Here below is a photo capture of this effect, at times the effect darts off onto the wall 90degrees from the screen. It is very impressive!. It has not and cannot come back at me from while watching, it is safe to do this though I would recomend that it is not setup in an area where other people might bump into the setup and upset the beam path from the intended direction.
I have made a metacafe video showing it in operation
There is a danger of being exposed excessively to laser radiation as with any laser project, yet the beam/effect has never done a 180 turn and come back at me in the viewing area. I would assume this would be attempted by responsible knowledgeable persons who are fully aware of the dangers of experimenting with lasers.
Step 1: Lighter Selection
I had been accumulating all my dead lighters for quite a bit of time with no idea what I would be doing with them till I happened to notice these very cool patterns reflected by my laser from certain types of plastics. I found that the green and blue (blue is best) gave some noticeable patterns. Look at the blue lighter! I have been using it for some time now and it is full of "laserpit" gouges from the beam!
Step 2: Lighter Setup
Here in the you can see how I shoved a lighter into the top of a can. The lighters are sticking up quite high now. I found this to block the viewing of the display a little bit. You may want to shove them down deeper into the can. Also a slight angle was used to get the display to be going up and onto the screen.
Step 3: Laser Stability
The LASER was placed on top of a can. After adjustment the laser will wobble back and forth a little bit for quite a while till settling. I eliminated this anoyance by sticking a small wad of tissue paper into the opening and placing the laser upon this.
This laser uses an Open Can diode I found in a Lite On DVDRW drive, it has a 3 tripple A (AAA) cell battery holder and I have a 2.2 ohm resistor in series with the diode and I measured 310ma laser drive current. I used parts from the local hardware stores and for a colimnating lens I used the assembly on the end of a cheapo laser pointer. The lens is made of clear plastic. There is a switch on the end of and if i click it once it is on, click again it is off.
Step 4: Optical Diagram
Here you will see the setup in lighted conditions. It is a "hit or miss" situation to find a good spot along the focal plane and with experience you will learn what works best. A lot of the times you may get an expanding pattern that slowly dwindles and is not animating very fast, this is an indication that my batteries are running low and are in need of a recharge.
People have stated that the lighter may blow up! I have tried both filled and unfilled lighters and have never had one become peirced by the beam. I have no power meter to read the output power so I suppose if a higher powered laser was used it MAY release the gas inside a filled lighter.
With freshly recharged batteries and the right distance/angle the results are very cool!
And again, here is a link to the video if you have not went there yet to see this in operation:
I hope you can also enjoy my little discovery with your high powered laser pointer also!
There have been many times I get a call from friends inviting me over and then requesting that I bring my laser and special lighter along with me for an evening of socialization.