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Thread: Please help me

  1. #1
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    Default Please help me

    hi

    I've came across this forum while searching info about lasers.

    Firstly i don't know much about lasers.I am looking for a cost effective way of getting a laser or 2 for my mobile disco.Normally i play for 300 - 600 peeps in small to med sized venues.
    I've read up some info here and followed the link to lasershowparts.com.

    1 If i buy the laser diodes and and the scanner thingy is all i do just to assemble it.Is it all that i need + maybe the dmx board or can i live without the dmx if i use it in a mobile disco environment.I want the laser to be effective but not really state of the art.

    2 If so,is it difficult to assemble.Anything else i need to know about.

    3 Is there maybe a "Laser for Dummies" guide somewhere.I hardly understand anything here,its way out of my league.

    I really hope someone can help me or provide a link

    thanks in advance

    Kevin

  2. #2
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    Those DMX boards that come with the chinese scanner sets are pretty nifty and might be ok for your needs. They have a microphone that allows the patterns to move with the music. The downside is that there are only a fixed amount of patterns and I don't know if you can modify them.

    The biggest mistake people make is that they don't know what they want when they start and end up buying cheap stuff that has to be replaced when they decide it isn't enough for them. So, instead of asking what you need, you should decide what kind of laser show you want and how much control you need. Do you want just some abstract patterns? Beam shows? Music synchronized animation? Multi color lasers? How much power do you need?

    Think in advance because you can't really upgrade equipment.

    Also, be fore warned about the legal and safety issues. I have a scanner capable of some really nice shows but I can't/won't use it in public due to all of the regulations and safety concerns that I don't want to deal with.

  3. #3
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    Hi Kevin and welcome.

    If you are building it yourself you need various things.
    The laser itself (most of the ones that you would want will come as a package - the laser head and the driver/psu), a set of galvos and amps (the pair of mirrors that move the beam) and possibly some software and a DAC to be able to control what you display.
    Some of the galvos that you get will come with a DMX board that is preloaded with some simple graphics or beam shows.

    If you want to do any 'nice' shows you will need software and a DAC (there is a thread on here that has various setups and prices).

    Jim

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimBo View Post
    Hi Kevin and welcome.

    If you are building it yourself you need various things.
    The laser itself (most of the ones that you would want will come as a package - the laser head and the driver/psu), a set of galvos and amps (the pair of mirrors that move the beam) and possibly some software and a DAC to be able to control what you display.
    Some of the galvos that you get will come with a DMX board that is preloaded with some simple graphics or beam shows.

    If you want to do any 'nice' shows you will need software and a DAC (there is a thread on here that has various setups and prices).

    Jim
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    Will 100mw green be sufficient in a small venue?

    The built in patterns might be good enough for me.I've seen some and its not too bad,considering i'll just use the laser/s for added lighting effects.


    The main thing i really wanna know is:Can i build it myself.What is the technical skill level to build a basic 100-200mw laser with the oem parts from lasershowparts.com.Looks like the stuff just plug in each other with some mounting of the laser.Am i correct?

  5. #5
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    Hi KevinC! Welcome to PhotonLexicon. Glad you found us here; I think you'll like it.

    Building your own projector is certainly something that can be done by the average hobbyist. It's not strictly plug and play though. You'll need to do some soldering. Fortunately it's fairly easy stuff. (Black wire to pin 25, red wire to pin 15, that sort of thing) If you can follow a schematic you won't have any trouble at all. (And if you can't follow a schematic, post your questions here and we'll guide you.)

    You'll also need to build some sort of optical table to mount the laser and the scanners on. Some people use wood because it's easy to work with. Unfortunately, wood tends to swell and warp depending on the humidity, so it's not a good material to use. Aluminum is much better, and believe it or not you can cut aluminum with the same tools you use for wood. (Either a jig saw or a circular saw will cut 1/4 inch thick aluminum plate - you just need to go really slow!)

    Since you're only going to be building a monochrome projector (green only), the alignment will be *very* easy. Basically you'll mount the laser and the scanner block, then wire the scanners to the amps, then connect the amps and the blanking lead from the laser drive module to your controller. It's certainly something you can do over a weekend.

    100 mw is a tad low for a crowd of 600 people. I'd want at least double that I think. (More is always better) Of course, you will need either a fogger or a hazer to make the beams visible. Be mindful of the size of the venue when you purchase your fog machine. (Better to buy a large fogger and use it sparingly than a small one and have it constantly spewing fog.)

    And, of course, you need to be aware of the safety issues. I don't know what the laws are like for laser shows in South Africa, but it would be smart for you to check into the subject before you take your home-made laser to a gig. At a minimum, you should be sure that your beams are always at least 3 meters above the highest point on the floor. (You don't have the equipment to determine if you can scan the crowd safely, so you need to make sure it can't happen during your show.)

    As far as using the mini-controller that comes with the scanners vs. buying a software and controller package, that depends on exactly what you want to do with the laser. Will you be controlling it during the show? (Or will you have someone else controlling it?) Or were you planning to just "set it and forget it"?

    If you want to set it and forget it, then the mini-controller is probably good enough. But if you want to "play along" to the music live, then you'll want a decent controller and software package. (Have a look at the LA FREAK package from Pangolin; it's a great value.) This thread has some details.

    As far as a link to a "dummies guide", well, I can't really help you there. I suggest that you set aside a 6 to 8 hour time block some weekend and simply start reading the different threads here in the forums. That's a great way to learn. There is some very basic information available at the LaserFX.com site that you might want to browse through as well. (The site hasn't been updated in several years, but the information is still good.)

    Don't hesitate to post your questions though. We'll answer them as best as we can.

