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Another AixiZ 50mw 532nm(the new variety) reviewed

Brett

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Well, I received my Aixis 50 lab module today in the mail...it must have been shipped Priority (as was my 15mw) since I ordered it late last Saturday (or early Sunday morning perhaps).  Assuming it shipped out Monday or Tuesday, that's right on the 2-3 day window.  That's a good thing when you only pay 5 dollars for shipping.

I soldered some male spade terminals onto the prongs on the A.C. mains terminal on the PCB.  I probably could have found a plug like that in some of my stored junk, but I didn't feel like hunting one down.  Then I plugged it in.  What hit me like a ton of bricks is that the beam and spot were not as bright as my AixiZ 15mw module running from a 4.5v wall wart.  Then, after it had been on for around 3 minutes it became markedly dimmer than it had been before  and even looked like it was mode hopping...no longer tem00 (I really need to get me hands on an LPM -- first priority).  This scared me at first, but then I started thinking about all the posts I've read from you guys.

Now I've never touched the potentiometer on the 15mw, because its output seemed so high already, why would I want more for 41 dollars?  But this was worth the risk.  When I inserted a screwdriver into the pot and torqued it, it didn't move very much at all, in the clockwise direction.  Not even a couple of degrees.  Apparently someone at AixiZ had already ramped up the pot all the way!  So I turned it all the way down.  The spot was barely visible in a mostly darkened room.  Then as I went back clockwise, it began to brighten, it became comparable to my 15, and I could see the beam again.  It seems there is a sweet spot on the pot with these power supplies a considerable bit before full clockwise.  This is old hat to a lot of you I know, but I just thought I'd try to at least qualitatively replicate some of your findings and explain how I salvaged (mostly) what looked to be a sub par labby.  It still isn't quite up to the standard of my supposed 15mw AixiZ.  Makes me want to grab another one of those and test it out, but I need to save for my LPM.  I'm going to try to get this thing into an enclosure as soon as I finish testing and find one suitable, it's sketchy having a PCB with 120v points on it sitting out in the open when you are playing with a laser in the dark.  And yes, the enclosure might benefit from a fan as the FET's heatsink gets noticably warm after just a few minutes.

This diode is a C-mount, correct?  I haven't taken the actual module apart yet, but some people have suggested that this power supply design could be better.  It would be a fun project for me or somebody to design a superior supply for the AixiZ 50mw labby since so many of us have ordered one.  

Here come the pics:

-Brett
 

Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Ok, here's a beamshot for some qualitative comparison between the two AixiZ lasers the 15mw labby and the 50mw. The beam on the left (as seen through the camera's eye view) is the 15mw (unmodded), and the beam on the right is the 50, after I tweaked the pot for best beam and spot.

 

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Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Here's a shot showing both the beams and spots...the 15mw AixiZ is on the right, and the 50mw is on the left. I don't think I'm getting the 100+ mw that Daquin and others were lucky enough to get unless the 15 is giving that much power...hehe. Clearly something is amiss here...

...Of course, for these cheap prices, I have a lot of options and nice parts to experiment with in the future. As others have also mentioned, it's worth it just for the host, heatsink, module, diode and crystals/optics. I'm surely not complaining, just curious.

-Brett

 

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Montana64

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

There is a difference in the driver boards in these modules.... i have two of them, one i killed by stupidly putting a toggle switch between the board and the module :-[ . So i ordered another one. When it came, i turned the pot to find the sweet spot and outta curiosity, i hooked it up to the first board that i had. I found that the sweet spot with this board was even brighter, so i switched back to the original to see if this was true...... and it was.

Ted
 

Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Here's a pic of both labbys together. I have sort of rigged up the 15 to a thick piece of lexan (and was thinking about building a lexan enclosure for it but not sure).

