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Budget laser to play around and light stuff on fire?

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Is it possible nowadays to get a budget laser to burn stuff (matches, etc...)? What specs (color, wattage, nm, etc...) am I looking for to get the most heat in the least amount of time at ranges of 2-3 meters?

What sorts of glasses will protect from accidental exposure to the laser?

I have decent soldering skills and a very good solder station, so if I can get more for less by doing a bit of work, I am open to that, also. Though with China pumping out lasers so fast, I don't know if it's possible to save money that way anymore.
 
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Lifetime17

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Hi,
If you want a really nice laser i have custom builds for sale on my sales thread check them out. I don't use any Chinese material in mine all are top quality components. And for safety glasses you can get them at Survival Lasers he has great ones for a great price. Here are a few pics.

Rich:)
 

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Radim

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Hi,

you should specify what stuff you want to burn. For match (tip) even 100 mW green (532 nm) is enough if beam is of a reasonable divergence and diameter. In addition you get nice visible beam and these are even quite cheap. For great quality you might go for Optotronics (looks like pointer - pen style - not attracting that much attention). Further you might check Sanwu and Jet Lasers as well (high quality also). It is better to start with class 3B laser as your first. Class 4 might be too much if you have no experience so far.

My Evo is even able to light cigarette and with focussing lens even engrave wood, but you will not put it in fire. Much higher powers are needed to burn paper or wood - might be even out of your budget - you shoud state how much you want to spend if you want the best advice here. In addition you might describe your intentions in detail (also make sure about the legality of lasers in your country - might be limiting or forbiding some uses). Great and inspiring advices are usually given here if you put more details. You might even find new uses of laser than just burning (becomes quite boring after some time usually). Just look around the forums what awesome things can be done with lasers.

Also regarding glasses make sure they are high quality and suitable for your laser. Eagle Pair are considered good and cheap.

Finally make sure you know how to use it safe way and do it.
Stay safe and enjoy.
 
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GSS

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vassock, tell us a little about yourself and just how long youv'e been following the forum?:)
 
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I live in NJ, USA and just wanted to play with a laser.

Stuff I might want to burn:

1. Ants
2. Paper
3. Cardboard

I don't care about color (or even visibility, can be IR), size, or power efficiency. It can even be a pulse laser variety.

I care about:

1. Heat generation
2. Range (2-3 meters)
 
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RedCowboy

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NO NO NO, you don't wan't an IR burner, " you'll put your eye out kid. "

But seriously near IR unlike say 10.2 um lasers will travel through your eyes lens and burn holes in your retina blinding you quite possibly for life, you need to wear laser safety glasses that attenuate the wavelength you are working with and start with a 200mw red then work your way up to a 445 but understand one slip up and your eyes can be damaged for life so the proper laser safety glasses are a must.

Even the greedy cheap ass Chinese usually include a pair of cheap amber safety glasses with their 445's just so idiot American kids wont blind themselves. Well so you would think, Chinese kids are a lot smarter than many of ours are these days and that's a sad state of affairs.

----EDIT----

You must watch YouTube, you have to know what people are burning stuff with, you sound a bit like a troll but in case your not understand that my warning is not a joke, you can buy a cheap laser and blind yourself just like you can buy a magnifying glass and hold it between your eye and the sun, but nobody is that stupid, yet something that burns like a magnifying glass focusing the sun gets tossed about like it's ok, WTF is wrong with kids today? 1 parent and no common sense? Is the single parent American kid a drooling moron?

Also pocket knives can cut you so be careful....geeze, I can't believe you would want an invisible laser to burn stuff with, don't you care about being able to see?
 
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NO NO NO, you don't wan't an IR burner, " you'll put your eye out kid. "

But seriously near IR unlike say 10.2 um lasers will travel through your eyes lens and burn holes in your retina blinding you quite possibly for life, you need to wear glasses and start with a 200mw red then work your way up to a 445 but understand one slip up and your eyes can be damaged for life so the proper laser safety glasses are a must.

Even the greedy cheap ass Chinese usually include a pair of cheap amber safety glasses with their 445's just so idiot American kids wont blind themselves. Well so you would think, Chinese kids are a lot smarter than many of ours are these days and that's a sad state of affairs.
I have no problem wearing glasses. I already do (though they're impact-resistant glasses) for some of the other DIY stuff I do. That's why I asked what specs the glasses need to be.

I was thinking something along these lines:
https://www.htpow.com/high-powered-30000mw-blue-laserpointer-445nm-worlds-brightest-p-1027.html

Is that good power for the price?
 
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NO NO NO, you don't wan't an IR burner, " you'll put your eye out kid. "

But seriously near IR unlike say 10.2 um lasers will travel through your eyes lens and burn holes in your retina blinding you quite possibly for life, you need to wear laser safety glasses that attenuate the wavelength you are working with and start with a 200mw red then work your way up to a 445 but understand one slip up and your eyes can be damaged for life so the proper laser safety glasses are a must.

Even the greedy cheap ass Chinese usually include a pair of cheap amber safety glasses with their 445's just so idiot American kids wont blind themselves. Well so you would think, Chinese kids are a lot smarter than many of ours are these days and that's a sad state of affairs.

----EDIT----

You must watch YouTube, you have to know what people are burning stuff with, you sound a bit like a troll but in case your not understand that my warning is not a joke, you can buy a cheap laser and blind yourself just like you can buy a magnifying glass and hold it between your eye and the sun, but nobody is that stupid, yet something that burns like a magnifying glass focusing the sun gets tossed about like it's ok, WTF is wrong with kids today? 1 parent and no common sense? Is the single parent American kid a drooling moron?

