www.LaserFX.com Home Page - CLICK HERE

  Home Page >>> Backstage Area >> Newsletter > Virtual Visits - Spectronika

Search LaserFX.com - CLICK HERE Site Map - CLICK HERE
LaserFX.com Home Page
Backstage.LaserFX.com
Laser Safety
Laser Hobbyists
Laser Show Systems
Standards and Practrices
Laser F/X Newsletter

Introduction

World Scan

What's New

Special Reports

Virtual Visits

General Articles

Digest

 
Unclassified Ads
Business Issues
Laser Show Discussions
Archives and Download
Laser Show Resources
Updates Page - CLICK HERE
Member Services - CLICK HERE
LaserFX.com Banner Ads - CLICK HERE
About Laser F/X - CLICK HERE
Contact Us - CLICK HERE

Laser F/X On-line Newsletter - Virtual Visits

 

A Virtual Visit to Spectronika Ltd.

Spectronika Logo

 

    On the 7th Floor of the now faded former "National Optics and Laser Institute" in Sofia, Bulgaria, are the offices and factory of Spectronika Ltd. Started as a private company in 1992 after the former communist regime ended (1989), the company specialised in the manufacture of Copper vapour lasers for the domestic and Eastern bloc market but now exports world wide.
   The technology and the times have advanced and with the arrival of democracy in Bulgaria just over a decade ago, Spectronika is now the leading manufacturer of sealed off CV lasers.

Sign on the factory front door

    Most CV lasers require a flowing buffer gas such as Neon and frequent replacement of the depleted copper as well as water cooling. The Spectronika laser uses a sealed off tube design with integrated optics allowing the tube to be treated as if it were a "light bulb" and replaced after 800-1000 hours of operation. Replacement tubes are inexpensive and can be installed by anyone with electronics experience in under an hour as they require no optical alignment.
   
The laser delivers 5 watts of 20Khz pulsed output power in an air cooled package that consumes only 220-250 VAC at 8 amps. The beam has a light green colour but can be split with a dichro into emerald green [510.6 nm] and gold [578.2 nm] colours. The integrated head and power supply weighs a mere 45 Kg/ 99 Lb. and measure 1100 X 360 X 250 mm.
Due to the brightness factor of CV lasers [2X], the beam appears as bright to the eye as a 10 watt argon laser making this laser ideal for beam effects with high brightness, from an air-cooled package using low AC input power at a very reasonable price. One can even operate the laser from two standard 115 VAC North American U-ground wall outlets using a spider box, while it plugs directly into a standard 250 Vac 50Hz European style outlet.

Mariana Gosheva, C.E.O. of the company deals with the daily paperwork
In the administrative offices of Spectronika, Mariana Gosheva, C.E.O. of the company deals with the daily paperwork.

    The manufacture of the lasers is done by a small team of dedicated professionals using old fashioned craftsmanship coupled with modern digital technology. The laser tubes are carefully constructed by hand in the tube department using the almost dying craft of glass blowing. The tube is shaped with a series of "dimples" on the bottom to hold the Copper halide which is heated and subjected to a pulsed high voltage arc to dissociate and lase the copper atoms.

Danny Cvetkov Forming the tube
Danny Cvetkov Forming the tube that will be attached to the vacuum system and later sealed off when the tube has been pumped down.

    After the tube has been formed, the ends are precision ground and cut, the copper halide is inserted into the tube and the windows are installed. The tube is then placed on a vacuum station for pumped down for several hours. Once the tube has reached vacuum, a small quantity of buffer gas is introduced to facilitate the conduction of the high voltage arc between the electrodes.

Tubes installed on the pumping station
Tubes installed on the pumping station

    The tube is then heated with electrical heaters to melt the copper halide into the dimples along the bottom. Once this is completed, the tube is fired with an extra heavy duty power supply and the high reflector [mounted directly to the tube] is aligned. This means that no realignment of the optics is required when the tube is changed. The tube is allowed to "cook" for some hours to remove any remaining impurities within.

A newly pumped tube is aligned and lased on the vacuum station
A newly pumped tube is aligned and lased on the vacuum station

    The Spectronika tubes have an almost unlimited shelf life as they do not suffer from the "gas clean up" typical of Ion lasers as there is no pressurised gas to seep into the walls of the bore - which in this case, is glass rather than ceramic. The limit on the life span of the tube is imposed by the amount of copper available for lasing and the gradual erosion of the copper electrodes during operation by the high voltage arc within the tube.

