How to Use a CD-ROM to Make a Laser Pointer

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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How to Use a CD-ROM to Make a Laser Pointer
A laser diode can convert a flashlight into a laser pointer. (flashlight image by CraterValley Photo from Fotolia.com)

A laser pointer is similar to a flashlight with the exception of using a laser diode instead of an incandescent bulb to produce light. You can make a laser pointer using the laser diode from an external CD-ROM drive and an ordinary disposable flashlight. You will need a few tools and a couple of parts from a hobby store but no great skill in working with electronics, providing you can handle a soldering iron. Plan on adult supervision if you are underage when making your laser pointer.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • External CD-ROM drive
  • Phillips jeweller’s screwdriver
  • Tweezers
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Disposable flashlight
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Laser module
  • Bonding glue

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Place a sheet of newspaper on a table. Place the external CD-ROM drive upside down on the newspaper. Remove the screws from the sides of the case with the Phillips jeweller’s screwdriver. Pull the case off the CD-ROM drive. Push the disc tray out of the CD-ROM drive.

  2. 2

    Remove the screws surrounding the laser assembly at the centre of the CD-ROM drive with the Phillips jeweller’s screwdriver. Remove the laser assembly from the CD-ROM drive. Remove the two rails from either side of the laser assembly. Place the laser assembly on the newspaper.

  3. 3

    Remove the screws surrounding the laser diode plate at the centre of the laser assembly with the Phillips jeweller’s screwdriver. Pull the laser diode off the laser diode plate with the tweezers. Place the laser diode on the newspaper. Dispose of the CD-ROM drive, the laser assembly, the laser diode plate and the rails properly.

  4. 4

    Unscrew the front section of the laser module from the back section with your fingers. Hold the back section of the laser module with the exposed laser assembly facing up.

  5. 5

    Insert the two pins attached to the bottom of the laser diode into the two pin holes in the laser assembly. Place the back section of the laser module on the newspaper.

  6. 6

    Heat up the soldering iron for 10 minutes. Solder the end of one of the two conductive pins to the centre contact on the bottom of the back section of the laser module. Let the solder cool for a minute.

  7. 7

    Solder the end of the other conductive pin to the contact circling the centre contact on the bottom of the back section of the laser module. Let the solder cool for a minute. Unplug the soldering iron.

  8. 8

    Unscrew the battery cap from the back end of the disposable flashlight. Remove the batteries from the battery compartment.

  9. 9

    Unscrew the reflector from the front of the disposable flashlight. Push the lens out of the reflector. Dispose of the lens in the trash. Remove the retaining ring from the front of the disposable flashlight.

  10. 10

    Unscrew the incandescent bulb from inside of the front of the disposable flashlight with your fingers. Dispose of the incandescent bulb properly.

  11. 11

    Insert the back section of the laser module, conductive pins first, into the front end of the disposable flashlight.

  12. 12

    Apply bonding glue around the inside of the front end to secure the laser module to the sides of the disposable flashlight. Let the bonding glue set for an hour.

  13. 13

    Place the retaining ring back onto the front end of the disposable flashlight. Screw the reflector onto the front end of the disposable flashlight.

  14. 14

    Place the batteries back into the battery compartment. Screw the battery cap back on the back end of the disposable flashlight.

  15. 15

    Aim your laser pointer at a far wall. Depress the “On” button to see a beam of laser light shoot from the CD-ROM laser diode onto the far wall.

Tips and warnings

  • Only use your laser pointer inside because using it outside can be considered a violation of the law in some places.
  • Never point a laser beam into a person's or pet's eyes.

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