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Thread: A new guy!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mantova (Italy)
    Posts
    89

    Default A new guy!

    Hi! Firstly, I must thank all PL members for keeping this forum alive, which has given me so much information and advice about the fantastic world of lasers! (though I have not written anything yet). The web and all the forums should learn from PL, as it is a peaceful place to find friendly people to exchange information with!

    My name is Giovanni and I am a 19 year old Italian student who is going to attend 5 years of university courses to study theoretical physics.

    My story:
    I have always been interested in light effects and their synchronization with music. In the last 7 years I have put together a complete DMX controlled stage lighting and sound system. Two years ago I bought a 100mw(?) green dmx-controlled stepper motor laser from DjTraximus on EBay which was pretty decent for disco and parties but quite boring when it comes to effects and sadly only green...
    Last summer I saw a very powerful (it had to be at least 5W) RGB laser used for beam effects in an entertainment center; it was wonderful and I decided that it was worth a try! So I searched the web for that technology (a pity I didn't find PL at that time!) and I found some EBay auctions which sold RGB lasers for about 2k euros along with a DAC. It was an enormous amount of money for me but those colours were too tasty and I bought it!
    The laser claimed to be 300mw TTL with (the cursed) iShow DAC and it was sold by NightLifeEquipment (which is now "dead", as the website is closed...uhm...)

    The laser:
    The laser arrived 3 weeks after placing the order, during Easter holiday.

    As you see in the picture, it is a piece of crap made out of last-minute made poor quality parts. The worst thing - of course - are the dichros, which make alignment almost impossible (when this unit came, blue was so badly aligned that it did not hit the X galvo mirror and nothing came out of the front hole! I even feared that they had sent me an RGY projector!). I searched the web and eventually found PL and since then I have learnt lots of things about lasers. Wish I had found PL before buying that "thing"! I had enough skills in electronics to build a projector on my own with the help of this forum...Anyway, I took away that "dichros" (if they can be called that way...) and ordered new dichros + 3-axis adjustable mounts on EdmundOptics (which I heard about on PL). There was not enough room for them in the case, so I decided to re-arrange everything and took out all the components. Soon I discovered that the red laser was not a single unit, indeed it consisted of 2 diodes combined with a PBS cube. I thought it was absurd as the power was too low to justify such an approach; however, the diodes soon dropped to about 10% of their brightness (don't have a power meter) without any reason. I decided to abandon the PBS cube and I ordered a 150mw 650nm red diode (TTL) on EBay from Laserworld (about 40 with shipping - lucky bid!). The poor-quality scanners (20k?) broke down while I was tuning them. I was desperate, as I didn't have enough money to afford some new ones, but I was lucky enough to win an auction on EBay from Laserworld and I bought their 50k scanners for only 250 shipping included! Let me say that they are really GREAT! I decided to remove the DMX board, because it needed differential 15V for power (which was provided by the old galvo boards). I decided to use only an ILDA connector. It took some days to get the projector completed and when I turned it on I found that the green PSU had something wrong and did not blank (always on). My nerves didn't manage to stand that after entire nights spent on building it and therefore I threw away that green and bought a 50mw TTL green again from Laserworld (which is settled in Europe, so I don't pay import taxes) for 120. It is a very cheap module (as the red - which I encapsulated into the heatsink of one of the original reds) but it does its job.
    I assembled all together into the original case (leaving the unused parts, DMX and safety switch, unconnected) even if it was very, very small but somehow everything fitted into it! (not so good indeed but this projector is a "temporary" one). The alignment is very weak because the aluminium it is made of is too thin and when I close the unit after aligning, the case "stretches" and goodbye alignment! I could not afford a better alu board.Anyway, it seems ok for beamshows...
    Soon I got fed up with iShow DAC, which was horrible, and bought the FB3 evaluation kit, which is really wonderful.
    To summarize, I have spent about 3k euros and with the same price I could have bought a 500mw Laserworld professional analogue RGB laser!

    I really hope that anyone, especially young guys with few money, learns from my mistakes!

    This is a picture of the final unit:


    Now I have decided to build a "real" projector with analogue modulation in a "real" case with "real" laser modules (red is weak, green blanks too slowly, blue has problems with TEC and sometimes gets really too dark for heating problems). I have very little money to spend at the moment (~1300 if I borrowed some from my parents and grandparents). I have already contacted Bridge at Laserwave and asked him about the following components:

    300mw 650nm ---> 200$
    100mw 532nm ---> 250$
    150mw 473nm ---> 1521$

    What do you think about them? Is it difficult to turn down a little the green to get a good white? I would like to have your advice before buying these components, just to be sure that I buy what I really want - as this expense will make me run out of money...I will use this projector at home and only for beamshows.

    Thank you very much in advance! Hope to become a very "powerful" PL member in the next months/years!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    2,147,489,296

    Smile

    Hello Giovanni, and welcome to PhotonLexicon!

    It's very unfortunate that you didn't discover this website sooner! You could have saved a lot of money, and a lot of work as well. Still, it sounds like you are on the right track now.

    Your "new" projector plan sounds good. To answer your question, yes it will be easy to turn the green laser power down to get a perfect white. And since you are now using the Pangolin FB3 controller, you will have full analog control over your lasers, so in the future you will be able to create amazing colors beyond the simple 7 colors that your first projector was capable of.

