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Thread: Another New Guy

  1. #1
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    Default Another New Guy

    I have been lurking around on the edge of the forums for a couple of days and have been really enjoying learning so much. I wanna thank all of you for making PL so active and such a free exchange of ideas and knowledge.
    OK blah blah.

    I did little HeNe shows years ago but just got a 100mW 532nm from Laserextreme in January. I put that in 19" chassis with some Laserworld 50K's driven by Norm's DAC. I'm havin' a blast! Norm's free NLS got it lit up at first but I now have Anarchy and half a dozen free show softwares. I am wanting better show software and am considering BS3D, Mamba Black and AlphaLite. (Comments welcome)
    You see, this is a HOBBY. And yes....I'm addicted. I don't have much $ to put into this but my plans are huge.
    I have been reading with interest about the methods used to combine beams. I saw that guy who committed to a group buy on his first post. I might wait till my second. I am going for red next and almost bought one @ 100mW. But if I ever am going to add blue and hope to balance out to white, 100mw of red might not work. Right??? So, with 100mW of green, what power levels should I buy for red and blue?

    And to PM "Admin", I would be glad to talk about inverters. I can see the need for a design that would take 12 volts and provide +/- 15 or 24 for galvo driver boards and a supply such as +5 for controllers and logic. Of course when grid was available, it would then charge the battery. Is that what you were thinking too?

  2. #2
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    Default

    Hi KnightLite,
    Welcome to the forums!

    I'm probably the guy you are talking about, and I have to say I was very pleased with the way things go around here (and still am). I'm still fairly new here but I feel at home already.

    greets
    FourDee

  3. #3
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    Cool

    Welcome to PhotonLexicon, KnightLite!
    Quote Originally Posted by KnightLite View Post
    I am wanting better show software and am considering BS3D, Mamba Black and AlphaLite. (Comments welcome)

    I suggest you seriously consider the Pangolin FlashBack3 "LA Freak" package. It costs just $500, and for that you get a rock-solid controller that supports analog blanking plus an entire software suite that will allow you to create your own shows.

    I own an Alphalite, and I also own a copy of the Mamba Black software. However, I upgraded to the older Pangolin QM-32 a little over a year ago, and about 9 months ago I got the new QM-2000 board. I also have a copy of the LA Studio software that Pangolin includes with the FlashBack3. (It runs on the QM-2000 board as well.)

    Having used all these packages, I'd take the Pangolin system in a heartbeat over the others. The image quality is superior, the feature set is larger, and the customer service is second to none.

    Since you are on a budget (as all us hobbyists are), I realize that buying a QM-2000 intro board might be out of your price range right now. But the FlashBack3 is actually *cheaper* than a Mamba Black / Easylase USB combination. Plus, in my opinion, the FB3 comes with better software. I've never had the LA Studio software lock-up on me, while I *have* experienced numerous crashes with Mamba Black. (To Mamba's credit, they are working on the bugs, but they've been working on them for a long time now...)

    Look around on the forums here and you'll be able to read plenty of posts from satisfied FB3 owners. I honestly don't think you can go wrong buying one.
    But if I ever am going to add blue and hope to balance out to white, 100mw of red might not work. Right??? So, with 100mW of green, what power levels should I buy for red and blue?
    Assuming that your green laser supports analog blanking, then you're going to want at least 400 mw of red (at 660 nm) to balance it. Actually, you'll probably need a little more than 400 mw, but that's about the limit for a 660 nm laser. But you are correct; buying a 100 mw red would be a mistake. It will be way too dim. Now, if you decide to go with a 635 nm red laser, then you *could* get away with just 100 mw. You see, 635 nm red looks a lot brighter to the human eye, so you need less power to balance that green.

    For blue, you'll need close to 200 mw to balance that 100 mw of green. And yeah, that's going to be expensive as hell. But don't worry. If you always remember to buy lasers that support analog blanking (and this assumes that your controller supports analog blanking as well), then you'll be able to adjust the brightness of the other lasers down so that you get a perfect white. (Pangolin software does this automatically. I think Mamba supports this too, but you have to adjust it manually. The Alphalite is TTL-only, so it can't adjust for poor color balance at all.)

