Old 03-10-2012, 04:13 PM #1
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Default Questions about powerful lasers *SOLVED*

First off, I'm new to these forums and to lasers. I've been researching them after seeing a KipKay video (about 18 hours ago, mind you) that showed a man building a cheap laser from scratch that was powerful enough to light things on fire at close range. I thought that was pretty cool, and went off to look at burning lasers. The 1W Arctic popped up before long.

It's quite the monster of a laser, obviously. I watched all kinds of video of people torching ants, balloons, matches, CD cases, doing engravings on wood, etc. and was impressed, but of course, then there's the inherent danger. It puzzles me how so many people use these lasers on youtube so casually, often with no eye protection, when they can apparently singe your retina upon instantaneous direct contact (even just a pass over). It also makes me wonder why anyone would bother with anything other than the normal and 20% "safety" lenses if this thing "isn't a toy".

I read up on all kinds of safety info, and it just seems to get worse. It seems far too easy for a beam, even a scattered beam, to glance off of a reflective object by accident and damage someone's eye forever. Apparently any laser intensity above 5mW is in considerable danger of doing this, and that's pretty low. A 1W laser is obviously quite a lot stronger than that, but considering that, even when scattered, a laser beam from this thing needs only more than 5mW to cause harm, that sounds like a huge risk. On top of that, apparently blue laser beams are especially effective at ruining your retina, as opposed to other colors. The list of risks with nightmarish concequences seems to grow.

I need someone to set me straight here. I don't know how much of this is exaggeration and what is under-emphasized. Unfortunately, most of what I've read do not cite specific examples or put anything into context.

Basically I need to know a few certain things:

1. Exactly what kind(s) of exposure, and at what length of time and distance does it take to cause permanent or lengthy damage to your eyes when unprotected? Types of exposure may include direct, reflected and dissipated/scattered.

2. Same as #1, but with protected eyes.

3. What kind of protection and/or precautions is/are necessary to make using a 1W, blue colored laser like the Arctic safe, or reasonably safe, when used in a cautious manner by someone with protected eyes (goggles, I mean)? Reasonably safe would mean that as long as someone didn't shine the thing directly at their eye or someone's else's on purpose and wore protective goggles, they would sustain no permanent or long-term damage. Protected eyes would protect against quick pass-overs or an accidental split-second of direct contact to the eye that would be protected against long enough for someone to reflexively close their eye and turn away. Obviously with a laser like this, it's a bad idea to point it at anyone whom you'd care not to hurt. If you don't like this definition of "reasonably safe," please provide your own parameters.

4. What kind of practical or fun uses would a 1W blue colored laser have? Would it be possible to remain safe while doing these things? Would it be more efficient to use a lower strength laser, or one of another color?

I think those questions are about as specific as I can make them. I know they're long winded and look more like the questions on a test, but I want to know as much about these lasers as possible because right now they appear far too dangerous to be used in anything other than the most practical of situations with an abundance of protection.

Also, it might help you to know that I'll probably be using this laser mostly to start fires/ignite things at a distance (not forests!), and to kill insects, but mostly to kill spiders or disrupt spiders and their homes so that I can get rid of something a bit more efficient for the job, either indoors or outdoors. I know this isn't really the most noble or safe use of the thing, but there are some spiders that are too frightening or in places I can't easily get to, or want to get to. The mere sight of them makes me jittery, twitchy, and nervous, and it grows more intense with proximity. As of late, I've been using a small handheld torch and flashing them with a quick blast of heat to quickly kill them or disperse them, but I can now think of more effective methods at that range, such as an air duster can or a vacuum, which is the easiest way in most cases. However, this past year has been the worst for me, and at least one enormous spider has entered my home, and I found probably the biggest spider tent I have ever seen inside my frequently cleaned, supposedly air-tight home. I need a more controlled solution that can work at a larger distance that don't involve open flames that can easily start fires, or copious amounts of soap and water or other cleaning sollutions that can seep into things like outlets or coat surfaces in substances unsafe for a pet to be eating around or licking. At the very least, if it's not safe to use a laser like this for something so petty or unpredictable (like accidentally hitting a window or another reflective surface), I'd like to at least be able to pester spiders into the open or cut webs from a distance to force them to emerge or make it harder for them to move about safely. Webs might not damage that easily, but sufficient heat will sever them and spiders like a nice, clean web, so they'll be forced to repair it at some point. This will be most useful in sheds and other areas where they have me at a disadvantage.

