1W Altoids Tin Laser!

Introduction: 1W Altoids Tin Laser!

Just Imagine- The power of a 1w laser, but in the pocket sized package of an Altoids tin! It's amazingly bright- perfect for star pointing. 

We'll start with the parts list:
~Altoids tin
~1-2w 445nm laser diode (Ebay)
~12x30mm Aixiz laser module (Ebay)
~Aixiz three element glass lens (Ebay)
~Slide switch and momentary switch (Radioshack)
~2xAA battery holder (Radioshack)
~7805 regulator (5v regulator). Use a 1A version for about 1W of laser light or a 1.5A one for about 1.5W. NOTE: Using 1.5A regulator will shorten your diodes life compared to the 1A variety. 
~2x 14500 3.7v lithium batteries and charger (Ebay)
Wire, stranded wire around 26 AWG will work best
~A soldering iron and solder
~Laser safety goggles (Ebay). ***TheseareABSOLUTELYneeded!!!***

Laser module and electrical:
To start, press your 445nm diode into the Aixiz module using the back half of the module and a vice. Once you have completed that, solder your wires onto the diode (I have provided an image showing pin configuration of 445nm diodes, you'll only use two of the pins). ONLY solder onto the diode when it is in the Aixiz module or a heat sink of some sort! Next, screw the back of the Aixiz module back on, and then replace the the standard acrylic lens of the Aixiz module with the three element glass lens. Now that your Aixiz module is ready to go, you will now solder together the rest of the circuit using the schematic I provided in the pictures as a guide, however it does not need to be exactly the same (the safety switch is optional, for example. I just find it nice to prevent any mishaps when I carry it in my pockets). 

The Altoids Tin:
Now that we have completed the electrical side of the build, we can focus on the tin. First, locate and then drill out the locations where you wish to have your buttons/switches and the laser module to be. This part is purely your choice. If you do not have a 12mm metric bit for the Aixiz module hole, a 1/2 inch drill bit should suffice (it ends up being 12.7mm).

Now for the final part of the build: putting it all together! (Its pretty self explanatory) 

An optional, yet recommended extra step:
Without a heat sink, the Aixiz module and 7805 regulator will heat up fast and you risk damaging your diode. So, I HIGHLY suggest that you make/ buy a heat sink for your laser. I built my heat sink out of two small square of 3/8 aluminum plate screwed together with a 12mm hole drilled down the middle of it.

***When operating ANY high powered laser, you MUST always wear laser safety goggles, and they should be at least OD 3***

~Star pointing (Be careful though)
~Demonstrations like popping balloons and starting matches
~Engraving things
~Burning things
~Light sabre fights?! (Jk... I would not suggest doing this)

A note on using it: Adjusting the lens will cause the focus of the beam to change. Focusing it to a point is great for burning, and into a beam is great for distance pointing.




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35 Discussions

Would it make any difference if i used a 9v battery because im still gonna use the 7805 voltage regulator anyways, so would it make a difference? Im just wondering because it would fit better in the altoids box?

do you mean 2x 4500 mA battery? because 14500 ma battery seems wow

Do you mean a 1-2w diode or a 1 or 2 laser diode?

This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Well done!

Disregard that I see the regulator but how long dies the 1w model lasy

Also why wasn't a driver in the build?

Does any diode fit into the specific module or could I just buy a 1w diode inside a glass lens module

Wicked lasers? Ain't nobody got money for dat!

Also, I'm doing an experiment involving popping a balloon with a laser so would this be powerful enough?

It should cost around $70 (most of the cost being the diode):
$45 for the diode (a M140 from DTRLPF)
$6 for the laser module with lens 
$3 for the Altoids tin 
$5 for the switches and battery holder
$5 for the batteries if you chose to use lithium ones
$5 for the heat sink
$1 for the 7805 regulator
TOTAL: $70

And this laser is definitely powerful enough to pop a balloon.

Hey i dont know if you still check up on this instructable but i have a few questions... 
1. is there any materials besides aluminum to make a heatsink(just curious) and do you know where i could buy a nice one that would work well and fit well(not too expensive)
2.i have 4 Ni-Cd AA batterys that are in a series would these work fine or are they worse then Ni-Mh. (i can tell you voltage and mah if you need to know if they will work.)
3.since you have made one of these yourself :) is there a cycle you use too keep it from overheating and diode being damaged.. like maybe 30sec on 30sec cooldown (i have no clue)
4. last one(you probably hate me!) what material would i be able to engrave?

1 reply

1- Usually your best choices for heat sink materials are aluminum (which has very high specific heat) and copper (which is very thermally conductive). Usually aluminum is the most popular material for heat sinks.
2- The NiCd batteries should work, however I would say that the NiMh batteries are probably be better than NiCd for this purpose due to NiMh cell's considerably higher capacity to size compared to NiCd cells.
3. I try to operate my laser in relatively short bursts, usually the longest being 30 seconds, and allowing it to cool for a good 30+ seconds because I don't want to risk damaging my diode. A big factor dealing with duty cycle is how large your heat sink is and how well it dissipates heat, and for me mine is relatively small and doesn't expel much heat into the environment so my run time and duty cycle suffer. My suggestion is to use as large of a heat sink as you can that is exposed, which should give you relatively long run times, possibly a few minutes on with maybe 30 seconds off.
4- You can engrave just about anything that is not metal or glass/ceramic. Wood, most plastic and even white paper works.

i might vote for you if you answer this satisfactorily - how long will this expensive (sorta) diode lase in this circuit - meaning without any laser driver?

cuz i would hate to spend $40 bucks on the diode n have it burn out in two weeks of off and on use.

is this as strong ans the blue Arctic Laser rated at 1W? because it seems much cheaper but not as sturdy or with as many accessories or features but if you just wanted the pure laser power without the perks this looks perfect - plus the pleasure of building your own case for it - also it is unclear if you use two AAA batteries to power it or one 3.7v Li-on battery or two so if you could explain that to me, thank you very much in advance! ^_^ otherwise it looks like a great instructable

1 reply

You can get an M140 diode from DTRLPF (google) for $50. That is >3 times as powerful as the arctic. (arctic is actually far below 1W). You wont get much power in an altoids box though because it will overheat.

I finished my laser!! Your tutorial helped so much, thank you for that. When I point my laser, it seems to be out of focus or different than yours because the beam is rectangular. Can I focus it to be a harsher point? How would I do that? Thanks!

You would need to change the voltage regulator in this design in order to use a DVD burner diode. I believe most DVD burner diodes run off of around 3v and 200-250mA, so all you'd have to do is find a voltage regulator suitable for that range and swap it out for the 7805 in the schematic. On a side note, if you where to use this design for a DVD burner diode, you could probably get by with just one lithium cell due to the voltage needed being lower.