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Tag Archives: Lasers

Turn Your Old Computer Parts Into A Burning Laser

By Chris Scott Barr

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got old computers just lying around. You keep telling yourself that you’re going to repurpose them as some sort of media box, server or whatnot. But really they’re just cluttering up the back of your closet, or some corner of the garage. Today you’ll learn to put one of them to good use. You’ll fashion some of the parts into a laser capable of cutting through things. Why? Because that sort of thing is awesome.

You’ll just need a DVD burner (16x or higher) some heatsinks and the PSU from an old computer. There are a few other items you’ll need to get, but those are the main components. In a short while, you’ll be able to cut through small objects, and light others on fire. That’s right, you can burn those ants without needing to mess with a magnifying glass or depend on the sun. Just remember not to be an idiot.

[ YouTube ] VIA [ HackADay ]

OhGizmo! Review – AAXA L1 Laser Pico Projector

AAXA L1 Laser Pico Projector (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

Lasers, is there anything they can’t improve? Regular tag? Boring. Laser tag? Amazing! Regular pointers? Dull and ignorable. Laser pointers? Captivating! And it turns out that lasers can work their magic when it comes to pico projectors too. Last year I reviewed AAXA Technologies’ P1 Pico Projector, and the biggest gripe I had with it, and with every pico projector I’ve played with since then, was the fact that you had to constantly refocus the image whenever the projector was moved. And given they’re designed to be handheld most of the time, they move a lot.

Since the light from an LED tends to diffuse quickly, the image from an LED-based pico projector constantly needs to be refocused as you change its throw distance. But since the light from a laser has a high coherency and manages to stay very focused over long distances, the image from a laser-based pico projector never needs refocusing. In a nutshell it’s a clever solution to the issue I raised in my previous review. Now granted the technology isn’t perfect just yet, but as far as I’m concerned the new L1 from AAXA Technologies is now the pico projector to beat. And if you want to know why, you can find my full review after the jump.

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Anti-Mosquito Laser Cannon

By Evan Ackerman

Welcome to the future, where your fly swatters and insect repellent have been replaced by auto-targeting laser systems. The “Photonic Fence,” designed by Intellectual Ventures Lab, is capable of detecting, tracking, and destroying mosquitoes in flight using basic components harvested from laser printers, Blu-ray disc writers, camcorders, and video game consoles. From the website:

The system would create a virtual fence made out of light— we call it a “Photonic Fence.” Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps on each fence post would beam infrared light at adjacent fence posts up to 100 feet (30 meters) away; the light would then hit strips of retroreflective material (similar to that used on highway signs) and bounce straight back toward the illuminator. A camera on each fence post monitors the reflected light for shadows cast by a hapless insect flying through the vertical plane of light.

When an invading insect is detected, our software identifies it by training a nonlethal laser beam on the bug and using that illumination to estimate the insect’s size and also to measure how fast its wings are beating. Using this method, the system can not only distinguish among mosquitoes, butterflies, and bumblebees, but it can even determine whether a mosquito is male or female! (Females are significantly larger than males and have slower wingbeats.) This is useful because only female mosquitoes bite humans.

Our software is able to track a mosquito in flight once it establishes that it is a valid target. After running safety checks to ensure no unintended object is in view, the system activates a second, more powerful laser that zaps the mosquito, causing death either by damage to its DNA (an unconfirmed hypothesis) or by overheating.

So why lasers and not something more conventional like mosquito netting? Well, people in developing countries often end up using the netting to fish with, and anyway, a mosquito net doesn’t solve the problem, it just makes the problem go look for someone else to munch on. Pesticides can be damaging to local ecosystems and can harm humans as well. The absolute ideal way of controlling the spread of malaria is to target the mosquitoes and only the mosquitoes, and the Photonic Fence does a brilliant job of that.

By now, you’re probably spotted a few major hurdles… At this point, anti-mosquito laser cannons are a.) complicated, b.) expensive, and c.) in need of electricity. So obviously it’s not going to be a stand-alone solution, and it’s going to require some clever engineering to get it ready for field deployment. It required some pretty damn clever engineering to get this far, though, so I for one am optimistic. And I want one.

[ Intellectual Ventures Lab ] VIA [ Wired ]

Lightsaber Laser Pointers Are As Close As You’ll Get To The Real Thing

Star Wars Lightsaber Laser Pointer (Images courtesy ThinkGeek)
By Andrew Liszewski

They won’t slash, cut or burn anything, but these Star Wars themed laser pointers will do a damned good job at directing your co-workers’ attention to important points on your PowerPoint presentation at your next business meeting. They’re each just 4 inches long and modeled after the sabers carried by Vader and Darth Maul, making the red laser beams color-accurate for you particularly anal Star Wars fans, and they’re available from ThinkGeek for just $14.99 each.

