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Thread: What can laser power do

  1. #1
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    Default What can laser power do

    I know different lasers have their own features of what they can do. I looked a bit on the web and pulled together some figures of what different power ranges can do.

    This assumes green, but I would think red could do the same.
    Below are some of the pages and what they say each can do. It would be nice to have a table with some more figures, even the 10W and up.
    We can start with 5mW, and put in figures about safety as well.

    I know that every laser is different. So I'm just looking for somewhat general here. We can assume 5mW won't burn through concrete, so that's a generality.

    This would be useful to have something that people can use, since it gets asked quite a bit here, what can "such and such" a laser do.


    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/lights/8a39/
    10mW
    Crazy Bright
    Visible for 20,000 ft


    http://www.megalaser.com/
    40mW
    Visible in the Dark
    10 Mile Projection

    120mW
    20 Mile Projection
    Beam visible with ambient light
    Dot visible on clouds at night
    Burns / Melts Black rubber and plastic
    ignites matches / pops balloons

    http://www.dansdata.com/nexus.htm
    95mW Nexus
    Burn foam packaging
    slowly cut red/black electric tape
    Can smoke match, but not light
    Stings skin after a few seconds

    http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/feature/g...ser-233824.php
    ? mW Spyder II
    Burn hole in dry leaf
    Can't pop popcorn

    http://the-gadgeteer.com/review/tech...mw_green_laser
    125mW
    See beam faintly in daylight
    ~36 miles visibility (probably false)
    Pop balloons from several feet
    Cut Electric tape
    light matches
    melt rubber and some plastics

    400mW http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/20/h...-a-mere-3-000/
    Hercules 400
    Burn through cardboard and thick plastic

  2. #2
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    HI, While I appreciate your enthusiasm there is not one single shred of quantifiable information listed.

    All those "specifications" that are reprinted from those sites is 100% marketing clap trap. It is solely intended for the 'Laz0rz are teh c00l' crowd. "Burn hole in dry leaf
    Can't pop popcorn" has to be the the most nonsensical laser power description I have ever heard.

    I can not come up with one single justifiable use of a 300mw green pointer. They have limited run times, poor thermal design, most are shoddily manufactured, most illegal under cdrh, usually a crappy beam, lots leak ir and are nothing more than a toy, the problem is, lasers are not toys. I don't consider popping balloons or lighting a match to be a justifiable use.

    Now I do not expect everyone to enjoy doing the things that I like to do with lasers but the problem is these are the same idiots who are lasing aircraft and cops. It is morons like this the are the reason I have to show ID to buy a can of spray paint.

    Companies like wicked lasers are just encouraging, and compounding this.

    I have read your posts and I am a little concerned that you might be falling int the same boat. You want to duct tape a 300- to 500 mw portable laser to a 20 foot pole and Willy nilly blast it around the city. Now you want build a little display system for your buddy's band and do illegal, non varianced shows with a class 3b borderline class4 laser.
    I am really happy that you are interested in laser. I will answer any questions that you have to the best of my ability as will lots of other great and knowledgeable people around here. But is clear to me that you do not respect the device that you are getting and it is just a toy to pop balloons with, your own lazer ray gun.

    I really am not an asshole, this just happens to be one of the things that really annoy me. Here in the USA we are already regulated to the point that it almost destroyed the laser industry completely. Laserium is gone as well as laser fantasy, AVI, Light speed design.

    This is not a pointer forum and you find that 99% of people here could care less if you can "Burn foam packaging,
    slowly cut red/black electric tape" with a hand held laser.

    Sorry, just calling it like I see it.

    Chad


    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.


  3. #3
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    Hi Chad,

    Thanks for responding. I figured much of what was listed was marketing hype. I think the popcorn one was a little strange, but it made me chuckle a bit.

    I wasn't trying to focus on pointers specifically, but it seems the sites I chose focused on that. I was wanting to address the many questions people ask about what such and such a laser can do.

    About the duct tape, I never suggested that. Someone else commented on it. I would have used a bracket made for that purpose. I didn't mention it, but the laser I am ordering will have adjustable power.

