Introduction: Laser Cutter Hidden in a Flip Top Lighter

Picture of Laser Cutter Hidden in a Flip Top Lighter

There may be times when a fuse needs to be lit or something cut at a distance, a laser is a good way to do it but it needs to be disguised as something more a flip top petrol lighter..... it would be more covert without the engraving but as I am not spying at the moment I don't think it will matter too much :)

A word of warning!  Lasers are not toys and need to be used with care, lasers should always be used with safety goggles designed for the wavelength being used.  Always be aware of others around you when using a laser, eyes are not replaceable!

The laser diode used here was the best available when 007 was a boy, much more powerful ones are available now so do your own research to find what you need.....  This setup will light stuff easily enough but is weak by modern standards.

Step 1: General Arrangement

Picture of General Arrangement

This build, though not complex is very fiddly to do as there is not much room to fit everything in, but if you want to have a go here is the information you will need.
This is the General arrangement that I worked from.


 List of parts:

Flip-top lighter of your choice (I used a Star lighter from ebay).

Blu-ray laser diode (PHR 803T)

Aixiz module (front end and lens only, Outside diameter turned down to 10mm).

Small block of aluminium (heatsink/optics holder).

Driver (I used the low range Rkcstr driver, google is your friend).

Push button (I took one from a broken DX green laser)

Batteries (GP 10A [9v 38ma/hr]).

Vero board.

Small pieces of scrap brass sheet, for contacts and springs.

Small piece of plastic for mounting driver and insulating battery contacts.

Various colour insulated single strand copper wire.

Step 2: Heatsink Laser Diode Mount

Picture of Heatsink Laser Diode Mount

The width of the lighter dictates the size of this assembly the drawing shows basic dimensions The hole is tapped m3 dia.

Once the parts are made the laser diode needs to be pressed into the module.:

Step 3: Wre Up Laser

Picture of Wre Up Laser

Solder a pair of wires to the LD (solder the neg pin and the case pin to the same wire to make the laser negative earth) Solder as low down the pins as possible and trim the ends off, you need to save space to clear the lid.
The laser module and heatsink are glued together with 2 part epoxy. Once ahesive is set you will need to trial fit the module into the lighter. I have encapsulated the back of the LD to protect it from damage to the solder joints.

Step 4: Modify Lighter Insert

Picture of Modify Lighter Insert

To do this you will need to remove the flint spring, wadding, wick and striker wheel. Then cut out the front of the windbreak to clear the lens.

While you are at it remove the flint tube, this is easily done by puting the end of a soldering iron into the hole, at the top, when the glue melts push the tube through. Enlarge the wick hole to allow the wiring through. (plastic insulator shown described later)
Fit the laser heatsink and check that the lid will open and close without hitting anything, this just requires you to use a file to take corners off  where needed.

Step 5: Bits and Pieces

Picture of Bits and Pieces

A plastic insulator and a piece of veroboard are required that will fit comfortably into the lighter insert.
Push the plastic insulator into place and scribe the shape of the hole onto it. Remove the insulator, lay the veroboard on top then drill through the four holes, keeping them within the circle.

Earth return straps need to be made from bits of brass sheet and assembled as shown, .

These are bent up and stuck to the insulator with 2 part epoxy, at a later part of the build these will be bent at the ends and the excess cut off, they will stop the assembly from being pushed too far into the lighter.

At some stage you will need to set up the driver circuit to the desired output, as the adjustor will be hidden once the driver is installed, I connected it up to 9v and dummy load to set it too 110ma. Information on using dummy loads can be found here:

Step 6: Wiring It Up Part One

Picture of Wiring It Up Part One

It may be worth noting at this point that the batteries are only 38ma/hr, using them in parallel will give around 120ma, they will not last long, but long enough to be usable. You could adapt this for a lava drive which will make better use of the batteries, I had a Rkcstr so I used it.

Cut a piece of 8mm X 0.5mm brass 25mm long, file a corner off and solder a piece of wire to one end as shown.
The Rkcstr drive can now be attached to the insulator with a dab of glue, place it with solder pads for the laser diode upermost and toward the wires.

Bend 3 wires as shown, trim them to length and solder to correct pads on the driver. Push loops into the remaing holes in the insulator and glue in place. The wires will be perfectly positioned to pass through the drilled out holes in the veroboard.

Connect the wires as shown, leave 4 long ends sticking up, these will be trimmed later.

Step 7: Final Fitting of Insert

Picture of Final Fitting of Insert

I had to rethink the original plan for the negative contacts to the batteries, I was going to put springs in the bottom of the outer case. The problem with this method is that the inner case is held in place by friction, with the springs between the case and the batteries there would be a danger that the inner would be gradually pushed up and may jam the lid.

