Introduction: Easy Build Burning Laser for Less Than $20
In this Instructable I will show you how I built my own burning laser, including the driver circuit, the laser is able to burn through electrical tape, black plastic, and light matches with Sharpie on them (I'll let you figure out what happens to the Sharpies on your own) I diode I used is a 400mW 650nM laser diode, for those of you who don't know what that means, 400mW means 400 thousandths of a Watt is the peak power for this specific diode and 650nm is short for 650 nano meters this is referring to the wavelength of the radiation (in this case light) coming from the laser diode 650nm happens to be red.
UPDATE: Here are some links about lasers and safety precautions, link 1 will teach you about lasers, the second page teaches the hazards, link two is a guide to which goggles you will need.
Curious as to what my exactly this project will do before you build it? Click this link to watch.
**The $20 estimate is assuming you don't get everything from Radio Shack**
I would like to thank Maximilian Collins, who sold me the diodes and module, he tracked down the schematic and gave me some advice, If I can't answer a question, he can. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1.) One (In my case a few) Laser diode $6.50 (plus a $2 shipping fee)
2.) One Aixiz Laser Module $4.50 (plus a $2 shipping fee)
*this module also acts as a heatsink for the diode*
3.) Perf board or bread board
4.) Thin gauge stranded wire
5.) One LM317 voltage regulator
6.) Heat sink for the LM317
7.) One 100 Ohm potentiometer
8.) Two 10 Ohm resistors
9.) One Diode (1N4001) (I used whatever diodes I had on hand)
10.) Push button/switch whatever your preference may be
11.) A 6V-9V DC power source
12.) One 10µF 16V capacitor, The individual I bought the diode and module from told me as long as the capacitors voltage rating is higher than the power input it's fine and I also used a non polarized capacitor in mine and it worked fine.
13.) Some heat-shrink tubing.
1.) Soldering Iron
2.) Third hand
3.) Lighter or Heat gun*
3.) Drill press and your smallest drill bit**
4.) Needle and hammer*
*I used my soldering iron to shrink the tubing, you may prefer to use a lighter or heat gun.
**These are optional and are possible solutions if fitting your diode into the module is an issue.
DISCLAIMER: I do not claim any responsibility for your actions or those of anyone involved in reproducing this experiment you should research and observe your local laws concerning this project and following all proper safety precautions before beginning the experiment. Your typical 5mw laser will irritate and even damage the eye, this laser WILL in fact burn your pupil and burn it if properly focused, it WILL blind you. Take the proper precautionary measures before going any further, it's up to you to know how to be safe I am merely showing you something I built and how I built it.
Step 1: Solder Leads to the Diode and Glue Into Aixiz Module
I press fit my diode into the module with my hands and some good luck, you may want to press them in with the right tools a drill press (Turned off of course) with a small drill bit would be the ideal tool for this situation, after pressing in the diode, use adhesive to lock it in place, I used gorilla glue, one drop is enough to do this twenty times so be cautious.
Next I bent the "not used" pin and removed it using wire cutters, then, I bent the negative pin to easily tell between the two remaining pins "What if I accidentally cut off everything but the positive lead?" Don't worry, every thing other than the positive lead is negative, including both pins and the body of the diode, as long you have the positive right, you're fine. I then tinned my leads, I highly recommend that you use stranded wire as opposed to solid, then all it took was touching the wires and soldering tip to their respective pins just long enough to melt the solder any more time than this and you can burn the diode like I did, don't be like me, I've had to buy four (I'm showing you how to do this so you don't have to!) Now heat up the heat shrink and tie a knot in the wires and you're good to go.
Lastly for this step re-insert the lens in to the module, a trick I found that works on anything with threads, turn it counter clockwise until you feel a "click" then turn clockwise until snug, or in this case, focused.
*Reminder when finished the Aixiz module will be grounded so be mindful of this. Don't touch it to the heatsink of the LM317 unless it's insulated, this is another way to burn a diode.
Step 2: Build the Circuit
For this step I tried to devise my own color coding system to make things easier, here I'll list the colors of wires and what they are, also DO NOT connect the battery before you connect the laser diode, this will charge the capacitor and blow the laser diode. be safe and short out the cap before connecting the diode.
All Red wires are positive, and head straight to the power source, aside from the two used for the switch.
All Black wires are ground.
The Orange wire is wired from the middle pin of the LM317 to one pin of the POT.
The White wire on one end is connected to the left most pin of the LM317 to the end of the resistors opposite of the POT.
The Yellow wire is used to make more room for components, one end is wired to the White wire and resistors and the other to the diode, cap and laser.
The Blue wire is the wire used to connect the positive side of the cap to the positive lead of the laser diode.
Once again be sure the power source is the LAST thing you wire up to the circuit and don't forget the HEATSINK for the regulator.
Step 3: Burn Things!
Take the proper precautions and have fun burning anything dark (black) in color, focus the beam by turning the the lens on the module, don't worry about it burning your finger unless it's at the focal point (even then I'm pale so it can't burn my skin), This doesn't mean your eyes are any safer, you've been warned.
In the pictures you can see it can cut through tape and I managed to burn holes in the plastic reels LED strips come on. I think the plastic is about 1mm thick and it burnt through two layers.
Did I mention I found a fun use for old sharpies?
Click here to watch my laser in action on Youtube!
Don't forget to vote for me, this is my first Instructable!