[ Star Wars Lightsaber Laser Pointer ] VIA [ Craziest Gadgets ]

WTF Did I Just Watch?

By David Ponce

Here’s all I really know. There’s a laser. And it’s doing a pretty good job of following the contours of random Sharpie markings on a sheet of white paper. But then there’s some kind of sound mated to all the goings on. The YouTube page lists a bunch of people involved with what seems to be some kind of project… but details are scant.

It’s trippy, that’s for sure, which is why I’m writing about it. Lasers, some kind of software, trippy sounds… what’s not to like?

VIA [ Geekologie ]

Frolicat Bolt Takes The Effort Out Of Playing With Your Cat

frolicat_bolt

By Chris Scott Barr

I have a cat, and like most other felines she loves laser pointers. I generally spend a little bit each day using it to drive her crazy. It really doesn’t take much effort, and it entertains me almost as much as it does her. However, if you don’t feel like putting all of the effort into waving you wrist around, you can get a device to do it for you.

The Frolicat Bolt is a laser pointer that moves around on its own. You can set it on a table (or any other surface really) and have it move the laser in a random pattern for 15 minutes, after which time it will automatically turn off. You can also put it on manual mode and use it like an ordinary pointer. If you’re too busy to keep up with your cat, you can pick one of these up for just $20.

[ Frolicat ] VIA [ CoolestGadgets ]

Laser Projector Resolution “Exceeds The Human Eye”

laser_projector

By Evan Ackerman

1080P is great and all, but if you can still tell that you’re watching something on TV, what’s the point? You might as well just go read a book or something. Evans & Sutherland (you know they’re cool because their domain name is es.com) has come out with a laser projector with a staggering 8000 x 4000 (32 megapixel) resolution, which they claim “exceeds the human eye,” meaning that their display is better than real life. Now, I have a whole raft of problems with their claim, but suffice it to say that they’ve got a pretty sharp display goin’ on. Plus, you know, lasers, man! Aside from being badass and potentially dangerous, lasers mean that colors are more accurate (up to twice as accurate as HDTV) and never shift and bulbs never need replacing.

The E&S Laser Projector was designed for military applications (i.e. simulators), and puts out 5000 lumens of brightness with 2500:1 contrast to match its impressive resolution. But with a price tag of of around $750,000, the only way you’re ever going to get to play with one is if you click here and then suffer through to the simulator bit.

[ E&S Laser Projector ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Afterglow System Lets You Doodle On PowerPoint Presentations With A Laser Pointer

Afterglow (Images courtesy Afterglow Inc.)
By Andrew Liszewski

Now here’s a clever idea. Afterglow is a simple system allowing you to annotate a PowerPoint presentation, or other projected imagery, with a standard laser pointer. It uses a USB camera (connected to the PC running the presentation) to track the motion of the laser dot, and the camera doesn’t even have to be setup near the projector since the Afterglow software can compensate for geometric distortion. The system even allows the laser pointer to control the cursor making it function like a mouse, so you don’t need access to the PC feeding the projector or a separate remote for controlling your presentation.

In fact, were it not for the $1,980 price tag, I would have said this is a must-have addition to any board or conference room.

[ Afterglow ] VIA [ The Gadgeteer ]

Laser-Equipped Putter Works On Your Short Game

argon-laser-putter

By Luke Anderson

When I was a kid, I learned a valuable lesson. When you’re putting, all of the aiming in the world doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have a straight swing. Once I taught myself how to swing properly, I mastered the fine art of putt-putt. If your short-game needs some work (that is if you actually play real golf, I prefer to stick to courses with windmills and the like), perhaps the Argon Laser Putter can help you out.

This putter is strictly a tool for learning, as no amount of lasers are going to help you on a real green. The first dip in the ground will screw you up, not to mentioned you’ll get laughed off the course if you try to pull this out of your bag.  However, if you’re merely wanting to putt in a straight line, this will be a wonderful aide. It even includes a “Putting Dome” that lights up when you hit the ball dead center. Now getting the timing down on that windmill on the 9th hole, well that’s a different story. If you’ve got $70 burning a hole in your pocket and a bad short-game, then this is just what you need.

[ ArgonPutter ] VIA [ UberGizmo ]