Building an Automated Laser Turret Targeting System

Last year, [Alvaro] built a laser turret robot for the DEFCONBOTs competition. It worked pretty well, but this year, he decided to step it up a notch. Now instead of moving the entire robot laser array, he’s using galvanometers to move only the laser — he’s essentially built a mini laser projector.

A galvanometer is basically a very sensitive ammeter that moves — it can also be used as a very precise electro-mechanical actuator, for say, moving a tiny mirror. As you can imagine, you can actually build home-made galvanometers — but it’s really not that easy. Instead, [Alvaro] opted to order a few laser show controllers on eBay, and hack his way to a solution — we approve.

Wiring up the galvanometers and making some circuitry for them was the easy part. The tricky part is automating the system.

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Google Hangout laser turret

The guys from the House4Hack hackerspace in Johannesburg won the 2011 Google+ Hackathon with their Friggin’ Laser Turret. The build started off as a remote-controlled webcam that can be controlled by anyone in a Google+ hangout. On a whim, the team decided to add a laser to the build because lasers are awesome.

The inspiration for the build was to have a Google+ hangout available whenever someone is at the hackerspace. If a guest can’t grace the team with their physical presence, at least they can be there virtually. The camera is controlled by an Arduino running a bog-standard servo library implementation. The Arduino is connected to a laptop over a serial connection and is able to move left and right. To spice things up a little, the team added a 25mA laser diode to the build controlled from a digital output on the Arduino.

For winning the Jo’burg Google+ Hackathon, the guys scored themselves a Samsung Galaxy S II phone. Not a bad prize for building something cool. Check out the demo of the friggin’ laser turret after the break.

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