We present plans for the construction and operation of a tapered optical amplifier (TA) system seeded by a single-mode, frequency-tunable, near-IR external-cavity diode laser. Our plans include machine drawings for the parts, electronic circuit diagrams, and information on prices and vendors. Instructions are provided on how to safely couple light into and out of the TA chip. Practical aspects of handling the chip are discussed as well. Because many cold atom experiments require light beams with Gaussian spatial profiles, measurements of the tapered amplifier light output through a single-mode optical fiber are presented as a function of seed intensity, polarization, and driving current.

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