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1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:54 am UTC
by Minerva
http://www.wickedlasers.com/lasers/Spyd ... -96-0.html

The laser in this thing is an Indium Gallium Nitride multimode laser diode which is very cutting edge stuff - they have only entered the market this year, and are being used in high-brightness modern DLP projectors. Because they're used in commercial gear, there is an economy of scale associated with their manufacturing, driving the cost down.

Also, these new laser diodes are producing their laser light at 445 nm straight off the laser diode - there are no pumped crystals, SHG or nonlinear optics in the laser assembly like there are in traditional green (532 nm) and blue (473 nm) solid-state lasers, making these significantly cheaper.

The laser diode is technically sweet, but this thing still concerns me, a lot. This is by far the most dangerous laser pointer the world has ever seen. It's an order of magnitude more powerful than most other high-powered laser pointers and really, Wicked Lasers still markets them like they're toys and sells them to anyone. They're relatively cheap, too, so they're accessible to a larger number of people. I really think this is going to end in tears for someone.

There are no good excuses for having a 1W laser pointer, either. As a pointer for astronomy? For optics experiments? 50 mW would be heaps of beam power for those purposes.

I really don't think a handheld class IV laser pointer should exist at all. I think just creating it and marketing it, ready for any moron to buy and use, is a bit irresponsible.

If you're using a 1 W laser in a lab or similar setting, you would enclose the beam, mount it on an optical table well below head height, interlock it to the lab door, lock out the power supply with a keyswitch, make sure the beam is properly terminated, keep all untrained people out of the laser room, post the appropriate warning signs, wear protective clothing and no watch or jewellery, attenuate the laser beam before working on the optics... and a huge list of other stuff you must follow for safety. Heck, my 150 mW laser has a keyswitch on the power supply, a safety beam shutter and an emission indicator. And yet anyone can wave these things around with absolutely no engineered controls at all.

Nobody should be playing with a class IV laser at all without at least some real understanding of lasers and laser safety.

One watt of optical power in a handheld battery powered laser pointer, available online to anyone for $200, is a recipe for trouble. Stupid people will get a hold of it.

http://laserpointerforums.com/f65/plea- ... 51464.html

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:11 am UTC
by Princess Marzipan
Man, it really doesn't help that that thing looks like a lightsaber hilt.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:17 am UTC
by Levi
Meh, I am unconcerned. It is no more dangerous than a gun, and even if it is not quite as difficult to obtain as a gun, they do make you sign some papers and any customers will have been told what could happen. I suppose people might be careless with it, but I don't think its purchase ought to be restricted because some people will do stupid things with it.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:20 am UTC
by PhoenixEnigma
I saw this as well, and have mixed feeling about it. It's really awesome that we can now mass produce something like this - from a technical point of view, it's a remarkable achievement indeed. At the same time, the risks are remarkable, and current regulations don't seem to have been drafted with devices like this in mind. As it is, the fairly ready availability of >0.1W lasers was in need of some level of regulation - even that is enough to be dangerous. >0.5W is enough for the diffused/reflected light to be hazardous, and I'm unable to think of any legitimate need for Joe Public to own such a device.

As far as I can tell, the only rectrictions on a 1W laser are to make it harder to turn on by accident - a key switch and a safety interlock. That's great for a lab setting that can/will enforce a safety code and can assume some level user knowledge. It doesn't work so well for devices sold to the public. I'd like to see both a licensing system to purchase Class 4, and maybe 3B as well, lasers, as well as safety devices that would, for example, prevent the laser from being used more than a few degrees from horizontal.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:21 am UTC
by BlackSails
Wasnt there some concern that terrorists would use lasers to blind pilots coming in for landing?

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:39 am UTC
by The Reaper
Oh fuck yes. I wonder if I can use this to make a DIY laser cutter. I know I need a couple watt laser for cutting metal, but a 1 watt should be able to cut like acrylic and such yes?

I'm not sure what non-electronics-hobbiest type people would want with it. Maybe popping balloons at a park? who knows. But I know what I want with it. SCIENCE!

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:41 am UTC
by poxic
Spoiler:
bfg.jpg
People are already pointing lasers at pilots. Not terrorists, just dumbasses for the most part. (IIRC, one fellow was completely surprised that he was being arrested for it.)

