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Best Laser for Starting Campfires?

alexk403

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I go camping a lot and thought it would be interesting/cool to use a laser to start fires, especially when I do not have any matches readily available. I would want something powerful enough to start paper on fire, but if there is something that can start wood/kindling on fire that would be even better. I really do not know anything about lasers at all, and have looked at other posts on here and with that knowledge it looks like these two lasers might meet my needs: Power Rock 400mW blu-ray 405nm laser torch/adjustable/waterproof [OL-405T-400] - $89.99 : Zen Cart!, The Art of E-commerce and 5 in1 Special 1.2W 450nm blue laser star torch /focusable [OL-BU-1W] - $129.00 : Zen Cart!, The Art of E-commerce, but I definitely wanted to check here first. I'm assuming you guys are going to have better recommendations. As for my price range, I would like to keep it relatively cheap, at MOST maybe $150 but I would definitely prefer something cheaper. I am willing to build my own, I have adequate soldering skills working on xbox motherboards, but I would need you guys to tell me what to buy and I know it may be too much, but maybe even the links to where I can buy it for the cheapest price and highest quality.

I am not sure which wavelength laser is best for these needs, I saw one post that said blue would be better and another that recommended violet, like I said I know you guys know whats best. Thanks for the help in advance!
 

Shakenawake

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Are you over 18? do you have safety glasses for yourself and any who want to watch you do this?

I have started a campfire with a laser, there are two ways. if you want the laser to ignite the wood directly, lots of power is needed, not sure how much, but probably over 2W. even once you see flame, it takes a bit longer to make sure it stays lit. the other option is to make some nesting and use a laser to burn it to ember orange, then blow on this to achieve flames. much less power is needed to do it this way, but you need good, dry nesting and good airflow. in the area where i live, juniper bark is ideal for starting fires in this manner. with skill at blowing on the embers, which can be difficult, I think you could start a campfire with as little as 300mW, any color

300mW I'd say is under ideal conditions, totally dry material. the higher the power, the easier to start the fire will be. Like I said I don't know what the ignition threshhold for wood is, I have nothing in the power range between 1.5W and 3.3W, so all I can tell you is if my laser really is 1.5W, this is not enough to ignite wood, and 3.3W can easily do it

telling us your location will help us recommend you a unit.
 
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J0SHUA

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I'm assuming you guys are going to have better recommendations. As for my price range, I would like to keep it relatively cheap, at MOST maybe $150 but I would definitely prefer something cheaper. I am willing to build my own, I have adequate soldering skills working on xbox motherboards, but I would need you guys to tell me what to buy and I know it may be too much, but maybe even the links to where I can buy it for the cheapest price and highest quality.

I am not sure which wavelength laser is best for these needs, I saw one post that said blue would be better and another that recommended violet, like I said I know you guys know whats best. Thanks for the help in advance!
I would say definitely build your own. For under, or at the most, $150.00 can get you well into what is needed. As far as getting spoon fed all the answers, which I really want to dish out for you, I think it would be better for your own brain if you searched using the search bar at the bottom of the screen for absolutely anything that you can think of. check out 445nm C6; you will learn to drive it to what ever you feel necessary...

Are you over 18? do you have safety glasses for yourself and any who wants to watch you do this?

300mW I'd say is under ideal conditions, totally dry material. the higher the power, the easier to start the fire will be. Like I said I don't know what the ignition threshhold for wood is, I have nothing in the power range between 1.5W and 3.3W, so all I can tell you is if my laser really is 1.5W, this is not enough to ignite wood, and 3.3W can easily do it

telling us your location will help us recommend you a unit.
Shakenwake nailed this on the head right out of the gate. I hope you are over 18. Besides that, you will need a good pair of safety glasses if you're going to be messing around with lasers that can burn stuff, anything over 5mw really... I use these: NoIR with the ARG lens. I did a lot of research about where to get good safety glasses, this company has by far, the best customer service I have ever received.

And don't forget, anyone looking at whatever you're going to be burning will also need eye protection as well. I didn't think I would until I got my first laser, trust me, you will definitely NEED them :D

Anyhow, you came to the right place. This forum is loaded with information, use the search bar I mentioned earlier at the bottom of the page and you'll be surprised with how much info is really here... And one more thing that will greatly improve your results, check in over at the welcome section of the forum and read all the stickies at the beginning of each thread :beer:
 

Encap

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Lighting fires with lasers other than to light a match as a demonstration-- not such a good idea. While you might be able to get a campfore going under ideal conditions using a laser --it will be a lot more trouble than it is worth.

I would say a couple of Bic lighters would be far more effective and rational + less dangerous to eyesight for you and those around you not to mention much less expensive.

Use the search function of the forum to see what others have been found to be true.
 
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Shakenawake

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lasers and camping can go really well together though, I think. as long as safety is used. If you do it right, starting the fire with one will be just as easy as with a lighter, but bring a lighter just in case. last time I went was on a new moon to see the stars, and aircraft, much better. when the sky was clear, (of aircraft) the lasers complemented the full sky of stars very well. being in such darkness gives one a new appreciation for just how bright lasers are
 
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hakzaw1

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Lighting fires with lasers other than to light a match as a demonstration-- not such a good idea. While you might be able to get a campfore going under ideal conditions using a laser --it will be a lot more trouble than it is worth.

I would say a couple of Bic lighters would be far more effective and rational + less dangerous to eyesight for you and those around you not to mention much less expensive.

