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Laser Galvo: Arduino Controlled

Using an Arduino and a pair of servos to create a laser show on a sheet of luminous vinyl.

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UV laser pens leave a luminescent trail when shone on glow-in-the-dark material. In this project a 405nm laser beam is steered by a pair of Arduino controlled mirrors leaving a sine wave based trace on a sheet of luminous vinyl. You can see it in action here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUtxg7VziGE
and there are some more details on my notes blog here
http://notes.robives.com/laser-galvo/
There are several things to try next:
Writing code to create a raster scan to make a rudimentary TV style screen
Making an oscilloscope or ECG
Using stepper motors rather than servos.

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robives wrote 11/29/2015 at 15:35 point

Thanks for your feedback Elliot!

I went with servos because of their easy availability. I'll have a go with he stepper motors next as they are here on my bench but ultimately I'd like to try galvos. I found a cool article on line from someone who has made there own. http://elm-chan.org/works/vlp/report_e.html

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Elliot Williams wrote 11/30/2015 at 21:56 point

Umm.. holy cow.  He made his own (very pro-looking) galvos.  

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Elliot Williams wrote 11/26/2015 at 11:16 point

First, let me say that using mirrors is a step in the right direction compared to some projects we see here!  

Using steppers might work, and I don't want to discourage experimentation if you've got some on hand. You'll be limited in resolution, but with microstepping, it just might work!

But look into "real" galvos.  They're a lot faster and more accurate, but they just don't have much torque like steppers or servos.  The downside is that you'll have to drive them with accurate voltage outputs, but PWM off the Arduino will work for medium speeds like you're getting with the servos. 

There's an old HaD post making (linear) galvos out of (bass) speaker drivers that's pretty cool.  http://hackaday.com/2011/03/16/laser-light-show-features-full-xy-control-via-homemade-galvanometers/ 

This guy (http://hackaday.com/2015/02/12/how-to-weigh-an-eyelash/) uses panel meters as ultra-light-duty galvos, though I think you'll have a hard time with the mirrors.

Also, check out www.photonlexicon.com for the way the pros do it.  

(PS: Love laser shows, and love the UV/glow-in-the-dark part of the project!)

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