I don't really like the unregulated sale of something that is most likely going to be used for mischief that can be (mostly) unintentionally harmful. I don't really like the proliferation of restrictions on legitimate uses. I don't know the best way about it.

We'll probably muddle our way toward a kinda-workable solution. Maybe.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:42 am UTC
by Vaniver
Minerva wrote:If you're using a 1 W laser in a lab or similar setting, you would enclose the beam, mount it on an optical table well below head height, interlock it to the lab door, lock out the power supply with a keyswitch, make sure the beam is properly terminated, keep all untrained people out of the laser room, post the appropriate warning signs, wear protective clothing and no watch or jewellery, attenuate the laser beam before working on the optics... and a huge list of other stuff you must follow for safety. Heck, my 150 mW laser has a keyswitch on the power supply, a safety beam shutter and an emission indicator. And yet anyone can wave these things around with absolutely no engineered controls at all.
Yeah, I've worked in one of these labs. One of the grad students was inattentive and the beam was reflected onto cardboard, which was smoking after around five seconds. Ours wasn't all that much stronger than 1 W (though it was a very, very short pulse, which I imagine could increase the power transmitted? I don't know how cardboard absorbs light).

BlackSails wrote:Wasnt there some concern that terrorists would use lasers to blind pilots coming in for landing?
Not just terrorists- teens do this already.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:33 am UTC
by Sockmonkey
Some dipshit is gonna get a hold of one of these sooner or later and do something dipshitty. Then they are so banned.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:57 am UTC
by Cynical Idealist
Levi wrote:Meh, I am unconcerned. It is no more dangerous than a gun, and even if it is not quite as difficult to obtain as a gun, they do make you sign some papers and any customers will have been told what could happen. I suppose people might be careless with it, but I don't think its purchase ought to be restricted because some people will do stupid things with it.

The problem is, a lot of people think of laser pointers as toys. This is kind of like selling an airsoft gun that shoots real bullets.

Honestly, I agree with a poster on the other forum:
pullbangdead wrote:I would have no problem if the entirety of this hobby went the way of hobby rocketry.

Any idiot can buy an Estes and launch it in their front yard, and could theoretically hurt themselves with it if they tried, but the Big Boys that are truly dangerous are severely limited and you must be licensed to own/use/build them.

That model sounds fine to me: any idiot can buy a little laser pointer or a little show or whatever, but components that are truly dangerous, that are on the same scale as the big, regulated rocket engines, could be regulated the same way.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:10 am UTC
by Pez Dispens3r
Minerva wrote:stuff

I agree with your concerns entirely, but everything you said just made me want one more. Even though I can imagine someone not realizing how powerful it is and blinding themselves or others.

Vaniver wrote:Not just terrorists- teens do this already.

If it quacks like a terrorist it is a terrorist.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:33 am UTC
by Kyrn
Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Vaniver wrote:Not just terrorists- teens do this already.

If it quacks like a terrorist it is a terrorist.


If it quacks like a clueless teenager it is a clueless teenager.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:59 am UTC
by Sockmonkey
Cluless teens are still pretty dangerous since it's impossible to predict which way stupidity will lead them.
I agree with the model rocket solution for this.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:59 am UTC
by Arancaytar
Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Vaniver wrote:Not just terrorists- teens do this already.

If it quacks like a terrorist it is a terrorist.


An eight-year-old with a gun isn't a murderer. The danger of coherent light is less obvious than the danger of something that shoots metal, so people don't need to be as stupid/young to mishandle one as they would to mishandle a gun.

That's why I'd consider a laser of comparable power more dangerous than a gun, just like a gun that is designed to look like a toy.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:29 am UTC
by AVIATOR
Have you ever been sitting on a bus or whatever, and had someone repeatedly 'poke' you with a laser pointer? It's really annoying for sure, and the worst thing is you have no idea who's doing it, especially if they're subtle about it and you're in a crowded area.

Now say a malicious or just ignorant individual had a 2W handheld laser, and did the same thing. They could quite realistically cause serious eye damage to numerous people, and no one would have any idea who did it. There is no doubt that people would do this. The danger of high powered lasers isn't in their destructive power (at least at the 2W level of 'high powered'), it's in their undetectability and ease of use. They should not be publicly available.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:45 am UTC
by Veora
Jees that thing is actually dangerous o.O

Actually, what's the point in even owning one anyway? only use for a laser pointer ive ever had was giving my friend Catherine exercise!