    With the LaserWorld scanners and the lasers you have listed from LaserWave, you have nearly all the components you will need. You can probably re-use the mounts you purchased from Edmunds, but you may wish to purchase new dichros. (Not sure, but from the picture it looks like the dichros in your other projector are very small... This may make them difficult to attach to the new mounts.) Also, you will need a thick metal baseplate to mount everything on. (Something thick enough that it won't bend! That way your alignment will stay perfect.)

    Keep us posted of your progress, and don't be afraid to ask questions!

    Adam

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mantova (Italy)
    Posts
    89

    Default

    Thanks for the fast reply!!!

    The dichros' diameter is 25mm and actually they are pretty large

    Hope that this picture is somehow more realistic...

    I am very happy to hear that the projector I am going to build is something good. Now I will gather money, then, after a week at the seaside I will contact Bridge and buy those items! Hope to get my projector finished by the end of August!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    130

    Default

    Hello Giovanni,

    Welcome to the forums. I'm rather new around here as well, but I can tell you what I know so far: Everyone I have talked to so far here are friendly and willing to help out a fellow hobbyist however they can. Be prepared for lots of interest in your projects.

    Brad

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    2,478

    Default

    giovanni-

    Welcome!

    the last picture you posted of your projector looks like you have the red module as the last module in your projector? i may be wrong, but it looks like the red is the last in your laser train, and it looks as if it is hooting through a reflect red dichro.

    if thats the case, you will want to change that in the future.

    #1- the last laser of your design *USUALLY* will be the green. you dont mind wasting some green shooting through both dichros.

    #2- if you use the design where all laser are perpindicular, you dont need to shoot through a dichro for the last laser. (again, in your pic that i circled, it looks like the last laser is RED and shooting through a reflect red dichro.) a mirror will be fine because you arent combining any colors at that point.

    i personally like the design that you have, where the last laser is shooting the same direction and reflecting off of a 45 degree mirror (not a dichro!) . it makes alignment MUCH easier in my opinion.

    i kinda used a similar design with my red module in my RGB projector i built. although i had the green shooting through both dichros, i decided to reflect the red off of a mirror and down into the reflect red dichro. (see pic)

    looks MUCH better after your modifications though! lookin forward to seeing some beam pics though!
    (we LOVE beam pics here!!!)

    -Marc
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails giov.jpg  

    ALIGNED_032.jpg  


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mantova (Italy)
    Posts
    89

    Default

    Thanks for pointing that out! I know that it was not the best setup but it was designed to work with the previous green, which was underpowered for that blue and red (which is quite strong). About using a dichro you are perfectly right, but I didn't have a mirror mount and I tried putting a mirror there and there seemed to be the same power loss as with the dichro. Of course I plan to put a simple mirror with its appropriate mount in my final projector...I feel the 45 approach simpler to align too!

    Your setup is wonderful and the picture awesome...what about the aluminium plate? Where did you purchase it? I need one too, you know...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    2,478

    Default

    hey giovanni-

    i would suggest NOT using a pre-drilled optical bread board like that. i thought it was going to be easier also. but it turned out to actually be more of a pain in the ass than i thought. ESPECIALLY because the optical plate was pre-drilled and tapped as standard 1/4-20 on 1" centers. (american standard optical positioning). the lasers were all metric pre-drilled. lol. plus, the lasers were being mounted to stages anyway, so it didnt really matter.

    my suggestion, which is what most of the guys/girls here do, is to use a solid aluminum baseplate. measure everything out and then drill/tap!!

    thats just my opinion. the next RGB i build will be done like that. i dont like the pre-drilled idea anymore. i would rather lay everything out and drill/tap as needed.

    there are HUNDREDS of companies on ebay that sell alluminum by the way. scrap pices and such. its fairly cheap.

    and please dont think i was criticisizing you or your projector in my last post. i just wanted to point those things out in case you didnt know.

    -Marc

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mantova (Italy)
    Posts
    89

    Default

    Thanks for the suggestion - I though a pre-drilled plate could be tricky too! I live in a small town and it's quite difficult to find such alu plates. didn't think ebay had such things, thanks for the advice!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Once it was called "Bel Paese" = ITALY
    Posts
    858

    Default

    Hallo Giovanni!
    Nice to know there is another Italian young Laserist here!

    Bridge written me about you

    I just bought from Laser-Wave a RGB set. More info here:
    http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ead.php?t=4806

    What I have to tell about Laser-Wave?
    Personally I have to say one word only: Great!
    All their lasers are overpowered between 10% and 25%.
    Prices are wonderdeful and shipping also: 4 working days fron China to Italy only! (by UPS currier).
    Bridge is a gentleman, a honest and loyal businessman, a good electronic engineer.
    As I told into this Forum, I surelly reccomend Laser-Wave, without any doubt.

    Well.... as Adam (Buffo) and other Friends have already told you, your choice is a good choice. Powers are well proportionate at lighwaves. I think you will have a nice analogue "home-made" RGB projector...

    If you wanna ask me something more.... Here I am!
    If you like, obviously, you can write me a pm. in italian....

    Greets!

    "Uncle "Steve
    my webpage
    http://stevemilani.jimdo.com
    Skype ID: stevemilani957

    my RGB analogue projectors:
    3.9 W (640/532/445) 30kpps
    2.6 W (655/532/450) 30kpps
    2.5 W (638/532/450) 30kpps
    0.7 W (test unit)(635/532/473) 18kpps

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mantova (Italy)
    Posts
    89

    Default

    Hi Steve! Of course I knew about your projector...I am so excited about building my own one too! When I am back from the seaside I will immediately place my order at Laserwave! At the seaside I will think about some really cool show that I will create to "give the analogue beast a try"!!!

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