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Old 03-01-2016, 05:34 AM #1
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Default So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasing)

Everybody knows that one of the legitimate uses of a laser is to point at stars. It works a lot better than trying to point with a finger, going "that star, no, that, that one, right there." People do that and obviously they have no malicious intent.

I point at the sky at night. I'm not going to sit on a high horse and preach about the evils of it and I'm not going to lie about it either. Obviously lasers lend themselves to this sort of thing. I do my very best to not cross paths with any aircraft, cars, and houses. I point at other things too, not always at home. I hadn't put my criteria into any coherent or written form but I still have them, and I imagine most of us do, so my "rules of lasing" amount to more or less the following. I consider them reasonable. What are yours?

1) Try to avoid attracting attention from aircraft, cars, houses, or people in general. If nothing else, randomly pointing at things is what pisses people off and makes it on the news so I just avoid doing it and try to keep the beam away from people and out of sight. Most people are stupid and overreact, it's annoying but I've found it's not worth the negativity of arguing with them so I just don't bother.

2) Sometimes I don't worry too much about people on the ground seeing me pointing at things as long as it's a wall, or the ground, or trees, etc. The farther away the better. Most of the time, I try to avoid letting them see me aiming at the sky because they'll probably misinterpret it and cause problems.

3) Check sky for low aircraft, e.g. low-cruising planes or aircraft on approach... there is a university-owned airport 20-odd miles from my house so we do get them... then wait for it to leave and then make sure it's gone. No lasing at all, period... it's probably not highly visible but who knows. Sometimes planes circle the area (lots of student pilots from the university) but most of them just leave and don't return, so it's a couple of minutes to wait at most. Not a problem.

4) For high aircraft (jetliners) they're 6 miles away at minimum (directly overhead) and are nearly always many miles farther away than that. Frankly I doubt if the plane can see it unless they're almost on axis, which obviously is not the case since I point it away from it! If there are a bunch of them I don't point at all because there are no good angles; everything is ruled out.

If, as is usual, there's only one then I don't worry too much about pointing blue, red, and 405 in the opposite direction. I still avoid green since it's bright compared to the others but I doubt if they can see much of it either. The planes are 10+ miles away, usually through at least some atmospheric haze. We live out in the country so there isn't city air traffic, nearby-airport restrictions aren't relevant to my situation, and most likely nobody will notice a beam 120+ degrees off-axis.

Although to be fair I don't have anything beyond 260mW so it's IIIb / "low" power and not 5 / 10 / 40 watts of 450nm. Obviously that's going to attract some attention and I highly don't recommend it.

5) If the sky looks clear it's OK to point all colors. Pointing at the sky etc. is cool. I see little reason to call it a problem when the right precautions are taken, and in general I believe people are capable of being smart about their lasers if they choose to do so.

6) Don't point at cars or bikes either. I specifically check for roadways in the background and avoid pointing at them even if no cars are on it. Making a mistake here could get somebody killed, it's worse than pointing at a plane. There's zero benefit to pointing at a road, everything about it makes it a terrible target, including visually so it's an easy "no" item for me.

7) Safety glasses generally not used since there are no optical systems or mirror balls or other sources of random beams involved. But if there's any question of whether safety glasses would be needed, I don't point them in public, period, as a mistake here could possibly, for real, get me sued or worse.

8) Most public indoor situations off-limits but again, if there's nobody around to see it and I'm sure of that, I don't consider it a problem. Limited, selected audiences only.

9) That's pretty much it, new things considered as needed, I just try to focus on being as low key as possible and try to be objective and avoid kidding myself as to whether or not people are likely to see. If I'm not going to keep/use the lasers solely inside my house, it's the best I can do.

* * *

I'm sure I'm anathema/Satan/cancer to some people now, some will never approve of it no matter what and I'm ok with that. I'm still going to be careful. The rest of you, what do you think?


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Old 03-01-2016, 05:48 AM #2
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

i've never point it at the sky... but at the mountain and from the top of the mountain to the vast ocean below...
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Old 03-01-2016, 06:15 AM #3
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

Before pointing at stars you need to wait while you listen for aircraft, look as far as you can see in every direction and wait until the sky is clear.

Don't think because an airplane is far off to the left that you can point to the right, wait for clear skies, sometimes you simply will not be able to point at stars because of air traffic.

Do not point at treetops where your laser can shine through hitting a plane you don't see and when pointing at stars stay away from the tree line as an airplane can come over the tree line while you are pointing.

This is where listening is important.

If you are pointing at a star on the far off horizon and you see a tiny flashing light in the far distant sky move your laser away from it immediately, turn it off and wait until the sky is clear.

It's not worth taking any chances, you have to be always vigilant and look out for aircraft, make sure you don't let even a momentary far away accident happen, even though a far off airplane would, well do the math, you are not going to flash blind a plane you can hardly see at the edge of the horizon 20 miles away, but you could generate an incident report and we don't want that.

