High Voltage Post

Electricity can be scary. As can be lasers. When working with high voltage and lasers always be sure to post appropriate warning signs. "But what if I don't have the appropriate warning signs," you plead. (Of course you are asking this, because of course you are commonly working with these, and other sorts of dangerous things...) The answer is simple. Make your own by following these simple steps:

  1. Find appropriate warning sign on Google Images
  2. Re-implement graphics in Adobe Illustrator
  3. Mask, X-acto, and paint; repeat for each color

I followed this procedure exactly and produced a great warning sign for the power supply mentioned in a previous post.

I recommend using a good german font, like one from the DIN Schriften family, and being careful with the masking. I covered the box in masking tape, printed my design, and taped the printed template. Next I used an X-acto knife to cut out areas of exposure for a given color. I repeated for each additional color, layering as I went.

Speaking of Power Supplies…

Every summer I spend way too much on eBay. Case in point:

Its a Power Designs TP 343B triple output power supply. Extremely well built on the outside, surprisingly modern on the inside, with ICs and such. I'm quite happy with my first real lab power supply. There will be at least one more post about summer eBay purchases within the next few weeks. I can make this guarantee because I have already made the purchase.

22 yrs is a good age for a Helium-Neon Laser


I started working with lasers in 2003 when I bought the above Siemens LGK-7630 HeNe laser off eBay for like $15.00. It was lots of fun; rated at 6.0mw; manufactured in march of 1984, and tested 6.4mw (according to a sticker) in 1986; apparently removed from an old Xerox product of some sort.

Shortly after getting my second laser, the Argon Ion one, the power supply on the Helium-Neon failed catastrophically. This isn't such a surprise for a $15.00 laser, but I couldn't find a suitable replacement at a reasonable cost for a long time. Having the JDSU 2214 around made it even less of a priority.

Fast forward to 2006; development on LaserLine and the galvanometers is getting serious, so I need an easy to operate beam that I can switch on and off with no fuss so I can focus on development of the scanning hardware and software. No maintenance; instant on, quiet operation. Perfect.

Power Supply

Meredith Instruments (via eBay) happened to have a Melles Griot 05-LPM-948-065 Power Supply at just the right price. It does somewhere between 1.85 and 2.45 KV at 6.5ma; quite reasonable for the 15" LGK-7630 tube (well, the enclosure is 15", I'm guessing the tube is 13" or 14").

A quick trip to Fry's provided me with some parts for the enclosure; other parts were found in my basement. Plenty of Dremel work was required for the IEC power plug and 1A breaker, but they look nice. Now I just need a source for a key switch, because it is a class IIIb laser, being above 5mw. Black paint should really make it look better too.

Beam Profile

The beam profile on the HeNe is so much rounder and consistent than any laser pointer I've ever used. (The dimmer 2nd beam in the top picture is laser pointer to which I was comparing beam profiles.) The picture below illustrates the quality Gaussian profile, but also illustrates the noise around the outside. I'm thinking much of it can be attributed to a dirty external surface of the OC. Pretty good for 22 years though...

The elusive Dama Dama

Today at work I failed to see the elusive white deer for the second day in a row. I saw four of the more common white-tailed brown deer—on the way to work and at lunch—but this is not quite what I was hoping for. On Monday I saw one white deer standing very close to the sidewalk on the way to my car, then a whole herd as I was driving out of the lab. I hope to get some good pictures of them, better pictures than this one I found on the internet:

White Dama Dama Deer
Photo Credit: Argonne National Laboratory

The naturally light colored deer that are native to Northern Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia have also been sighted (years ago) in my back yard. It seems like they come up near the buildings in the lab after dark in the winter. For this reason I think I have a better chance of seeing them for the short period of time I work over break than when I'm there all summer—but leave before the sun goes down. I've got until the 17th or so, thus I think I still have a chance to get some good photos.

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