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Thread: My First Post! Question about building a LLS

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    84

    Default My First Post! Question about building a LLS

    Hi. I've been reading this forum for a while and finally joined so I could jump in on some forum conversations. For now, I'll only be asking questions as I'm pretty new in this whole world of lasers.

    I recently purchased a 532nm DPSS laser system and I'm wanting to use it for an amature laser light show to mostly use in my house or possible out in the yard. I've been reading various sites about the required equipment, but figure the experts here could help me get started.

    Right now, I have the laser. I believe I need a scanner, a projector, and the software. Can you guys steer me in the right direction? My budget is probably low-medium so if you have recommended sites to make purchases, I would appreciate it.

    Thank you!
    Moon-raker

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Akron, Ohio USA
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    Default

    You need a pair of scanning galvanometers. These are the tiny, motor driven mirrors that reflect the static beam from the laser such that it can be positioned on your target screen. One mirror moves the beam up and down and the other left to right; REALLY fast. What you see is much like an oscilloscope display.

    You also need a way to turn the laser on and off or blank and unblank the beam, before it hits the galvo mirrors. In the case of an SS laser, often times you can just turn it on and off. Gas lasers don't work like that. They need some kind of shutter or beam diverter.

    You probably want a nice chunk of aluminum to mount all the pieces together into a system that can be aligned and be somewhat stable.

    Then you need a source of signals to control the galvos and the blanking mechanism. This is the fun part!

    This is about the simplest setup you can get for a single color laser projector with proper blanking.

    James.
    Last edited by James Lehman; 05-31-2008 at 10:57.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    84

    Default Okay

    Ok I'm making a list before I purchase. So far I need:

    1. Laser (got that part).
    2. Pair of galvanometers. Would this be considered the scanner? I see things about DMX and ILD, is that another name for galvanometers?
    3. I need something to control the galvos. Is this the scanner or projector or is that something else I haven't read about yet?
    4. Need some type of software to create the patterns? Do you recommend something good to start with?

    If I'm not missing anything above, do I just point the laser at the galvos, power up the laser and watch the show? I have a port on the back the power supply that is used for blanking I believe. Do I use a sound source to control that?

    Thanks for all the great info!

    Moon-raker
    Quote Originally Posted by James Lehman View Post
    You need a pair of scanning galvanometers. These are the tiny, motor driven mirrors that reflect the static beam from the laser such that it can be positioned on your target screen. One mirror moves the beam up and down and the other left to right; REALLY fast. What you see is much like an oscilloscope display.

    You also need a way to turn the laser on and off or blank and unblank the beam, before it hits the galvo mirrors. In the case of an SS laser, often times you can just turn it on and off. Gas lasers don't work like that. They need some kind of shutter or beam diverter.

    You probably want a nice chunk of aluminum to mount all the pieces together into a system that can be aligned and be somewhat stable.

    Then you need a source of signals to control the galvos and the blanking mechanism. This is the fun part!

    This is about the simplest setup you can get for a single color laser projector with proper blanking.

    James.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Akron, Ohio USA
    Posts
    1,754

    Talking

    1. Laser (got that part).

    Yup. Nice!

    2. Pair of galvanometers. Would this be considered the scanner? I see things about DMX and ILD, is that another name for galvanometers?

    Yes, this is the scanner part. No DMX and ILD are not this. DMX is a communications protocal that gets sent out over wires to control all kinds of theatrical lighting fixtures. ILD is a file format for exchanging laser vector art.

    3. I need something to control the galvos. Is this the scanner or projector or is that something else I haven't read about yet?

    That is the signal generator! This is the fun part! You need a way to turn a drawing into a set of signals. There are a few options here.


    4. Need some type of software to create the patterns? Do you recommend something good to start with?

    Hmmmmmmmmmm.........
    Let me see..............
    Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......
    Oh! I just had it on the tip of my fingers...........

    Oh yeah!

    http://akrobiz.com/laserboy/

    http://hacylon.case.edu/laser/LaserBoy/

    Don't let it scare you too bad. It runs in Windows now!

    James.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    84

    Default Re: Okay

    Wow James, thanks a ton. I think I nearly have it figured out. So as far as a signal generator.....what do I search for to find that or is it just a simple output on my sound card?

    Also, is that pretty much all I need to get a basic light show going? I'm trying to get something to show my wife as to "justify" my rather expensive purchase of the laser

    Thanks again,
    Moon-raker

    Quote Originally Posted by James Lehman View Post
    1. Laser (got that part).

    Yup. Nice!

    2. Pair of galvanometers. Would this be considered the scanner? I see things about DMX and ILD, is that another name for galvanometers?

    Yes, this is the scanner part. No DMX and ILD are not this. DMX is a communications protocal that gets sent out over wires to control all kinds of theatrical lighting fixtures. ILD is a file format for exchanging laser vector art.

    3. I need something to control the galvos. Is this the scanner or projector or is that something else I haven't read about yet?

    That is the signal generator! This is the fun part! You need a way to turn a drawing into a set of signals. There are a few options here.


    4. Need some type of software to create the patterns? Do you recommend something good to start with?

    Hmmmmmmmmmm.........
    Let me see..............
    Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......
    Oh! I just had it on the tip of my fingers...........

    Oh yeah!

    http://akrobiz.com/laserboy/

    http://hacylon.case.edu/laser/LaserBoy/

    Don't let it scare you too bad. It runs in Windows now!

    James.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Pflugerville, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,977

    Default

    The best deal on 30K scanners is from laserpic. www.laserpic.com. They are a chinese company but they accept paypal. I have bought 11 sets from them so I know they are a trustworthy company. They also sell the 12K scanners at a dirt cheap price. I am not going to publish any prices since I was asked not to. All I can say is that the prices are far less than what you will find on Ebay. Anyway, shoot them an email for prices and more info.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Akron, Ohio USA
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    Default

    Almost!