    About doing laser shows, I was mainly getting advice. It's good that you pointed out about needing a variance. I wouldn't have done things like that without asking more informed people first. Since I don't even have that laser or a projector yet, I am using the time to read up on safety and such, beyond just the common sense basics like safety goggles.

    While I think lasers are cool, I do understand how they work. That was my research, and I did work with a 1W argon for about 4 years. However, I was not versed in the legal side of running a show and such.

    I'm wondering why you said "I do not respect the device". I'm making sure it has a key interlock, a tail interlock, adjustable power, and will have safety goggles.

    Thanks for clearing up my impression of the forum. I didn't realize before that most don't care what a laser can burn. I think in my life I've maybe burned one or two things with a laser. It looses it's interest quite quickly.

    The main reason though I ordered this was in preparation for my masters in Physics, where I will study lasers and E&M. The price was pretty good, basically at cost, so it was hard to turn down a good buy.

    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    HI, While I appreciate your enthusiasm there is not one single shred of quantifiable information listed.

    All those "specifications" that are reprinted from those sites is 100% marketing clap trap. It is solely intended for the 'Laz0rz are teh c00l' crowd. "Burn hole in dry leaf
    Can't pop popcorn" has to be the the most nonsensical laser power description I have ever heard.

    I can not come up with one single justifiable use of a 300mw green pointer. They have limited run times, poor thermal design, most are shoddily manufactured, most illegal under cdrh, usually a crappy beam, lots leak ir and are nothing more than a toy, the problem is, lasers are not toys. I don't consider popping balloons or lighting a match to be a justifiable use.

    Now I do not expect everyone to enjoy doing the things that I like to do with lasers but the problem is these are the same idiots who are lasing aircraft and cops. It is morons like this the are the reason I have to show ID to buy a can of spray paint.

    Companies like wicked lasers are just encouraging, and compounding this.

    I have read your posts and I am a little concerned that you might be falling int the same boat. You want to duct tape a 300- to 500 mw portable laser to a 20 foot pole and Willy nilly blast it around the city. Now you want build a little display system for your buddy's band and do illegal, non varianced shows with a class 3b borderline class4 laser.
    I am really happy that you are interested in laser. I will answer any questions that you have to the best of my ability as will lots of other great and knowledgeable people around here. But is clear to me that you do not respect the device that you are getting and it is just a toy to pop balloons with, your own lazer ray gun.

    I really am not an asshole, this just happens to be one of the things that really annoy me. Here in the USA we are already regulated to the point that it almost destroyed the laser industry completely. Laserium is gone as well as laser fantasy, AVI, Light speed design.

    This is not a pointer forum and you find that 99% of people here could care less if you can "Burn foam packaging,
    slowly cut red/black electric tape" with a hand held laser.

    Sorry, just calling it like I see it.

    Chad

  4. #4
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    Smile

    Chad, you made some *good* points, and I'm thankful that you stepped up to the plate. It's never fun to be the guy that has to crush another member's dreams. (Well, maybe that's a bit harsh, but you know what I mean...)

    Nanowatt;

    Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not attacking you with this, and neither is Chad. But you do seem confused about his reaction, and the limited response you've received to your other posts. Allow me to explain why I believe this is so.

    Your 4 years of research with that 1 watt argon really should have included a good bit of instruction about laser safety. Yet you seemed surprised when goggles were mentioned in your other thread. (The one where you were talking about the 300 mw portable laser you wanted to buy.) That suggests (to me anyway) that you might not be quite as familiar with lasers (and laser safety) as you think you are. There's no shame in this. People aren't born with this knowledge, so please don't take it as an attack. But it's something that is *vitally* important.

    The purpose of this forum is to help people get into lasers safely. Granted, we are also concerned about the threat of increased regulation in the industry, and that sometimes puts us at odds with some of the more "adventurous" hobbyists. (Mostly, the souped-up laser pointer crowd that Chad referred to in his post.) The fact that you seemed eager to follow in the path of those "pointer jockeys" is what prompted some of the initial comments about your proposed laser purchase.

