Picture of Air-freshener based mechanical laser shutter
I have constructed a cost-effective mechanical laser shutter system for our 1064 IR-laser. System contains a mechanical shutter, a control box and a power supply. There are many shutter systems available commercially; mechanical, semi-mechanical, electromagnetic and optical. Most of the systems are expensive and above $1000. These systems are fast (msecs to micro secs) and precise. In our case we needed a shutter which is precise and cost effective but not so fast. So here it is. Some of the specifications of the system:
Another link:http://openwetware.org/wiki/User:Pranav_Rathi/Notebook/OT/2010/10/31/Laser_Shutter_.1
Type mechanical with electronic control. Can also be controlled by a micro controller.
Aperture 10mm.
Open time 1.5 second, .3 second over the beam waist.
Cost $ 30 excluding the power supply.
Operational voltage 3.3, 5 and 12 volts.
Laser intensity upto 10 W.

There might be many ways to make a mechanical shutter; I used eclipsing technique in which a shutter moves over and across an aperture through which the beam passes. To move the shutter I used an electric motor and a gear box. This method is relatively hard because of the motor timing (build all the electronics is not easy). While working on this I got couple of ideas of achieving the same goal in 1/10 of the work and time: A 6 inches audio speaker with/without a micro controller can be converted in to a shutter (I will use this method if I plan to make a shutter for He-Ne) OR simply an electromagnet with a cantilever can be used as a shutter. The advantages of such a systems are, easy to make and similar in speed to commercially available systems.
ajoyraman2 years ago
Wonderful of you to share a novel use for the air-freshener innards !
Why after so many years ?
pranavrathi (author)  ajoyraman2 years ago
Thanks Ajoy for liking it. I actually do open-science; means I put all my research work online on openwetware.org. And when I made this shutter I did not know about instructables. But all is well now I am going to start using it.
I have seen you also have some nice posts up there, keep up the fun!!!