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Laser rifle project

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posix_memalign

New Member
Hi everyone,
first I'd just like to apologize if this is the wrong section of the forum for such posts.

One of the things I've thought about doing for years is building some sort of laser "rifle", i.e. literally mount a laser aperture with associated electronics and battery pack inside the plastics of e.g. an airsoft AEG rifle or equivalent (obviously with the projectile firing mechanism and electromechanics removed from the original device).

However, I don't feel that this project is worth doing unless I can acquire a laser class 4 module with some significant power output.

I've seen products like Class 3B lasers, such as DealExtreme: $599.00 FirePoint Green Laser Pointer Complete Kit (500mW) * EMS Express but I'd like to buy something much more powerful preferably at least a 10 watts class 4 module -- does anyone know where such lasers are possible to get? I don't really care if the laser is visible light or infrared -- for class 4 I expect it to be the latter.

After the initial proof of concept-setup I'd like to integrate another laser to measure the distance to the target (mounted where the laser sight would normally be on the AEG) and use an Atmel microcontroller to adjust optics (by operating servos) to focus the beam accordingly as the distance to the target changes.
Unfortunately my knowledge on optics is poor at best (perhaps except for the physics and mathematics part) -- what products can I buy or salvage from other products to construct a setup like this? In other words, what am I looking for and where can I get it? I expect a main concern for the optics would be to find optics that will not be damaged by the laser.

Since blooming only occurs at >= 1 megajoule per cubic centimeter I don't expect that to be an issue.

I'm not sure how much cooling a moderately powerful class 4 laser requires, but I have some thoughts on using peltier elements together with heatsinks and aircooling to keep the device cool for short bursts of operation.

As for power requirements I'm not sure on that either, but I had in mind soldering my own LiPo-pack with cells that can deliver high peak amps.

To keep this initial post short I think I'll leave it at that, I don't take this lightly and I know I probably have a lot to learn that I know that I will probably fail numerous times before I get something that even remotely works -- especially concerning the optics part. However I'd like to hear thoughts and ideas that are outside the specific questions I asked as well.
 

marcbarker

New Member
Maybe the OP should be on alt.weapons.design

Sounds a bit scary considering a non-visible laser, there's no eye-aversion response with IR. I remember a colleague describing someone commissioning an "intermittent" fibre optic transmitter, he was saying "yes, working... no it's stopped....... working again, no stopped" It was working all the time, he was just burning new holes in his retina!

Instead of burning everything in its path outta da way, why not increase the sensitivity of the detector? Even a lighted match can be seen more than a mile away. By chopping the light of 1 mW 600-odd something nm laser and synchronising the detector with a lock-in amp, it'd ignore daylight.
 
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Triode

Active Member
Just build yourself a compact fusion chamber to power it, then get a synthesized cylindrical blue diamond to make the laser, make sure it has parabolic ends. Convieniently, you can use the same frequency of power that suspends the fusion core to create force feild conduits to focus the laser. This all fits neatly into a united aerospace corporation carbon nano mesh tool enclosure type 1271D. I have 3 of these mounted on my starship. Set your nural net implant to paulsschematics.sol.earth for a complete diagram.
 

posix_memalign

New Member
Why would you mount a dangerous burning / cutting laser to a toy gun?
It doesn't have to be a toy gun, but the frames for the AEGs are rather cheap and sturdy -- they can also be bought in metal instead of plastic. They are easy to take apart and work with, and easy to acquire as compared to e.g. a real weapon.

Do you have a better suggestion?
 

posix_memalign

New Member
Is this to play "laser tag" or something like that? Or are you trying to protect yourself from zombies?
Here's something that may help...

MilesTag - DIY Laser Tag System
No, this is essentially basically trying to create a laser rifle that is as dangerous as possible -- i.e. to that which the light is pointed at. Like I said I don't have any expectations of making an effective weapon by any means, nor do I intend to use it as a weapon. It is just for fun to see how good (or bad, more likely) I can make it.
 

posix_memalign

New Member
Just build yourself a compact fusion chamber to power it, then get a synthesized cylindrical blue diamond to make the laser, make sure it has parabolic ends. Convieniently, you can use the same frequency of power that suspends the fusion core to create force feild conduits to focus the laser. This all fits neatly into a united aerospace corporation carbon nano mesh tool enclosure type 1271D. I have 3 of these mounted on my starship. Set your nural net implant to paulsschematics.sol.earth for a complete diagram.
Why are you all being so sarcastic and dismissive? This isn't that unrealistic you know, just unusual. Even if I can't get a class 4 laser I can still do it with a 0.5 watt laser which are easy to acquire -- more than enough to pop balloons and set stuff on fire; with adjustable optics it would be a fun project and toy.

