Modular He-Ne Laser Power Supply

Description and Schematic

SG-HM2 is a modular He-Ne laser power supply based on IC-HI1 with some minor enhancements. The first version is for laser tubes up to approximately 1 mW (2 mW with trivial modifications) but it should be straightforward to go to 5 mW or even higher power tubes by replacing the SG-HM2 HV Module (HVM2-1) with one with a higher voltage and current rating, along with a higher power MOSFET and minor component value changes to the Control Module (suggestions below). I have added an adjustment for tube current, a current limiting resistor and Zener to protect against output short circuits, an enable input (ground to turn on), a bleeder resistor to virtually eliminate the shock hazard after the power supply is turned off, and power and status LEDs.

  • Get the schematic for SG-HM2 (1 mW version) in PDF format:ย [download id=”5610″]

Modifying SG-HM2 for Higher Power He-Ne Laser Tubes

The following are guidelines for modifying SG-HM2 to drive various power He-Ne lasers. The PCB layout below with two versions of the HV Module should accommodate He-Ne laser tubes up to 10 mW. All assume input of around 12 V though a higher power system can generally run lower power lasers at reduced input voltage. If operation at rated power on another input voltage is desired, the number of turns on the inverter transformer can be adjusted accordingly. As noted above, the 1 mW HV Module (HVM2-1) should run tubes up to about 2 mW, though increasing the ยตF values of some of the HV capacitors may be desirable to reduce ripple at the higher tube current. Minor changes may also be needed in the components on the SG-HM2 Control Module including using a higher power MOSFET for Q1 and reducing the values of R7 and/or R8 for the higher tube current. Or, just populate the Control Module with Q1 being an IRF644, R7 being 150 ohms, and R8 being 750 ohms for compatibility with all the HV modules. For that matter, the HVM2-5 PCB HV Module should be usable with lower power lasers.

SG-HM2 Inverter Transformer

The inverter transformer for HVM2-1 is wound on a ferrite pot core with a small air-gap (about 0.005″). It is 18 mm in diameter by 11 mm high. While specified to use a 9 turn primary and 450 turn secondary, these values can be adjusted somewhat to handle various input and output requirements. Don’t go much lower on the primary as this may result in core saturation. The 9/450 transformer should be fine for 1 to 2 mW He-Ne laser tubes running on 8 to 15v DC input. With 9/300, it will operate on about 12 to 20v DC. Increasing the number of secondary turns (e.g., 9/600) may result in operation on a slightly lower input voltage, but probably not by much. The 9/450 transformer may even run He-Ne laser tubes larger than 2 mW but I haven’t yet tested this since I haven’t built a prototype of HVM2-5 as yet.

It doesn’t matter very much whether the primary (P) is wound first or the secondary (S) is wound first though the former appears to work slightly better, running the tube at about 8v DC input instead of 9v DC input for the same 9/450 transformer. P over S is slightly easier to wind since the primary doesn’t get in the way and increase the lumpiness of the secondary layers. However, with S over P, insulation is somewhat less critical since the HV lead is out away from anything else. With the P over S, additional insulation is needed between them. Also, since the primary coil is larger diameter, it will have more resistance and there will be greater inter-winding capacitance (though probably not significant). The secondary should be constructed as multiple layers of about 50 or 60 turns each, with insulating tape between layers. Each should be wound in as close to a single layer as possible with alternating layers staggered to prevent arc-over. This doesn’t have to be perfect but try to go gradually from one side to the other to keep wires at high relative potential away from each other. Make sure the HV output leads (particularly the one away from the dot) are well insulated as they exit the transformer. And, as noted, if the primary is over the secondary, there must be high voltage insulation between them. The peak output voltage when the MOSFET turns off (the flyback pulse) may be more than 5 times higher than what would be expected from the DC input voltage and the turns-ratio alone – several kV and this *will* try to find a path to ground! There are more detailed transformer construction instructions in the next section.

Note that this transformer is slightly larger physically than the one from IC-HI1. This is for two reasons: (1) It is easier to wind with more space and a larger wire size for the secondary, and (2) continuous operation should be possible with 2 mW laser tubes, which might have been marginal with the original transformer used in IC-HI1. A by-product of the larger core is that its 9 turn primary should be roughly equivalent to the 12 turn primary of the smaller core in terms of inductance and core saturation limitations.

