Assembling the tube
And now for assembling the laser tube itself. Things needed for this will be a bit of JB weld, a long thin dowl that fits inside your mirror mounts. This will help align them, much better than eyeing it. You will also need some 3/8th inch tubing and a few sharkbite fittings. Also, having a blow drier will help things out a LOT.
For the base of the laser I used oak. The reason for this is that it is already cured, very resistant to warping, and heavy, also it is a LOT stronger than MDF when you are screwing things to it. ALWAYS remember to predrill all holes.
Cut your glass tube to length, the easiest way to do this is score it using a file all the way around it. I simply went around it a few times until I could feel the score with my fingernail. After that, wet the score and with your thumbs positioned on the sides of your score, snap it like you were breaking a twig. Glass is actually pretty easy to work with as you can see. Just be careful to not burn yourself.
Make the glass a length so that when you put it inside the cooling jacket, about a quarter inch sticks out of each end. Mix up some JB weld and apply it to the smooth secion of your mirror mount, leave about a quarter inch on the end untouched by epoxy as this will also serve double duty as an electrode and we dont want epoxy insulating it. Put the dowl through the whole tube … all the way down the shaft. The reason for this os to hold the mounts ABSOLUTELY straight while the epoxy cures. Make sure you put enough in to form a good seal. Make sure the position of the gas input is in a position for easy access, I chose to place them straight up. Then epoxy around the glass and the end of the PVC cooling jacket to seal that. Leave this for about 24 hours to cure before going further.
The important thing is to make sure that you seal it. There can be NO air leaks, NO liquid leaks. To test this, after it is sealed, I filled up my bathtub, put a couple rubber stoppers in each end installed the tubes and litterally blew into it while it was submerged. I looked for air bubbles, I had none.. YAY! 😀
To install the tubing, since it is a tight fit, warm up the tubing slightly with a hair drier. It will slip on easily and should shrink tight as it cools.
The next step was to run the lines and mount the tubing as well as install the connectors for attatching the vacuum pump and gas system. For the Electrical, I am going to simply use aligator clips (well insulated of course) and clamp onto the mirror mounts or the T fitting. I may come up with something else such as runing lines to terminals, but for now, I think simple is best.
This is how I am going to mount the Optics, I simply made a wire loop with some heat shrink, I am waiting on the optics to arrive as of this writing, so I put in a nylon washer that I had sitting on the bench to show how it holds. Seems to work really well 😀 K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid! I am a firm believer in keeping it simple 😀
Laser Tube is Complete!… sans optics