Introduction: AFFORDABLE LASER LIGHT SHOW

Lasers are fun, but what else can they be used for? Laser light shows are one option. I've been to many concerts where laser shows are used. I've always wanted to have one of my own, but the good, pre-made setups commonly used in concerts are very expensive, usually in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. I decided that I'd try to build my own show as I'm not willing to shell out a huge amount of money for something that I may be able to make on my own.

So, I'll show you how I made my very own laser light show that will project either a really cool spider-webby hexagon effect or a crisp triangle effect using a few very common and cheap materials.

Here's a video of what the final results will look like:

Step 1: Gather Parts

You'll need the following
- about six feet of half-inch PVC pipe
- two dowel rods under a half-inch in diameter and about a foot and a half long
- a hack saw
- a ruler or yard-stick
- a sharpie marker
- duct tape
- hot glue gun
- six half-inch PVC T-joints
- one half-inch PVC 90 degree elbow
- one half-inch PVC end-cap
  and
- triangular flood lamp bulb (mine is a Philips Halogen Flood light 75 W 120 V)
- a reflective lens - I got mine from a light-up key chain
- a laser pointer that is around a half inch in diameter, any color will work (The laser I used has a button which is pushed in when the   laser is put in the pipe, conveniently turning on the laser)

Step 2: Isolate Reflective Lenses

For this step, you'll need to isolate your reflective lenses.

I got mine from an overhead spotlight and from a reflective dollar-store key chain.

The lens from the key chain is very easy to isolate, I just snapped it off of the toy.
Depending on your source of a lens, this step may also require unscrewing a few screws to get to the lens.
To remove the lens from the light bulb, carefully pry the lens off of it with a screwdriver or knife, or use a hacksaw on the material connecting the cone part of the light to the lens.

An over head light is what inspired me to do this project. The same day that I found out about this contest, one of the two lights over my kitchen counter burst and fell from the ceiling. However,  the lens was amazingly in one piece.

My immediate first reaction was to shine a laser through it. When you do this, you get a really neat pattern.
As I was building this project, I decided to look for other items with lenses that had a similar patterned texture. I found the light up key chain and decided to use that as another lens.


Step 3: Attach Lens to Dowel Rod

For this step, you'll need the dowel rod, duct tape, the lens and the hot glue gun.

First, modify the dowel rod. Wrap the end of the dowel rod with duct tape a few times to give extra surface area, so the lens can be glued to the end of the dowel rod.

Now,  hot glue the dowel rod to the center of the lens.

Step 4: Measure and Cut PVC

Use the sharpie and ruler to mark the PVC. Then use the hacksaw to cut the marked PVC.

You'll need thirteen lengths of pipe.

Measure and cut 1 of each of the following lengths:

-Two inches
-Two and a quarter inches
-Two and a half inches
-Three inches
-Three and a half inches
-Ten and a half inches
-Twelve inches (1 foot)

Also, measure and cut 6 six-inch lengths

Step 5: Assemble Base

Set pieces out as shown, and assemble. This will be your base.

The middle T-joint allows your light show to be on the wall, or the ceiling.

Step 6: Assemble "Gun"

Set pieces out as shown and connect all joints.

We'll call this the gun.

PVC cement is an option here, I chose not to use it.

Step 7: Assemble Laser Housing

Set the laser housing pieces out as shown.

Once again, connect all joints.

Do not use PVC cement on this assembly, you will need to open and close the housing to insert the laser.

Step 8: Insert Laser to Housing

Dis-assemble the housing as shown.

Place the laser (laser dot should point to the right) in the assembly and put the housing back together. The laser should now be constantly on, kept on by the pipe activating the switch.

Step 9: Attach Laser Housing to Gun

Attach the laser housing to the gun as shown.

Step 10: Align Laser


Here's a video that shows how to insert  the laser in the housing and align it.
To align the laser, take the gun with the laser in it and point it at a wall. Look through the top pipe of the gun and move the laser housing from left to right until you can see the laser dot on the wall.

Step 11: Connect Gun to Base, Put Lens Assembly in Top Pipe

Connect the gun to the base, then put the lens and dowel rod assembly into the top pipe.

Step 12: Insert Dowel Rod to Drill Chuck

Loosen the chuck on your variable speed drill.

Insert the dowel rod into the drill chuck, and tighten it until the dowel rod rotates with the drill.
Now turn out the lights and fire up the drill and you have your very own laser light show!

Step 13: Congrats, You've Made Yourself a Laser Light Show!

Here's a video of the completed project in action.
Press the button on the drill in-sync with music to get a really cool home made laser light show! Enjoy!

 

Comments

author
dlemke made it!(author)2011-09-26

Out of all the components I have scavenged from old electronic junk I have, like old printers, there is always small DC motors left that should do the trick with battery power or simply use an old power supply. That should do it to turn the disk, but I wonder, if you could use a bigger laser? I know safety would be an issue here, but it could make for a cool basement project.

Dan

author
tinker234 made it!(author)2011-06-01

wow this is cool

author
sabladask made it!(author)2011-04-12

cool!
you should add a motot insted of the drill :)

author
The+Porsche+Fan made it!(author)2011-04-14

Thank you :)
I thought about making a motor system, which s definitely a possible project modification for the future., but I ultimately choose a drill for a few reasons:
1. Almost everyone owns a drill, making this project more accessible.
2. A drill chuck allows for different sized dowel rods, people might not have dowel rods of the same size lying around (I didn't), which cuts down on total project cost.
and
3. The drill is an all in one package that requires no extra materials, and can be used for its original purpose simply by removing the dowel rod from the chuck.

author
cfirestone made it!(author)2011-04-15

I would suggest using a small motor from something like, the plant turner device you see online? it is a small 6 volt motor that turns slowly. the drill you'd have to sit and hold the trigger, right?

author
The+Porsche+Fan made it!(author)2011-04-15

The drill motor is variable speed :)
Feel free to modify my plans, I'd love to see what you can create!

author
dacker made it!(author)2011-04-14

A college roommate in the late 70s had a simpler method which automatically synched with music.

He glued a small mirror onto a speaker which in turn was attached to a music source. Aim a stationary laser at the mirror and crank-up the tunes. He used a salvaged 8" or 10" woofer and may have left the crossover in the circuit so only the bass notes went to the speaker, generating a lissajous pattern or something similar on the wall or ceiling. I honestly don't really remember how well it worked.

Lasers were not something individuals owned back then as they were big (perhaps 10"x10"x20") and expensive so all he could do was set it up in a physics lab one time. Now you can have the same thing on a keychain for $5 and it's a toy for a cat.

lissajous01.gif
author
The+Porsche+Fan made it!(author)2011-04-15

Interesting idea, you should make an instructable about it!

author
cfirestone made it!(author)2011-04-15

LOVE the speaker jiggles the laser idea....

author
rcisneros made it!(author)2011-04-15

You might consider a cordless screw driver. A little more portable and easier to power.

author
The+Porsche+Fan made it!(author)2011-04-15

That could probably work, I choose the drill because it has a chuck to attach the dowel rod to. About the portability, you can use a cordless drill, any drill really, I just had my corded one out at the time.

author
AdamVanMeter made it!(author)2011-04-14

Awesome! I'm going to put something like this together for light effects come halloween. Excellent instructable.

author
The+Porsche+Fan made it!(author)2011-04-14

Thank you very much, message me if you have any questions, I'll be sure to help

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