Open Source Coolarity
Wayne and I have made 5 boxen so far: 2 Lumias (red and red-and-green), a Diffracterator (green), and 2 Motiondizers (violet and green).
And as for Penguicon, things worked very well. The DJ at the dance party wanted to buy a Diffracterator on the spot.
I Sing the Lunchbox Electric
Since the boxen run off batteries, you can do shows in camp. Not that you should, of course.
For indoor gigs, Wayne also built a massive power supply into a project case, and I found a suitable snake cable online that we use to get 12V DC to everything that needs it.
We also have several wall-wart power supplies we picked up at ham fests and such. The boxen don’t draw much power, so a small wart would probably do you. With a couple of warts, we can do shows without having to drag the big box around.
The Wobbulator disk on the Diffracterator, incidentally, is my one contribution to world culture. There are lots of other laser grating effects out there, but AFAIK, this is the first with a Wobbulator. (Although it may have been invented decades ago by Ivan Dryer at Laserium, I dunno.)
Feeding the Motiondizer
The Motiondizer needs full-strength input from your audio system, so if you also want to hear your regular speakers, you may need a splitter such as a distribution amplifier (DA). We use DAs we found on the internet. You can also control the Motiondizer with just a microphone, using a mic pre-amp. In concert, you can run line-level signals for a Motiondizer from the mixing board.
Lasers are blisteringly awesome to behold, susceptible to endless tweakage, and dirt cheap. The Lumia and Motiondizer boxes have enough room to mount 2 colored lasers, following slightly different paths to create superimposed pattern projections.
The Lumia projector Wayne built (shown here, minus the wheel) has red and green lasers both cooking away. Note the cooling fan and heat sink on the top laser, a 20mW greenie. The mirror is secured with a cabinet door hinge and a strip of pipe strap.
The motor has a more elegant mounting method: standoffs made for circuit board support. He also used ¼" masonite for his base. Having a better stock of sheet metal than I, Wayne used brass strips and small angle brackets for his laser supports. The blue material around the edge is designed to cushion the apparatus in transit, and the copper strip at the top secures the base plate to the box.
A good place to start: laserpointerforums.com
For advanced users and professional laserists: photonlexicon.com/forums
The pioneering work of Thomas Wilfred: lumia-wilfred.org
Visit makezine.com/20/lunchboxen for hobby laser and materials buying advice and photos of the laser lunchboxen in action.
This project first appeared in MAKE Volume 20, page 110.