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'[EE]: Laser pointer repurposing'
2005\06\30@175846 by Philip Pemberton

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Hi,
 I've just been digging through my junk box and found a pair of laser
pointers. This has got me wondering.. has anyone managed to do anything
interesting or useful with a laser pointer (either modified or unmodified)?

 I was thinking about some form of data transfer system, but I can't find
any opto sensors in my junk box :(
 Another option would be a scanned display - I've found someone who's got a
pair of broken Laserjet IIIs ("no toner cart, and the fusers seem to be
blown"), so I could probably salvage the scanner assemblies from those...

 (in case you can't tell, I'm looking for yet another strange/unusual
 project to stave off boredom and I've run out of ideas!)

Thanks.
--
Phil.                              | Acorn Risc PC600 Mk3, SA202, 64MB, 6GB,
spam_OUTphilpemTakeThisOuTspamphilpem.me.uk              | ViewFinder, 10BaseT Ethernet, 2-slice,
http://www.philpem.me.uk/          | 48xCD, ARCINv6c IDE, SCSI
Acme Dynamite. Guaranteed to fail unsafe.

2005\06\30@181054 by Bob Blick

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>   Another option would be a scanned display - I've found someone who's got
> a
> pair of broken Laserjet IIIs ("no toner cart, and the fusers seem to be
> blown"), so I could probably salvage the scanner assemblies from those...

Yes, you can use the polygon mirror/motor. Force it a little out of
alignment, and you get 6 or 8 scan lines(depends on whether yours has a 6
or 8 sided mirror).

The real drawback is brightness - you'll only be able to use it in a dark
room.


Cheers,

Bob

2005\06\30@182114 by PicDude

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Some time ago, I tried to get a couple clean thin lines with laser pointers to
form a crosshair on my drill press for drilling PCB holes (and other things).  
Could not get the lines clean though.  Perhaps you might?

Cheers,
-Neil.


On Thursday 30 June 2005 04:56 pm, Philip Pemberton scribbled:
{Quote hidden}

2005\06\30@182703 by Robert Rolf

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Philip Pemberton wrote:

>   I've just been digging through my junk box and found a pair of laser
> pointers. This has got me wondering.. has anyone managed to do anything
> interesting or useful with a laser pointer (either modified or unmodified)?
>
>   I was thinking about some form of data transfer system,

Gee you could try using it for morse code, but at kilobaud rates <G>.

> but I can't find
> any opto sensors in my junk box :(

If you have an LED in the junk, you have an opto sensor. You'll want
clear RED for maximum red sensitivity. You'll need to amplify it
to get anything useful out of it.

>   Another option would be a scanned display - I've found someone who's got a
> pair of broken Laserjet IIIs ("no toner cart, and the fusers seem to be
> blown"), so I could probably salvage the scanner assemblies from those...

The tricky part is taking your line scan out and making it ramp
vertically. The input to the scanner is a fiber.
Maybe a long shaft with a polished flat (or spin a flat bed scanner
or photocopier mirror) to ge the vertical scan.

Brightness will also be a issue. You're spreading a sub mW laser over
quite a large area.

>   (in case you can't tell, I'm looking for yet another strange/unusual
>   project to stave off boredom and I've run out of ideas!)


Laser pointer mounted on two R/C servos to get you an X/Y
'cat trainer' (spot on the wall that moves about to drive cats
nuts). Or for targeting trespassers to make them think they're
about to be shot. Use a PIR sensor and same mirrors to let you scan
your property and then find the peak IR output, which will
be the narrowest hottest part, the head.

Modulate it and use with opto sensor to make a very long range
electronic fence to protect your property. Mirrors at the fence post
corners let you bounce the beam around your property line.
I'd use a 10W CO2 laser so that any cat jumping on the fence
gets a little bit fried.

How warped an idea so you want?

Robert

2005\06\30@191959 by Hector Martin

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I'll point you to Sam's Laser FAQ, it's got TONS of info about all
kinds of lasers. Power supply designs, modulating, quality, optical
stuff, everything.

http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm

--
Hector Martin (.....hectorKILLspamspam@spam@marcansoft.com)
Public Key: http://www.marcansoft.com/hector.asc

2005\06\30@193607 by Philip Pemberton

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In message <42C471B8.5090601spamKILLspamUAlberta.ca>
         Robert Rolf <.....Robert.RolfKILLspamspam.....ualberta.ca> wrote:

> Gee you could try using it for morse code, but at kilobaud rates <G>.

