I can’t believe I built my homemade laser vortex in 2010. Geez that was six years ago! Can you believe that last year on Halloween was the first time I had ever really tested it out? I’m not sure why I waited so long (fear of failure?) but after a few test runs, I was confident that the laser vortex actually works! It’s the first Halloween prop I had ever built and now I am ready to share it and show it to the world! Well at least to anyone that is mildly interested. Hehe.
So for those of you who have read this blog, you might know I found a tutorial on the laser vortex from the Garage of Evil website. It had this really simple electrical schematic and promised that this would be a really inexpensive build. I raced out to buy a dremel tool and a soldering kit and a few other parts. I put the thing together with the least amount of woodworking and electrical knowledge unfortunately. But somehow this little beast actually powered up when I put the batteries in! And on Halloween night I set it outside, put a fog machine next to it and viola! My newest front-yard prop was born. Finally I have a video to share with you that shows the effects of our laser vortex running on Halloween night 2015.
How To Build The Laser Vortex
Here is basic idea of how I built it so you can build one too. Now I know the one I built is very crude and totally can be improved upon. So take this HowTo as a basic guide and then change and adapt your own laser vortex the way you like to make it even better! I bought my parts at Radio Shack (before it closed for good) but you can probably also find most of these parts at Amazon and online electronics stores.
- 5mw green laser
- Battery Holder – D Cell Double With Wire – Qty 2
- 3Vdc motor
- 10ohm 10Watt resistor
- Double pole, double throw knife switch
- Heat sink
- 4 D batteries
- Black and Red Stranded hook up wire 20g
- Dental Mirror
- Black Paint
- Wood Screws
- Wood board (to mount electrical components)
I thought I had lost the instructions and was going to try to recreate the steps on my own. But lo and behold! I found the original instructions here from GarageOfEvil.com. I must give credit to those guys. The instructions will teach you exactly the same steps I took to build mine. I painted mine black so I could hide it better at night. Also I didn’t use a potentiometer. As soon as you throw the switch the laser goes on and the motor will start to spin. Make sure to really secure the mirror to the dime and the dime to the motor. My original solder was weak and broke the mirror off so I had to find another one and glue it on. Also you might have to experiment a little with the angle of the gear on the motor. When I grinded mine down I wasn’t really sure how it would affect the shape of the cone. After testing I realized my cone is a little small so I might have shaved a little more of an angle to make the cone larger.
One final suggestion to make your laser vortex work perfectly is to use a fog chiller in order to keep the fog low to the ground and on the laser cone. I used a fog machine last year and got frustrated that the fog kept flying away in the wind. If the fog is gone, the vortex won’t be visible. After a little research I learned about how to convert your fog machine into a fog chiller. This basically cools the fog down so it lies lower than the outside ambient air. This keeps the fog lower to the ground and to your vortex making the effect last much longer. I’ll be trying that out again this Halloween and hopefully take more video.
I’m thinking of making another laser vortex in the future and maybe this time, use a blue or red laser. People really do like stopping by and trying to walk inside the cone. It’s a super cool Halloween effect and will definitely make people excited at your yard haunt on Halloween night. Have fun building your laser vortex!