Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Turn Your PC Into a Red Burning Laser

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 25 comments

This laser can light matches and burn plastic.

Ever wanted to create your own eye-searing laser capable of burning through plastic or igniting matches? Now you can simply by using parts from your old, unused PC.

As seen in the video below, only three components are needed from the PC: the rig's power supply, a DVD Burner and the available heatsinks (the example had two). However additional items are needed to complete the project including an Aixiz module, a LM317 constant current driver with a 3 ohm resistor and more

After removing the three items from the PC, the instructions start with disassembling the DVD burner and removing the laser sled. If the optical drive writes slower than 16X (or the PC doesn't have a DVD burner, but rather just a reader), the LPC-815 sled is suggested, costing $15 including tax.

Either way, the actual laser diode is the only component needed, crammed into the Aixiz module and connected to a DIY LM317 driver using long leads. Once the actual laser is assembled, the modder then drills a 1/2-inch hole through the side of the CPU heatsink and shoves the laser module through, making sure it doesn't stick out and sits flush against the side.

The next step involves cutting the power supply wires and connecting the laser's LM317 driver. For this example, the black and green wires were clipped, stripped and tied together while the yellow wires served as positive and the red as negative. The resulting laser was shown cutting through black tape, lighting matches and burning a hole through plastic.

"If you don't use goggles, you're an idiot," the instructions state.

While building the project sounds like fun, naturally modders will need to take careful precaution while using the laser. The finished project will also need to be kept away from children and bitter spouses.

DIY PC Laser

Discuss
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    Parsian , November 18, 2010 1:09 AM
    jj463rdWell I already own a Class IV 10 Joule output (20,000 watt output in 1/2000 of a second pulse Neodymium Glass Laser that's perfect for vaporizing anything.Just a change of a ROD (Ruby) and the output coupler (transflective mirror) and mirror and it's red.The power supply is 3.6 megawatts of power (2,000 volts at 1,800 amperes)discharged in 1/2000th of a second.It also makes a nice coil gun and also a nice portable electocution machine too.However it was somewhat costly and the Laser shown here is much cheaper,much easier to acquire and easy to build,


    its all useless unless you mount it onto a shark...


    I just finished a lab in which we used 200mW lasers to trap bacteria (the setup is called Optical Tweezers)
  • 16 Hide
    Stryter , November 18, 2010 1:30 AM
    schizofrogI think Tom's should be a little more responsible with advertising videos such as this. The potential for accidents and to cause real harm with this is extremely high. Just playing around with the PSU is bad enough.


    Are you Buzz Killington?
  • 14 Hide
    d0gr0ck , November 18, 2010 1:41 AM
    Needs more sharks, or at least some ill-tempered mutated sea bass.
Other Comments
    Display all 25 comments.
  • 8 Hide
    Albyint , November 18, 2010 12:39 AM
    If I make enough out of my old P4 builds can I turn them into a death star gun?
  • -1 Hide
    jj463rd , November 18, 2010 1:00 AM
    Well I already own a Class IV 10 Joule output (20,000 watt output in 1/2000 of a second pulse Neodymium Glass Laser that's perfect for vaporizing anything.Just a change of a ROD (Ruby) and the output coupler (transflective mirror) and mirror and it's red.The power supply is 3.6 megawatts of power (2,000 volts at 1,800 amperes)discharged in 1/2000th of a second.It also makes a nice coil gun and also a nice portable electocution machine too.

    However it was somewhat costly and the Laser shown here is much cheaper,much easier to acquire and easy to build,
  • 24 Hide
    Parsian , November 18, 2010 1:09 AM
    jj463rdWell I already own a Class IV 10 Joule output (20,000 watt output in 1/2000 of a second pulse Neodymium Glass Laser that's perfect for vaporizing anything.Just a change of a ROD (Ruby) and the output coupler (transflective mirror) and mirror and it's red.The power supply is 3.6 megawatts of power (2,000 volts at 1,800 amperes)discharged in 1/2000th of a second.It also makes a nice coil gun and also a nice portable electocution machine too.However it was somewhat costly and the Laser shown here is much cheaper,much easier to acquire and easy to build,


    its all useless unless you mount it onto a shark...


