Pocket-Sized Do-it-all Multi-tool Shiny Light (aka Laser)




This Instructable will show you how to create a pocket sized tool capable of doing almost anything! It can cut paper, light matches, set newspaper on fire, point out objects that are far away, save your life in a natural disaster, and can even be 100% waterproof.

Now you may ask "What can do ALL of these things?"
Well the answer is pretty simple - a LASER.

In this Instructable, you will be creating a pocket-sized laser capable of doing all of the above things... and more. And the best part? It costs less that $10 to make. So even if you don't have an immediate use for it, you might as well build one and keep it with you - It may just save your life one day.

Step 1: The Parts

One of the best aspects of the "Do-Anything" Tool is that it is so cheap! This entire project can be built for a minimum of $6.50!

Here is a breakdown of the required parts:
  • Laser Heatsink/Driver: $4.50 - (order from here: Aixiz Module Get the "650nm 5mw 12X30mm brass case")
  • A Button: $1.00 - (you can order a fun one from All Electronics)
  • A Casing: $1.00 - (pick whatever size you want from All Electronics - this is under "Enclosures")
  • The Batter Holder: Free-$0.75 - (You can make your own or get this one)
  • Laser Diode: Free (check out step 2 to learn how to get a free laser diode).

This first image is taken by KipKay...

Step 2: Obtaining a Free Laser Diode

It is actually very simple to obtain a free Laser Diode that could be sold for more than $250! These diodes range from around 100 to 300 mW in power, and emit light at 650-660 nm (red). Please note that this much power can INSTANTLY blind you if you don't know what you are doing. But if you finish reading this Instructable, you will be fine.

So to explain a free diode (without stealing it!), search Google Maps for a local PC Repair Shop. When a tech repairs a computer with a DVD burner and finds that the DVD burner has problems, he/she will usually replace the burner and then throw it out. Many people do not know that DVD burners use laser diodes... to... well... burn! So if you go to a local PC Repair Shop and ask nicely, you can probably get 5 or 6 DVD Burners for free!

But now you must learn how to extract the diode. This step isn't very hard, and is fortunately quite forgiving if you make a mistake.
  • Open the DVD Burner.
  • Pull out the tray
  • Remove the laser tray
  • Unscrew everything on the tray and cut away anything made of plastic
  • See the image below to identify the diode
  • Extract the diode and cut the heatsink away.

(I used pictures from other websites on this step because I'm bad at taking macro pictures :) )

Step 3: Laser Module

In this step, you will finish the laser module. You are going to have two options. They are:
  • Use an unregulated power supply. This will shorten the lifetime of the diode but make it much more powerful.
  • Use the supplied driver board. This will extend the lifetime of the diode but make it weaker. It also requires additional soldering/desoldering.

Option 1:
You should see three leads on the diode. Use the diagram below to solder a wire to the ground and positive leads.
Next, unscrew the Aixiz module in the middle. A sticker is covering the seam. Use a hammer and screwdriver to remove the laser diode that is already in place. Once removed, replace it with your new diode. Put the module back together and you are done!

Option 2:
Unscrew the Aixiz module in the middle. A sticker is covering the seam. Use a hammer and screwdriver to remove the laser diode that is already in place. A circuit board will be attached to the diode. Desolder the circuit board and put your new diode exactly where your old one was and solder it in place. Put it back in the Aixiz module and you are done!

Step 4: Solder It Together

Solder it all together using the schematics below. This is the easy part...

Step 5: Uses (aka "Why This Is the "Do Anything Tool")

Here are some great uses for your laser:
  • Take it with you whenever you are hiking/backpacking/alone. There are quite a few reasons for this:
1) If an aggressive animal approaches, the very bright light will scare it away
2) If you get lost, this laser can shine for miles and miles (as in >100 miles!). At night, the beam is very visible. Just shine it in the sky to lead rescuers right to you.
3) This can light matches. If you don't have strike-anywhere matches and you need to start a fire, this laser can do it!

  • Put it in your pocket and forget about it. Why?
1) Let's say you are getting mugged. Or kidnapped. Or any other situation. Solution? Pull out your laser, expand the dot, and temporarily blind your attacker. And by temporarily, we mean you can blind him/her for hours. Now please note that this is highly NOT advised. You can get arrested for doing this... UNLESS it is self defense. So don't try it otherwise. There is a chance that it will PERMANENTLY blind you.

