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DIY Pointer-To-Acu-Laser Modification

This DIY project converts an underpowered laser pointer into a low-powered


acupuncture laser. Cheap laser pointers are being sold in electronics retailers, but
also in office supply stores, convenience stores and even drug stores. Lasers emit
a high intensity beam of pure light. The light may be any color of the rainbow,
but red light (wavelengths between 630 – 680 nM) penetrates the skin most
easily. Low-power laser acupuncture has been available since the 1980s and
belongs to a group of non-invasive electronic acupoint (穴位) stimulation

technologies. Unlike acupuncture needles, acu-lasers do not inflict pain, but


occasionally a mild tingling sensation with high intensity lasers. Some
practitioners claim that certain wavelengths of red light penetrate deeper or are
more suitable for deep acupuncture stimulation, but the strength of the beam has
the greatest impact on efficacy.

I began testing laser pointers several years ago for stimulating acupoints and
healing itchy skin lesions from allergic reactions (mosquito bites) and low
humidity (dry skin), and discovered that the efficacy varied from device to device.
On closer examination of the product labels, I saw that laser pointers had
different power ratings and that the weaker ones fared less well as therapeutic
devices. Professional acupuncture lasers can be rated from 5mW (milliwatts) to
as high as 500mW, all grouped as Class IIIB lasers under the IEC standard. The
higher power units (100 to 500mW) penetrate tissue very deeply. On average,
therapeutic acu-lasers output less than 25mW. In the 1980s, the German
company MMB GmbH began selling a low-energy 2mW acu-laser. (See Popular
Science, Dec. 1980, Vol. 217, No. 6, p. 106.) The DIY acu-laser in this project
outputs about 5mW.
My own experience has been that class IIIa laser pointers rated for 4.5VDC power
supply and an output between 1mW and 5mW are the minimum devices for any
significant acupuncture effect. In the pictures above, the top device, a
Tradewinds class IIIa laser pointer, running on 4.5VDC (3 LR44 batteries) has
significant acupoint effect, whereas the Alpec class II pointer on the bottom
running on 3VDC (2 AAA batteries) has very little acupoint effect.

For this project, I modified the Alpec pointer to accept a higher voltage A23
battery to push the laser’s output to about 5mW. The Alpec’s rated light output is
less than 1mW. The A23 is 5/8 inch shorter than the AAA (1-1/8 inch vs. 1-3/4
inch). I made a simple battery adapter extending the length of A23 as a high
voltage AAA substitute. Both of the AAA batteries in the Alpec could be replaced
by two or even three A23 batteries, and theoretically, those mods could push the
laser’s output up between 8 and 12 mW. However, the Alpec design may not be
able to handle such an overload, and the laser diode could burn out.

This modification cannot be applied to all laser pointers. The battery


substitution will only work if the laser diode’s current regulation is a
simple resistor (not a complicated regulator circuit), and the only way to
know is to try it at the risk of destroying the laser diode.

The picture above shows the laser’s output before and after modification. The
“After” image indicates a brighter, more focused output. In fact, the picture does
not do the before/after comparison justice. The modified beam is much more
intense than the image suggests and is more powerful than the beam from the
TradeWinds pen. My favorite fast-test of laser is soothing itchy skin. The original
Alpec has no effect on itchy skin. The modded Alpec dulls itches with a 30-second
application.

Here’s my understanding of the math and science behind the modification.


Laser Output Power (mW) = diode current x diode voltage

The diode voltage is constant, so output power is directly proportional to the


current flowing through the laser diode.

If the diode’s current regulation is a simple resistor, then:

diode current = battery voltage / R, where R is the current resistor and is


constant.

Therefore, the laser output is directly proportional to the diode current, which is
directly proportional to the battery voltage.

The Alpec pointer is powered by 2 AAA batteries, which supply a total of 3VDC. If
one AAA battery is replaced by an A23 (a mini 12VDC battery), then the total
supply rises to 13.5V.

13.5VDC/3VDC = 4.5, so the Laser Output should now be: 4.5 x 1mW =
4.5mW.

