Instructables
I have been making the laser vortex for several years as a Halloween affect on my front porch, everyone loves the affect. Finally, this year I created a Halloween site showing others how to make one of these. The video of this can be found on http://haunted.hyperreactor.net. Its made with a laser pointer, small motor, and a mirror creating an effect similar to what you might see at Halloween Horror Nights but on a smaller scale and much cheaper.

I have uploaded the how to videos and added them the the end of this instructable along with some example videos of the vortex in action. I have said this a hundred times but once again, it is even more spectacular to see it in person. There is so much depth that the video dose not bring out.
 
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Step 1: Laser Pointer Mount

We will be mounting the laser on a scrap piece of wood. The one used here is about 1 ½ by 1 inch and cut to about 6 or 7 inches. A 2 by 4 would also work well and can be found in your local hardware store. It will probably cost you less than a dollar if you need to purchase this piece.

A beam clamp was used to secure the laser pointer to the wood base and hold down the “on” button continuously. Three were used, two for securing the laser pointer in place and one to hold down the button. The one holding down the button should only be tight enough to hold the button down, if it is too tight it may damage the button. These beam clamps would be easy to find in the electrical section of your local hardware store near the electrical conduit for less than a dollar a piece. Just make sure there is a screw hole on the clamp to mount it to the wood base.

I may be showing my age.... But it is very reminiscent of the "time travel vortex" effect used in the 1981 movie, "The Final Countdown".

Very cool
it reminds me of the game "Portal"...
Charlie133 years ago
You could tape a prism to the top of an old whacked out CD player and then reflect the lasers through the prism.
um yeah its a nail not a screw
you used a screw not a nail
mikeerdas4 years ago
Nice work. I'm not very handy, so I modified a USD $50 green laser unit from Guitar Center to do the laser vortex. Plugs into the wall, so no batteries to worry about. Has a fan. Has a mount:

The how-to itself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tH7FjiwrdDE

What it looks like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vTIbJ-pyXc

buchd5 years ago
Is this a sort of 2-d "hole" that people could pass through, or if you aimed it down a hallway could you create a "tunnel" effect? I moved into an apartment with a long and awkwardly empty hallway that this would be perfect for... Going for a sort of "twilight zone" effect, if I can manage it.
Imagine Light reflected from this to be in a conical shape, where the thinner part emerges from the mirror, the closer you are to it, the thinner it is. Hence it will either be visible on your clothes. If you make the angle wider, the farther you are from the mirror, the more likely light never reaches you. It will end up just forming circle on the walls closer to the mirror.

What I mean is that you need is a cylinder to mimic a tunnel, a cone would not work.

