- Jan 10, 2015
Ladies and gentlemen, oh man it's so good to see you again. It's been a minute, let me say that. Even though I've been away for so long, I've been watching from the shadows as things like the Sci-fi lasers drama unfolded, rep system revolutions, as well as members coming and going like seagulls to a spilled cup of french fries. I also somehow managed to break 200 rep power without posting at all, which is strange. I've been away so long because I really wanted to do something special for my 1000th post, I was gonna make some lasers out of hardware store stuff with as little special tools as possible, but that was just going to take way too long, I couldn't be away from LPF for another 5 or so months. Just as I was pondering what else I could do, I came across an opportunity to do a little work for a lot of money. Short story long, my father bought an old condo to flip and rent out again. I could keep whatever I found in the entire condo, under the condition that I would help him renovate. So, along with some random goodies and tools I found, the real jackpot was the massive pile of scrap copper and brass the previous tenant was probably stealing but left behind. So I spend a few days separating the metals from the non metals and the metals from the other metals (they give you more money if they have to do less work), and I find out that what I predicted to be a couple dozen pounds of metals turned out to be a couple hundred. Therefore, the predicted yield of about fifty Canadian Pesos turned out to be a few hundred. What was I to do with $700? Buy my dream laser of course! I'm an exotic wavelength fanatic, but also don't really like much that's less than like 30mW. What's that? A laser that meets both criteria?! It's the 100mW 473nm Pl-E Pro, made by Jetlasers!
Let's get this out of the way now so you don't get cornfused later, if what you're reading might be referencing a picture, the picture in question will be the one below it, not the one above it
In here you're gonna find: an in depth review of the laser, as well as a quick glance of Jetlasers' Adjustable Beam Expander, some wicked beam shots now that I have a good camera, and maybe a little bit more, I dunno. I'm kinda making this up as I go along.
PART I: THE LASER
SECTION 1: A Peek At My Package
Now, after the order was placed, it was a couple weeks before the action started. This is because the laser isn't exactly an off the shelf item, in fact the first pump diode they tried didn't cut it, so a good chunk of the wait was them waiting for a different pump diode to be in stock. No blame on them, this is a pretty rare laser and it's not easy to make. Anywhosers, they shipped with DHL again, I especially like DHL because they always make sure to attempt a delivery precisely when nobody is home. Here's what I received, this is shortly after I started tearing into it before realizing 'I should take a pic or two, yea.'
And here's the contents all spread eagle for ya. That's a one inch grid, and shut up Queen Elizabeth. I can use whatever units I want. Reading like an English book (left to right, top to bottom); instruction thingy, warranty card stuff, laser head, battery tube and tailcap, beam expander, battery charger, a bag containing a lens cloth and keys for the tailcap, some inspection card thing maybe?, and finally a camo lanyard. Everything came in a cardboard foam padded 'tray' thing, no carrying case in sight.
SECTION 2: At A Glance
So as you might all have guessed, it has the classic 'Pl-E Pro' body to it. Lots of ridges and machining, the whole nine yards. Let me say this: the black finish on the host is orders of magnitude better than the silver finish.
The laser arrived perfect down to the molecular level; not a scratch or fingerprint on it. This is after I slathered my grubby digits all over it. The control centre has the big constant on/off clicky far left, the momentary button middle, and the indicator lights far right. You might've seen this before, but when the constant on/off switch is activated, green LEDs light up with the red, and the momentary switch turns on blue LEDs with the red. Yes, you can make all three light up at the same time.
Here's the rear end, the push button tailcap option wasn't available, but I don't mind having the key lock. It is another level of safety, plus people are always surprised to see that I need a key to start my laser.
