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What Constitutes a Laser Light Show Projector?

by MIYA LASERS on Sep 26, 2023

What Constitutes a Laser Light Show Projector?

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A laser lights, also referred to as a "show laser" in various regions worldwide, is a sophisticated system designed for precisely projecting a wide array of laser-generated content within a controlled area.
This content encompasses a diverse range of laser show effects, including laser beam projections, aerial displays, mesmerizing liquid sky effects, laser-generated text, intricate graphics, logos, captivating animations, laser mapping, and an assortment of other visually striking elements.
These laser lights are identified by several common names, such as laser show systems, laser display systems, laser illumination devices, DMX lasers, rainbow lasers, RGB lasers, and more.
While these advanced laser systems are frequently employed to craft spectacular laser shows that grace festivals, nightclubs, tours, and events worldwide, their utility extends to diverse applications. They find purpose in architectural lighting, laser projection mapping, industrial uses, and an array of other creative and practical endeavors.

The exterior of a laser projector

Consider a laser's enclosure as akin to a computer's casing—a protective shell encompassing the internal components that drive the entire apparatus.
One of the pivotal aspects of a laser's casing is its IP (Ingress Protection) rating, particularly crucial when you plan to host events where adverse weather conditions could potentially jeopardize your laser equipment.
The standard IP rating for a laser system typically hovers around IP-54. Nevertheless, this rating can fluctuate depending on the type of laser you're dealing with. More budget-friendly laser models often come encased in less expensive housings, not specifically engineered to withstand harsh environmental conditions. Conversely, lasers that are permanently installed are usually housed in enclosures with significantly higher IP ratings, designed to endure even the harshest of conditions.
Another integral element of a laser's housing is the mounting bracket, an affixed accessory that facilitates securing the laser to trussing via clamps or other stands, where it can be securely fastened.
The adjustment of the mounting bracket can be easily achieved using the handles or knobs located on its sides. A noteworthy feature that some manufacturers incorporate into their brackets is the ability to rotate a full 360 degrees around the laser. This flexibility proves invaluable when you need to install your system on top, on the side, or in orientations beyond the conventional downward setup.

The anterior aspect of a laser projector

The initial aspect worth noting regarding the frontal structure of a laser projector housing pertains to the masking plate. This metal plate is positioned in front of the laser's aperture and serves a dual purpose: safeguarding the aperture's glass and facilitating the selective masking of specific areas in the laser's projection.
Situated behind this masking plate is the aperture window, the designated region through which the laser emissions will be projected. In the illustration provided above, the aperture window is distinctly highlighted in red.
Lastly, there is the emissions indicator, a diminutive light located on the front facade of the laser projector. Its primary function is to signal the readiness of the system to emit laser beams. It is worth noting that in certain regions, compliance with local laws may necessitate the presence of this indicator, so it is advisable to familiarize oneself with the relevant legal requirements.

The back of a laser projector

On the rear panel of a laser projector, you will encounter various components, the presence of which depends on the specific type of laser unit you possess.
Conversely, with a TTL-based laser, your palette is restricted to a mere seven colors, and the ability to smoothly transition between these colors is unavailable. Typically, laser lights at the budget or lower price range are TTL-based, while their more professional counterparts typically utilize analog modulation.
1. Power Input/Output Ports:
Notably, not all laser projectors incorporate power output ports, but it has become increasingly common to integrate both power input and output ports into these devices. This feature allows you to supply power to multiple systems simultaneously.
2. E-stop Input/Output Ports:
Likewise, the inclusion of both E-stop input and output ports has become more prevalent in contemporary laser systems. However, lower-cost or entry-level models may not include this feature. The advantage here is the ability to link all the remote ports of your laser projectors to a single E-stop, rather than requiring a separate E-stop for each unit.
3. E-stop Legal Requirements in the United States:
It's essential to note that, in the United States, there are legal requirements mandating the use of an E-stop. Typically, the laser will need to be connected to the E-stop for it to even power on. Specific laws and regulations may vary, but having this safety feature is highly advisable in case of emergencies.
4. Power Button and Safety Key:
Every laser projector is equipped with a safety key that must be turned to the "on" position. Additionally, there is a power button that needs to be pressed to fully activate the laser projector.
5. ILDA Input/Output Ports:
The presence of an ILDA (International Laser Display Association) port depends on the type of laser projector or whether the manufacturer has included one as part of custom laser show control hardware. If you are using an ILDA-based laser projector, these ports are used to connect your laser control hardware and daisy-chain to other ILDA-compatible laser projectors.
6. Custom Laser Show Control Hardware:
Many modern manufacturers include custom laser show control hardware, such as the FB4 control hardware from Pangolin. These units often offer features like DMX input/output, ArtNET input/output, direct control from a PC or lighting console, and auto-mode playback for running pre-programmed laser shows.
7. Additional Features:
Manufacturers may also offer optional custom features that can be purchased or are included at no extra cost with their laser projectors. For instance, Kvant laser projectors commonly offer a color balance correction mode, which enables you to harmonize colors across all your laser light systems.

