Do It Yourself! Pocket flashlight into burning laser pointer

This video tutorial will teach you to take a pocket flashlight and an old CD or DVD player and combine them into a retina-bursting, flesh-melting portable laser…. which, let’s just face it, is an absolutely necessary armament in any true geek’s gadgetological armory.

I am not entirely sure this isn’t a gag, and do not have the items at hand to prove it one way or another. Surely, though, one of our reader’s does. Can anyone confirm this really works?

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26 Responses to Do It Yourself! Pocket flashlight into burning laser pointer

  1. Mister Moofoo says:

    This is the whole reason for mirrorshades, IMO.

  2. Kickstart says:

    Halloween Jack: No, I just get frustrated with all the people who don’t want anyone to do anything interesting just because unprepared (or, frankly, stupid) people can get hurt. If everyone followed that advice, we’d never get anywhere.

  3. Felix Mitchell says:

    His voice.. erghg… it’s like some horrrible motivational video or something, brainn meltig

  4. mdh says:

    I’ve seen more than one of these videos, so I think it’s real. I see no pixels.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think I recall lifehacker apologizing for posting this a week or two ago…

  6. freetardzero says:

    This is indeed real; but your article writeup contains one small error: you need to use the WRITE laser from a DVD burner. The play/burn lasers from CD/RW and DVDROM drives don’t have the output power needed to burn paper and other stuff like that. The output on a DVD burner’s write laser is between 150 and 300mw, depending on the brand and capabilities of the drive.

  7. smellison says:

    I’m not sure about the power configuration in a maglite (2 1.5 volt AA’s?) but it’s a legit project which was done in a somewhat similar fashion in Make volume 10 “Mini High-Power Laser” and they also used the AixiZ module.

  8. Brian Copeland says:

    Call me stupid, but I ignored the part where it suggests buying a special encasing for the DVD laser diode. I figured, “any laser pointer encasing will do!” How wrong I was.

    The cheap laser pointers don’t actually have a similar diode. They have a card embedded laser with lenses to make it point straight. A nice laser pointer that does have a diode isn’t designed to have the diodes swapped out. You’ll have to be far more clever than I if you go that route.

    So you’ve really gotta swing for their encasing, which I’ve been too cheap to do. I’ve got a DVD player laser diode and two ruined laser pointers, but nuts to 12 bucks.

  9. Anonymous says:

    DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE.

    This is a terrible video that will bring nothing but pain to you and your family. You CANNOT run a laser diode directly off batteries like that or it will quickly go into thermal runaway. You will destroy your laser within minutes of using it. Kipkay is a dangerous moron who should never be listened to.

    Also, buy some protective safety goggles if you want to use one of these things.. The exposure time to nuke your retinas is something in the nanoseconds. Far too fast for your blink reflex to save you.

    Go to http://laserpointerforums.com and lurk a bit, you’ll soon realize never to listen to kipkay. You’ll need to build a current regulated source for your laser, and there are a number of other concerns you should be aware of such as static discharge etc.

    I REPEAT DO NOT FOLLOW THE ADVICE IN THIS VIDEO, IT’S IRRESPONSIBLY BAD.

  10. strider_mt2k says:

    Hoho!

    Larry Niven’s variable flashlight-laser, you are one step closer to being MINE!

  11. TheDude06 says:

    WARNING! the time of exposure to this beam for *permanant* eye damage is around 20 microseconds. this is even for /reflections/ of this beam off other shiney surfaces.

    Im a diy maker extreme, and this project got put on hold by me. my eyes felt like i was staring at the sun all day after about 15m exposure to the beams reflection on a dark wood table :(

  12. Kickstart says:

    Anonymous: yes, but if you plan or think rationally about the project, you can make changes to alleviate this concern…like putting a metal safety cap on it, painting it red and writing LASER on the side with a permanent marker, as you say.

    Again, my concern is those above who don’t want any dangerous experimentation rather than taking steps to make it safer.

  13. donniebnyc says:

    I agree with Kickstart.