FSK or Manchester coding would be more fun, especially if I could send audio
down an optical link :)

> If you have an LED in the junk, you have an opto sensor. You'll want
> clear RED for maximum red sensitivity. You'll need to amplify it
> to get anything useful out of it.

No clear red LEDs, but I've got some diffused red LEDs. Drilling a hole for
the fibre cable shouldn't be too hard.

> Brightness will also be a issue. You're spreading a sub mW laser over
> quite a large area.

That's the big worry. I might be able to ramp up the power a bit (maybe run
the LD off 5V instead of 4.5) but I don't want to push it hard enough to blow
it. They may only cost £2.50 each, but they're a pig to dismantle and add
connectors.
I wouldn't mind a 3-5mW red LD, but IIRC you need a licence to
buy/own/operate* (delete as appropriate) a laser that powerful.

> Laser pointer mounted on two R/C servos to get you an X/Y
> 'cat trainer' (spot on the wall that moves about to drive cats
> nuts).

I don't have a cat, but it sounds like a neat project. Laser light-show
maybe?

> Modulate it and use with opto sensor to make a very long range
> electronic fence to protect your property. Mirrors at the fence post
> corners let you bounce the beam around your property line.
> I'd use a 10W CO2 laser so that any cat jumping on the fence
> gets a little bit fried.

I don't think I'd be very popular with the neighbours.. or the RSPCA for that
matter.
(that and I actually like cats, when they're not digging up the garden)

Thanks,
-- Phil.                              | Acorn Risc PC600 Mk3, SA202, 64MB, 6GB,
EraseMEphilpemspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTphilpem.me.uk              | ViewFinder, 10BaseT Ethernet, 2-slice,
http://www.philpem.me.uk/          | 48xCD, ARCINv6c IDE, SCSI
... Monday is the root of all evil

2005\06\30@194300 by Steve Murphy

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Here's a neat "Laser video projector" project made with an (ahem) AVR,
but we don't have to hold that against him:

http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~haakoh/avr/

Philip Pemberton wrote:

{Quote hidden}

2005\06\30@205241 by Hector Martin

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Steve Murphy wrote:
> Here's a neat "Laser video projector" project made with an (ahem) AVR,
> but we don't have to hold that against him:
>

I once made a vector laser projector out of two HDD heads, a couple
mirrors, and capacitive feedback sensors. It was based on a design
which originally used an ATmega. The original design was much better
of course (http://elm-chan.org/works/vlp/report_e.html). Mine
substituted the HDDs for the neat galvos (which had much more inertia
and made the thing much slower), but the basic stuff worked. Mine was
powered by a PIC16F876 which connected to a Hitachi-controller 16x2
LCD for info display, a CompactFlash card for image display, and a
Maxim DAC for output.


--
Hector Martin (hectorspamspam_OUTmarcansoft.com)
Public Key: http://www.marcansoft.com/hector.asc

2005\06\30@213438 by Don Taylor

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On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, Bob Blick wrote:
>> Another option would be a scanned display - I've found someone who's
>> got a pair of broken Laserjet IIIs ("no toner cart, and the fusers seem
>> to be blown"), so I could probably salvage the scanner assemblies from
>> those...
>
> Yes, you can use the polygon mirror/motor. Force it a little out of
> alignment, and you get 6 or 8 scan lines(depends on whether yours has a
> 6 or 8 sided mirror).
>
> The real drawback is brightness - you'll only be able to use it in a dark
> room.

Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint directly on
the retina.

You did ask for twisted.


'[EE]: Laser pointer repurposing'
2005\07\01@062153 by Howard Winter
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picon face
Phil,

How about a projecting oscilloscope?  Use the laser
printer scanning block for the horizontal scan, and a
small mirror mounted on a piezo-electric element for the
vertical deflection.

Oh, and if you're running the laser pointers
continuously, you may want to consider a heatsink,
because they may not be continuously rated in their
"pen" form...

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, Herts


2005\07\01@095148 by Lindy Mayfield

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Ever sort of moved it around fast on a wall and get cool designs?  I had the idea that one could do something like that and maybe create designs, text, pictures.  But the mechanical part of having something move that fast and in all directions seems to me to be the difficult part.

Maybe moving a mirror instead of the laser would be better, but again how to move it like that confuses me.