Anyways, sorry for the giant post, I thought it fit to give you as much info as possible. If you'd like to help, please answer any questions in as much detail as you can, or point me to sources that can better aid me. If you want to go the extra mile, please cite sources, or if it's from personal experience, cite how long you've been using lasers, and at what strength(s). As always, your time and effort is greatly appreciated, and I hope any findings made here can help people in the future.

EDIT: I made this thread a while ago, but the site seemed to die for about 20 minutes, so I decided to do a bit more research. It appears Laser Pointer Safety - Independent resource on handheld portable lasers did a pretty thorough review of the laser's safety features and it looks like they've determined that, with the included safety goggles, the laser is reasonably safe to use by a responsible adult. I mean, you'd be crazy not to wear them, really, since they can definitely do extensive eye damage with ease. Apparently the goggles are OD3, which means it can cut the laser beam's power down by 1000x, and since the laser's actual strength is about 720mW, I would think even an accidental graze over the eye would leave it unharmed not that doing that is okay at all. Still, I'd appreciate different viewpoints, especially if they left some not-so-apparent details out. You're free to refer to the review done on their website.

EDIT 2: Thanks for the help guys, you've answered my questions well and I think I have a much better understanding on these things. Not to mention, you guys might have saved me from recklessly using a laser and shooting an eye out.



Last edited by Gabraham; 03-12-2012 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:26 PM #2
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Buy the "torch" from wicked. Easy fire starter lol.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:27 PM #3
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Too much to read on the weekend...
I skimmed though it...

You are basically asking about how to protect yourself
from Lasers that are >5mW...

There is a ton of information on the Forum on this subject
and it is free to anyone that will make an effort to research
and read it.

Basically you should be wearing appropriate Laser Safety
Googles for Lasers that are >5mW and even more so for
using any Lasers of higher output power.

The insect thing has also already been discussed a few
times...

That Being said...............

to the Forum....
Don't forget to read the FAQs...the Stickies
and the Forum Rules..

If you plan on buying anything on the Forum....
PLEASE read this first...

6 Steps To Prevent You From Getting Scammed

and PLEASE don't forget to read to this....

39 Reasons NOT to Buy From Wicked Lasers

If you do get a Laser or already have one be sure
to get appropriate Laser Safety Goggles/Glasses...


Enjoy your stay...


Jerry
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:48 PM #4
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital View Post
Buy the "torch" from wicked. Easy fire starter lol.
I'm assuming that's a joke, but just in case... I saw a video of that flashlight burning out in seconds of its first use, and that light is far too wide. I don't want to shower my enemies with heat, I want to burn a small hole through them, and from as far away as possible.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lasersbee View Post
Too much to read on the weekend...
I skimmed though it...

You are basically asking about how to protect yourself
from Lasers that are >5mW...

There is a ton of information on the Forum on this subject
and it is free to anyone that will make an effort to research
and read it.

Basically you should be wearing appropriate Laser Safety
Googles for Lasers that are >5mW and even more so for
using any Lasers of higher output power.

The insect thing has also already been discussed a few
times...

That Being said...............

to the Forum....
Don't forget to read the FAQs...the Stickies
and the Forum Rules..

If you plan on buying anything on the Forum....
PLEASE read this first...

6 Steps To Prevent You From Getting Scammed

and PLEASE don't forget to read to this....

39 Reasons NOT to Buy From Wicked Lasers

If you do get a Laser or already have one be sure
to get appropriate Laser Safety Goggles/Glasses...


Enjoy your stay...