Interestingly, a similar transformer found in a different commercial power supply, had no insulating tape anywhere. It would appear that with very precise machine-wound HV secondary, done first, the voltage is distributed so uniformly that this is unnecessary.

I’ve now built and tested several transformers in IC-HI1, removing the original transformer and installing socket pins so either the original or an adapter board can be plugged in. This setup is then equivalent to SG-HM2 with the HVM2-1 HV Module. The minimum input voltage values that follow are when driving a 0.5 mW He-Ne laser tube:

*The number of turns on the original (#1) is not really known exactly and may be lower or higher by up to 25 percent based on the measured secondary resistance (45 ohms) and estimated wire size (somewhere between #38 and #40. (Even with the larger wire, the amount of bobbin area taken up by the wire is less than 50 percent so it should fit even with many layers of insulating tape. The transformer is Epoxy impregnated and likely to be impossible to disassemble into any form that can be analyzed!)

All of these transformers will drive He-Ne laser tubes of up to at least 2.5mW using the equivalent of the HVM2-1 HV Module which is part of IC-HI1. Even with the 2.5mW tube, the minimum operating voltage was only about 0.5v higher than for the 0.5mW tube. There is a good chance they would drive even larger He-Ne laser tubes (though possibly at a slightly higher input voltage) but I don’t dare try using the existing HV circuitry as it might not survive for long. I suspect that transformers #4, #5, and #6 would run on an input voltage of less than 8v DC but the salvaged cores I am using have a larger air-gap than might be optimal and I don’t have anything to reduce it without heavy losses. They attempt to start the tube at around 6v DC but are unable to maintain it and flicker rapidly. (#2 and #3, which use the same style core, would also benefit somewhat.) Operation using #1 and #5 is virtually identical, with the original running at perhaps 0.5v DC less input. I expect they would be even more identical if the air-gap on #5 were smaller, and #6 with its smaller air-gap does indeed run at the lower input voltage. I haven’t actually confirmed that anything blows up above the maximum voltages listed above, which were arbitrarily chosen. But I am guessing that bad things might happen at some point. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have also constructed a transformer which will need to be used with HVM2-5: 12/1200, P over S, on a 30×19 pot core. I will also construct a 9/900. S over P, on a 30×19 pot core (or on a 26×16 if I can find one). Testing of these will have to await an HVM2-5 prototype.

SG-HM2 Transformer Construction

Here are details on construction of the inverter transformer for SG-HM2. With all parts and tools on hand, it takes about an hour start to finish. Only a small portion of this time is in the actual winding (at least if a coil winding machine is used). Most of the time is spent in adding the insulation tape and terminating the leads. After constructing a few of these, it does go quicker. ๐Ÿ™‚

Step-by-step instructions are provided for the HVM2-1 transformer. The changes needed for HVM2-5 are summarized at the end of this section. Some sort of coil winding machine is almost essential as #40 wire is extremely thin and easy to break. (Anything larger than #40 will not fit on the bobbin.) It doesn’t have to be fancy. Mine is probably 50 years old of the type that is (used to be?) advertised in the back of electronics magazines. However, a couple of spindles – one that is fixed or free to rotate for the wire supply and the other which can be turned for the coil being wound – are really all that are needed. Don’t use any sort of powered approach though (unless you have a *real* professional coil winder!) as it is all too easy to break the wire if there is no tactile feedback to detect snags.

