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Toys Technology

How To Turn a Mini Maglite Into a Laser 605

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-tiny-burn-marks dept.
Lucas123 writes "Using the laser from a DVD burner, this instructional video shows you how to create a hand-held laser that is powerful enough to light a match and pop a balloon. There's some soldering involved and the Maglite's bulb housing needs to be drilled out to fit the new laser diode, but with some basic skill, most people could do this. Just plain cool." Update: 07/09 12:23 GMT by KD : Warning, the device that results from following these instructions will blind you if you look into it.
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How To Turn a Mini Maglite Into a Laser

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  • Uhhh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tonsofpcs (687961) <slashback@tons[ ]cs.com ['ofp' in gap]> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:02AM (#20166335) Homepage Journal
    So basically you're not making a laser, you're just moving a laser from a drive into a flashlight case.
    • Re:Uhhh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Curien (267780) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:04AM (#20166343)
      Yes, thank you for repeating the article summary.
      • Dangerous (Score:5, Informative)

        by KDan (90353) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:21AM (#20167217) Homepage
        What the article doesn't, and should say:

        This is a very dangerous toy

        IT WILL BLIND YOU IMMEDIATELY IF:

        - You look at it
        - You shine it on a reflective surface that shines it back into your eye

        No joke, people. Don't try this at home. I'd actually argue that this video is irresponsible since it does not mention the dangers of the item being built at any point. It will probably be uploaded on Youtube and a lot of innocent, curious kids will end up with one fewer eye as a result of this video.

        DO NOT USE UNSAFE LASERS WITHOUT WEARING THE APPROPRIATE PROTECTIVE GEAR (special goggles can be obtained for specific wavelengths, which will ensure that you cannot see the laser - and hence it can't hurt you).

        Daniel (who was paying attention during the Physics Dept 'laser safety' lecture)
        • Re:Dangerous (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:35AM (#20167265)
          Apologies for replying to my own comment...

          TO EDITORS: PLEASE ADD SAFETY WARNING TO THE ARTICLE SUMMARY!
          This is an irresponsibly dangerous video with no safety warning.
        • Re:Dangerous (Score:5, Informative)

          by JohnFluxx (413620) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:56AM (#20167363)
          I nearly blinded myself. I work with lasers, and was trying to align one of the mirrors. I misaligned one slightly, causing the beam to shine in my eye. I looked away immediately, but could only see darkness in that eye. I was so shit scared.

          I was in a foreign country. The company I worked for rushed me to hospital and this foreign doctor explains to my collegues that she needs to inject a needle in behind the back of my eye. You need to prevent the back of the eye from bruising and swelling up.

          She takes out her book of english and says slowly "This will..... hurt". And it did.

          Thankfully after 2 weeks my eyesight was back to normal.

          So please everyone - do be very careful. And if anything happens, it is _vital_ to get to a _eye_ hospital as soon as possible.
          • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:38AM (#20167575) Homepage Journal

            this foreign doctor explains to my collegues that she needs to inject a needle in behind the back of my eye.

            She takes out her book of english and says slowly "This will..... hurt".
            Thank you for giving me tonight's horrible nightmare.

            If I wet the bed, I'm sending you the laundry bill.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vrmlguy (120854)
          As of five minutes ago, I don't want your stupid goggles, I want freaking DVD-frequency contact lens that can be worn 24x7. In a few hours, there are going to be jokers wandering the streets with these things blinding random victims, and I want to be protected, damn it. On a more serious note (yes, the above is intended to be modded "funny"), could a contact lens work? If it blocks the light via absorption, then you've just moved the hot-spot from the retina to the cornea. Still, I guess that corneal tr
        • by kotj.mf (645325) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @07:36AM (#20168171)

          This is a very dangerous toy

          IT WILL BLIND YOU IMMEDIATELY IF:

          - You look at it
          - You shine it on a reflective surface that shines it back into your eye

          Pussy.

          I've got one sitting right here on my desk, and I can shine it in to my eyes with absolutely no problems. Allow me to demonstrate...

          Srr?