    There will always be stupid people who will do stupid things(ever hear of the Darwin Awards?)and that is no reason for those of us capable of higher brain function to stop experimenting and playing.

  14. Anonymous says:

    …why would you want to make something so easily dangerous? I mean, what if someone found it and didn’t realize that it could blind them? A flashlight is not immediately apparent as a dangerous object.

  15. catbeller says:

    “I’m not sure about the power configuration in a maglite (2 1.5 volt AA’s?)”

    Depends. The LED versions use a 3 watt LED light, and 2-3 1.5 volt AA batteries (1.8 – 2 AH?), as you say.

  16. catbeller says:

    As much as I love the idea of a laser pistol/flashlight, don’t do it. It is just too dangerous for all the reasons stated above. Too easy to blind people accidently, most especially yourself.

    For those who are interested, the US Army commissioned the develeopment of a battlefield laser-blinder about a decade and a half ago. It was christened KLAW. KLAW was a laser in a pole fixed upright in the middle of a field. It had a rapidly revolving mirror that spun the beam about like a lighthouse beacon. The joyful bit was that anyone who looked into the light – without warning – would be blinded. Lovely.

    Even the Army wouldn’t deploy it. Too much risk, I suppose, and perhaps arguably violated international law.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I did a similar project a while ago, minus the flashlight housing. I think I may have damaged the diode in finding the proper voltage. I ended up using some 3.6 V LI cells and I could indeed pop balloons and light matches, but not nearly as quickly as in this video.

  18. Anonymous says:

    “A soldering iron can burn your house down. A Dremel has enough power to seriously mangle your hand. Don’t play with gunpowder, acid, electricity, fire, drugs, fluorescent lights, etc.”

    A soldering iron looks like a soldering iron, and anyone using a soldering iron should be expected to realize that soldering iron = gets hot = fire risk. Same with a dremel: the fact that its spinny bits could rip you up if you touch it is plainly obvious. There is a reason that there are warning labels to let people know about hazardous things such as gunpowder, acid, electricity, fire, and drugs. I don’t actually know about flourescent lights, but if there were guides out there talking about how fun it is to disassemble flourescent lights without going over the dangers and necessary safety precautions involved, I would consider that stupid and irresponsible, too.

    If you follow these instructions you get, at the end of a video, a laser powerful enough to blind someone that looks exactly like a regular flashlight. I don’t think that people should stay away from everything that could hurt them, but disguising something very harmful in a usually harmless object? That is irresponsible and stupid. At the very least there should be a bigass “NOT A FLASHLIGHT, EYE MELTING LASER INSIDE” sticker on it and a protective cap on the end that is attached with screws.

  19. airship says:

    Well, the one in the video lasted long enough for the demo. That’s good enough for me.

  20. airship says:

    No thanks. I got burned by the “6v battery contains dozens of AA batteries” meme.

  21. Halloween Jack says:

    Nice flippant response, Kickstart. Do you do marketing for Irv Mainway?

  22. zuzu says:

    Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks “hmm, that could be a bit more sonic“?

  23. Engineer_ says:

    He’s got the same voice as Kipkay from Make Weekend Projects on Youtube… Same cat as well I believe.

  24. randalll says:

    I remember seeing a similar project in MAKE magazine and being way too terrified of putting my eye out to attempt it.

  25. Kickstart says:

    Dangerous? Yes.

    So be careful, be prepared, don’t be an idiot.

    A soldering iron can burn your house down. A Dremel has enough power to seriously mangle your hand. Don’t play with gunpowder, acid, electricity, fire, drugs, fluorescent lights, etc.

    Meh.

    Figure out what you want to do, figure out how to make it as safe as possible.

    Enjoy, experiment, invent.

    Again, don’t be an idiot. Also, don’t be afraid to learn.

  26. Anonymous says:

    No, this is really a dangerous project if it works. Even in laser optics labs where the beams are level and not randomly aimed, accidents happen when there is a specular reflection. Unless you inspect everything downrange that you intend to point it at, there is a good chance that it will hit something shiny.

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