C02 Laser In Your Living Room

[Magx1] has filled his living room with laser-y goodness. You can get tons of build pictures and information from his Flickr set. There are many cool aspects of this build, but one that stands out is how he gets his C02. He simply exhales into a balloon. Check out the video after the break to see him melting glass with his laser.


[via MakeZine]

45 thoughts on “C02 Laser In Your Living Room

  1. For those who don’t realize this, only like 10% of the gas in a CO2 laser is CO2. The rest is hydrogen, nitrogen, and helium. Getting the mix right is pretty much the hardest thing about building a laser in my experience.

  2. Wow, that’s cool. Looks a like he’s taking some risks there, but between this and the 6809 computing article, I’ve got to say hackaday has really got a good day going.

  3. OMG! I can’t believe he held that thing in his hand. In the first video, he mentions having to continually adjust the valve by hand. Why does he need to do that? Can’t he just set it once and let it run?

  4. Doesn’t seem possible to make it this far without the obligatory, so I’ll satirize it.
    That’s not a hack, he just made a different version of something that already exists in a different way out of inferior supplies, and why not just go down to your local industrial gas supply and buy a bottle of laser gas?!?
    Seriously though, awesome hack, I’ve Bern looking for something useful to do with all that exhalation I’ve been wasting .)

  5. lol you people are focusing on the fact that HE DIDN’T BUY THE GAS?! do you people remember what web site you’re on? this isn’t buysomestuffaday.com or easypremadeprojectsaday.com.

    he did it HIMSELF. he found a free, effective source for a chemical to MAKE A LASER. FROM HIS BREATH.

    bonus: mad science with a Southern accent (OK, Southeastern American for the cheeky brits out there). searing infrared death with a touch of Southern hospitality! can it cook bacon?

  6. @andrew

    The balloon varies greatly in pressure as it empties and so he doesn’t have a constant flow rate, thus fiddling with the valve.

    On the other hand, he achieved an awesome focus.

  7. +2 for exhaled CO2, this is a genial idea.
    +1 for overall and working setup.

    -5 for lack of safety. That thing is infrared and in the scale of Watts (not mW). The wavelength does not get affected by optical properties of glass (that’s why he can easily cut it). That’s a safety advantage compared to lower wavelength lasers because the laser beam doesn’t get affected by the lens on our eyes and thus not focused on our retina, which can permanently damage it. However that doesn’t prevent you from damaging the cornea and iris.
    This is stupid, he cannot really see laser reflections, he is endangering his eyes.

    Always remember! You can heal burnt skin, but not your eyes.

  8. also, with high power lasers it does not make any difference if the wavelength is focussed or not, the laser light will effectively “cook” the cornea and lens of the eye in short order even with a glancing reflection, as the eye has no way to dissipate this much heat energy.

    a mild form of this can be seen when working outside on a hot day, upon returning indoors vision may take hours to recover accompanied with discomfort similar to “arc eye” a few hours later.
    Same effect can also sometimes be seen with badly made infrared room heaters, especially at close range.

    last time i checked the safety limit for microwaves was something like 5mW/cm2 acceptable leakage, primarily due to the cataract causing potential.

  9. Today was a good day on HaD. Two kick ass projects. I must admit that the Southern accent made me proud. And of course that thing can cook bacon, why else build a CO2 laser in your home?

    Laser = cooked things. And one down note, holding rock in front of laser is going to result in Laser = Cooked hand.

  10. Congratulations – and like earlier comments – please take care with reflections and other side-issues. Thi is high-powered IR – not nice to handle casually.
    I had all the plans and many of the parts to do something similar about 20 years ago, but realised the other dangers and complexities of doing it ‘right’.
    My target was a 20W CO2 (IR) rig – but the safety glasses etc were not available over the counter back then, and I realised my age was a dangerous factor (early 20’s) and I still have my eyes (although they’re a bit older now!)
    Cheers – and great work. I love the exhaled CO2 – never thought that would work.

  11. M-m-m-m-m-m-MONSTER HACK!

    Before this, I would have thought “only GOD could turn it’s breath into a laser”

    This man is clearly GOD. I bow to thee.

    Seriously, if anyone ever doubts the power of what mankind has achieved thanks to the information capability of anyone with an internet connection, I am going to directly refer them to this man. I am awestruck that someone could turn their own breath into a F*#KING LASER!

    This, making your nixie tubes, and 200 mile RF transmitter- Hackaday is on college engineering final project level today!

    THIS, GENTELMEN, IS A HACK. I salute you sir!

  12. Regarding the constant fiddling w/ the needle valve.
    Perhaps some sort of check valve/pressure sensor combo could be put inline so that the laser is only lasing when there is gas flowing at the right pressure.
    I would think that a balloon would provide a fairly consistance pressure over the begining and middle portions of its duration since the pressure would largely be determined by the durometer of the rubber and I would think this would be constant until the balloon is near its original shape. Perhaps a larger balloon is in order.
    Or another cheap source is vinegar and baking soda, or any other chemical reaction that liberates CO2. Although I would imagine that if you were running this for any appreciable duty cycle bottled gas would be the cheapest and most hassle free route.

    In short he needs to automate the gas tuning mechanism now that the Laser part is finished

  13. 2 other ways of getting the CO2 and removing the oxygen would be to inhale and exhale the contents of the balloon a few times. Apparently we only use about 16% of the oxygen we inhale. Another way would be to chuck the balloon onto the end of a metal or glass funnel, light a small candle and then put the funnel upside down over the candle, making sure to hold pressure on so the expanding gas doesn’t leek underneath. And wait a bit until the candle goes out.