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:50 am UTC
by Kyrn
Sockmonkey wrote:Cluless teens are still pretty dangerous since it's impossible to predict which way stupidity will lead them.
I agree with the model rocket solution for this.


I do agree. I just don't agree that clueless teenagers should be lumped in the same category as terrorists, which is what Pez Dispens3r seems to be implying.

Of cause, we could do the blunt method and just ban (the public usage of) them outright, with fines. Overboard, but effective. People may complain, but that would immediately raise public awareness of just how harmful the "harmless mischief" is. And then maybe down the line, relax the rules slightly.

Veora wrote:Jees that thing is actually dangerous o.O

Actually, what's the point in even owning one anyway? only use for a laser pointer ive ever had was giving my friend Catherine exercise!


Because we can.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:53 am UTC
by Xeio
AVIATOR wrote:Now say a malicious or just ignorant individual had a 2W handheld laser, and did the same thing. They could quite realistically cause serious eye damage to numerous people, and no one would have any idea who did it. There is no doubt that people would do this. The danger of high powered lasers isn't in their destructive power (at least at the 2W level of 'high powered'), it's in their undetectability and ease of use. They should not be publicly available.
I'm pretty sure you can see the whole beam with lasers this powerful (at least, according to the guide on their site you can), so tracing its source is trivial.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:01 am UTC
by Sockmonkey
Even with no particulates in the air? It's not like this thing is powerful enough to make air molecules glow.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:25 am UTC
by AVIATOR
Xeio wrote:I'm pretty sure you can see the whole beam with lasers this powerful (at least, according to the guide on their site you can), so tracing its source is trivial.


Hey I think you're right. I remember someone having a green one a few years ago of which you could see the path, although that was at night... If you can see the path, then there is certainly much less potential for people to do bad things with it.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:29 am UTC
by fjafjan
Yeah this is far too "cool" to not be popular, and far too dangerous to not cause a lot of eye damage. It doesn't have to be active carelessness, you can be pointing at a house far away, and hit a winder where someone is standing and damage their eye. Or a pilot by pointing at airplanes. Or just accidentally hit someones watch or something else highly reflective. Far too dangerous to not at the very least require some sort of license. And it's not like regular laser pointers are too weak for whatever practical purpose they are put to.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:16 pm UTC
by BlackSails
Sockmonkey wrote:Even with no particulates in the air? It's not like this thing is powerful enough to make air molecules glow.


There are always particulates in the air.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:23 pm UTC
by Sockmonkey
BlackSails wrote:
Sockmonkey wrote:Even with no particulates in the air? It's not like this thing is powerful enough to make air molecules glow.


There are always particulates in the air.

True, I should have specified an average quantity as opposed to a noticable amount.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:37 pm UTC
by Pez Dispens3r
Kyrn wrote:
Sockmonkey wrote:Cluless teens are still pretty dangerous since it's impossible to predict which way stupidity will lead them.
I agree with the model rocket solution for this.


I do agree. I just don't agree that clueless teenagers should be lumped in the same category as terrorists, which is what Pez Dispens3r seems to be implying.

Must have forgot my sarcasm tags.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:41 pm UTC
by TheKrikkitWars
I really want one, but I don't have a whole lot of practical uses for it not already capable of being fulfiled by a normal laser pointer. [last minute thought] I can think of one, lighting my pipe with it! :shock: [/last minute thought]

I did get temporarily blinded in my left eye by an irresponsably handled 0.25W Laser in sixth form physics, easily as painful as arc flash, though not as inconvinient.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:01 pm UTC
by Azrael001
I find myself agreeing with most of the sentiments here, especially those who are torn between "This is awesome" and "This is stupid". That said, I'm highly tempted to buy this.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:03 pm UTC
by Princess Marzipan
Veora wrote:Jees that thing is actually dangerous o.O

Actually, what's the point in even owning one anyway? only use for a laser pointer ive ever had was giving my friend Catherine exercise!
Space cats.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:32 pm UTC
by Mighty Jalapeno
Oh, I'm sure one watt isn't that dangerous in laser foOHMYGOD IT'S LIKE TASTING SALSA WITH MY RETINA!!!!!!!

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:33 pm UTC
by Steax
I'm sure a lot of star wars fans are going to buy it just for the pointer itself. Then they begin brandishing it around-

I'm not too good with lasers. Can someone fill me in (probably by comparison or something) what a 1 W laser can do?