          Sbao;utelu ni orpbkens,

        • by skeeto (1138903) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:27AM (#20168753)

          This is a very dangerous toy

          IT WILL BLIND YOU IMMEDIATELY

          Humbug! All my life they have been telling me masturbation does the same exact thing.

        • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:47AM (#20169011)

          It will probably be uploaded on Youtube and a lot of innocent, curious kids will end up with one fewer eye as a result of this video.
          Yes, but on the bright side the eye patches will help identify the willing-to-do-anything children at a distance, and we need more pirates anyway.

          - RG>
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by d0rp (888607)

          special goggles can be obtained for specific wavelengths, which will ensure that you cannot see the laser - and hence it can't hurt you
          Of course if don't get the right wavelengths...

          My eyes! The goggles, they do nothing!

    • Re:Uhhh... (Score:4, Funny)

      by feepness (543479) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:25AM (#20166457) Homepage
      How funny, I was reading this post and happened to see this at exactly the same time:

      "Bureaucrat Conrad, you are technically correct. The best kind of correct." [imdb.com]
    • Re:Uhhh... (Score:5, Funny)

      by loganrapp (975327) <loganrapp.gmail@com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:24AM (#20166711)
      Yeah, but now you can put it on sharks!
  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:03AM (#20166341)
    Know what I'm doing this weekend :) now if only this could be modified for Laser tag
  • by Seismologist (617169) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:05AM (#20166345)
    actually ignite a match like that? I didn't know that 2 AA batteries could put out that much power in a laser beam... this is clearly a lot more powerful than your standard run-of-the-mill laser pointer used in presentations. I'm so tempted on doing this.
    • by Slashamatic (553801) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:31AM (#20166489)
      The problem isn't the current draw - it is the heat. The big laser pointers tend to ensure there is better thermal coupling to the case so the waste heat is removed. With this, it will tend to heat up the module until pssst... and your laser is dead. Should be ok for less than a minute or so.
  • Great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sRev (846312) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:05AM (#20166349)
    Now when I go to the movies, instead of worrying about Brad Pitt having a red dot on his face, I have to worry about the screen igniting. Good times.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:06AM (#20166359)
    In the words of Rainier Wolfcastle:

    My eyes! The goggles do nothing!
  • yeah baby (Score:4, Funny)

    by sudo (194998) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:10AM (#20166381) Homepage
    So where did I put those frikin sharks?
  • Shark (Score:4, Funny)

    by wizardguy (245100) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:12AM (#20166399)
    Ok, so where do I get the shark ? and where is the manual on how to mount it on the shark ?
  • by stox (131684) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:17AM (#20166423) Homepage
    "Do not look into Laser with remaining eye!"
    • by LarsG (31008) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:48AM (#20166819) Journal
      With a 245mW laser, that should be modded informative, not funny. It is strong enough that it can cause permanent eye damage from a reflection, long before the blink reflex kicks in.
  • by olyar (591892) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:19AM (#20166427) Homepage Journal
    Windows bashing? Witty comments? Duped stories? Comments about duped stories and how often they get posted? Soviet Russia and Overlord jokes? Left-leaning political commentary?

    Nope. None of those things.

    Articles about making lasers? Yes! Yes! It can light things on fire too?

    Excuse me. I think I may have just wet my pants.

  • Good plan (Score:4, Funny)

    by xrayspx (13127) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:28AM (#20166469) Homepage
    There's going to be a lot of blind hackers in the next couple of weeks. If you're smart, you'll figure out how to wrangle this as workmans comp before you build the thing.
  • by infonography (566403) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:38AM (#20166515) Homepage
    I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete, indeed you are powerful as the emperor has foreseen. - Darth Vader
  • Soddering? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trogre (513942) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:46AM (#20166543) Homepage
    Is that a strange way of pronouncing 'soldering'?

  • BluRay (Score:5, Funny)

    by VariableGHz (1099185) <variableghz.gmail@com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:54AM (#20166577) Homepage
    Think of (all?) the people who now have a good use for their BluRay players. ;P
  • Um, *excuse* me!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by edunbar93 (141167) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:10AM (#20166645)
    What part of "This product contains a Class 2 laser. Do not power on without enclosure" did you not understand? This has the potential for causing serious bodily harm, including but not limited to permanent blindness!
    • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:54AM (#20166839) Journal
      You're not the boss of me. I hate you! I hate you! God, my family sucks.