  1. Parts required for T101 of HVM2-1:
    • 18×11 mm (1811) ferrite pot core with a small air-gap (no more than 0.005″) or no air-gap, and a single section bobbin. These are available from several manufacturers but surplus or salvaged cores may be easier to obtain. Radio Shack used to have a “ferrite kit” which included a variety of sizes of cores (only 1 each though so you’d have to buy two kits and there were no bobbins!). I doubt the kit still exists though.
    • Approximately 1.5 feet of #28 magnet wire for the primary (9 turns wound first) and approximately 60 feet of #40 magnet wire for the secondary (450 turns wound on top of the primary). I found both these size wire in various solenoids and relays I’ve discombobulated. ๐Ÿ™‚ Wire sizes aren’t critical but these are known to fit and the #40 can be handled with a reasonable chance of not breaking.
    • Sleeving to protect the primary wires where they leave transformer. I used approximately 2″ of insulation (each lead) from the individual wires in some 25 pair phone cable.
    • Wirewrap wire or other thin insulated wire to terminate the secondary wires where they leave the transformer.
    • Insulating tape. 1 mil Mylar or similar is desirable. However, I’ve found that thin clear (non-reinforced) packing tape does an adequate job, though it probably doesn’t have as much dielectric strength as real insulating tape so additional layers are required. It will also likely not stand up to overheating too well. Electrical tape is way too thick and would prevent enough turns from fitting.
    • A piece of Perf. board with holes on 0.1″ centers, 0.8″x0.8″. There should be 7 rows of holes each way so that one hole lines up in the center.
    • A Nylon 4-40 screw and nut to fasten the transformer to the board.
    • Four (4) machined-type IC socket pins or something similar to use as terminals.
  2. Wind the primary:
    • Slip a piece of sleeving over the start of the primary wire and position the sleeving so it extends about 1/2 turn inside the bobbin on the left side.
    • Wrap exactly 9 turns of this wire clockwise around the bobbin, left to right. The wires should enter and exit on the same angular position (slot) of the bobbin on opposite sides.
    • Slip another piece of sleeving over the wire end exiting the bobbin so that it too is about 1/2 turn inside the bobbin.
    • Wrap 1.5 to 2 turns of tape tightly over the primary winding to secure and insulate it.
  3. Wind the secondary:
    • Strip 1/8″ or so from the end of a 2″ piece of wire-wrap wire and solder the start of the wire for the secondary winding to it. Make sure the insulation on the fine magnet wire has been removed – usually just heating it while soldering will do this. Leave an inch or so of the magnet wire extending from the connection so that continuity can be confirmed with a multimeter, then snip it off. Install this in the opposite slot of the bobbin also on the left side with about 1/4″ of insulation inside the bobbin against the side and separated from the primary. Leave a little slack in the fine secondary wire so that slight motion won’t break it. Add a small piece of tape to protect and insulate this connection.
    • Using your coil winding machine (you do have one, correct?), build up the secondary in layers of about 50 to 75 turns in a counter-clockwise direction (bobbin being rotated clockwise). A single layer of wire won’t fit in the 1/8″ or so available (in the 18×11 mm core bobbin) so there will have to be some overlap. But, do this several times across the layer so that any given wire won’t be next to one with a much different voltage. In other words, wind a few turns and back up so that there will in essence be multiple sub-windings of 5 or 10 turns, repeated several times across the layer. Keep the wire at least 1/32″ away from either edge of the bobbin.
    • After each full layer or wire, add just over 1 layer of insulating tape making sure it covers the entire width of the bobbin. There should be just enough overlap to assure there is at least 1 layer of insulation but not much more as excessive tape will end up taking up too much space.The entire 450 turn winding will then require 6 to 9 full layers. Add another layer of insulating tape over the last winding layer leaving the wire end exposed.
    • Terminate the end of the secondary winding with another piece of thin wire by soldering as above. Confirm continuity with a multimeter. For the 450 turn secondary, the resistance should be about 60 ohms. Add a piece of thicker sleeving over this at the HV end if space is available. Else, use some bits of tape to insulate the wirewrap wire lead from the core and exposed inner layers that it may come near as it exits out the side of the bobbin. Add another layer of tape to secure the lead in place.
    • Add several more layers of insulating tape to complete the bobbin assembly.
  4. Prepare the mounting board:
    • Widen the center hole to 7/64″ to accommodate a 4-40 nylon screw.
    • Widen the holes at the 4 corners of the board to accept the 4 IC socket pins (if used) as a press-fit or glue them in place with 5 minute Epoxy or SuperGlue.
  5. Final assembly:
    • Install the ferrite pot core halves to the bobbin taking care not to crunch any of the wires. Orient it so that the primary and secondary leads are conveniently located with respect to the 4 pins, e.g., primary start: bottom left; primary end: top left, secondary start: bottom right; and primary end: top right.
    • Use the nylon 4-40 screw and nut to *gently* secure the transformer to the mounting board. The head of the 4-40 screw should be underneath the board. Don’t over-tighten or it may crack the core, especially if it has an air-gap in the middle.
    • Carefully remove the insulation from the ends of the wires. The secondary wires will still be fragile even with the wirewrap wire terminations. For the magnet wire, the easiest way to remove the insulation is to burn it off with a match or hot soldering iron and then clean with fine sandpaper.
    • Push the wires into their respective socket pins. (The wirewrap wires are too thin to be secure but they will make adequate contact for testing.)
    • Use a multimeter to confirm continuity of the primary (close to 0 ohms) and secondary (about 50 to 75 ohms).
  6. Testing:
    • Install the transformer in you HV Module. Attach a He-Ne laser tube and ballast resistor.
    • Power up on an variable DC power supply and check for reliable starting and stable operation. Adjust the core gap if needed. A smaller gap may result in more operating power available at a given input voltage. A larger gap will result in attempts to start on a lower input voltage. Somewhere around 0.005″ is probably a good compromise.
    • After testing the transformer (and adjusting the core gap if needed), use some adhesive to secure the pot core sections and to protect the transformer leads. Solder the leads into the socket pins.

