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Steampunk Radium Pistol

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Picture of Steampunk Radium Pistol
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I created this "radium" (laser) pistol from an old circa 1940 hand drill that I refinished, a 200mW 532nm green laser/LED flashlight, and a sound board from a broken laser gun toy. The extended handle is made from a madrona tree that fell in my yard, this wood cracks like you wouldn't believe and is extremely difficult to work with, but it has a beautiful, dense grain which I clear coated with a satin finish. Getting the chuck out of this drill was a nightmare, but with some heat and extreme force it finally broke loose. The laser/flashlight is fitted with its battery compartment removed and a brass fitting with external power wires installed to hold it in place (where the chuck used to be.) I had to do some serious milling with a dremel to get this arrangement together. There is also an internal sleeve that activates the push buttons for the LED's and laser (or both at the same time) by simply twisting the nozzle. I also replaced all the original screws with brass ones and fitted a brass lanyard ring to the base of the handle in place of it's original power cord. It may look like I touched up the beam in the pictures but it was actually a bit foggy out when I took them. I did smoke a cigar in the greenhouse to enhance the effect for those shots though. It runs off of three AA batteries that are in the main housing where the motor used to be.
Beautiful build. Where did you find your lanyard ring?
ace12345m1 year ago
can it melt things?
Evinfire2 years ago
Looks good, great job!
nomuse3 years ago
Oh, I love this thing! And its very much the sort of thing I've been wanting to do for my next prop, too. Not that I'd pull it off as well.

And that means, sigh, the rest of this is going to sound negative. Because I've been thinking about the safety concerns of using a laser, for one. Pity that at about the point it gets nicely beam-visible, it also gets very much eye-dangerous. And the cheap Chinese 532 nm's are even worse; they often lack an IR filter.

And the other negative is that I want to see more people using the term "Diesel Punk" (or Atom Punk if you prefer) as a distinct style from Steampunk. Still retro, still flavorful, but with more of an emphasis on metal and fins and radio parts.

Oh, BTW...you can get a can of "Smoke in a Can" at Ace Hardware for about nine bucks. Pretty much invisible, but makes laser beams nice and shiny. Hangs in the air for a good five minutes at least.
you do have a point this does seem more diesel then steam, but its still the coolest lazer i've seen so far.
glitchus (author)  nomuse3 years ago
Thanks, I still have a few things I'd like to do to improve upon this project like; a custom built brass and glass flash suppressor/nozzle, a more powerful laser module built from scratch and a better sound effect board. I also need to find an old leather drill holster for it. I'll also have to look at that "Smoke in a Can", I've never heard of it before, although smoking a cigar for the effect has its own merits too (heh).

As for diesel/atom punk, that's a cool idea, and I think there is plenty of room in the genre for it. When I was a kid I used to catch reruns of the old "Rocket Man" and "Flash Gordon" serials on a Saturday morning kids show called J.P. Patches (true genius that man) and I always loved the bold "stainless steel" and aerodynamic look that they gave everything...and the fins!!!

You are certainly right about the associated dangers with this thing, which is why I literally treat it like a gun, and one that ricochets (light) to boot. But I did indeed start with the goal of realism, in that I wanted to create a "steampunk" weapon that was actually (or at least nearly) a weapon rather than a prop, which brings me to my next, and far more dangerous project, the "steampunk" "Repeating Meteor Rifle" which will fire 12 gauge red flares. I will, of course, not be able to use this during the Summer or when boating (unless I'm sinking).

nomuse glitchus3 years ago
Yah.

One of the things I've been thinking of is putting TWO laser heads in it -- one a 5 mw and the other more studly, and putting that behind a selector switch. So you have a "pew pew!" setting for play, and only throw the switch when you are serious.

Did I mention the brass and wood really sell this thing? Anyhow, nice work on the housing -- looks really cool. And nice work fitting those internals in, too!
glitchus (author)  nomuse3 years ago
You know, I've had thoughts of combining multiple lasers at varying wavelengths, in order to give it a real 'light show' but then I think of just adding extra wattage and getting something that'll really burn. And as for the sound effects, I was thinking that I could install a directional dish and broadcast something shrill and disorientating (heh).

