Open Source Your Rave With OpenLase

Without a doubt, Laser Projectors are a great way to project large, bright images on any surface you can imagine. With a high enough quality projector and software package, excellent images and visualizations can be displayed in real time. [marcan], of the openkinect project, decided that there were not any open source laser projection packages out there that suited his wants or needs, so logically he decided to write his own. Because home-made laser projectors often use the audio out port of a PC, building the framework on top of the JACK unix sound software to control the hardware made perfect sense. OpenLase includes plugins for audio visualizations, 2D and 3D gaming, as well as converting video streams into laser format in real time.

Be sure to check out the Chaos Communication Congress presentation [marcan] gave after the break, as well as all the extra demo videos on his website.

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26 thoughts on “Open Source Your Rave With OpenLase

  1. Perhaps it would be possible to hijack an ILDA interface and use a DAC to do the same thing for non homebrew lasers. There are loads of cheap Galvo sets with ILDA boards on ebay. Currently Pangolin seem to have the market share of Laser control software and hard ware. More freeware of dev kits our great, if only i could hack code as well as i hack my thumb with my stanley!!!

    1. I actually use a pair of galvos designed for ILDA signal levels directly. Usually ILDA uses differential inputs at larger signal levels. These galvos have an input scale control though, and they work well when you turn that up. I just wired the ( ) input to the soundcard out (with the AC coupling caps bypassed) and fed the mid-supply reference voltage to the (-) input.

      I believe there are correction amp kits available to produce a proper ILDA signal from a sound card, too. It’s just some basic op-amp circuitry.

  2. Since it uses the audio jack, do you think it would be possible to save the data that would be put out of the audio jack into an mp3 or some sort of audio file and then have it played back from an ipod. It’d be like a portable harddrive with all your laser shows saved onto it, all you’d have to do it take the laser projector with you everywhere.

  3. @FoxxCommand

    You can do that easily enough (for example, you can run OpenLase and use jackrec to capture the output), but you need a playback device that either is DC coupled (rare) or has been modified to remove the AC coupling caps. Also, you want to use a lossless format like WAV or FLAC; MP3 is a bad idea for non-audio data. And keep in mind that you really, really want at least three channels (X, Y, brightness). Just X and Y leaves retrace/blanking lines all over your image.

    Honestly though, you aren’t going to get the laser projector much smaller than mine already is (at least not without some serious effort). Using a USB sound card like I do, the easiest solution for portability would be to just run the shows on a netbook. There’s also nothing stopping you from running OpenLase on an even more embedded device; I’m sure it’d run on, say, a Nokia N900 (maybe not the realtime video tracing, but certainly everything else) with the USB soundcard hooked up to it. I have a tiny embedded board with the same CPU on it and Linux+JACK installed, so I’ll probably try it soon.

    Oh, and for the record, OpenLase runs on OSX too :)

    1. Hi Marcan,

      I’m just curious why the project needs to be DC coupled. Since you’re using audio frequencies won’t the DC blocking capacitors be a good thing? You won’t get that DC offset over time.



  4. I am extremely interested in an open source laser projector design. If someone shared files to get the parts 3D printed at Ponoko and any PCB files in EAGLE format, I’d totally build one!

    I haven’t looked much, I always imagined it was too complicated. It’s not? I’m highly skilled, but don’t have *too* much time.

  5. This reminds me of an old viewing device I used to have. It had a tube with an electron gun in it that emitted a beam of electrons that focused on a slightly curved part of the tube (screen) coated with phosphor. When the beam struck the screen it caused the phosphor to convert the energy to photons and light up the screen.

  6. I’ve been an jpop/anime/manga fan for a very long time I used to have to import it thankfully the internet has greatly increased in speed as has computers so I no longer have to go though that.

  7. That is pretty cool stuff, some really nice full color RT interactive laser stuff going on here:

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