Racks of tubes await installation into lasers
Racks of tubes await installation into lasers

    The optical windows and high reflector for the lasers are custom manufactured to Spectronika's exacting standards by an associated facility in the same building. The optics lab also manufactures the mirrors and dichroics used in the basic projector built by Spectronika for the domestic club/disco market. The precision mounting for the high reflector is made in Spectronika's own machine shop while some of the metalwork is done in an outside laser cutting facility.

osef Elenkov checks the dimensions of a newly assembled high reflector
Josef Elenkov checks the dimensions of a newly assembled high reflector in the Optics department

    The laser is an integrated unit with tube and power supply in one unit. Inside the laser, the tube is actually mounted in an oven to keep it at the approximately 350 to 450 C needed to vaporise the copper halide. There is a preliminary heater used during the start up cycle to pre-heat the tube, and a precision heater to keep the tube at the correct operating temperature during lasing - both are digitally controlled for precise temperature regulation. The laser takes about 10 minutes to warm up to full power and is cooled with 4 small muffin fans so is virtually silent in operation. The system is ruggedly designed so that even in the event of a power failure, it will not be damaged by lack of fan cooling.

Construction of the lasers begins with the assembly of power supply components onto the frame
Construction of the lasers begins with the assembly of power supply components onto the frame

    The power supply section of the laser appears deceptively simple but is actually a complex digital system which generates extremely high pulsed voltages in the 9 -10 kV range. The Logic card controls the generation and timing of the pulses delivered to the high voltage transformer. The high voltage pulses are precisely shaped and timed by the thyratron to deliver nanosecond high voltage pulses to the laser tube.

Cyril Todorov Spectronika's electronics specialist adjusts the timing of the high voltage pulses on a new laser
Cyril Todorov Spectronika's electronics specialist adjusts the timing of the high voltage pulses on a new laser

    Spectronika currently offers a 5 watt model which usually outputs a bit more than 5 watts, especially in the North American market due to the 60 Hz AC power. Spectronika is presently working on a new model which will offer 10 watts of power in a similar air-cooled package. The prototype model has so far yielded 12 watts for brief periods however the power supply is being re-designed to allow for continuous operation at high power and the new laser will not be available until late in the first quarter of 2001.

Testing the new colliminator
Testing the new colliminator which compresses the beam to 7 mm diameter with no spherical or chromatic aberration


    Spectronika presently offers a very basic club/disco projector for the domestic market which has a pair of DC motor based X-Y scanners (one each for gold and green) and a sound activated grating effect. Inspired by the shows and effects seen at Laser F/X 2000, they are hard at work designing a new DMX controlled laser projector aimed at the low-end club/disco and mobile market. The new projector offers "western" style effects such as a beam table, but using low-cost "eastern" style technology based on stepper and microprocessor controlled DC motors.
    Also in the R&D stage is a large aperture fibre optic beam delivery system which will deliver the beam in a 3-4 mm diameter, which is more useful with conventional laser show projectors, and with lower divergence than offered by the raw laser beam.

Dimitar Atanasov Spectronika's high voltage engineer, Cyril Todorov and L. Michael Roberts discuss details of the new power supply design
Dimitar Atanasov Spectronika's high voltage engineer, Cyril Todorov and L. Michael Roberts discuss details of the new power supply design

    While in Bulgaria, we were treated by our hosts to some of the tourist sights and tasty cuisine of the country. Visit the Bulgaria Tourism page for pictures from our trip.

 

Laser Specifications

    Spectronika lasers offer high power output, air-cooling, unique colours with a brightness factor of 2X, low AC power consumption, integrated head and power supply in a package that weights just under 100 Lbs. [45 Kg], at a very reasonable price.

Spectronika 5 watt, air-cooled, CV laser

  • Average power - 5 W
  • Wavelength - 511 nm; 578 nm
  • Green/Yellow (gold) ratio - 1.4/1
  • Pulse duration - 30 ns (FWHM - Green: - 20 ns; Yellow: - 20 ns)
  • Peak power: - 8.8 kW (Estimate by the average P = 5 W, f = 19 kHz and pulse length 30 ns (FWHM)).
  • Pulse repetition rate - 19 -20 kHz
  • Beam diameter - 14 mm
  • Divergence - 2.0 mrad (full angle)
  • Pointing stability - 0.2 mrad typically
  • Power drift - less than 2 % absolute
  • Line voltage - 220 VAC (5%) 50/ 60 Hz
  • Readiness time - approximately 10 minutes to full power
  • Maximum power consumption - 1.5 kW [220-250 VAC, 7.5 Amps, 50/60 Hz]
  • Dimensions - 1100 x 360 x 250 mm

 

DISCLAIMER: Some of the information in the Backstage area is provided by the persons or companies named on the relevant page(s). Laser F/X does NOT endorse or recommend any products/services and is NOT responsible for the technical accuracy of the information provided.  We provide this information as a service to laserists using the Backstage area. 

[ Introduction | World ScanWhat's New | Special Reports | Virtual Visits | General Articles | Digest ]

 

1996-2008 Laser F/X International and LaserFX.com - All rights reserved.
Logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners - used by permission.