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Thread: Bulding projector, need advice

  1. #1
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    Default Bulding projector, need advice

    Hello.

    I'm Moppy, long time lurker - first time poster. . Nice to meet y'all.

    I've been reading here for quite some time and have a pretty good idea on theory on how most this stuff works, but surely there will be a ton of questions and help if y'all don't mind.

    My ulimate goal is to build a RGB(V) projector. Beam shows are my favorite but some animation would be sweet as well. I have a decent skill set in electronics, pretty good mechanical ability and a huge desire to learn. I'm not asking to be spoon-fed but i don't want to make expensive mistakes/purchases. I feel like the more work and building I do myself, the more i can invest in light. My budget is ~1000.00 USD.

    Here's what I've been thinking about:

    I have a couple of blu-ray sleds coming from the LPF group buy. That would give 200-300mw of both red and 405nm after combining them with cubes. With proper cooling would these be ok in a projector that might run for several hours at a time?

    Do you think the scanpro20's are decent entry level scanners?

    532nm---I am thinking somewhere around 100-200mw? Suggestions?

    DAC. I am leaning toward Pangolin FB3. I know it is good, but that would be over half of my budget. I'm really lost on the dac issue. I can't afford to spend too much, but i don't want to spend 50% of that just to discover later on it was a mistake.

    Enclosures and misc hardware----I have PLENTY of crap lying around that can be used, so i'm not figuring this in budget.

    I really appreciate any help and/or suggestions.

    Doug

  2. #2
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    Hello, Doug -
    Welcome to Photon Lexicon!!

    You won't be sorry if you go with the FB3 - it's VERY capable, has some very nice free applications available for it direct from Pangolin, and will probably have some very nice free upgrades from Pangolin in the near future! That board would be a good investment to last you a long time! You'll find a LOT of happy FB3 users on this forum!

    Buffo (Adam) has posted some great reviews on the ScanPro 20's and, most recently, the new DT-25's. Either of these would be a great investment for a first set of scanners.

    Realistically, "home-made" or low power laser modules are probably about the only way you'll be able to stay within your initial budget - I'm sure someone else with more "home brew" experience will chime in with more advice. Just be aware that you're getting into what can be a VERY expensive hobby, especially if you want to go with quality, safe components to build your projector - this becomes very important if you are considering the idea of using the projector to entertain other folks!!

    In any case, feel free to post any questions you have - the participants on this forum are generally a very helpful bunch! Also, you might want to include where you live in your personal info so we can see what part of the world you're posting from. It could be that you're close enough to other forum members that you could get some hands-on demonstration of some gear before you start investing your hard-earned bucks!

    Welcome aboard, good luck, and have fun!!

    Randy
    RR

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

  3. #3
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    Default

    well first off welcome to the forums! its always good to see new people getting into lasers!
    for your questions, i will try and answer them in order of asked...
    im guess you bought some of the 4x blu ray burner sleds with red and violet?

    if so as you know the 405nm diodes are still in testing trying to find the safest power to be ran at. i did one test so far at 200ma and the diode died a few hours later. i am going to be doing my next test at 150ma and seeing if it will last. if you want a for sure current level to run the 405nm diode i would say 120ma, this will give you about 100mws and will be able to run for indefinitely with a good heat sink.

    now the red in that sled is a long closed can diode and is also still going through some testing to see its best current for long life. i would say set it at 350ma for now and it should last. i have one set at 420ma but it wouldnt last a long run.

    also to combine lasers of different wavelengths you dont use a pbs cube you actually use a dichro. if you were wanting to combine two of the red you could use a pbs cube to get close to twice the power. sadly there are no pbs cubes for 405nm yet. but i think its time for a group buy

    for the scanners i would say the scanpro20s are a great starting point and you will be very happy with them. a lot of people start out with these and highly suggest them, also checkout adam's (buffo) review on them.

    for the green laser i would suggest a 100mw laser wave unit. check out reviews on laser wave here and im sure you will be happy!

    for the dac i would maybe say for starters get a sound card dac and play with some of the free software availble! then later upgrade to the fb3 later.
    a sound card dac and op amp board will run you about 60 dollars.

    also for a driver for the 405nm diodes and the reds i would highly suggest the flexmod1 driver from dr lava
    -Josh

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the warm welcome, guys.

    Stuka, I live 100 miles west of you in Cookeville, TN.