 

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Brett Miller said:
Well, I received my Aixis 50 lab module today in the mail...it must have been shipped Priority (as was my 15mw) since I ordered it late last Saturday (or early Sunday morning perhaps).  Assuming it shipped out Monday or Tuesday, that's right on the 2-3 day window.  That's a good thing when you only pay 5 dollars for shipping.

I soldered some male spade terminals onto the prongs on the A.C. mains terminal on the PCB.  I probably could have found a plug like that in some of my stored junk, but I didn't feel like hunting one down.  Then I plugged it in.  [highlight]What hit me like a ton of bricks is that the beam and spot were not as bright as my AixiZ 15mw module running from a 4.5v wall wart[/highlight].  Then, after it had been on for around 3 minutes it became markedly dimmer than it had been before  and even looked like it was [highlight]mode hopping[/highlight]...no longer tem00 (I really need to get me hands on an LPM -- first priority).  This scared me at first, but then I started thinking about all the posts I've read from you guys.

Now I've never touched the potentiometer on the 15mw, because its output seemed so high already, why would I want more for 41 dollars?  But this was worth the risk.  When I inserted a screwdriver into the pot and torqued it, it didn't move very much at all, in the clockwise direction.  Not even a couple of degrees.  Apparently someone at AixiZ had already ramped up the pot all the way!  So I turned it all the way down.  The spot was barely visible in a mostly darkened room.  Then as I went back clockwise, it began to brighten, it became comparable to my 15, and I could see the beam again.  It seems there is a sweet spot on the pot with these power supplies a considerable bit before full clockwise.  This is old hat to a lot of you I know, but I just thought I'd try to at least qualitatively replicate some of your findings and explain how I salvaged (mostly) what looked to be a sub par labby.  It still isn't quite up to the standard of my supposed 15mw AixiZ.  Makes me want to grab another one of those and test it out, but I need to save for my LPM.  I'm going to try to get this thing into an enclosure as soon as I finish testing and find one suitable, it's sketchy having a PCB with 120v points on it sitting out in the open when you are playing with a laser in the dark.  And yes, the enclosure might benefit from a fan as the FET's heatsink gets noticably warm after just a few minutes.

This diode is a C-mount, correct?  I haven't taken the actual module apart yet, but some people have suggested that this power supply design could be better.  It would be a fun project for me or somebody to design a superior supply for the AixiZ 50mw labby since so many of us have ordered one.  

Here come the pics:

-Brett

The highlights above lead me to believe that you should get a hold of Dr. Maricle at Aixiz. He is always more than willing to make sure that his customers are satisfied. When one of mine began to have problems, he sent me a new one no questions asked. I'd contact him and request a new unit. You can contact him via the phone #s at www.mfgcn.com.

Also, if you have a bad driver, you can drive these modules with a standard LM317 driver using 3 5-ohm resistors and a 100-ohm pot to set the regulator. These C-mount diodes draw anywhere between 600-750mA.
 

Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Montana64:

What you found seems to corroborate what others have said (and what I had a hunch about), regarding this driver not being the best in the world for these modules...or at least that there is a lot of variation in quality between them.

Elektrofreak:

I may indeed contact Dr. Maricle at AixiZ...however, I may just try and run the Module using another power supply such as Daedal's LM317 or something I design. Thanks for letting me know the current range of this diode. I would have been asking eventually.

-Brett
 

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Must have ordered mine about the same time, here is my 2 cents worth:

