Laser Light Shows

Components | Projectors | Software

System components

The first requirement for a laser show is, of course, a laser. There are three general types of light show graphics lasers: solid-state lasers such as diode and DPSS lasers (red, green, blue), low power helium-neon (red, orange, yellow, green), and argon (green-blue) or mixed gas argon/krypton (red-yellow-green-blue) lasers. Solid-state lasers are available in power levels ranging from a few milliwatts to tens of watts. Helium-Neon lasers are available in power levels ranging from a few milliwatts to tens of milliwatts. And Argon or Argon/Krypton lasers are available in power levels ranging from tens of milliwatts up to tens of watts. The power you need depends on whether you're concentrating on beams or graphics, and on the scope of your shows -- for small or large audiences.
    Low power lasers (such as those lasers up to 250 milliwatts) are fine for studio work and small-scale indoor graphics. These lasers tend to use standard 120 volt AC power and are air-cooled by fans. They can handle many indoor graphics, and small-scale indoor beam effects. High power lasers (such as those lasers over 250 milliwatts) may need more AC power and require water cooling using hoses or chillers, especially Argon and Argon/Krypton types. They are for large-scale indoor graphics, outdoor graphics and beam effects.
    Usually, a laser projector will work with just about any laser. Therefore, if your emphasis is on graphics, spend less on the laser initially and more on the projector and computer system. This is because you can later rent or purchase a more powerful laser for your existing projector.
    If your emphasis is on beam effects, spend more on the laser to get the maximum possible brightness. You want as much power as possible so beams show up even under adverse conditions, such as outdoor shows in high-brightness areas.
    A popular laser for outdoor overhead beam effects is a Q-switched solid-state laser based on frequency-doubled YAG technology. This type of Q-switched YAG laser is great for overhead beams, but are poorly suited for graphics as they have larger diameters and usually are not continuous. (Scanned graphics will have fat, dotted lines.) If you are buying only one laser for both graphics and beams, stick with continuous-wave gas laser technology such as argon/krypton.
    You can purchase new or used lasers. Probably the best value is a small RGB solid-state laser that uses a diode laser for red and blue, and DPSS laser for green. These are available from reputable laser dealers.

Laser projectors

The laser projector includes a pair of galvanometer scanners, a blanking or color system, and related electronics. You can either buy a fully assembled laser projector, or put together your own projector.
    Fully assembled projectors are usually made on a semi-custom basis. The manufacturer will design a system with components matched for your particular requirements. Full-color graphics projectors start at around $2500. Adding beam tables and lumia effects quickly raises the cost.
    If you are technically minded, you can buy the projector components and assemble them into a system. This is an especially attractive approach for those on a budget with relatively simple needs, or for those who have previous experience with laser projectors.
    Most of the projector companies in this Guide provide parts and subassemblies, as well as complete projectors. They would be pleased to give you advice keyed to your technical background.
    Before going into detail on the projector parts, let's look at the final components of a laser system: the computer and software.

Computer and software

Laser show software is available for almost every personal computer, from the Amiga and Macintosh to IBM PC compatibles. There are even programs with their own custom computers. Look for the software first; this will help narrow down your choice of computer.
    There are three general levels of software: hobbyist, intermediate and professional. Roughly speaking, price ranges are around $500 for the hobbyist level, $1000-3500 for intermediate, and above $5000 for professional. This may seem costly in comparison with spreadsheets or word processors. But remember that the market for laser show programs is much more limited.
    As with all software, the more expensive programs give you more features, a friendlier user interface and better service and support. Be sure to choose software that meets your needs, both for now and for the future. About Pangolin's software.


               Laser Show information is from



Contact Information

L a s e r   D r e a m s

Laser Light Shows

P.O. Box 773
Kenwood, CA 95452
(707) 321-4780 Mobile#

link to CSS file

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict Valid CSS!

Last modified:   15:53:21, Thu, Jun, 17, 2010