Introduction: ______ the DIY Laserline ______

Picture of ______ the DIY Laserline ______

I have a project coming up, that needs a laserline, that creates a line over a 3 dimensional object in order to mark and cut it somewhat precicely. I´ve attached some pictures, materials i used ( materials i didn´t use) and some shots after finishing the piece.

But lets get to it, here is what you need to bild the thing*
*( some parts are just what i had around, and can be replaced with other random similar stuff, but we get to that later.)

Step 1: The Tools

Solder iron - and i can´t stress enough how important a good solder iron is!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000ARU9PO/ref=as...

That one is wonderful, bought it recently, (... to start this project) i can strongly reccomend this.

Heatgun ( to finish your work neat and clean with shrinktube) not neccessary if you do not mind cable-salad

Tap and die set*

Hacksaw

Dremel

Angle grinder/cutter*

Small hex and star screwdriver ( to free your HDD brushless motor)

Needlenose pliers

Small anvil*

Small vise

Drill

Drill bits various sizes (for Metal)

Countersink for your Drill

Hammer

Hole cutter (in my case a 3" Milwaukee Hole Dozer and a variable hole cutters, to adjust to motor size)

Benchtop beltsander (very usefull, not neccessary though handsanding does the job, just takes waaaay longer)

Some sandpaper (220 ish - 320)

Small set square

Protective Gear:

Faceshield!

Gloves!

*( if you do a different design for the laserline casing, you might not need that)

Step 2: The Part List

You probably have an old Hard drive laying around, do you?
Great, take it and bring it over here and take the hard drive out, dissasamble it, and get the motor.

Laser (i had one of the very cheap ones (4) before, the ones you get for your cat...no good idea, i fried 2 of them, and 2 just stopped working. and besides, the laser light is not that good anyways.

I also tried to take some of the DVD lasers out, but had no luck with that.
Either the laser was not working, or the light was just not what i wanted it to be ( If you decide to do the whole DVD laser thing, keep in mind to leave the laser in the heat sink, because it gets super hot.
Another option would be to buy an encasing to hold the laser diode but for that price you already get a laser with case :)

Thats the laser i got.

http://www.amazon.com/E-Age-Quality-Fashion-Flashl...

Small piece of Particle board (about 7mm thick)

Nuts and Bolts (to secure the motor to the particle board, and the board, to the casing)

Epoxy glue
http://www.homedepot.ca/product/5-minute-epoxy-syr...

3 Hitch pin clips ( took me forever to find out what the name of that thing was...)

(if you use them the same way I did, get some more i wrecked 3 of them...
http://www.homedepot.ca/product/3-16-x-3-1-4-hitch...

1 Ceiling light encasing (thats what i used... The only important thing is, the two bodies have to meet straight)

Unused mouse ( for double AA battery pack, i used that to test the laser, you actually dont really need that)

12v power source ( could be a computer supply, in my case it is a power supply for harddrives)

10A ESC ( electronic speed controller)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GWFAKBQ/ref=as...

Servo tester
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008MVCPQ6/ref=as...

some cables

heatshrink tube (various sizes)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EXLRW5S/ref=as...

Plastic casing (whatever is handy, or you find in a store)

2 switches

crocodile clamps with cables attached (test,test,test

adjustable 12v downstepper circuit board
(on ebay from china, about $2 - so yeah, do it!)

Step 3: Part:1 Disassamble/ Reassamble the Laser

Picture of Part:1 Disassamble/ Reassamble the Laser

Okay, here it is, my first instructables... after so many hours of reading and watching videos on that site, i finally contribute something too ( hopefully usefull enough...)

My goal was to make a laserline from scratch to project -cand later cut - a 3D object in slices and because
I need those cuts somewhat acurate i decided to tackle that challenge.

And who doesnt like playing with lasers?

Lets get to it.

When i first started i watched all the videos on Youtube to get the HDD running, and how to use a DVD laser.
I learned a lot, but did i get it to work? HELL NO.
After many tries and approximately 4 DVD drives later i gave up the idea to do reusethe laser of such device.
i started experimenting with small cat lasers - let me tell you, those things are garbage - i freid 2 of the ( my bad, and 2 just stoped workig while working on them.

