Build a cutting laser from an old PC

[Drake Anthony] makes building a cutting laser from a PC look easy, and it seems like it actually is. Almost everything you need can be found in a dead desktop unit. The diode is pulled from a DVD writer (16x or faster), with the power supply unit, and heat sinks from the processor and GPU being used as well. You’ll also need a focusing lens (just a few dollars), some thermal glue, an LM317, a resistor, and a pair of protective goggles matching the laser diode’s wavelength.

He fits the diode into the lens, then glues the assembly into a hole drilled through the processor heat sink. A driver is built using the LM317 variable regulator, resistor, power supply, and the GPU heat sink to keep things cool. Check out the video after the break to see the laser cutting tape, burning plastic, and lighting matches.

70 thoughts on “Build a cutting laser from an old PC

  1. Hey styropyro.
    love the concept. Can you make a basic drawing of this design. I am electronics junk collector. I have enough transformers and power supplies to make quite a few lasers. I have lenses from old projectors. I have an old projection TV. I want the most powerful diode laser. I want to make a pulsing gatlin laser cooled by the rotation of the gatlin mechanism.

  2. Be sure to write it somewhere when you work on your gatling laser :)

    But as far as i see, noone answered on how much power would be survived by the laser by pulsing it (build something like a camera flash device).

  3. The reason this Hack warrants periodic review is that each bump in “Optical Burner Drives” performance raises their power and other “Burn Factors” useful for Hacking. Including the fact of focus and optics getting Kaizen improvements. But, we’re not exploiting all we can of those improvements.

    We’ve pun intentional- failed to focus- on USING the focus mechs in these lasers!

    That’s been a background exploration of mine several years. Having a life, and several family deaths etc has sort of poleaxed my progress. Though- often the knowing that a Hack’s being explored can be an epiphany for other Hackers. Focus, my friends- is that dimension of applying coherent photon energies to their target with accuracy and in a smaller energy transfer zone. Each milliwatt diffused over a millimeter’s fuzz, or focused to the lower limit of practical beam shaping. That last concept is the direction I’m flogging on. That and adding Oxygen for burn enhancement.

    1. I run mine of a golf buggy battery. A car battery would also do the job. For red you could even power it from USB on a laptop at that power. Almost any ~5-40VDC supply that can provide at least 200mA would do it.

  4. I was taking a dvd burner apart and I see that there is a mirror and lens set up in it. Does this increase the power of the diode? If so could you just connect power to the diode in the carrier as it exists? First time messing with lasers and I appreciate the video. Big learning curve here for me but willing to try it.

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