And here's the side opposite to the buttons, from left to right there is the port where an activation pin goes (but I don't think it's set up for it), the DC jack which takes five volts and at more than 2 amps, I know this cause the jack I made barely powers it, and finally tripod threads:
The tripod threads are really shallow like my ex, so it's pretty necessary to use a tripod with a pad that comes up to grip it like this probably one of a kind tripod I have. Here's a neat tutorial;
This laser must've defied it's parents, because she has a tattoo! The kind folks at Jetlasers REALLY want to make sure you don't fry your laser by reversing the battery polarity, so they stamped this on here admittedly crookedly. I would imagine a $700 laser would have reverse polarity protection, but maybe it wasn't possible. And I'd rather not find out. I'd kinda preferred if they didn't put this on the outside, I'd like if they put it on the inside of the tailcap and battery tube like I did for my green laser, but oh whale.
Nearing the front, we look at the focusing mechanism. On my green laser, the silver Pl-E Pro, there were two large markings to indicate infinity on the focus. However on this laser, the markings on the body are indistinguishable from one another, so I never know exactly where infinity is. Not a fan of this, later I'll have to mark infinity with a marker or tape.
Finally, here's the business end, you can see the IR filter. Not too sure if it's visible in this photo, but the edges on the crown are actually smooth and rounded over, I'm not sure if this intentional but Jetlasers might've listened to us saying we're always cutting our fingers trying to put the dust cap on!
SECTION 3: But Does It Chooch?
Alright, enough beatin it in the bush, lets power this puppy up.
Ta-da! Man, the colour is just spectacular, and I'm gonna use one of LPF's mottos and say 'the camera just doesn't do it justice'. WHEEEEW, it is just so beautiful.
just... just lookit it
The flat black goes excellent with the sky blue beam:
Here it is with some friends:
With some glow in the dark rocks that glow pretty much the exact same colour:
Or with a 532:
Into the sky (yes I was careful of anybody or anything on or above the ground)
And here's my favourite pic, just two Pl-E Pros:
The laser can focus:
Which means it can burn! Here it is lighting some non-sharpied matches! (fun fact, Styropyro commented on this vidjeyo )
SECTION 4: The Nitty Gritty
First off, let's look at the beam itself. From a cold start, the laser runs in what appears to actually be TEM02, or three bean shaped dots in a row:
The output is dimmed down with a nearly dead battery, and expanded through the beam expander, which is why the right side of the beam is clipped. After running for about a minute to full warmth and power, it works its way into a really solid TEM01. The two beams are pretty indistinguishable, as well as the beam is very thin, so it really looks like one beam. Here is the best pic I have of it in TEM01 (warning: terrible pic )
Note, one side is brighter than the other. Speaking of beam characteristics, let's look at diameter and divergence. Fresh outta the aperture, we're looking at a 1.5mm (right around 60 thousandths of an inch). That's a pretty needle thin beam. And despite such a thin starting diameter and running in TEM01, the divergence is good. How good, you ask? Oh, just an okay-ish ZERO POINT FIVE MILLIRADIAN!! Yes, half a mRad! I even took the laser outside into my backyard to make sure it was focused to infinity and not on the wall I was measuring off of, but it still measured 0.5 mRad. I know, I'm just as flabbergasted as you are.
Let's talk electrical for a second. Measuring current draw isn't working well with my cheap multimeter right now, but in an email I must've deleted I remember Gray saying the laser needs to draw 2-2.5 amps from the battery to operate. I don't have a DC wall adapter that can run five volts and enough amps to really satisfy the laser's needs, so my only option is batteries. I have two cheap ___-fire batteries that run my green laser just fine for several hours of normal use, but when I pop a freshly charged one into the 473, the poor thing gets sucked dry before the laser can even get to full power! Thankfully, I found an old portable phone charger whose circuit board was broken, and when I took it apart I found a perfectly good 18650 in there, and properly coloured too! I marked the positive side with the blue elekchicken's tape since it's a flat top.
It's probably not the highest quality battery, but it's a helluva lot better than the other 18650s I have, because it can actually run the laser for a usable amount of time. Yes, I have ordered 26650 batteries, but I think they tried to scam me or the postal service shít the bed on me, so Amázon is looking into it.
