. If you don't need a lot of power (light output), they can be quite reasonably priced. They are also very small, and will operate off normal house current. Blanking is easily accomplished by simply modulating the driver circuit. No PCAOM's to deal with.

    Note that you can have an RGB projector with 3 separate lasers and still not be all solid state. You could use a Helium-neon laser for red, a single line argon at 512 nm for green, and another single line argon at 488 nm for blue. Granted, this would be a pig of a system to align, but it's been done. The key is to go with solid state lasers for all three.

    Finally, when you get ready to purchase a controller and the software to go with it, consider this: Mamba Black + the Easylase USB controller will cost you nearly $800. But for $500 you can get the LA FREAK package from Pangolin, which includes the FB3 USB controller and the LA Studio software suite. It really is the best deal going right now.

    Adam

  9. #9
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    Talking

    Yes there is some good info in here...let's keep it going with some more questions if you dont mind....

    1) Software...Buffo you mention Black Mamba. A couple of days ago I talked myself out of buying an NFI green ILDA laser 100 mw and Mamba black with the DAC and cables..in my head I think Mamba black is a piece of software which sits on my PC as an external controller using the USB Dac to connect to the laser. You contrast it with the FB3 which I thought sits 'inside' the laser acting like a mother board. Isn't there something I need, similar to a mother board which controls the inner workings of the laser. I don't understand how it's wired up, by that I mean the ILDA in and out, th DXM in and out....the on/off switch, the Gains (if any) for x,y - r,g,b and the sound sensitivity knob. Isn't there a chip board they all link into so they can work together, one at a time.. That's what I thought the FB3 did, but now I know its similar to the Mamba set up.

    2) Directing the lasers to the scanners.....are crystals used to direct the beams on the same path even though one originating from a different (right angle) form another beam? Like in this picture...?
    http://www.ohthepain.com/laser/inside.asp
    Takes a while to load but has some good pics...

    See the green going through the angle 'crystal' or 'lense' and the red one being deflected at a right angle.....how is this so? And why is there a green dot to the left of the green?

    OK I don't know how far to go without doing more of my own research but
    wheres a good place to get wires used in lasers...what about fittings..
    I know nothing about cable types. Do the scanners ad diodes come with instructions like how to assemble and which wires to use...?

    Still really in the dark about laser chassis's....where can I find them or a resource?

    Thanks.

    Graham..

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by laserLips View Post
    Yes there is some good info in here...let's keep it going with some more questions if you dont mind....

    1) Software...Buffo you mention Black Mamba. A couple of days ago I talked myself out of buying an NFI green ILDA laser 100 mw and Mamba black with the DAC and cables..in my head I think Mamba black is a piece of software which sits on my PC as an external controller using the USB Dac to connect to the laser. You contrast it with the FB3 which I thought sits 'inside' the laser acting like a mother board. Isn't there something I need, similar to a mother board which controls the inner workings of the laser. I don't understand how it's wired up, by that I mean the ILDA in and out, th DXM in and out....the on/off switch, the Gains (if any) for x,y - r,g,b and the sound sensitivity knob. Isn't there a chip board they all link into so they can work together, one at a time.. That's what I thought the FB3 did, but now I know its similar to the Mamba set up.
    The FB3 controller also sits outside of the projector, or also can be incorporated inside of the unit. Many people incorporate it for simplicity, however, then you would run your USB connector into the projector thus only allowing you to operate your projector through a USB type controller, and not something that allows you to use the ILDA standard DB25 connector (unless of course you use some type of parallel input, but I am not sure how much the FB3 would appreciate that...)

    As far as controlling everything else, you can use DMX input, however, on the hobbyiest budget DMX really isnt all that viable (however there are some USB -> DMX converters out there) So for the sake of simplicity lets say you omit DMX for now. If you want you can add the connectors to your case, but just leave them for down the road.

    Lets say you go with the FB3. Your computer sends a signal to the FB3 controller, your FB3 then sends the individual signals through the DB25 connector through their respective wires (see this website for the correct pinouts http://www.laserfx.com/Backstage.Las.../Pinouts9.html ) Down those wires a control voltage is sent to their respective item. For instance pin 1 and pin 14 would be connected to the X scanner amp. A change in voltage in this control signal will change the X position of the scanner.

    The on/off switch really just interrupts all of your power to your scanner. I was thinking about making it just so that it would power down the shutter and the lasers, however, I am not sure if that is approved by the CDRH (hopefully someone can chime in on this).

    Any gain controls or anything STAY INSIDE YOUR PROJECTOR, once they're set you dont want to mess with them, it can be a pain to reset them, and above all else a danger to anyone around the laser!

    Also if you are going through all the pain of building something as awesome as a laser projector dont put any sound sensitive anything on it... thats something that is used on stand alone projectors... really not something we would be building would ever have a need for sound sensitivity, since these projectors are manually controlled live (for the most part excluding SYMPTE control or MIDI).

    2) Directing the lasers to the scanners.....are crystals used to direct the beams on the same path even though one originating from a different (right angle) form another beam? Like in this picture...?
    http://www.ohthepain.com/laser/inside.asp
    Takes a while to load but has some good pics...

    See the green going through the angle 'crystal' or 'lense' and the red one being deflected at a right angle.....how is this so? And why is there a green dot to the left of the green?
    Something called Dichrohics are used, if you are at all familiar with "gel" which is used to color stage lights a dichro is a similar item. But gel absorbs the other colors of the spectrum and only lets through the light that is the color of the gel. Dichros simply reflect the other wavelengths. We use this to our advantage. A red 45deg dichro reflects red and transmits green, thus as you see in the picture there is a piece of glass in front of the green laser. That piece of glass is the dichro, its specifics make it a mirror to red light and a window to green light. Any other green dots you see in there are simply reflections of the green light, since dichros are not 100% efficient, they will reflect some of the green light. Notice in that picture there are 2 red lasers in this case a PBS Cube is used to combine the two lasers. However the physics of the PBS cube optics is a bit over my head, otherwise I would explain it to you. (I love physics but never took any optics classes...)

    OK I don't know how far to go without doing more of my own research but
    wheres a good place to get wires used in lasers...what about fittings..
    I know nothing about cable types. Do the scanners ad diodes come with instructions like how to assemble and which wires to use...?
    Most of the stuff is pretty much plug and play, you wont really be building each laser from scratch, most of them are to a point where you just solder 2 wires into the DB25 connector (looks like a printer port connector) and you're ready. But as I said in an earlier post, it is really wise to take a LOT of pictures, and be as patient as possible! We will help you move along, but we are not available 24/7 which means it might take a while to get a response... if you dont understand, then wait for us to help explain it, we dont want you ruining any good lasers or scanners!

    Still really in the dark about laser chassis's....where can I find them or a resource?
    I once had a link to a manufacturer i believe in china that made pre built laser enclosures, I have yet to find that place again. :/ Look for used enclosures... or build one yourself!

    Hope this helps!
    -Max

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