The Ultimate Home Laser Show

Note: instructions for an even-more-ultimate laser show are coming soon, in the meantime check out a sneak peek of it in action.

This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever made. It’s quite a step up from the Five Dollar Laser Show I posted a bit back. The only logical step after building that was to drastically increase the power and number of beams. I loved the effect that it generated, but it wasn’t bright enough, and only covered a small portion of the wall.

This my first attempt at solving those two issues, I think it worked out pretty well. Here’s the new version in action on the ceiling of my living room.

It’s quite an effect, and rather hypnotizing – it’s quite easy to zone out and become completely absorbed in the music. The multiple vibrating beams coming out of the unit also look amazing when fog or smoke is in the room.

Even the most ADHD-addled individual, myself included, tends to go “whoa”. You can also do cool things like hooking it up to a microphone and watching the patterns your voice makes. A disco ball or mirrors stuck to the ceiling help spread the effect around even more.

So how does one go about making one of these things? Well, I made every effort to make construction as simple as possible for two reasons. One, electrical engineering is far from my speciality and I didn’t want to kill myself/ruin a laser I could only afford one of. Two, I always hated seeing incredibly awesome projects on the internet that I never had any hope of building due to funds and bizarre parts. That’s not to say you don’t need some basic soldering and construction skills, as well as a healthy respect for the power of laser light, but it’s definitely doable if you put your mind to it.

The full details are in the links below, but what you basically need are a heatsinked lab style laser (so it can run for a few hours, high power laser pointers will get too hot), a diffraction grating, a pair of old headphones, and a few electrical parts to tie it all together.

So if you’re the type who enjoys projects, I strongly recommend giving this a shout – it’s proof positive that you can obtain amazing results without the backing of a large electronics company. If you do end up building one, please send me a link to the results so I can see how it turns out!

Instructions

About the Author

lives and works in Ontario, Canada.

24 Responses to “The Ultimate Home Laser Show”

  1. Hey Man!
    This thing looks pretty awesome!
    Now, how much do I have to persuade you to build a few and sell them off?
    To… well, me. Let me know, keep up this stuff!

  2. [...] own… just don’t use too powerful a laser source, eh? Those things can be dangerous. [Project page via [...]

  3. [...] shelf parts. Check out the videos of it in action & the step by step assembly guide. PyroFactor: Read Permalink  |   Email This [...]

  4. [...] It is not so difficult to have your home laser show. The idea of having your own laser show can seem a bit far-fetched, but just think about how cool it could be! It may sound hard to build, but an inventor named Geoff Milburn has come up with some easy instructions. [...]

  5. [...] own… just don’t use too powerful a laser source, eh? Those things can be dangerous. [Project page via [...]

  6. [...] entertainment today. If you’ve ever wanted to build your own laser show, this simple five dollar DIY laser show project. Basically, reflect a laser on to a mirror physically attached to a speaker membrane. As the [...]

  7. [...] neat projects and lucky for us, he documents them quite well. He calls the focus for today “The Ultimate Home Laser Show.” He does away with all the fancy electronics to aim the mirrors and uses a mirror stuck on a [...]

  8. Good taste in music too :)

  9. We cannot get the laser you suggest in the USA due to FDA regulations. Will a 35mW green laser pen work? Can you make another suggestion? Thanks so much! My daughter would like to try this out for her Spring Science Project.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      A green laser pen will certainly work – although you’ll need to mount it differently and possibly devise some sort of method to keep it turned on without having to hold it. It just won’t be able to run for as long as a lab-style laser since it can overheat (lab style lasers have better heatsinks and are designed for long runs).

      If you’ve found a laser module elsewhere that produces a beam that you can turn on and off, you’re set! Doesn’t matter if it has an external circuit board or not. The circuit board on my model regulates the power – the model you found may do that on separate circuitry hidden from view. Really you just need a laser that you can turn on and off easily that will run for a while without overheating.

  10. Hi Geoff!

    So we tried it out yesterday! The laser worked all day… we complete the project and had it working (almost) for a few minutes… a couple of things… I am hoping you might be able to help with. First, the speaker did not produce any “bounce”. Second, the laser turned off after a minute or so of being on. We got it back on a second time, however, now it will not turn back on. This morning, we are going to put power to the laser to make sure it goes back on. Thanks, again.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Few things to try here. The factors for speaker “bounce” are how powerful the speaker is, how much volume is going into it, and how heavy the mirror attached to it is.