Anyway, you would need the smoke to be everywhere in that room for the tunnel effect, this also means that the more effective the tunnel is, the smaller it has to be.
Sorry the pic didn't upload, but this should help better understand
untitled.PNG
ht2o5 years ago
realy realy kool i might be able to try this when i get bat home
What is that all about.
i think this is how they do this in doctor who
Red_E_Made6 years ago
Shouldn't the wood get turned around so the side clamped to the table also has the laser clamps? Or are you planning on dropping the last 3 steps of work?
That's a good point, well spotted.
Evil Bike5 years ago
THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY!! get a laser pointer, shine it thru the bottom of a nalegene bottle. the way the bottle is shaped it does that. you have to move it around a little
mever (author)  Evil Bike5 years ago
Sorry, that will not produce the same effect.
Evil Bike mever5 years ago
r u sure... jk, its really cool tho
mever (author)  Evil Bike5 years ago
It is cool… but it diffuses the beam and causes it to go out of focus. Looks neat on a wall or a flat surface but can’t produce a sharp image in mid air.
Evil Bike mever5 years ago
it is best up close.
This is my main setup. The laser pen is actually a cheap laser pointer that I modified to use AAA batteries. I used some heavy guage wire for the bipod and a ring of plastic(3rd picture) held together by duct tape that slides over the button, holding it down. For the mirror part, I used a free mirror from the Hair Cuttery, which is bigger than most used here. I attached the mirror to the motor with a folded section of a milk jug. I punched a hole and put the shaft through the hole. Then I pushed the plastc gear that came with the motor over the shaft and the plastic layer. I hot glued the gear to the plastic all around. I used a double D cell battery holder from i science kit and glued that to a random piece of wood for stability. Then I glued the motor to the top of the battery case. The last picture is on my bathroom floor and wall without smoke.
F:\DCIM\102NIKON\LVortex2.JPGF:\DCIM\102NIKON\LVortex3.JPGF:\DCIM\102NIKON\LVortex4.JPG
wow! how many AAA batteries does it take?
The pointer originally had 3 button batteries, and each button battery is 1.5 volts. Each AAA battery is 1.5 volts so it uses 3 AAA's. The mirror spinning component uses two D cell batteries, which are also 1.5 volts, but last longer.
how do u convert the laser from button batterys 2 AAA baterys
It's not a perfect mod, but if someone else wants me to post it, I might do it during Christmas. My camera is a little fidgety so I've been reluctant to make Instructables lately. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find one of my other laser pointers, but if I see one at the dollar store, I'll pick it up.
post your mod :P it's great
Heres my first picture that didn't show up.
F:\DCIM\102NIKON\LVortex1.JPG
that's cool im going to try a mirror instead of a cd. the first time i used 6 volts in which case the cd shot off the motor and ricocheted off of my tv. i tried 1.5 volts next with another cd and even with the addition of fog, was not able to produce a non diffracted beam. so what im wondering is .. can you explain how you attached that mirror to the motor ?
Wash out a plastic milk jug, if you're in America like me. Cut an 8x4inch strip of plastic, or fit it yourself. Bend it around itself like in the pictures to the desired angle(this setup has a fixed angle)and hot glue it in place. Poke a hole where you want the motor to go with a thumbtack or something. Push the motor shaft into the hole and attach the gear on the inside to the shaft. If you don't have a gear with it, use an eraser or part of a glue stick. Hot glue all around the gear ONLY ON THE INSIDE. Then hot glue on the mirror to the other side.
DSCN3320.JPGDSCN3321.JPGDSCN3322.JPG
thank you very much !
mever (author)  JamesRPatrick6 years ago
I love your bipod, its a perfectly simple solution to pointing the laser in the proper direction. Do you have any vibration trouble with the large mirror mounted to the motor?
There's some vibration but I think it is because my hot glue doesn't completely cover the connection points. When I squeeze the top of the motor and the bottom of the wood, the vibration stops. If anyone uses a bigger mirror, I recommend putting rubber pads on the bottom of the mirror component or taping it down. Mine tries to run away when it's turned on, but for a five minute throw together, it works fine.
can u giv me a list of all the materials? plz and thank u
Mattrox5 years ago
That is SOO cool great job
mever (author)  Mattrox5 years ago
Thanks!
Flashdude5 years ago
I love it! my uses might be for something other than Halloween, though. lol. imagine this as a hand-held version. mini vortex at rock concerts. :D
mever (author)  Flashdude5 years ago
There was a rock band in Las Vegas that built one for concerts last year. It should work out well.
hey awesome idea! what is the song that you used in the first video the green vortex?
mever (author)  freedomfighter6 years ago
That is Midnight Syndicate, Born Of The Night. I think Born Of The Night is the name of the album as well but you really can't go wrong with any of their work to set a Halloween mood.
thatguysbow6 years ago
nice instructable, but i have a quick question. my laser pointer is one of the ones that has the red beam will it still work?
mever (author)  thatguysbow6 years ago
Yes, red will work. I used a red laser for years until the price of the green lasers became more affordable. You can even use green and red at the same time, I have been wanting to try this with 3D Glasses. I imagine this would give an interesting affect.
ok thanks, cuz i just got down my fog machine and i have my laser ready to do a test..... now if night would hurry up and come XD. i already have all the parts to build it just got to put it together.
flybabytina6 years ago
Ok, so I salvaged a motor from an old walkman type personal CD player and I got thinking... is it possible to use the laser from it for the vortex? I absolutely love this idea! Thanks so much for sharing it!
mever (author)  flybabytina6 years ago
Sorry, the laser in an audio CD player will not produce a visible beam. some DVD burners do but they are normally red in color and I do not know how safe they would be or how focused the beam is at longer range. Good luck with your project... Haunting season is just around the corner!
Rye6 years ago
do you have to worry about the laser effecting your eyes?like in vortex form?
mever (author)  Rye6 years ago
Because the single point of the laser is spread out of the size of cone, the brightness is severely reduced. The fog it illuminates further dissipates the brightness of the laser as well. So this is generally a very safe project but the cone diameter and fog density change depending on its setup. For this reason, I recommended using no more than a 5mW laser pointer for this. You could use more but 5mw will be safe and quite spectacular. Some safety info from my site can be found here:

http://haunted.hyperreactor.net/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Disclaimer_%10_Safety_FAQs/Laser_Vortex_safety/

