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A guide to buying your first laser

brendon7358

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An updated version of A Guide To Buying Your First Green Laser

FAQ's
___________________________________________________
Q: What does mW mean? What does nm mean?
MW=Megawatt
W=Watt
mW=Miliwatt

nm=Nanometer

A common misspelling of mW is MW most likely any laser you own will be in the mW range not the MW range just keep that in mind. The higher the mW the more powerful the laser will be i.e. brighter and burn more also more dangerous

1000mW=1W
1,000,000W=1MW
(A normal red pointer is 1-10mW)

nm or nanometer is a measurment of color humans can see. The visible wavelenghts (give or take) are between 400nm and 700nm below 400nm is UV and above 700nm is IR. The brightest is 555nm which is a greenish color, the closer a laser is to 555nm the brighter it will be which is why a 50mW 532nm is a lot brighter than a 200mW 650nm. Here is a good picture to help you better understand it.


Most red pointers will be 650nm, others will be 638nm. Green pointers are 532nm. Blue lasers are 445nm and violet lasers are 405nm. A good tool to calculate how bright a laser will be in comparison to others is this. But remember not everyone's eyes are exactly the same for instance I can see IR leakage from a green laser pointer if its powerful enough even though its 808nm and way beyond the visible spectrum.
___________________________________________________

Q: What wavelength (nm) should I get?

This all depends on your personal color preference, and what you plan on doing with the laser.
For burning

  • 445nm*
  • 405nm
  • 650nm
*If this is your first laser PLEASE for the safety of yourself and others as well as keeping this hobby going do NOT get a 445nm as your first laser it is WAY to powerful

You may be wondering why a 445nm is more powerful than a 650nm or 405nm when earlier I explained that power is determined by mW and not nm this is because not all laser wavelengths are available at cheap prices in all powers for instance most 445nm lasers will be in the 1W range because they were developed for laser projectors and due to the 445nm wavelength being so close to UV they need to be very powerful to be bright enough in their projectors. As for why 405nm and 650nm aren't used in such high powers I don't know they just aren't.

For beam viewing

  • 532nm
  • 445nm
Due to the high visibility of 532nm and the high power of 445nm lasers these two are ideal for beam viewing but if you want a laser for astrology go with a 532nm because a 445nm is much too bright.
___________________________________________________
Q: What power do I need (how many mW?)

This all depends on the wavelength and what you want to do with it

532nm--Beam viewing/Burning

This is an excellent video



445nm--Beam viewing/Burning

You need no more than 1W to see the beam or burn insanely with a 445nm you don't even need 1W but that's pretty much the minimum available besides with osram diodes

650nm--Beam veiwing/Burning

I have no idea how much power you would need to get a beam out of a 650nm as they are not very highly available above 300mW but for burning 200mW+ will do just fine although remember that red matches will reflect red light so either color them black or use different colored matches.

405nm--Beam viewing/burning

Personally I don't have very much experience with 405nm but I would assume 500mW would be enough for a beam and I know you can burn just as well as a 200mW 650nm with a 150mW 405nm (or better)

___________________________________________________
Q: What types of lasers are there?

In order from most common to least common:

  1. Diode lasers
  2. DPSS lasers
  3. Gas lasers
Diode lasers are the cheapest and most available lasers out there and all laser pointers (except 532nm) use them.
DPSS is used for green lasers and exotic wavelengths such as 473nm, and 594/593nm.
Gas lasers are used for higher power lasers and are older technology.

___________________________________________________

Q: When do I need goggles ?

The "textbook" answer to this would be "Whenever you're operating a laser with a power greater than 5mW" but that is just unrealistic.

You need goggles when...


  1. Your burning things with your laser
  2. Your setting up a laser light show
  3. Your taking picure's of laser beams
  4. Shining lasers in small rooms*
You do not need goggles when...

  1. Shining lasers at the sky
  2. Shining lasers at distant objects**
  3. Using a laser under 5mW of power
*of course having to use goggles while shining a laser in a small room would defeat the purpose of having a laser powerful enough to produce a beam so just don't shine lasers in small rooms it's that simple :D

**By distant objects I mean objects at least 100 yards away but remember shining lasers at street signs can reflect it back causing eye damage/ damage to the laser also shining lasers at
buildings is illegal and shining them at planes is a federal offence and should not be done with lasers of ANY power.