Even so, I don't think it is impossible to acquire powerful lasers either.

Here is a (claimed) 30 watt laser built into a "gun" in operation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWD2gRHpkXI&feature=PlayList&p=6DB3C4A3C92DE41C&index=0

The beam doesn't seem very focused at all though, with high focus it would probably be much more effective.
 

marcbarker

New Member
Is this a weapon? What kind of weapon? Maybe it's our cultural differences, but in UK anyway weapons enthusiasts are usually tarred with the same brush as members of organised crime and drug dealers etc. I think it's the personal safety aspect of this idea which may go against it.
 

Triode

Active Member
haha, you know there is no good answer to that question. Anyone that had a good reason to be doing this woulden't need to ask us how to do it.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Class 4 lasers are governed by law. They are required to have key switches and safety interlocks. One of the effects is that it's illegal to use them unenclosed (ie. outside) unless you are the military.

Did you know class 4 lasers cause permanent eye damage by just view the beam mid-air? Viewing the laser spot off of a DULL surface? You don't even need reflectivity or a solid object for the reflections to cause permanent eye damage. Oh, and class 4 is just an arbitrary division line. Powerful Class IIIB lasers do this too.

You'd be a fool to build this thing. It puts you, everyone around you, and aircraft in danger. Doing this project is not just illegal, it's a criminal.
 
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posix_memalign

New Member
Class 4 lasers are governed by law. They are required to have key switches and safety interlocks. One of the effects is that it's illegal to use them unenclosed (ie. outside) unless you are the military.

Did you know class 4 lasers cause permanent eye damage by just view the beam mid-air? Viewing the laser spot off of a DULL surface? You don't even need reflectivity or a solid object for the reflections to cause permanent eye damage. Oh, and class 4 is just an arbitrary division line. Powerful Class IIIB lasers do this too.

You'd be a fool to build this thing. It puts you, everyone around you, and aircraft in danger. Doing this project is not just illegal, it's a criminal.
Yes, I am aware of the danger of lasers. I own a 200 mW laser myself and even that has an extremely bright light and can easily burn various things (the focus is adjustable on the device), I have never looked at the reflection from a dull surface without eye protection.

I live in Norway, I'm not aware of any norwegian laws that prohibit civilians from buying, owning nor operating any laser at any class in my country; but just to be safe I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask a lawyer friend of mine.

Why are you freaking out? It is just a toy-project meant to be interesting and fun, I will probably learn a lot from my failures and the end result might even be rather exciting.
I own a real firearm as well, and that is a lot more dangerous than any laser I could ever build -- are you going to lecture me on gun safety too now? Thanks, but I've already went through that to get my license to own a gun.

You'd be a fool to build this thing. It puts you, everyone around you
How does it put anyone at all in any more danger than owning a real firearm? Why wouldn't I treat a laser rifle like a real rifle? A real rifle can kill someone, it is almost unthinkable someone would die as a result of laser light exposure, worst case is blindness.

While I don't take blindness lightly at all, it is still nothing compared to the DEATH of someone.

Doing this project is not just illegal, it's a criminal.
It is extremely unlikely it is illegal nor criminal; after a quick search I found no special laws that govern lasers in Norway, if you use a laser as a weapon then it is illegal in any case any other weapon is illegal -- but so is a golf club too.

aircraft in danger
I think you should start getting more serious, is this a joke? AIRCRAFT IN DANGER? Are you suggesting that I would take this hypothetical laser rifle of mine and "shoot" at aircraft?

1) The beam attenuation would probably ensure that nothing even comes close to hurting the aircraft.
2) It would be next to impossible to even hit it in the first place at normal cruise altitude.
3) Even at full power from a 30 W laser it would probably do little or no harm.
4) You couldn't keep the beam stable at any particular point.
5) The laser rifle is not built for continuous operation.
6) MOST IMPORTANT: Why on earth would I ever think of doing such a thing?

I think you sound pretty disturbed to be honest.
 
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dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
RIght...I'm about as disturbed about the person who points out you have higher chances of hitting someone when you drive too fast and then the person responds by saying "But I don't have the intention to hit someone when I speed! I do it because it's fun!"

Calling something a toy does not make it a toy. Last time I checked, bullets don't scatter. Lasers do. THat means you don't actually have to hit anything, people or aircraft, to do harm. This thing cause eye damage to people nearby and light burn things (but burning things is not the problem).

Continuous operation is irrelevant. Any exposure will cause harm. That's why it's class 4.

