Instructables

How to build a laser (general guide)

Step 1: What do I need to build a laser?


Basically, you need:
laser diode (LD)
collimation optics
current regulator (aka driver)
power supply
heatsink
something to house all the electronics (project box is ok for a first build)

then  you can add other optional things:
safety switch
LED for power indication
cooling fan
etc...

Step 2: What tools do I need?

You need:
soldering iron
solder
DMM (digital multi meter, even the cheapest works fine)
some wires (the more flexible the better)
small pliers

other useful tools:
tweezers
vice
3rd hand

Step 3: Step 1: Gathering the laser diode


Here you have 2 options:
either to get a DVD drive for pc and extract only the diode assembly (aka sled).
or buy just the laser assembly from the internet.

You can get old DVD RW drives on ebay for >15usd, or just look around and ask friends if they don't have some old unused drives.
The another option is to buy just the sled ftom internet.

My favourite e-shops for laser components:
http://modwerx.com/shop/
http://hightechdealz.com/
http://stonetek.org/shop/
on these sites search for LPC-815, this is the most commonly used red laser (22x write speed).

What if I can't find the LPC-815, if I have only 20x or 16x burner, or if I'm not able to determine the write speed?
First, use google to find out something about your drive (search for part numbers from the label), this should bring out enough information. Remember the write speed.

You must extract the diode from the sled. This video shows the process:


if you have other model of dvd burner, set your DMM to the DIODE TEST mode and test both diodes using the pinout below. When you see bright red light, you've got your diode :)

Step 4: Step 2: Collimation optics

This is needed to make the actual laser beam. Without this lens, you would have just a very wide, useless spot.
The most common colimator is  called Aixiz module, and it serves as the holder for both the diode and lens.
The diode is being press-fit into the module, using vice (see the pics).
You can buy it from the e-shops I mentioned in previous step
brooksby1 hour ago

I cant get a 35mw laser diode burning with the standard laser circuit ie.9v lm31t.

what could the problem be?

CCube5511 days ago
can I use the G9105 regulator???
sonubachhav3 months ago
for metal cutting what i can do...?
army_knife9 months ago
Hi, I want to build a ~150mW 532nm green laser, but am not quite sure how to.
I have a flashlight housing with 2x 3.7V batteries, which i bet I can fit the laser into
I want to buy all the pieces online so that I can assemble the laser when they arrive,
but seems like no one is selling a laser diode nor driver,
I am want to spend <35$,
is this possible? if so, can you reffer to a ebay seller, or maybe share some links?
3zuli (author)  army_knife9 months ago
This is not possible for < $35 (unless you get the module as a gift from someone :D ). Just the laser module will cost you $40-50, for example this one: http://dx.com/p/200mw-532nm-green-laser-module-3v-11-9mm-26891?r=93098389 , which should output 100-150mW.
These modules can't handle 2 3.7V batteries, so you can either replace the original driver with one that can run from 7.4V, or you can build a spacer that will fit inside the battery tube and will replace one of the batteries, so that you only get 3.7V. It's also recommended to connect a diode (1N4007) in series with the module, because some modules might get burned from fully charged LiIon cells (4.2V) and the diode reduces the voltage by about 0.6V.
I recommend you to go to laserpointerforums.com and view the Green lasers section and try searching for "green laser tutorial" or so, I am sure you will find lots of informaton and ideas for your build :)
what is the voltage & Amps of a red laser diode?
(I am using a 22x HP DVD R\W Drive red laser diode...)
3zuli (author)  Hamzafarooq1 year ago
16x...200-250mA...<200mW
22x...300-400mA...250-300mW
Start at 300mA to be safe.
HFraza1 year ago
please tell me the voltage of laser diode
3v,
4v
or +7.2V
3zuli (author)  HFraza1 year ago
what diode are you using?
Electorials2 years ago
"But kipkay didn't use any driver...
Why do you think we have to deal with n00bs crying about their dead Laser Burning Flashlight Hack?"

lol that was funny :D


There's something I don't really understand:
16x...200-250mA...<200mW
22x...300-400mA...250-300mW

In these examples, it means that the diode will run at
U=P/I = 200mW/250mA = 0.80V
U=P/I = 300mW/400mA = 0.75V

Isn't that voltage Really low?
Datasheets say that a dvd burner diode runs at +- 4V ?!