      Oh, sorry. I was channeling a 14 year old emo girl for a minute.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      If the laser is just Class 2, then unmodified there is little risk. You can't find a laser pointer less than Class 3R for the most part. Supposing the video is genuine, it looks like the diode is being badly over driven and thus is now Class 3B or even a Class 4 which certainly is a concern.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:16AM (#20166679)
    There is a guy in the comments section of the blog who is giving out dangerous advice:

    That thing might blind you if you stare at it but second or 2 blast won't do any damage. It took a bit to pop the balloon and your eyes are probably tougher than a balloon.
    That is so completely false.

    If you can pop a balloon with it, it is probably in the 100mw range which is enough to do permanent eye damage in 1/100th of a second. That's faster than you can blink. You won't go blind instantly, you'll just burn out a bunch of optic nerves, producing a 'hole' in your vision. Chances are, your brain will correct for the hole and you won't even know its there, unless an object ends up right at that point in your field of view, at which point it will 'magically' disappear.
    • by LarsG (31008) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:58AM (#20166863) Journal
      The laser used in the article is said to be 245mW, so with regards to eye safety it would not be an exaggeration to say 'this is a weapon, not a toy'.
    • by halr9000 (465474) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:46AM (#20168985) Homepage
      [so much for the modding I'd done in this thread.]

      Due to an infection I obtained when I was 2, I've got partial blindness in both eyes. The infection caused scar tissue to form on my retina smack in the good part (center of the optic nerve junction) of my left eye. I can see objects and make out large things but I can't read with that eye at all. Think of it like your peripheral vision. Try this: put a page of text a foot from your ear and try to read it--while looking straight ahead. That's what my vision is like when I close my right eye.

      The right eye has some similar damage, but luckily the scar tissue formed only over a smaller area which is not positioned over the center of the optic nerve junction. So back to the parent's comment about your brain compensating, I can tell you from experience--it depends on how much damage there is. I can read, I can drive and so on, but my brain has to work a bit harder to make a complete image. I don't have 20/20 vision (even with glasses), it's more like 20/50. (I can read text at 20 feet that you can read at 50 feet.) I have to hold things closer to read them than most people, and it's pretty hard to read road signs while driving.

      So the moral to the story is twofold:

      1. Sandboxes are bad, toxoplasmosis bacteria likes to grow there and kids that play in sandboxes inevitably will rub their eyes.
      2. Don't mess with lasers. Holes in your vision--not cool.

      (I almost died laughing when I saw the "donotlookatlaserwithremainingeye" tag. I have a special place in my heart/right-eye for that line.)
  • by dhalgren (34798) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:32AM (#20166761)
    . . .but read and understand the safety FAQ first:

    http://www.laserfaq.org/sam/lasersaf.htm#safssl2 [laserfaq.org]

    Torben
  • MY EYES! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aqua OS X (458522) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:02AM (#20166879)
    MY EYES! The googles do nothing!
  • by wamerocity (1106155) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:36AM (#20167001) Journal
    It's a personal Protective device. I, for one, plan on keeping this handy or even making it find a home in a smaller case that can run on button cells (if only for a few seconds) purely as a protective device.

    Pepper spray? My balls! Nothing to teach an assailant a lesson like losing vision in one eye.

    actually the one thing I am VERY interested in is if can produce enough pinpoint heat to start a flammable liquid on fire from a distance...oh.. I think I just came.

  • by SamP2 (1097897) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @05:19AM (#20167483)
    I seriously hope someone sues the fuck out of this guy SO badly that he'll never be able to afford a flashlight or a DVD burner again.

    I'd rather get shot with a gun than be blinded with that thing. And unlike guns, any asshole (or kid) can assemble one from parts, with absolutely no regulation, and leave me permanently blind.