    And one final word about color balance: Don't sweat it if you're not perfect. Even numbers like 3X red to 1X green to 1X blue look pretty good. Sure, the white might not be perfect, but it will still be very pretty. And remember that you can always dial back the green to get better balance. Some people intentionally purchase more green than the color balance numbers would suggest, simply because green is cheap - and when you want really bright beams, well, it's nice to have extra power!

    But if you're more concerned about not wasting any power and you want great color balance, then shoot for 4X red to 1X green to 2X blue and you'll be pretty close.

    Adam

  4. #4
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    Default Comments appreciated

    FB3 sounds and looks like a real dream. I didn't know you could get into Pangolin that low. It is still more than I spend per month on my lights but I think I will go this route.

    I also have to seriously shop for a red now. 635nm is not that common on eBay etc. and I can't say I have ever seen the two wavelengths next to each other to compare. This, like many choices, may come down to money.
    When I have red I will next want a combiner. Is there any urgency to the group buy for cubes?

    Has anybody modified a power supply from TTL only to analog? I think I am going to attempt it. I am pretty sure that if I modulate the drive current over a narrow range of 100% to 80% a large variation in perceived output will result.

  5. #5
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    Default

    [quote=KnightLite;49187]
    I also have to seriously shop for a red now. 635nm is not that common on eBay etc. and I can't say I have ever seen the two wavelengths next to each other to compare. This, like many choices, may come down to money.
    When I have red I will next want a combiner. Is there any urgency to the group buy for cubes?[quote]

    Hello KnightLite, welcome to PL. Below is a side by side compairison of 660nm and 635nm. Can you guess which is which?! Both are 200mW. I use Lasever Red in my projector and it has been problem free since I bought it nearly 2 years ago.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 660vs635.JPG  


  6. #6
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    Question Wow!

    I had no idea there was that much difference. I prefer the longer wavelength for the deeper color. That means I am going to need more mW to get a better white.
    Thanks for the image and recommendation.

    I mentioned group buy cubes above, but after reading more posts here at PL I realize I need dichros.

    Adam.. I read about the order of mixing colors to achieve the least amount of lose of light and money. You had some agreement that green should point right at the galvos as opposed to red the way Jim had first said.
    The red dichro like in the current group buy, does not reflect 635 very well per Edmund's spec. Much better above 650nm. This would make Jim's original layout better for 635 and yours better for 650. Right

    Even though I don't have red and blue yet, I am modifying my layout with an eye toward future expansion.

  7. #7
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  8. #8
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    Default 635

    Thanks, but I hit "watch this" yesterday. I am pretty sure I am going to go for the longer 660 wavelength which means I'm also after higher power ($).

  9. #9
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    Smile

    It's hard to get more than about 500 mw of 660 nm red. The diodes just aren't up to the job. 635nm is more common at higher power levels, but of course you pay a penalty in terms of beam diameter.

    Regarding the order of the lasers; the dichro's really don't play into it at all. If you decide to go with 635 nm red, you are correct in that the Edmund Dichro would have excessive loss. But Edmund isn't the only supplier of dichros! You can get one from OneStopLaserShop.com that will work just fine.

    When considering the order of your lasers, the only factor you need to be concerned about is your color balance. Whichever color is weakest in the mix should be closest to the galvos so you lose the least amount of that color. In most cases, the "weak" color is blue, simply because blue is so darned expensive.

    However, in a situation where someone has plenty of money to spend, it's often the case that red becomes the "weak" color - because they run into the power limit for the red diodes they're using. (Getting several watts of blue might be expensive as hell, but it's doable. Getting several watts of 660 nm red is damn near impossible.)

    Sure, you could always stack multiple beams using the knife-edge mirror trick, but that complicates matters enormously while also degrading the beam quality. So in cases like these it's not uncommon to see the red laser mounted closest to the galvos to preserve as much red as possible.

    Bottom line: It's always fairly simple to find a dichro that will offer only a few percent loss at whatever wavelength you decide upon. So don't let that factor into your decision at all.

    Also, the group buy you mentioned was not for dichro's from Edmunds, but rather from LaserWave. Those dichros are different than the one's from Edmunds. (Several members have stated that they offer considerably less loss.)

    Adam

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