The final result is shown on an adapter below:

Photo of SG-HM2 HVM2-1 Transformer being Tested in IC-HI1
Photo of SG-HM2 HVM2-1 Transformer being Tested in IC-HI1

The instructions for winding the HVM2-5 transformer are similar except for the dimensions, wire sizes and lengths, and number of turns for the primary and secondary:

  • Differences in parts list for T501 of HVM2-5 compared to T101 of HVM2-1:
    • 26×16 mm (2616) ferrite pot core with a small air-gap (no more than 0.005″) or no air-gap, and a single section bobbin.
    • Approximately 2.0 feet of #26 magnet wire for the primary (12 turns wound first) and approximately 75 to 120 feet of #40 magnet wire for the secondary (600 or 900 turns wound on top of the primary).
    • A piece of Perf. board with holes on 0.1″ centers, 1.0″x1.0″. There should be 9 rows of holes each way so that one hole lines up in the center.
    • A Nylon 10-32 screw and nut to fasten the transformer to the board.

Since the peak voltage on the HVM2-5 secondary may be 2 to 3 times higher than for HVM2-1, extra insulation and clearances will be required on the secondary.

SG-HM2 Printed Circuit Board Layout

A printed circuit board layout is also available. The Control Module is 2″x1.2″. The HV Modules are 3.6″x1.2″ and 4.5″x1.8″ for the 1 mW (HVM2-1) and 5 mW (HVM2-5), respectively. The Control and HV Modules are connected by a 2 pin cable for transformer drive and a 3 pin cable for current sensing from the laser tube. The two boards can easily be merged if desired.

The layout of the 3 PCBs may be viewed as a GIF file (draft quality) as below:

Sam's Modular He-Ne Laser Power Supply 2 PCB Layout
Sam’s Modular He-Ne Laser Power Supply 2 PCB Layout


A complete PCB artwork package for SG-HM2 (all PCBs on one sheet) may be downloaded in standard (full resolution 1:1) Gerber PCB format (zipped) as [download id=”5612″]

The Gerber files include the component side copper, soldermask, and silkscreen; solder side copper and soldermask, and drill control artwork. The original printed circuit board CAD files and netlist (in Tango PCB format) are provided so that the circuit layout can be modified or imported to another system if desired. The text file ‘sghm2.doc’ (in describes the file contents in more detail.

Note: The netlist does NOT include wiring for the HVM2-5 HV Module. Also, part numbers on the HVM2-5 PCB actually begin with a “5” instead of a “1” since Tango PCB will not allow duplicate part numbers on the same layout.

Magnets in High Power or Precision He-Ne Laser Heads

Effects of Magnetic Fields on He-Ne Laser Operation

If you open the case on a higher power (and longer) He-Ne laser head or one that is designed with an emphasis on precision and stability, you may find a series of magnets or electromagnetic coils in various locations in close proximity to the He-Ne tube. They may be distributed along its length or bunched at one end; with alternating or opposing N and S poles, or a coaxial arrangement; and of various sizes, styles, and strengths.

Magnets may be incorporated in He-Ne lasers for several reasons including the suppression of IR spectral lines to improve efficiency (such as it is!) and to boost power at visible wavelengths, to control its polarization, and to split the optical frequency into two closely spaced components. There are no doubt other uses as well.

