Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Instructions for Making a Star Trek Phaser

Nick Haines | 1 Sep 2009 16:00
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Step 2: Electronics

You may have noticed two spring-loaded prongs that connect the type 1 phaser to the type 2. Use the multimeter to figure out the polarity of these prongs. Never trust wire color - red isn't always positive, and black isn't always negative. Connect these to the input side of the optoisolator, according to the wiring diagram.

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For a bigger version of the diagram, click here.

Warning: Due to the potential dangers of lasers at any power range, it is your responsibility to follow all regulations and safeguards required by your local, state, and national government. You assume full responsibility for any face melting or acts of stupidity involving lasers.

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The laser module is a delicate device. I constructed mine from its constituent parts, and managed to screw up the lens. Get it pre-built by someone who deals with lasers every day. Connect the positive lead to a 4Ω resistor. This protects the laser diode, so you should never bypass it. Laser diodes don't work the same way LEDs do - you can't just hook it up to a battery and expect it to work for very long, if at all. This is why you need a laser driver; it takes the power from your battery and makes it usable to the laser diode in your module.

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Since you have an inline resistor, it is safe to bypass the potentiometer on the board. Connect the negative lead directly to the switch, and the positive lead to the pad on the other side of the driver circuit board.

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Put on your laser-safe glasses, and hook up a 3v source to the driver circuit (the spring is negative.) You can use the button on the driver board to test your laser module. Be careful - it's just a quick test of your circuit!

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When you're sure the laser circuit is functioning, it's time to connect it to the output of the optoisolator.

Connect the chip to the contacts on the switch - the side next to the spring is negative. Finally, connect the coin cell battery to the power driver, remembering that the spring is negative.

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