If you want to do more research on laser safety in regard to this project, this is is considered "audience scanning". Searching on this should give you alot of good information.
bustedit6 years ago
How long can you leave a (relatively inexpensive) 5mw laser ON before you need to be concerned w burning it out? Or is that even a problem? I thought I read somewhere not to have it on continuosly for more than 30 secs. Very nice instructable, too!
mever (author)  bustedit6 years ago
Thats a very good question that has not been asked before. With any half decent non-modified 5mw laser, it will not harm it to be on for several hours. My cheep $20 green 5mw runs for about 4 hours straight time on Halloween and has no issues through the last two seasons. Over driving a laser diode for long periods of time will kill it by causing it to over heat. You can boost its output by modifying it or pushing more power than it was designed to handle but it can harm your laser, especially if left on in this over driven state for long durations. You should have no troubles as long as you do not modify it.
vaxjo6 years ago
I banged up a spinning mirror in about five minutes out of:

1. muffin fan (12v, probably salvaged from an old computer)
2. scrap cardboard
3. mylar

On face of the fan must be completely exposed (if there is a protective grill you will have to remove it). Cut a rectangular piece of cardboard as wide as the fan is and twice as long. Fold it in half and hot-glue half of it to the exposed spinning fan. Glue some mylar to the other, angled half of the cardboard.
The angle of the mylar was too great when I did this so I glued a second, smaller piece of cardboard inside the folded cardboard as a spacer and to hold the cardboard at a much shallowed angle.

The mylar doesn't reflect as perfectly as a good mirror would but that it will suffice until you can find a 2" piece of mirror. This evening, when it's dark, I'll make some smoke, point a laser pointer at the spinning mirror and try not to get sucked into the vortex.
muffin fans.JPGside view.JPGangled view.JPG
would it be possible to do something like this on a larger scale, say for a prom? I mean, it's completely irrelevant to our theme but would be awesome any how. Would a flashlight on a rotating compact mirror work the same as a laser or would the light diffuse differently?
mever (author)  Demon_Darkchild6 years ago
I have had people in a band using this for small concerts, so yes it would work great for a prom. You can make a fairly large vortex (over 8 feet in diameter) by using a first surface mirror and green laser rated at around 5mw. You will loose some range by using a regular craft mirror but you can still get a good vortex over 4 feet in size as long as you stick to a green laser. A flashlight would not work for this, you need a single beam of light only a laser can provide but the parts for this should not be hard to find. Let me know if your having trouble finding them.This would be great for a prom.
Hey... Thanx for the instructable! I made one today... but I didn't actually look at your WHOLE instructable, and so my mirror is at like a 45 ish degree angle (which I know is TOO much). Also, I just simply hot glued the mirror right on my motor (instead of using the bottle cap and other stuff). I will probably make another one tomorrow with MUCH less of an angle, even though I am using a Green Laser. The only other thing I need now is a fog machine.
mever (author)  Alexizupinhea6 years ago
Glad you liked instructable. A fog machine is the best thing to use for a large dense vortex but I have used burning incense for smaller versions. I have heard of people making interesting affects with this outside when it snows or rains as well. Have fun!
v_rancher6 years ago
well, that's a really good effect & nice to see the varyiances available for in the effect just with some simple changes to cheap motors & mirrors/mounts/angles.
keep on goin'....
rob =][=
I used to have a huge contractors laser.....wish I still had THAT. it would put a BRIGHT red dot on white siding in broad daylight at 30 ft
maybe I'll try to find another one somewhere.....
mever (author)  James (pseudo-geek)6 years ago
That would be nice to try out. Keep you eye out for one, people toss out useful all the time.
heheh actually one should never get their eye even NEAR one lol.
oh my word man that rocks.
Uh, I think you mean Effect... not Affect.
mever (author)  chibipowered6 years ago
Thanks, your the first one to catch that. I fixed the one on the intro.. I'll need to go over rest of it later. Thanks again,
torval6 years ago
If you need a motor, and have an old cd player... disassemble the cd player and you'll find motors in them and some switches too(the motors where it spins the cd and moves the reader) Look on the motor and see what voltage it'll take too, some will have it some won't but just try using a battery... oh and you'll need a soldering iron or desolderer or whatever but its a way to get a motor without paying if you have one around...
mever (author)  torval6 years ago
This is so true! cd-roms, dvd-roms, cd players and dvd players are great for salvage. The motor that spins the disk (from what i have seen) is just a low voltage DC motor that works well at around 3 volt. This is an image of a DVD player that no longer worked from Junk Santa. After removing the lid and one metal bracket (a total of 6 screws) I just unclipped the motor leads and removed the 3 small screws holding it in. They are small, quiet and perfect to hot glue mirrors to.
DVD_Motor_Removal.jpg
torval mever6 years ago
you can run 3v, 6v, and if you want fast go to 9v... it is awesome, here's a few pictures of the things i salvaged
1029071510.jpg
leebryuk7 years ago
I was hoping that this would post again. Very cool. As far as the laser goes, there are easier ways to do it. Harbor Freight (www.harborfreight.com) has local stores and an online store that sells very cheap goods. They have two things that would be very easy to use for the laser.

