Very Cute Miniature-Neon Laser and Power Supply, 0.5 to 1 mW

Before there were diode lasers, there were barcode scanners which used HeNe lasers. Hand-held units also used HeNe lasers and smaller is of course better. This system is the laser from a very popular unit, the Metrologic MH290. More information on it can be found at Metrologic Model MH290 Hand-Held Barcode Scanner. It consists of one of the smallest HeNe laser tubes mass produced along with a power supply that runs on 12 VDC (will probably be fine on 10 to 14 VDC). The tube is a Melles Griot 05-LHR-002 (or equivalent) which is just over 5 inches in length by 3/4 inch in diameter. The power supply is a high frequency inverter which is conformal coated with some rubbery material but this can be removed with a bit of work if desired.

The actual HeNe laser tube may be from Melles Griot, Siemens, or Uniphase but they have the same specifications.

I have had no problems running these for a few minutes but a heatsink may be desirable for continuous operation as this wasn't needed in their original application. However, a virtually identical setup was used in the Metrologic ML811 HeNe laser based laser pointer which was designed for continuous operation.

To power these units, you will need a source of 12 VDC at around 0.5 A. This can be a wall adapter as long as the no-load voltage isn't higher than 14 or 15 V (my estimate - these seem fairly robust):

CAUTION: Double check your polarity - bad things happen if it is backwards!

The voltage on A and B can be left attached with the Enable switching the laser on and off. This is the way the barcode scanner operated.