Laser Artistry Hack Chat

Pew pew goes my big green laser

Wednesday, April 1, 2020 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Seb Lee-Delisle will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at noon Pacific Time.

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Join Hack ChatIt's hard to forget the first time you see a laser light show. A staple at concerts starting in the 1980s, seeing a green laser lance out over the heads of tens of thousands of screaming fans to trace out an animated figure or pulsating geometric shapes was pure fascination, and wondering how it was all done was half the fun. As we all know now, it was all done with mirrors, tiny and connected to low-inertia galvanometers capable of the twitchiest of movements, yet precise enough to position the beam of light exactly where it needed to be to create the desired illusion. It was engineering, science, and art all wrapped up into one package.

Fast forward to the present day, and laser show technology has certainly advanced. Bulky laser tubes have been replaced by solid state devices, more colors are available, and galvo designs have improved. The art and artistry of the laserist have grown with the tech, which is where our guest Seb Lee-Delisle comes into his own. We've featured some of Seb's work before, like a giant Asteroids laser vector display and enormous public laser displays. And now he'll stop by to talk about how the art and the tech combine in his hands to produce something much greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 2

    Dan Maloney04/01/2020 at 20:09 0 comments

    riley.august12:42 PM
    @Seb Lee-Delisle Sorry, I've been a little slow to keep up. Okay, so it's actually the same kind of interlock we use on ours, but our industrial lasers are connected to a tilt switch. So yours are connected to the estop signal pin, and estop kills it and bypasses any filter capacitance same as ours?

    Steven Smethurst12:42 PM
    What kind of permits do you need to operate a laser like these, in the public ?

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:42 PM
    @cerrid kinda depends what you want it for and how much you want to spend. I think the lasercube is a good budget choice if you wanna get into coding lasers

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:42 PM
    @riley.august something like that I'm sure

    Steven Smethurst12:43 PM ~$1000 USD

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:43 PM
    @Steven Smethurst very little in the UK - there's a government guidance document that you should be able to prove that you have adhered to and it's best to get training, but there's no official licence. Having said that, most venues/councils won't let you use them unless you can prove you're competent. In the US it's way more complex, you need different licences in different states!

    riley.august12:44 PM
    Also, I absolutely don't regret diving into the internals of lasers. I've been in the laser manufacturing biz for six years. I love this stuff.

    riley.august12:45 PM
    I was mostly curious on the diffs between industrial interlocks and performance interlocks because I figure your safety standards are way higher

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:45 PM
    @riley.august good to hear 😊

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:45 PM
    @riley.august I wouldn't count on it

    riley.august12:45 PM
    We can just lock a laser in an opaque box, hit go, and tell the operator not to kill himself

    riley.august12:45 PM
    The thing about industrial lasers is that they're not made to be seen

    Duncan Beevers12:46 PM
    You mentioned inappropriate power cut-off as damaging to a performance laser. Are there any other kinds of experience-won tips or advice you can think of the help newcomers avoid making simple-but-expensive mistakes?

    psycon12:46 PM
    the biggest thing about operating lasers at shows isnt runing them, its making sure idiots dont do dumb things linke stand on speakers and stare into the beams

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:46 PM
    @Steven Smethurst you can probably get the cheapest option on a laser cube if you're just experimenting in small to medium spaces

    psycon12:46 PM
    you pretty much gotta babysit yoru gear all night

    psycon12:47 PM
    for everyones sake

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:48 PM
    @Duncan Beevers The hardest part about getting started is actually getting to try lasers. Unless you know other people in the industry, there's no where you can get your hands on stuff. I'm hoping to make lasers more accessible but there's a long way to go. It's a very homogenous industry right now.

    Steven Smethurst12:48 PM
    When communicating with the laser. Do you stream data to it, frame by frame?, or send the seen (group of frames) of data to it then start the seen, to roll though the frames?

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:48 PM
    @psycon yeah you absolutely can't leave these things unattended

    gonzalo joined  the room.12:49 PM

    Cerrid12:49 PM
    @Seb Lee-Delisle For home experimentation, besides the laser, a computer, and basic ppe is there anything else someone who would be just getting into this need?