Jerry
Thanks for the quick reply. I've already read up on what you've mentioned (aside from the 39 reasons thing, but I believe most of their horrible customer service came around 2010 and it's probably much better now) and I have a pretty fair grasp on laser safety. I've also read a few threads on killing insects and why it would or would not be effective, and am considering buying a less intense, more affordable laser just powerful enough to scare spiders out of hiding places, or cause them to fall to the floor, so they can get taste Gabraham's behemoth stomp. Most importantly though, I need specifics about laser safety. I know goggles can provide defense against lasers, but I need to know exactly which ratings to look for, how much protection I'll get and from what types of lasers and intensities, etc. I want to know all I can before putting my precious eyesight at risk.

Last edited by Gabraham; 03-10-2012 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 03-10-2012, 04:48 PM #5
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Lasers are an invisible danger because if they hit you in the eye, it doesn't hurt, and it appears to have done no damage. Unlike other dangers such as knives, if you stab yourself, it hurts and red stuff comes out.

That is why you get people carelessly using them.
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:20 PM #6
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by magmabeam View Post
Lasers are an invisible danger because if they hit you in the eye, it doesn't hurt, and it appears to have done no damage. Unlike other dangers such as knives, if you stab yourself, it hurts and red stuff comes out.

That is why you get people carelessly using them.
Yeah, I hear IR lasers can not only damage your eye, but is completely invisible to the naked eye. What do you think the best thing to do is if a laser accidentally bounces off of something and hits you in the eye through an adequate set of goggles? Should you stop right there for a day just to be safe, or is it probably alright so long as the goggles are strong enough and you weren't flashed too hard?
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Old 03-10-2012, 05:35 PM #7
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabraham View Post
Yeah, I hear IR lasers can not only damage your eye, but is completely invisible to the naked eye. What do you think the best thing to do is if a laser accidentally bounces off of something and hits you in the eye through an adequate set of goggles? Should you stop right there for a day just to be safe, or is it probably alright so long as the goggles are strong enough and you weren't flashed too hard?
If you get hit in the eye with a laser, especially a Class IV laser, even with goggles on, go to an eye doctor ASAP. You can't "assume" what power actually hit you unless you've tested the goggles blocking power on an LPM. All you're gonna know is that you got hit with something bright.

It's like if you got bit by a snake and didn't know if it was a coral snake or a king snake. Don't "take the chance" and wait to learn. It's your eyes.

If you're new, start with lower powers and work your way up. You can burn things with at least 100mW of really any color.

That being said, welcome to the forum. Read up on building a laser. The best way, in my opinion, to know what your laser is doing is to build it yourself. You'll know what diode is used, what amperage it set at, what lens it uses, what driver it has, what battery it uses, etc.

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Old 03-10-2012, 05:59 PM #8
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

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If you get hit in the eye with a laser, especially a Class IV laser, even with goggles on, go to an eye doctor ASAP. You can't "assume" what power actually hit you unless you've tested the goggles blocking power on an LPM. All you're gonna know is that you got hit with something bright.

It's like if you got bit by a snake and didn't know if it was a coral snake or a king snake. Don't "take the chance" and wait to learn. It's your eyes.

If you're new, start with lower powers and work your way up. You can burn things with at least 100mW of really any color.

That being said, welcome to the forum. Read up on building a laser. The best way, in my opinion, to know what your laser is doing is to build it yourself. You'll know what diode is used, what amperage it set at, what lens it uses, what driver it has, what battery it uses, etc.
I wasn't sure exactly how serious it was with goggles on. Now I think I'll be afraid to touch a 1W laser anytime soon. I just don't get how you could have fun with that much power if it's so easy to wreck your eyeballs with a casual graze. Seems like this kind of thing should be reserved for controlled, practical usage, not for waving around "because it looks cool".

On that note, I guess a much weaker laser would be more acceptable. At the very least, if I want to kill spiders with it, I'll just use it to get them out of corners with a hot foot, then splatter them. Plus I could use it to start fires at close range, I take it. I thought that KipKay butane lighter mod was kind of cool but I don't know a damn thing about wiring together electronics or soldering. I'm assuming there's areas on this site for that info so I suppose I could check there.

