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Here’s a neat project from a few years ago: Nyle Steiner of sparkbangbuzz built a Simple Homemade T.E.A. Laser using some pieces of scrap aluminum and a moderately high voltage power supply. He writes:

I used to tell people “There is no such thing a true home made laser. There is always a requirement for exotic parts that can only be obtained from a laser manufacturer, and – or there is the requirement to perform exotic high vacuum, glass blowing and gas mixing processes. This would defeat much of the satisfaction of building your own laser.”
When I read about TEA lasers recently though, that all changed. Here is a laser that is built from aluminum foil, a dielectric and some pieces of aluminum. It is amazing to think of a laser project where a simple 4 to 6 KV DC power supply is the most elaborate component.

Amazing, indeed! Now, where did that kV DC power supply go? [thanks, Ed!]

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Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Nyle made some good points about safety in the original article, but said only a little about laser light concerns.

    UV lasers are dangerous, perhaps more so the IR, as the invisible beam is of higher energy. Wear some appropriate goggles when working with a TEA laser. At the very least, dark, UV blocking sunglasses!

    Running the beam through a mason jar of fluorescent liquid is a wonderful way of visualizing its path, but there will be a strong, invisible reflection from the glass, where the beam enters. Beware!

    And, one wonders if the high voltage had its way, since Nyle’s article is almost three years old! Hopefully, he is still with us!

    Dave

  2. Simon says:

    That’s a great site! I saw that one a while ago and was able to get lasers working using the information given there. Little HV power supply units from old photocopiers work well. You can also run these TEA lasers using a Whimshurst machine as the HV source. I saw that on the Internet somewhere and was able to reproduce the results myself (I didn’t come up with the idea). It is very cool to produce a totally hand powered laser. Theoretically, if they’d only stuck the right bits together, they could have invented lasers back in Victorian times.

    I put a little film up on YouTube of this but somehow in the uploading it became too dark to see much.

  3. Bill Morgan says:

    I’ve seen a demo of this style of laser, in an enclosed room. While it was very, very cool, the ozone smell was very strong and I started getting a headache before I split. This is one of those “Well-Ventilated Space” projects, people.