Introduction: Laser Pumpkin

This is a quick tutorial showing how you can create a Laser Pumpkin.

The idea for this project came from last year's article entitled "Jack-O-Laser of Doom" which involved creating a Jack-O-Lantern with a Laser Vortex projecting from the mouth and eyes. Our pumpkin was very similar, but instead we used a couple of our laser accessories to create a unique Jack-O-Lantern. This project would be great for parties and dance clubs, as well as your front porch.

The equipment you will need will be a laser with continuous operation, diffraction gratings, a pumpkin, and something that will create fog or smoke.

Step 1: Carve a Jack-O-Lantern

Everyone knows how to do this step, it's easy. Scoop out your pumpkin guts, and carve out a scary face. Keep in mind when designing your Jack-O-Lantern how you would like the laser beams to project out of the eyes, nose and mouth. The best pumpkins for this will have large mouths and eyes.

Step 2: Attach a Diffraction Grating to Your Laser.

We borrowed lasers from our partner as they have an assortment of laboratory and alignment lasers in various colours and powers. If you don't have access to a stationary laser, a handheld laser with a higher power output will be effective. You will need to tape down the button if it does not have the ability for continuous operation. For this project we chose a blue, green and a red laser, although any colour will work; more colours will create a cooler Laser Pumpkin.

Attach a Diffraction Grating to each laser to create a scattered beam effect; the more beams, the better the effect. We used electrical tape to hold the Diffraction Grating holder to the laser. Diffraction Gratings that split a single laser beam into many beams including the Matrix, the Double Matrix and the Mega Matrix will be the best for this project, and they are available from in the Optics section.

Step 3: Setup the Laser and Cut a Hole.

Setup the laser behind the pumpkin and cut a hole in the back to allow the laser to come through. You could place the laser inside but you may not produce the same effect and you might get your laser full of pumpkin goo. You may have to make slight adjustments to the laser to get all the beams to project out the mouth and the eyes.

We also used the lasers with Diffraction Gratings for back lights and background which helped to increase the effect of the Laser Pumpkin.

Step 4: Shut Off the Lights and Create Some Fog.

You're done your pumpkin! Now it's time to shut off the lights, or take it outside in the dark, and check out the beams. To make the beams more visible you can use fog or smoke. Fog can be purchased in a spray can, or you could borrow/rent a fog machine for continuous enjoyment. Or, you can set up some incense to burn allowing the smoke to pass through the laser beams. Keep in mind that the wind will blow your smoke in certain directions, so try and set up you fog or smoke to be blown into the beams.

Laser beams will project out for long distances, so be sure not to shine your laser pumpkin anywhere that might affect other people's vision. Beware of cars, planes, and your neighbours.