Anyhow i decided to buy a stronger laser and take it out of the housing to fit it into my design.

i dissasamled the whole piece to only have the laser/heatsink and the mini circuit board left.
to do that, you have to unscrew that whole "pen". Press the button all the way in, this way you can slide out the whole assembly thing. ( maybe give it a push on the back with a pencil or so)

The pushbutton didn´t do it for me, and since the + and - contacts are right in front, i just cut off the end of the circuit board...Thats right - cut that B**** off!
Note: Make sure you leave the little resistor in there hence, cut the board right after the pushbutton, and leave the resistor attached to the laser assambly.


Got the Laser out of the housing? Great, lets move on.

I took a mouse - which i took apart for the laser as well, but didn´t use because the laser is spreading to much -
because I needed a 2 battery pack to deliver around 3V of power for the Laser.
Using the dremel I cut out the plastic piece that holds the batteries and sanded the corners with the belt sander.

I ended up with this ugly looking thing. ( don´t judge, at least it is working)


Now, solder the wires to + and - on the battery pack, and use shrinktube to secure the pieces. i also ended up gluing the whole cable to the plastic case (using epoxie), because i kept ripping the cablestring from all the moving around.

NOTE:

I thought, i am using the batteries for the Laser and use the 12v powersource for the Motor, later however, i wasnt happy, with that solution since i had to replace bateries and recharge them, just a waste of resources... so i ended up getting a 12v downstepper in the end, that solved my problem, and i actually didn´t need the battery pack at all.

( i will still keep it and honestly for testing purposes it was quite helpful)

Use one switch to turn the laser on and off, find out which one is the plus and minus and solder the plus to the plus
and the minus to the minus using the solder iron for a short time, otherwise you will melt the plastic around the contact of the switch.

To finish up the Laser assembly, i used a plastic tube, cut grooves inside the tube so that the laser circuit board fits in and stays there, safely. Finally i glued the shrinktubed cables in one of the notches I had cut as well, to make sure everything stays in place.

Step 4: Part:2 Get the Motor Running

Picture of Part:2 Get the Motor Running

So now that we have the laser we can go back to focus on the HDD Brushless motor. I had watched pretty much all of the Youtube videos on how to run those things. Why has everything to be so complicated?

I bought an ESC, the first one (20A) didnt do F* all with any of my hard drive motors (and as of now i have quite a selection of the dissasambled HDD motors laying around)

Of course i didn´t give up there and ordered another one (2A) that actually worked!
(you find the link to item provided in the parts list)
I plugged in the ESC to the 12V power source with plus and minus in the propper places.


The three small coloured cables that come out and end in a mini connector go into the servo tester in any of the connections marked with "OUT" it lights up Blue, when it works.


The 3 black cables coming out of the ESC are going to the Motor. To find out which 3 connections of the 4 on the motor are the ones you need, you can trial and error by soldering 4 wires 1 to each connection and rotate the wires on the other end till you hear the motor beeping. (useing crocodile clamps and cables, make the process easier)


Make also sure that the wires don´t cross touch eachother during the testing, since this would result in a short/ an incorrect reading and no movement in your motor.

You reach your goal when it starts beeping. At this point, mark the cables ( i coloured them) and unsolder the one thats hanging around useless ( that would be the common)

To test if the motor works start turnng the dial on the servo tester slowly into the arrows direction.

The servo tester (dial knob) has to be off. After the beeping it works when you use the dial knob

Step 5: Part:3 Mirror & Motor Base Assembly

Picture of Part:3  Mirror & Motor Base Assembly

You used a damaged hard drive, to get the motor, right?

Good, because we gonna need a piece of mirror, that will give us the laserline. As of know we would have a laser dot. Since the HDD discs are almost mirror like, i thought, why not using those?

Again, using the dremel (and faceprotection) cut a piece out of the disc. The size is about 1,5 x 4 cm

Use the Beltsander to straighten out the corners and the set square to get it as square as you possibly can.
If you dont get it right the first time, dont worry there are 2 or three discs in an HDD... it doesnt have to be super perfect, but the more acurate, the better. (Even if it is just for the looks)

Next in process is the mounting of the Motor.
Use the particle board, and start with the autside diameter cut. I used a 3 Inch hale dozer for the outside and a resizable hole cutter to make a perfect sized circle to fit the Motor base through.
If it fits, mark the holes from the motor on the particle board, and drill same size diameter holes. That will hold your motor in place.
Make sure after drilling the holes, to turn the piece around, and countersink the holes, so that the bolts dont stick out on the bottom side. You want that piece to be flush.