    Your comments about trying to use the laser to do some laser shows "on the cheap" for your friend's band was another warning. Laser shows are *expensive* to book because it takes a lot of work to do a show right. It takes good equipment, good planning, lots of knowledge, and a good bit of regulatory approval. That all costs money. But to suggest that you were seriously considering doing a laser show (where the laser would need to be on for several hours) using a portable, hand-held laser, with little or no training... Well, that's really out in left field. It sets off all sorts of alarms, mostly related to safety and due diligence (or the lack thereof).

    Again, this is no reason to feel ashamed. People aren't born knowing about the regulations related to laser projectors and laser shows. True, given your previous experience with lasers in the lab it does seem odd that you weren't at least tangentally aware of these regulations, but nevertheless, you came here for more information on the subject, and that is a good thing.

    But then you also started talking about using your laser in an open-air environment to align an antenna. That's really risky in my opinion. Then you posted the above information about how some laser pointer manufacturers make claims about what their pointers can burn. That information is in the realm of the pointer jockey crowd, not the responsible hobbyist or professional laserist. (We'd rather they quote output power in mw at a specific wavelength, and back it up with beam diameter and divergence info.)

    You probably noticed how the replies to your other posts sort of died away. I believe the main reason was because a lot of folks assumed that you were pursuing the pointer jockey dream, and their advice was falling on deaf ears. Perhaps that judgment was premature, but it certainly appeared that you were well on your way down that path.

    Truthfully, in my opinion the very idea of using a 300 mw laser in open air to align a line-of-sight antenna is risky at best, and downright reckless at worst. However, so long as there is no commerce involved, it's likely that the CDRH won't have jurisdiction over this use. (Now, they certainly *would* have something to say about importing a portable laser that is capable of > class 3A limits, unless that laser comes with an accession number, which I'll bet it doesn't.)

    Nevertheless, it may be considered an unsafe stunt by local officials, including the police and the fire marshal. (Not to mention the FAA.) Thus, before I would ever attempt such a thing, I'd have a good long chat with these folks. And before that, I'd make sure that *I* had my ducks in a row re: safety and risks. And I fear that you do not yet have the information you need to be prepared for that chat...

    This is what I believe Chad was referring to when he said that you don't appear to respect the device. It's not a slam, it's an observation. And yeah, most people here aren't really into burning things with their lasers. Though I'm sure everyone here has burned something with a laser (or at least tried it) at least once, after you've done it once or twice it's old hat. Most of us here are into lasers either for artistic reasons (laser shows), or for technical reasons (we love lasers and what we can make them do), or both. But that is pretty far removed from the pointer jockey crowd.

    Anyway, I hope you stick around and continue to ask questions. There is a lot of information available here; we've got some incredibly smart members that can help you get into the hobby safely. And don't be put off if we sound like we're harping on you about safety. There is a good reason for it. (Several, actually.)

    And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to buy a portable hand-held laser, it really makes for a *lousy* first laser. Add to that the controversy surrounding portable lasers that are above the class 3A limits, and you can see why people are trying to talk you out of the deal.

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by chad View Post
    ...this just happens to be one of the things that really annoy me. Here in the USA we are already regulated to the point that it almost destroyed the laser industry completely. Laserium is gone as well as laser fantasy, AVI, Light speed design....Sorry, just calling it like I see it.
    Chad (and Adam..)

    A-MEN!!!(just too bad this is as BIG as I can make this text - it SHOULD fill the WHOLE PAGE!!!)

    Chad - you should REALLY enjoy this thread, about this very CORE-issue - it's long, but quite animated, and has a 'happy' (well, silly at least ) ending...

    http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ead.php?t=3762

    ...ONLY exception to your post is the good news that LASERIUM is NOT 'gone' (not 'OOB' -yes NOT at Griffith, but they still do shows in their studio in VanNuys) AND - BEST OF ALL - Laserium is 'coming back' to the world, in a BIG, PUBLIC venue again, in 2008... and will be more mind-blowing than ever...stay tuned! ...and yes, they will need SHOW TECHS / LASERISTS!! WooHoo!!

    Nano - you should read ALL of the linked info in THIS post -

    http://www.photonlexicon.com/forums/...ead.php?t=3452

    PM-me if you need some 'practical' advice / help 'decoding' this stuff..yes, it's a LOT to digest, but THAT'S THE LAW, my friend! (and don't worry, with time, patience, perseverance (and LOTS of great help from PL!) you CAN do safe, LEGAL and even profitable shows) - and have FUN!

