Picture of Cheap burning laser tutorial
This tutorial will explain every little thing you need to know about how to build a burning laser, it's an interesting project, which is still quite easy to make.
The picture above shows how mine looks but you can make the design of yours look totally different if you want to.

It's going to become a burning laser with controllable current. (current-regulated with an LM317T).
You can choose between a 9V battery and an external power input (see first picture on the left side).

Other regulators then an LM317T are also possible to use here. If you have any questions about them, ask it here!

It might be fun to have a burning laser, but not when it burns that one thing you don't want it to burn.
Use safety glasses! This is really not a simple toy.

High power lasers might also not be allowed in your country, keep that in mind.

I am not responsible for any accidents with this device, however all dangers are well noted in this instructable.

A video of the laser in action:

A video of the laser in action with a spirograph:
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Step 1: Requirements

Picture of Requirements
The set-up is really simple, there are just few components:
(* means Required)

- Hot glue or other glue.
* A soldering iron /w soldering wire.
* A laser diode.
* A 100ohm potentiometer. (250mW)
* A 3.3ohm resistor (or 3x 10ohm resistor in parallel). (3x 250mW or 1x 0.5W).
- A regular diode 1N4001-1N4007 (everything between is also good).
  (or any other diode that can hold a reverse voltage of at least 40V)
- An On-Off switch/push-button/... as a main switch for the circuit.
- An On-On switch for switching between battery or external input.
* A 9V battery clip. (click here if you don't have one)
- A 9V battery. (not required if you use the external power input)
* An LM317T regulator (really cheap).
- An enclosure/box to put the whole project in -> I used an 8*5*3cm = 3.15*1.97*1.18inches black project box.
* A lens for adjusting the focal point of the laser beam.
- A connector for the external power input (if you want to use that).
* PDF reader for the datasheets.
* Your healthy brain and attention for safety measurements.

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dharun20 days ago

where do you get the lens

3XTR3M1ST1 month ago

Saw quite a couple of these instructional videos and everyone's saying to extract the diode and build a driver for it on another heatsink/casing.

But I just wonder why not just leave the diode as it is in the laser carriage assembly and simply power it up with whatever ribbon cables it is attached to?

Saves all the trouble don't it?

can i make a burning laser from a key chain laser pointer by fed it more current if not why and laser watt depend upon what ? why a specific laser diode is use
howtodosteps3 months ago

Why is it that when i apply 9V battery DC directly on the DVD laser diode it is not light up? Am i doing it over voltage and fried the diode?

DGW howtodosteps2 months ago

People, please realize that all LEDs and Laser Diodes must be current limited or they will burn out instantly! At a minimum they should have a correct resistor in series with them to limit the current to the max allowable shown by the spec sheet. Even better is to use a current regulator as shown in this Instructable.

you actual broke it, he uses a current limitation, that means that thevoltage steps down until a specified current will flow.

Can i use a 1n4148 diode instead of the 1n4007?

No. The 4148 is a low power signal diode and the 400x series are made for at least 1 amp of current.

Electorials (author)  anubhavtalukdar0072 years ago
You can use it, but because the maximum current is only 200mA, if you will be using strong laser diodes, I suggest you put two 1n4148's in parallel, so that they can handle 400mA.
ir_One1 year ago

Hi , i have cd burner,..are its can be used for laser burn...?

DGW ir_One2 months ago


How can I convert this to work on a battery bank with 4 AA batteries? I'm making a laser gun and there is already a space in the casing for this bank. I would rather use that than a 9V. Or, better yet, convert it so that it can alternate use between the 9V and the battery bank.

DGW metalshiflet2 months ago

It will work on 4AA batteries just as well as a 9V if the diode drop is less than 4V as it often is. (Depends on what laser diode you end up with. Hard to tell when you are extracting them from a DVD burner.)

I looked in Radioshack and could not find a 3.3ohm resistor. What other names are there for it?

