Thursday, January 19, 2017

fresnel lens 2

I had written in fresnel lens about wanting to determine the focal length of a large Fresnel lens removed from an old rear projection television. I want to know the focal length to design a mount to aim the lens at a fire-proof adjustable work table in a safe manner.

I am using laser pointers to see where the light beam is bent. I have a measurement for each lens but I am confused about which side of the lens to point toward the sun. I am seeing an unusual effect that I wanted to explore further.

The simple test setup I was using showed me that I was on the right track but I realized that I could improve the setup to make the measurement more accurate and repeatable.

This is a picture (click to enlarge) of my temporary wood shop optical bench setup. There is one Fresnel lens lying flat on the left table. You can see the circular rings. The other is hanging vertically between the two tables. I have made some improvements which I'd like to tell you about.

I would like to use one of my lenses to construct a solar concentrator, primarily to fuse materials. An example by Dan Rojas of Green Power Science. Grant Thompson "the King of Random" shows how to remove the lens from the donor set.

A very thorough article on using Fresnel lenses for communications purposes.

I had read an instructable which suggested using two laser pointers resting on chairs. I am trying to use the same concept but using a more stable setup. I had some difficulty following the laser beam when I was manually holding the pointer.

As before I am using two benches with the lens suspended between them. Previously, the benches were about the same height. Now one bench is about 1 inch shorter in height. This difference allows space for a sliding cart to hold the laser pointers. The cart rides in a track so that I can smoothly move the laser pointer across the front of the lens.

There are two laser pointers on the cart. The yellow emits a red dot and the black emits a green dot. The pointers are held to the cart with hot glue. The height of the pointers is adjusted before gluing with a pair of tapered shims under each pointer to bring the dot high enough so that it just skims the out table top. If you enlarge the picture, you will notice the red laser dot just at the tabletop height of the out table (the higher one).

The red pointer has a rocker switch which allows it to stay ON. I must hold the button on the green pointer to keep it on.

A view of the side of the cart and it's track. The track is not fastened to the table and may be lined up parallel with the lines I have marked on the tabletop at 5, 10 and 15 inches back from the lens. The lens is on the left side.

You'll notice I haven't got the fronts of the laser pointers at the same distance but I don't think it matters. I have been using only one of the pointers at a time, not both of them. They are fixed down, the button on the green is over the beam so it is less tipsy and they can be slid easily.

I have the sheet to be tested hanging level with its focus (the center of the Fresnel pattern) at table top height (the height of the out table). I have two short strips of wood with hook eyes in the ends that I clamp to each side of the sheet.

In this way, I can easily unhook the sheet and reverse it so that I can send the beam into either the Fresnel side of the sheet or the smooth side. It is necessary to move the out table away to make some space to flip the lens. Normally I push the tables together to clamp hold flat the Fresnel lens at the desired height.

Here are my results so far (shown also in the first picture above):

Fresnel lens focal length
38x29in (96.5x73.7cm) Lens A30.5in (77.5cm)
35x27in (88.9x68.6cm) Lens B28.0in (71.1cm)

Note that my results are with the Fresnel surface of each lens facing the laser pointer (the top of the two illustrations).

I thought the lens performance would be approximately equal in the two orientations. In my observation, the determination of the focal length is less clear when the smooth surface of each lens is facing the pointer. I will do some more work and report shortly.

Thanks for your interest.

George Plhak
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada

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