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Thread: Your Laser Show Beginnings?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Your Laser Show Beginnings?

    I'd be curious as to what got each of us started with lasers & laser shows, hobby or otherwise?

    Regarding the earliest laser show thread, Stuka mentioned the ELO "Out of the Blue" tour back in 1978. Carmangary cited the inflatable "Laser Dome" show seen at a State Fair. Both of these were instrumental in my interest, as I saw ELO during this tour, as well as several years of the inflatable dome at a local car show in the late Seventies. The dome used a mixed gas Ar/Kr laser, multiple scanner pairs and programming stored on a multitrack reel-to-reel tape based system. The company that produced these was out of Ohio as I recall, but I've long since forgotten the name.

    First laser? A 3mW Metrologic HeNe, purchased new in 1980. $400 as I recall, alot of coin as a teenager back then...I never did get over the fascination with coherent, monochromatic light sources.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central Florida


    Laser FX, laser light show by "With Design in Mind"... not even a true laser. A friend had one at a party house I used to hang around at. It made a "beam" and was multicolor, RGYB. I was facinated by it. Later on, 10+ years later I found one on eBay and started a small collection. I have 4. Got a 1mW hene off eBay also, and and a 15mW Atlasnova green pointer and took apart one of the Laser FXs in my "collection" and mated the pointer in it. found out what "duty time" was the hard way. That was two years ago and a lot of $$$...
    Love, peace, and grease,

    allthat... aka: aaron@pangolin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    SoCal / San Salvador / NY


    Quote Originally Posted by Displaser View Post
    I'd be curious as to what got each of us started with lasers & laser shows, hobby or otherwise?
    Hey Greg -

    Great thread!! This will be really cool to hear when/how everybody was first 'bitten'... ‹(*¿*)›

    Me? Well, first 'exposure' was the Crichton-based, Wise-directed "Andromeda Strain", ~'75 - while every one else was frieked-out by the laser that nails 'Mark Hall' in the hand and cheek - I had discovered my new purpose in life! - I took apart every penlight, flashlight, and xmas light I could find in my quest to figure out 'HOW did they DO that'...

    Then, after getting the real '411' from the Dec. '66 National Geo on lasers, (which I think I read like, 1000x) I then embarked on building my own, which only got me a lot of groundings. But, of course, it was 'Star Wars' in '77 that really got my plasma glowing.

    From there, the obsession only grew, and I officially gave up carbon and became a photon-based lifeform at Laserium @ The Griffith, ~'80 ...I was in such awe... I thought Ivan Dryer was Apollo... I knew I was hopelessly 'infected' and there was no cure...

    But the first 'money' did not come till ~'90; First laser: 8mW Uniphase surplus HeNe, and 'brick' PS from good ol' 'MWK' - I would just sit and study the illuminated particles moving in and out of the beam for HOURS... then came - EXPERIMENTS!!!!

    First projector: ~91; First install: ~'93, Am 60x Argon 150mW + 30mW Melles HeNe from Kodak surplus... (damn, they were a phenominal resource back in the day - it would blow your MIND to see the stuff they used to just put out in the dumpsters...Thanks, Pop!! and since then, have just never looked back...

    OK... not it!

    - j
    ....and armed only with his trusty 21 Zorgawatt KTiOPO4...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Pflugerville, TX, USA


    I was given a free laser pointer at a trade show and I thought it was cool that I could make circles.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Sheepsville, Wales, UK


    Dunno where the fasicnation really came from I just know since I was a boy 'laser' meant awesome. If there was ever anything on tv with a laser - not very often I would watch in awe. Then there was the annual family trip to Blackpool to see the illuminations - dunno when they started with lasers but I guess it was late 70's & I was blown away. I remember looking over to the end of the pier where the beams were coming from and wondering what was there making that gorgeous green/blue light. (now I know it was a fookin big argon!)
    They used to project lissajous figures onto the buildings along the front - so I guess there was little sophistication in terms of scanning - but there didnt need to be it looked brilliant!
    My first laser was a red diode pen bought mid 90s that was cool for about a year untill I powered it with 12v and death followed microseconds later
    Then followed a couple of £5 bar code scanners stripped for the laser diode - motors with mirrors on them - not in the trad. way but mounted along the shaft like a scanner. I fed oscillator output to them which was great as long as I could get the motor to rock from side to side and not spin round!
    First real laser was in about 2000 and was a 7mw uniphase of eblay and a brick from MKW (ive heard that before ) Still going strong to this day! I just love that hene as the beam is so so good. Then I bought a green module from an US seller on elbay which just took my interest and magnified it by 10000.
    Then followed green modules from china that I imported and sold on to pay to keep one for myself. Then a couple of SP161 argons.
    Then in 2004 I saw the SP168 on ebay. I bid, I won, I collected and WOW WOW WOW. It was a bargain with the exciter PCAOM and driver - i just didnt have scanners!
    Now have built a number of projectors with green, red & green, and now most recently RGB.