DGW metalshiflet2 months ago

Go to and they will have it.

gschafer4 months ago
I've made the circuit and tested it, and it appears either my LM317 is broken or I don't have it wired properly. Can anyone show my how they have their LM317 wired?
iamdarkyoshi10 months ago

i should be able to connect the diode straight to my lab supply, right? i can tune the supply to the hundredth of a volt and the thousandth of an amp.

Pbyrd1 year ago
Would a 7805 regulator work here?
a lm7805 is a voltage regulator not a current regulator.
Electorials (author)  Pbyrd1 year ago
Not really. The voltage over the potentiometer and resistor (5v in this case) would be too high. When you increase the output current, the power dissipation in the potentiometer will just fry it.

In the instructions it said you could use one.

Where can I find an lm317

glitvjaks1 year ago

Great instructable! Easy to follow but not dumbed down. I used your circuit today to make a laser spirograph (although I am using a laser module meant to be powered by batteries instead of a bare laser diode) and it worked just fine!

djmelvinv1 year ago
hi. is a dvd diode exact the wavelenght of 650nm or is there an range? I just want to find the glasses maching de dvd burn diode wavelength and want to be very sure there is no IR.
kgaurkhede1 year ago

plz help me to make a circuit for powerful laser which can burn plastic sheets of almost the thickness of 3-4 paper sheets
n of what power the laser diode should be???

thnx in advance

kgaurkhede1 year ago

plz help me to make a circuit for powerful laser which can burn plastic sheets of almost the thickness of 3-4 paper sheets
n of what power the laser diode should be???

thnx in advance

mkhurram1 year ago
Hey electorials! Loved the instructable.....can this thing cut acrylic ,plastic boxes etc. as well??
im using a diode from a dvd burn... but it not burn!!! why? can you help me? im usin a circuit with LM317
cool gonna make one
dudefrom982 years ago
I got 6.88 volts as the output to go to the laser. Is this fine or should I put a regulator on it?
SpecieS~3 years ago
Hi, I'm wondering about the limiting potentiometer. Do you connect it exactly like the one for regulating the intensity? And do you still use 100ohm for regulating or do you change the value?

greetings, SpecieS
Electorials (author)  SpecieS~3 years ago
I still use the same value, 100ohm (but I think 50ohm would be a little better, not sure).
It is indeed connected exactly the same, and placed in series.
Thanks for your fast answer. I found some 50ohm 1/2watt precision trimmer, which would be perfect for the limiting job :D
A 300ohm resistor in parallel to the regulating potentiometer would reduce its maximum resistance to 75ohm. Seems to be a good compromise :)

greetings, SpecieS
Electorials (author)  SpecieS~3 years ago
You say 'reduce' it's maximum resistance, but you say it goes from 50 to 75 then?

Indeed, a 50ohm trimmer would be nice.
When adding a resistor in parallel over it, you'll Decrease it's resistance, not increase to 75.
And also, when you added a resistor in parallel, the track resistance won't e linear anymore.

You don't need to add a parallel resistor, the 50ohm trimmer is perfect.
Oh, you misunderstood what I said. I don't want to decrease the trimmers resistance but the regulating potentiometers resistance from 100 to 75ohm.
Electorials (author)  SpecieS~3 years ago
Ahh yes, I see now.
but I don't think you'll get "more precision" out of it by doing that because it will make the slider non linear.

At the lowest resistance values, it will change faster now.
Indeed, it makes it non linear, but I've inspected the function in kmplot and the graph is almost linear:

btw, I've made some new schematics including the second potentiometer using Eagle:
You may attach it to the instructable if you want.
Electorials (author)  SpecieS~3 years ago
It al looks really good.
The schematic is also good but I think I'll just keep the one that I already have.
My parts arrived today and I tried it out on a breadboard. The trimmer became hot so I removed it, but then turned the other poti a bit too far. :S
Fortunately I have another dvd-burner laying around...

ps: Happy new year :)
Electorials (author)  SpecieS~3 years ago
The trimmer's power rating must have been to low.
I hope you got some nice results before the diode got fried? :)

Oh, and it's normal that you fried your first diode. You'll do that 10 more times haha! :)

Happy newyear!
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