Use the search function of the forum to see what others have been found to be true.
^^ agree(+5 for some sanity)

I guess for an effect you could put lighter fluid on the wood and ignite w/ the laser a big piece if flash paper or ssome match heads etc -& burn it to start the rest,,, but that could end badly- :tsk::tsk::tsk:

Beams flashing/waving/making cones etc. thru the smoke of a smothered camp fire would be more impressive and less dangerous. just take care where you beams terminate--
 
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J0SHUA

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lasers and camping can go really well together though, I think. as long as safety is used. If you do it right, starting the fire with one will be just as easy as with a lighter, but bring a lighter just in case. last time I went was on a new moon to see the stars, and aircraft, much better. when the sky was clear, (of aircraft) the lasers complemented the full sky of stars very well.

being in such darkness gives one a new appreciation for just how bright lasers are
Seriously... If you are old enough, mature enough, and safe enough, it could be pretty awesome. If there are no aircraft nearby, you can get a chance to show your friends just how magnificent the beam of a high powered laser can be. But, if you're the type to point it at a blinking object flying through the sky, you should just forget all this and leave now :tsk:

You are going to get a variety of opinions here because pointing a high powered laser up in the sky calls attention to itself, and with all the crap going on with the uneducated, uninformed, and some of the just downright stupid people making the news headlines for pointing their laser at a helicopter or plane; they are going to give lasers a bad name, and thats the last thing the people of this forum want to help contribute to.

Just for the love of God, please be careful...:angel:
 

Shakenawake

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It's true. a new moon with little to no light pollution will let one see aircraft a lot better. last time I went, there were some objects I could not tell if they were high flying planes or satellites, so I just played it safe. it sucks how much air traffic there can be, even in rural areas. remember that pilots must report not only being hit by a laser, but even just seeing one, so I always make sure the plane is far in the horizon before I point behind it. It was tedious, because often one plane would just be getting out of the way as another comes over my patch of sky. patience can be needed, then savor whatever star pointing time you manage to get in.

in urban settings its pretty much impossible to get away with sky pointing, but there is such an allure to it for me, it's one more reason to go camping

my advice assumes you are responsible, and deliberate (not careless) with your actions. just because lasers are dangerous does not mean they cant be fun, just never forget how serious poweful they are, and how sensitive the whole aircracft thing is.
 
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hakzaw1

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^^^^ sound advice!! +5

As most camping is not in the city its a good place to have fun with lasers... btw to the guy who asked me about setting a tree on fire... highly unlikely--
 

kaunak

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I've attempted this with both a magnifying glass focusing the sun and a laser. If you have some dry kindling material and a 1-2W+ laser, starting a campfire is no problem at all; It's probably just as easy as using a match. I used a piece of yellow shipping paper and the laser was much quicker to start a fire than the 3" magnifying glass surprisingly.(I don't believe I even got any flame with the magnifying glass) Even if the laser doesn't create a direct flame, you can still roll the paper with embers up into a ball and blow air on it and a fire will ignite quickly.
 

alexk403

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I live in Chicago, and am over 18, and already own several nice pairs of safety goggles, so that is no problem. Additionally I am an Eagle Scout, so I go camping a lot and know a lot about safety, I would never do anything stupid under any circumstances. So I have been looking on the site further and learning a little more about everything. So can someone at least give me a list of all the components needed to build a portable laser? And like I said before is one color going to be better/cheaper/stronger than another when comparing the same mW or W? Thanks.
 

Shakenawake

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when we say safety glasses we mean laser safety glasses, to block particular types of photons. just to clarify if you did not already understand. 445nm lasers have the highest power to price ratio in general. if you've been in the scouts then you know a thing or two about blowing embers in nesting to start flames. 1W should be all you need and more, just make sure it's focusable, most are
 

alexk403

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Alright so I plan on getting a 445nm probably in the 1.5W-2W range. For hosts, I am split between these two: S4 and C6 . Is one better than the other? Or is one going to be more compatible with the diode range I am looking for?

Apart from the host, it looks like I will need a diode and pill module, a driver, and batteries (and of course goggles). Am I missing anything?

Alright so after looking some more, I think I know of almost everything I am getting. Please let me know how this looks.
- Host: I think I am going with the C6 from here . Let me know if anyone knows a cheaper C6.
- Diode/Module: DTR's M140 diode here, I am going with the $60 option (445nm M140 Diode In Copper Module With Leads
& Three Element Glass Lens $60)
- Driver: DTRs 450mA-1.8A X-Boost V7 16.8mm round adjustable output here . I am thinking to get the $30 options, so it comes prewired and I will have him preset it to 1.7A since that is supposed to be ideal for M140
- Batteries and Charger: Haven't looked into this yet. Looks like it is between 2x RCR123 batteries or 1x 18650. Is one going to be better than the other with my current driver and diode? Thanks.

Is there anything else I need? Thanks a lot.
 
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alexk403

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Ha well I mean besides that. I am not sure if either of those hosts come with a heatsink. Also, for diodes it looks like I am going to get them from DTR, and am deciding between the 445 9mm and M140 diodes. Is their a preference for one or the other? I am assuming the 9mm ones are better, but it looks like they are going to be dishing out close to 3W of power. How many mW/Ws can I expect from the M140 diodes? Can the C6 host with a C6 baseline heatsink handle the heat that would come from a 9mm 445 diode? Thanks.

Also look at my list response please as I had a couple additionally questions. Really appreciate all the help from the best experts there are!
 
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