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Newbie - laser vortex questions

1825 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Sundevilfanaz
I am still a newbie when it comes to electronics. However I have spent the last week reading all the laser vortex threads on here and feel confident I can pull one off. With that being said, I have a couple questions:

1. I can get the mirror, fan, laser and mounts however when it comes to power I keep seeing mentions of resistors, capacitors, flux capacitors and nuclear power plants to make the fan and laser wired rather than battery powered. If I were to get a 12v wall wart for the fan and a 3v wall wart for the laser what specific electrical components do I need to attach to keep the power ok and not burn something out?

2. I am thinking of making the vortex inside a pseudo monster. I was planning on getting a trash can, flipping it over and carving monster mouth and eyes in it. From there he vortex would go inside so it looks like his mouth is open to the vortex. Would this space be sufficient to pull off the visual?

3. Lastly, if I were to make another one with an eye on safety, would it be safe to eyes if I mounted it on top of my 8' ladder to point outward to our street?

Thanks as always
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Let me leave this here in case you didn't see it:


I built a laser vortex one year and decided it was too much of a PITA to continue with, but I loved the effect, so I found a way to build a vortex with a static image projector (no moving parts!). It's basically a light bulb in a box, inspired by holiday shadow projectors.

Not sure about how the effect is going to work inside of a trash can. My concerns would be with the can containing too much of the fog, so it fills up and doesn't swirl around, and with the focal length. Might take some tinkering to get it to work.
Agreed that the gobo method is way simpler, though I still like the laser effect personally; light quality seems better to me. As to the questions:

1. If you want to avoid any circuit-building, yes, separate power supplies will work; however, see if you can find a regulated power supply for the laser, as the diodes are sensitive and can burn out if the power supply spikes or drifts substantially off-voltage, as unregulated supplies can. You'll probably be OK without the regulation, but you never know, and bad luck has a habit of striking right when you least want it to.

2. This will probably work, but like kakugori mentioned, your biggest challenge will likely be keeping the fog level right in that small a space. The effect is sensitive to fog density.

3. In terms of technical eye safety, if you're using a 5mw or less laser pointer, there's no real risk. However, lasers scare a lot of people, and the perceived threat of eye damage, especially to kids, is something to keep in mind. Also, make sure you aren't throwing the beam up into the sky unattended - inadvertently putting a laser in some pilot's eyes can earn you a very unfriendly visit from law enforcement.
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By the way, based on your name, are you a Phoenix metro local? AZ Haunters just ran a laser vortex make and take last weekend, and I've still got the extra parts, so if you're interested in building a 3V regulator, I can help out with that.
Are there any decent priced commercially available lasers that can make the vortex- I'm looking to buy one, not build one- too little time!
Pretty much any 5mW green laser pointer will do OK assuming you can get some stable fog and the area's reasonably dark; a more powerful laser can improve the effect, but then you start getting into the territory of worrying about eye safety, permits, and the like (or not, but then you start getting into the territory of worrying about lawsuits).
I was thinking more on the lines of a chauvet or American dj party laser that did the vortex pattern? I've looked at their sites but can't really tell if they can do the vortex or not.
you are good to go with two separate power supplies (wall warts). That is how I run my vortex's. I agree the laser ones look much better, I've built both the laser vortex's and the "holiday projector" vortex's. Coming out of the mouth is a cool idea, but that needs to be a pretty wide opening. But just like everything else, it's trial and error. Post a pic or a vid when you get it done.
I was thinking more on the lines of a chauvet or American dj party laser that did the vortex pattern? I've looked at their sites but can't really tell if they can do the vortex or not.
Oh, sorry, I misunderstood - unfortunately, I can't really help you there. I've only ever built. I can say that any laser pattern projector capable of drawing a circle should do the trick, though.
Not trying to thread jack, but it's on the same topic. Does any know if 16' L x 4' W is enough of a space to pull off a laser vortex tunnel?

Yes, you would just need to make sure the mirror isn't angled quite as much so the cone in smaller.
16 x 4 is a pretty tight space, your laser will most likely "paint" the walls. With enough fog in the right places however, will still be a really cool effect.
A couple things I learned after buying one. When it's cold out the laser isn't very strong and would not create the effect barely at all. Also when outside you need the right amount of fog which is hard when it is windy out. These two things made mine basically useless. Mine sits in a box now until...someday when I pester my husband enough to build me a crypt which will hopefully provide enough cover.
Question #1 - keep it simple. Buy a battery operated 5mW laser off Ebay and run a computer fan off a 6V battery. Clamp down the on button on the laser. Super easy.

Question #2 - yes, the hall is long enough and you will get light on the sides near the mouth of the tunnel but folks will be so entranced that they won't notice. Really.
Thanks to a lot of help from CDW, I put together a quick setup of the laser vortex and liquid floor.

Here are a few pics of my initial setup. Sorry about the quality as I had to take pics with one hand and angle the lasers with the other.

Laser vortex
I used one of my sons Lego hinged pieces to attach the mirror. This gives me a lot of flexibility in angling the mirror to the exact size.

The green light is the laser but bad pic so hard to tell.

Liquid floor

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