Friday, July 28, 2006

Laser Show - the beginning

I've been puttering with my very own 1970's era laser show for absolutely no other reasons than a) I like lasers and b) I could.
I tried to build one in high school using the laser from the physics lab, a couple of meccano motors, mirrors and some epoxy glue. That resulted in nearly getting shards of glass embedded in my face when the whole thing exploded. After that, we kind of abandoned the whole idea.
Last year I found a little controller kit at RP Electronics. It uses a cheap laser pointer with three spinning mirrors and connects to a PC parallel port. It made some nead little lissajous patterns, but it was pretty limited. I also realized the trick is to use very small mirrors.
The program is limited in that it only works with Windows 98 (XP is very restrictive about port access ). So while I was looking up a way of making an XP motor controller I came across Pangolin - a company that sells professional laser show software and hardware. Way out of my price range, but they were offering free downloads of their 1990 issue laser show controller program for the Amiga 500. Oddly enough, I had an Amiga 500... three in fact, plus a hard drive interface and various peripherals. Thus is born a Project....

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