  14. You can use the DIY method for creating co2. I do it for growing aquarium plants. It will produce co2 for weeks. Here is all you need.
    empty 2 liter soda bottle.
    2 cups sugar
    1 packet of baking yeast
    Fill bottle about 90% full with warm water ( not hot, hot will kill yeast), then add the sugar.
    Cap and shake till dissolved.
    mix 1 cup warm water with 1/4 tsp yeast.
    When mixed pour into 2 liter bottle.
    Give it about an hour , 2 at most and it will bubble, once it starts it will really take off . Do not cap it and make sure you have a way to store the co2 or use it. If you cap the bottle it could explode. Yeast are very good at converting sugars into CO2. Just ask beer drinkers !

    Varying the amount of sugar and yeast will vary the output rate of Co2. With the above easurements you get about 25 bubbles of 95% Co2 per minute and it will continue at that rate for about 2 weeks.

    I use a soldering iron to melt a hole in the 2 liter cap and insert a vinyl tube then seal around it with hot glue.

  15. What I like about this hack is that its a big freekin’ laser without any of the complicated glasswork that normally goes into that kind of thing. There’s no glasswork at all, just the tubes themselves. I would have never even attempted to use JB weld for something like this, but now that I see he’s getting results I am much more motivated to try something like this myself.

  16. cool laser! nice exploit of human breath. there are easier ways to cuts glass tubing. if you score ONLY a 1/4″ -1/2″, spit on it or wet the score, then pull pressure on both sides of tubing with the score facing outward you’ll get a clean break. Although the glass tubing looks like borosilica (pyrex) it’s prob a soft glass because it was from a light bulb making it more shocky. this would be interesting to take moretti stringers and shape them with this laser or boro stringers just to say this was made with a laser. . .
    this guy might be a drug addict. the baking soda on the floor, the thin wall tubing that is notorious for making crack/meth pipes, the light bulb in the beginning is also notorious for freebasing drugs. the southern accent doesn’t help either when all things considered but I’m working real hard to not sterotype southern accented honkys

  17. Why I do not see a description and principles? I suppose, he must pump the transitions, has to have extremely well aligned (semi-transparent) mirrors, cool the pumping source… Bunch of pictures, videos, breathing co2, melting glass, light on a rock – I care more about principles….

  18. Yeah, I’m with mirozbiro on this one. More info on the build, less “ooh shiny”. While it is a cool hack, the coverage of the hack was pitiful. I’d certainly be more interested in a discussion of the hack, not the outcome.

    As for the epidemic of doomsayers, wtf are you doing reading a blog about hacking if you’re so scared of the world? Go play with your Easy Button and buy what the TV tells you to, and leave this art to the artists. Anyone competent enough to build a working CO2 laser knows what they need to do to protect their eyes, and anyone who doesn’t will probably take notice of the hundreds of warnings posted every-freaking-where during their research. Why is it that every time there is a hack more dangerous than a rubber spoon, there are 25 comments on how “DANGEROUS!!!” it is? No effing schnitzel its dangerous, so is swimming, riding a bus in Los Angeles, breathing air in Beijing, or living in Israel, get the fork over it. Maybe you’ve all watched Final Destination one too many times… Go wrap yourselves in bubble wrap and hide in the closet. But make sure you have a portable oxygen generator, and don’t wrap the bubble wrap over your face! Check the closet for spiders, mosquitos (malaria you know) and venomous snakes which may have been transported from southeast Asia if someone from there moved into your area recently (they hide in boxes, sneaking across our border to prey on unsuspecting blog readers!). Quit spamming the comments with your attempt to show others your limited and misinformed understanding of the information presented by repeatedly stating the obvious as if it were caused by some form of Tourette Syndrome.

  19. @GuiltyPixel


    You are a m0r0n. He just needed regular glass goggles to protect the eyes (glass is opaque to infrared), nothing more.

    Your post bring us exactly 0% of technical insight and information about the hack; so please
    go ranting to somewhere else and leave us, knowledgeable people, discuss the hack itself.



    The mirrors need some special coating (like gold or aluminium, it depends on the wavelength), since IR doesn’t reflect on regular glass mirrors.
    To align them, you can simply use another laser.

    Regarding the pump, I guess the pressure provided by the balloon (where the gas mix is) is enough. He seems to be using a axial flow setup, where the the gas is pumped into one end and let free in the other end through a valve. Like others said, you can control the pressure on this valve and increase efficiency/power throughput.

    I really liked the idea of using exhaled air. Makes me wanting to build one.

  20. I’ve built lasers before but only with purchased tubes this makes me want to give building my own tube a try.
    I knew CO2 lasers where forgiving but I never knew one could work with oxygen and water vapor contaminating the lasing gas so much for the requirement of them saying you need 99.99% pure gases.

  21. Patrick: you say the only thing you wanted “was for Lee Lansing to cease to be Mayor. That was my judgement as a voter based on all available information.”But Patrick, you have repeatedly made comments, or ignored facts, that would suggest you DID NOT have “all the available information” and when various people tried to point things out to you … times, council meetings, closed session tapes, recusals, 700 pp of memos backing up the Everett Report, you wouldn’t come back on the issue, you just have your bedrock POV.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.