Also, the power (e.g. 200mW) is that electrical or optical power?
3zuli (author)  Electorials2 years ago
the power I'm talking about is the optical output from laser diode. the electrical power is greater.
Ok.

And what is the average efficiency value of a DVD burner diode?
(Output power / Input power)
3zuli (author)  Electorials2 years ago
I don't remember the exact efficiency, each type of diode is a bit different. for example, this graph is for lpc815 (22x) burner diode
http://www.lasersurplusparts.com/images/LEC_LPC-815-red.png
Ok, Thank you ;)
how to make it without module
HFraza1 year ago
please tell me the voltage of laser burner
cas24062 years ago
hi there

i did every thing as you did but i can't get the laser to burn, could you please help me? i used the same parts (laser diode, parts for the driver).

3zuli (author)  cas24062 years ago
1. what PSU are you using?
2. is the laser focused?
cas2406 3zuli2 years ago
I am using a dell PS-5161-1D PSU
Output: at 5V, max 11A, 85W max
at 12V, 9A max, 160W max.
i have tested at both voltage. and the beam is focused
Dreistein2 years ago
do u really need to use a module?
3zuli (author)  Dreistein2 years ago
well, you don't have to, but it's just so much easier to use one, and they are pretty cheap (around $4)
can i use the power from a tomcat torch and/or a 3v power suply?
can i connect a 3v power supply to my diode without anything else mabey a diode?
Sorry, but I have one more question. When measuring the voltage to adjust my driver's pot, should the power supply be on? I imagine it should, but I just want to make sure since the power supply comes in the step after you adjust your driver. Maybe I worry too much, but I don't want to fry my diode. :)
3zuli (author)  instructanator2 years ago
of course, the power supply has to be powered on while adjusting the current
Yea, that was a little stupid of me. Just making sure.
I have been looking for a resistor for the test load.  I found over a hundred 1 ohm resistors on digikey, and I'm kinda confused.  Could you give me some more info on which to use, or does it not matter for this application as long as it is 1 ohm?
3zuli (author)  instructanator2 years ago
you should use a resistor that is rated for at least 1W of power. the common 1/4 or 1/2W resistors can't handle bigger currents. so get a 1ohm 1W (or any higher wattage)
Thank you!
thankx 3zuli again

Actually lilbit confused of what axis module to purchase,in axis store I saw various 12*30mm modules but these have different specs ie,

1>AixiZ 120° Line Generator for 12x30mm Housing
2>AixiZ 38° Line Generator for 12x30mm Housing
3>AixiZ 60° Line Generator for 12x30mm Housing
4>AixiZ 89° Line Generator for 12x30mm Housing
5>AixiZ 9mm Cross Hair Lens for 12mm Casing

donno which one to purchase so that I get a maximum burning with LPC815 Red Laser Diode.
3zuli (author)  Dimitrioptimus2 years ago
those lenses won't give you a dot, but a line or cross. to get a dot shaped beam, you need this:
http://www.modwerx.com/shop/laser-modules-spare-lenses-c-12/laser-focusing-module-for-5-6mm-laser-diodes-adjustable-focus-p-11?zenid=9sdhugjbn2mlu9l9iofhho6mf1

and to get the most burning power, you need this AR coated lens:
http://www.aixiz.com/store/product_info.php/cPath/28/products_id/60/osCsid/c2d8dafd1f5eaab5671f0e8ee4d64784
Thank u very much 3zuli for responding so quickly indeed it was very helpful

I have some more questions so plz respond


1>I will purchase TrustFire TR-001 Multi-Purpose Lithium Battery Charger but which battery will be best suited for this project plz mention type,made & manufacturer.Plz give the site name if possible,from where shipping is low or free cuz I live in India.