To keep the correct fit of the inner case a 7mm X 1mm slot needs to be filed in each side then the additional brass parts, shown earlier,  are shaped, soldered in place and fitted.

Step 8: Wiring It Up Part Two

Picture of Wiring It Up Part Two

Now would be a good time to trim the wires to length, strip the insulation and tin the ends. this is done by inserting the assembly fully, passing the wires through the veroboard. Cut the wires 4mm above the veroboard, strip insulation to top surface of  the board.

The wires nearest the edge are soldered to the push button.The other 2 to the LD, be sure to get the polarity correct.

Step 9: All Done

Picture of All Done
Once it is all assembled add some batteries and give it a go!
A video of what it does is here:



KayS14 (author)2016-01-24

It says laser cutter, but I only see it setting things on fire in the video. Will this actually cut or engrave anything? Would it be possible to get a more powerful diode that would both still fit and cut/engrave?

rog8811 (author)KayS142016-01-26

This was produced for a spy tools competition, hence the bogus cutting claim. I use the same laser diode in my laser engraver, it will engrave wood and plastic. It will not cut anything you would need a far more powerful laser for that.

AvivaF (author)2015-06-11


kurlie (author)2012-09-16

If anyone is going to make this, can they please video themselves doing it, so we can have a video tutorial, and if they can post where they bought/salvaged the stuff they used that would be awesome

tesla man (author)2012-06-21

See I was right when said to enter it into the spy contest. You won a prize!!!

tesla man (author)2012-05-24

I think I know the answer to this question, but i will ask anyway. Does it need to be a blu ray player diode?

firesirt (author)tesla man2012-06-20

your best bet would be a diode from a rewritable drive(CD or DVD should work. Good luck getting a diode from a blue-ray writer :P). From what I understand, these are the high power ones, making them best for this kind of thing.

epskoh (author)2012-06-18

How much would it cost to make one of these?

Cyclone1764 (author)2012-06-03

You shoud have used a zippo, you can get them cheap on the internet

tesla man (author)2012-05-24

Great instructable!!! If you haven't already, you should enter it in the spy contest.

BIOhazard_inc (author)2012-05-04

Not working oh well

rog8811 (author)BIOhazard_inc2012-05-04

Try from here

BIOhazard_inc (author)rog88112012-05-17


whaaaaa (author)2012-05-11

THIS IS AMAAZIIIING!!!! I made an account just to comment on it! I looked at your link for the drivers and the guys website said that he can't sell them individually anymore, only in bulk. Can you suggest anywhere else I can get the driver?

rog8811 (author)whaaaaa2012-05-12

Get onto the lazerpointerforum site, look in the for sale section, there are usually some drivers for sale there. Good luck!

Trebor__24 (author)2012-04-29

dose the lid stay closed? and if u have them the links to the shops where u bought stuff would be awesome

rog8811 (author)Trebor__242012-04-29

Yes the lid does stay closed as it is quite a tight fit over the laser heatsink, the sprung clip still works to hold it open.

Here is a link to the page on my website that has the info, some links may be dead but hopefully enough work to make it useful.

whaaaaa (author)rog88112012-05-11

This is AMAAAAAZZZIIIIING!!! I made an account just to comment on it! I looked at the website you listed that sells drivers and the guy said he only sells in bulk now :(. I am very new to this so can you suggest anywhere else I can go to get the driver? I want to build this so bad!

Trebor__24 (author)rog88112012-04-29

thanks man, i cant wait to build this

tundrawolf (author)2012-05-04

He's just sayi'n be careful when you go around blinding people with it, that's all. :)

sevndedlysinz (author)tundrawolf2012-05-08

he also said the word 'to' twice in that same sentence XD. but I am always careful when I decide to go on a blinding rage :D.
and yes, I knew that, I was just questioning his methods of advice

mr monoply33 (author)2012-05-06

I've been wanting to do one of these for years. I want to build it in to an NES zapper, but I'm too paranoid from everyone talking about rebounding radiation. I can defiantly use it and not get it in my eye, my worries are radiating myself in a test-half built, or some situation I'm not thinking about.

If I ever do complete it, I've developed a subtle safety mechanism based on one I saw on a taser. It's very easy, effective, and there's a nice spot right on the Zapper to accommodate it. It will be published here, if I do finish it. Consider following my feed if interested.

(I also need a reputable site to order parts. There are so many conflicting opinions about what would be the best wavelength...)

Natebuh (author)mr monoply332012-05-07

I built a blu-ray laser into a original NES zapper about 2 years ago, it was awesome! But the driver circuit that came with the diode wasn't very good and it died :( I built a battery compartment into the grip and II even managed to use the original trigger with that classic *CLANG* sound it made. No safety devices however...