      1. Make sure you have a decently powerful speaker. If it’s only an inch across, it probably won’t work. I’d suggest speakers from the “over ear” type headphones.

      2. Make sure that it’s actually working, and the volume is high enough. Start pumping music through the speaker at high volume, and you should be able to hear it and see the speaker move. If you can’t, it’s likely that your connections are a bit off.

      3. The mirror needs to be as small as possible – big enough to bounce the laser, but no bigger. The lighter the mirror, the more the speaker will be able to move it around. Try reducing your mirror to the smallest size you can.

      I’m not sure why your laser keeps turning off – it’s probably just overheating or something similar. What type is it?

  11. Hi Geoff,

    We recently replaced my car stereo and one of the old speakers from the car worked using a smaller mirror… thanks! I was able to try it out with just a laser pointer. The car speaker won’t fit in the box from Jameco, so I think we will just build one. I don’t see any project boxes much bigger out there.

    So, the science project is moving along…. yea!

  12. Hey Geoff!

    Great News! It is all working… it is cool to see how different songs produce different “shows”! Now the girls are completing research on the history of lasers, types of lasers, applications, etc. for their presentation! Thanks so much for the idea and your help. I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Lisa! Good to hear it all worked out for you – send me some pictures if you like!

  13. [...] make the sky Here is an instructional site to make your own show. For the tech savvy of the crowd. The Ultimate Home Laser Show | gmilburn.ca 3.c) Whoa! These are the machines that really send you out there far. Basic But [...]

  14. [...] this guide shows you how to build a nice little home laser show for just a few bucks. Very cool! Laser Home Show [...]

  15. [...] The Ultimate Home Laser Show | gmilburn.ca This is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever made. It’s quite a step up from the Five Dollar Laser Show I posted a bit back. The only logical step after building that was to drastically increase the power and number of beams. I loved the effect that it generated, but it wasn’t bright enough, and only covered a small portion of the wall. (tags: laser art diy) [...]

  16. [...] own… just don’t use too powerful a laser source, eh? Those things can be dangerous. [Project page via Hacknmod] Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 [...]

  17. [...] some tinkering. The write-up has page by page instructions showing you how to build it. PyroFactor: Read Permalink  |   Email This [...]

  18. Thank YOU so much!! I appreciate your time.

  19. Hi Geoff,

    I think you are right about the speaker connections and weight of mirror… we can get ahold of a smaller mirror and are looking for a different speaker. I didn’t realize the weight of the mirror would be a factor. Thanks!

    The laser did quit working – not sure why. I purchased from zbolt.com in Oregon. I couldn’t purchase yours due to FDA regulations. I purchased the 30mW laser module w/ heat sink. It was the most affordable I could find in the states. They are sending a replacement. Very accommodating company. So, perhaps it did just overheat or just fail?? I am concerned about the same thing happening again. There was a little circuit board wrapped up in heavy rubber. After the laser quit working, a green light continued to light up on that, but no laser beam.

    Thanks, again, Geoff, for your time. I so appreciate it!

  20. Hi Lisa,

    What I did for my mirror is just break it and then use a pair of needle nose pliers to form it into a tiny circle. If you aren’t comfortable with that, I know craft stores will sell small circular mirrors.

    I’m not sure why your laser quit working – zbolt.com is a rather confusing site where I can’t figure out how to buy anything, but if you’re happy and received product, then that’s 90% of the worry gone. Really what is likely is that they import lasers from China/whatever and the quality control is just a little lax – technically you shouldn’t be able to buy a 30mW laser period in the US.

    I think it just failed – there’s something called the “bathtub curve” with electronics, describing how they either tend to fail in the first few days or they’ll last for years. Hopefully it’s not too much trouble.

    In the meantime, you can just go out to a dollar store and buy a regular small red laser pointer for five bucks or so. You can then build everything else, use the red laser pointer to check that it’s working, and then just slot the green laser into place when you get it in the mail.

  21. Good to hear things are progressing along well Lisa! I’m with you on the project box – everything fits, but there certainly isn’t too much wiggle room. Keep me posted!

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