Parts:
 1 Alpec Silver Spectra class II laser pointer
 1 A23 size 12V battery (see below for DIY alternative battery)
 1 7/8-inch length of 18 gauge copper wire
 1 strip 20 x 9/16-inch paper or several 9/16-inch wide strips totaling 20
inches
Laser Method:
1. This project replaces 1 AAA battery with 1 A23 battery and a form extender.
(See below for a DIY option for the A23 battery.) With mini pliers, bend the wire
into a U shape with an inside width of 9/16 inch.
2. Wrap the paper around the U core until the form measures 3/8 inch in
diameter. If connecting strips, secure the end of each strip with adhesive tape.
3. Secure paper form with a single strip of adhesive tape.

4. Insert the batteries in this order: AAA battery, A23 battery and the battery
extender.
Operation:

1. First and foremost, this acu-laser does an excellent job soothing itchy bug
bites and other allergic reactions. Secondly, below is a chart of a few commonly
used acupoints and a brief description of how they work. There are many online
acupuncture resources with comprehensive analyses and localization instructions
for each acupoint. DIY acupuncture treatment is akin to taking an aspirin. It
palliates the symptom, but does not necessarily dispel the underlying source of
disharmony. Only a professional can make diagnoses.

A single laser stimulates only one point at a time. Holding the laser on top of the
acupoint (resting on the skin) and perpendicular to the body (pointing directly
down into the acupoint), activate the laser for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

2. Acupuncture needles can be spun clockwise or counter-clockwise to tonify or


sedate an acupoint. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Of Internal Medicine advises:
“The basic strategy in acupuncture is to regulate the flow of qi by turning the
needle clockwise or anticlockwise to augment or diminish respectively.” (Kong,
Y.C., Huangdi Neijing: A Synopsis With Commentaries, p. 238.)
Tonification and sedation also work for acupuncture lasers. Hold the laser on the
skin over the acupoint. To tonify or strengthen a point, move the laser in a tight
clockwise circular motion (from the point of view of the patient). To sedate a
point, move the laser in a tight counter-clockwise motion.

My experience with this DIY laser has been that if an acupoint works for me, I will
notice an effect within 2 minutes. However, it’s not unusual to apply a low-power
laser on a point for 5 minutes or longer.

3. To locate an acupoint, place the laser on the skin at the approximate location.
Move the laser slowly over the general area until there is a relaxing effect. Then
tonify or sedate as described in #2.
Number Name Location Symptoms Affected

Nausea, heartburn,
vomiting,
depression, anxiety,
Near solar seizures, and
CV14 JuQue plexus palpitation.

Problems
swallowing, sore
Bottom of throat,
CV22 TianTu throat asthma,hoarseness

Head
GB7 QuBin temples Headaches

Depression,
Wrist psychosis, mania,
crease, insomnia, seizures,
HT7 ShenMen inner edge palpitations, anxiety

Clavicle,
either side Asthma, coughing,
K27 ShuFu of throat chest constriction

Between Facial pain,


thumb and toothache,
index headaches, stuffy
LI4 HeGu finger nose

Under Chest, shoulder or


either side back pain, coughing,
LU1 ZhongFu of clavicle digestion

Between
tendons on
forearm,
above Motion sickness,
wrist nausea, asthma,
PC6 NeiGuan crease chest pain, anxiety

SP16 FuAi Upper Abdominal pain,


abdomen, digestion
near
bottom of
ribcage

Periphery
of scalp, Headaches,
above dizziness, blurred
ST8 TouWei temples vision

DIY A23 Alternative Battery


The commercial A23 battery is manufactured by stacking eight 1.5-volt button
cells and wrapping them in a jacket. This DIY alternative stacks A13 button cells
inside a wrapper of masking tape. A13 cells have a diameter of 7.9mm. An AAA
battery has a diameter of 10.5mm. Any button cell between 7.9 and 10.5mm
could substitute for the A13.

The pictures show only 5 cells for a total of 7.5-volts, but stack as many as
desired. The A13 cells are taller than the internal cells of the A23, so the height of
the form extender above may have to be adjusted or the extender might be
omitted. For a thinner substitute, try 312 cells (3.6mm vs 5.4mm).

Parts:
 5 or more A13 button cells
 3/4-inch masking tape
1. Cut a strip of masking tape, longer than the height of the stacked cells. Center
the stacked cells on the sticky side of the tape.

Note: the cells must be stacked + to – or the top of one cell against the bottom
of the next.
2. Press the tape around the cells to hold them place. Wrap the cell with more
tape to secure the cells. Trim any excess tape.

Note: each cell must make electrical contact with the next cell in the stack. If the
battery doesn’t work, it may be necessary to tamp down on the stack to establish
continuity in the stack.

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