Well, the green "Lab" laser arrived yesterday - very fast shipping! It was much smaller than I thought it would be, although I don't know why I though it would be any bigger, now that I have played with it.
When first powered up it was putting out 30mW, which made me wonder if I got a low powered unit. I hooked it up to my Digital AC power meter to check the power in to the circuit board and it was using around 4.5W.
Next I tried turning the adjustment pot to see what would happen. The power increased, but not to 100mW at first. The output did not increase in a linear fashion, but seemed to jump around a lot. At max, it was putting out around 75-95mW but was increasing slightly overall, the more it warmed up. I measured 1.80V across the diode at full power (pot maxed).
I removed the IR diode assy from the back and sure enough, there was that glass window mentioned in the other thread on LPF. So I pried it off with a small screwdriver which chipped a good sized chunk out of one corner - so won't be putting it back or be able to send the unit back any more at this point. While the IR assy was removed I connected it to my DC lab power supply and powered it up while watching the voltage across the diode. At 1.8V it was drawing around 700mA and outputting over 500mW, so I am pretty sure this is a .5W 808nM c-mount. Reassembled it.
Now it seems to output up to 110mW when it feels like it, but goes through a lot of ups and downs on the way there. I verified this is NOT the power supply's fault, because it does the same thing regardless of whether I power it up from it's own power supply or my lab supply.
The PS that comes with the unit is based on a switcher regulator that is capable of outputting around 8W or more and contains it's own power MOSFET internally, which keeps the circuit layout pretty simple for that part, anyway (A NCP1014AP06 chip). It could use some fan cooling for the pass transitor which gets pretty warm with the pot cranked up to max. I noticed that when the pot is set to max, the unit may not power up with 120VAC input, but at like 135VAC, it will (it can accecpt up to 240VAC). However there is a way to overcome that problem - short the TTL input, which turns OFF the laser output, and then turn ON the power and then open the TTL and Voilla - it comes ON! I have not tried driving the TTL input yet, but obviously it works.
This morning, before work, just after the heat was turned up in the house from 65F, I turned ON the laser and it was outputting like 45mW at full power (measuring 5.5W input from AC) (700mA into the diode). The module temperature was 66F at that point. As it warmed up a few degrees, it slowly began to increase in output until it reached 110mW at around 74F module temperature.
As for the beam, I have not tried to adjust the lens, which is glued in place, but not adjusted to infinity, but more like focused at around 30" and fans out from there (waist). The beam seems to be considerably off center in the lens. When warmed up it lights a match after a few seconds, not as good as my DX 150mW pointer which outputs 120mW and is focused at 18", but not bad for a $65 laser. Still, not what you would call "Stable", exactly, but so far the beam seems to be TEM00 under all conditions.
The power supply board is very similar to one that came with a RED module that I bought off ebay almost a year ago for a similar price.

Okay, maybe that was 4 cents worth ;).

Edit:
Concerning IR output - When the laser is outputting 100+mW, at about 12" from the thermopile sensor and a 532nM laser shades lens is inserted in between, the power meter still reads 10mW! Based on that, I would say no way there is an IR filter in these things ::)! Not that 10mW would blind one instantly, but it does mean the real green power is still only 90% of the apparent reading.
 

Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Kage,

Wow, I'd give 5 bucks for that review really!  Everything you said up to the disassembly mirrors my experience with this laser (particularly the lack of stability), although there seemed to be a point or two on the pot that resulted in stable output...albeit output which was less than my 15mw AixiZ.  Unfortunely since I don't yet have a nice Laser Power Meter I can't do a review as nice as yours at this point.  I do however, have a Fluke 12 DMM, a Fluke 30 Amp Clamp, and a Vellemen HPS10 handheld LCD oscilloscope...so I should be able to do more....are there any good threads on here that talk about taking basic measurents of voltage, current, etc on a running diode laser driver?

I didn't know it was safe for a laser diode to do in circuit measurements of voltage, since I really wanted to know this in the case of the AixiZ.  Is there any special technique to this, or do you just simply probe across the leads of the lasing diode?

Also, I knew that to actually know the current it was pulling, I would have to measure mA/amps in series with one side of the leads going from the driver board to the module.  This seemed risky to me since the tantalum which absorbes spikes is on the board itself...any spikes or ESD I made hooking up the meter could damage the LD while the cap was shunted.  Does this make sense?  