There is nothing like brass, steel, wood, leather and khaki canvas to give an aura of art (well, cool hats too)! It's especially nice if you can throw in exotic materials, but the Crème de la Crème has to be real functionality in my book. In that if I want to fire a friggin laser or fireballs at something, then that's what happens. I mean, there's nothing quite like the heft and feel of something that will actually have 'effects' downrange. I guess I'm somewhat of a purist weapons aficionado.
glitchus (author) 2 years ago
Well, looking at some of the very intricate and amazing entries into the Wicked Lasers contest, I was a bit surprised to make second place, as I wasn't completely satisfied with the current incantation of my "radium pistol". Therefore I'm starting work on a MK II prototype that will hopefully be everything that I originally envisioned, in that it will be built pretty much from scratch, without using old drill housings and laser flashlights, but will still maintain that curvy metal and wood appeal with the brass accents, while looking a little less like a drill and more like something that will put a nice round hole all the way through that giant brain sucking Martian slug thats been lurking out in my bed of petunias. My other goal, which I already know I'll not quite achieve with the MK II, although I will come a bit closer, is to build a laser gun that shoots a friggin laser that will actually have effects downrange. This thing will NOT be a toy or prop, but probably the equivalent of a pellet gun, and therefore will be treated like a firearm. ultimately though, I'd really like to build something the equivalent of a .45 ACP, unfortunately between the current level of technology and "nanny state" laws that treat people like children, bereft of any personal responsibility but highly regulated, I'll have a bit of a time of it.
if you wanted to make a lazer gun that could have an effect ive seen people put dvd burner leds into lazer pens, good brands can heat up enough to cut tape balloons ands even kill incects. i think the watch batteries also put less juice into it than the actual burner so you could test to see how high you could take it before it fries and maybe build a lens system to better focus the beam.
though the lazer wouldnt look as cool as the colored and it would be dangerous not only for the chance of fire starting but also it would blind you perminantly if you got a good shot in the eye.
looks sweet! I'd love to run around just shooting randomly!! well not at people
glitchus (author)  aleceatsfood3 years ago
The old adage "You'll put your eye out." is definitely relevant in this case. I've tried to be very careful about reflective surfaces and what I "shoot" at.
yes very important!
I guess we'd all better tint our aviator goggles, then......
JerBear2 years ago
That's really cool! I gotta go to some swap meets and junk sales now!
sonofstone2 years ago
that is really cool, the only drill i've got is the one me and my dad were working to repair it, my dad found it at a demolisionsite, and by the way, my drill weighs a ton, nearly impossible to hold it with one hand for a long time, and im a strong guy, if i find one on a fleamarket or something i will try it, but, i'l probably give it a brass barrel and fit some nerf gun internals in it to make it shoot darts since i'm not so good with electrics
glitchus (author)  sonofstone2 years ago
You could try paintballs, I once retrofitted a pump air rifle with a brass pipe barrel to shoot paintballs, it worked fairly well. Your drill housing would look a lot cooler though, maybe use CO2 cartridges for propellant and a gutted pellet pistol for the firing mechanism.
sadly i have only nerf guns, plus here in my country pellet or bb guns are illegal, cause of some guy who has been shot in the eye from point blanc, wich killed him, but the co2 cartridge system is a really good idea, only thign i need to figure out is how to connect the release cath of the co2 pump ive got to the drills trigger, thanks for your advise, i'll keep it in mind
bendog382 years ago
That's one serious laser...

I've got a few old drills myself, so I shall see what I can pull off with them.
glitchus (author)  bendog382 years ago
I've had the idea of modifying old 1930-1940 era drills into "ray-guns" since I was a kid, when I saw them in my grandfathers shop. They have that sort of "Flash Gordon" style in their design. The only problem was that they all still worked. I finally found the one I used for my project at a Habitat for Humanity used/surplus building supply warehouse, where they had a plethora of old electric hand tools to choose from, so I made my selection (the brass vents and data plate sold me) and shelled out only five bucks for it. The only problem was that when I got it home, I plugged it in and it still worked. They don't quite make them like they used to. This is also a 'one of a kind' project, in that when I thought about using the same drill frame for my next project, I scoured the Internet and looked around in all the junk stores, but couldn't find any more of that model.
peacefoots3 years ago
i have the same drill and it worked until i took it apart to take pieces out
glitchus (author)  peacefoots3 years ago
They don't make em like they used too, but I have to admit that I love "cordless".
I generally like cordless more because it's easier to control but at my friends house he has a two handle drill that's freightingly strong and fast
caarntedd3 years ago
Wow!
glitchus (author)  caarntedd3 years ago
Thanks.
my grandpa still has that drill and it works we call it ole sparky cause its sparks sometimes
glitchus (author)  MACKattacksnipe3 years ago
Yeah, I really hated having to gut it.
Phantomn3 years ago
Looks epic =]
glitchus (author)  Phantomn3 years ago
Thanks. I also added some more views of it.
Crabby3 years ago
Ah, that was a fine old drill, they'll never make um like that again. But once they reach their lifespan then they are done for, and this is a fine way to honor one. I think I have a broken one out back, I'm still planning on trying to change the brushes on it before I think of using it for something cool like this.
glitchus (author)  Crabby3 years ago
I found it at a "Habitat For Humanity" junk hardware store and bought it for the express purpose of converting it into this pistol, it was only five dollars. Sadly, the drill still worked, but the bearings sounded like they were starting to grind a little, so with some resignation, I gutted it.
zazenergy3 years ago
Wowsa! Very cool.
glitchus (author)  zazenergy3 years ago
Thanks.
nice work. what's on the brass plate?
glitchus (author)  MurphyHarris3 years ago
I've added some more views of the pistol and a closeup of the plate. It's a Van Dorn 1/4" Holgun. Although they didn't put their motto on the plate, saving room for technical data, I happen to recall that it goes something like this; "Van Dorn's Holguns, we put the hole in a whole galaxy of monsters!" (heh.)
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