    Adam

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buffo View Post
    If you want to set it and forget it, then the mini-controller is probably good enough. But if you want to "play along" to the music live, then you'll want a decent controller and software package. (Have a look at the LA FREAK package from Pangolin; it's a great value.) This thread has some details.
    I'm pretty sure that is not legal by the licensing agreements using the LA Freak package, since it is not allowed for commercial use.

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    Smile

    Whoops! Good point there, Mliptack. You're right; the LA Freak package is not licensed for commercial use. I forgot about that.

    Instead, you'll need to upgrade to the FB3 "evaluation kit". It contains everything that the LA Freak kit does, plus it includes the DMX input daughter board so you can control it from a DMX lighting panel. It *can* be used for commercial use. It increases the cost by $95 though.

    So, $595 instead of $500. My bad...

    Adam

  8. #8
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    soforene is offline The Troll formerly known as Herbert Von Poople-Futtocks
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    I think you guys are going overboard for the OP's requirements.

    Sounds like he just wants some lasers to "jazz up" his display so a complete ready built laaser with possibly sound to light should suffice.
    That would certainly save learning all about the construction side of things after all, if he said he was just after a car to move his stuff around between gigs you wouldn't recommend building a kit car but rather, just buy a car !!

    Nowt wrong with all the techno-geeky stuff you guys thrive on (hell, I aspire to that level of knowledge myself) but if it's horses for courses then I'd recommend he takes a gander at the lighting section of ebay for some kit that's more or less plug and play.
    I realise that the prices are a bit higher than for self build (and it brings tears to my eyes when I see how much you guys pay for all the toys you have) but if he just wants a "quick fix" solution then a ready built package is gonna be way easier than a DIY kit.

    Just my 2p's worth.

  9. #9
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    Cool

    Soforene;

    The reason many of us recommend building your own projector is because nearly everyone that gets involved with lasers gets hooked. And once you're hooked you are constantly making changes to your rig to improve it. That's a lot easier to do if it's something you built yourself.

    Also, KevinC already said that he was thinking about building it himself. So he's already started down the hobbyist path. I don't think we're pushing him into it. He asked for an honest appraisal of the difficulty involved in assembling a monochrome projector, and we gave it to him.

    Don't get me wrong - some people *are* better off buying a fully-assembled projector. (The sort of people that *hate* working on something - they just want it to work!) The only problem with buying a projector on E-bay is that they basically come in two flavors: "Affordable but Crappy", or "Nice but Expensive". Some of us (myself included) have gone down the "Affordable but Crappy" road before and ended up wasting a lot of time (and money). As for the "Nice but Expensive" projectors listed on E-bay, well, most people find them to be *too* expensive...

    KevinC;

    If you want to do nothing more than abstract lissajous patterns and simple beam shows (liquid sky, sine waves, and fans), then a monochrome projector purchased from E-bay will work. But if you want to get into multiple colors and/or graphics, you are better off building it yourself. You'll save money, you'll get better components, and you'll understand how to repair it when things go wrong.

    As for the recommendation to purchase the FB3 controller and software suite from Pangolin, that stems directly from my personal experience. I purchased three different software packages before trying Pangolin. (Alphalite, Mamba 2004, and Mamba Black) Each time I was trying to save money by not buying a Pangolin system. I rationalized that I wasn't a professional, so I couldn't justify the cost. But once I finally made the leap, I realized that I'd been a fool all along. I could have saved a lot of money (and a lot of frustration) if I had just gone with Pangolin at the start.

    Now, I understand that even the LD-2000 Intro package is more expensive that most hobbyists can afford right out of the gate. But when Bill Benner introduced the LA Freak kit (which contains both the FlashBack 3 controller and the entire LA STUDIO software suite) for just $500, that totally removed all price barriers to owning a Pangolin system. (To compare, Mamba Black + the Easylase USB controller costs just north of $800, and does not come with as many features as the LA Freak package does!)

    Even for the budding professional, there is always the FlashBack 3 Evaluation kit, which is just $595, and includes the DMX input daughterboard. (Unlike the LA Freak kit, the FB3 eval kit *is* licensed for commercial use.) That price is very hard to pass up. (And if I had known about it back in 2005, I would have bought that system instead of my original Alphalite.)

    I will admit, however, that most of the people that built their own projectors have done so because they want to be able to do everything. Complex beam shows, vivid graphics, cool animations, and full-color. But if someone isn't interested in all that, Soforene's point is valid - there are some off-the-shelf solutions that can do basic beams very well. It's just that my experience has always shown that once a person gets a taste of what a laser projector can do, they want *more*. So if you even think that you're going to head down that upgrade path, it makes good financial sense to purchase a decent controller right up front.

    Finally, consider the fact that you're talking about a show for 600 people... That's hardly a small group. I think when you get to a gig that size, you need to be a little more professional. (Consider what your competition is running too.)

    Adam

    PS: KevinC: One thing we haven't talked about is Laser Safety. Regardless of which way you decide to go (off-the-shelf or build-your-own), you still need to look into the laws for your area that govern public laser shows. You'll also want to read up on Laser Safety in general, and in particular how it relates to both projector design and show operation. (Search the forums here and you'll find lots of good info.)

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    Exclamation

    I will admit, however, that most of the people that built their own projectors have done so because they want to be able to do everything. Complex beam shows, vivid graphics, cool animations, and full-color. But if someone isn't interested in all that, your point is valid - there are some off-the-shelf solutions that can do basic beams very well. It's just that my experience has always shown that once a person gets a taste of what a laser projector can do, they want *more*. So if you even think that you're going to head down that upgrade path, it makes good financial sense to purchase a decent controller right up front. From Buffo


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