Inside of a laser projector

Below are some of the key components found within a laser projector:
1. **Laser Modules and Diodes**
A laser module can be likened to the equivalent of a light bulb within a laser projector. Inside this module reside laser diodes, serving as the origin of the laser's emission.
Laser diodes are manufactured in a multitude of wavelengths, each contributing to the creation of different colors. By amalgamating red, blue, and green laser diodes, you can generate what's known as an "RGB laser."
Laser lights of varying power may include multiple independent modules that combine to produce white light. Alternatively, they could house a single module encompassing numerous wavelengths.
2. **Optics and Crystals**
Laser optics and crystals serve the purpose of either existing within a single laser module or being positioned outside of multiple laser modules. Their function is to amalgamate the diverse wavelengths, culminating in the formation of a unified laser beam.
3. **Laser Scanner/Galvo**
The scanner functions as the core component of the laser projector. It is a compact electronic device equipped with two motors situated within an X/Y mount. These motors are connected to mirrors, which facilitate the redirection and projection of the laser beam.
Additionally, the galvos feature a position detector on their rear end. This detector receives instructions from the servo amplifier, indicating how it should maneuver.
4. **Servo Amplifier**
The servo amplifier derives its power and control from the internal control system, such as the FB4 control hardware, utilized for managing the display. Working in tandem with the control hardware, the servo amplifier dispatches control signals to the laser galvo, specifying both its direction and mode of movement

Various Categories of Laser Systems

M760 ILDA laser system
ILDA lasers serve as the fundamental building blocks for laser systems, featuring a DB-25 connector located at the laser's rear to receive control signals from laser control hardware like the FB3QS. While these lasers held the status of the industry standard for an extended period, they have gradually fallen into obsolescence, presenting more challenges than advantages.
The cost of ILDA cables is notably high, and securing a prompt replacement can prove to be a daunting task. Furthermore, their signal transmission capabilities are limited to a mere 150 feet, making them unsuitable for large-scale productions. Lastly, integrating them into multimedia setups is a complex and intricate process.
In contrast,M9 DMX laser systems offer a promising alternative.
Typically, these laser light show projectors are quite elementary in nature and can be operated through either DMX or sound activation modes. They are purposefully designed for ease of use via a lighting console, usually equipped with a limited set of control parameters on their rear panels, allowing adjustments for aspects like color and speed. Nevertheless, it's worth noting that these projectors often do not incorporate the essential safety features found in contemporary laser systems.

FB4 laser system

Pangolin's cutting-edge F4500 FB4 media server represents a network-based control hardware solution meticulously crafted to enhance the user experience significantly. It provides several operational modes, including direct control via a PC, DMX/ArtNET control straight from a lighting console, and a convenient standalone mode for programming laser shows to execute automatically at predefined times.
While alternative laser control hardware options are available, FB4 stands out as the global leader in laser control hardware adoption. It's worth emphasizing that the majority of control hardware is intricately tailored to seamlessly integrate with specific laser control software suites as part of their design.

Acquiring a laser projection system

Having explored the technical aspects and functioning of laser projectors, let's delve into the process of acquiring one.
In the realm of laser projector purchases, there's no universally perfect choice. Laser projectors exhibit remarkable diversity in terms of their effects and applications. Therefore, it's crucial to grasp the key considerations when venturing into such an investment.
For this reason, we've crafted a comprehensive guide for purchasing laser projectors. This guide will assist you in navigating the selection process to find the ideal laser projector tailored to your specific event needs.