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240 Watt CO2 Laser Cannon   -   2002/06/26Viewed 110 times this month, last update: 2004/01/18

Chris Bell and I are the proud owners of a non-functional high-power laser. It's the largest of our collection of lasers, with the 100 Watt Diode Laser #2. We are in the long-slow process of getting it functional again, after it was dismantled. For the full history, look at Chris's web site here. Below are the pictures taken by Matt Bell when Chris and I were initially testing head. We found out that night that the mirrors were out of alignment, which is what stopped us since then. Aligning those mirrors will be painful, but we'll do it someday.
The laser head unit. It is about four feet long, with steel plates on the end, and 1 inch steel bars holding in the optical cavity, which is the black tube in the middle of the enclosure. It is actually two tubes, which make up the two halfs of the cavity.
The optical cavity is bent at the rear, with two 45 degree mirrors. So both the full and partial mirrors are at the front.
The orange tubes everywhere are the coolant tubes. They go from all parts of the head (including all four mirrors) to the coolant pump/head exchanger, which keeps the coolant flowing, and cool. The white tubes are the gas lines, leading from the laser gas tank (a mixture of CO2, N2 and He.) to the vacuum pump, which keeps the head at a near perfect vacuum. The black wires are the high voltage wires, temporarily leading to a neon sign transformer for low-power testing.
Chris and I working on the system.
The front of the head, with the aiming laser and beam bending optics holder removed.
Chris working on his voltage rectifier.
Let there be light! This is the correct collor for the electrical arc in a CO2 laser. If we have ARC, all we need is mirror alignment!
The head, durring low-power testing. You can see the arc light from the electrode window.
Both sides of the head lit up. At this stage, we got a moon-shaped light spot on the target, telling us the mirrors are mis-aligned.

David Gysen (2003-07-02): Hello Erik,
I like your very cool site, beautifull laser photo's , very hightech... I was thinking of using a laser diode to blast those radars they put up on crossroads, and police radar guns, I calculated that with a beam opening of 15* and 100 watt laser in 1/10 pulse duty cycle gives about a KW of power this would overload their camera (for ever ??)It would be triggered on the rising edge of the flash they use (IR and visual light) and beamed at an angle of ~45* upwards.. have you done anything like this ...what say ???
David ON1GD (HF to 23 cm)
Antwerp Europe

Erik (2003-07-02): I'm not sure it's such a terribly good idea to create a device that automatically generates 1kw pulses of IR energy. Legal issues aside, it could easily blind lots of people.

A better way might be to create the device to send a jamming signal back when a lidar (or similar) signal is detected. Pulses of varrying strength (at fractions of a watt) at varrying times.

John (2003-12-11): Wow.... this is f*ing crazy! Way to go!

Lacy-Jane Wilson (2004-01-18): I think that erik Griffin,Acey salde are very sexy. Andd i love your truck.

Dave (2005-10-22): What do you use it for ...?

Erik (2005-10-25): The CO2 laser is still in non-working condition. I would like to use it to cut metal, and various experimentation, but the chances of that happening with this laser looks pretty slim at this point.

greg (2006-03-16): hey thats really cool. im sure u guys cand acomplish the simple task of aligning the mirrors, u did it once right.

Erik (2006-03-17): No, we have never aligned the mirrors.

Lasergeek (2006-03-24): Ever looked at Sam's Laser FAQ for ideas on getting this to work?
See http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/laserfaq.htm
Lots of stuff on CO2 lasers as well.
Watch your eyes, guys.

Erik (2006-03-25): Sam's FAQ is a great site! It has provided much inspiration.

See also: 100 Watt Diode Laser, Rants, Laser Cannon Revival, Cracked Radiator!


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