2>I want to use LPC-815 diode with it with asiz module,does glass less increases the efficieny about 10 to 15%


3>U mentioned to use a good heatsink,my heatsink has 2.2cm*1.5cm*1cm is it ok.

4>Is stonetek corporation is good for buying LASER HEATSINK MODULE & LASER DIODE?


5>I want to buy blue laser diode,plz mention which will be most powerful which are commercially avaiable(plz mention the site name if psble)

6>Is LM-350 can replace LM-317 in this project as LM-350 can handle 3amps with same refernce voltage as lm317 as a result less geat will generate n smaller heatsinks can be used,plz give suggestion if I right or wrong


thanks in advance...n sorry for asking out of syllabus qestions


06062011045.jpg
3zuli (author)  Dimitrioptimus2 years ago
1. for a first project, I'd recommend the 14500 batteries, since they are of the size of a AA battery and you can use standart 2x AA battery holder. I'm using TrustFire 14500's from DX, the link is in the "Power supply" step

2. the glass lens should be a bit more effective, there are also lenses with AR coating for red lasers that can increase the effectivity with about 10%

3. the point is to make the best contact between the laser module and heatsink. see the "Final phase" step for inspiration on this

4. stonetek is very reputable and has 100% reputation

5. what wavelength (or color) do you want? 405nm (violet) - the most powerful diodes (known as the "12x") can be pushed to 500mW and more; 445nm (blue) are commonly run at 1.2-1.7W. iirc, both can be bought at stonetek but I strongly recommend you that you should first build some low powered cheap red laser, practice diode harvesting and soldering, BUY PROPER LASER GOGGLES and only after that startt building high powered lasers.

6. LM350 can be used, but you must still heatsink it
PLZZZZZ clarify my doubts


1>want to know that if I use Li-Ion batteries i.e; 18650 which are 3.7v 2600maH,then I have to use 3 of them connected in Series is that right(about 11.1 v )(since the total consumption will be about 7.2v),but these batteries comes with pcb protection so when I will be using this laser will the pcb should posses any problem.Secondly want to know that if this driver can handle 2600mah.

2>Then in case 14500 which is standard AA(1.5)then have to use 5 of them I guess,plz clarify if I am right or wrong.

3>Can u plz give the names of the chargers which charges these batteries,1 by 1 charging will not be a problem for me.

4>plz suggest the best lion battery manufacturers. I went to this site(http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?257543-LiIon-18650-battery-comparison)but cant decide which one to purchase.

Thankx in advance

3zuli (author)  Dimitrioptimus2 years ago
1. what diode are you using? because for red or IR laser 2 LiIon's are enough, but for bluray or 445nm you need 3 batteries. Also, don't forget to properly heatsink the LM317, it will get toasty ;) The protection PCB is mostly your friend, it just monitors the battery and keeps it from under- and overcharging and disconnects the load, if the current is too big. The 2600mAh number is the capacity of battery, the higher, the better - the more power can be stored inside and the longer is the runtime.

2. 14500's are 3.7V LiIon's too, so you have to use 2 or 3 of them

3. I'm using this one: http://www.dealextreme.com/p/trustfire-tr-001-multi-purpose-lithium-battery-charger-12594 It's a bit slow but works, this one is quick charger (and can fit some bigger batteries too): http://www.dealextreme.com/p/ultrafire-wf-188-rapid-charger-for-3-2v-3-7v-lithium-batteries-100-240v-44091

4. You don't have to use those $15 AW IMR batteries, in fact those cheap 18650's and 14500's I linked in this step are good enough (I'm using both, drawing 1.5A from 18650 and 0.8A from 2 14500's in series and they preform well)
hope I helped you :)
nothinglabs2 years ago
thanks for posting this - very useful.
jmcvay3 years ago
a file only cuts going one direction, you will dull it going both
kelseymh3 years ago
So, you're not actually telling us how to build a laser. You're just telling us how to build the housing and driver circuitry for a pre-fabricated laser diode.
3zuli (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
yes, but this is the info that most beginners consider as "how to build a laser". this is written mainly for beginners.
everybody must start somehow, with something easy to build and understand
Yeah, I can see it as still quite useful
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