    I just finished a lab in which we used 200mW lasers to trap bacteria (the setup is called Optical Tweezers)
  • 12 Hide
    burnley14 , November 18, 2010 1:28 AM
    schizofrogI think Tom's should be a little more responsible with advertising videos such as this. The potential for accidents and to cause real harm with this is extremely high. Just playing around with the PSU is bad enough.


    And kids shouldn't be able to play dodgeball, and everyone should wear padded helmets and lifejackets just in case.

    Toms isn't advertising this, they're merely showing us the interesting things people have done with their tech. If you choose to try and do the same thing, it's at your own risk. If you don't have the equipment/competence to do it correctly, then don't.
  • 16 Hide
    Stryter , November 18, 2010 1:30 AM
    schizofrogI think Tom's should be a little more responsible with advertising videos such as this. The potential for accidents and to cause real harm with this is extremely high. Just playing around with the PSU is bad enough.


    Are you Buzz Killington?
  • 14 Hide
    d0gr0ck , November 18, 2010 1:41 AM
    Needs more sharks, or at least some ill-tempered mutated sea bass.
  • 2 Hide
    nebun , November 18, 2010 1:44 AM
    schizofrogI think Tom's should be a little more responsible with advertising videos such as this. The potential for accidents and to cause real harm with this is extremely high. Just playing around with the PSU is bad enough.

    that's why noobs don't usually visit this site
  • 2 Hide
    jhansonxi , November 18, 2010 1:56 AM
    Needs a waring like this.
  • -1 Hide
    liveonc , November 18, 2010 2:32 AM
    You have to sit perfectly still for an hour in order for this deadly laser to kill you. It's slower than digging a heart out with a spoon, so you'll have to be very patient when playing Star Wars...
  • 0 Hide
    Haserath , November 18, 2010 3:17 AM
    I think he tried to make a joke when removing the heatsink if nobody else noticed that. :p 

    I want to see this done with a new BDXL laser, that one would probably burn a hole through one of the walls in your house.
  • -3 Hide
    iamtheking123 , November 18, 2010 3:44 AM
    jj463rdWell I already own a Class IV 10 Joule output (20,000 watt output in 1/2000 of a second pulse Neodymium Glass Laser that's perfect for vaporizing anything.Just a change of a ROD (Ruby) and the output coupler (transflective mirror) and mirror and it's red.The power supply is 3.6 megawatts of power (2,000 volts at 1,800 amperes)discharged in 1/2000th of a second.It also makes a nice coil gun and also a nice portable electocution machine too.However it was somewhat costly and the Laser shown here is much cheaper,much easier to acquire and easy to build,


    Bullshit much? There's no way you would have access to that much input power and even if you did, operating the thing would require a massive cooling unit. So you might have access to one in a factory or high end lab, but you certainly don't "own" one.
  • 0 Hide
    dEAne , November 18, 2010 4:25 AM
    This should be displayed with caution.
  • 3 Hide
    jj463rd , November 18, 2010 4:26 AM
    iamtheking123Bullshit much? There's no way you would have access to that much input power and even if you did, operating the thing would require a massive cooling unit. So you might have access to one in a factory or high end lab, but you certainly don't "own" one.

    No I think you don't quite understand.The Power Supply itself stores electrical power in a capacitor bank charging the capacitor bank over time.It discharges the energy into xenon flashtubes which pump the solid state Laser rod to a higher energy state.This Laser type is in fact the oldest type of Laser known (Ruby Laser pumped by flashlamps).The pulse is extremely high for a short duration of time.In fact Q-Switched Solid State flashlamp Lasers can have outputs of 100's of millions of watts or more of Laser radiation energy output in billionths of a second.My Laser itself is portable (charged by a 12 volt battery cell).Look up Theodore Maimen (inventor of the Ruby Laser).Also look up Ruby Laser.Try Wikipedia first.These Lasers have been around since the 1960's.