    A sound card was made for sound; to drive speakers. Similar in many ways, speakers are different from scanners in one very important way. Scanners are all about absolute position. Speakers are about change of position. There is no need to push a speaker cone out all the way and hold it there. All you'll do is burn up the coil. But there is a very good reason to want to swing a mirror to its full angle off center and keep it there.

    To make a long story short, speakers are almost always protected from direct DC current by being decoupled from the source with a capacitor.

    To make a sound card work as a scanner controller, you need to eliminate these decoupling capacitors (short them). When you do this, in most cases with a PC sound card, you'll get a decoupled signal, but the whole thing will be positive voltage. You need to center the signal over the zero volt line. The decoupling capacitor does this at a cost of imposing a high-pass AC filter on the signal. You need to build a correction amp for every channel of your system that you will use to control the laser. You need at least three: X, Y and blanking.

    http://www.akrobiz.com/laserboy/p_laserboy_95.html

    Or... If you don't mind waiting to get a good deal on eBay, you could get an Echo Layla 24/96. $200 is a very good deal on this thing. It's worth a lot more. All you need to do is short the output caps. That's it! No outboard electronics required. Plus it does 96KHz and it's a computer based ADAT machine!

    James.


    Quote Originally Posted by Moon-raker View Post
    Wow James, thanks a ton. I think I nearly have it figured out. So as far as a signal generator.....what do I search for to find that or is it just a simple output on my sound card?

    Also, is that pretty much all I need to get a basic light show going? I'm trying to get something to show my wife as to "justify" my rather expensive purchase of the laser

    Thanks again,
    Moon-raker
    Last edited by James Lehman; 05-31-2008 at 13:01.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN & Huntsville, AL, USA
    Posts
    3,146

    Default

    Hey, Moon-raker!

    Welcome to the forum, and congratulations on finding a GREAT place to ask questions before taking the "plunge" into a very addictive - and potentially expensive - hobby!!

    In addition to the great suggestions you've received so far, you might also want to check into some of the great PC-based controller packages designed specifically for controlling laser projectors.

    Many of us on this forum have purchased - and are quite happy with - the FlashBack 3 controller made by Pangolin, which is known world-wide for their engineering and technical contributions to the laser show industry. Their founder is a frequent contributor to this forum, by the way!

    The FlashBack 3 (often referred to as FB3) is geared specifically to hobbyists and smaller productions. Here is a link to the card description (most folks go with the evaluation package for their initial purchase, since it provides everything you'll need in the controller and software package)

    http://www.pangolin.com/flashback/flashback3.htm

    This card is ready to go out of the box, and includes industry-standard signal connectors to connect to your scanners, lasers, and beam shutter. It requires a 5VDC power source to operate, and can be controlled by a Windows-based computer through its USB connection.

    It includes a program called LiveQuick (http://www.pangolin.com/flashback/LiveQUICK.htm) and also gives you free download access to the LA Studio suite of programs (http://www.pangolin.com/LA_Studio/Abstraction.htm), which includes ShowRider, Draw 3D, and Abstraction. You also get a free download to Tracit (http://www.pangolin.com/LA_Studio/TraceIT.htm) for converting graphics files to laser-generated graphics.

    The FB3 can also be controlled by DMX equipment (DMX is a standardized control system used by DJ's and professional lighting companies to control stage lighting and other effects). If you control the FB3 with a DMX console instead of a USB-attached computer, you basically get the same control of the FB3 that you would achieve using the LiveQuick software, using the FB3's onboard memory to store the actual laser images you will be controlling.

    Another thing to consider is that a controller such as the FB3 will still be the only controller card you need if you add more lasers - it has outputs to control the analog modulation (laser "power" brightness setting) of up to 3 different lasers (red, green, and blue, "RGB" the standard colors for typical multi-color projector). You'll need additional optics to add more lasers, but other than the individual laser power supplies, the FB3 (or similar cards), the beam shutter, and one set of scanners is all the electronic equipment you'll probably need, whether it's one, two, or three lasers.

    When you start shopping for lasers and scanners, you might want to give these guys a try:

    http://lasershowparts.com/store/

    They generally have good prices, provide GREAT technical support, and like Pangolin, are frequent contributors to this forum!!

    One final thing - you didn't say what the output power is for your current laser module. If it's more than a few milliwatt, you need to think seriously about getting a set of laser protective goggles to use while you're aligning your lasers and optics. You'll need goggles specific to the wavelength of your lasers - usually, you can find a set that will handle blue/green wavelengths, and another to handle red wavelengths, once you start adding those additional lasers.

    As I mentioned, it can get expensive - but you only have one set of eyes, and lasers can harm them in a hurry if you're not careful!

    Good luck "shopping", and feel free to ask any questions that come to mind - most folks here are VERY helpful!

    Randy
    Last edited by Stuka; 06-01-2008 at 17:03.
    RR

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.
    1979.
    Sweet.....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Kaliningrad, Russia
    Posts
    45

    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by carmangary View Post
    The best deal on 30K scanners is from laserpic. www.laserpic.com. They are a chinese company but they accept paypal. I have bought 11 sets from them so I know they are a trustworthy company. They also sell the 12K scanners at a dirt cheap price. I am not going to publish any prices since I was asked not to. All I can say is that the prices are far less than what you will find on Ebay. Anyway, shoot them an email for prices and more info.
    Hi guys!
    I'm another new-born in laser field.
    There is one more opportunity to get galvo set with servo amps and PSU: Here (http://stores.ebay.com/Laserworld-Shop) you can buy LW-50K set for 200$-400$ (depends on you bidding luck ). Does anybody use this set? Can you recommend it to Moon-raker?

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