The first is a laser level. Cheaper than most pens and it's post Halloween functional.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=90980

The second has no real use in my opinion, but would be fun to open up just to see. Get ready for the next advance in scissor technology.

Laser guided scissors.

YES! You too can have your own laser guided cutting scissors (no joke) for $10.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=95566

Happy Hacking,
Lee
mever (author)  leebryuk7 years ago
Here are some images sent to me by Robert Beech that runs Brandywine Cemetery. He has done a great job creating an excellent vortex.

A repost sounds like a good idea. I should have time for posting a second version of the laser vortex based on more recent designs for improved performance. This instructable uses parts you may have on hand or would be easy to find at the local hardware store. The next one may require scavenging or ordering some parts but will be more reliable, quieter and more fluid. This would answer a lot of questions i get on materials and improvements as well.

Looks like a have work to do :)
1482232777_efab300b14_o.jpg1482232583_051e73c847_o.jpg1482232345_8ad33866d2_o.jpg1485958547_0f6e6d9240_o.jpg
mever (author)  leebryuk7 years ago
There are a lot of cheep tools that have red lasers and many have lasers that are close to 5mw. The ones with tripods are good for this and the tripod shown in this project came from a laser level kit I got at Target for around $10. You can even get laser pointer combo lights and pens for under $3 that have very low power red lasers (under 1mw). These are great for really nice small affects or prototyping. I hope to post these in the near future. Using a green laser pointer makes a big difference in the vortex projection. Green light is much more visible than red to the human eye. So a red laser will work but green will be much more visible. The extra $10 to $20 for a green laser makes a big difference. Also, laser levels that project a line rather than a point will not work for an affect like this unless you can remove the lens that focuses the single point into a projected line. You need a single point that scans across the same path fast enough to appear visible, this is the same way CRT TV’s have worked for over 50 years. I checked the “Project Video Part Two" and it seems to be working now, please let me know if there are still problems. No worries on your English, I have no trouble reading or understanding the comments you posted and thats the important part. Cheers! Eric
iemand7 years ago
Looks ok to me. I've seen some kits(30 dollars) without lasers, which had 2 mirrors instead of one. It worked by letting the laser light shine on the first mirror(which was turning around), then the first mirror reflected the light onto the second one, who was also turning around, then reflected away into the field. btw. the video called: "Project Video Part Two" ain't working anymore (I'm sorry for my bad English)
This is just what I need! I've been looking for something new this year. I always have lots of fog available. This will really jazz it up! Very nice instructable. Extremely detailed, nice videos, excellent production. This may be the best instructable I've seen. I'm very impressed by all.
mever (author)  MasterOfNone7 years ago
Thanks for the complements! This has been a lot more popular that i ever expected. I even found it mentioned in some local news coverage on YouTube of someone in Chicago that put it in his haunt. I posted the video on LaserVortex.net and below. - Thanks Again!