The basic mechanism for the interaction of emitted light and magnetic fields is something called the ‘Zeeman Effect’ or ‘Zeeman Splitting’. The following brief description is from the “CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics”:

“The splitting of a spectrum line into several symmetrically disposed components, which occurs when the source of light is placed in a strong magnetic field. The components are polarized, the directions of polarization and the appearance of the effect depending on the direction from which the source is viewed relative to the lines of force.”

Magnetic fields may affect the behaviour of He-Ne tubes in several ways:

  • He-Ne tubes with long discharge paths will tend to amplify the (generally unwanted) IR wavelengths (probably the one at 3.39ยตm which is one of the strongest, if not the strongest of all lines) at the expense of the visible ones. The purpose of these magnets is to suppress spectral lines that do not contribute to the desired lasing wavelength (usually the visible red 632.8nm for these long tubes). As a result of the Zeeman Effect, if a gas radiates in a magnetic field, most of its spectral lines are split into 2 or sometimes more components. The magnitude of the separation depends on the strength of the magnetic field and as a result, if the field is also non-uniform, the spectral lines are broadened as well because light emitted at different locations will see an unequal magnetic field. These ‘fuzzed out’ lines cannot participate in stimulated emission as efficiently as nice narrow lines and therefore will not drain the upper energy states for use by the desired lines. The magnitude of the Zeeman splitting effect is also wavelength dependent and therefore can be used to control the gain of selected spectral lines (long ones are apparently affected more than short ones on a percentage basis).The Doppler-broadened gain bandwidth of neon is inversely related to wavelength. At 632.8nm (red) it is around 1.5 to 1.6 GHz; at 3,391nm (the troublesome IR line), it is only around 310MHz. A magnetic field that varies spatially along the tube will split and move the gain curves at all wavelengths equally by varying amounts depending on position. However, a, say, 100 or 200MHz split and shift of the gain curve for the 632.8nm red transition won’t have much effect, but it will effectively disrupt lasing for the 3,391nm IR transition.Without the use of magnets, the very strong neon IR line at 3.39ยตm would compete with (and possibly dominate over) the desired visible line (at 632.8nm) stealing power from the discharge that would otherwise contribute to simulated emission at 632.8 nm. However, the IR isn’t wanted (and therefore will not be amplified since the mirrors are not particularly reflective at IR wavelengths anyhow). Since the 3.39nm wavelength is more than 5 times longer than the 632.8 nm red line, it is affected to a much greater extent by the magnetic field and overall gain and power output at 632.8nm may be increased dramatically (25 percent or more). The magnets may be required to obtain any (visible) output beam at all with some He-Ne tubes (though this is not common).

    The typical higher power Spectra-Physics He-Ne laser will have relatively low strength magnets (e.g., like those used to stick notes to your fridge) placed at every available location along the exposed bore along the sides of the L-shaped resonator frame. They will alternate N and S poles pointing toward the bore. Interestingly, on some high mileage tubes, brown crud (which might be material sputtered off the anode) may collect inside the bore – but only at locations of one field polarity (N or S, whichever would tend to deflect a positive ion stream into the wall). The crud itself doesn’t really affect anything but is an indication of long use. And on average, tubes with a lot of brown crud may be harder to start, and require a higher voltage to run, and have lower output power.

    I do not know how to determine if and when such magnets are needed for long high power He-Ne tubes where they are not part of an existing laser head. My guess is that the original or intended positions, orientations, and strengths, of the magnets were determined experimentally by trial and error or from a recipe passed down from generation to generation, and not through the use of some unusually complex convoluted obscure theory. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The only thing I can suggest other than contacting the manufacturer (like any manufacturer now cares about and supports He-Ne lasers at all!) is to very carefully experiment with placing magnets of various sizes and strengths at strategic locations (or a half dozen such locations) to determine if beam power at the desired wavelength is affected. Just take care to avoid smashing your flesh or the He-Ne tube when playing with powerful magnets. Though the magnets used in large-frame He-Ne lasers with exposed bores aren’t particularly powerful, to produce the same effective field strength at the central bore of an internal mirror He-Ne tube may require somewhat stronger ones, though even these needn’t be the flesh squashing variety. And, magnets that are very strong may affect other characteristics of the laser including polarization, and starting and running voltage. Enclosing the He-Ne tube in a protective rigid sleeve (e.g., PVC or aluminium) would reduce the risk of the latter disaster, at least. ๐Ÿ™‚ If there is going to be any significant improvement, almost any arrangement of 1 or 2 magnets should show some effect.

