Old 01-07-2011, 04:29 PM #1
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Default Best finder scope option

Hi all,

I'm new here, first post, so this is my intro thread too. Thanks for having me.

I recently picked up a laser pointer finder for my telescope and I just love the thing. I'm able to slew to targets with my dobsonian in about half the time it used to take me and the inherent coolness factor of a laser shooting outta my scope doesn't hurt either. Now that I have used it I can't imagine going without but I'm still having a few issues with it and would like to maybe upgrade.

My current laser is rated a 5 mW and produces an acceptable beam in dark sky conditions. Unfortunately I use my scope mainly from my home, located in a major city center, and with all the light pollution the beam just doesn't quite cut it. I'd like to be able to punch a "WOW" type beam through light polluted skys but not kill my night vision when at dark sky locations. Are there variable laser pointers, perhaps with polarized adjustable filters? Another major issue is cold weather. I live in Canada and this time of year I'll use my scope in windy -10c conditions, sometimes -15 to 20c if I'm feeling real brave. At these temps, by the time I get my scope set up and aligned, the cold has rendered the laser all but useless. I've read of people taping chemical pack hand warmers to the hosts but this does not seem the ideal solution to me. My current laser uses 2 AAA batteries and I'm wondering if other battery types would perform better in the cold. Would an AC powered lab laser suffer the same from the cold? Can you get AC lasers in a hand held host to save the need to build a custom mount?

I'm hoping for recommendation on a cheapish laser that rectifies these issues. In my uneducated mind I'm thinking a green 50-200 mW would be ideal, perhaps AC powered to deal with the cold. 200 mW is maybe overkill but the "WOW" beam is appealing to me.

Any thoughts on this would be great.

Cheers,
Chris


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Old 01-07-2011, 04:41 PM #2
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Default Re: Best finder scope option

200 mW would damage your night vision imho .. and will HURT if you hit something (like exhaled breath). 50mW should be fine imho. Also many 200 mW lasers don't like continuous running.
As for the batteries .. when the laser is operating, it should be warm enough by itself. So maybe just keep the laser in the inner pocket as long as possible, for alignment itself. And then it should stay warm.

Watching in -20 ? Wow .. I hardly watch if it gets bellow +10. I plan remote viewing scope one day though. With camera and motors.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:59 AM #3
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Default Re: Best finder scope option

Hey Sid, thanks for the reply.

I figured 200mW was overkill for sure but the kid in me always wants the biggest toys. Sometimes when a guy runs out and buys himself a new Hummer or Viper for no apparent reason people will say he's compensating for other "short" comings. I think the same can be said for some laser purchases. I'm sure if I asked my wife she would tell me it's not how many mW your laser puts out, it's how you use it. Aside from the above, the main reason I said up to 200mW is it seems so many lasers sold are under spec, I figured a cheap 200mW might actually only put out 50-100mW.

I've thought about keeping the laser in a coat pocket to keep warm but I don't think that will really work in this situation. I leave the laser mounted on the scope so I don't have to align it with the scope every time I want to use it. I can sometimes spend an hour looking at a single target before I need the laser to help find the next. Sometimes I'll only spend 5 minutes before getting bored and looking for something else. I think I need a system that can handle extended cold environment but I'm not sure such a creature exists.

If anyone has any suggestions on a specific laser / supplier that can improve these issues I'd love to hear about it.

Cheers,
Chris
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Old 01-08-2011, 08:28 AM #4
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Default Re: Best finder scope option

Here we can recommend sellers who have reasonable prices and no underspec lasers. For example you can start with o-like.com.

Something like this:
New cute pocket Green laser 50mW /adjustable [OLCGL50] - $34.99 : Welcome to O-Like.com, Your source for laser products

Maybe you could connect the batteries with wire and some nice connector. Like that you would be able to switch them without need of realign. On my motorized Newton I would use the batteries I use for the mount.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:49 PM #5
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Default Re: Best finder scope option

Thanks for the reply Sid and sorry for the lateness on mine. I took your advice and picked up a 50 mw cute from O-Like and a 150 mw too. I couldn't help myself and wish they would have had the 200 mw in stock. I think I might be suffering from the onset of laser addiction and hopefully they won't take to much longer to get here.

I also took your advice and modded my current pen. I drilled out a small hole in the host and inserted a small rubber grommet for a nice tight fit and polished look. I then soldered in about 5 feet of wire with a contact connector so I can disconnect the battery pack easily. On the other end I attached a battery holder in a small plastic project box. It came out looking pretty nice and works a charm. With the battery pack in my pocket it still takes the DPSS module a second to warm up but after that the laser seems about as bright as it is at room temp. If the cute 50 suffers from the cold I'll be using the same mod.

Thanks again for your help.
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