Congratulations on the news coverage! I have a couple of questions. 1. What is the "best" motor rpm (for the best effect)? 2. What is the best angle between the beam and the motor axis? Is it better to come straight on or at a glancing angle? (Or doesn't it matter?)
mever (author)  MasterOfNone7 years ago
I have never actually measured the motor speed but you should get a good vortex at around 900 rpm, that will give about 15 rotations every second. If you can get 1800 rmp it may appear more fluid but vibration will be a problem if its too far out of balance. Glancing angle should not matter. The variance introduced by the mirror angle will remain the same when the Glancing angle changes.
Ohm mever7 years ago
That was actually in Aloha Oregon.
RoBko7 years ago
You colud make an interesting stripe-effect by turning the laser on and off rapidly. If you make the on-off frequency of the laser exactly the multiple of the mirror rpm, you would get a nice striped vortex with stripes emanating from the source and broadening with the distance. By slightly adjusting the frequency (or the motor rpm) you could make the stripes move around. Ther are more ways to quickly switch the laser on and off: One of them is to use an electronic circuit to switch the power to the laser with adjustable frequency. The other is - assuming the laser is not too powerful - to put some kind of shutter between the laser and the mirror. This could be accomplished by a dc motor with a propeller (or a disk with holes cut out) attached. By syncing the rpms of the mirror and the shutter you could create and move the stripes. By using semi-transparent materials for shutter, the stripes would be of alternating brightness. Further suggestions are very welcome, and thanks to mever for the excellent instructable.
mever (author)  RoBko7 years ago
Thats a good idea. With the laser output of less than 5 mw, it would not be hard to make a solid state circuit for this using a 555 timer. I wont have the time to try this out before Halloween but maybe someone else here will. I would love to see how this turns out.
i see where ur coming from with the wind that the cd would produce. i actually tried to make one of these yesterday( i wasnt very succesfull, thats why im here again) and i got a pretty nice looking vortex by reflecting the laser off of a piece of aluminium foil, the little wrinkles in it make it look really cool.
to be even more practical why not use an upside down old cd for the mirror, they are very reflective.
mever (author)  youkneephsycle7 years ago
The first one I made used a CD and the will work but they are not as reflective as a mirror. Their large diameter also makes balancing an issue and more wind turbulence disturbing the wispy fog that looks best in the Vortex. You can use a CD but small mirrors work better and first surface mirrors are best.
mcclint7 years ago
I built one that's in one piece for easy portability and storage. If you look at the pictures you can get a good idea of what was involved. The one part that isn't totally obvious from the pictures is that the strip of metal the motor is sitting on was bent into a slight V to cradle the motor AND I used a little bit of silicon sealant and let it dry to provide some cushion to minimize vibrations. The motor, switch, and battery housing were purchased from Radio Shack for about $5. The mount for the laser is an old PCI slot cover from a computer case. I bent the small tab and cut slots in the wood to keep it anchored but still be easy enough to take off.
100_1181.jpg100_1182.jpg
mever (author)  mcclint7 years ago
Cool.. That looks sweet!
A hint from when I was a kid if you buy a cheap 5 dollar CD player and take the lip off but then lock it so its things the lid is on you could glue a small mirror to that and it would rotate pretty well
mever (author)  livinghighlander7 years ago
Thats an excellent tip. I found the motors in old cd players to work great as well. The clasp that holds the cd to the motor is great to glue a mirror to.
icemanfred7 years ago
If you are using a green laser, is there any hazard or limitations involved? i.e: dont put at eye level? dont direct into the sky? etc
mever (author)  icemanfred7 years ago
Good Question. The safety concerns involved are rather minor as long as you stick to the low power laser pointers used here. The laser pointers rated at less than 5 mw is all you need using a green laser for a great vortex. Follow the safety instructions that came with your laser when using it as a normal laser pointer. In the laser vortex, dissipation of the laser projected as a circle spreads the intensity way down. I have safety information on my site showing one method used to figure intensity of the projected laser using the projected diameter at http://www.hyperreactor.com/haunted/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Disclaimer_%10_Safety_FAQs/http://www.hyperreactor.com/haunted/Frequently_Asked_Questions/Disclaimer_%10_Safety_FAQs/

Pointing the projected laser vortex into the sky is also safe due to the increasing diameter of the cone.

There are standardized practices for safe "Audience Scanning" and I could not cover them all but a search on Google will bring up all the technical data you need to do the figuring.

Hope this helps :)
Things really get fun when you add a second, or perhaps even (gasp!) third mirror to the setup. It would take some careful control of the rotation speeds of the mirror, but if you were to add a potentiometer to each motor, you'd be able to set up some really cool effects. Think of it as similar to the old-school spiralgraphs. If one mirror gives you a circle, think of the fun you could have by rotating that circle, in a circle. Or with a third mirror, making a circle, in a circle, in a circle. Google search "Laser Widow". It's a lighting effect by American DJ which operates on this principle. Very nice Instructable.
mever (author)  nhenryberends7 years ago
I made the mistake of reading your comment just before going to bed last night, didn’t sleep at all running the second reflection angle limitations in my head over and over figuring how far I can push your multiple laser reflector idea (without breaking the bank anyway…lol). Been going as far as working out ways the Laser Vortex can bring in an income to support my laser habit. This is a great idea and although I have used multiple lasers off of one orbital mirror at different angles of attack to manipulate the vortex placement and elliptical shape, I have never tried a dual reflector with a single laser on the vortex affect. Diffraction caused by the common second surface craft mirrors I have been using doubles with every one I use causing the vortex to become dimmer and more diffused with every mirror. Rather than avoiding the diffraction problem, I’m going to try using first surface mirrors to eliminate it. Should give a sharper, brighter vortex and using a second reflector you suggested is likely to make an interesting affect. Anyone know a good place to order some cheap first surface mirrors? Once the PIC controller I won comes in I’ll have that to play with on this at the same time… oh the possibilities. I can see I won’t be getting much work done anytime soon. Thanks for the compliment and the idea!
You might want to consider using a potentiometer in circuit with the fan motor, maybe mounted on the side of that nice black box, as a knob to control your motor speed on the fly.

