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Hardware Hacking Build Technology

DIY Laser Pistol Shoot 1MW Blasts 284

An anonymous reader writes "It doesn't get cooler than this — a German hacker put together a 1MW laser pistol capable of shooting straight through a razor blade with a single pulse. Quoting: 'Fitted with a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser, it fires off a 1 MW blast of infrared light once the capacitors have fully charged. The duration of the laser pulse is somewhere near 100ns, so he was unable to catch it on camera, but its effects are easily visible in whatever medium he has fired upon.'" Update: 03/17 18:22 GMT by T : Too bad; turns out it's "only" 1KW, rather than 1MW. I still want one.
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DIY Laser Pistol Shoot 1MW Blasts

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  • Sweet (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:13AM (#35442872)

    Sweet. How long does it take to charge? IMMA FIRING MY LAZORS PEW PEW PEW

  • Wrong power (Score:4, Informative)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:14AM (#35442880)

    1kW, not 1MW.

    • Wrong unit (Score:5, Informative)

      by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:37AM (#35443192) Homepage

      It's not all that interesting what the power is, without knowing how long it's applied for. TFA says 100ns.

      1kW * 100ns = 0.0001 joules
      1MW * 100ns = 0.1 joules

      Neither of which is very much energy. Next question: how small an area is that energy applied to? Pretty damned small, I'm assuming, if it's going to punch a hole in a razor blade with that little energy.

    • Pigeons don't stand a chance.
    • He punched a hole in metal. That's badass enough in my book.
      • It is very cool - and that's why I'm not sure where the need to exaggerate is. The impressive part is the time he spent on the case. Many geeks have built equivalent lasers.

    • The power is pretty meaningless provided the pulse is short enough, it's the energy delivered that matters.

      You can get a low end estimate for the energy delivered by knowing the diameter and thickness of the hole.

      From that you can work out the mass of steel that is vapourized.

      The longer the pulse is the more time the heat has to dissipate until, eventually, the heat is conducted away so fast that you can't actually mark the steel at all.

      I can't be bothered to look up the numbers but lets assume 400J/kgK SHC

    • by kmike ( 31752 )

      So the article says 1MW, the author's video shows 1MW, and the youtube page says "it fires an intense 1 MW blast of invisible infrared 1064nm light". And yet a single anonymous comment saying 1kW is more trustworthy.

      • No, on the YouTube page the creator admits that it is probably between 10 and 100kW. He claims that he "could" make it 1MW, but that "no one cares":

        Lets say 10kW to 100kW....noone cares btw ;-)

        I could make it 1MW.

        We care, though, because while the cool part of this project is the package in the author's eyes, an awful lot of geeks' ears perk up when they hear "megawatt laser". The project is very cool, but not a breakthrough.

  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:14AM (#35442882)

    How will I know how close the stormtrooper is to hitting me?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:20AM (#35442966) Journal
      It's a stormtrooper: you don't need to see the shots to know that the answer is "close enough to add drama; never close enough to kill an important character, despite these guys being the Empire's crack infantry forces..." In a universe ruled by narrative causality, ontology is an excellent substitute for empiricism...
      • What if I am just a clone? I guess the only thing worse would be a clone with a red uniform.
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        It was the Force. The universe wanted balance so it was protecting those that where trying to bring balance.
        I expected better from someone on Slashdot.

      • by uradu ( 10768 )

        Wow, careful there, cowboy--them's some mighty big words and concepts you're wielding there! You do realize you're posting on Slashdot, right? Still, this reaffirms my belief that it's not all just Lemmings and brain stem functionality ruling /.

      • by stjobe ( 78285 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @12:09PM (#35443622) Homepage

        Stormtroopers are excellent marksmen - what you see depicted in those Rebel propaganda videos is a tactic called "herding". Funnily enough the makers of the propaganda videos never show what happens after the stormtroopers have herded the scruffy nerf-herder rebels into their trap...

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          They then abandon the death star, and blow it up with the rebels inside? Seems a bit of an expensive way of dealing with the problem.
      • by Lost Race ( 681080 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @03:23PM (#35445990)

        In a universe ruled by narrative causality, ontology is an excellent substitute for empiricism...

        That's exactly what I always say!

        In a universe ... ruled by narrative causality ... one man ...