  • Use it for art. How?
1) You can cut objects out of black paper with this laser. You can also "drill" (aka burn) precise holes).

  • Have fun. Show it off. It can pop balloons, burn electrical tape, etc.

So what other item can you fit in your pocket that can do all of these things? A Swiss-Army Knife can't stop an attacker when he/she is more than a foot or two away. But a laser can. A GPS locater can't help you if nobody is watching your signal. But a laser will attract attention from 100s of miles away.

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    234 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    CAREFUL! Besides the risk of being permanently blinded, you will instantly burn out the laser diode if it can draw unrestricted power. A weak battery will be OK to test it, but fully-charged without any limiting resistors or power converter will quickly promote the diode burning itself out. You can get by with a resistor & heat sink, but adding a power controller is cheap insurance.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yep! Check out this link to build a proper laser power circuit. Works with both a red DVD burner laser diode or a blue blue-ray diode.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    This build will burn out your laser diode quickly! You need a laser driver circuit to protect your sensitive laser diode and not jut kill it connecting it directly to the batteries.

    Build this proper laser circuit! You can get all the parts at Radioshack.



    10 years ago on Introduction

    Just want to point out that this is no good as a rescue beacon. It seems a good idea but the beam is only visible when you're close to the end - get someone to shine it up and then look at it from 20 feet away, you'll see what I mean. I have both red and green lasers with visible beams and neither is visible from a distance unless you're looking along the beam.

    5 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    A high powered green laser will scatter plenty off-axis. A red of the same power will be nearly invisible. The shorter the wavelength (the blue and violet end of the spectrum) the more scattering, and the more visible off-axis the beam will be, per mW.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You'd have to have a pretty powerful laser to be visible sideways-on from a couple of miles away though, as it would need to be for use as a beacon. A 30mW green is much more visible than a 200mW red (roughly what this is) and even that's no good.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I don't know - at night, my 45mW green is visible from a very long way. It is visible on the underside of clouds. I should do some actual tests of this. I live in one of the few still-dark places in England, and I've got red, green and blue diode lasers. If I can find the 45mW one and fix it, I'll test it next to a 15mW red I've got (though that's a HeNe, not a diode, the wavelength in the red is very close to the same) and the blue ones are not yet played with PS3 laser diodes, so I'll have to review my notes to drive those properly. I could compare yellow as well, but that's only a sub-mW beam from a little HeNe. (Very expensive bit of kit, though!)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes the dot is visible from far, but not the beam if you're out to one side. Get someone to shine it up at the sky, walk away a short distance and see if you can see anything.

    Blue and yellow? *drool* :p


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 2

    lol, no the radiation is invisible, obviously becuase you cant see radiation


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, radiation is all you can see.

    What we humans call "light" is merely a teensy, tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum to which the rods and cones in our eyes respond. We only "see" wavelengths from about 400-700 nanometers.

    "Light" is merely the term we give to visible radiation, but the public immediately thinks "radiation = bad" because of nuclear power and X-ray machines, etc. The (greatly simplified) main differences between "good" and "bad" radiation is the energy and frequency. X-ray and gamma radiation go fast enough to knock out bits of your DNA.

    That's also why your microwave can't cause cancer, but they do an excellent job of vibrating water molecules....or transmitting your voice via a cordless telephone! Check the frequency on your cordless phone, then check the frequency of your kitchen microwave! If you're using a 2.4GHz phone, they're very, very similar. Every time you answer the phone, you're putting a microwave radiation transmission source RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR BRAIN!

    Ironic footnote: One of the largest laser manufacturers in the world is Coherent from California. Their original name was "Coherent Radiation" because that's exactly what a laser is. They dropped "radiation" from their name because "radiation is bad" to the unwashed masses.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    That would be fourth. I'm fifth. The person after me could be sixth if they agree. If not, it would be the one after them, if they agree. That is, if my math is right.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, it is actually bad for you if the Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation gets to your senses, particularly eyes and ears. That is why the signal is only sent and recieved from the back of your cell phone. if it trancieved everywhere, the radiation would cause some problems. The microwave does use some power, but it has a small frequency. it would evaperate the water in you, leaving ash. if the current was high enough.