Since I wrote my review, I plugged in my 50mw labby and heard a slight pop that I hope was just something in the driver giving up its smoke.  I contacted AixiZ and Dr. Maricle said he would exchange anything that was defective.  However, I think I may just roll my own LM317 based driver and run it off of that.

-Brett
 
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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Kage said:
Must have ordered mine about the same time, here is my 2 cents worth:

Well, the green "Lab" laser arrived yesterday - very fast shipping!  It was much smaller than I thought it would be, although I don't know why I though it would be any bigger, now that I have played with it.
When first powered up it was putting out 30mW, which made me wonder if I got a low powered unit.  I hooked it up to my Digital AC power meter to check the power in to the circuit board and it was using around 4.5W.
Next I tried turning the adjustment pot to see what would happen.  The power increased, but not to 100mW at first.  The output did not increase in a linear fashion, but seemed to jump around a lot.  At max, it was putting out around 75-95mW but was increasing slightly overall, the more it warmed up.    I measured 1.80V across the diode at full power (pot maxed).
I removed the IR diode assy from the back and sure enough, there was that glass window mentioned in the other thread on LPF.  So I pried it off with a small screwdriver  which chipped a good sized chunk out of one corner - so won't be putting it back or be able to send the unit back any more at this point.  While the IR assy was removed I connected it to my DC lab power supply and powered it up while watching the voltage across the diode.  At 1.8V it was drawing around 700mA and outputting over 500mW, [highlight]so I am pretty sure this is a .5W 808nM c-mount[/highlight].  Reassembled it.
Now it seems to output up to 110mW when it feels like it, but goes through a lot of ups and downs on the way there.  I verified this is NOT  the power supply's fault, because it does the same thing regardless of whether I power it up from it's own power supply or my lab supply.
The PS that comes with the unit is based on a switcher regulator that is capable of outputting around 8W or more and contains it's own power MOSFET internally, which keeps the circuit layout pretty simple for that part, anyway (A NCP1014AP06 chip).  It could use some fan cooling for the pass transitor which gets pretty warm with the pot cranked up to max.  I noticed that when the pot is set to max, the unit may not power up with 120VAC input, but at like 135VAC, it will (it can accecpt up to 240VAC).  However there is a way to overcome that problem - short the TTL input, which turns OFF the laser output, and then turn ON the power and then open the TTL and Voilla - it comes ON!  I have not tried driving the TTL input yet, but obviously it works.
This morning, before work, just after the heat was turned up in the house from 65F, I turned ON the laser and it was outputting like 45mW at full power (measuring 5.5W input from AC) (700mA into the diode).  The module temperature was 66F at that point.  As it warmed up a few degrees, it slowly began to increase in output until it reached 110mW at around 74F module temperature.  
As for the beam, I have not tried to adjust the lens, which is glued in place, but not adjusted to infinity, but more like focused at around 30" and fans out from there (waist).  The beam seems to be considerably off center in the lens.  When warmed up it lights a match after a few seconds, not as good as my DX 150mW pointer which outputs 120mW and is focused at 18", but not bad for a $65 laser.  Still, not what you would call "Stable", exactly, but so far the beam seems to be TEM00 under all conditions.
The power supply board is very similar to one that came with a RED module that I bought off ebay almost a year ago for a similar price.

Okay, maybe that was 4 cents worth  ;).
It may be a .5W, but most DPSS manufacturers only drive their diodes at 1/2 power for longevity, so it could be a 1W. Given that these modules are extra cheap, they may have skimped to a .5W, but the current draw seems to indicate something a bit more powerful. Truthfully, there's no way to know for sure, so we'll have to see how long they live for on average.

Also, the lack of true TEC cooling is the reason for the instability. With mine, after the 15-minute warm-up it is stable enough for light-show work, but it really takes pretty much all of the 15-minutes to get there.
 

