1W Blue Laser – Remarkably Easy And Dangerous


We’ve been covering Laser Hacks pretty much since the beginning but it’s surprising to see the niche market that has sprouted up around building powerful handheld modules. [Styropyro] filmed the video above as a tutorial on building a 1W blue laser. The “flashlight” that he starts with includes a heat sink intended for a laser diode. It seems there’s a lot of choices when choosing one of these build kits. A one Watt blue laser diode is press fit into the heat sink and wired in place. The body of the device receives a boost converter to get the batteries up to 1A, and once the assembly is complete the burning begins. It lights candles, matches, and pops balloons; the normal laser demo goodies.

So it’s a pretty easy build. But it’s also easy for someone being careless to damage their eyes. As [Styropyro] mentions in his comments, just looking at the dot created by the laser will damage your sight.

92 thoughts on “1W Blue Laser – Remarkably Easy And Dangerous

  1. I don’t know weather to be excited or terrified.. I pick terrified. I mean I would hope most HaD readers know better then to abuse or misuse this technology. Now I am off to go make some deliciously sexy Thermite; thx Google+HaD for all the help.

  2. It really scares the shit out of me that the components for this laser are commercially available at relatively low prices. I need to laser-proof my eyes. Other than that though, nice project :)

  3. I have no problem with HaD readers in general, but rather with angry teenagers that have been beaten for 10+ years and kill birds for fun. They throw rocks through random windows at 2AM and kick car doors while people sleep. There is no shortage of those kids, and when they have a laser like this, you can rest assured that many people will go blind when one such kid sits on top of a building and zaps peoples’ faces for weeks before he is caught, if he is caught at all.

    1. I think the same. There are people who will cripple you just for fun. It’s really that scary, because while we can protect or run from somebody with a knife (or at least the doctors can sew up the cut if the victim is still alive), we are powerless against such threat and the damaged eyes are not recoverable.

  4. I need someone to put this in a Blue Lantern ring. How’s THAT for Hope?

    This is going to be too easy to weaponize in the next couple years. I wonder how long it will take to pop the tire of a car while moving? I wonder how long before guided munitions have lasers included as armor piercing technology.

    I wonder how these high powered lasers will be used to fire bullets without a hammer and pin, making ballistics analysis harder to trace rounds and their casings back to an actual weapon.

    1. I’m not sure that using a laser to trigger the explosion in the primer or cartridge is likely to beat forensic analysis – The laser would still have a distinctive fingerprint, which could be traced to the weapon. There may be technical benefits to a “laser firing pin”, though – it’s an interesting idea.

      1. A laser firing pin is pointless as the striations left from the bore of the gun barrel are the main way to tell from what gun a bullet was fired. And secondly all you would have would be a gun that needs to have fresh batteries or recharged hen you needed it the most and are in a hurry.

  5. I actually started building a 250mW laser a couple years ago. I had all the parts, including safety glasses.. but the closer I got to finishing, the quicker I lost my enthusiasm. I realized I love my vision far more than I would enjoy the laser multiplied by the odds of being hurt by it. I never did finish it.
    ..anybody want to buy a pair of red laser safety glasses?

  6. Please remember this about laser safety: the color of the glasses is not the color it blocks! A pair of red goggles will let a red laser right through them. They usually block green lasers. Be sure the goggles you use are meant to block the wavelength you are using.

  7. @bolke

    Typically when you get a gun you go through a safety course. I think the more complex an instrument is the more caution you should have while handling it. A knife is pretty basic no need for a proper explanation. A gun is more complex you need a license to use it. A laser is more complex than that.

    I think most people could use a laser but they should be aware of the things that go along with it, and have the proper equipment to operate it. I think people around here who do this a lot and have heard horror stories just want people to be aware of the risks before doing this hack.

    seriousness aside,if you loose your eye using your finger… well you probably shouldn’t be using any of the other tools you mentioned.

  8. nimrod: I didn’t play paranoia enough to remember that, but I do remember in Larry Niven’s Ringworld novels they mentioned the material the same color as the laser thing.

    bolke: If you lose an eye using your finger your doing it wrong!

  9. If you make a blinding weapon use high power red, green and blue lasers so if someone wears goggles to protect from one colour it won’t save them from the other two.

    The only safe way to protect your eyes at that point would be through use of cameras plugged into LCD video glasses.

  10. @thlip: Got my first gun for my 16th birthday, never been to a safety course. In many localities you don’t need a license to use/carry a gun. Before I got annexed by the City I only needed a buyers permit from the County Sheriff, which simply meant they did a background check. No safety course etc. required. The City requires a permit for concealed carry, but open carry is legal without a permit.

  11. @Haku: if your opponents are wearing protective goggles because they are expecting you to attack with lasers, use a different weapon altogether.

    The general who thoroughly understands the advantages that accompany variation of tactics knows how to handle his troops.

  12. I don’t think the comparison of a high-power laser with a gun is a very good one. With a gun, you know exactly where and when the danger lies, and people in general respect the risks of handling them. With a laser, you can be carefully pointing it away from yourself and everyone you care about, and still accidentally catch a reflection long enough to damage your vision. On top of that, no matter what you tell them, many people have NO respect for the danger of using a laser. (Think about the last time your friends played with a laser pointer around you. How long did it take for it take them to point it at your face?)

