Introduction: DIY Laser Spirograph

Picture of DIY Laser Spirograph

Did you ever see those laser devices that make a little laser show on a wall that changes around? I'll show you how you can do that with stuff laying around the house.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials

These are the things you will need before starting.

-2 mirrors, one has to be at least 2" by 2"
-2 electric motors(scavenged from toy fans)
-a AA battery
-plenty of small wire
-some plastic containors to mount the motors on, anything about an inch high and sturdy enought to mount the motors on will work.
- DIY Laser Mount
-a base about 5" by 5", I used a plastic lid, you can use cardboard or anything else thats handy.
- a potentiometer to control the speed of the motor, any salvaged volume control should work
-plenty of wire so we have some slack to work with

-soldering iron
-hot glue/epoxy

Step 2: Setting Up the Electric

Picture of  Setting Up the Electric

Solder wires to one of the leads on both motors. Then solder both of those to one end of the battery. Next Solder a short wire to one of one of the motors leads. Attach a longer wire to the other motors lead. Solder the potentiometer to the short wire, solder a wire to that then connect that with the longer wire. Attach that to the switch then to the other end of the battery. The picture will help a lot.

Before anyone rant... I realize that anyone with any knowledge about basic electronics knows that electricity always takes the path of least resistance so wiring in a parallel isn't the best choice if I want to use a potentiometer. I wanted to only have to use one battery so I did. The potentiometer, if you're careful with it will change the speed of the one motor without stopping completely. If you want to wire in a series, it doesn't take too much knowledge to do that, so you can if you like.

Sorry for all the words.

Step 3: Setting Up Base

Picture of Setting Up Base

Glue the two plastic containors upside down to the two opposite corners of your lid/cardboard. The containors should not be touching, in fact they should be about 2-3" apart.

Step 4: Gluing Mirrors to Motors

Picture of Gluing Mirrors to Motors

Using the hot glue or the epoxy, glue the mirror to the tip of the motor. Try and get it as close to the middle as you can to reduce vibrations.
Also try and get it as flat as possible by 'eyeballing' it. This should get it flat but not so flat that it won't make a circle with the beam.
Attach the big mirror to the motor with the potentiometer attached and the smaller mirror to the motor without it.

Step 5: Gluing the Motors to the Platforms

Picture of Gluing the Motors to the Platforms

Hold the motors on the platform with the mirrors facing eachother, now rotate them in opposite directions each about 5-10 degrees.

Step 6: Getting It to Work

Picture of Getting It to Work

Using the DIY Laser Mount, adjust the laser so it shines onto one mirror, reflects to the other and then hits a wall.

Turn flip the switch and watch the show happen. Slowly turn the potentiometer to watch the design change.

Step 7: Closing Thoughts

Picture of Closing Thoughts

You don't need a switch as you can just twist and untwist two wires if you must.

The problems with wiring in parallel isn't too apparent here, probably because the potentiometer has pretty low resistance and i think it isn't worth it to wire in a series.

To keep the laser on, try using a zip tie over the button. The way the ties are made is that you can just twist them too and they will turn off the laser.

If you dont want to make the laser stand you could try to put the laser on a book or something to try and get the angles right. The instructable for using flour as a camera holder will work good, using a laser instead of a camera of course.

Please rate and comment.

If you want to go to a forum where you can learn all about lasers, go to Lasercommunity

A great place for high powered lasers is Wicked Lasers. Only buy lasers there if you buy goggles too, any laser over 5mW can be very devastating to eyesight.

Created by Lasercommunity member: trooperrick123


ananda1 (author)2012-09-27

How would one integrate a spirograph into a party SAFELY? Would you aim it at the air, a wall, the ground? Lawyers are expensive.

AlphaRomeo (author)2009-12-03

Thanks for putting this wonderful instructable - I will make one as soon as I can

One possible modification could be that one could fix toothpaste caps (or something similar) to shafts of the motors - and stick mirror to cap using plastic clay or something like that.

Now you can experiment with different reflecting surfaces and materials - such as CDs or DVDs -

coolfordy (author)AlphaRomeo2011-04-18

you could try small computer fans and bluetack

dbshortwave (author)2009-09-23

this is not a bad idea i wonder if we could add more to this like an arduino instead of brush type motors why not some bi- polar motors and servos to control the X-Y

supercrazytutorials (author)2009-09-20

can i coonect it with the output audio jack of my pc???????

No, but there are a whole bunch of other instructables that will show you other designs.

BrefelanDesigns (author)2009-02-16

I am working on a laser light show using one motor driving two mirrors (rotating in opposite directions) and a speaker with a mirror (so it will be audio controlled)

Liberty92 (author)2008-10-27

you should post a better layed out picture, maybe an obvious schematic or something to show a better view of the circuit

chinnerz (author)2008-08-15

yeah, i think this is a very good instructable. nicely done.

wethecom (author)2008-06-28

try this with slytle melted cds

AP Digital light (author)2008-01-05

Good job! I'm building similar device with three mirrors.

FathomBoy91 (author)2007-12-13

if u shined it at a building from a distance could u still see the design? a pic of that would be rlly cool

Check out my Instructables. Comments and ratings are greatly appreciated!
Wicked Light Show
Laserized Music
Laserholic Pets

trooperrick (author)FathomBoy912007-12-13

It depends, if you make the mirrors less tilted then the design will stay more compact over a long distance. A 5 mW like I have probably won't be able to be seen very far at that speed but anything over that probably will.

conceptualstratagem (author)2007-12-13

Its all gravy here. Let the number of posted instructables do the talking. +(faved)

errthum (author)2007-12-04

If you want to add a muscial component to it, add a third reflection off a mirror mounted on a small speaker. The speaker will add small variations to the beam and will change with the music.

FrenchCrawler (author)2007-12-03

Check out this Laser Video Projector

thecheatscalc (author)2007-12-02

bleh, I give you an F- for heartlessly criticizing the work. LOTS of those videos exist! Seriously, has that guy even made an instructable? Further, is trooperrick even copying his work? This is a simple two mirrors on motors scanner. I think he did an excellent job. Good job, it may be simple, but, looks like it works pretty well! I'd suggest using wood blocks though, they won't flex as much as the plastic containers will.

Yeah I was looking for something stronger but came upon this in my tupperware drawer. I thought it would work fine and it did. It seems the ridges in the plastic keep it from flexing too much. Can't wait to see your instructable.

Solaryellow (author)2007-12-02

Nice job trooperrick. It's different than the one I was working on, but I just cancelled it because this one is more technical. Mine just involved string and a camera. Part 2 of my Laser Wall Art.

trooperrick (author)Solaryellow2007-12-02

That sounds interesting. Very Mcguiver-ey. I would like to know how you were going to do it.

swargy (author)2007-12-01

I like this project. Very cool idea, I hope to make one if I can find the time.

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-01

wow, awesome. and its not copying, maybe he didnt know about it, maybe its an original. maybe that video wasnt on here, so he didnt know. i give Chavez an F- for accusing people of stuff they didnt do.

trooperrick (author)2007-12-01

I didn't even know that that video existed. I wanted to see if anyone posted a spirograph and no one did, so I thought I should. Don't think I copied, most people who have high powered lasers know about this technique.

rimar2000 (author)2007-12-01

Very nice, very ingenious, good instructable. Thanks.

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