Your list of is flawed because you're thinking about causing damage to the plane and not the pilots. You don't need to hit the plane. You don't need the laser to be at full power, stable or continuous. And you don't know the attenuation of the laser. Probably is not good enough, especially when you have nothing to back that up. Pilots have noticed far weaker lasers and the distance between the people around you is definately shorter than the distance between you and a plane.
 
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posix_memalign

New Member
Is this a weapon? What kind of weapon? Maybe it's our cultural differences, but in UK anyway weapons enthusiasts are usually tarred with the same brush as members of organised crime and drug dealers etc. I think it's the personal safety aspect of this idea which may go against it.
I wouldn't go so far as to call it a weapon, almost everything can be used as a weapon -- that doesn't make it a weapon, it only becomes a weapon if it is used as such, it can also be a weapon per se if it was designed and/or implemented to be a weapon.

As such, I'm one of those guys who don't consider an air-rifle a real weapon -- i.e. air-rifles designed for target shooting, obviously air-rifles can be made to be lethal and have been such in the past. The common air-rifle bought in stores are designed for i.a. target practice. Yes, I agree you can use the air-rifle as a weapon, but it is highly ineffective and its use as a weapon is far outside the normal application envelope of an air-rifle.

The laser rifle is:

1) A research electronics/software project.
2) A toy.

A BB-gun can cause blindness just like the laser rifle can, but your finger in someone's eye can do that too, we can argue semantics all day, call the laser rifle what you want. The laser rifle is extremely ineffective as a real weapon, it has its dangers, but as someone who owns a real firearm I would treat it with respect in the event that it is ever even built, if that is something you'd like to hear.

Now this wasn't really the discussion at all I was hoping for, I don't understand why you are all so hostile.

I was looking for ideas and suggestions and technical input on the feasibility of the project as a whole, or in regard to particular ideas.
 

posix_memalign

New Member
Calling something a toy does not make it a toy. Last time I checked, bullets don't scatter. Lasers do. THat means you don't actually have to hit anything, people or aircraft, to do harm. This thing cause eye damage to people nearby and light burn things (but burning things is not the problem).

Continuous operation is irrelevant. Any exposure will cause harm. That's why it's class 4.

Your list of facts is flaws because you're thinking about causing damage to the plane and not the pilots. You don't need to hit the plane. You don't need the laser to be at full power, stable or continuous. And you don't know the attenuation of the laser. Probably is not good enough, especially when you have nothing to back that up. Pilots have noticed far weaker lasers.
Do you really want this to lead into a discussion regarding the dangers for imaginary retinas on imaginary pilots in imaginary aircraft in the event that some imaginary maniac gets his hands on my hypothetical laser rifle? You vaingloriously manage to overlook the fact that I explicitly stated I would never light this thing even remotely in the direction of any aircraft.

The fact is I haven't said anything very specific about how I would use it or treat it. Toy, yes, in some ways, but you can use a real race car like a toy too -- for entertainment and recreation -- that doesn't mean you shouldn't respect it, if you don't respect a race car it probably kills you; the laser rifle probably causes you some form of eye damage.

If you really think this is a productive discussion I urge you to go into any forum you can find on real firearms, race cars, motorcycles, rock climbing and anything else you can think of and tell them that what they're doing is dangerous and that they should cease doing what they're doing.

What about RC-helicopters? Aren't they dangerous? The main rotor on a 90-size helicopter would have no trouble cutting someone's carotid artery wide open. Should we stop that too? What about stray RC-aircraft flying into real aircraft that are about to take off?

I don't want this to be a political nor moral discussion on what should be legal and what should or shouldn't be done for the sheer value of recreation and/or entertainment, why do you?

Do you have any input on what I initially asked for? If not, then I wouldn't mind if you stopped commenting and trying to lecture me on dangers I'm either:

1) Already aware of.
2) That simply don't exist.

Thanks.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
So you felt the need to go and search for the forum to try and dig something up on me? Helicopters are flown at special fields and guns are shot in special fields. Do you have a laser field where you can guarantee the laser won't be exposed to the sky or people watching? That rules out anything outdoors. What you've made very clear is that you intend to not to keep it in an enclosed chamber and use it outdoors over long ranges where it would be exposed to others.

And stray RC aircraft flying into the way of real aircraft? Those people should be shot. If you ask the people who do that they will likely play it down like you are doing.

This is just for a 5mW laser. And you're talking about 500mW or 10W lasers.
http://www.pangolin.com/faa/images/diagram_laser-safety-distances_with_examples.gif

Stick in a chamber and fry stuff in there. But using it outside in the open is careless. Or make a rail gun- something you only causes damage to where you actually aim it.
 
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