-----Original Message-----
From: @spam@piclist-bouncesKILLspamspammit.edu [KILLspampiclist-bouncesKILLspamspammit.edu] On Behalf Of Philip Pemberton
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2005 23:57
To: RemoveMEpiclistTakeThisOuTspammit.edu
Subject: [EE]: Laser pointer repurposing

Hi,
 I've just been digging through my junk box and found a pair of laser
pointers. This has got me wondering.. has anyone managed to do anything
interesting or useful with a laser pointer (either modified or unmodified)?

 


2005\07\01@102105 by Howard Winter

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picon face
Lindy,

On Fri, 1 Jul 2005 15:50:45 +0200, Lindy Mayfield wrote:

> Ever sort of moved it around fast on a wall and get cool designs?  I had the idea that one could do
something like that and maybe create designs, text, pictures.  But the mechanical part of having something
move that fast and in all directions seems to me to be the difficult part.

There used to be a show at the London Planetarium (and no doubt others) called "Laserium", which was music
accompanying images on the dome drawn by laser - it was pretty impressive for the time (mid 80's I think).  
Their interpretation of War of the Worlds was amazing - I had never realised how intricate a drawing you can
do like that.

> Maybe moving a mirror instead of the laser would be better, but again how to move it like that confuses me.

Yup, that's what you do!  I saw this demonstrated many years ago (when lasers were "a solution looking for a
problem") and some students had made a rudimentary oscilloscope using little mirrors mounted on piezo-electric
"stalks" which bent in response to applied electricity, deflecting the mirror and the beam aimed at it.  
Having two (close together) at 90 degrees gave x-y scanning.  They didn't bother to turn the beam on and off,
so there was always a retrace line when using it in ordinary 'scope time/amplitude mode, but mostly they used
x-y mode and demonstrated lissajous figures, so problem.

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2005\07\01@103258 by Jinx

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> But the mechanical part of having something move that fast and in all
> directions seems to me to be the difficult part

Not necesselery

http://www.oatleyelectronics.com/lasers.html

Oatley used to sell a simpler kit using a laser and two speaker coil
assemblies.
Mostly only good for Lissajous figures though

> Maybe moving a mirror instead of the laser would be better, but again
> how to move it like that confuses me

http://www.jaycar.com.au

Stock number KG9098

Steppers would be needed to draw pre-programmed figures/shapes

2005\07\01@120634 by Daniel Chia

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> Ever sort of moved it around fast on a wall and get cool designs?  I
had the idea
> that one could do something like that and maybe create designs, text,
pictures.  But
> the mechanical part of having something move that fast and in all
directions seems
> to me to be the difficult part.
>
> Maybe moving a mirror instead of the laser would be better, but again
how to move
> it like that confuses me.
>

 Hmm mirror sounds like a better idea to me. The deflection in the beam
is double the deflection of the mirror (if I still remember my physics
right!). Also I would think that another trick would be to mount the
laser further away from the screen, this would help with speed however
brightness might become an issue (do it in dim settings?).

       As for moving the mirror, my I suggest perhaps two servos, one
mounted to provide yaw and the other tilting vertically. Perhaps
something like one of the cheap mirrors that can rotate about one axis
on their holder can be modified.

       A good thing about servos would be they have position control
built in and their angle of travel should be enough. Response time is
pretty quick too.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Daniel Chia

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent
perspiration."

    - Thomas Edison

E-mail: spamBeGonedanielcjhspamBeGonespamyahoo.com.sg
MSN: TakeThisOuTdanstryder01EraseMEspamspam_OUTyahoo.com.sg
ICQ: 37878331
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2005\07\01@125443 by olin piclist

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Daniel Chia wrote:
> As for moving the mirror, my I suggest perhaps two servos, one
> mounted to provide yaw and the other tilting vertically. Perhaps
> something like one of the cheap mirrors that can rotate about one axis
> on their holder can be modified.

I believe the professional ones, like those from General Scanning, work on
the same principle as meter movements.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2005\07\01@144508 by Peter

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On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, Don Taylor wrote:

> Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint directly on
> the retina.
>
> You did ask for twisted.

You could sell these as a kit. Alas the box would have to be large
enough to hold the supplied white cane and opaque blind man's
'sunglasses' needed for completion.