Its in a box in pieces and I kinda forgot all about it, but I now plan to rebuild it in the near future and I will post it on here for everyone to see.

rog8811 (author)mr monoply332012-05-07

The place you need to go to find parts is
you will find a lot of people selling parts, be assured if they have been selling for a while they are reliable, scammers do not last long.
As to colour, it is your choice, when I built this I put the best LD going at the time which was the blu ray. Read,ask questions, they are a friendly bunch willing to help those who will help themselves.

Good luck with the build.

lookwhatjoeysmaking (author)2012-05-02


how much deed it cost you to make it?

Probale cost around $30.. this does not take into account the labour involved.

zkus (author)2012-05-04

Do you have a quick list of the tools required. I haven't had a chance to read through it (at work currently), but I would assuem from teh "small block of aluminum" bit that there would be some milling or something involved (which means i would be s.o.l.)?

rog8811 (author)zkus2012-05-04

You could get away with a pistol drill and hand tools as long as you are good with your hands.

Instead of turning the aixiz module down in diameter, file flats on opposite sides to fit the windbreak in the lighter. file the bottom flat and......
Replace aluminium block with brass and solder the two together
Use self tapping screws to hold it in place rather than tapping the fixing holes.

Hand files, hack saw, soldering tools and a vice, that is about it.

BIOhazard_inc (author)2012-05-04

No video?

rog8811 (author)BIOhazard_inc2012-05-04

Link works for me, here it is again.....

sevndedlysinz (author)2012-05-04

I am about it. this will come in very useful...(evil laugh)...

Dick Cappels (author)2012-05-03

This is very cool, but this thing is incredibly dangerous, especially if a child gets hold of it. Be very careful where you leave it, and be very careful to to get the beam or a reflection of the beam in anybody's eyes (please).

you realize you just said to be careful to actually do that. "be very careful to get the beam or a reflection of the beam in anybody's eyes (please)" are you encouraging to burn/melt people's eyes or what?

pharseid (author)2012-05-04

Yeah, this subject came up on a forum at Parallax, one of the regulars told us he suffered permanent retinal damage from a reflection when he was playing around with a laser diode. If you're not going to have it completely enclosed, you need to get a set of laser goggles specifically for the wavelength you're using. And everybody else in the area has to have goggles too.

rcplanegy (author)2012-05-04

This is AMAZING! i need one of these but im so technologically illiterate. id like to buy one from you, please email me

merkaba33 (author)2012-05-03

I've seen a few of these done before, always wanted to try it out. Just one question though, what's battery life on one of these? Being a cigarette/cigar smoker, am I going to be having to replace the batteries constantly?

Razanur (author)merkaba332012-05-04

I would definitely not recommend using a laser to ignite a cigarette. If not blocked the ray continues for a few hundred meters, staying highly harmful. One moment of disattraction and you made someone blind or burned his skin.
Maybe if you add a "shield" (so you ignite your cigarette between laser diode and shield) it could be safe.

rog8811 (author)merkaba332012-05-03

The batteries in mine still would light a match now and they have been in for ages, the sums say about half an hour continuous use...this was never meant to be an efficient means of lighting tobacco products, it was an exercise to see if I could do it. That is what drives me :)

TBH the driver/laser/battery combination can be greatly improved as the laser diodes available now are more powerful and there are more efficient drivers.

merkaba33 (author)rog88112012-05-03

Thanks for the info. Half hour of continuous use is still a lot better than what I'm currently getting from butane. And if there's more efficient drivers available that can do the same -- even better.

jplastow (author)2012-05-04

How much did all of the parts cost? And is it possible to turn the lighter the other direction so you dont risk reflecting it off the lid?

faron_smith (author)2012-05-03

would you ever consider selling one, id be very happy to buy one?

maxhuey (author)2012-05-03

Just hope someone do not use this tool the wrong way, specially the ar-kai-da

jwhyman (author)2012-05-03

One more reason not to smoke, the next lighter you try to light a cigarette with may burn a hole in your face.

blaaaarggg (author)2012-05-03

Sooooo freaking awesome. THANK YOU!

The Cartographer (author)2012-04-29

This is amazing. You have my vote for the spy challenge, though not the make it real challenge cause id like to win that :P

rog8811 (author)The Cartographer2012-04-29

Thank you kind sir :)

poofrabbit (author)2012-04-28

This is so cool!!!!! I'm not sure I'm techy enough to make it (even with your great 'able) but I might have to give it a try. Well done!

About This Instructable




Bio: Woodsman and field tutor on a week day. Life long inventor, designer, engineer for the rest of the time. From items that make life easier ... More »
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