    All along I have read anything I could (understand) about lasers and absorbed as much knowledge as I can.

    I just love the light! Long may it continue!

    If you need to ask the question 'whats so good about a laser' - you won't understand the answer.
    Laserists do it by the nanometre.

    Stanwax Laser is a Corporate Member of Ilda

    Stanwax Laser main distributor of First Contact in UK - like us on Facebook

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Herts, UK


    Quote Originally Posted by dsli_jon View Post
    "Andromeda Strain", ~'75 - while every one else was frieked-out by the laser that nails 'Mark Hall' in the hand and cheek
    SAME HERE! totally awe struck when he got zapped on that ladder(?) - was it?? it was a long time ago I saw it... late 70's IIRC.

    I remember asking a teacher about it and all they could tell me was that it might be a ruby laser.
    Armed with this granule of information, I went off and tried masking a torch (flashlight) with a pinhole exit, and attempted to create my own one by shining the "beam" through a red gem (costume jewellery so probably plastic) and being very disappointed that it didn't blast a hole in the wall! It did great clos-up lumina in the dark though...

    Probably a good thing I couldn't get hold of any multiwatt c-mount diodes back then

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Leicestershire, UK


    What made me say "I wanna do that!": Pink Floyd Pulse tour 1994 2x 45W Copper Vapour lasers. Lots of bounce mirrors and remote effects, not to mention all the Varilite VL5s, VL2Cs and telescans. (2500w Xenon scanner!) Anyone know how they did the remote flat scan effect during "Sorrow"? It looks like a scanner that can oscillate a 6" bounce mirror fast enough not to flicker too badly even on TV.

    First laser: 5mW Red from Maplins in about 1995 with 3x motors and home made speed control. Did some of the experiments from the book "Lasers, Rayguns and Light Cannons!"

    First green laser: 50mW 532 from Rob (Stanwax) about 6 years ago.
    Tried lots of home made scanning ideas like speakers, hard drive actuators.

    First set of galvos: Medialas Catweazles.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006


    Well mine started with seeing a Pink Floyd laser light show (this was all at age 12), then I bought my first HEATHKIT Laser-Trainer, un–assembled 1mw HeNe with audio modulation $400 (lots of paper routes to pay for), and a Lab manual on lasers… WOW!!

    Then for the complex scanner system….. 2 spinning mirrors on motors, and a speaker with a mirror on the voice coil for the killer scanner setup (NOT!)

    Then I moved on the infamous NEC 2020 with the gold box supply. Now the lasers addiction still hangs over me, I will never recover… ,

    Currently I have a multi-watt full color, dual scanner beast, that is really close personal friends with my BANK ACCOUNT

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Knoxville, TN, USA


    Yep, that ELO tour sucked me in! Right after that, I used my connections as a lab assistant with my high school chemistry department and acquired a Metrologic 3.3mW HeNe. Later that year (much to the chagrin of my girlfriend and physics teacher - "OMG - you'll blind somebody with that thing!!"), I worked a deal with the DJ at our Senior Prom, hung a mirror in front of a speaker, and bounced the massive 3.3mW off of that and onto a screen above the stage - my first laser show!!

    Various laser shows over the years kept my interest peaked, but I didn't get directly involved with anything other that military lasers (infrared, weapons sighting versions) until this past summer - and now, thanks in large part to this forum and the connections I've made here, I'm pretty well in deep!! The RGB projector isn't built yet (holiday project, hopefully), but I'm now the proud owner of a couple of 100mW red diode kits, a 405 mw violet diode kit, 4 Melles Griot 5mW HeNe's, a CNI 100 mw 473 nm, a CNI 400 mW 532 nm, a Maxyz dual 400 mW 660 nm, 30K scanners, Pangolin FB3, LA Studio, LivePro, and a Poly-20 kit. Pretty happy with the collection, and anxious to get building over Christmas , except....

    I saw Trans Siberian Orchestra in November, so now I need MORE, BIGGER lasers, and a DMX-controlled mult-color flame thrower!!

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Thumbs up

    DMX-controlled mult-color flame thrower!!

    Oh yeah, i'm in for that, I asked Santa for one. I saw them in November and It was AWSOME!!!!

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