Now attach the Motor to the Piece of wood using small nuts and bolts.

Something is missing, right? RIGHT. You need to attach the mirror on top of the motor.
I needed something, that fits tight around the head of the motor, so i dont have a wobbly uneven motion, when it spins ( and it does fast!) I found this gear that was from an old mixer i took apart once, and it fit snug, like it was made for it.
You need to find something similar, or tryto glue the mirror directly on the motor, which is possible, i guess, but doesnt give you much surface to hold the piece.

I cut notches the size of the mirror piece, right across the center. Later i mapped out the holes that are already milled in the top of the HDD motor. It had 6 ( ...i guess they all do) however, some ended up being under the plastic stripes that hold the gear, so i decided to use only 3, leaving one hole in between them.

After securing it with the bolts that came with the HDD, i glued the mirror in place, using 2 component Epoxie and the small set square. You want that to be as perpendicular as possible!

Step 6: Part:4 Motor & Laser Casing

Picture of Part:4 Motor & Laser Casing

After successfully working the Laser and the motor, it is time to combine them to throw the laserline of awesomeness!

For te casing i used a ceiling light case that i had laying around.
optional i had a Coffee can, that seemed to be nice, however i thought when i cut it, i will end up bending the whle thing, destroying the straight manufactured line. So either i needed a second one, or search for something else.

The ceiling light was perfect, because it already had a bracket around it, that i could use a s spacers.
Now the only question was: what do i use for the spacing part?

Hitch pin clips!!!!!!!!!!!!

i used those guys for some hooks recently, bending and threading them to my needs, which worked pretty well.
so off i went bought 6 of those (even though i needed just three, but you knever know...)

Back in my studio, i cut the curly part off, using the dremel and started straighten them out with the help of pliers the Hammer and the good old vise.
I wanted to have a 90° bentangle with threading on both sides, so one side sits in the bottom casing, while attaching and holding up the upper side of the case, using the plastic ring that was already in place.

I used the Anvil and the Hammer to give it the desired angle.

i used the tap and die to give the angles the threading leaving the angle unthreaded.
after Assembling the whole thing, it was clear, that the idea was generally good, but only had one big flaw.
The case bracing held the top case perfectly round, while the bottom case deformed ever so slightly where the angle-spacers where screwed in, leading to an uneven line between the top and bottom casing.
I had to take hard measures and drilled holes after every brace holder. Afterwards, i took the brace off, cutting it apart, and placed the single parts back with screws. I also drilled holes right abve the angle holder, in the top part, essentially adding adjustable deformation to the top case, that matched the bottom.

A bit complicated, but "HEY" it worked surprisingly good!

Now all it takes, is marking down where the Laser sits, cut the half hole on the bottom case and ensure it is directed to the center of the mirror. You have to start laser and motor, in order to find out if the position is correct.
If you see the complete top lip of the bottom case filled with laser light, you did good, and you can use the epoxie to glue the laser assambly in place. make ure you are there while it is drying and running, so it doesnt change the position.

Once the epoxie around the bottomside of the laser has dried, ( maybe wait longer then 5 minutes) you can start fitting the top case in place and adjust the Angle-screw-spacers ( that is a thing now!)

You really only need a tiny little crack between the pieces, the laser will find it no worries.
To test the size of the gap you leave between the two case pieces, just run the laser in a somewhat dark room, and you will see if you need to get the pieces closer together.

Step 7: Part:5 Wire It Up

Picture of Part:5 Wire It Up

Last but not least, wire the whole thing so it is not only a cable mess, but also a somewhat usable device.
it is up to you, of how long you want to have he cables coming from the motor and or the laser. so i leave this up to you.

The last step now is to show you how I put it all together to make this project a compact device that i can use with ease, and that also looks not too bad.

First I got a box (bought it at a electronic second hand kind of store, for $4) i only stumbled upon it and thought:
Hm, that might fit - and funny enough.. it did.

