Laser box DIY

Post by: Joris Weijdom Add comments

IMG_7920.jpgAs I mentioned in my post on the DAVID laserscan test we ordered a laser online from Aixiz through Ebay. Point of this laser module is that it has a adjustable focus lens. Although you could buy a power supply package we decided to go for our own setup. After I had done the Mediamatic workshop on soldering small robots I felt confident that I could make a simple laserbox myself.

IMG_7916.jpgAt our local electronics store I bought a simple box, two types of buttons and a battery holder with attachable wire plug. After consulting my good friend Marcel Dolman, a tinkering professional, I drilled three holes in the box and made a plan for connecting all the components together. The reason for two buttons is that I wanted to have one button to switch on the laser without holding the button constantly and one where you do. In this way we can use the switch for automated scanning and the other for handheld scanning as a safety measure.

IMG_7925.jpgBefore starting to attach wires Marcel made me a quick drawing of the simple circuit to make sure that both buttons are doing what they should do. Making a sketch is always a good thins to do so you know how everything should be connected. And although this setup is ridiculously simple it still helped me to figure out what to screw into the box before I would start to weld everything together!

IMG_7917.jpg Soldering the wires together should be an easy job in my case however it took quite a while because the solder didn’t melt. After returning to the electronics store they told me that i had quite a light soldering Iron (Antex CS18 230 V / 18 W) and that the lead-free solder that actually came with the soldering iron needs higher temperatures to melt properly. So, I got a new tip for the iron with a smaller end and bought unhealthy leaded solder. I cannot say it really makes a difference. So if you want to solder yourself make sure you get a better soldering iron with preferably a higher wattage.

IMG_7918.jpgIn the end I decided to fix the wires together with some tape. The photo here shows the end result. With the top switch the laser stays on with the bottom button you have to keep pressing. The laser needs 3.2 volts so the battery pack has two AA batteries which makes the whole box completely mobile. In the thread about cheap lasers on the DAVID forum somebody mentions some experiments with heightening the voltage up to 3.7 Volts to get a brighter laser. But at 3V I’m already quite impressed. Also we will use the laser in a theater space where we can control the lighting situation completely.

IMG_7921.jpgThe laser has at its front an adjustable lens. With this rotating lens you can actually dramatically sharpen the focus of the laser. In this photo you can see a comparison between the DIY laserbox (box on the left gives bottom laserline) and the laser-level we bought for our first test. Immediately you can see that the laser level gives a short line because the lens is made to give a line when held against a wall. Also you can see that the end of this laserline has a very ugly light blotch that in fact gave a few problems with the scanning.

IMG_7924.jpgThe difference between the two lasers is even more apparent when you take some distance, which is exactly what we need to do for our Bodycount project because wen want to scan human body’s. In this photo you see that the top laserline has a nasty end on the left side. This line is from the laser level the bottom line is from the laser in the laserbox. Also the difference in angle becomes an issue with the laser level. From this distance (photo being taken about 3 meters from the wall having the laserbox in my hand) the laser level is completely at the right side 0.5 m from the wall.

Concluding, we’re very happy with the laser we bought through Internet. Also the box is mobile and handy and very easy to build. All together we’ve paid about € 9,65 for the laser (including postal costs) + € 11.50 for the buttons, battery holder and box (being € 5.70). So for 15 to 20 Euro’s you got your own laser scanner on batteries. Of course we’ll probably need four more for Bodycount because we want to scan 4 people at the time. That will cost us less because postal costs are then only paid once and we don’t need a fancy mobile box with buttons.

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