Also as technology is implemented cameras will watch out the windows of aircraft all the time and they will pinpoint your location, you don't want to be in court facing any charges, you do not want to point to the left while a plane is to the right, wait for clear skies and point on big open clear areas, always listen and if you can hear a plane but can't see it then wait until you can't see or hear any at all.

There are drones in the skies, you do not want to be pointing in the sky when any planes are visible, drones without marker lights could be recording you and you want to be above reproach, do not expect plausible deniability to be enough. Yes we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but protect yourself and don't take any chances, don't put yourself into a grey area, wait for clear skies.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:12 AM #4
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCowboy View Post
There are drones in the skies, you do not want to be pointing in the sky when any planes are visible, drones without marker lights could be recording you and you want to be above reproach, do not expect plausible deniability to be enough. Yes we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but protect yourself and don't take any chances, don't put yourself into a grey area, wait for clear skies.
If I know there is a drone in the area obviously I will not point. I don't want the trouble.

But honestly, fuck drones. This is probably the wrong attitude to have but people have built highly directional radio transmitters which they aim at drones, jam their radio control link, and crash them, and I just have no sympathy for the drones whatsoever. The aerial shots are cool and all but drone operators have a duty to be low-key and to respect boundaries/privacy, just like laser operators... and like some laser operators, sometimes they don't. It pisses people off; drones are getting their own negative press and I'm not convinced the public will have the same sympathy for them as for manned aircraft.

That's why I don't worry about them very much.

Unless they're flying near my house, it seems unlikely to cross paths in public because I would tend to avoid them. In the areas I point I wouldn't expect to see any drone operators in person at all, and any drones in the area would be at long range from the most likely operator sites.

Keep in mind this is my own situation and the rules to fit it, I'm mainly interested in hearing about others' situations. I know people point into the air to varying degrees because look at all the photos in multimedia showing it and IMHO it's nothing to be ashamed of as long as one is smart and respectful at going about it.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:21 AM #5
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I'm not talking about private citizen drones, DHS and others are "surveying" and you had better not zap any of their toys.
The point is even if you do not point at an aircraft, but you get their attention pointing where they notice it, that only generates incident reports, or sighting report numbers that do not benefit the hobby, I recommend an abundance of caution.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:38 AM #6
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

There are going to be more and more government drones watching us, even police departments in larger cities have them now. Some of the ones used by the federal government are larger military type of UAVs and you won't always be able to see them but they can get a close up view of things on the ground.

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Old 03-01-2016, 03:34 PM #7
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I don't see the issue as long as you look for planes first. I use my lasers a decent amount outside at night and point at the sky or distant objects.(What's the point of having them if you can't have any fun?) I just try to be sure there aren't any helicopters or low flying planes in my immediate area who might report a "laser incident" even if I wasn't pointing at them.

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Old 03-01-2016, 09:43 PM #8
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I'm sure your safe, but for people in cities and crowded areas it's a good idea to fly under the radar so to speak.

Lets look at a hypothetical scenario, Razako lives in the city and goes out on his porch 3 times a week to point a laser at stars for 5 minutes.

Aircraft have normal holding patterns in the area, sighting not targeting reports have been generated in the area, aircraft window cameras with GPS ground location technology has identified Razako's home area as an emission point although no direct targeting is indicated.

Suddenly there is a targeting incident in the area without a pinpointed emission spot.

Who will get investigated, scrutinized, observed.

Do yourself a favor and just wait for clear skies.

Busy bodies are being encouraged to report people who point lasers at airplanes and people are F%^k1ng idiots, they can't tell a star from an airplane, so keep your lasing to yourself, avoid attention or you may be sorry.

This is just fair warning, I would like for people to avoid problems, be responsible and don't draw attention.

If I am pointing at Orion and discussing Betelgeuse and Rigel with a fellow stargazer and a car comes down the road I turn off my laser, I don't want attention, I want to be left alone.

Our free country is not so free anymore and people are idiots, so it's better if your entire neighborhood does not know you as the laser guy with the beams in his yard.

READ HERE

At the bottom of the page is says:
If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI office or dial 911.

Like I said, idiot busy bodies don't know a star from an airplane.
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Old 03-01-2016, 10:01 PM #9
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I would suggest that people do a search for airports near them. I live in the DC area where there are the following main airports: Reagan National, Dulles, and Baltimore Washington. These are very busy airports. However, many people do not know that there are quite a few regional/county airports as well as some governmental and private ones.

In Maryland alone there are 221 public/private airports. Go to this site: Airports and click on your state. You should be able to figure out the airports near you. You can even get information as to how much they are used.

Making this more complicated is that despite the fact there are designated airways (highways in the sky) for aircraft to use, controllers often allow aircraft to fly "direct." This means even if you know where the airways are, you simply cannot know if an aircraft on a direct route will take it in your vicinity.