I used three main components to connect everything together. (description in parts lsit)
1 ESC
1 servo tester
1 12v downstepper

with these components, i made sure:
The motor runs and has enough power, the laser is powerd up, but doesnt burn out by too much voltage and the servo tester adjusts/regulates speed of the ECS.

Furthermore I also used 2 switches that power up, laser or motoer independently, as well as the corrosponding LEDs that show me that the switch is in "ON" position.

Basically, the power comes in through the computer connector ( white) 12V two cables are connected to each pole on the other side. one positive and negative go to the 12v downstepper. the other side of the downstepper is connected to the switch, that has the LED and the laser attached to the switch. so if you switch "ON" the Laser lights up, as well as the led to signal, that the switch is in ON position.

The other positive and negative cable goes to the switch first, and the switch turns on the ESC and servo tester
which regulates the Motor and motor speed. The LED is actually run from the servo motor plattform, where i took out a blue LED and replaced it with a green one.

I took some stuff off the servo motor to make it fit into place. I cut the "In" wires that allow you to connect on the other side of the "out" connection. I took out the other 2 blue LEDs, just to save them for other projects....
i took the knob off, to feed the part through the hole and reattached the dial knob afterwards.

Most connections are reinforced with shrink tube, to prevent the cables from breaking and in general make it look better.

You made it that far, Congratulations!
Here is the Youtube video to showcase how the laserline looks in "action".

I hope you enjoyed this instructable.
Id like to see your version of the laserline. Post some pictures here and let me know how it went.
If you have questions leave a comment, i am here to help.

Comments

ajayt7 (author)2017-06-12

Super duper project! Quite impressive, thanks for posting

Kurtfrommd (author)2015-04-12

you fried 2 cats...?

haha :) ...they were delicious!

LOL.

i'm thinking in little cellphone motors (for vibration) that will make it so compact.

thats a great idea. let us know how it goes... im excited to see your version!

Denis H (author)2015-04-21

Guys do not go simple ways.

Pass the laser beam tangential to the glass tube. Get the laser line.

restless_studio (author)Denis H2015-04-23

Thats really awesome! Good to know.

maniacse (author)2015-04-12

slurgXX, I have a question. Maybe you tell this somewhere in text or in video (1st one I dont read whole text line by line - sorry, and 2nd one, I do not have speakers here), but why you use step motor? Does it somehow affect on laser line drawing, ie higher speed finer line or it was just case, where you want to use as many parts from HDD?

And small notice, You can use mirror from old scaner or printer combo. If someone doesnt know this, in head of scaner is one or two tight but long mirrors, You just need to cut it to required length.

I just thinking, this could work with mechanical gyro, and You can get waterlevel from this (maybe all profi devs works like this:)

restless_studio (author)maniacse2015-04-13

Hi maniacse

I didn´t use a stepper motor, its really just a HDD motor. The esc just happened to have a dial on it, which is working for the motor.
In the end, i was surprised, that i don´t have to go all the way, to create a nice steady line. pretty much half way, it already is a perfect, steady line with no flickering.

I only used the disc "mirror" because it was right in front of me and worth a shot
I was already thinking of taking a piece out of our bathroom mirror, but that would have been really heavy.

The idea with the scanner is also great, they are thin and lightweight. Good one!

I assume, if you make a stand and place a waterlevel on top, that would work pretty well.


What is a Gyro?

Hope the answers helped?

maniacse (author)restless_studio2015-04-13

I think so, that you just want to use most parts from one not-working device. Thanks for clarification. Under "gyro" I meant gyroscope. Not that electronic one, which most of today "mobile-devices-generation" knows the best, but the mechanical one. So if you use gyroskop for leveling, You dont need waterlevel on top. Anyway, if You want to put it on some tripod or so, and use buble waterlevel, you need to calibrate whole device. But it was just idea for free time activity, I am not sure, how it should work in real (if will be enough to use motor inside of laser for spining gyroscope, or it will need another - outer force to spin, how will the laser line looks like, ... Maybe idea for somebody to try :)

271828183141592654 (author)2015-04-12

I think that the project is brilliant! Yes, the HD platter has very good mirror-like qualities. I would second the author's belief that a good soldering iron is a must. Cheap ones can only give raw and overheated electrical joints.

Thanks 71828183141592654

Nice to hear that you enjoyed it too.

