We missed [iliasam’s] laser text projector when it first appeared, perhaps because the original article was in Russian. However, he recently reposted in English and it really caught our eye. You can see a short video of it in operation, below.
The projector uses raster scanning where the beam goes over each spot in a grid pattern. The design uses one laser from a cheap laser pointer and a salvaged mirror module from an old laser printer. The laser pointer diode turned out to be a bit weak, so a DVD laser was eventually put into service. A DVD motor also provides the vertical scan which is just a slight wobble of a mirror. A Blue Pill CPU provides all the smarts. You can find the code on GitHub.
The projector is fairly limited in size with a maximum resolution of 32×14. Some displays use a vector scheme that draws with the laser. This is brighter and more capable, but also more difficult to arrange since the laser has to move rapidly in a complex motion. The raster scanning is much easier to accomplish.
A light sensor tells the CPU when the laser is about to start hitting the vertical scan mirror. Obviously, there are other ways you could arrange for the mirrors to move, but the logic would be the same.