So, RedCowboy's concerns are warranted. And, yes, there are various local, state, and federal aircraft around and about albeit you will find more of such in major cities.

My home base was Manassas airport when I was flying regularly. It was and still is where the FBI local field office keep their aircraft but there are other's as well.

Point with care.

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Old 03-01-2016, 11:34 PM #10
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I understand that it's not a great idea to attract a bunch of attention to yourself, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever gotten into legal trouble purely for pointing lasers at the sky? Generally, I've only ever heard of people actually having issues if they were shining lasers at planes, helicopters, cars, people etc. Basically people who were actually trying to be a nuisance to the public.

Btw the vast majority of my outside laser usage consists of <100mw units, or units with hard to see beams such as red lasers. It's not like I regularly fire up the 1.5W 445, or my RPL300 and shine them off the balcony to freak out the neighbors. I also avoid using the lasers if I can hear people out in their yards, or there's cars going down the street

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Old 03-01-2016, 11:46 PM #11
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I have heard of people having their HH lasers confiscated, but so far that's the worst I have heard, other than fools targeting aircraft.

Theoretically it's not illegal to star point, but there is some grey area and everything changes, I'm a wood burning artist myself.

BTW the guy who put a pistol then a flame thrower on a drone when it was legal now can't, it's now a felony for citizens to weaponize a drone, I wonder how loosely worded that law is, what if it has a sharp plastic edge?
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:56 PM #12
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

Personally i point at the sky once in a while, with anything from a cat toy to a watt or some of 445. I do check for aircraft that i can see, which are usually helicopters here and avoid those.

Although i don't live far from an airport (amsterdam airport would be about 30 km from here), the runways normally used are positioned such that air traffic does not fly over the city i live in. On the rare occasion that they use the other runways due to wind direction the airplane lights are quite visible as they are either approaching or departing with their lights on at night.

Obviously some flights do cross over here at cruise altitude (say london to berlin or so), but i seriously doubt they would have any problems with it. The chances of hitting one you cannot see from the ground are, afaik, very small. If it's cloudy i can't see them and they can't see me, and if it's clear i can usually see them.

If you are wondering what's flying over just use something like flightradar to get an idea.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:24 AM #13
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCowboy View Post
I have heard of people having their HH lasers confiscated, but so far that's the worst I have heard, other than fools targeting aircraft.

Theoretically it's not illegal to star point, but there is some grey area and everything changes, I'm a wood burning artist myself.

BTW the guy who put a pistol then a flame thrower on a drone when it was legal now can't, it's now a felony for citizens to weaponize a drone, I wonder how loosely worded that law is, what if it has a sharp plastic edge?
Yeah, I read about that drone incident on arfcom today.
Just watching that "drone community" guy talk got my blood boiling. "I find it grievously irresponsible that there isn't a law banning this reckless behavior" Sounds exactly like the people wanting to ban lasers. Some people just won't rest until there's a law banning anything fun in the world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-I088QS6yM

Last edited by Razako; 03-02-2016 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 03-02-2016, 12:45 AM #14
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I guess it's illegal to weaponize a drone unless you are the military then?

This begs the question if a laser would be cosidered a weapon at some power level, and if it would be legal just to strap one onto a drone just to shine it around without damaging anything or harming anyone.

It would seem a bit reckless to do, but not malicious per se.

On the other end it could be very exciting to airlift a laser projector and make a beamshow come down from the air. Providing you do the MPE calculations that would be perfectly safe and probably quite the spectacle
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:31 AM #15
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

My fear would be, among many other things, what if the drone lost radio and went rogue, flying towards a school yard or bus stop with it's laser on, god what about a sports arena full of people.

It's a bad idea, but as free people we should be able to build anything we want, but we must be held responsible for what we do.

People with bad intentions can do great damage, things I won't even reference " there's no need too, we can all imagine. " but treating every free citizen as a criminal in advance and restricting us from doing anything without permission is bulls1lt, we are supposed to be free, yes the world has risk and we all will die!

But forcing everyone to wear padding is not the answer, responsibility for individual actions is the answer, not restriction of all actions because the evil bastards will do it anyway, maybe overreaching laws may deter some fool from doing something stupid, but at what cost?

Should anyone drive a car? People get killed in cars, by cars, some 50,000 a year in the US alone, should we be allowed to drive...maybe everyone should be made to use public transit....it would be good for the environment.

GLOBAL WARMING GLOBAL WARMING PARK YOUR CARS FOREVER AND WALK!!!
Walking is natural and healthy, what right do we have to risk driving?

I am making a point, there is no end to the control and loss of freedom, we have to accept some risk and hold people accountable, not restrict every single little thing.
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Old 03-02-2016, 01:45 AM #16
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Default Re: So, who does point at the sky? (or, what are your own rules? / The Rules of Lasin

I rarely aim at the sky, and when I do I'm careful to watch for planes!

5mW's isn't too easy to see which is why I avoid going outside. Plus, too lazy

-Alex
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