Dream4real (author)2015-04-12

Great project and a lot of your hard work and problem solving went into it. But by what function does the laser go from a dot to a line?

:) im glad you found it out.

jseckelman (author)2015-04-12

Just beginning to learn soldering. Can someone include a tip on why the author mentions "I can´t stress enough how important a good solder iron is!" Whats the difference in the versatility of the linked product compared to a $30 Home Depot solder iron? I understand you can change the temperature pretty accurately but what else?

gthompson20 (author)jseckelman2015-04-12

A cheap quality soldering iron has no temperature control and the heating element always runs at a continuous power. When it is used the temperature of the tip drops. To avoid it dropping below the minimum temperate required, the normal temperature is higher than the optimal temperature for soldering. They are also larger as they require thermal mass to slow the bit temp drop. A good quality soldering iron is temperature regulated by switching the element on and off, and thus the temperature of the bit is kept far closer to the optimal temperature for soldering. Whilst it is still possible to solder with the cheaper units a temperature regulated iron is far better. If you look around you can cheap temp regulated irons.

Thanks for taking over, and helpin out gthompson20.

couldn´t have said it any better.

jseckelman (author)gthompson202015-04-12

Awesome info, thanks for the share and insight. On my way to Amazon!

alcurb (author)2015-04-13

It's a very clever way to solve the problem of creating a line generating laser, but I have found on the net several laser pointers and laser modules that have a special lens for generating a line. If you have to buy any parts to build this project, you would have already paid for the cheaper line laser module.

I do see that it is more fun solving a problem and implementing a creative solution.

barstow (author)2015-04-13

Daym you are dead right. I never use youtube, but have used quite a few components from CDRoms...!!!

neopolitan (author)2015-04-10

im fairly certain the laser in a rom drive is invisible just FYI...

Most of them have two lasers, of which one is "invisible inrfra red", at least thats what i got from most of the youtube infos...

It has to be DVD burner for a red laser or a Blu-Ray burner for a blue one. Regular CD burners are infrared.

I'm pretty sure rom (read-only, no burning) drives don't produce any sort of visible light.

(Couldn't find the edit button, sorry for double-post)

Dream4real (author)2015-04-12

Cancell my question " By what function does the laser go from a dot to a line? " I hadn't watched the video until now! Duh !

The Lightning Stalker (author)2015-04-12

Laser diodes are extremely ESD sensitive, and you can't just attach them to a battery. Get an ESD strap and wear it at all times when handling diodes and associated wiring. You also need a laser diode driver that is appropriate for the current rating and forward voltage of your diode.

Orngrimm (author)2015-04-07

For 2$ a module for a laserline. I used that one for my lasing-needsfor lines...

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-Red-5mW-650nm-Line-Laser-Module-Focus-Adjustable-Laser-Head-5V-Industrial-Grad/32290741097.html

ia42 (author)Orngrimm2015-04-12

Yup, no motor needed when you can use optics :)

I just got a few to build a 3D scanner, https://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-30-laser/#

restless_studio (author)Orngrimm2015-04-07

Haha, yeah, i found those too after i had everything together, and ordered 5 of them
(just in case) next time i do a laser project, its gonna be that laser.

Edgar (author)2015-04-12

Yes, it's both a great idea for the laser and for the HD motor! :)

Added a link to this, from my Laser Scanner Instructable, so if you want to make one of these, using your Laserline, go and try it:

https://www.instructables.com/id/-The-DIY-Laserline...

ashishalh (author)2015-04-08

Great Job Man, m gonna make one :)

Thank you and great to hear, show off your result. Maybe you have improvement tips? If so, don´t hesitate to share here with all of us.

JavaProgrammer (author)2015-04-07

this looks pretty neat, but just an FYI, the amazon link for the laser doesn't work.

Thank you JavaProgrammer. And thanks for pointing that out, i will replace it with a working link.
Also Orngrimm pointed out a better source for a Laser module, right below here.

amberrayh (author)2015-04-06

Great job on your first Instructable. Thanks for taking us through your build!

Thank you, hope you enjoyed it.

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Bio: restless.studio is a residential collaborative studio in the suburbs of Toronto. We work on varying projects at the time and our portfolio appears to ... More »
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