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Old 02-01-2011, 10:35 PM #1
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Default Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

Lucky my laser didnít explode in my pocket last night.

Hmmmm...interesting yet alarming event last night. I was visiting a friend at his house, laying back on his couch with a blanket over me. My 400mW green laser and a flashlight were both stashed in my front left jeanís pocket. I was vaguely aware of a warm sensation in that general area but brushed it off as a combination of the blanket and the wine I was drinking. Suddenly I had an epiphany and I frantically dug into my pocket to see if the flashlight was on: no. Then I dug out and unzipped the padded nylon soft case I keep my laser in and the laser was on and so freakin hot that it instantly burned my hands. I turned it off and threw it on the floor to let it cool off. The pouch had a clean hole melted through the end of it (about 1/8Ē thick insulated nylon), and I had to hold an ice pack for about an hour to treat the burns on my palm and fingers (there are slight blisters present today). After an hour or so the laser was cool enough to touch. It still works but the beam seems very scattered and thereís a lot of beam splash now.

A couple of thoughts:

1. I will not be carrying a laser in a padded pouch anymore. The padding effectively insulated the laser and trapped most of the heat inside, so I didnít become aware of the high heat being generated until after an estimated 20 or 30 minutes elapsed (this laser is not very well heat sinked and has a one minute on/off duty cycle).

2. I wish that someone manufactured plastic or aluminum hard cylindrical cases for lasers with push-on or screw-on lids (some entrepreneur on this board should run with this idea!). They should be lined with 1/16Ē foam and be available in a variety of diameters and lengths. I ordered a cigar case online for this purpose but it barely doesnít fit my laser. (Yes, I could go to Hope Depot and buy some threaded PVC and make my own case, but carrying PVC pipe seems somewhat hokey, and Iíd prefer a slightly more elegant, ready-made solution.)

3. I feel lucky that the 18650 battery didnít explode in my pocket. Iím glad I pay extra for quality AW protected batts (this one was 2900 mAh), but I am still wondering if it COULD have exploded.

4. I WISH that laser manufacturers incorporated simple and convenient lock-out mechanisms in their designs, such as a secondary on/off button or switch. Even a design where you could just unscrew the battery compartment a quarter or half turn to lock it out (like on a my Zebralight H501 headlamp) would suffice (yes, I can unscrew the tailcap on my current laser every time I put it in my pocket, but it requires about six full rotations and just isnít very convenient). Also, I wish that lasers were always designed with a recessed push clicky rather than one that sticks out beyond the end of the laser (like the one I have).

5. Iím wondering if A) my 18650 battery is probably damaged at this point, or if itís dangerous to use again, and B) if the diode on my laser is probably damaged, and Iíll never get the same kind of output again?

Carrying a laser almost reminds me of carrying a concealed pistol. If you donít have a good holster or case that guards the firing mechanism (trigger or on/off button), or you are careless, you run the risk of an accidental discharge or activation, which could obviously be disastrous.


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Old 02-01-2011, 10:42 PM #2
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

beam splash and scatter means that you burnt your crystals, I think. Damn too bad.
you will not get a good output again, but I don't think your cells are damaged. They just got HOT, not short-circuit or such.


btw laser manufacturers incorporated simple and convenient lock-out mechanisms in their designs: they are called key-lock switch and safety pin, you remove they to store your laser

I'm planning something to solve the temperature issues on lasers (yours could be solved theoretically, if my system were implemented on your laser :P). Not public atm as I don't know if I'll end it.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:50 PM #3
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

The crystals? I think not.

If you're getting any green, the non linear optics assembly is just fine.

The scatter will be coming from the output aperture lens. It will need a heavy cleaning, or full out replacement. Smoke does horrible things to glass surfaces.
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:51 PM #4
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

@Meatball
not true. My crystals were damaged when I was going some experiments with DPSS. I heat the heatsink to 100ļc and, some point there, the crystals started to act strange, giving green scatter and unfocused light.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:15 PM #5
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

Its easy enough to tell where the problem is.. just remove the output lens and switch it on. If the crystal set is okay you should get a quite evenly lit, roundish blob when you point at a wall.

Perhaps there is some mechanical damage because you picked it up, and probably dropped it quite hard when it was so hot you ended up with blistered fingers.