    • by sdh ( 129963 )

      Manufacturers will be forced to add an additional slow visible pulse and an audible pew sound. Just like they have to add some engine noise because the Prius is too quiet.

    • Never. They typically suffer from concussion coming through the door.....
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Look for the guys in red shirts. /gets instantly pummeled by scifi nerds.

  • According to the comments on that site it is 1 KW

  • ..SHARKS! with freeking laser beams....
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:18AM (#35442944) Journal
    As all right thinking people do, I have to love dangerous toys. The build quality and aesthetics are pretty sweet as well.

    Unfortunately, as is so often the case with exotic energy weapons, I just can't shake the nagging feeling that .22s or even compressed gas propelled sub-.22 rounds almost certainly pack more punch...
    • It might side-step local gun laws. Aren't lasers almost completely unregulated? If this was mass produced it could replace mace. I'd be a little concerned about blinding people. I'm not sure if IR blindness does anything to humans though.

      Shame he didn't get a pork shank to show us the effect it would have on flesh.

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Card ( 30431 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @12:33PM (#35443952) Homepage
        From Wikipedia []:

        Infrared lasers are particularly hazardous, since the body's protective "blink reflex" response is triggered only by visible light. For example, some people exposed to high power Nd:YAG laser emitting invisible 1064 nm radiation, may not feel pain or notice immediate damage to their eyesight. A pop or click noise emanating from the eyeball may be the only indication that retinal damage has occurred i.e. the retina was heated to over 100 C resulting in localized explosive boiling accompanied by the immediate creation of a permanent blind spot.

        • by Danh ( 79528 )

          Visible light would not be safer here, since the pulse is just 100 ns long and thus much faster than any reflex of the eye.

    • Unfortunately, as is so often the case with exotic energy weapons, I just can't shake the nagging feeling that .22s or even compressed gas propelled sub-.22 rounds almost certainly pack more punch...

      Yeah, but this was made by some guy in his basement or something. Fairly impressive, actually.

      And, I gotta say, you're right ... for a DIY ray gun, the aesthetics of this are remarkably cool. And, really, what's to say someone with more resources won't scale this up to something with a bigger power supply? Th

    • I would suggest that the same 'punch' as a .22cal kinetic weapon is not necessary. Kinetic weapons rely on the premise of uncontrolled damage for effectiveness (i.e. trauma = stopping 'power'). Energy weapons rely on a potentially different premise: tactical damage -- cleanly disablement of a target's vital system (i.e. disable the brain, heart, nervous system). You see the same effect from other energy weapons, such as a tazer. All it would take for this weapon to disable an enemy human, for example, w
      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @12:12PM (#35443678)

        Part of the reason stopping power is such a big deal is that it takes a lot of energy to punch through rib cages and skulls. Most people who die from handgun wounds do so from exsanguination, not disablement of vital organs, and most of these people are shot with cartridges an order of magnitude more powerful than .22 long rifle.

        I suspect that any energy weapon that wants to match a handgun in terms of energy delivered in the same time domain will need to produce at least as much energy to do the damage necessary, or operate on principals similar to a Taser and act on the nervous system.

      • It seems like if you're not using visible light then you're going to be delivering a lot of your energy into water that lies near the surface of a human being. You're going to want to target eyes and stuff, which is tactically workable but a violation of some convention or other ;)

      • vwhat do you think the gargantuan budget of the U.S. military has created?

        Something only slightly more powerful, built on cost overruns and huge R&D budgets lining the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex?

      • by Nadaka ( 224565 )


        A bullets kinetic energy is going up against the crush and shear resistance of the targets tissue. Human tissue is pretty weak against this.

        A lasers thermal energy is going up against the heat capacity of the targets tissue. Water to a slightly lesser degree water saturated tissue that humans have has a ridiculously high heat capacity.

        The kinetic energy of an ak-47 bullet converted to pure thermal energy and applied with 100% efficiency would destroy much less than a cubic centimeter of human tissue.


  • I'd buy one....not sure what the hell I'd do with it but I'd buy it. Now if it was ACTUALLY a 1MW laser...I'd buy two.
  • Thievery (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:26AM (#35443044) Journal

    A couple months ago I came a across a "game" at the mall, and I immediately thought "A person with a portable high powered laser could steal every bit of stuff out of this". Anyway the game is similar to those claw games, where you move the claw with a joystick to pick up an item. This game differs in that expensive items like DSi, PSP, iPod, are dangling from strings. The player moves an arm with an (obviously inept) pair of scissors on it, which tries to cut through the string to drop the item. It must take many cuts to gradually cut through the string, because I could see where strings had been slightly damaged by the cutters, but still needed a lot more to cut all the way through.