  13. Now that we have building a 1W laser, how’s about we hack it up a little? Mount it to a CNC or something along those lines and shield the unit. Put a safety so the glass must be closed before firing. Then use it for etching.

    Just a thought beyond the obvious use of, “zOMG LULZ AI CAN BURN THINGZ NOW LOLOLOL”

  14. @Chris

    Guess it’s different between different states and such I’m up in Canada it’s kind of hard to follow.

    Anyways I still think it’s something you need to be more careful with. If we do end up with a bunch of people being stupid they are just going to ruin it for the rest of us. So why not advocate proper use now instead of having it a political issue in a few years with people crying for their ban.

  15. “no matter what you tell them, many people have NO respect for the danger of using a laser”

    EXACTLY my experience.

    I’ve seen EVERY stupid kid believe they already know how to safely play with a laser and that they’re mature enough to own one. Then, of course, they proceed to do stupid things with it until some poor cat goes blind or someone has their hair burnt.

    Lasers are MUCH more dangerous than guns and can’t be compared, if for no other reason that people tends to have very deep respect for guns, but no respect at all for lasers.

    Knifes are a completely invalid comparsion. Even a huge sword has a very limited “range”. A laser has several thousand meters of range and leaves no evidence of who did it (just like a well handled gun), plus is a lot easier to conceal.
    Also, people has more respect for knifes, probably even more than guns because the risk is downright obvious and highly intuitive.

  16. see, if dangerous things were only for mental people, we would have a better world. unfortunately, whats is dangerous and what is not? and then again, everybody can be a president. all im saying is, dickheads will always be and they will always find a way to piss you off.

  17. “if dangerous things were only for mental people, we would have a better world”


    What we’re calling “dangerous” here are devices that are dangerous to OTHER people than those using it.

    What you’re calling “dangerous” there would be some kind of suicide device, very much the contrary to a weapon (although some terrorists might disagree).

    Wanted to add that I freaking love high power lasers and have a vast personal collection, including a 70W handheld engraver.
    It’s just that the tought of “normal” uneducated people having access to lasers like those in my collection.. Well, gives me very strong chills. And these kind of tutorials are making it easier by the day.

  18. So I don’t get it woots the hack in this.
    The only hack I see here that he builds it into a flashlight casing, big deal…

    Oh and smoking dangerous to your health too dont forget that

  19. lol he doesn’t include the safety glasses in the ‘parts you’ll need’ section

    i’d like to see someone put it to use for something insted of burning matches, popping balloons and other dumb stuff

  20. what is it with the comment spam??!!!

    as for safety, the dangers of any 200mW output with a tiny increase in drive current.


  21. @thlip: wicked lasers’ goggles are awful. They’re really terrible. I wouldn’t trust them at all. Do not buy them. Do not try to find cheaper goggles. Your eyesight is worth millions of dollars. Don’t cheap out and buy crappy chinese $50 goggles.
    In fact, never buy anything wicked lasers makes, at all, ever. They’ve got a really bad track record for selling junk. All of their lasers are less powerful than advertised, if they work at all. They usually break in a few hours, and they cost 10 times more than they should. Never buy anything from WL. Period.

    oemlasersystems.com has some actual proper certified protective eyewear for sale. It costs more, but as I mentioned, my insurance policy values the use of my eyes at $10,000,000, so a hundred bucks to save them is a bargain.

  22. hmm, at what wattage is a laser powerful enough to burn some things, but not so powerful that goggles are required at all times? No goggles with safe use and common sense obviously.

  23. You really need training and proper safety equipment to use this — and making such a thing to burn matches and pop balloons is idiotic.

    On the bright side, if you point it at an airliner, the partyvan might pay a visit.

  24. be thankful it’s only 1W, they could go a lot more with this design because of the heatsink.

    This isn’t really a weapon. I guess you could hurt peoples eyes, but that’s it, and it doesn’t hurt even the most low density metals.

  25. This is no more or less dangerous than the cheap high-wattage IR modules available for laser cutters/etchers, with the possible exception that a particularly idiotic user may look straight into the IR module wondering why he can’t see anything, and subsequently never see anything again after destroying his retina.
    Basically, if you can read a safety label, you can avoid blinding yourself with a laser.

  26. @Link: Think about what you are saying! You want a power level that burns “stuff” by laser, but won’t hurt your eyes because it is too bright? Keep dreaming!

    That’s like asking what temperature is best for burning wood, that you can hold it.

    Paper and plastic don’t react to light at all. Your eyes can see individual photons. If it burns paper then it will fry your eyes ten times over before that.

    @Jake: Nice piece. But used badly, the laser is probably more of a threat – silent, longer ranged, visible for fractions of a second, and keeps going half a day without reloading. Oh, and far more easily concealed.

  27. You guys do know this will destroy the retina before you can blink?

    Jesus Christ, some of you people are poster kids for why everything has safety labels and rules. This is a jury rigged Class 4 laser — it’s an accident waiting to happen.

  28. I thought lasers were cool at one point but I’ve grown out of it. I’d only build this if I had any use for it which I dont at the moment. I’m just a bit concerned about the kiddo’s who might be visiting HaD. With the obvious dangers this project is suddenly no longer cool!

  29. @bobdole

    That’s good to know I just went to find the first option in google that fit the right wavelength. You’re right if I’m screwing around with lasers I would spend the cash to make sure they are safe.

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