    Actually my Laser uses right now a Neodymium Glass Rod which is more efficient than a synthetic Ruby Rod.Neodymium Glass Lasers produce the highest PEAK pulse of Laser energy (much larger Neodymium Glass Amplifiers are used in the National Laser Ignition facility (Thermonuclear Fusion).

    I do certainly and personally own one.Have since 1992.
    (
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , November 18, 2010 5:03 AM
    jj463rdNo I think you don't quite understand.The Power Supply itself stores electrical power in a capacitor bank charging the capacitor bank over time.It discharges the energy into xenon flashtubes which pump the solid state Laser rod to a higher energy state.This Laser type is in fact the oldest type of Laser known (Ruby Laser pumped by flashlamps).The pulse is extremely high for a short duration of time.In fact Q-Switched Solid State flashlamp Lasers can have outputs of 100's of millions of watts or more of Laser radiation energy output in billionths of a second.My Laser itself is portable (charged by a 12 volt battery cell).Look up Theodore Maimen (inventor of the Ruby Laser).Also look up Ruby Laser.Try Wikipedia first.These Lasers have been around since the 1960's.Actually my Laser uses right now a Neodymium Glass Rod which is more efficient than a synthetic Ruby Rod.Neodymium Glass Lasers produce the highest PEAK pulse of Laser energy (much larger Neodymium Glass Amplifiers are used in the National Laser Ignition facility (Thermonuclear Fusion).I do certainly and personally own one.Have since 1992.(


    How much does a system like yours cost now a days if one wants to build one?

    Ive been fascinated by Ruby Lasers for quite a while now

  • 1 Hide
    jj463rd , November 18, 2010 5:43 AM
    ParsianHow much does a system like yours cost now a days if one wants to build one?Ive been fascinated by Ruby Lasers for quite a while now

