Want to liven up your computer desktop or home page with catchy imagery? There are plenty of commercial images you can download, but a laser pointer and a digital camera will allow you to create original and spectacular desktop and home page background images that will make you the envy of the office--or at least cause your colleagues to ask where you found them.

While this is not a traditional electronics project, it makes use of one of the most phenomenal success stories of modern electronics, the semiconductor laser diode. The first laser diodes were demonstrated in 1962, but they could be operated only in brief pulses and emitted only invisible near-infrared radiation. Decades were required before reasonably priced, continuously operating (CW) laser diodes became available. They emitted just one wavelength: red. In recent years frequency doubling crystals have been widely used to transform the infrared emitted by high-power laser diodes into brilliant green beams. This and other new developments have provided laser diodes that emit across the visible spectrum.

While today's principle application for laser diodes is in laser read/write systems, they have many other important applications in sensing, intrusion alarms and both optical fiber and free-space communication. They are also useful for making miniature laser light shows and laser art, the topic of this Circuit Recipe.

Step 1: How to Create Laser Art Patterns

The coherent properties of a laser beam provide an ideal tool for creating highly complex interference patterns, and reflecting a narrow laser beam from various surfaces can produces strikingly beautiful splashes of laser light.

Figure 1 shows one of many simple ways to create laser art patterns. The key ingredient for this recipe is a square of aluminum foil wrapped around the business end of a laser pointer or module. The foil is crumpled to provide a field of highly complex reflective surfaces. It is then rolled around the end of the laser pointer with the shiny side facing inward. The open end of the foil is partially pushed in to intercept and reflect the laser beam. The laser is pointed toward a diffuser screen (see below), and the pattern formed on the screen is captured by a digital camera on the opposite side of the screen.
yeah, i got into doing this around 2004, its actually one of the first things that occurred to me when i got my hands on a digital camera. I never used a diffuse screen, id just shine the lasers straight into the camera, ive got hundreds of amazingly beautiful images doing this, in total darkness. Ive also thrown in some blue leds with red lasers (this being years before blue lasers came out) the effect looks like something youd get with a high powered telescope witnessing a supernova! You are a very nice person, I'd never share the concept with people, just let them awe at my photography skills.
"Best for Last: Let the camera do all the work by glancing the laser beam across its lens while watching the images on the camera display. This method works well with many different digital and cell phone cameras." This is quite possibly the worst thing you can do with a laser and a digital camera. You're taking a highly focused beam of light, and then focusing it further by shining it onto a lens, it doesn't matter that you are 'only glancing it', the beam that hits the sensor will be very, very strong. It will most likely give you dead pixels or damage/burn the sensor ruining the camera.
Yes, not to mention ruining up the image altogether. What you would get is just a red screen. Have you thought of smoke?
Very, very, cool! Did Mr. Mims compose this I'ble himself (extremely awesome) or did Jameco staff handle the translation from his written text into the I'ble format (not as awesome, but still great :-)? I appreciate that Jameco part numbers are provide for all components, but that you aren't "trying" to just sell us the parts or a kit.
The project was inspired by, photographed by, tested by and written by none other than the world famous Forrest M. Mims III. Jameco was lucky enough to able to hire Forrest to develop projects and puzzles for our electronics component catalog and the response has been huge and we wanted to share his work with everyone. I wouldn't say our objective in posting this project was to "try to just sell you parts," but we would be happy to send you a free electronic components catalog!
That's cool; thanks for the additional information. I hope you've had the chance to read some of the other comments below, especially those from NachoMahma. I agree with his perspective (though he's sometimes more agressive about spam than I am :-). I would especially encourage you (the person behind the account) to flesh out the profile information to make it clear that this is a company account, and mention your interest in making good quality I'bles. That would, I think, help (though not prevent) some of the negative impressions.
Thanks for the encouragement. It's just absolutely exciting to share the recipes that Forrest has shared with us with you. I can't wait to post some of the other projects we've received.
this would make a great image and fool anyone about it. hehe. :D TY.
Have you tried a pic of a person in it?

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