Also pocket knives can cut you so be careful....geeze, I can't believe you would want an invisible laser to burn stuff with, don't you care about being able to see?
Yeah, I do, that's why "my eyes" wasn't in the list of items I wanted to burn. What's the matter with you?

Are you the troll police or something? Yeah, I saw a lot of it on YT. So what? There's no requirement for a YT video poster to provide the model #, the seller name, the precise specs, and the price (not to mention that some of the items may be custom-made and one-of-a-kind or highly limited in quantity and no longer available). And even if they did, the video can be old and this stuff has been around for years. What was $1,000 and state of the art 10 years ago, likely isn't so today. If it's China no-name stuff, a vendor could be here today, gone next year.
 

diachi

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I have no problem wearing glasses. I already do (though they're impact-resistant glasses) for some of the other DIY stuff I do. That's why I asked what specs the glasses need to be.

I was thinking something along these lines:
https://www.htpow.com/high-powered-30000mw-blue-laserpointer-445nm-worlds-brightest-p-1027.html

Is that good power for the price?

No, that power rating is fake. There are no 30W lasers in that form factor. More likely to be 1-2W, and at that power it is overpriced.

AVOID HTPOW.

Please see this thread: http://laserpointerforums.com/f41/guide-company-should-i-buy-97936.html
 
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ElectricPlasma

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How does a person test a laser? I can tell what color it is so that is a way to test how many nm it is, but how does a person determine that a "30W" laser is actually a 2W laser?
For a numeric value for wavelength, you'd need a (often expensive) device called a spectrometer, though it's usually the easiest thing to judge by eye. You'll know the difference between a 445nm and a 462nm, as long as you have seen one or the other beforehand.

When it comes to power, things like "30W" are easy to eliminate, because well, there's no 445nm diode (AFAIK) that puts out 30w. Also not to mention you probably couldn't put that in a handheld. But for differences like "It's listed as 10W, but I think it might be 5W" you'd ideally use a LPM (laser power meter), which also isn't cheap, but you can get them for a good price, one source being Astralist here on the forums. I doubt you could accurately judge output power by eye unless there's a huge power difference.
 
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For a numeric value for wavelength, you'd need a (often expensive) device called a spectrometer, though it's usually the easiest thing to judge by eye. You'll know the difference between a 445nm and a 462nm, as long as you have seen one or the other beforehand.

When it comes to power, things like "30W" are easy to eliminate, because well, there's no 445nm diode (AFAIK) that puts out 30w. Also not to mention you probably couldn't put that in a handheld. But for differences like "It's listed as 10W, but I think it might be 5W" you'd ideally use a LPM (laser power meter), which also isn't cheap, but you can get them for a good price, one source being Astralist here on the forums. I doubt you could accurately judge output power by eye unless there's a huge power difference.
Can they be tested by measuring current draw from the batteries? Or by the amount of time they take to burn through a particular item?
 
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ElectricPlasma

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Can they be tested by measuring current draw from the batteries?
Not directly, because that would assume the laser diode and driver are 100% efficient. But if you know some other info about the laser (driver and LD efficiency, type of driver) then you might be able to figure it out. Not sure though, never tried it that way

I suppose if you were so inclined you could also measure the current output from the driver with an ammeter in series with the LD, and then cross reference that current value with data already collected by someone like DTR. He has videos/pictures on what output power certain diodes emit under different amperage.
 
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Not directly, because that would assume the laser diode and driver are 100% efficient. But if you know some other info about the laser (driver and LD efficiency, type of driver) then you might be able to figure it out. Not sure though, never tried it that way

I suppose if you were so inclined you could also measure the current output from the driver with an ammeter in series with the LD, and then cross reference that current value with data already collected by someone like DTR. He has videos/pictures on what output power certain diodes emit under different amperage.
I was just curious if there was a simple way to buy from a less-than-reputable seller and then make him take the item back for a full refund if I can prove it was not as advertised.

Obviously it looks like the ceiling on consumer lasers (based on briefly looking at the "good" websites) is about 7W so the 30W or 50W claims are scams.
 

Benm

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No troll police here, but a laser that you can 'play around with' and 'can set stuff on fire' are not things usually appreciated by the laser community.

As for those 30 watt blue lasers, those are complete BS at this point in time, the could be 1 to 2 watt lasers. Heck, the batteries that go in them would not even provide enough power to run 30 watts even if the diode could.

Anything over 5 watts is suspicious unless it comes from a specialist builder, in a bigass host, and probably with an unattractive price tag for something to 'play with'.

On the other hand there are dangerously powerful lasers on the market at very low prices. If you spend $50 or so you can easily get a 445 nm blue laser that blasts out a watt of light.

A reflection of such a laser from a standard house window will have enough power to cause irreversible eye damage before you can even blink. A direct hit will probably send you into the 'be very careful with my remaining eye' club instantly.

I'm not here to say you can or cannot endanger yourself, the choice is yours. Please be considerate of other people though, and never shine class 3 or 4 lasers anywhere you could potentially hit someone else in the eye.

As for setting things on fire: for any visibly laser that can light a match you can safely assume it will do irreversible damage when it shines directly into someones eye. 10 years ago power levels like 200 mW made people uneasy, and whilst much more powerful lasers are on the market today, they are just as dangerous as they were back then.

Thinking otherwise is logic similar to assuming that it takes a tank shell to kill someone, so shooting a 20 year old handgun at your head could not do that much harm.
 

paul1598419

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Who, over the age of 8, wants to burn ants? I can't believe the amount of time and trouble spent on this silly thread.
 
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