    Um I think that it cost around $2,800 back in 1992 for the Pulsed Power Supply,Xenon Flashlamps,Neodymium Glass Rod,Laser head with Silver Block Reflector,Output coupler (transflector) and reflector (mirror).
    Actually I misspelled the (Ruby Laser) inventor's name it's Theodore Maiman.It's really quite a fascinating science project (easy to convert into other things as well (electomagnetic coil rail gun with the power supply).If I also had a KTP crystal I could also inefficiently halve the infrared wavelength so it would be green colored (slightly shorter in wavelength than those Nd-YAG KTP green pointers.
    One can sometimes find these used or build as a kit.In you tube videos of Ruby Laser shots one can't see the beam because it's so short lived.However in person it's a bright flash.Essentially if you've ever owned a camera flash unit that's basically a small pulsed power supply with a capacitor and a small xenon flash unit.You know how bright a flash unit is (but only for a very short duration of time).
    It's kind of neat though knowing that one can generate in a very tiny space (if Q-Switched) higher temperatures for a very short unit of time about 10 nanoseconds than that of Lithium 6 Deuteride (thermonuclear fuel fusing.It's not really impressive rather a small experiment (curiosity).Kind of neat though vaporizing a hole in a diamond or blasting microholes in razor blades.Ruby Laser's were used in conjunction with flash detector (aiming) as blinding weapons on board a few helicopters as an experiment during the Vietnam conflict to blind enemy Viet Cong AA FLAK gunners looking through their scopes.Don't know how effective it was then but the Army has much better blinding Laser's now.
    I would say a Flash lamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser would be far far better (Flashlamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser's need a special ultra short duration discharge Pulsed Power Supply (has to pump with light radiation in under 500 nanoseconds as best to work)).Usually many of them can crudely work with a SCR but a Krytron switch is better to discharge the electical energy into the flashlamps (can be home made vacuum-air flashlamps).I would say you would perhaps more enjoy building a flashlamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser instead.
  • 1 Hide
    Parsian , November 18, 2010 6:24 AM
    jj463rdUm I think that it cost around $2,800 back in 1992 for the Pulsed Power Supply,Xenon Flashlamps,Neodymium Glass Rod,Laser head with Silver Block Reflector,Output coupler (transflector) and reflector (mirror).Actually I misspelled the (Ruby Laser) inventor's name it's Theodore Maiman.It's really quite a fascinating science project (easy to convert into other things as well (electomagnetic coil rail gun with the power supply).If I also had a KTP crystal I could also inefficiently halve the infrared wavelength so it would be green colored (slightly shorter in wavelength than those Nd-YAG KTP green pointers.One can sometimes find these used or build as a kit.In you tube videos of Ruby Laser shots one can't see the beam because it's so short lived.However in person it's a bright flash.Essentially if you've ever owned a camera flash unit that's basically a small pulsed power supply with a capacitor and a small xenon flash unit.You know how bright a flash unit is (but only for a very short duration of time).It's kind of neat though knowing that one can generate in a very tiny space (if Q-Switched) higher temperatures for a very short unit of time about 10 nanoseconds than that of Lithium 6 Deuteride (thermonuclear fuel fusing.It's not really impressive rather a small experiment (curiosity).Kind of neat though vaporizing a hole in a diamond or blasting microholes in razor blades.Ruby Laser's were used in conjunction with flash detector (aiming) as blinding weapons on board a few helicopters as an experiment during the Vietnam conflict to blind enemy Viet Cong AA FLAK gunners looking through their scopes.Don't know how effective it was then but the Army has much better blinding Laser's now.I would say a Flash lamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser would be far far better (Flashlamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser's need a special ultra short duration discharge Pulsed Power Supply (has to pump with light radiation in under 500 nanoseconds as best to work)).Usually many of them can crudely work with a SCR but a Krytron switch is better to discharge the electical energy into the flashlamps (can be home made vacuum-air flashlamps).I would say you would perhaps more enjoy building a flashlamp pumped Chemical Dye Laser instead.


    Thanks a lot,

    I still need a good optics and laser course to get more familiar with the lasers and solids. I am doing a 3rd year optics lab in which we experiment with lasers but still need more knowledge :p 


  • 0 Hide
    jj463rd , November 18, 2010 6:54 AM
    Also A Pulsed Power Supplied Flashlamp pumped Chemical dye Laser is quite satisfying generally producing Laser radiation millions of times brighter than Helium Neon Gas or Red 635nm 5 mw continuous wave Lasers and thousands of times brighter (for short duration pulses) than those miniaturized 532 nm ND:YAG KTP Laser pointers.In addition various dyes can be used to cover a broad band of wavelengths (colors) and a prism can be used to modify the wavelength as well.Pretty much the same principle as a Ruby Laser but the liquid dye flows through the Laser cavity so there is quick cooling and faster shots than a Solid State Laser which cools much slower between shots.There are plans for this type too.Just do a search on the Internet.
    A home hobbyist with the right tools would be able to home build this but one would need to order some special optics as well as the dye chemicals.
    Generally some home built small dye Lasers like this will produce a few hundred Milli joules (average watts per second not peak though) of Laser Radiation and larger units generally a couple of Joules of Laser Radiation energy photon output.This is quite a very dangerous and hazardous Laser (both optically and electrically) as Laser goggles will not protect against the uncommon wavelengths.Enjoy though if you can do this safely.Again it's perhaps one of the most satisfying and amazing Laser's to build.
  • 0 Hide
    alyoshka , November 18, 2010 7:41 AM
    Cool..............
  • 1 Hide
    kikireeki , November 18, 2010 7:54 AM
    at 3:29 you can see him exposing his hand to the laser beam!
Display more comments