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:49 PM
    @Steven Smethurst most interfaces use a point stream, so you manage each "frame" yourself. My system can be synced to a particular frame rate but by default it will animate things as fast as it can - the frame rate varies dependent on the complexity of what it needs to draw

    psycon12:49 PM
    it can be a fun hobby though, i usually work on stage alongside of the talent for smaller shows and produce jsut as much of a live set as they do, jsut for peoples eyes instead of their ears

    psycon12:50 PM
    i prefer doing liveshows as opposed to preprogramming

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:50 PM
    @cerrid if you want beams you'll need a hazer of some sort. If you're...

    Read more »

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney04/01/2020 at 20:08 0 comments

    Hi everyone, welcome to the Hack Chat. I'm not sure I saw Seb login yet - are you here, Seb?

    derthog joined  the room.12:00 PM

    riley.august12:00 PM
    Oooh, it's THAT kind of laser artistry

    Yes indeed

    riley.august12:01 PM
    Yeah those lasercubes are neat

    acjcapsey joined  the room.12:01 PM

    riley.august12:01 PM
    I laser cut leather phone cases and stuff? ^^

    psycon12:01 PM
    they are indeed, ive had em since prototype

    Seb Lee-Delisle joined  the room.12:01 PM

    psycon12:01 PM
    and its predecessor of course

    Hi Seb! Welcome!

    david.francus joined  the room.12:01 PM

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:02 PM
    Hi everyone! Sorry I'm a bit late, I was in the wrong place 😊

    psycon12:02 PM

    Juju Adams joined  the room.12:02 PM

    psycon12:02 PM
    hi seb

    No worries, welcome to the Hack CHat Seb. And thanks everyone for turning out today to learn a little about Seb's work with lasers.

    Can you start us off with a little about yourself, Seb?

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:04 PM
    Yeah sure! I'm a maker, artist, coder, laserist, and I specialise in large outdoor interactive installations. I've been working with lasers since 2013, and I've written my own laser control library. My plan this year was to replace fireworks with LED light sticks and lasers, that's been somewhat scuppered by the current situation so I've now been working on a couple of 3D printed medical PPE projects. AMA, I guess? 😊

    aerickson joined  the room.12:05 PM

    riley.august12:06 PM
    Yeah, we've been doing the medical PPE side of things lately too. What kind of output are you looking at for these lasers?

    Robin Baumgarten joined  the room.12:06 PM

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:07 PM
    I generally use multiple 12W RGB lasers but I've used a couple of 30W previously. I have built up quite a collection!

    Adam Butler joined  the room.12:07 PM

    psycon12:07 PM
    what do u think about using someting like the tap strap 2 keyboard to control stuff live

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:08 PM
    *googles tap strap 2 keyboard*

    riley.august12:08 PM
    Ooh, so you're actually in the range our beam combiners can get our solid state lasers up to. Sweet.

    riley.august12:08 PM
    I was really curious if you could do any of these things with 8-14W solid state, sounds like yes

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:08 PM
    oh looks like a fun controller - would definitely be fun to play with that

    riley.august12:08 PM
    what's a tap strap 2?

    psycon12:08 PM
    think nintendo glove for the nes but cooler

    riley.august12:09 PM
    Oh, air keyboard

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:09 PM
    it looks a bit like the MIMU glove

    psycon12:09 PM

    Cerrid12:09 PM
    What kind of safety precautions do you have to take when working with lasers in a public display?

    psycon12:09 PM
    do not point in peoples faces

    psycon12:09 PM

    matthewkleinmann12:09 PM
    In my experience the laser side has been the easy side. Deflecting the laser in a controlled manner is the hard part. What do you use? Galvos, servos, steppers?

    anfractuosity12:09 PM
    Have you ever used MEMS scanning mirrors rather than galvos out of interest?

    Cerrid12:09 PM
    That's always a good start :)-

    riley.august12:10 PM
    Do not look into laser with remaining eye

    Jordan Horwich joined  the room.12:10 PM

    psycon12:11 PM

    david francus12:11 PM
    MEMS scanners dont get used for laser display (as in show) applications too often because they can't take the required power density.

    david francus12:11 PM
    literally burns the optics

    Cerrid12:11 PM
    @riley.august You have a remaining eye? I'm jealous :)

    Seb Lee-Delisle12:11 PM
    @Cerrid - good question, I generally don't point lasers at humans, if you want to do that there's a whole bunch of extra gear and paperwork that you have to do. The main thing is making sure that the laser beam can't go anywhere you don't want it to. First you limit it in code, then you limit it physically where possible, using metal foil tape. You also have to look out for reflective surfaces, glitter balls etc. There is also an emergency stop button that breaks a special connection...

    Read more »

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