A Laser Drawing Machine For Flashes Of Creativity

Ahh, midterms. Some students blow off steam between study sessions by playing video games or just zoning out. While those kids were all distracted, [Justinwong777] and his buddy [Brett] found a bunch of scrap wood and built this laser drawing machine in their school’s makerspace. You operate it as you might an Etch-a-Sketch, except your drawings are as fleeting as sparkler art on the 4th of July, if they made Tron-colored sparklers.

Though you work it like an Etch-a-Sketch, the business end operates like a laser cutter. Inside that plywood enclosure is an Arduino Uno and a pair of motors. These motors turn a series of custom gears, which move a small mirror angled at 45° in the xy-plane.  There’s a 30mW laser mounted parallel with the base, pointed at the mirror, and it reflects the beam toward a canvas panel coated with phosphorescent paint. We dig the printed ergonomic case for the joystick, which gives control of both x and y. Put on some eye protection and check it out after the break.

If you want to draw with lasers, but aren’t much of an artist, do something unexpected: build a laser turret not to kill, but to draw the weather on the wall.

6 thoughts on “A Laser Drawing Machine For Flashes Of Creativity

  1. “Note: this project requires a laser, remember not to look at it directly in the eyes!” …is not a very effective safety measure.

    I can’t see the word “safety” mentioned at all anywhere in their article.
    A 30mW laser is in the Medium area of the eye safety hazard scale: https://lasersafetyfacts.com/laserclasses.html

    To be fair, they are only kids and I think their teacher should be the one showing more responsibility such as insisting an enclosure be used, at the minimum. Said teacher should have spent the same 30 seconds of googling time that I used to find the above safety page, and then make a value judgement on the students’ laser.

  2. You could probably get away using a 5mw laser just for that. 30mw is not a good thing to use with kids about. I don’t think much of this project. Seen it lots of times in different shapes and forms. Wasn’t long ago we saw the laser drawing clock that done the same thing. Seem it’s just a bit of fun.

  3. I did something quite similar once, but instead of a laser i used an UV Led – painted a wider stroke, but thats what a lense could change.

    Would do zhe same job, without any risks!

  4. A photonic etch-a-sketch! You could probably put the laser under the luminescent screen if the surface is thin enough, get better exposure and remove the eye damage risk from the laser.

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