DIY laser rifle doing damage long distance

DIY Long Distance Laser Telescope Does Some Damage

Here’s a DIY laser rifle which can explode a balloon at around 150 feet (45 meters) as well as some angry chemicals at a similar distance. Since there are plenty of videos of lasers doing that at around a meter, why shouldn’t doing so farther away be easy? Despite what many expect, laser beams don’t remain as straight lines forever. All light diverges over a distance. This makes it hard to create a laser which can do damage from more than around a meter and is why most demonstrations on YouTube are that distance or less.

Galilean telescope and laser idea[Styropyro’s] handheld, DIY laser rifle, or Laser Telescope Blaster as he calls it, works for long distances. His solution lies in some surprising physics: the larger the diameter of the beam, the more slowly it will diverge. So he used the opposite of a Galilean telescope to take the small beam of his 405-nanometer laser and increase its diameter. His best result was to explode a balloon at 150 feet (45 meters).

He did run into another issue first though. Anyone who’s tried to keep a camera aimed at a target through a telephoto lens while holding the camera in their hands knows that even a tiny movement will throw the camera off target. For a laser beam to sufficiently heat up the balloon in order to make it explode, the beam has to stay on it for a short period of time. But at a long distance, small movements of his rifle made the beam wander. Putting the rifle on a tripod fixed that. In the video below you can see him work through his design and these issues to finally get his big success.

We can guess what spurred on this interest in long-distance laser rifles. Back in July, a Chinese company made bold claims to building one which could do damage at 800 meters.

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Chinese ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle

Chinese Laser AK-47: Myth Or Reality?


Chinese company ZKZM Laser has produced the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle which people are calling the Chinese AK-47 because of its similar size, weighing in at three kilos (6.6 lbs). Claims of its capabilities, however, are being disputed.

The South China Morning Post writes that the company claims the laser to:

  • be powered by a rechargeable lithium battery back,
  • have a range of 800 meters (0.5 miles),
  • have a beam that is invisible to the eye,
  • be able to fire 1000 “shots”, each no longer than two seconds,
  • be able to burn human flesh if held in place long enough,
  • be able to set fire to clothes and hair, and
  • be able to set fire to banners from a distance.

Burning things with lasers is nothing new but the disputes are mostly based around such a small laser being effective at an 800 meter range. To be fair, while the 800 meter range claim is everywhere, the Post writes that the company brochure says the range is 500 meters (0.3 miles), still quite a long distance.

[styropyro], a YouTuber with a lot of experience with lasers has done an analysis, starting by deducing a wavelength of around 2000 nanometers. He finds that at 800 meters the beam would have dispersed to a diameter of 26 cm (10 inches) and produce 53 W over that area. (EDIT: The 53 W is how much sunlight would produce for that area. In the video he carries the calculations further to work out the minimum power needed, ignoring losses, to light the cotton on fire, 645 W.) For 500 meters, using the same formula we calculate that the dispersion would be a diameter of 16 cm (6 inches) with 500 W spread over that area, which would get uncomfortable very fast, think of half a square meter of sunlight focused down to a circle of that diameter. (EDIT: Again, this it 500 W for sunlight, the laser produces more.) His video doesn’t include enough detail for us to replicate the remainder of the calculations so we’ll just have to go with the 800 meter claim. See the video below for his full analysis. If anyone else has any experience that’ll either support or dispute the claims then please share it with us in the comments.

After all the disputes against their claim, the Chinese company did produce a video firing the laser from a shorter distance. Check it out on this page by the post.

While waiting to see how much truth there is to the Chinese company’s claims we can sit back and enjoy [styropyro’s] home-brew high power ruby laser, both his build and him doing some serious damage with it.

Oh, and don’t try this at home. It’s probably in violation of the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in addition to common sense.

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Laser Shooting Gallery Made From Scrap

When he’s not being completely awesome hosting a radio show on electronic music, [Gaston Klares] is busy in his workshop coming up with some awesome stuff. One of his most recent builds is a laser gun shooting gallery that brings a classic carnival game to his back yard. (Google translate link)

The laser gun itself is made up of 95% recycled components. The purpose of the laser gun is pretty simple – just make a sound effect and fire a laser downrange when the trigger is pulled. The shooting gallery is where all the fun happens. Five dog food cans are lined up at the far end of the range. There’s a small hole in each can and a phototransistor inside each can that activates the ‘fall over’ mechanism. When all the cans are knocked down, a windshield wiper motor puts all the cans upright again.

Thanks to [Kris] for sending this one in. Check out the shooting gallery in action after the break.

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