Thursday, 10 November 2011

Fricken' Laser!

I decided to make a ray gun. But it had to actually be a ray gun, not something that looks like a ray gun but doesn't do anything. Given the only technology we actually have today that come close to science fiction ray guns is a laser it had to be a laser. I started with this image:
That's a Derringer pistol, a tiny gun produced in the 19th century and favoured by ladies and gamblers for its small size, making it easy to hide. It fired just two shots and I gather it was not too reliable, but I guess waving it about in the right circumstances would be enough. This is way more ornate than I can manage and it isn't a laser, of course. So this is what I made:
And yes, it is a real laser. Lasers are remarkably easy to get hold of these days which should not be a surprise because they are in our mice, in our DVD players and probably a ton of other places. They are quite cheap too. The trigger is a little push-button and the laser itself is the bit poking out the end of the main barrel. It is fairly powerful but I don't think it would pop a balloon. Think laser pointer rather than death ray. Still it does make it a real ray gun.

Just the laser itself was not enough so I added a little peizo oscillator (the black bit on the top and inside the handle is a Teensy which drives it to make an interesting noise when the laser lights up. There is a battery in the handle as well. It is about 5 inches long (similar enough to the Derringer) and should fir discretely into a pocket or a purse. Mrs gets to wield this thing (I have the vortex manipulator).

Programming the Teensy to drive the oscillator was interesting. The oscillator is a very simple thing, it can only play one note at a time, no chords. But I can send any note by frequency and control the timing etc. I can make it play a tune if I want, in this case it make a buzzy sort of noise which seems appropriate.

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