Also, you should combine the vortex with this sweet instructable on Levitation and possibly combine with the LED Stickies to have wil-o-wisps floating mid air in your vortex. Attach the LEDs to candy, and you have floating ethereal halloween goodies to grab!

sersiously could get awesome very fast.
A potentiometer in series with the motor is a poor choice of speed control for at least two reasons.

For one, the potentiometer is going to waste power... it simply turns power into heat. If your motor is battery powered, this will eat up your battery faster than if you used a proper speed control.

Second, the power lost in the potentiometer will mean less power delivered to the motor; at some point the motor will not be given enough power to maintain speed and it will simply stop. You won't have a full range of speed control.. you'll only be able to slow the motor a small amount.

A proper motor speed control delivers full power to the motor, but the power is pulsed when a slower speed is desired. The duty cycle of the pulsing determines the speed of the motor... this concept is called PWM (Pulse Width Modulation).

Only a handful of parts are needed to produce such a controller (see electronickits.com for an example). I'm surprised there isn't an instructable for this already!
you can try American Science And Surplus for first surface mirrors
mever (author)  sdedalus20007 years ago
Cool, Thanks for the suggestion!
poppniete mever7 years ago
scanners contain surface mirrors. you can find a lot of these el-cheapo-flatbed scanners in the junk.
spoonmerlin7 years ago
I wonder if you could use a fiber out from a sound device to add a pulsing effect or just to save setup time.
mever (author)  spoonmerlin7 years ago
The fiber out may be rather difficult, there would need to be an interface to interpret the optical fiber signal to a mechanical change with this design. I like the look of a consistent mechanical design but have done some work on changing the diameter by changing the motor speed. It simply uses the additional centrifugal force to change the mirror angle. This could be one good analog way to pulse the vortex diameter to sound.
dirtdawg7 years ago
I love this what if you passed the beam through a rotating prism
mever (author)  dirtdawg7 years ago
Wow, cool idea! Its only one color going in so the integrity of the beam should not be affected using a good prism. I have never tried it before, but passing it through a rotating prism adds a lot of angle changes. I would love to see what it would do but probably take some time to play with the prism alignment and laser alignment. I might be over thinking it but I know just a little change in the laser pointed at the prism would make a big change in where it’s directed. I hope I get some free time to try this soon. Been so busy I haven’t had time to even post much recently but I didn’t put the fog machine away this year. So when I get a few free days I might give this a try. If you try it before I get the chance, let me know what happens. The alignment might not be that hard to setup and the cone shape could get really interesting.
I tried running the laser beam trough a prism, The result was a chaotic whirl of light going everywhere. After that I ran a white projector beam through it, and ended up with a rainbow vortex. Pretty Cool huh?
mever (author)  BluePlanet7 years ago
That is cool. Do you have any images you can post of the vortex and how you set the projector up? I would love you see it.
dim7 years ago
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od-edweS54g

