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Jarrod's Dirty CO2 Laser Design

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Uploaded on Dec 18, 2010

This video explores the use of ordinary first surfaced mirrors on the ends of the laser tube (output end and high reflector end), as well as an ordinary piece of rock salt for the window through which the beam must pass. At the expense of performance, such a design lends itself to low budget amateur construction using the most basic supplies available.

When properly aligned, the laser actually works quite well considering the crude parts that are used. It will quickly char wood without focusing at close range, and will bring the resulting carbon to a bright yellow incandescence. Although more divergent than the beam from a laser with a proper output coupler, the beam from this laser does not appear to be as divergent as I had expected. This might suggest that although translucent at visible wavelengths, the rock salt could actually be more transparent to the CO2 laser output, which falls in the 10.6 micrometer range.

Carbon Dioxide can be supplied by mixing baking soda and vinegar, or by exhaling directly into a balloon. When using exhaled breath for the carbon dioxide, I take a deep breath and hold my breath as long as I can before exhaling into the balloon. Irregardless of the CO2 source that is chosen, the addition of helium makes the performance much better. I increase the helium ratio a little at a time until performance is good. Too much helium is not good (never breathe or inhale helium - I always exhale into the balloon first, and THEN add helium). It takes some trial and error to determine what is needed to obtain good results. However, I am thoroughly pleased with the performance given the crude supplies with which this laser is constructed.

CO2 lasers are potentially hazardous devices. The electrical power supply can kill instantly. The laser output can permanently maim, disfigure, or otherwise result in very serious injury. It is not a toy! It is many orders of magnitude beyond the limits of so called 'high power' hand held lasers, in terms of output power. The beam is totally invisible, and special measures must be taken to avoid accidental exposure to the direct, reflected, or scattered output. I disclaim all responsibility associated with the construction of, or use of such a device. This information is provided for education/entertainment purposes only. It involves amateur construction, and I disclaim all responsibility for any damage or injury, as well as for errors or omissions, regarding all forms of content I have provided on all subjects.

For more information on this laser, as well as some of my others, please visit my homepage (all webpages under construction, and far from complete at this time) here:

http://jarrodkinsey.org/

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