what would it take to make a co2 laser from scratch?

I think I have the basic concept, you take a full mirror and a one sided mirror, put them between a tube, pump in 10% co2 gas 5% argon or something inert, charge it with a neon transformer and a few welder's sticks for the anode and cathode respectively, then most of what comes out the one sided mirror should be laser emissions.

I know I'm missing something though... any suggestions?

I'm not worried about refining the beam into something that could: cut metal, make holes, be a nuisance to my neighbors, I just want a multi-watt laser in my barn that I could use to start my wood stove at the press of a comically big button.

sort by: active | newest | oldest
orksecurity6 years ago
Building a basic CO2 laser is easy.

Building a multi-watt laser is NOT easy, and has sufficient dangers that I really don't think you want to do that.

What's wrong with using an electric heating element as your igniter? Build a dummy laser, if you feel the need...
waldosan (author)  orksecurity5 years ago
my parents are anti electric as much as they can be, they wouldn't let me use my welder for a while and were hesitant about me using my soldering iron indoors. i did anyways and they figured out that it is really for the most part harmless as long as you handle it right.

but that's the biggest thing though, i almost never embark on any project or journey without thoroughly considering the dangers and ramifications. though i'd be a bit of a hypocrite if i let something like being afraid of high voltage, or not understanding something stop me that's why I'm consulting the internet and it's denizens. i value the proper way of doing things over the ad-hoc and the quick and easy ways and getting there without taking nine different courses at college requires a bit of research. getting started is what the hard part is, taking responsibility for it only needs to be hard when you didn't pay attention to safety.

what i'm getting at is instead of tending this fear mentality to keep people safe from dangerous things we should instead teach people to know what they are dealing with so that things don't go wrong. DIY has more problems with the law when people don't know what they are dealing with than they do when they know what is happening and how to do it right.

nothing is wrong with using an electric heating element, in fact that is too convoluted: as of right now i light my fires with some kerosene and a match, problem solved, let's roast some marshmallows when the oil burns off. it's not just the practicality of the matter, i could continue lighting it with kerosene until the fossil fuels ran out. and safety is an important thing until it promotes fear and gets in the way of knowledge and understanding, the point of DIY is the sheer ability to say that i personally built a furnace that lights itself with a laser!

thankyou for listening to the rant, but i've lived a good portion of my life in fear and i decided that i would not let that hold me back.
Some more info here: http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/lasers/index.html
However, if it's not focused, you won't be able to light anything on fire. You could make a 100W laser but if you're hitting a piece of wood with a quarter sized beam spot you won't ignite anything.

I suggest making a flamethrower to start it.
Hook up a solenoid valve to a propane cylinder with a nozzle pointed at the wood. You could start by hacking one of those torches that screw onto a propane bottle. Use a neon sign transformer and electrodes to create a spark across the nozzle to ignite the gas.
waldosan (author)  AnotherBrian5 years ago
i don't mean to make you feel bad or anything but i've given up on propane for the time being, earlier this month my water heater was malfunctioning and we were hearing this woomph sound coming from around the house, turns out the pilot light wasn't working and the propane was leaking into the chimney and had just started leaking into the basement before we decided to see what was going on. we evacuated the house and everything turned out all right i watched them put the new pilot in and made sure that it was working myself but i still remember going down in the basement and smelling propane up to the ceiling...

as for the laser article it's a good place to start thank you for the link! if i don't decide to go with the original co2 laser then i might go with a ruby yag laser to save on space.
rickharris6 years ago
waldosan (author)  rickharris5 years ago
VadimS6 years ago
everything you ever wanted to know :P
jj.inc6 years ago
Actually, It is very simple. You need a neon sign transformer, some graphite rods. Look up arc-lite to find out how to remove them from some kind of battery. (Welding rods sound wrong because they will put off gas and are designed to melt) Then you find a nice long glass tube a mirror that is about 70% reflective (Aviator Sunglasses) A full mirror like that one in your bathroom or you girlfriends make up kit. Most people actually use concave mirrors shaped like this ) so that it aims better, but that would take some math, time and money. Now that you have your two electrodes in, and have it sealed off you fill it all the way with helium. Basically turn it vertical and release helium into the bottom. Then you add a touch of CO2 (10%-20%) N2 (10%-20%) and if you wan't a pinch of H2 or XENON 1-2%. Then, because You won't have much of a beam you will want to focus it, either you can attempt it with your old camera lens, or you can purchase a laser head like this one http://www.haaslti.com/laser-heads/19mm-laser-process-heads.html

Then focus it up and your set for a good time, remember the beam is invisible so you can hide you laser and launch it across a room to light your fire, watch the cats tail though.

Also if you are gonna have a big ass beam you can get one of these

If you wan't to see your beam get a webcam and remove the IR lens:
jj.inc jj.inc6 years ago
Here is that arc light https://www.instructables.com/id/Carbon-Arc-Lights/
You'll find an article in the old Scientific American "Amateur Scientist" column -