Jun 24, 2017 | By Julia

A Los Angeles-based maker has created the ultimate life hack for producing your own projected light show from the comfort of your own home. Aptly deemed ‘The Mechanical Laser Show,’ this fun little Thingiverse project turns a basic laser pointer into a trippy customized light show.

Everyone who’s played with a laser before knows that if you wave it around fast enough, the human eye will perceive an image in the light trail left behind. It’s the principle that goes into a high-powered, expensive laser projector, but it also applies to this simple plastic contraption.

“The basic idea is the laser traces the path repetitively. Due to the persistence of vision effect, you see the whole image at once,” explains Evan St, also known by his Thingiverse moniker AdditiveTech. “In order for this to work well, you have to trace the image around 5 times a second or faster.”

While that may sound like a lot, Evan shows that a basic hand-powered crank and a few cams (a common mechanical component found in car cylinders) are all you need to create a perceptible image using emitted light from the laser.

A mathematically precise radius on the 3D plastic cams allows the front of laser pointer to be actioned, and move along a set of predetermined points to create a specific pattern. As seen in Evan’s Thingiverse files, recognisable shapes such as a 5 point star or the The Dark Knight’s Batman logo can easily be produced with The Mechanical Laser Show. Those two patterns are already available for free download, but with a healthy dose of math skills, you can easily design your own pattern.

Required equipment is fairly straightforward: both cams, the crank gear, back and front plates, crank handle, and fasteners are all made via a 3D printer. Only the laser pointer, rubber band, and optional ring (for holding down the power button on the laser) have to be purchased, making this a very cost-efficient production indeed.

The Los Angeles-based maker used Sketchup for designing this project, then printed the individual components on a Monoprice Select Mini, but the tools you use for this intermediate-level project are up to you.

A software developer by trade, Evan says he’s always been interested in mechanical engineering, and has been 3D modeling for fun since his teen years. “I have always loved creating stuff that has never been done before,” he says. “3D printing is a great platform for that since it lends itself to prototyping and one-offs.”

And while the 3D printed Mechanical Laser Show may be a one-off technically speaking, that doesn’t prevent it from creating hours of bedroom light show fun! Check out Evan’s video (above) and Thingiverse profile for a full set of build instructions.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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