All About Lasers (with projects)

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From phone lines and videodiscs to surgical procedures and optical computing—the laser is one of the most important inventions to come along during this half of the 20th Century. This guide gives you this opportunity to investigate, first hand, a relatively new and evolving science. With this guide you can create and experiment with simple to advanced-level lasers that have real, practical applications!

The laser-based projects presented here are geared toward the garage-shop tinkerer on a limited budget. Spanning a wide range of disciplines, the projects vary from experimenting with laser optics and constructing a laser optical bench to using lasers for light shows, gunnery practice, even beginning and advanced holography. High-quality laser art illustrates instructions and detailed project parts list puts all the information you need to get started right at your fingertips! There is even. On electronic construction techniques ... how to laser components ... when to buy surplus or new ... and how to get what you really want! Many of the topics covered are ideal for science fair projects as well as teaching tools for any one interested in learning how lasers work and what they can do.

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0 Guide Index (this page)

1 Introduction to Lasers: Einstein as the Spark—Raising Atoms—Let There Be Laser Light—Types of Lasers—Light and Wavelengths—Power Output—Component Parts of the Laser— The Properties of Laser Light—The Birth of the Laser—Will the Real Father of the Laser Please Stand Up?

2 Working With Lasers: Basic Skills — Laser Safety — Laser Light Radiation — High-Voltage Electrocution—Projects Safety

3 Introduction to Optics: Fundamentals of the Simple Lens—Lenses as Refractive Media—Lens Types— Lens Coatings—The Function of Mirrors—Other Optical Components — Buying Optics — Care, Cleaning, and Storage of Optics

4 Experimenting With Light and Optics: High-Output LEDs—Building the Simulated Laser—Beam Collimation—Optical Experiments

5 All About Helium-Neon Lasers: Anatomy of a He-Ne Laser Tube—Laser Varieties—The Power Supply—Power Output—Physical Size—Beam Characteristics—He-Ne Colors—The Role of the Ballast Resistor—Buying and Testing He-Ne Tubes—Powering the Tube—Using the Tube

6 Build a He-Ne Laser Experimenter’s System: Build an All-in-One Lab Laser — Build an Enclosed Laser Head — Build a Compact Laser Breadboard

7 Constructing an Optical Bench: Basic 2-by-4-Foot Optical Bench—Enhanced 4-by-4-Foot Optical Bench—Using Optical Benches—Optical Breadboard Components—Laser and Optics Mounts—Advanced Optical System Design—R/C Transmitter/Receiver—Electronic Servo Control

8 Laser Optics Experiments: Experimenting with Refraction—Experimenting with Reflection—Experimenting with Diffraction—Polarized Light and Polarizing Materials—Manipulating the La ser Beam

9 Build a Michelson Interferometer: A Short History — Building Your Own Interferometer — Modifying the Interferometer — Interferometric Experiments — Other Types of Interferometers

10 Introduction to Semiconductor Lasers: The Insides of a Semiconductor Laser—Powering a Diode Laser — Handling and Safety Precautions — Mounting and Heatsinks—Sources for Laser Diodes—Build a Pocket Laser Diode—Using the Pocket Laser

11 Laser Power Supplies: About Helium-Neon Power Supplies—Basic He-Ne 12-Volt Power Supply — Pulse-Modulated DC-Operated He-Ne Supply — AC-Operated He-Ne Power Supply — Enclosing the He-Ne Power Supplies—About Laser Diode Power Supplies — Pulsed Single-Heterostructure Injection Diode Supply—Pulsed Double-Heterostructure Injection Diode Supply

12 Build an Experimenter’s Power Supply: Single-Voltage Power Supply — Multiple-Voltage Power Supply — Adjustable-Voltage Power Supply — Inspection and Testing — Battery Pack Regulators — BatteryRechargers— Battery Monitors

13 Free-Air Laser Light Communications: Light as a Modulation Medium—Experimenting with a Visible LED Transmitter— Acoustic Modulation—Electronic Modulation of Helium-Neon Lasers—Electronic Modulation of CW Diode Laser—Other Modulation and Demodulation Techniques—Audio Amplifier Circuits

14 Advanced Projects in Laser Communication: Tone Control — Infrared Push Button Remote Control — Data Transmission — Alternate He-Ne Laser Photosensor

15 Lasers and Fiber optics: How Fiber optics Work—Types of Optical Fibers—Working with Fiber optics— Fiber optic Connectors—Build a Laser Data Link—More Experiments with Lasers and Fiber optics

16 Experiments in Laser Seismology: The Richter Scale — How Electromagnetic Seismographs Work—Constructing the Seismograph—Correlating Your Results

17 Beginning Holography: A Short History of Holography—What a Hologram Is—and Isn’t — What You Need—The Isolation Table—The Darkroom—Optics, Film, Film Holders, and Chemicals—Single-Beam Transmission Setup—Intermediate Holography—Split-Beam Transmission Hologram

18 Advanced Holography: Advanced Sandbox — Making a Reflection Hologram — Viewing Reflection Holograms — Improved Reflection Holograms — Advanced Holographic Setups— Hologram Gallery—Miscellaneous Ideas and Tips — Power/Light Meter

19 Basic Laser Light Shows: The “Spirograph” Effect — Sound-Modulated Mirrors — Sound Modulation of Airplane Servos — Simple Scanning Systems

20 Advanced Laser Light Shows: Where to Have a Light Show—Experimenting with Galvanometers—Smoke Effects—Using Argon and Krypton Lasers—You and Uncle Sam—Going Professional

21 Experimenting With Laser Weapons Systems: An Overview of Land/Space Laser Weapons — Small-Scale Weapons Using Lab-Type Lasers — Build Your Own Helium-Neon Laser Pistol — Adding On to the Laser Pistol — Applications for the Laser Pistol

22 Laser Projects Potpourri: Optical Switch Using LCD Panel—Laser Surveillance—Laser Tachometer— Perimeter Burglar Alarm—Basics of the Laser Gyroscope—Studying Fluid Aerodynamics—Cryogenic Cooling of Semiconductor Lasers—Additional Projects

23 Tools for Laser Experimentation: Construction Tools—Electronic Tools—Volt-Ohmmeter—Logic Probe—Logic Pulser—Oscilloscope—Frequency Meter—Wire-Wrapping Tool—Breadboard— Hardware Supplies—Extruded Aluminum—Angle Brackets—Electronic Supplies and Components—Circuit Boards—Setting Up Shop

24 Buying Laser Parts: Places to Buy—Buying Lasers and Laser Power Supplies

Section A Sources: Components, Parts, and Systems — Semiconductor Manufacturers — Laser and Laser Components Manufacturers and Retailers — Other Important Addresses

Section B: Further Reading, Links and Resources

Glossary

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