Peter

2005\07\01@153747 by Don Taylor

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On Fri, 1 Jul 2005, Peter wrote:
> On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, Don Taylor wrote:
>> Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint directly on
>> the retina.
>>
>> You did ask for twisted.
>
> You could sell these as a kit. Alas the box would have to be large enough to
> hold the supplied white cane and opaque blind man's 'sunglasses' needed for
> completion.

That screen burn, it is really annoyning :)

Similar subject that you might be able to use your little laser pointers
for.  Many years ago in the Scientific American Amateur Scientist column
there was a little project.  Roughly what it did was switch back and
forth between two light sources separated horizontally by a small space.
This "jiggles" the light on the back of the eye and fools the brain's
usual mechanism that hides the structure of the retina from you.

What it lets you see is some indication of the structure of the retina,
see the blood vessles that are laying over parts of this, etc.

The original project was in a different era and bringing it up to
current technology might make this considerably easier to build.

Took lots of groping to find the original article, Jan 1958.
But there are also related visual projects, Apr 1982, Mar 1978,
Apr, May 1980 that you might be able to turn your lasers against.

2005\07\01@154615 by Bradley Ferguson

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On 7/1/05, Peter <RemoveMEplpspamTakeThisOuTactcom.co.il> wrote:
> On Thu, 30 Jun 2005, Don Taylor wrote:
> > Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint directly on
> > the retina.
> >
> > You did ask for twisted.
> You could sell these as a kit. Alas the box would have to be large
> enough to hold the supplied white cane and opaque blind man's
> 'sunglasses' needed for completion.

They make fold up canes, so the box wouldn't have to be that big.

But on a serious note, I do recall reading that this was/is the
display of the future.  A small laser (power limited, obviously) along
with a small, possibly MEMS, mirror structure would individually
activate the rods and cones of the eye to provide you with 36"(?)
heads-up display.  Resolution would be an interesting selling point in
this case, as well.  Eye movements would have to be tracked so that
the display didn't jump around, but otherwise it seems feasible.  I
don't know where or if this technology has really gone anywhere.  I'm
sure there are, at least, government programs working on it.  I would
expect Sony to be working on it as well.

>From there they can finally make a highly addictive disc-into-funnel
head mounted video game.  (Too obscure a reference for the variety on
this PIC List?)

Bradley

2005\07\01@171645 by Steve Murphy

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>> Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint
>> directly on the retina.
>>
>> You did ask for twisted.
>
>
> You could sell these as a kit. Alas the box would have to be large
> enough to hold the supplied white cane and opaque blind man's
> 'sunglasses' needed for completion.

Laugh all you like, but this is not science fiction...

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/vrd/
http://www.mvis.com/

Obviously, they're probably not using a dollar store laser
pointer...don't try this at home kids!

2005\07\01@214848 by Don Taylor

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On Fri, 1 Jul 2005, Steve Murphy wrote:
>>> Avoid the brightness drawback, turn the pointers around, paint directly on
>>> the retina.
>> You could sell these as a kit. Alas the box would have to be large enough
>> to hold the supplied white cane and opaque blind man's 'sunglasses' needed
>> for completion.
> Laugh all you like, but this is not science fiction...
>
> http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/vrd/
> http://www.mvis.com/
>
> Obviously, they're probably not using a dollar store laser pointer...don't
> try this at home kids!

Or read "The Men Who Stare At Goats" by Jon Ronson for the story
about another project the govt. spent decades and who knows how
much money on.

There are much more bizzare projects than retinal burns out there.

2005\07\02@160122 by Peter

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On Fri, 1 Jul 2005, Bradley Ferguson wrote:

{Quote hidden}

They are called 'retinal projection' displays and they use very high
quality very low power lasers afair. A laser pointer is about 10 times
too powerful and has a bad beam shape. The reason they use lasers is, to
have very good beam shape and thus resolution.

Based on this, it should be possible to experiment with a retinal
projection device starting with a small propeller clock and some lenses.
The required power will be *very* low. The eye is very sensitive even in
daylight. The light from a single led should be more than enough to
provide a viewable image.

This is on my to-do list and has been for a while now. Alas, time ? What
time ?

Peter

2005\07\10@212111 by Michael O'Donnell

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here's a fun project:

rs232 with 2 laser pointers... I was actually thinking of using one of
these to beam data from my weather station 100' back to my lab but finally
just ran a conduit.

http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/7156/laser.htm

cheers,
mike

At 02:56 PM 6/30/2005, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

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