    @sk8
    yeah, i'm going to run the diodes at a lower current to help maximize life. Do you think i would need TE cooling for the 2 red and 2 blue diodes in an enclosed case, or just a large heatsink for each?

    I didn't know there were no cubes for 405nm. It only takes 30 pieces for custom orders? Surely someone could run a GB on those. I'd take 2 just to have them.

    You recommended flexmod1 drivers; what about rkstr's drivers, can they be analog modulated, just TTL, or is flexmod just a better choice? I have a couple of rkstr's--they can always be re-purposed. TE cooling for the drivers or no?

    peace

    d.

  5. #5
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    You can use TE cooling if you want, in fact I would recommend TE cooling if you will be running the scanners for hours at a time. The FlexMod1 has modulation RKCSTRS drivers don't thats why the FlexMod1's are good for scanners. The drivers wont need TE cooling.

    -Adam

  6. #6
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    i have gotten away with no tec cooling and just a good heat sink like this one


    but the rckstr driver does not work with any sort of modulation. the flexdrive supports analog and ttl.

    stuka actually has that unit that i just posted a picture of.
    -Josh

  7. #7
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    Hi Doug, welcome to PL. Since you are just up in TN, you should consider joining us for FLEM in Orlando, FL this weekend. You'll also have an opportunity to win a free set of scanner just by attending!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mophead View Post
    Thanks for the warm welcome, guys.

    Stuka, I live 100 miles west of you in Cookeville, TN.
    ....
    d.
    Dude -

    You're in my old stomping grounds!
    I thought I detected a familiar accent in your posts!

    Drop me a PM if you want to chat or plan a roadtrip to see some lasers!!
    I have a Pangolin FB3, a Pangolin QM2000.net, and a quasi-completed RGB projector (plus a slightly bigger green laser on standby ) that can run off of either controller, so you could get some hands-on with some gear before buying.

    I second the FLEM suggestion - the meets are a GREAT way to meet some very cool laser "geeks" (including some big names in the industry) and see and learn about some really cool gear for hobbyists and pros alike!

    Randy
    Last edited by Stuka; 11-05-2008 at 16:24.
    RR

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

  9. #9
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    Cool

    Hi Doug!

    Welcome to PhotonLexicon! Always cool to see new members... I'm sure you'll find plenty of help here. Looks like you're very close to one of our members (Stuka); maybe you two can get together over a beer or two and chat about things some weekend.

    Re: your project goals: Sounds really fun. I have to admit that $1000 is going to be a tough budget to stay within, but if you're really good with a soldering iron and don't mind doing a lot of things yourself, you may be OK. Building your own laser from a bare diode can be rewarding or frustrating depending on your skill level, but you *can* save a lot of money that way. There are several people doing this right now, so don't be afraid to ask questions during the build process.

    re: your choice of a controller: I'm going to go out on a limb here and volunteer Randy (Stuka) without his permission... (Sorry pal!) Get in touch with him and see if he will show you his FB3 system. That way you can see ahead of time what you're getting into.

    However, I'll warn you about going to visit Randy... He *also* has the Pangolin LD-2000 system, and it's connected to a full-blown RGB projector. While the LD-2000 is considerably more expensive than the FB3, it's also considerably more capable! I take *no* responsibility if you decide to blow through your budget cap after seeing Randy's gear!

    Finally, though I realize that this is basically ZERO notice, I have to agree with everyone above when I say that if there's any way you can drive or fly to Orlando Florida this Saturday, *do it*. We'll have three or four RGB projectors set up (maybe more than that if some of the "maybe's" show up), and you'll have the chance to get up close and personal with both the hardware and the software. Speaking for myself alone, I'd be happy to let you experiment with my system all you want at FLEM. I'm sure others would agree as well.

    We'll also have some fascinating guests in attendance, including Bill Benner (President of Pangolin), Aron Bacs (former employee of AVI - one of the premiere laser show content companies), and Patrick Murphy (Executive Director of the International Laser Display Association). Oh yeah, and we'll have home-made lasagna to eat for lunch! (Besides, it's free!) And who knows? You might end up winning the door prize and going back home with a free set of scanners!

    Adam

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesk8nmidget View Post
    i have gotten away with no tec cooling and just a good heat sink like this one


    but the rckstr driver does not work with any sort of modulation. the flexdrive supports analog and ttl.

    stuka actually has that unit that i just posted a picture of.
    uhhh nice heatsink...
    where did you get it?

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