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What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Laser?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 05 December 2016
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Tips for making your own own DIY laser depend on the components you start with and how powerful you want the laser to be. A common approach to making a fairly powerful DIY laser is to take a digital video disk (DVD) drive that burns DVDs using a red wavelength laser, and use the laser diode component inside it in to construct a new handheld laser built into a mini flashlight. Building a DIY laser of this level can be fun and educational, but the final product is also dangerous and should not be considered a toy under any circumstances.

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Unplug the DVD drive from any computer or power source and begin to disassemble it. The only part you want to keep is the actual laser diode assembly, which looks like a small, clear glass, light-emitting diode (LED) bulb mounted in a metal component casing. Next, determine the polarity of the laser diode prongs by running power to them from two 1.5 volt AA batteries connected in series, with the positive end of one battery connected to the negative end of the other, creating a 3-volt battery. The laser will light up when you have matched the positive battery end to the positive diode connection, and the negative battery end to the negative diode connection. The third step is to buy an inexpensive AIXIZ laser diode housing in the 650-nanometer, 3.2-volt range available online, remove the enclosed diode, and plug your DVD diode into it in the original one's place. Finally, take a 3-volt mini flashlight, remove the standard bulb assembly, and replace it with your laser diode, soldering the positive lead to the positive connection in the flashlight and the negative lead to the negative connection in the flashlight.

A DIY laser of this type is quite powerful, and should never be pointed at any person or animal's eyes or body, even momentarily, at cars or aircraft and so on. It is strong enough to pop balloons, light candles, and start campfires, but should not be treated carelessly or given to children. More powerful CO2 or chemical laser plans are also available freely online, but they require a high-voltage supply, vacuum pumps, compressed gasses, cooling systems, and a sophisticated understanding of optics and electronics. Regardless of the level of DIY laser that you build, keep in mind that its use may be strictly limited by local laws and it may legally be classified as a weapon, so it should only be operated in carefully controlled conditions under adult supervision.

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rhawk
Post 4

In the US there are now laws in 17 states as well as several federal laws regulating the use of laser pointers. I also remember reading that Heathrow airport in the UK had enacted some strict regulations against their use in the area around the airport where planes approach to land.

It wouldn't take much to blind a pilot with one of these devices and contribute to an air accident. I've heard of stories of pilots being momentarily blinded by them already.

So its probably a special case that goes beyond typical regulations for something like gun laws, which have restrictions both on who can own them and where they can be carried.

umbra21
Post 3

@KoiwiGal - I think the problem is that a kid can just make his or her own laser, as they point out in the article. The instructions are online and the components aren't that difficult to find.

I remember reading about how for a while the airplanes coming into my local airport would occasionally have a laser beam put into the cockpit.

I can only imagine that was some young person, thinking it was a funny prank, when in reality they were endangering possibly hundreds of people.

Unfortunately, like with so many other things in this world, we all have to trust the judgment of the people around us, and the safeguards that are put into place, because there would be no way to really regulate someone just making such a simple thing as a DIY laser light.

KoiwiGal
Post 2

@irontoenail - Well, there are a lot of things that can blind you. Take that stick you just suggested. A child could just as easily harm his friend with that.

Which is not to say that lasers shouldn't be taken lightly. But, I think they ought to be carefully explained to children, and only given to older kids, rather than banning them altogether.

I mean, usually the gun laws allow teenagers to own and use guns.

As long as young people are taught to use a laser beam with the same caution they would anything else with the potential for harm, I don't think they are any more or less dangerous with it than an adult.

irontoenail
Post 1

You need to be so careful about using lasers. You never know when someone is going to be around and they might end up getting blinded.

There was a case in the news I remember about a couple of kids who were given cheap laser pointers as a present. One of them pointed it at the other's eyes and managed to blind him.

I think he might have only lost partial sight in his eye, but still, it seems like giving something like this to a kid, when it has the potential to blind so easily, is foolish.

If you need to point to something, can't you just use a stick instead?

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