    PS - I can ALSO share with you several ACCOUNTS (not stories, that might be embellished / exaggerated - FACTUAL ACCOUNTS) of a few of those types of 'MORONS' Chad mentioned that skirted, even IGNORED the LAWS, and have ended up with HEAVY FINES (ie $15,000.00) AND a nice lawsuit for BLINDING someone, to the tune of $750,000.00 - yes, read it again, that's not a typo. And then go read those linked-pages. All of them.

    PPS - Adam - Thumbs up, bro - slight PS / 'fortification' to your post (Nano - pay attention - this bud's for YOU! )

    Quote Originally Posted by Buffo View Post
    However, so long as there is no commerce involved, it's likely that the CDRH won't have jurisdiction over this use.
    Well, based on this...
    1. Class IIIb and class IV laser light show projectors, identified as such on the label, may only be sold by or to individuals or firms with current, approved laser light show variances from FDA. Laser products that are advertised as uncertified components may only be sold to other manufacturers and may not be sold to the public for general use.
    ...taken, in part, from: (ALSO a must-read link..) http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/radhealth/pr...netlasers.html

    So, in other words, UNTIL YOU, Nano, (the public) become a VARIANCED Laser Light Show MANUFACTURER (which means, if you buy OR build a laser show projector to 'MAKE' shows with, no matter HOW 'simple', YOU ARE considered a MANUFACTURER) you should not even be able to BUY a Class III - IV LASER!! THAT is the POINT OF COMMERCE that should be the STOPPING point - manufacturers / distributors of lasers / laser products, SHOULD be selling you a laser WITH PROOF of Variance as a MANUFACTURER - OR - Variance-assistance WITH purchase ONLY. But it is so weakly enforced in the US, that shameless capitalist-pigs, like 'wicked lasers', 'dragon lasers', et al. take advantage of it - to EVERYONE, but their BANK ACCOUNTs' detriment. Yes, you CAN buy a 'non-compliant' ' OEM' laser - but what is the POINT of the regs on laser PROJECTORS - protecting people from the galvos?? Obviously, its' the LASER.

    Nano, gotta do the 'homework' first, buddy! you might also want to read these links:

    http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/radhealth/products/lpm.html

    http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/comp/guidance/1349.html

    peace...
    - J
    Last edited by dsli_jon; 01-15-2008 at 19:02.
    ....and armed only with his trusty 21 Zorgawatt KTiOPO4...

  6. #6
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    soforene is offline The Troll formerly known as Herbert Von Poople-Futtocks
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    Blimey !
    All this talk of regs and Variance's makes me glad to be in good ole Blighty.
    We have enough rules and regs to last a lifetime but luckily for us, lasers and their use are still pretty much under the radar.

    Let's hope that Chav's don't get interested in 'em.............

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    Jon, I did look at one of the links so far. It has a link for Rockwell to register laser devices. Since that laser as mentioned, probably won't have the accession number attached to it, it might be hard to. Anyway, their fees in Texas just to register a laser for specific use are $2,000 - $10,000. These mainly are medical. This is more than 5X the cost of the laser itself. I won't be making money with it, so I need to look into how this registration works.

    Buffo, thank you for the clearer explaination. I have already paid for the laser as part of the group buy which was $417 total (at around 200-300mW). I asked them about the costs to add in TEC to make it run longer. I understand this is not a suitable laser show laser. The price was very good, so it was hard to turn down.

    I will stay out of the laser show market based on what I know now. There's a lot of responsibility. I believe when doing the laser research, safety was covered. I understand the importance of goggles, so maybe I wasn't so clear in how I responded. Sometimes I don't give a whole lot of thought to what I write, and that can be a problem.

    Chad, I do appreciate what you have said. I'm sure this thread will help others. I actually have been satisfied with the responses I have received in my other threads. I never had the thought "people aren't responding to my threads" so I thought everything was OK until you let me know.

    I'm not a member of the laser pointer forum. I didn't really like their layout.