here is the link...ckeck out my lightsaber,laser
mever (author)  dim7 years ago
Lot of detail work on that saber handle, looks great Dim.
dim mever7 years ago
Yes...alot of work went into the saber. i wanted it perfect. been working on it for a along time, to get it they way i want it. i saw ur video in your site recently and saw your haloween videos...i got the same reactions too from last years haloween. i can't wait to show this one. you should add sound effects to your background music. i had people too afraid to come to the door to get the candies. anyways. thanks mever.
dim7 years ago
nice! hey...i have spent 5 years since i had my first red laser designing these kinds of projects. anyways, yours is pretty basic idea yet too much clamps and wood and stuff. if u really want to make it simple. buy a laser, buy a portable hand held fan, glue stick and small circular mirrors. thats all u need. anyways. like i said, i have been designing my own like this but hand held. portable. i have recently been able to purchase the right materials last month and have the prototype 98% done. i'll post a pictures of it and video soon. check it out. might help u in ur projects. anyways... great vortex
spankyhaunt dim7 years ago
sounds like green is more powerful then red but I do have a red laser-level. the great thing about that is it already mounts to a tripod. Dim , I assume you glue the small mirrors to the circular fan?
dim spankyhaunt7 years ago
mever (author)  dim7 years ago
Great job Dim! Been so busy that i just recently had time to check it out.
Tyler7132477 years ago
You have one of the $100 ones does it accualy send a beam like it says?
mever (author)  Tyler7132477 years ago
The green laser i have used here was less than $50 but it dose send a visible beam in the air with no fog if it is dark. Mine is around 5mw and usually all you need for a visible beam with a green laser. Just depends on how visible you need it to be for what you want to do with it.
Neil Morris7 years ago
I posted halfway up the page not realizing that this thread had gone on for a while, and looks like someone beat me to the potentiometer line. Anyway, awesome project - im building one for sure.
e13377 years ago
Ok it got them thanks. Great Job.
e13377 years ago
where did you buy the beam clamps? Ive checked a few stores all ready.
mever (author)  e13377 years ago
Got them at home depot in the electrical department for about $1 each. I think I can find a part number they used if it helps.
i think i'm gonna make one, it's a great idea. i have a grean laser, and usually jsut hold it and move it back and fourth real quick for a simmilar effect, but that has many limitations. i don't have a smoke machine, but there's me and my friends chilling in my room, which would make it awesome.
mever (author)  origamimavin7 years ago
Anything that makes a light wispy fog will work. smoke from a cigarette or incense will work, just limits the amount of the affect. If you have a green laser already then you have the most expensive part for a great vortex. Hope it turns out well!
savagesteve7 years ago
Thats exactly the effect they used in the movie "The Final Countdown" when they had the freak storm that took the aircraft carrier back in time.
mever (author)  savagesteve7 years ago
really? cool. Think i have a move to rent soon to see what it looked like.
Calltaker7 years ago
nicely done. always wondered how I could pull off stuff like that. Now I know and that's one more trick to keep stashed up the sleeve when I get called on for making props :) ~C
mever (author)  Calltaker7 years ago
If you happen to make one, I would love to see some pictures or video. Next October should be fun and i can't wait to see what design improvements/changes people come up with for it.
The Leo7 years ago
Fantastic design. Watching the video of the green and red lasers it looked like the green was a lot brighter than the red, as is the nature of red and green light. The eyes pick up green better than red. Some thick or dark glass of some sort in front of the green laser might attenuate it somewhat and level out the brightnesses, unless you like the effect of just a hint of red, which could be just as cool.
mever (author)  The Leo7 years ago
Thanks for the complement. As you said, the green is much brighter than the red even though both are rated at near the same power. I would rather use a more powerful red laser to even it out but who doesn’t want more power. :) Your suggestion is something I can actually do now and I won’t blow a wad of money on it either.
dasclown7 years ago
I bet a guy could do that in an abandoned house or a dark forest were a few people pass by daily and get everyone to think its paranormal or ufo activity. Could be fun!
mever (author)  dasclown7 years ago
(oh no, they're on to me)
thedomainer7 years ago
nice i didint get the chance to do it but i watched the video
chefmichel7 years ago
Great instructable. It is a very ingenious design, good pictures and good video's.
I had the pleasure of viewing the Laser Vortex first hand. What an incredible experience; the mix of red and green laser beams is truly amazing, especially when the dense fog starts to swirl through the vortex beams. Great job and Rock on!! -D
Doom_Goat7 years ago
Awesome, nice work
mever (author)  Doom_Goat7 years ago
Thanks!
this would be so sick with all 3 colors............. and it goin to some music like using the music to manipulate the light!!!! ive actually been planning something like this for like a year now and now someones created an instructable!!!! W0000000000T
mever (author)  redstar.crvenazvezda7 years ago
mgainer made a very similar suggestion modifying it for music, not sure how it would react but plan on giving it a try when i can find some free time. I would love to try a blue laser to but someone is going to need to buy me one for Christmas or get me back on Santa's nice list. :)
kaboomspray8 years ago
if only i could find my laser...
mever (author) 8 years ago
I added some tips and tricks on the site like I said i was going to do, sorry to post it so late for people that may have been looking for it.

I posted video of the Red and Green Laser Vortex combined. You should enjoy this morcheeba!