Back to safety though, how safe is it to use even a 100mW laser? Do you still have to be incredibly strict with how you use it or can you rest easy so long as you have adequately rated goggles? I'm all for being safe but if I can't have fun with and not stress out about charring the back of my eyeballs then I think overpowered lasers aren't for me. Maybe I'll stick with the much safer torch and burn my fingers off instead!
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:03 PM #9
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

There is a HSE guidance note in the Uk - PM19 which gives maximum exposure limits in relation to display lasers - I had a copy from when I did shows -

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Old 03-10-2012, 06:17 PM #10
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

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Also, it might help you to know that I'll probably be using this laser mostly to start fires/ignite things at a distance
If you want to burn at distance you should look into the higher power 405nm lasers. They will burn @ much greater distances since they use single mode diodes that are able to focus their power into a very small area where the 445 spreads it's power like crazy the further out you go. Also it is fun to take the lens out and look for materials that fluoresce with UV.

In regards to the WL lasers aside from the fact they have a pretty decent looking host you can build something much stronger with better quality here. And building a laser for yourself gives you a better understanding of how they work and a little more respect for them than just buying one off the shelf and going to town with it.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:22 PM #11
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

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If you want to burn at distance you should look into the higher power 405nm lasers. They will burn @ much greater distances since they use single mode diodes that are able to focus their power into a very small area where the 445 spreads it's power like crazy the further out you go. Also it is fun to take the lens out and look for materials that fluoresce with UV.

In regards to the WL lasers aside from the fact they have a pretty decent looking host you can build something much stronger with better quality here. And building a laser for yourself gives you a better understanding of how they work and a little more respect for them than just buying one off the shelf and going to town with it.
Lets hope that's not what he actually does with
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:23 PM #12
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

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If you want to burn at distance you should look into the higher power 405nm lasers. They will burn @ much greater distances since they use single mode diodes that are able to focus their power into a very small area where the 445 spreads it's power like crazy the further out you go. Also it is fun to take the lens out and look for materials that fluoresce with UV.

In regards to the WL lasers aside from the fact they have a pretty decent looking host you can build something much stronger with better quality here. And building a laser for yourself gives you a better understanding of how they work and a little more respect for them than just buying one off the shelf and going to town with it.
Yeah, that all sounds cool, but chances are a beam is eventually going to find its way across my eye unless I stay paranoid about what I shine it on, and if I'm going to singe the hairs off the back of a spider, a spider which will immediately scramble upon feeling anything, I'll probably be waving it across all types of surfaces and might not realize it touched a window, a shiney piece of metal, or a mirror before it's too late. I need to know that it's reasonably safe or I'm not going to risk my eyesight.
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:28 PM #13
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

If you know you're gonna hit yourself in the eye why would you do that with one?

If you do get a laser that can burn like that, then invest in the best goggles you can find. Even though I'd recommend you don't get a laser if you admit it'll hit you in the eye, you may as well try to soften the blow.

But seriously... maybe you should, I guess, "train" with some lower power ones first.

*Edit* to answer your question definitively.... Laser + Eye = Damage.... a.k.a serious vision loss

See here: http://laserpointerforums.com/f53/hi...ser-69469.html

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Old 03-10-2012, 07:51 PM #14
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

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*Edit* to answer your question definitively.... Laser + Eye = Damage.... a.k.a serious vision loss

See here: http://laserpointerforums.com/f53/hi...ser-69469.html
SCREW. THAT.

After reading that, it's game over. I'm not touching lasers, and you people are crazy for using them! From now on, to me, any laser that is 5mW< is a gun, end of discussion. There were people in that thread saying a 9mW grazing is serious eye damage, so no thanks.

