DIY Maker Blog by Matt Morawiec
Mar 3 2014

Altoids Laser Pointer

Altoids Tin Can + Laser = Silly Laser Pointer


The Altoids tin can just begs to be worked into something fun. And it sure makes for a cool laser host!

Get the Parts

  • Host: Altoids Tin Can
  • Module: Fasttech "5mw" 532nm DPSS
  • Batteries: 1x 18650 Li-ion (Preferably Panasonic/Sanyo)
  • Other: 1x Switch, 24 guage silicone wire, Thermal Adhisive, Hot Glue

Prepare the Host

First, we need to prep the tin so that all the parts can be hidden inside it, to make it pretty! The two holes we need are for the switch and for the laser output. I used a small block of wood to prevent the metal from bending too much during drilling but it's a bit tricky to get a clean opening.

Make holes for switch & diode

Install the Components

First up is the press-switch. I soldered some lead wires and screwed the switch into the side of the case with a nut..

Switch in place

The module and the battery pack can be glued inside the tin, and as long as the you line up the hole and the end of the module, no special adjustments will be required. For these modules, which utilize an 808nm pump diode which can generate quite a bit of heat, it is recommended that you use some thermal adhesive to attach the module to the tin. In this way, the case can serve as a heatsink to dissipate some of the heat.

Positioning the components


This step can be done before or after positioning. To bypass the switch, solder a bridge over two of the pads on the contact switch. You can use the spring on the module as a negative contact. Solder one of the wires from the switch to the case pin on the diode. Do not leave the soldering iron the the diode pins for too long!

The positive battery terminal goes to the switch. The switch goes to the case pin. The negative terminal goes to the spring/base of the driver board.

Switch wires soldered to diode

Assemble and Test!

Insert an 18650 li-ion cell (any battery combination will work of 3v to 5v), close the tin, and test your laser. Be sure to observe the polarity of your power source.

Have fun! And be safe. Imported chinese DPSS modules are known to be overspec and emmit infrared radiation as well. Yes, it's bright but be careful!

It Works!