The World’s Brightest Laser Pointer?

The videos from [styropyro] are always amusing and informative. However, ironically for him, he is alarmed that many green laser pointers are more powerful than they are supposed to be. Sure, you often want a powerful laser, but if you think a laser is safe and it isn’t, you could… well… put an eye out. See the video below to see what [styropyro] claims is the brightest laser pointer in the world.

The key is a possibly gray market very large green laser array. It appears to have at least 24 lasers and some pretty serious lenses. He tested the array first with a power supply and it looked like something out of a bad science fiction movie, even at reduced power.

One problem with a big laser pointer is having enough voltage to drive the laser. He took an inverter-style microwave and pulled out the lightweight transformer. The final build has a 555 and is extremely dangerous. Unprotected lithium cells, high voltage, and blinding laser light. What can go wrong?

It is fun to watch the testing, but we don’t want to build one. We’ll settle for our handheld pointer. However, we always enjoy [styropyro’s] antics, like his laser oven. Our favorite, though, was his amusing take on a book from our childhood: The Chemical Formulary.

37 thoughts on “The World’s Brightest Laser Pointer?

    1. But green laser pointers are used to point out constellations for astronomy teaching purposes. But, the local airport authorities should be contacted beforehand to learn of restrictions and possible aircraft in the vicinity.

        1. An acquaintance of mine from old Canadian Armed Forces days was ‘accidentally’ partially blinded by a ranging laser from a Russian sub while working as an airborne electronic warfare operator.

          Turnabout would be fair play.

      1. Please be sensible, an inverse fourth-power law applies to reflected radiation, not merely the inverse square of normal emission, and over those sort of ranges lasers diffract more than enough to make the reflection invisible. I can only assume that when they do shine (likely more powerful) lasers to measure the distance to those retroreflectors they modulate them and use a lock-in amplifier circuit to somehow spot the feeble reflected signal.

  1. Funny how the safety nannies haven’t really pounced on this article but the ESP32 / DIY projector a few weeks back was pounced on. I see some shoot your eye out comments and a mention of aircraft.
    This green laser array is much easier to drive than his DIY 555/ fly back driver. I suspect he did this on purpose to dissuade copycats. A common $20-$30 DC-DC CC-CV module can drive this array just fine, the array isn’t that expensive either, around $300. Much easier than setting up the ESP32 with galvos, and three separate laser diodes for a projector.

    1. Totally different from a safety perspective.

      Styropyro makes some extremely dangerous projects (obviously this is more dangerous than the laser cube projectors), but he does so in a controlled environment (indoors) while wearing all of the proper safety gear. It’s a dangerous project, done safely.

      The guy with a laser projector on his bike handlebars was shining a non-eye-safe laser outdoors, in a public space, and onto surfaces which can produce specular reflections. It’s a moderately dangerous project, done negligently.

      1. This.

        In the video here he has multiple instances of describing the primary safety hazards, and examples while using the equipment.

        I do question how useful the goggles would be if he accidentally put his face in front of the laser at full power, but he wears them, and gloves, at appropriate times in the video. (Along with minor examples of stupidity, which are obviously intentional (fingers in the beam for instance).

        I question his sanity for some of his experiments, but I don’t get the impression I could do it in my kitchen without regard for consequences.

        1. > do question how useful the goggles would be if he accidentally put his face in front of the laser at full power

          Probably not much at all, that isn’t really the point of them though – you don’t look down the barrel of a loaded gun, even with ‘ballistic goggle’ unless you wish to win a Darwin award. Or let your fingers near the tablesaw blade ‘because you have a saw-stop, so it can’t hurt’. Same thing here. It is about protection from the really quite bonkers level of power a stray ray from such a setup might have. For which I expect it is more than adequate, as even then it is about protection duration – it only has to last long enough to hit the e-stop, have whatever caused that scatter burn or for him to get out of the way.

          That said they might even survive head in the beam long enough to count, its not the most focused and intense of spots. Still be a really stupid thing to do, could be an interesting if expensive test of the goggles rating though…

        2. The goggles will NOT protect against a direct hit. But at this power level even diffuse reflected laser light can damage your eyes. The goggles will protect you against that hazard.

      2. Despite his apparent youth, he’s also immensely qualified and competent. He was a either a PhD candidate or a student before he dropped out, and the dropping out wasn’t due to performance issues.

        This isn’t like you (the royal you, you might actually also be a phd in optics and engineering, i don’t know) or me (seriously, I’m afraid of microwave ovens) doing the work.

        This is kind of like… Tesla showing you how to power a lightbulb over an airgap.

      3. Agree, also worth pointing out a large amount of the safety discussion on that article had nothing to do with the article, but laser safety in general. Ignorant folk or Trolls were out in force on that one.

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