My laser hobby (con't)
Moving on up, to the class IV argon.
So I was delaying. Motivation lacking a little. My roomate Jason's window AC unit
died, so he purchased a new one. I offered to fix the old one, at least take a look
at it but couldn't make promises. He gave me the old one, and it ended up as a make shift
Nathan, a local, was bored and offered to help put things together. So we built a little
Dolly to put the water chiller rig on. I was ready to call it a night, but he said "Let's
hook it up!" Honestly, I couldn't transport the creation in my car so why not. We carried
it over to the office.
Homebrew water chiller
Spectra Physics 2011 Argon, without cover and other parts
With everything set up, the 3 phase 30 amp breaker in place and the argon system ready,
the key was turned. Then came the tedious alignment procedure. We were getting absolutely
no where doing the standard search one end method. I looked at Sam's Laser FAQ again, and
decided to try the HeNe alignment in a sloppy method. No time to build an alignment jig,
we tried it without one. One of us sat way back with a HeNe
laser sitting on a leg or some semi-stable surface. We then slowly moved the HeNe laser
around until the red beam shot thru the bore of the Argon laser. Upon doing this, laser
person held the thing steady while the other person aligned the nearest plate (X/Y)
until the reflection on the near end shot down the bore of the HeNe. This was done again
for the front. It didn't work immediately, but it didn't take much tweaking and there was
a flash of green light. My friend Sean was there at the office working on his notebook,
and saw the flash. He looked up and kind of grinned, as I got excitement. After two
hours or so, it was close. We managed to stabilize the beam, sort of. To this day it still
comes out of alignment fairly easy. I don't know if it is a thermal issue, or if something
is loose. The 2011 Argon laser system uses sealed mirrors, which is a bit wierd.
Siemens ~20mw HeNe firing down argon bore
Photons! The 2011 laser produces light!
After she was up and running, we called it a night. Over the next few days I carefully
moved the laser and put it on top of one of the bigger computer systems at the office.
I carefully setup the X and Y scanner pair from the 150mw Argon projector so that there
were two X axis scanners, one for the dark blue lines and one for green. I used a dichro
filter to separate the two. With Laser illusions / Graphics workstation I was able to
drop points in the X/Y field and manipulate X and X. Everything was run at minimum power
(probably around 100mw, the mirrors still weren't walked) and tested. After everything
tested out, and the scanners were checked thru their full range we tested running things
at high power with a fog machine. The galvos really kill the coherence of the light.
At a distance of 15 feet, the spot on the wall was easily the size of a nickel. For this
environment, that is not a bad thing. We were careful about where the beams were terminated,
making sure they were above head and only one person operated the controls. Still this is
not proper, and would never be done in public. US law states the beams have to be 4' away
from where anyone can "touch" them. Actually, since these tests the system hasn't been
used. I really need a NEOS PCAOM and a EyeMagic galvo pair. These two components will cost
about $3500 (yowzers) and it will be a while before I own them. Bob Ash, be aware, I will
be buying the Eye Magics first!!
2011 Argon system, split lines, two X axis galvos
A different pattern, camera caught multiple "steps"
So this basically gets me to another point, where it will take a bunch of work
and money to go anywhere. I basically have to build a box for the laser head,
probably put it all into a anvil road case setup, provide many interlocks, and build
a beam box using a DMX-512 decoder board. Fun fun fun! Then fill out 60 pages of
technical drivel to get a CDRH certification on the projector so I can use it in public.
To be continued....
Notes about the pictures
The pictures in the top set on the left hand column are of the ALC 60x laser system
(smaller 100mw system) scanning X+Y along with 3 intellabeam fixtures.
The next thing I am working on is getting a beamtable built. I have
purchased 24vdc solinoids from All Electronics, and purchased small
first surface mirrors from MWK. I have located a source in Ireland for preprogrammed
PIC chips that resond to MIDI note-on commands with TTL +5vdc output
lines. 16 outputs per chip, $25 USD. Not bad! Sometime soon I hope! |
The other issue is building a scan system and beamtable for both the 5
watt system and the 140mw system. I'm thinking the 5 watt system would
be best for beam effects only, with the 140mw system handling graphics.
At some point it would also be nice to find a YAG system capable of
10 to 40 watts @ 532nm or so. Laserscope KTP.
Thanks and links!
Rob Mudryk, NeoLase, the people that used to meet on the LaserFX IRC chat,
and Steve Roberts from LaserFX. Thanks to John Voltz for the DAC circuit and
editor. Thanks to DJ Ethernet for his software. Thumbs up to Chris Favru,
one of the other laser locals.
LaserFX - A GOOD resource!
lasers.757.org - My other laser page
www.lasers.org - Rob Mudryk's page
Be sure to check out the photos from my main page, there are hundreds!