Laser Gun

Once upon a time you couldn't buy a pencil-sized laser pointer for $10.99 at Costco. I built this laser gun (circa 1980) from a gas laser tube that neatly filled the barrel; the black box under the barrel contains circuitry to convert the 12V DC power from the batteries to the very high voltage needed by the tube. The battery pack consists of two large, heavy, belt-mounted gel cell modules. I was only able to lay my hands on the parts (several hundred dollars' worth) because they were slightly out of spec and my father had a friend in the laser biz.

The barrel is made from the battery compartment of an old Honeywell "potato-masher" photo flash unit; the other visible gun parts are built of Plexiglas, and the battery belt was sewn from Naugahyde. A surplus Harley-Davidson motorcycle ignition key in the grip cuts off the power, to prevent anyone from firing this dangerous toy without the owner's permission. The power cord is an extra-heavy-duty power tool cable; anything smaller had too much impedance and the laser wouldn't fire. It plugs in using a heavy-duty 1/4" headphone jack.

The beam is not actually visible in the photograph; it was added in post-processing. However, it shows up quite nicely in fog.

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