Laser+Speaker Lissajous Proof of Concept

With LRWave 1.0 complete, I could focus on the mechanical bits of a Lissajous machine driven by that web app. The goal is to build a more accessible Lissajous machine that does not have the risk presented by high voltages involved in driving a CRT. It will not look as good as a CRT, but that’s the tradeoff:

  • High voltage electron beam in a CRT replaced by far lower voltage LED laser diode.
  • CRT deflection yokes replaced by audio speakers.

The proof of concept rig is driven by the same thrift store amplifier used in the successful CRT Lissajous curve demo. This time it will be driving speakers, which is what it was designed for, instead of CRT deflection yokes. The speakers came from the same source as that CRT: a Sony KP-53S35 rear projection television we took apart for parts so we could embark on projects like this.

Hypothesis: If we attach a mirror to a speaker, then point a laser beam at that mirror, the reflected beam will be displaced by the movement of that speaker. By using two speakers and adjusting beam path through them, we can direct a laser beam among two orthogonal axis X and Y via stereo audio waveform generated by LRWave.

For the initial test, mirrors were taped directly on speaker cones and arranged so laser beam is projected to the ceiling. This produced a satisfactory Lissajous curve. Then the mirror configuration were changed to test another hypothesis: instead of direct attachment to speaker cone, tape the mirror so it sits between the fixed speaker frame and the moving speaker cone. This was expected to provide greater beam deflection, which it did in the pictured test rig. However, the resulting Lissajous curves were distorted due to flex by the plastic mirrors and not-very-secure tape.

RPTV Speakers and masking tape

Experimenting with maximum deflection range, I pushed the speakers too far and burned one up. For a brief few seconds the laser beams were visible, reflected by the smoke of an overloaded speaker coil.

  1. I could see the laser beams, cool!
  2. Um… why am I able to see the laser beams?
  3. [sniff sniff]
  4. Oh no, the magic smoke is escaping!

The Lissajous curve collapsed into a flat line as one deflection axis stopped deflecting, and that ended experimentation for the day.

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