How To Build Your Own Pulsed Laser Pistol


Self-declared Mad Scientist and Instructables user [Trevor Nestor] recently built a pulse laser pistol and decided to share his build process, so that you too can build a ray gun at home. The gun is made up of mostly scavenged components, save for the Neodymium:YAG laser head, which he purchased on eBay for about $100. He does say however, that you can score an SSY-1 laser from an old rangefinder, providing you hang out near a stockpile of decommissioned Abrams tanks.

[Trevor] walks you through the process of recycling old disposable cameras to get enough components for a capacitor bank, as well as how the charging circuit should be constructed. He also discusses how the laser head needs to be wired, before showing off the finished laser pistol in a cheeky video, embedded below.

While the gun lacks the finish of this laser pistol we showed you, it’s no less potent when shooting through plastics, wood, and thin metals. It’s a great starting point if you are looking to build a laser of your own, leaving room for improvements, such as a faster charging circuit.


50 thoughts on “How To Build Your Own Pulsed Laser Pistol

  1. i would like to see a steady cam built in his next video. man that was a long charge. maybe he can do some thing with auto switching instead of doing it him self. he looked a bit nerves each time he had to.

  2. I see things like this as a step to dealing with the time when authorities start using pervasive aerial drone surveillance. Although a YAG laser is probably overkill, a high power laser diode would probably be enough.

    No need to damage the craft its self, just frying the optics is enough.

  3. You gave your own build/hack a worse intro!

    1. sit in front of a table not on the floor
    2. use a room with enough light
    3. use a camera with a decent quality
    4. if you pretend being a scientist behave like one, seriously, a lab coat and Bermuda shorts?!
    5. keep the camera steady and focused
    6. remove disturbing objects (the vacuum cleaner wtf?)
    7. say what you want to say but keep it short use clean and well spoken international English. Write it down first this helps!

    Post a new video again and we might be watching it up to the end.

  4. that video was horrible but the gun was pretty cool.
    “it doesnt always fire but a simple soldering job would fix that. I’m just too lazy” is not something to say in a video. self deprecation is not a good practice.
    and i am the last person to whinge about safety but good lord, that is a pulsed laser he’s pointing around. goggles!

    Hopefully he’ll keep working on this project and take it from a silly toy to something awe-inspiring. A mazzilli ZVS flyback for charging those capacitors will make it go several orders of magnitude faster. And an enclosure so there aren’t deadly voltages and haphazard connections everywhere would make it look better.
    dropping the sounds would also help but that’s his personal preference and OK as long as there is a mute.

  5. The instructions need some work, try to use more images, it feels thrown together.

    Also, you should consider using a better charging system, if the laser costed you ~100$, you can probably afford to spend 20$ on the materials you’d need to make a PCB with more power.

  6. To poster: next time you do a video that is 8 minutes long, you should shoot at least 16 distinct things. Youtube users don’t have the patience to listen to you jabber on about how slow it charges; just skip to the shots.


  7. All right all right I know I had a crappy camera and I was filming at grandpa’s quit your whining XD. I just wanted to get instructions on how to build it out for those who were interested since it has not yet been done, and someone requested a video showcasing it so I did. Anyways I added in an annotation to alert viewers that the firing is at 7:40. I will be posting a better video of it firing for those who are interested, just working on getting a better camera. Thanks

  8. Pulsed laser using solid crystals i.e. those 20W laser bars would also work.
    I hear that some of these can be momentarily pulsed to 50W IF kept cool enough i.e. below ambient.
    The voltage threshold changes as well but if you take this into account and wrap 5 of them minus most of the heatsink round a central YAG core and Q switch it then you would get a burst of light that would exceed several MW pulsed.

    ebay has these for not much money, its scary just how easy it is to buy them. Not that I am complaining, you can get 2W C*s*o diodes for under £50 now :-)

  9. Cool, pseudo ball lightning on your desk! Thats cool.
    Wonder if you could use this effect to scan a larger area and then ionise along the spiral path to make a REAL ball lightning using the PMK principle? If so then that would be really cool and probably end up classified but hey…

  10. I second this comment: “the formating of the videos always seems to chop about 1/5th off the right hand side. I’m using firefox.”. It’s an ongoing issue to be sure, and annoying as hell.

  11. Dear hackers. Learn how to use a camera! Good god PLEASE! Just because you own imovie does not mean you have a clue to what you are doing with a camera.

    I’ll call it a Ray gun is when it has the ability to emulate a 10 pump BB gun and actually be able to kill a mouse or small bird.

  12. Jesus…

    I know your girl/boyfriend wanted to help, but set the camera on an effing table ffs. Also, stop trying to be funny while wasting 6+ minutes of the viewer’s time. Explain, demonstrate, done.

  13. According to SAM’s laser FAQs, it seems like the power supply constructed for this laser is way too big. Supposedly you can fire one of these at its full rated power with a 900V 36uF capacitor. The bank created for this “ray gun” is easily a few thousand uF at somewhere between 600-1000V. Not only is that needlessly dangerous but its also going to ruin your fragile flashlamp. Its also very unlikely that it is providing you with any extra output power.

  14. Leave the acting for the actors, save the f-ups for the blooper vid. I came for lasers burning through stuff. If you say it burns through metal, show me that, and link to that vid from this one.

    Cool project though.

  15. Forget all these negative comments – keep pumping out the projects, this was one of the most interesting (and funny) things I’ve seen in a long time. Thanks!! Oh and btw – the video of your dad’s song, very nice but difficult to make out the lyrics, remix and de-emphasize the guitar, it really isn’t the focus of the song afterall, the words are. :)

  16. Way to encourage people to post stuff. (NOT!)

    For crying out loud, you beat the guy up on his video, yet he did something 99.999% of the population didn’t do – he posted his project.

    Could he have done better? Yes.

    Did he deserve to be beaten into submission? NO!

    Thank you for sharing your work!

  17. I must on the whole the average commentator is a 6th grade drop out living in their parents basement who hasn’t done anything like this, much less buit a radio (am, heatkit). When you children build BETTER then show your work until then, go back to your dreamcast game collection. ya whiny little brats.
    p.s. it’s called lab coat you idiot.

  18. He knows *zero* about proper safety for a class IV pulsed IR laser. Someone should take a sledgehammer to the YAG and then poke his eye out with a ball point pen.

    This, along with the idiot with 1W of 445nm in his hand, are the most irresponsible things on Hack-A-Day.

    The problem with idiots isn’t that they hurt themselves – other people get hurt.

  19. Agreed !
    too long video with too much WTF things in it (you putting on gloves : WTF !? cat poop ?)
    But nice project, as said before : 99,99% wouldn’t make it, even if some are still able to whine.

    Yet I hope you’ll keep on improving it, and maybe show us the beam actualy going through metal foil, as you tease us.

    PS : buy GOGGLES !!!

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.