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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lightwave Research / High End Systems Viper Laser System

This is one of my favorite classic laser systems.  This is the Lightwave Research (Now High End Systems) Viper Laser System.  Lightwave Research produced 2 different laser systems in the past; the Laser Chorus and the Viper Laser System.  The Laser Chorus is the same system, but only has single beam output as the Viper has dual laser output.  All of the internal components are the same on both systems except adding a second set of galvanometers for scanning on the Viper system.  What Lightwave Research did to produce the dual output with the same laser source is by taking the tube and mounting it sideways (90 degrees off from the Laser Chorus) so it utilizes the outputs from both ends of the tube instead of only 1.   These lasers were available in 4 colors for both systems.  Red, yellow, orange and green were the choices for each head and each tube is rated around 4.95mW as that was the legal limit you could use without an FDA variance at the time these were produced.  This system currently has 3 red, 3 orange and 2 green tubes.  I plan to change the classic gas tubes to more current laser diodes for higher output from the unit at some point. 

How this system operates is that the laser heads receive power for the laser tube, digital signal for the scanning galvanometers and power for the blackout relays from the controller through a special 6 pin connection cable.  The controller features 32 different built-in programs and the ability to add 3 additional 64 step programs through the onboard memory function. A total of 12 Laser Chorus or Viper units could be operated from 1 dedicated 19” rack mount controller.  Sound activation is also available if an audio source is connected to the input on the rear of the unit.  Additionally you can trigger each laser head via touch panel or other analogue controller through the 2 - 8 pin analogue inputs on the rear of the controller.

Once the system is energized it takes a bit to fully power the laser tubes.  Once the system is turned on it remains on for the duration of the night / event / etc.  The laser heads feature beam stops so the tubes are not constantly turned on and off.  This is a simple piece of metal that is attached to a electric plunger assembly that is activated from the controller.  This blocks the light from reaching the galvanometers and emitting from the fixture.  When the beam stops are energized there is a yellow LED that is illuminated on the front of the Viper head showing the stops are in place.  There is also a red LED on the front of the Viper head.  The red LED shows that the laser tube is currently energized and ready for emission.  Also on the rear of the head are 2 small switches.  These invert the scanners so you can add another dimension to the light show as well as mount the head in any position and achieve symmetry on the light show.     

This set of lasers is the newer batch from Lightwave.  These have plastic chassis.  Many of the older units had heavy metal housings that looked exactly the same.  Another note is that some of the controllers have a Viper label on the front and some have a Laser Chorus label on the front.  Both are the same controller.  This system was made here in the US.