    Anyway, a person with one of these lasers could clean house. The case is clear glass all the way around, so I assume the laser would shine right through it.

    Sweet - of course Youtube to the rescue: []

    • One of these [] should do the trick.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        Note: This laser is too powerful to be used as a gun sight. Never point it at another person, animal, or vehicle.

        I think if someone's pointing a gun sight at you, you have worse problems than a kW laser beam.

  • Now we got lasers, but where are the shields ?
  • by Z8 ( 1602647 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:32AM (#35443100)

    This is cool and all, but I would be scared to go anywhere near that. That's way over class 3 on the laser safety scale [] and minor reflections could do permanent damage to your eyes. I've played with ~0.5W lasers, and those are scary enough. Apparently this is 1kW! The class 3 limit for pulsed lasers in that frequency is 1/3000th as much apparently (30mW). Basic safety goggles only filter out so much light and you can still get blinded through them.

    I would guess it's just a matter of time before whoever bought this accidentally hits something shiny and the "ricochet" blinds someone.

    • Yeah, the German Police will probably get to him soon enough...

      I wonder though, what effects would this gun have on human skin? He should try it on some leg of ham or equivalent...

  • One megawatt is one million joules per second. The pulse
    lasts 100 nsec, or 0.1 millionth of a second. If you multiply
    the two, you get the total amount of energy for the pulse... ... 0.1 joule.

    That's about the same amount of energy as lifting a 100 g
    chocolate bar 10 cm vertically in the air....

  • I mean, how can it look cool without being mounted on a shark's head?
  • If the laser is 1 MW, as the site claims, and the pulse length is 100 ns, then the pulse energy is about 0.1 J. That's not actually very much, even in a nice focused package. If it's 1 kW, as other commenters claim, then it's 1/1000th that. For comparison, consider the energy in a typical .22 rifle shell []: 180-250 J, or about three orders of magnitude.

    So while it'll definitely blind you with a shot to the eye, and would probably leave a nasty burn on your skin everywhere else, a blast from this laser
    • indeed *yawn*, homemade handheld xenon flash tube pulsed lasers with much more power output were made decades ago, and energy is only a meaningful metric for continuous beam lasers. An continuous beam argon laser of a few watts is something to point at a steak, but this toy wouldn't do much.
      • indeed *yawn*, homemade handheld xenon flash tube pulsed lasers with much more power output were made decades ago, and energy is only a meaningful metric for continuous beam lasers.

        An continuous beam argon laser of a few watts is something to point at a steak, but this toy wouldn't do much.

        You mean wattage is only a meaningful metric for continuous beam lasers.

        For pulsed lasers like the one in TFA, it's much more important to know the energy (in this case ~0.1J), and then to know the pulse duration or wattage. But judging by the comments in TFA, few people understand this distinction.

        The headline "DIY Laser Pistol Shoots 1MW Blasts" is like saying "Rhode Island is Teh Safest State!!1!" because it has the smallest gross number of car crashes. The per-capita figure is far more informative i

  • They left it out of the article and video, but the greatest feature about this particular item is that each time you fire it, it makes one of four sound effects, until the fifth shot, when it cycles through all four in sequence. Sounds include "laser blast," "machine gun," "scanner ray," and "falling bomb." The inventor was quick to point out that his favorite is when it does all four. "I usually just shoot it in the air four times so that next time I pull the trigger, it'll play all the sounds."

  • by ComputerGeek01 ( 1182793 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @11:50AM (#35443398)
    Did anyone else watch the video and think that the "Plasma Ball" was actually dust igniting and being pushed along the path of the laser? Or am I the only one annoyed by that part of the video?
  • What sort of range do you imagine this things gets?
  • . . . to cool laser guns' power (it probably doesn't but don't spoil the moment), then we can hope for a 1MW laser gun by 2030. Now, about the power supply . . .
  • by stink_eye ( 1582461 ) on Thursday March 10, 2011 @12:16PM (#35443712)
    Can I get a phased plasma rifle in a forty watt range?

Friction is a drag.