How to make a high powered laser from a CD player

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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Laser pointers are commonplace and can be bought in drugstores and even supermarkets, but the intensity of the laser is tiny due to the low-powered laser diode that they use. You can make your own high-powered laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) from a mini-mag flashlight and the laser diode taken out of a CD player. The process is not complicated to do, although it will render the CD player unworkable. You will be able to demonstrate just how powerful a laser beam can actually be when you have made your high-powered laser.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Soft cloth
  • Mini-mag light
  • Newspaper
  • CD player
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Phillips jeweller's screwdriver
  • Tweezers
  • Laser housing
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Silicon paste

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Disconnect all cables from the CD player. Put the newspaper down on a table. Put the CD player down on the newspaper. Unscrew all of the screws from the CD player using the Phillips screwdriver. Remove the top cover from the CD player.

  2. 2

    Locate the laser assembly inside of the CD player. Loosen the laser assembly from off of the rails holding it in position. Put the laser assembly down on the newspaper.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws from around the laser assembly using the Phillips jeweller's screwdriver. Remove the protective bracket from around the laser diode. Pull the laser diode out of the laser assembly with the tweezers. Put the laser diode down on the newspaper. Discard the laser assembly and the CD player.

  4. 4

    Unscrew the front of the laser housing from the back. Remove the laser assembly from within the laser housing. Pull the laser diode out of the laser assembly with the tweezers. Use the tweezers to put the CD player's laser diode into the position where the old laser diode was. Put the laser assembly back into the laser housing. Screw the laser housing back together. Solder a conductive pin to the positive contact on the laser diode. Solder the other conductive pin to the negative contact on the laser diode.

  5. 5

    Unscrew the battery cap from the mini-mag light. Remove the batteries. Unscrew the front reflector from off of the mini-mag light. Remove the inside reflector lens and discard it. Remove the reflector ring and put it aside. Pull out the bulb with the tweezers and discard it.

  6. 6

    Drill out the front reflector so that the laser housing can fit inside. Put the laser housing inside of the front reflector with the conductive pins facing downward. Apply silicon paste around the laser housing to hold it to the front reflector. Let the silicon paste set.

  7. 7

    Put the reflector ring back onto the mini-mag light. Screw the front reflector back onto the mini-mag light. Put the batteries back into the mini-mag light. Secure the battery cap. Aim the mini-mag light at the newspaper from a few inches away. Press the button to activate the laser beam. Watch the high-powered laser you have made start to make the newspaper smoulder from the laser's intensity.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear protective goggles when using the laser beam.
  • Since a CD player will no longer work after its laser diode has been removed, you might want to buy a used one or a broken one for this task.
  • Never ever aim a laser beam, no matter how limited its power might be, at a person's face. Laser light is potentially damaging to the retina.

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