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9 Kick-Ass DIY Projects to Get Your Hack On

Make a Working Laser Phaser

As a kid, did you ever run around your back yard waving a plastic toy gun around and making “pew pew” noises? Did you ever wish that toy gun could shoot an actual laser beam? Well, you’re a grown up now, and it’s time to make your dreams come true. We’re going to show you how to implant a real, high-powered blue laser into a plastic Star Trek Phaser.

This is a long exposure shot in a dark room. Your results may vary.

Get a Laser

There are two ways you can get the blue laser you’ll need for your phaser—you can buy one on the Internet for about $30, or you can salvage one from an old Blu-ray or HD DVD player. If you opt for the scavenged laser, be forewarned: You’ll have to build your own driver circuit, a task that’s pretty easy by circuit-building standards, but not for someone who doesn’t know his way around a soldering iron.

Prepare the Phaser

You’ll need a plastic gun to put the laser in. We bought a retro Star Trek phaser on eBay for $30, but there’s no reason you couldn’t do basically the same thing to a different toy. To prepare the toy phaser, you’ll need to make a couple of easy modifications using pliers and a rotary tool, such as a Dremel. First, widen the battery compartment so it can fit a 9-volt battery, instead of two AAs. Do this by pulling out the battery contacts with your pliers, then using the rotary tool to grind away all of the plastic protrusions inside the battery case. Also drill a hole that you can feed the wires from the 9V battery clip through.

Replace the Internals

Next, remove the light bulb from its black plastic clip, and grind down the clip so that the side opposite the two prongs is totally flat. If you remove the metal cap that covers the acrylic laser lens, the laser will fit perfectly into the hole in the clip. Now hot glue the black plastic clip into the “barrel” of the phaser, and grind out anything in the front of the phaser that would keep the laser housing from fitting in behind it. Connect the laser to the battery so it turns on, align it so that it’s straight, and glue it into position.

Finally, fix your switch into the trigger hole of the phaser, and use wires to complete the circuit between the battery, the switch, and the driver circuit. Use a little hot glue to stick everything in place, and reconnect the two halves of the phaser. The laser will burn many dark-colored items, including electrical tape and some black plastic, and it can also pop balloons. Blue lasers are hard to see in the air, even at high power, so if you want to see the beam, use some sort of particles in the air, such as smoke or fog. Have fun, and remember to be safe.