Tuesday, December 18, 2007

DIY- How To Make A Burning Laser The Right Way! Now With Video Of Laser In Action!





*****WARNING***** This project poses
several dangers! Before proceeding it is highly suggested that you do some research on lasers and how they work. You can be blinded if you do not exercise safety! Do not look into your laser beam! Do not shine this laser at any moving vehicle! Do not use it to play with your pets! And most importantly, DO NOT LOOK INTO YOUR LASER BEAM! I will not hold myself responsible for any persons actions. This information has been posted here as an educational resource. If you go blind it will not be my fault as I have warned you of the risks. This is a high powered laser device. It is not a toy.*****WARNING*****

Credit goes where credit is deserved.
I credit this tutorial to all of the guys over at laserpointerforums.com for all their knowledge.
The idea here is to compact that into one easy to read place because I have yet to see a solid tutorial anywhere on the net.


***UPDATE ***
I found the thread on Laser Pointer Forums from when I was building this laser. I had a lot of questions and people were kind enough to help me out with answers along the way. I think this may be very useful for some of the newcomers looking to build their laser. Click here to view the thread in a new window.

This project requires you to have basic soldering skills and hopefully some knowledge of electronics. I would give this project an advanced rating based on these things, however I believe anyone can do it.
Now that you have read the warning and hopefully understand the dangers of high powered laser we can continue.

In this blog I will teach you step by step how to build your very own burning laser. Unlike other popular ways of building your own burning laser I will show you how to do it properly to ensure a long and healthy life for your new laser.

There are several reasons for building a burning laser this way instead of just connecting it to batteries and having it die in a couple days or months. The best reason is that it will be just a bit more powerful. But the main reason for building this circuit is to regulate voltage and current. As simple as connecting your diode to a set of AA batteries is. You must realize that that you are feeding the diode too much current. It is also not protected from other dangers such as voltage spikes. This driver circuit will take care of that.

One of the most important things you will need to do this project is a laser diode. The second is an Aixiz housing to put your diode in. You need the Aixiz housing in order to focus you beam when you are finished. There is a link to purchase one right from Aixiz below in the parts list.




You can also buy the laser diode on ebay or you can simply harvest your own from an old or broken DVD Burner you may have laying around. And to answer the question you are asking yourself right now, yes it must be a DVD Burner. Any that are 16x or higher in speed. Normal DVD player diodes will not create a laser pointer with burning power. Never use a CD Burner for this project either. They contain infrared diodes. The light they emit is invisible to the naked eye and contain enough power to blind you before you will even realize it is happening. Simply put, stay away from CD Burner diodes. You cant actually see the laser it will make anyway.

Now, harvesting a laser diode can be a tricky process as they tend to be very fragile and sensitive to static and other forms of shock. It is very important to take your time in harvesting your precious diode. Do not ever drop it!

Before we go on, here is the list of parts you will need to finish this project. You can walk right into Radio Shack if there is one in your area and ask for these components or you can order them online from digikey.com

1-Adjustable Voltage Regulator LM317T
1- 100 ohm Potentiometer
2- 10 ohm Resistors
1-
1N4001 Rectifier Diode
1- 47uf 35v Capacitor
1- Any Size PCB Board
1- Any Solder
1- Any Soldering Iron
1- Power Switch (I like momentary push buttons)
1- 12x30mm Aixiz laser housing Click Here
2- Spools of wire ( Red and Black )
- You will need at least a 6 volt Power source.

Stonetek.org sells some of the items you may need at very reasonable prices. (Store May Be Shut Down)
Be sure to have a look if you cant find something you are looking for. Optionally you can buy a kit that contains everything you need to build your circuit here.

You will also need something to put everything in when you are done. (a flashlight works if you can make the circuit small enough to fit in it) If you do not use a flashlight you will need some form of battery holder. You can get those at Radio Shack as well.

Optional Items

-Digital Multimeter (may be needed if you run into problems)

The first step in harvesting your laser diode is to disassemble your dvd drive.
There will be 4 or more screws on the bottom side that you will need to remove.



Once those are taken out you should be able to pull the dvd drive apart.



 Inside you will need to locate the laser assembly. It will be on 2 metal rails.
At the ends of those rails will be more screws to remove. Once they are removed you will be able to lift the rails and slide the laser assembly right off.
Here is a picture of what exactly you should be removing from your drive at this point.



































Now you need to locate the diode. It has 3 metal pins on it and should make it pretty easy to spot.This is where the tricky part comes in.

In this image it is a bit blurry but you can make out the diode. 



























You will have to pry the diode out. It may be easier to remove the whole part that the laser in encased in, it is usually a metal heat sink of some sort. After you do that you can use pliers to hold the metal part and use wire cutters or another pair of pliers to pry it away from the diode. In some cases you will get lucky and the diode will pop right out very easily without anything else. Be careful the diode is fragile. I can not stress that point enough!

