Flowers made of light

When Karen (yes, that Karen) decided to host a DIY birthday party, and said that she wanted people to make flowers, my mind went blank. Mario brought casting resin to make plastic flowers, Roger brought color-changing LEDs that got used in a bunch of things. I saw flowers made of yarn, flowers made of vinyl, flowers made of piano keys, flowers made of filter media, flowers made of sheetmetal, flowers made of mylar, and of course, flowers made of Red Bull cans. Still having no ideas, I decided to ignore the party for a bit, and started salvaging some motors from a soon-to-be-recycled CDROM drive.

Then something clicked: At Tuesday’s electronics meetup, we used signal generators and oscilloscopes to display Lissajous curves. With a laser and some mirrors and some motors, I could make Rose curves! Those are flowers, right? Flowers made of light!

The only small mirror available was still much too large, so it got cracked into a bunch of sharp but useful little pieces. With some hot glue, some solder, and a quick trip to the bin of lasers, I had a rudimentary optical path. Joe helped set up a quick-and-dirty pot-and-FET motor speed control (inspired by reading an article about PC PSU testing a few days ago), and with a few more minutes’ work, the whole thing was stuffed into a project box and shooting flowers onto everything within reach, including Karen. Happy Birthday!

-Nathaniel-

(Caution: Laser light emitted from this aperture. Warning: Whirling bits of broken glass within this aperture. Danger: Flowerguns are addictive.)