Designing my (friends) firstRGB PJ, need a little guidance
Over the last few months I have spent more time on this forum than at a job, and my knowledge of lasers & laser related topics has increased TREMENDOUSLY. Unfortunately, in the process I have also developed 'analysis paralysis' and can't decide where I should start....Until now.
You see, I have this friend, Joey. I have known Joey for 10 or so years, and when I first met him he was throwing parties in his basement every weekend when the bar closed. But this was no ordinary basement, let me tell you! He had DJ equipment, and strobe lights, and lasers, and LEDs and lava lamps....It looked like he robbed the local Guitar Center! Now a days he is all grown up with a VERY successful flooring business, a nicer house & a newborn baby boy; He doesn't even drink anymore. Recently he acquired a large warehouse space, and in addition to dozens of rolls of carpet, he has been filling it with DJ equipment & lighting. And this is where PL comes in....
Joey wants a big, badass laser for his warehouse, for his own personal use (lasers are his FAVORITE!). He knows that I have spent some time learning about lasers, and he has asked me to build him one. He has given me a budget of $2500-3000 to work with, which should be more than enough to construct a 2-5 watt RGB projector. I will probably get the case & scanners from Goldenstar, but where I am having trouble is deciding on the modules: Do I just buy the premade red & blues (obviously I'll just buy the green), OR do I build them from scratch (1 3 watt 445 + a quad red)? Would screwing with prisms & quads my first time be biting off too much?? This is an awesome opportunity to gain some experience on someone elses dime, I just don't want to lose all my hair over it.
well it depends on the tools you have tbh.
Or have access to, there are hacker spaces with mills and cnc machines that cost as low as 30$ a month. So if you are lacking that can help.
I think its always better to build vs buy when you can.
Depending on if you want 2 or 5 W makes a difference.
For a 2.6W to 3W
1 9mm 445nm diode set to do 1W
2 635nm G71 diodes set to do 1W
Then green to get a perfect white is around 600mw to 1W
Some people when they see 1W of green with the other two say it to much others say its perfect.
If he wanted a 2-3W i would build but a 5W might be better to buy, as every thing gets harder.
A thing to note is dont skimp on the laser power supply's, a good high quality DIN rail psu was the best thing i ever bought for my projector.
Have yet to kill a diode after switching to one of them.
The 1W 445nm build is very easy just a diode holder and correction optics holder no mirror mounts needed or cubes.
The 1W 635nm build a tiny bit harder but you need a mirror mount to stack the beam one on top of the other then send that beam into the correction optics.
Now to do more powerful versions its just build 2x of the above and PBS cube+ waveplate them along with what ever green you get.
using the cubes is not super hard but it adds another set of things to think about.
Below is a bit of a different take on the above, in that the red and blue share correction optics. for your first build i would have each set with their own.
But you can see each laser is colored and even the galvos and galvo amps and psus are in there, blue is the laser psus DIN rail size and silver was the psu that came with my galvos.
The only other weird thing was my diy green in there thats a holder for a 22mm green laser. you can buy a 400-500mw 22mm green for about 200$
But with the prices for a green laser down to a reasonable mount i think i heard someone say they bought a 700mw green for around 350$ or less
Last edited by kiyoukan; 06-11-2013 at 04:48.
Originally Posted by kiyoukan
What is the advantage of a DIN power supply? I am very familiar with the meanwell (and knock off) power supplies, but have never worked with any DIN rail components.
Ultimately, I want as much power as I can get in the budget I was provided, which is my primary motivation for building the blue & red myself. Another forum member has offered me some 9mm 445s that he is getting 3 watts out of, and I believe I can get 2.5-3 watts out of a quad red (using a pre made quad mount like the one from Edison). Lets say I get 2 watts out of each, after corrective optics, then I just need about 1.5 watts of green (I agree that using lass green gives better color balance, although it does make white look a little pinkish). I should also mention that I'm not opposed to overdriving the shit out of the diodes, as this isn't being used for shows, and if my friend starts blowing diodes it's just more practice for me (and diodes are not that expensive).
Regarding the tools I have access to, I do have an assortment of nice hand tools & some shop space, but I'll need to look into a TechShop membership for anything beyond that.
check this place out, these guys can help alot.
Well yes you can push a 9mm 445nm to do 3W and with enough cooling it will last a while, it would last a long while more if you drive it at 1.5W closer to its rating.
There is always a push for power, but even if its not for a gig you should strive for reliable power.
Assume that the projector could get dust filled and fans not cool due to plugged heatsinks and intakes and see if you cant get it to live even in those conditions.
It sucks to have the thing you want to use die the second you want to use it.
the 635nm diodes are able to be pushed alot more than we know (look at planters research). in the dual i just built i had them at 850ma and after optics i had about 1.2W peak, and some have even pushed them more beyond 1A per diode. Even at a dual doing 1.2W it can do more once a TEC setup is added it could be doing 1.5W.
So 3W out of the 635nm diodes using 4 of them is not far off.
The beam specs will be around 4-4.5mm at around 1.1mrad or less.
In cost each dual setup will run you about 300$ material depending on what you can source.
Correction optics and diode lens from dave is about 100$, the diodes 40$ a pop for a total of 80$, the mirror mount 10-15$
Diode holders from 20-100$ depending on choice, or free if you go to a hacker space and make one.
Then base plate again if made by you alot cheaper than buying one custom.
Driver there are several options badpid or P3 are a few analog, but dont knock TTL drivers you may only get 7 colors but its still looks great.