I'm kind of angry at youtubers for playing around with this thing like it's nothing. No goggles either. I actually saw one video of two people using a special lense that made a star pattern, and they were walking around this one guy and filming it. Suicide. On the other hand, maybe they don't know either? Why the hell is WickedLasers trying to sell this thing off like it's cool? I can't believe I almost bought one, some godly force must have stopped me one way or another. Thankfully, it's priced so high that it's pretty hard not to second-guess, but it's also good that I took those safety notices seriously. As loud as those notices speak, however, it's not loud enough. These lasers are definitely not toys in any sense of the word and should not be used as such.

I'm really glad I came to this forum and got the facts straight. Any laser above 5mW has to be treated like a weapon. Here I was thinking "50mW? 100mW? Small potatoes, I'd be fine". Yikes, that's how close I came to getting my hands on one of these. I think I'll even get a little nervous around my own presentation laser.

Just makes me think, though, what the hell are you guys using them for?!

Anyways, you guys have been really helpful. I'll stick to more archaic methods of agitating spiders.
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:02 PM #15
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabraham View Post
SCREW. THAT.

After reading that, it's game over. I'm not touching lasers, and you people are crazy for using them! From now on, to me, any laser that is 5mW< is a gun, end of discussion. There were people in that thread saying a 9mW grazing is serious eye damage, so no thanks.

I'm kind of angry at youtubers for playing around with this thing like it's nothing. No goggles either. I actually saw one video of two people using a special lense that made a star pattern, and they were walking around this one guy and filming it. Suicide. On the other hand, maybe they don't know either? Why the hell is WickedLasers trying to sell this thing off like it's cool? I can't believe I almost bought one, some godly force must have stopped me one way or another. Thankfully, it's priced so high that it's pretty hard not to second-guess, but it's also good that I took those safety notices seriously. As loud as those notices speak, however, it's not loud enough. These lasers are definitely not toys in any sense of the word and should not be used as such.

I'm really glad I came to this forum and got the facts straight. Any laser above 5mW has to be treated like a weapon. Here I was thinking "50mW? 100mW? Small potatoes, I'd be fine". Yikes, that's how close I came to getting my hands on one of these. I think I'll even get a little nervous around my own presentation laser.

Just makes me think, though, what the hell are you guys using them for?!

Anyways, you guys have been really helpful. I'll stick to more archaic methods of agitating spiders.
Well I've been using Lasers up to 30Watts in our shop
and have not had an accident to date.
That is probably due to the fact that we practice good
Laser Safety practices and expect an accident may happen.
I don't think we are crazy...
Use them properly and you will be safe.

If one is not comfortable being careful and following safety
procedures then Lasers are not meant or them and can be
very dangerous...

We use them to calibrate LPMs and test Thermopile coatings.


Jerry
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Last edited by lasersbee; 03-10-2012 at 08:05 PM. Reason: spelling errors
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:17 PM #16
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Default Re: Questions about powerful lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by lasersbee View Post
Well I've been using Lasers up to 30Watts in our shop
and have not had an accident to date.
That is probably due to the fact that we practice good
Laser Safety practices and expect an accident may happen.
I don't think we are crazy...
Use them properly and you will be safe.

If one is not comfortable being careful and following safety
procedures then Lasers are not meant or them and can be
very dangerous...

We use them to calibrate LPMs and test Thermopile coatings.


Jerry
I just don't trust myself with one. Of course I wouldn't dare use the thing without the glasses on, but I can't think of a single use of it that is worth the risk of there being an even slight possibility that it would bounce into a naked eye. Apparently you can't even be sure even if you do have goggles unless you have the right equipment, but I'm far too much of a novice to play with these things. I just don't know what I'm dealing with. Even scarier than all of this, I could have bought this thing last night and I might not have bothered to talk to any of you about it simply because I wanted a cool new toy to fry things with and needed an excuse to get one. I decided it wasn't necessary, and probably a overkill for such an eye risk, but I just didn't comprehend it fully. I didn't give it the respect it deserved, and I don't think getting a 1W death ray to pester spiders is the best use of my money or my good health. Once again, you guys saved me. Thanks so much Fret for showing me that link (the subject in question now has a friggin avatar of what I have to guess is a damaged retina, possibly his own).
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