Tornado lamp made with lasers

[Styropyro] did a great job of taking common parts and making an interesting item. He calls this his Tornado lamp, and it’s made with stuff you probably have around the house — well you might have to substitute more common glassware for that Erlenmeyer flask.

The bulk of the hack is in the base. You’ll find a laser diode pointed at a small scrap of mirror. That mirror is mounted on the center of a small case fan, giving the tornadic effect when spinning. To make everything fit just right, the laser is pointed horizontally, with the fan/mirror at a 45 degree angle. The beam points up through a hole in the project box and illuminates the liquid in the flask. That liquid is water doped with a substance that¬†fluoresces. In this shot it’s some fluorescein, but we did mention you can do this with stuff from around the house. [Styropyro] demonstrates the use of liqud from some highlighting markers as a substitute.

If you’re decoration a mad scientist’s lab this is a perfect companion for a Jacob’s ladder.


  1. Keith says:

    That’s got real potential. Turn it in to a magnetic stirring device as well for a real vortex and the laser should just add to it.

  2. Ken Quast says:

    Nice hack with common items. FYI, I have a post on my site that has the same dye extracted from a highlighter as you mentioned. Post shows extraction method and a link to the MSDS and a faux neon “light” just for fun.

  3. Johnny O. Farnen says:

    Why waste all that time gutting markers or dropping cash on flourescien when some extremely cheap tonic water will give you that exciting Nuka-Cola glow?

  4. conundrum says:

    Tonic water isn’t as bright, IMHO.

  5. matseng says:

    Do you get those nice swirling/flickering effects in real life as well or is that just an artifact from the cameras framerate vs the speed of the mirror?

  6. ino says:

    It’s nice.

    He can also narrow the vortex and add a second mirror on the top of the flask for some more effects.

    I would say artifact.

  7. Phlogiston says:

    I suspect the cool swirling effect is an artifact of the frame rate of the camera and the rotating beam.
    Then, however, a simple (and quiet) lens that spreads the beam will produce nearly the same effect as the spinning mirror.

  8. Hirudinea says:

    Everythings better with lasers!

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