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:35 pm UTC
by scikidus
This should be classified as a weapon, no? You could use this to burn through blimp and hot air balloon material, to cause long-distance arson (Southern California, here I come!), to kill silently at a distance without identifying markings like those on a bullet...the list goes on.

This sounds like the plot of a bad supervillain movie. "Now, I will attach the 1W-laser into the concert's laser show, burning through all of the little Beiber fangirls! Muhahahahahah!"

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:46 pm UTC
by Princess Marzipan
scikidus wrote:"Now, I will attach the 1W-laser into the concert's laser show, burning through all of the little Beiber fangirls! Muhahahahahah!"
I'm going to allow this.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:46 pm UTC
by Pez Dispens3r
scikidus wrote:This should be classified as a weapon, no? You could use this to burn through blimp and hot air balloon material, to cause long-distance arson (Southern California, here I come!), to kill silently at a distance without identifying markings like those on a bullet...the list goes on.

This sounds like the plot of a bad supervillain movie. "Now, I will attach the 1W-laser into the concert's laser show, burning through all of the little Beiber fangirls! Muhahahahahah!"

What is the relationship with lasers and heat? I can burn skin at inch distance, sure, but can I harm flesh at forty metres/feet? What's the distance/heat ratio?

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:09 pm UTC
by userxp
There are actually laser weapons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dazzler_(weapon)

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:01 pm UTC
by Telchar
It would actually be nice to cut acrylic with. Making terrariums would be amazingly easy with this assuming you could. You would probably have to cover the acrylic with some sort of non-reflective surface and keep the back against asphalt/concrete/other similar surface. Hrmmm....

That being said, yeah, we don't need dipshits running around waving these in cars. wtf.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:06 pm UTC
by Josephine
Between the price and the power, this is approximately the situation you would see if a time traveler started selling technologies 10 years before they are invented.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:22 pm UTC
by big boss
this makes me afraid to walk down the street now... :(

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:24 pm UTC
by Sockmonkey
Pez Dispens3r wrote:What is the relationship with lasers and heat? I can burn skin at inch distance, sure, but can I harm flesh at forty metres/feet? What's the distance/heat ratio?

Even particle-free air would attenuate it slightly but probably not significantly at that range. Depends on things like the frequency of the beam and air density as well as power.
Jitter is an issue unless you have it mounted in a rifle-like setup to hold it on target.

IIRC combat lasers designed to permanently blind targets are banned by the Geneva Convention.

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:24 pm UTC
by The Reaper
A 5 kilowatt laser beam can easily be focused to a spot 0.5 mm in diameter, producing an irradiance ( power per unit area) of 2.5 million watts per square centimeter (The correct SI unit is watts/square meter but most literature uses watts/cm2. Irradiance itself is often called "power density", which is more vivid but technically incorrect.). This concentration of light can be a powerful heat source. While light itself has no temperature, one may calculate a temperature equivalent to the irradiance using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation Eb = s T4 where Eb is the power radiated by a black body, T is the absolute temperature and s is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, equal to 5.5 X 10-12 W/cm2 K. An irradiance of 2.5 million watts/cm2 is then equivalent to 26,000 K. If you doubt the applicability of this equivalence, put a piece of steel at the focus of a 5 kW laser and see how many milliseconds it takes to vaporize.

The good part for heat treating is that one may produce lower irradiances. If the 5 kilowatt laser beam in the above example is focused into a 1/2" square, the irradiance is 3000 W/cm2 and the equivalent temperature is 4,800 K, which is useful for processing steel. What is even more useful is that the beam can be precisely controlled with respect to its intensity, geometry and dwell time. This gives us a unique tool for localized heat treatment.
http://www.laserk.com/newsletters/paperheattreat.html
Anyone want to try to parse that and figure the heat caused by a 1W laser focused on .1cm?

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:30 pm UTC
by Dark Avorian
Well we know what self defense professionals will now advise carrying...

(either a lazer or a mirror)

Re: 1 W laser pointer hits the market.

Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 4:32 pm UTC
by Vieto
Dark Avorian wrote:Well we know what self defense professionals will now advise carrying...

(either a lazer or a mirror)


well, a mirror is more likely. The laser, unlike a gun, would not have stopping power.