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Also, if you have a bad driver, you can drive these modules with a standard LM317 driver using 3 5-ohm resistors and a 100-ohm pot to set the regulator. These C-mount diodes draw anywhere between 600-750mA.
ElektroFreak,

So am I correct in assuming that the 3 x 5-ohm resistors provide additional voltage drop for the <2v pump diode?  Other than this I could follow the schematic shown by Daedal? How about voltage input?

-Brett
 
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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Voltage input for LM317 drivers is anywhere from 7-12V. In daedals schematic, you'd just replace the 10-ohm resistor (or the 2 5-ohm resistors depending on which version of the driver you're talking about) with 3 5-ohm. This allows the LM317 regulator to dish out the necessary current. These resistors are the only thing you'll need to change.

YOU MUST install a heatsink on the LM317 at these current levels. For continuous operation a fan is also required.
 
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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Brett Miller said:
Also, if you have a bad driver, you can drive these modules with a standard LM317 driver using 3 5-ohm resistors and a 100-ohm pot to set the regulator. These C-mount diodes draw anywhere between 600-750mA.
ElektroFreak,

So am I correct in assuming that the 3 x 5-ohm resistors [highlight]provide additional voltage drop for the <2v pump diode[/highlight]?  Other than this I could follow the schematic shown by Daedal?  How about voltage input?

-Brett
Missed this before. Yeah, that's correct
 

Brett

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

ElektroFreak said:
[quote author=Brett Miller link=1228428998/0#10 date=1228518606]
Also, if you have a bad driver, you can drive these modules with a standard LM317 driver using 3 5-ohm resistors and a 100-ohm pot to set the regulator. These C-mount diodes draw anywhere between 600-750mA.
ElektroFreak,

So am I correct in assuming that the 3 x 5-ohm resistors [highlight]provide additional voltage drop for the <2v pump diode[/highlight]?  Other than this I could follow the schematic shown by Daedal?  How about voltage input?

-Brett
Missed this before. Yeah, that's correct
[/quote]

Ok, thanks.

-Brett
 

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Brett Miller said:
Since I wrote my review, I plugged in my 50mw labby and heard a slight pop that I hope was just something in the driver giving up its smoke. I contacted AixiZ and Dr. Maricle said he would exchange anything that was defective. However, I think I may just roll my own LM317 based driver and run it off of that.

-Brett
Brett,
Did something in the driver actually smoke? The Off-Line 5V power supply portion of the circuit has a lot of protection built into it and is far more robust than many seem to think. One of it's characteristics is that it will sit there and click or pop slightly over and over if the load is too great for it to start up - but that does not hurt anything. Did you try turning down the pot and powering it up? Mine would not start up at normal line voltage with the pot maxed out... :-/
P.S. Another way to tell if that is happening is if the laser pulses briefly as it clicks.
 

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Re: Another AixiZ 50mw (the new variety) reviewed

Kage said:
[quote author=Brett Miller link=1228428998/0#8 date=1228514730]
Since I wrote my review, I plugged in my 50mw labby and heard a slight pop that I hope was just something in the driver giving up its smoke.  I contacted AixiZ and Dr. Maricle said he would exchange anything that was defective.  However, I think I may just roll my own LM317 based driver and run it off of that.

-Brett
Brett,
Did something in the driver actually smoke?  The Off-Line 5V power supply portion of the circuit has a lot of protection built into it and is far more robust than many seem to think.  One of it's characteristics is that it will sit there and click or pop slightly over and over if the load is too great for it to start up - but that does not hurt anything.  Did you try turning down the pot and powering it up?  Mine would not start up at normal line voltage with the pot maxed out... :-/  
P.S. Another way to tell if that is happening is if the laser pulses briefly as it clicks.[/quote]

Kage,

I did try the procedure you mentioned including turning down the pot and powering it up, but I still think there may be a bigger problem. I'm beginning to believe either it took the c-mount LD with it, or the LD was about to go already. Still, nothing quantitative to report yet.

-Brett
 




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