    It might be nice to be around laser shows without having to own the equipment, or run the show. Mabye I should look into the ILDA stuff, just to keep up to date on it.
    Last edited by nanoWatt; 01-16-2008 at 05:40.

  8. #8
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    One more question,

    Using the adjustable power, if I start at 5mW and turn it up slowly enough until I have just enough power for the job (like aligning the antennas), would that be the safest way of making it work? I will be using the laser in this way very few times. I need to revisit one customer's antenna. For all I know, 10mW might be enough to see the beam 1/4 mile away to determine height.

    I'm now wondering what people here do with their green lasers besides shows, and possible crystal research like I did before. I could make some cool effects using mirrors in lower power mode. I can see that I most likely won't be using the laser at its full power. I can't see a reason to.
    Last edited by nanoWatt; 01-16-2008 at 08:10.

  9. #9
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    Cool

    Who will be at the other end of the link looking for the beam? Will they be up in the air where they could be exposed to the beam, or will they be standing on the ground looking for the spot as it reflects off the tower? Will you be moving up and down the tower to get the best position for the transmitting antenna? All of these factors will affect how to best do this safely.

    In theory, you could start with lower power and dial up. However, you may not be able to see the beam even at a full 300 mw, depending on the distance between the two towers. (I'm assuming we're talking about a distance of a few miles or more here.?.)

    If you can't see the beam, then you're going to have to rely on being able to see the spot as it reflects off the other tower. That's going to be tricky, because trying to hit a 1 ft wide target at a distance of several miles is going to be *extremely* difficult. At a minimum you'll need to have everything bolted down tight, and then have some sort of fine adjustment screws you can tweak to change the alignment very slightly. For example, a simple 1 degree change in pointing direction will move the beam over 90 feet laterally at a distance of just 1 mile. So you're going to need to have your pointing precision down to plus or minus 30 arc seconds if you want to have any hope of hitting the ~ 1 ft wide tower with the beam.

    As for what people do with their lasers - well, there's the obvious scanner-based laser show application (both beam shows and graphics); then you've got diffraction-grating-based effects, lumina effects, holography, and the ever-popular "look at the cool beam it makes" effect.

    Beyond that you've got people playing around with lasers as an illumination source for a TV, lasers as a communications device, lasers as a cutting/engraving device, and lasers as a cool way to create free-air plasma. (High power CO2 lasers only) I'm sure I've missed a couple others, but that's what I can come up with off the top of my head.

    Still, as you've probably already guessed, most of us are concerned mainly with the light show applications. (Which includes lumina and diffraction effects, btw.)

    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by nanoWatt View Post
    Jon, I did look at one of the links so far. It has a link for Rockwell to register laser devices. Since that laser as mentioned, probably won't have the accession number attached to it, it might be hard to. Anyway, their fees in Texas just to register a laser for specific use are $2,000 - $10,000. These mainly are medical. This is more than 5X the cost of the laser itself. I won't be making money with it, so I need to look into how this registration works.
    Hey Nano -

    Ah, I see you are in Texas - well, let me help you 'adjust your sails' a little bit there!

    Attached are all the Regs and forms you'll need for Texas regist - not sure where you got those $2K - $10K numbers - you weren't gonna try 'Industrial Radiography' were ya?? LOL, just teasin'..but the MOST YOU should have to pay is $340. for 2 years as a 'laser show' producer (but, if you are not doing shows, you could register as 'academic' for $200. - for 2 YEARS!! - IF you want to do shows, the $340., then you have to REPORT each show - again, just read the Regs)...

    And that is what the 'Rockwell site' is for - mostly up-to-date State Regs (if any) there are by ST, and contacts / depts - this is more relevant if you are doing shows abroad, which sounds like you're not - The FDA links will prolly be more relative for you, and the ILDA linx on safety...

    Anyhoo, just a friendly FYI - PM-me if you have more 'in-depth' ??s...

    ciao
    -J
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 301fn_04.pdf  

    BRC 204 Regs Fee Schedule.pdf  

    brc301-2.pdf  

    RC226-1_9_06.pdf  

    ....and armed only with his trusty 21 Zorgawatt KTiOPO4...

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