How to Build a High Powered Laser

In this instructional guide, we will be learning how to build a high powered laser system out of simple household materials, which, in this case, are a broken down desktop with a DVD drive. The laser will be a red-type laser, meaning it operates under a wavelength of 635-680 nm. The laser in our case will be powered by the desktop’s power module (or PSU), which will eventually give an output of 250 Mw. The laser diode we will be using will be extracted from the DVD burner itself, saving us more money on parts. What we will be doing overall is inserting the laser diode into the heat sink extracted from the desktop computer, and hooking it up to a regulation module. That module will then be hooked up the computer’s PSU and that would hopefully give us a fully functioning burning laser.


  1. 1
    Lay the desktop computer on its side and open the cover; this should be relatively easily done by unscrewing the screws running alongside of the cover.
  2. 2
    After removing the cover, extract two of the main components, the PSU and the DVD burner.
    • The PSU should come right out, and the DVD burner might be anchored down with two small screws. Undo those and it should come right out of place.
      Image titled Icase.gif
  3. Image titled Silver heat sink
    After extracting the first two main components, you need to extract the heat sinks; they will easily pop out with no effort and are usually located on the motherboard. The picture above is what the heat sinks look like The second heat sink will be a smaller version of the one shown, it will be placed directly on top of the motherboard, so when you open the computer and take our components out will see a tiny heat sink sitting on top o what looks like a giant microchip, just pull it out. .
  4. 4
    Open the DVD burner and extract the sled. After extracting the sled, you will need to remove the laser diode located in the sled.
    • The sled should be relatively easy to remove, as it is located on the upper face of the burner.
      Image titled 06_Dec09_03sled
  5. Image titled Mir
    Once you remove the sled, unscrew the diode head from the sled and file down the soldered metal to make a smooth shape around the base. You should end up with a lense diode that is captured in the picture above.Most DVD burners will have the same set-up, however, if your burner is different, your diode will still look like the one in the picture, if you need further guidance on how to remove the diode please refer to the following youtube video from user "tingawinga5" :
  6. 6
    Press the laser diode into an AIXIS module. Those can be purchased on eBay for around $3-8 each, and can be easily assembled and re-assembled.
  7. 7
    After squeezing the diode into the module, make sure that you attach long wires into the diode following this schematic.
    • Your positive IN will show a thick circle around the attachment point so will your PD (unused). However, your negative will show a thinner circle around its entry point, and they will be arranged in the same order as this schematic. Solder your wires into the proper points and your end product should look like figure two above.

      Image titled F9YZZ34GL4Z6B8P.LARGE
      Image titled AixizRkcstrModule2
  8. 8
    In this step, you will need to be very careful as to not reverse the polarity when soldering wires; make sure you clearly marked your (+) and (-) wires on your laser diode. Solder the positive output wire to the 3 ohm resistor, then continue by soldering the second end of the resistor to the output tongue of your lm 371 module(3). As for your diode’s negative wire, solder that directly into the ground tongue of your module(2) and create a wire for running to a negative wire. From your input tongue on your module(1), solder the positive running wire.When soldering i suggest the use of a plastic card as a separating all between elements to avoid run off of the liquid metal, if you are new to using a soldering iron i suggest you practice on some spare wires first by following this video from youtube user "cold restart":>
    Image titled Hookup
  9. 9
    Drill a ½ inch hole horizontally into your heat sink. After that, clean the whole form (all metal debris), and insert your laser diode assembly into it, making sure the side with the lense sits flush against the edge of the heat sink. After carefully positioning the diode assembly, use thermal glue to permanently affix it into place. Allow ample time for the finished product to dry. (During this time you will start working on the PSU.)
  10. 10
    During this step, you will be working on the PSU.
    • The PSU can be slightly tricky, so we will break down the following instructions into simple steps:
    • Clip off all of the white plastic wire connectors.
    • Sort the wires by colors; this will make the job way easier.
    • Find the black and green wires, clip them, and then tie them together (make sure you cover the exposed area with electric tape)
    • The yellow wire will be your (+), the red wire your (-).
    • Solder the wires to your module wires as directed in step eight.
    • You may want to glue the second heat sink to the module chip, since this chip might get really hot.
  11. 11
    Make sure all of your wire connections are properly insulated and soldered, since we are working with a 110V power supply all naked wires must be covered to make sure no exposed wires are rubbing on each other.
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    While wearing safety goggles, make sure that the diode is facing a wall of a hard surface, and plug the PSU into a power outlet. Turn on the power button and enjoy your new laser. #*The laser can run for prolonged periods of time without getting hot since the heat sinks will help dissipate the heat from both the diode and the module.


  • If the diode does not fire, check to make sure it is not cracked.
  • In case no light comes out, check your wiring make sure none of the (-) and (+) terminals have been reversed.
  • If the diode or drive start overheating, make sure they are properly tucked into the heat sinks.
  • if you see any smoke come out immediately disconnect the device form the electricity, and allow time for it to cool off and all excess charges to bleed out before examining it.


  • Always wear eye protection while operating the laser.
  • Make sure all of your electrical connections are proper and insulated to avoid any electrical shock or fires.
  • Wikihow and myself are not liable for any ham or damage done through anyone performing this experiment.
  • This laser will burn through surfaces, so avoid contact with humans, animals, or flammable surfaces and materials.
  • Do not perform this experiment unless and adult is present.
  • Make sure you perform the experiment in a controlled environment away from all flammable materials.
  • Always make sure you have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on hand.

Things You'll Need

  • A desktop computer equipped with a DVD R/RW drive out of which you will extract:
    • PSU
    • DVD burner
    • Heat sinks (2)
  • An AIXIZ module
  • Soldering iron
  • Heat resistant thermal glue
  • Drill with ½ inch metal drill bit
  • LM37 drive with 3ohm resistor (can be bought on ebay for around 4 $ )
  • safety goggles
  • electric tape

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Metalwork and Wire Projects