Old 01-28-2013, 01:37 PM #1
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Unhappy Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Recently I purchased an Optotronics +10mw green laser pointer for $57.65 shipped based on the good reputation Jack has on this forum. I explicitly called him and asked for a laser under 15mw (because I intend to use it without safety goggles*). It came within a week, and was verified to have a 14mw output rating (exactly what I asked for).

Before I go on further, first some context. My first laser I bought was a 5mw no-name laser from Amazon that cost $1.73 with free shipping, LOL. When I first bought it, it was insanely bright, and the laser beam was pretty vibrant and the dot was easily recognizable on most surfaces from 300 yards away on a bright, sunny day. It amazed me and really piqued my interest in lasers. It remained just as bright for about 9 months (with heavy usage) and began to decline. I started to become frustrated with it because it ate batteries very fast (would be bright on a fresh pair, then after a while would fade out to a faint dot, and was very finicky -- I would have to 'warm' it up, by repeatedly pressing the button and keeping it on for a few seconds before it would get to be as bright as it used to. The dot itself also began to look 'smudged'. Then, just recently, the copper ring that was glued on that secured the other half of the host fell out, and I botched the reattchment process because the glue I was using dried almost instantly, and now I can't get the copper ring back in because the glue is preventing it. I could go through work to dissolve the glue and redo it, but I decided I would forgo that idea and buy a higher-quality laser that wouldn't have all these problems. Just to note before you read the next paragraph, that the laser was '5mw' but could have been overspec -- I am a newbie to all of this and can't tell by looking and definitely don't have any kind of meter. As a side note, I did purchase a purple version of the same laser and it lasts forever on batteries and always outputs the same bright beam. It hasn't been used nearly as much though. (green is cool, and my eyes can't seem to focus on the purple dot at all(

So fast-forward to now. The Optotronics laser came and to keep the story short I am very unimpressed with it. The dot is definitely smaller and more defined, which probably means it's also a lot more focused than the old one, so that's good. The host also seems a bit sturdier. But this guy is not as bright as the old laser (beam not as visible, dot not as vibrant, special effect caps very faint), eats batteries just as quickly, and has the strange output instability requiring me to 'warm up' the laser. I can barely see the dot 20 yards away in sunlight. I'm just kinda disappointed. My expectations were lofty, but this doesn't seem 'as good' as my old laser was in it's 9 months or so of good life.

The thing is, I'm new to the laser scene. Maybe the old laser was way overspec? Do all green lasers experience the same output stability issues? Am I just seeing the voltage decline in Alkaline batteries and calling them dead? I feel dumb, and want to ask you guys if I was sent a good laser and am just ignorant, or if my observations are correct. I was going to originally send Jack a message about all of this but he is probably busy with more important clients...

Also, a weird unrelated note, the package was shipped with signature confirmation (and is clearly labeled as such) but the mailman just shoved it in mailbox and went on his merry way. I know this has nothing to do with Optotronics, but should I call the post office about this?

*I realized all of the risks associated with a 15mw laser being operated without safety goggles, and am aware of the precautions needed to protect my eyes. I use the special effects caps most of the time, although sometimes I take it outside and point at the sky and distant objects with it.

Thanks guys! I love forums.



Last edited by icysuspect; 01-28-2013 at 01:43 PM. Reason: added a little bit more info for comparison
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:40 PM #2
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Most of those Amazon and eBay "5mW" lasers are actually overspec. Most go up to 30+mW. This could be the case why your opto laser is dimmer compared to your previous one.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:42 PM #3
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

It's normal for your Amazon laser to have degraded with time! You get what you pay for!

But yes, these mass-produced lasers are often overspec. You could easily have gotten a 30-80mW laser! So this new laser you own is probably actually 14mW (LPM verified). But 57$ for a 10mW 532nm? Doesn't that seem really expensive!
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:45 PM #4
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Expensive but you get a metered and quality laser.
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:48 PM #5
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

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Originally Posted by Zeebit View Post
Expensive but you get a metered and quality laser.
Just how much quality can be fit into a small pen? Personally, I'd spend 1,73$ for an overspec before spending 60$ for a <30mW any day :P
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:51 PM #6
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebit View Post
Most of those Amazon and eBay "5mW" lasers are actually overspec. Most go up to 30+mW. This could be the case why your opto laser is dimmer compared to your previous one.
What about the output instability and poor battery life? Is that just a universal issue with green lasers?

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It's normal for your Amazon laser to have degraded with time! You get what you pay for!

But yes, these mass-produced lasers are often overspec. You could easily have gotten a 30-80mW laser! So this new laser you own is probably actually 14mW (LPM verified). But 57$ for a 10mW 532nm? Doesn't that seem really expensive!
Well, Optotronics seems to have a really good reputation, they verify the output, ship fast to USA addresses and based on what I've seen, their customer support is pretty solid. I mean, you said it... you get what you pay for. So that's why I figured I would go with Optotronics. Should I have gone somewhere else?
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:54 PM #7
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Quote:
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Just how much quality can be fit into a small pen? Personally, I'd spend 1,73$ for an overspec before spending 60$ for a <30mW any day :P
Well, I was just trying to keep an eye out for my... eyes. The general advice seemed that a high-powered one could hurt them. (Even though they suckl anyway)
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:01 PM #8
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

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Well, I was just trying to keep an eye out for my... eyes. The general advice seemed that a high-powered one could hurt them. (Even though they suckl anyway)
You can get a pair of glasses for 10$ on Amazon, .

Also, consider looking for someone close to you with a LPM so they could test your lasers!
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:07 PM #9
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

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Just how much quality can be fit into a small pen? Personally, I'd spend 1,73$ for an overspec before spending 60$ for a <30mW any day :P
It's not the size but the way it's built and tested that matters. I too would spend for a generic pen than a branded one (because I'm broke).

@icysuspect - it's actually a good move to get a low powered laser for starters. I like that you prioritize your safety first. You should expect some longevity with that Opto laser if you don't abuse it.

Personally, I don't mind using my 75mW without protection because I mainly use it for pointing outside and I try to be very careful and aware of my environment.

Green lasers are known for their instability. They have crystals inside that turn IR light into green. These crystals have a narrow temperature range at which they can operate at maximum efficiency. Google DPSS green laser if you want to know more.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:21 PM #10
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeebit View Post
It's not the size but the way it's built and tested that matters. I too would spend for a generic pen than a branded one (because I'm broke).

@icysuspect - it's actually a good move to get a low powered laser for starters. I like that you prioritize your safety first. You should expect some longevity with that Opto laser if you don't abuse it.

Personally, I don't mind using my 75mW without protection because I mainly use it for pointing outside and I try to be very careful and aware of my environment.

Green lasers are known for their instability. They have crystals inside that turn IR light into green. These crystals have a narrow temperature range at which they can operate at maximum efficiency. Google DPSS green laser if you want to know more.
Does a ''high quality'' laser have more stability than a cheap one?
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:33 PM #11
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Default Re: Ignorance or Defective Laser?

I do not have any solid proof but I think yes. Higher quality driver, crystals and heatsinking offer higher stability.
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