DIN rail psu's are more of a form factor but as long as you dont go china brand they are generally quality as they are meant for running expensive components and as such have good amount of protection built in.
This is an example there are higher quality but just to give you an idea.
Or like this
Last edited by kiyoukan; 06-11-2013 at 06:39.
Thanks again for the helpful tips.
I'm really not worried about cutting the diode life, even if I shorten their life to 1000 hours that is still 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for a year. In my opinion, it would be easier and cheaper to just replace diodes every year, rather than add more complexity & more diodes. I should also mention that my primary business is cryogenic special effects for the nightclub industry, so it shouldn't be too difficult for me to rig up some cooling by LCO2, although then I have to worry about condensation....Maybe I'll save that for build #2.
BTW, those Mean Well prices look a little high; I pay about $50 for 320 watt Mean Well supplies, and less for the smaller units.
oh by no means are those the cheapest, but look at the protection features they have and try to find some others with them.
I learned the hard way pc psu's tend to not be regulated without a mobo, yes i know you can preload the lines and a few other tricks to better stabilize them, but i chose not too risk it.
My next psu for my diodes is going to be a medical grade 7.5V 10A psu, they have some of the best features that coupled with a good driver and esd protection means a diode will live a long and very happy life.
You can get a free tour at I3 and sometimes if you sign a waiver of liability they will let you work for free, but you dont get card access so someone has to let you in. Also they dont instantly allow you to use every machine. The cnc ones you must get approved first. they also have classes every month to teach you new things.
I think as long as you feel you are able to deliver and or have a backup plan you should be able to build a 2.6W projector without pulling your hair out.
Some things to remember is that esd is a bitch and getting the proper work mats and esd discharge bracelets are a good thing. the mat is not needed but if you can find one for cheap they are not bad, also remember to discharge metal tools if they are going to come in close contact with the diodes.
Also if you are looking for metal some great places are
If you ask before you go you can sometimes get 20% off drops aka cut off's they dont know exactly what they have but they have a shelf of bars and plates that are around 1-2ft that can be gotten a bit cheaper.
I see your located in Detroit (i was just at warren and cass) so im not sure whats or who is around you, there may be another closer metal suppler.
Just be careful with the tools the second you start using stuff like a mill and lathe you will want to buy one, then you will be tempted to cnc the mill.
I know me and a few other members have been like that. Just make sure to research before you buy and a hint those mill lathe combos are crap as well as those 7 in 1's avoid them at all costs!
I actually live in Shelby Twp, but put Detroit cause everyones heard of Detroit:-)
I was going to check out TechShop, but it sounds like the place you are recommending provides the same experience, and is located much closer to me. Thanks again:-)
yea then metal mart on dequinder and 14 would be close, im out that way a few times a months for work, Birmingham mostly thou and Detroit 2 days a week.
I have heard good things about techshop but that cost has put many members only using it once a year for access to the 4th axis mill, and even then they split the cost between 3 guys.
If you need an electronic part for what ever reason there is also a hidden gold mine*.
* they hate stupid people and almost all questions are stupid, BUT they have a decent selection of parts when in a bind and cant wait to get off ebay or digi key i go here.
Cant think of much else here in this side of the state that could help much more than the above info.
Maybe a vist to CDbeam he is an awesome guy.
Everything he does has a style all his own.
Send him a msg im sure hes got some advice or tricks he would love to show.
What do you recommend for scanners? I was just planning on DT40 wides, but they are a little pricey (considering my budget).
this can be a tought one. and you are right to consider your budget.
i would say talk to the guy whos going to use it and see if he is intersted in graphics or beams.
most will say both but more over to beams as few have the artistic tallent to create complex graphic shows.
so going for a set of dt 40w will give you that nice wide projection area but at a decent cost.
seeing prices and tec nowadays i dont think i could recomend anything under 30k.
with exceptions to the people wanting the cheapest possible option as a pair of 20ks can be gotten under 100$ iirc.
a used set of dt40w might be better if you need the extra width.
also look on ebay for galvos cambridge tec galvos show up time to time.
ct vs dt galvos can be argued all night, quality is closer between the two with dt still being slightly better at a cost.
but i might say a pair of 30k galvos could do you very good and be gotten for 175$ or less from omar here on pl.
not 100% sure but should be very close.
$175 is WAY cheaper than DT40 wides, might be a good option. As for what my friend wants; well, he wants to be able to spell his company name on the back wall during parties, in addition to beam shows.
30k galvos should have no problems with text given its not some crazy huge name in fancy font.
what software were you thinking of running?
i would say a good option is lsx and a riya lite dac.
but a cheaper option could be a soundcard dac plus LFI PLAYER or another free program. is there still a free version of spaghetti?
sound card dacs are good i have had 2 one a dr lava corrected one and the other 300 evil design.
tbh i have had some problems with my riya lite dac but i know how to fix it as it only affect older models.
the usb cable in older models kinda suck and a cap across the power line helps.
the eatherdream dac is awesome dont own but heard alot of good.
there is the open laser show dac
i think he is also the creator of monkey tools name might be wrong.
i have a dedicated p4 laptop running my projector its not a bad idea to get a dedicated machine.
i even dissable the internet so it cant ever update/change settings so it always works.
now dont get me started on cases. im so bad at those my projectors almost live in harborfreight aluminum carry cases. as every real case i just dont like and am to cheap to buy one from goldstar.
When I finally build a projector for myself it will be eatherdream + LSX; for this, quickshow for its user friendliness. As for font, all it has to say is "The Carpet Guys" in plain text. It will be mostly beams. Forgive my short responses, I have friends over tonight.