Now even if you don't plan on doing any of the things you would need goggles for it would be in your best interest to get them any way in case you would like to try it. Also if you feel your laser is not powerful enough that you need goggles it is a good idea to get them anyway in case you decide to get a laser at a higher power in that wavelength (and you will:p)

If me or anyone else just telling you that you should buy goggles is not enough then consider reading this thread.
___________________________________________________
Q: Where should I buy laser goggles from?

OEM Laser Systems
I don't know anything about them but their goggles are top notch and certified

Thorlabs

Same rundown as OEM I don't know much about them but their goggles are top notch and certified

Survival Lasers
This is where I buy all my laser goggles from, they sell Eagle pair safety goggles which are highly recomended here on the forum

Laserglow
Top notch company, Top notch products nuff said

Novalasers

I have never bought from them myself but they are a reputable company with reputable products


Jetlasers
A reputable company and their safety goggles are either eagle pair or very similar I'm not sure

Dragon Lasers
Great company, very reputable products
___________________________________________________
Q: Where should I buy lasers from?

Excellent:
Laserglow

Not the cheapest lasers around but if you want top quality this is the place to go

Novalasers
Also not the most affordable lasers but top quality

Optotronics

Guarenteed to be on spec or over

Jetlasers
A great company with a few very nice looking lasers

Dragon Lasers
Great company, very reputable products

Survival Laser
A US based company their lasers come with some assembly required but anyone can do it


Good:

Right here on the forum !
Not only are the lasers for sale here cheap but their good quality as well be sure to read the 6 steps to prevent you from getting scammed thread because all though 95% of all the sellers here will not rip you off there is always a chance so be cautious


Laserbtb(skylasers)
A popular site for GB's their lasers are good quality and affordable one of the best out there imo

Ok:
Lazerer
This used to be one of my favorite companies but they seem to be a little but overloaded lately and even if their lasers are on spec at the end of the day they are still cheap chineese lasers

O-like
I have never bought from them but it's pretty much the same rundown as with Lazerer


*If anything needs to be fixed or added let me know :thanks: :D
 
Last edited:

ARG

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Nice guide!

Some suggestions:
Add OEM laser systems and Thorlabs to the places to buy goggles, both sell top notch certified goggles.
 

grainde

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Nice write up. :) Just a couple of things:

The IR you can see from the green laser is probably the 808 nm pump diode!;)
I can see an 80 mW 405 quite clearly in the dark and a +500 mW 405 is VERY visible. The beam of a 150 mW 450 is also clearly visible in the day, in a shaded room.
You should add to the "exceptions" on distant objects, that you shouldn't shine at road signs. Often they are designed to reflect the light back at the source.

Lastly what happened to Jet Lasers? I think Hakzaw1 would be a little disappointed! :p

+1 :beer:
 
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brendon7358

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Wow, great post! This should be stickied! +1
:thanks:
Nice guide!

Some suggestions:
Add OEM laser systems and Thorlabs to the places to buy goggles, both sell top notch certified goggles.
Added--Never heard of them before but I have now :D

Nice write up. :) Just a couple of things:

The IR you can see from the green laser is probably the 808 nm pump diode!;)
I can see an 80 mW 405 quite clearly in the dark and a +500 mW 405 is VERY visible. The beam of a 150 mW 450 is also clearly visible in the day, in a shaded room.
You should add to the "exceptions" on distant objects, that you shouldn't shine at road signs. Often they are designed to reflect the light back at the source.

Lastly what happened to Jet Lasers? I think Hakzaw1 would be a little disappointed! :p

+1 :beer:
Fixed and Fixed I swore I added jetlasers but apparently I forgot as for the 405nm everyone's eyes are different, this is especially true with 405nm so I will just leave it the way it is ;)
 
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Antoan

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Great guide. Very nice classification from the basis down to the last detail. Some little suggestion: you can change the colour of the black sentences into more bright colour that will make them easy to see. The black colour looks good but it makes the words difficult to read.
I appreciate your effort you put into the guide here it was very helpful. :thanks:
 

Leodahsan

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Btw rayleigh scattering should be higher at wavelengths ~400nm. So imo, 405nm will always have a good beam. It is not linked to eye sensitivity only. 660nm @ 300mW don't have a so visible beam like 405nm @ 300mW.
Anyways, everyone sees 405nm different.
 




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