    There may be an immediate effect when adding or moving a magnet. However, to really determine the overall improvement in (visible) output power and any reduction in the variation of output power with mode sweep, the laser should be allowed to go through several mode sweep cycles for 3.39 ยตm. These will be about 5.4 times the length of the mode sweep for 632.8 nm.

    CAUTION: For soft-seal laser tubes in less than excellent health (i.e., which may have gas contamination), changing the magnet configuration near the cathode may result in a slow decline in output power (over several hours) which may or may not recover. I have only observed this behaviour with a single REO one-Brewster tube, but there seems to be no other explanation for the slow decline to about half the original power, and then subsequent slow recovery with extended run time after the magnets were removed entirely. Possibly simply leaving the magnets in the new configuration would have eventually resulted in power recovery, but at the time the trend was not encouraging.

    (From: Lynn Strickland (

    “They’ve pretty much nailed the 3.39 micron problem on red He-Ne tubes these days so magnets really aren’t needed on them. Even the new green tubes don’t have much of a problem – especially since the optic suppliers have perfected the mirror coatings. All of the good green mirrors are now done with Ion Beam Sputtering (IBS), as opposed to run-of-the-mill E-Beam stuff.However, you’ll probably see a benefit from magnets to suppress the 3.39ยตm line on the older He-Ne tubes.”

  • While most inexpensive He-Ne tubes that produce linearly polarized light do so because of an internal Brewster plate and lasers with external mirrors have Brewster windows on the ends of the plasma tube, it is also possible to affect the polarization of the beam with strong magnets again using the Zeeman Effect.Where the capillary of the plasma tube is exposed as with many older lasers, and the magnets can be placed in close proximity to the bore, their strength can be much lower. A few commercial lasers (like the Spectra-Physics model 132) offered a polarization option which adds a magnet assembly alongside the tube. In this case, what is required is a uniform or mostly uniform field of the appropriate orientation rather than one that varies as for IR spectral line suppression though both of these could be probably be combined. However, the polarization purity with this approach never came anywhere close to that using a simple Brewster window or plate, found in all modern polarized He-Ne lasers.Also see the section: Unrandomizing the Polarization of a Randomly Polarized HeNe Tube.
  • Two-frequency He-Ne lasers are used in precision interferometers for making measurements to nanometer accuracy. With these, the Zeeman effect is exploited to split the output of a single frequency He-Ne laser into a pair of closely spaced optical frequencies so that a difference or “split” frequency can be obtained using a fast photodiode. The most common are axial Zeeman lasers that use a powerful magnetic field oriented along the axis of the tube. For these, the “split” frequency is typically between 1.5 and 7.5 MHz (though it could be much lower but not much higher). Transverse Zeeman lasers use a moderate strength field oriented across the tube and have split frequencies in the 100s of kHz range. To stabilize these lasers, either a heater or piezo element is provided to precisely control cavity length.

In principle, varying fields from electromagnets could be used for intensity, polarization, and frequency modulation. I do not know whether any commercial He-Ne lasers have been implemented in this manner.

But if magnets were not originally present, the only situation where adding some may make sense is for older longer or “other colour” He-Ne tubes where a series of weak magnets may actually boost output power by 10 to 25 percent or more. On the other hand, most non-Zeeman stabilized He-Ne lasers do NOT like magnets at all. Even a relatively weak stray magnetic field from nearby equipment may result in a significant change in behaviour. However, unless ferrous metals are used in the laser’s construction, any change will likely not be permanent.

