is it possible to CHEAPLY spread a laser pointer's light out into a shape like a large rectangle?

Instead of a single tiny point of light, I'd like a laser pointer that shows a large (solid if possible) rectangle. Is there any way to change the shape of the light projected by one of those cheap (<$5) laser pointers to project this?

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can't you get those cheap gimmicky tips that you add onto the end of those cheap laser pointers and it sometimes says words or a heart or maybe a rectangle? Check out Ebay or maybe a store like spencers? That sounds the easiest to me.
I am interested in seeing this. What are they called on ebay?
If you ebay "laser pointer tips" it comes up with pointers with 50 different tips which should all project something different
Yes I can. But, I wanted to be able to make different sized rectangles for different uses. What would be really cool would be a way to make these laser heads myself.
raykholo8 years ago
perhaps something like this: link ?
beak908 years ago
Instead of using a laser, why not just use a really high power LED? You could just hack into a super bright flashlight to get the LEDs out. It would be about the same price and you would get a nice even stream of light. But go ahead and try what n8man said but if you want a cleaner way to get light you can just use a LED.
I don't think an LED has the strength I need. I need to be able to "throw" the box quite a ways away. We're talking about 500 feet for one particular example. It will be used to highlight strata on the walls of canyons and icebergs - so I can only get so close to the things that I am pointing to when describing them. Version 2.0 would have a way to adjust the width and height of the rectangle as needed.
How high power is your laser? The cheap laser pointers are usually less than 5mw which is really low power for that use. They'll only go about 100 ft without being diffused and diffusing it will make it go even less far. I don't think a cheap laser would have enough power to go that far. You might want to consider a really high power halogen lamp. That wouldn't be at all portable, but I don't think you could get anything portable to go that far in a large spot of light. Really high power lasers barely go that far undiffused.
I have a green laser from Fry's that says it reaches 2000 yards, but I really wanted to see if i could make something like this out of one of those cheapo laser pointers that you mentioned - even if the range was not quite what I wanted.
Whoa! thats a really high power laser! In that case it might work.
n8man8 years ago
Take a small sanded (or lightly covered in hot glue) marble and take a piece of black construction paper and place it front of the marble with a rectangle at the desired size on it.
What about placing an empty LED over the exit point for the el cheapo laser? Would that give the same effect?
yes it would, just cut the emmitting part off of it and it should be perfect.
Thanks! Maybe I'll post an instructable in a few days on how it works.
I actually found a cheaper way, take an opaque matte surface and stick it at a 45 degree angle over the emmitting hole and take a piece of paper with a rectangle cut out and use that to block some of the light.
n8man n8man8 years ago
also if you just want to use the laser to illuminate soemthing, just point it at your hand and angle the light at your target.