    Don't realize how bad this is? OK, imagine this: Someone brings this to a disco and points it towards the revolving sphere = dozens blinded, permanently. This is not a joke. This can be used for terrorism, pure and simple.
    • So? By the time I was 13 I could build so many different kinds of bombs out of things you can get out of the hardware store that I should have been called a terrorist by today's standards. Here's one for you, know what happens when you mix acetylene with oil? No? Try it sometime pretty fun if you ask me also extremely deadly, there's a reason that acetylene bottles say not to oil the threads of the valve cap. There are so many much worse things that you could do that are well documented on the internet now that I didn't have access to, I actually had to work at stuff like this but these days you don't it's all there for the taking. So really this is pretty small potatoes and you're just having a knee jerk reaction like so many people do. You want to know what was the key instrument of me not hurting myself or others when I started to get really interested in blowing shit up? My father quickly realized that I was going to find a way to do it one way or the other so he taught me the safe way to do it, the same can be applied to lasers. Kids need to be allowed to experiment with stuff that's how you learn and better yourself, keeping kids and teenagers locked up in an iron box and not letting them do dangerous things that are also very educational just churns out the next generation of factory workers. For instance my fascination with explosives led me to make my own brand of rocket fuel, then that led me to want to make a rocket. Since I wanted to make a rocket I learned about CAD and Drafting then made drawings and took them to a machine shop to make said rocket. I launched and guess what? It flew! Amazing! Look at all that I learned along the way! Now take a laser for instance, imagine if a kid saw this and realized that he could do a little engraving with something like this. It may eventually lead him to FAB@home and maybe just maybe he/she would build on of these machines, imagine what they would learn along the way. It's attitudes like yours that stifle the creativity and imagination of future generations. Knee-jerk reactions like ZOMG! teh t'rrists can blind someone serve no one only breed the already stifling culture of fear that we live in now. This could be a great teaching tool, it's fun, cool, and has visible results as well as being inexpensive. I think all physics classes in school should be encouraged to have students build things like this, it leads to interest in the subject and you know what that makes? Wow! You guessed it, a smarted more creative generation of forward thinkers. I could go on for hours but I'm going to quit now before I get all worked up.
  • Bush: We've go to do something to get rid of all those dangerous hackers.

    Vader: Perhaps we could post a video showing them how to make a dangerous weapon that they would accidentally use on themselves.

    Jobs: Hmmm... there's a dangerous laser in DVD burners.

    Gates: Yeah, let's hope that works better than your plan to make them all deaf with your stupid iPod, or get them run over walking across the street, playing with their iPhone.
  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @07:18AM (#20168035) Homepage
    Laser diodes generally require some type of current limiting to prevent damage. In the DVD burner circuit, that is the function of the third pin on the diode package (that the article simply blows off as "not used"). This pin connects to an internal photodiode, which is used to measure output power, and provide feedback through an external driver circuit to continuously control the current applied to the laser diode junction.

    The article simply places the laser diode directly across the 3V battery supply, with not even a ballast resistor to limit the current. You might get away with this with AA batteries, but if someone were to try this trick with a D-cell maglite, they would most likely let the magic smoke out of the laser very quickly.

  • by mazanoid (1114617) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:34AM (#20168819)
    Please mod this 5 and tack it up towards the top someone.

    Laser Standard Operating Procedures [csulb.edu]

    Laser Safety [csulb.edu]

    Check your particular DVD Rom, chances are fairly good that it's rated as a class I laser (non hazardous, but try not to stare directly at it...because like everything else it's probably made in china I wouldn't be surprised if to save a penny they underclassy the mW output to skip a safety inspection over in the usa heh)

    However, if it's a class II....

    The reason I am offering these links is because I doubt many people know that a class II laser beam will cause eye damage within as little as .026 seconds? 1-2 seconds could be more than enough to cause snow blindness style affects, headaches, and temporary eye tissue scarring?

    I got caught not wearing my ansi rated safety goggles at corning from a light gun and I couldn't see for about 3 days (snow blindness from intense UV exposure for 2 seconds). So let's practice some good sense people.

  • Eye protection (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @10:41AM (#20170501) Journal
    A lot of people here have mentioned how dangerous this laser is in terms of the ability to fry eyes and/or cause blindness. Is there anyone here who can indicate what the proper safety gear would be when dealing with lasers of this variety? I'm guessing that anti-UV sun-glasses aren't quite good enough... and welders goggles perhaps a bit too dark to accomplish any work?

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