I'm curious why the battery protection did not kick in though. It seems to monitor only the cell voltage, not its temperature in this case. Otherwise it should have shut off the power way before the entire laser got fingerburning hot.
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Old 02-02-2011, 03:54 PM #6
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

I'd try meatball's suggestion of cleaning the output optics before I'd jump to the conclusion that the crystals are burnt.. it generally takes more than a hot housing to burn crystals. The coatings are actually what burns, and they are generally pretty tough. It takes a lot of focused power on one tiny part of the crystal coating to burn it, so burned crystals are typically caused by too much pump power. Overheating the laser as a whole due to extended usage is far more likely to cause the pump diode to fail, not get stronger.
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Old 02-03-2011, 12:24 AM #7
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

dang man! thats why i dont carry my lasers in pouches and if i do i take 1 battery out or just all of em out so i kno it wont short out or stay on the whole time its in there. my laser i have atm is 50mw so it wont do much damage in a short time. but im still causious like somebody said in my post u gotta treat a laser like a loaded gun... thats what i do so that i wont get hurt or anything lol
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Old 02-03-2011, 04:08 AM #8
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

What about the IR filter? Could it have come loose upon dropping or have gotten burned? One of my greens 60 mW looks to have a plastic IR filter maybe.

ElektroFreak do they use plastic IR filters on green modules?
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Old 02-03-2011, 04:16 AM #9
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

I'm tending to agree with EF on the crystals...it's exceptionally hard to damage crystals with normal use, even if you leave the laser on for a large amount of time. It is most likely smoke from the burnt case having deposited on your lens.

@Leodashan, different sized crystals have different temperature requirements, which could be the reason your output went weird.

@Tonga, I believe all IR filters are glass, to prevent any possible damage at all.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:47 AM #10
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prototype View Post
I'm tending to agree with EF on the crystals...it's exceptionally hard to damage crystals with normal use, even if you leave the laser on for a large amount of time. It is most likely smoke from the burnt case having deposited on your lens.

@Leodashan, different sized crystals have different temperature requirements, which could be the reason your output went weird.

@Tonga, I believe all IR filters are glass, to prevent any possible damage at all.
Oh, okay, that's good to know. I didn't know if the crystals or filters were that robust or not.
Thanks,
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:16 PM #11
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

If it was a green laser, place a miniature NTC glued near the LD, and hook it on the driver in the way that it reduce the current when it heat up (the exact place depend from the type and mode of your driver, anyway i already use the same system for my blue and BR with sink drivers, and it work)
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:40 PM #12
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

@HIMNL9
NTC costs $10 here EACH, and are very hard to find.
I'm planning something cooler and cheaper tho..
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:49 PM #13
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

^ Heh, i know what you mean, also here is not easy to get decent components cheaps ..... all the times i need something a bit more complicate than a resistor (), i need to order through ebay and buy 50 or 100 pieces (anyway, i spend the same here for order 2 or 3 pieces, so better this way )

As example ..... this one is 17$ for 100 pieces, including shipping ..... here i buy maybe 5 of them, in the shop, for the same money, and also have to drive my car 50Km for them
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Old 02-03-2011, 02:56 PM #14
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

^ yeah.. I do not like Ebay as many sellers are from US/EU and I'm from Brazil, so many times the S&H goes more expensive than the components theirselves. $10 for a NTC isn't a bad deal then? Their are mostly OFS everytime I've seen, so I moved to another solution.
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:32 PM #15
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

Using some thermal sensor could help in this particular situation, but i don't think its really necessary to make it a standard in portable lasers.

Normally these things don't get so hot permanent damage is done, even if you leave them running the entire battery life. In case of a green it will go dimmer due to warmer crystals, but that's about it.

In this particular case the problem was a combination of unexpected activation, and most of the way it was packed. With unrestricted airflow around the laser, i seriously doubt it would have gotten too hot to hold at any point.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:18 PM #16
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Default Re: Lucky my laser didn't explode in my pocket

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meatball View Post
The crystals? I think not.

If you're getting any green, the non linear optics assembly is just fine.

The scatter will be coming from the output aperture lens. It will need a heavy cleaning, or full out replacement. Smoke does horrible things to glass surfaces.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leodahsan View Post
@Meatball
not true. My crystals were damaged when I was going some experiments with DPSS. I heat the heatsink to 100ļc and, some point there, the crystals started to act strange, giving green scatter and unfocused light.
I experienced the same thing Leodahsan is describing. After prolonged use, green scatter starts to fade in around the dot. Mine has since stopped deteriorating and now puts out a TEM00 dot with a halo made up of lighter and darker spots. These spots are different from the interference speckle, these are almost blobs.

I believe it is a side effect of the adhesive used to attach the crystals to their holders. Either it hadn't cured and the outgassing fogged up the OC facet or the inside part of the final collimator, or excessive heat from running it over its duty cycle caused it to soften or even vaporize some. This is my belief, however I am not about to take apart my favorite green to verify this. I have bad luck with things like that, and will manage to make it much worse somehow.

Leo, NB360 green module?
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