Once the diode is out you will need to दे solder the ribbon or whatever is soldered on to it.
When that is done take your diode and place it somewhere safe and static free. If you have bought any pc components recently they probably came in a static protective bag. if you have one you can store your diode in it for extra safety.
Ideally you would want to use an anti static wrist band while removing and handling the diode.
But don't worry too much about it if you don't have one.

Ok now you need to get that Aixiz housing and take it apart. You will see where it unscrews.
Inside you will see that there is a circuit board connected to a laser diode. You will need to remove them both. The easiest way to do so is to unscrew the lens and set that safely aside. Be careful not to get the lens dirty or scratched. A scratched lens will mean your beam wont look right.
Now take a small screw driver and insert it down inside of the housing. Give it a couple taps, you may have to use force but it will pop the existing diode out. It is probably ruined and can be thrown away. I personally like to keep things like this, you never know when it might come in handy for whatever reason.

If you are done with that you will need to get you DVD diode out and place that into the housing.
It is not going to go in really easy. Take your Aixiz housing with the lens removed and place it down on a flat sturdy surface. Place the diode where it goes. Take a small flat tipped screw driver and do not tap the diode in but set the screw driver around the pins and use your weight to push the diode in place. try to make it as flush with the housing as you can. This is important to make sure your beam lines up correctly with the lens.

You will also need to solder a good length of wire to the positive and negative pins on the diode.
This can be tricky as well depending on how much of the pin is left on the diode. Refer to the circuit diagram below to identify the pins on you laser diode. Once you are done soldering that on you can reassemble the housing and set it aside.




















The next part of this project will be building your circuit board. Depending on what you plan to house your finished laser in will decide how small you want to make the circuit. Follow the diagram above.

Get all your parts ready and get that soldering iron heating up.

Your PCB board will have holes already in it for your components to be placed.
The board has copper rings around every hole, that is the bottom. Place each components onto the board first through the top to get an idea where you want them all to go.
I soldered the LM317T on the board first because it is the largest part.
Then the potentiometer, the resistors, the silicone diode, and finally the capacitor.
You wont need to worry about the on off switch until you begin to wire everything up.
I placed my on off switch in line with the negative wire.
I leave all the excess on each component for soldering the wire in place to connect them all.
When I am done I trim it off. if you don't have wire cutters large nail clippers will work fine for removing the excess material.

Be sure to use enough solder to secure each part.

Once your circuit is finished you can begin to test it out. For this I used an led. I spimply connected the positive and negative and powered everything up.
If the light doesn't come on don't worry just yet. You may need to adjust the potentiometer.
After doing that if the light doesn't come on them we may have a problem.

Check the obvious things first.

Did you turn the circuit on? (on off switch)

Are you using brand new batteries? ( 6 volts worth )

Double check all of your work all the time just to make sure it is done right.

Take a look at the circuit and see if everything is soldered correctly.

This is where a multimeter would come in handy as you can test your circuit with that and find where the problem is.

But anyway lets assume that you aren't having problems and everything seems to be working properly. Turn the potentiometer up and down and see if the led get dim and brighter. Now there is something to remember about this circuit. The capacitor is there to soak up voltage spikes. If your led were to come disconnected while the circuit was on and then reconnected the stored charge in the capacitor would be sent right into your laser diode. It would kill it instantly. You would be sending a charge of around 6 volts to it.
Make sure you turn the potentiometer to its maximum resistance before moving on.
If you don't know what that means then adjust it until the led goes dim of off completely.
Then turn off the circuit and remove the led.

So now that your circuit is done and functioning properly I bet you are getting pretty excited.

I know I am and I already built my laser. I am excited for you! Ahhh......this is fun.

Ok back to the project.

Go ahead and grab the finished Aixiz housing. You can now solder that in place.
Make sure positive goes to positive and negative to negative.
When the laser diode is soldered to the circuit you can turn everything on.
To get you diode to lase you will need to slowly adjust the potentiometer.
When the diode begins to lase nice and bright stop and go no further on the potentiometer.
You can damage the diode if you go to low on the resistance.
In order to get your laser to shine properly you will need to adjust the lens. Go ahead and do so until you have a nice dot on the wall.

If you did everything right then you now have a high powered burning laser.

You will need to adjust the focusing lens in order to burn most things. The idea is to get the dot on your beam focused as small as possible. You will only be able to tell by shining it at something close. Shine it at the wall and the beam will be huge. Up close however it will be really small.

Want to test out the power? Go grab a match and a black marker. Color the tip of a match black and get that laser on it. You should be able to see the match start to smoke and eventually light up. The hardest part is getting used to focusing your laser and finding that sweet spot.

Im sure the laser looks kind of ugly how it is though....all naked and stuff.

You will want to find something to house all the components in. You can find boxes for this online but I prefer to use an led flashlight and gut it to make room for my laser. This really all depends on how small you can make your circuit though.


Stay tuned for a complete guide on building your circuit with pictures! I am not yet finished with this tutorial.

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