Typical Magnet Configurations

Here are examples of some of the common arrangements of magnets that you may come across. In addition to those shown, magnets may be present along only one side of the tube (probably underneath and partially hidden) or in some other peculiar locations. I suspect that for many commercial He-Ne lasers, the exact shape, strength, number, position, orientation, and distribution of the magnets was largely determined experimentally. In other words, some poor engineer was given a bare He-Ne tube, a pile of assorted magnets, a roll of duct tape, and a lump of modelling clay, and asked to optimize some aspect(s) of the laser’s performance. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Transverse (varying field) – These will most likely be permanent magnets in pairs, probably several sets.Polarity may alternate with North and South poles facing each other across the tube forming a ‘wiggler’ so named since such a they will tend to deflect the ionized discharge back and forth though there may be no visible effects in the confines of the capillary:

    For some including the Spectra-Physics 120, 124, 125, and 127, the magnets are actually below and on one side. The objective is usually IR (3.39ยตm) suppression and the magnets are generally relatively weak (refrigerator note holding strength). Alternatively, North and South poles may face each other:

    With either of these configurations, after long hours of operation, there may be very pronounced brown deposits inside the bore that correlate with the pole positions.
  • Transverse (uniform field). Here, the objective is to achieve a constant field throughout the entire discharge:

    This configuration is found in two very different situations. Strong magnets were used in laser like the Spectra-Physics 132P to polarize the beam. Weaker magnets are used in transverse Zeeman two-frequency He-Ne lasers.
  • Axial – These will most likely be permanent magnet toroids (similar to magnetron magnets), though an electromagnetic coil (possibly with adjustable or selectable field strength) could also be used. Thus, the North and South poles will be directed along the tube axis:

    Other axial configurations with opposing poles or radially oriented poles may also be used or there may be a single long solenoid type of coil or cylindrical permanent magnet as for a two-frequency laser interferometer.
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Eberspacher Tent Heating System

The "Tenterspacher"
The “Tenterspacher”

I go camping on a regular basis here in the UK, and often even in summer it’s horribly cold at night in a field somewhere in the middle of Leicestershire. This doesn’t go too well with my severe aversion to being cold.
For the past several years I’ve used a Tilley lamp for some heat & light while at festivals & general camping, but it’s heat output is less than stellar when used in a 6-man tent.

An Eberspacher diesel heater was what was required for the job. Above is the unit as it’s built at the moment – I’ve used an old D1LCC 1.8kW heater that was recently decommissioned from nb Tanya Louise, as it’s getting a bit funny about what kind of fuel it’ll run on in it’s old age. It’ll work perfectly well on kerosene though – a fuel I already take with me camping for the Tilley.

It’s mounted on a base box, which is a repurposed steel electrical junction box that saw a previous life containing a 3-phase fan motor controller.

Data Plate
Data Plate

Here’s the info on the heater unit itself. Drawing 22W of power at 12v I’ll be getting 1.8kW of heat output – sounds good to me.


Box Internals
Box Internals

Here’s a view into the base box before the circulation fans were fitted, in early prototype stage. I used a small toroid as a clunk on the end of the rubber fuel line ๐Ÿ˜‰

Support Components
Support Components

After a few bits from the Great eBay arrived, here’s the internals of the base unit at present. The fuel tank is a repurposed 2L fridge water container – made of tough HDPE so it’s fuel resistant.
The fuel pump is mounted on the left side next to the tank – having been wrapped in some foam to deaden the continual ticking noise it creates. The exhaust & it’s silencer are mounted at the rear, the silencer being retained by a surplus rubber shock mount. Luckily the exhaust systems on these heaters don’t get particularly hot, so the rubber doesn’t melt.
The exhaust outlet is routed through the frame, to be attached to an external hose. I don’t want combustion gases in the tent with me!

Standard Eberspacher silencers also aren’t gas-tight from the factory – they’re designed to be used in the open on the underframe of a vehicle, so I’ve covered all the seams in aluminium tape to make the system airtight.


To make sure that the support components don’t get overheated with the exhaust being in such close proximity, and to pull a little more heat out of the system, a pair of slow-running 80mm fans has been fitted to the end of the box. These blow enough air through to give a nice warm breeze from the vents on the other end of the base.

Fuel Tank
Fuel Tank

The tank I’ve used just so happened to be the perfect size to fit into the base box, and to tap the fuel off a bulkhead fitting was put into the top of the tank, with a dip tube on the other side. The fuel line itself is tiny – only 4mm.
If the specifications from Eberspacher are to be believed, 2L of fuel on board will allow the system to run for about 8 hours on full power, or 16 hours on minimum power.

Being inside the base, refuelling is a little awkward at the moment, the heater has to completely cool before the exhaust can be detached without receiving a burn, so I’ll be building in a fuel transfer system from an external jerry can later to automate the process – this will also help to avoid messy fuel spills.

More to come when the rest of the system is worked out!

73s for now!