Direct link to the article: Laser Vortex Performance Tips/Tricks

Hope this is helpful.
dynoflyer8 years ago
Heat sink computer fan at Radio Shack on clearance $4.79. Two red laser targeting sights we already had off pellet guns $0. 1 1/2" mirror from my daughters makeup compact $0. Some scraps of 1x3 $0. Misc. hardware out of the junk drawer in the garage $0. Laser Vortex. . . priceless!! Thanks!!!
mever (author)  dynoflyer8 years ago
Cool! I love recycling.
Myself8 years ago
Target had laser levels for $3 on clearance last time I prowled their tool section. This does about half the work for you, since the tripod is included, the laser is threaded for it, and the push switch leaves the laser on until you push it again. Also, the laser eats AAA batteries which are vastly cheaper and more powerful than the little button cells. As for scanner mounting, Lego motors are absolutely perfect for this. Various sloped pieces will fit onto the shaft, then you can just stick the mirror to the piece with foam tape. If you have two motors, try bouncing the laser off both of them in sequence. By using a shallow angle on the first mirror and a slightly higher angle on the second, then varying their relative speeds, you can do lissajous patterns. Using a simple potentiometer, varying motor speeds is simple: Connect motor negatives to battery negative, all common. Connect motor positives to either end of the pot, and battery positive to the wiper. This works best with tiny motors and a large pot, because you'll be heating the windings with the waste current.
mever (author)  Myself8 years ago
HAHA, funny you should mention that. The red laser in the second image was using that same laser level on clearance from target and the tripod it comes with is the same one i use for mounting the green laser to the mount. But i paid $6 for mine damit!! Oh well... But that red laser level works great for the red vortex and motor speed is easy to tone down with a pot. I'm tuning up my portable reflector with one and modded the mirror mount to change angle as the speed changes via centrifugal force. Great idea on the legos! I need to dig mine out... gives me another idea.
mever (author) 8 years ago
Tomorrow evening I'm going to try and squeeze in an article on getting the most out of your vortex at http://Haunted.HyperReactor.com. Just started putting up the decorations today and my little flogger's heat element died on me at the worst time :( . Looks like I'm gonna need to find a way to tone down the FogMaster before Halloween.
vatosupreme8 years ago
Just built one with a red laser...It works great...this is going to be a contest winner. Where can you get a cheap greeen laser pointer... less than $50.00??
mever (author)  vatosupreme8 years ago
if you watch eBay youll find them for around $25 including shipping, got mine for just over $20. Check my site, http://Haunted.HyperReactor.com, and youll find links to the eBay people that have them that cheep. Some had a buy now for around $35 including shipping. Let me know if you have any trouble..
Beelzebub8 years ago
Definately Nifty, but I would try a cylindrical lens, this produces a plane of lazerness. Such as the one in this instructable http://www.instructables.com/id/ESQ41476M3EP285ZU2/
mever (author)  Beelzebub8 years ago
I try something similar with the red laser a couple of years ago but it did not have the intensity. I'm sure with the green laser it would look awesome, Ill give that a try. Thanks for the idea!
morcheeba8 years ago
Cool project -- I love the two colors of lasers together. I found a brass tube at the hobby store that was (once cut to length) perfect for my laser pointer. The pointer fit well inside, and it was snug enough to press the "on" button with just enough force. The pocket clip on the pointer held the tube well, so it wouldn't fall out.
mever (author)  morcheeba8 years ago
Ill defiantly be sporting the both red and green in the display this Halloween! Now all in need is a blue laser but thats some serious cash.
Very nice. The green gives a great "scary" effect, which would look, I'm sure, a lot better in person.
mever (author)  NonPermissiveEnvironment8 years ago
It looks so much better in person when you can see the depth inside the cone. The red laser was nice but the green is amazing.
mgainer8 years ago
For niftier disco effects, you can mount the mirror to a speaker. For bonus points, set up X and Y mirrors on the left and right channels. (Idea poached from Simon Field, who has had a couple of articles go by in the blog. Hi, Simon!)
mever (author)  mgainer8 years ago
I need to try something like that. I have been trying to pull off a wavy underwater like plane overhead and might be able to do it with something similar. Thanks for the input!
AlfonsVH8 years ago
Great project, great instructable. Congrats!
mever (author)  AlfonsVH8 years ago
Thanks! My first one :)
Junkernaut8 years ago
neato
I have used the same principal on some of my haunts in years past. They do make some awesome visual effects. Try also putting the mirror at a 45 degree angle to the motor shaft. I use a white BIC pen tube for the shaft adapter and hot glue to mount the mirror. It will throw a line all the way around a room. Great Instructable!!