Truth be told it's actually a Rechargeable Remote Control and Programmable Laser Ball... whoa!
So what's a Laser Ball?
Well it's sort of like the Death Star... OK, maybe that's a bit over-dramatic... a Laser Ball is like a programmable disco ball... or a cat-toy for humans (that sounds about right)... or a personal laser light show... the most fun you've had throwing a tennis ball in years(yeah!)... a 21st-century ship in a bottle... the most sophisticated poi or juggling ball ever seen... maybe a first-generation lightsaber training droid?... or maybe it's all of them! Check out the video to see how it works and how to make one then tell me what you think.
I thought this project was a good idea for an Instructable for a number of reasons:
- It's fun to build!
- The building blocks are easily accessible (...open-source much?) and there's a 5-min version that is lot's of fun too
- The project builds upon the open-source and DIY community
- Laser balls can be assembled in an afternoon
- There are a lot of potential variations (batteries, laser color, laser count, etc...)
- If you think lasers are cool (or any blinky light for that matter) than a Laser Ball will blow your socks off!
Step 1: Project Overview
Before getting starting on building a Laser Ball, let me begin with a brief explanation on the format of this Instructable. The first step here will list out scope of the project. The next step shares a little background on Lasers and their unique qualities (sort of an editorial piece). Then the main Instructable begins... Steps 3-8 describe each component in the Laser Ball with some useful information and complimentary links. Step 9 describes the assembly process which was shown in the video. Step 10 is a sort of "mini-instructable" on how to build a "5-min Laser Ball". Some useful details for taking laser pictures are in Step 11, and the process I went through to build this Instructable is described in Step 12. If you just want the details on how to build the laser ball jump to the Assembly step.
To start here's a breakdown of the specifications, steps, timeline, parts, cost, suppliers, tools, and wiring diagram for a full Rechargeable Remote Control and Programmable Laser Ball.
Laser Ball Specifications:
- Total optical power: ~70mW
- Current draw (max): ~300mA
- Operating voltage: 3.3V
- Battery life: ~2.5hrs (but its rechargeable!)
- 1.00 hr - Preparing and gathering materials/tools
- 0.25 hr - Thinking through the design
- 0.50 hr - Preparing the Teensy
- 0.75 hr - Cutting and installing diffraction gratings
- 0.50 hr - Drilling the tennis ball
- 0.50 hr - Installing lasers
- 1.00 hr - Soldering lasers, Teensy, and JST connector
- 0.50 hr - Squeezing components into tennis ball
- 5.00 hrs
- $42 - Red lasers (14) (Buy from Aixiz)
- (Buy from DealExtreme) Note: These DealExtreme lasers are slightly different than the Aixiz lasers. The DX lasers are smaller and cheaper but the cap is glued in place which makes adding the diffration grating much more difficult.
- $9 - Battery (Buy Li-Ion batteries from Sparkfun)
- $16 - Teensy microcontroller (Buy from PRJC)
- $5 - IR remote (Buy from Adafruit)
- $2 - IR receiver (Buy from Adafruit)
- $2 - Diffraction Grating (Buy from Edmund Scientific) (Buy from Ebay)
- $1 - JST connector (Buy from Sparkfun)
- $1 - Tennis Ball (your closet...)
- Soldering iron
- Wire strippers/cutters
- Hobby knife
- Masking tape
- Helping-hands/alligator clips
Update: As part of this overview I've also included two additional images showing the wiring diagram and schematic.