Next up, is arguably the most important function of the laser; output power. First off, you know that this is a DPSS laser. The way it's set up, the laser takes about 45 seconds to a minute for the laser to reach full brightness, because the heat causes the crystals to expand a little and shift into optimal alignment. From an absolute cold start I'll reckon she spits out about 30-40mW, comparing to the 45mW 473nm labby I have. Once she gets all hot and bothered, you can leave it for quite some time for where you can turn it back on again and it'll be pre warmed for you. Here's the video Gray sent me of the laser being metered before shipping, I never got a time when I asked Gray how long it had been on before he started recording but I think it's been properly 'warmed up', i.e. on for more than a minute plus.
Notice how quickly the power drops off once it gets too hot. I've never let the laser get to that point, and I never will. I'll say, there is definitely a noticeable difference between cold start power and toasty power. The dot is clear and strong on both of them, just 177mW is a lot brighter than 30ish mW, as you might've guessed. On startup, the beam in no fog is visible in the dark, it's sort of like a sparkling whitish blue blurry line that your night vision picks up, but not your cones which see colour. However, at full mast the beam is awesome. Clearly sky blue, sharp and defined, it's a thing to behold. Outside at night it is so amazing to see such a beautiful coloured beam shoot into the stars (and not airplanes). And in fog, oh man it's borderline orgasmic, wheeeeew. It makes my jaw drop every time
PART 2: THE BEAM EXPANDER
I figured it would be necessary to showcase this, albeit briefly, since I did order it with the laser. Now, contrary to what I believed when I ordered this, the adjustability feature does not change the diameter of the beam while keeping the focus point constant, it just changes the focal point. Like so:
Unfortunately, the expander broke its neck when I drew the second figure, but that's not important. You can change the focal point by turning the ridged ring, like this:
This moves the pretty golden lens back and forth to adjust focus.
There is an adapting collar that acts as like a middleman between the threads at the aperture of the laser, and the optics (the top part is where the big gland end screws into, the bottom is where it screws into the laser):
This adaptor is offset so the optics can be perfectly in line without clipping the beam very much in case the beam comes out of the laser at an angle or off-centre:
I hear say that the offset is adjustable, but I see no way to do that, and I really don't want to mess with it. I would want to change it because some lasers are offset differently, so if I want to use my green Pl-E Pro with this then it won't work, because it clips off the beam being so off centre
I don't really find the beam expander necessary for my purposes, however you may be completely different. Nonetheless, here are some pics with the 10x Beam Expander on the new laser
This next photo shows the beam in transition from TEM02 to TEM01 pretty well, even though it's a bit exaggerated.
PART 3: SUMMARY
SECTION 1: Jetlasers
My experience with Jetlasers was phenomenal! As always, Gray was super helpful and went beyond the call of duty to serve me. Last I heard he was doing well and was getting promoted/working his way up, good on him, he deserves it
Length of shipping was a little hairy, I did receive the laser the very day I was leaving for vacation, when I was expecting to get it weeks before. But as I mentioned earlier, I don't blame them too much because this laser is very difficult to make. I might return my beam expander, and when I mentioned that Gray was quick to assure me that I would get a full refund if I chose to, although that refund might as well be in store credit cause I probably won't use it anywhere else
SECTION 2: My New Goodies Overall
I think I've done an alright job in giving you the tip, and just the tip, of the iceberg on how awesome this laser is. It's not as flashy as a 400mW 532, so it's definitely more of a hobbyist's laser than a show off laser. The total price of the package came out to be like $513 USD, but up here that's $720ish Canadian Pesos, so you better be a pretttyyy huge laser fan to order this. Which luckily, I just happen to be Worth it? Yeah, I couldn't think of many better ways to spend that much money This is less of a consumer review and more of a show n tell because not a lot of people are going to buy this laser, so I won't give any ratings out of ten. I'll let you guys make up you own minds on what you think.
Wow, I put a lot of time and effort into this review, more so than I was expecting. If any of you have any questions on the laser or anything else for me, ask ahead! And if you want more pictures of something in particular in the laser, I'll do my best to provide. If you liked this review and think it could help other people, let me know! The more people that comment on this, the more popular it gets and the more people visiting the forums are able to see this
Can't wait to see you guys and girls around the forums again!
EDIT: Resized all the photos, they should be better