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CNI PGL-III-C 561nm 20mW Review - A New Wavelength - PICS

aryntha

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So, to say the least, this one was a bit difficult.

A few months ago, Phi/DJNY let me know, after much inquiry, that CNI had relented to build a more "obscure" wavelength into a portable. DJNY couldn't go for it at the time, but he let me know about it and contacted Ava at CNI, telling her to get the information to me. I thought about it for a while, and I went for it.

The process went surprisingly well, (Inquiry-to-delivery was about 3 weeks! Beat that, Wicked!) and to say the least, DJNY and I were quiet about this until I had the thing in hand: I had no idea what to expect on such a custom job from CNI, but I have to say, they did come through, as I'll explain in this review. I'll also explain some of the peculiarities and difficulties in photographing this laser, and some slight oddities with it. So, onward:

INTRO:

561nm? Who's seen THAT wavelength in a laser? Is it green? Is it yellow? -- I even got "corrected" possibly, at least once, when mentioning this, that I might have meant "516nm" and was talking about an InGaN diode. Nope. 561nm. Right between the 532nm green we've all come to know and love, and the recently-on-the-scene 589nm DPSS lasers.

As far as the process goes, I have to inform everyone that I have no idea what the crystal composition or doubling mathematics are for this thing and can't seem to find any info anywhere, so, if someone else knows, please jump in and add! There are some interesting aspects that may offer some clues, though, as I'll explain.


Manufacturer: CNI
Host: PGL-III-C
Wavelength: 561nm
Power: 20mW Rated (Stable at 31mW)
Mode:TEM01, then TEM00 after ~1min.
Modulation: CW
FDA Features: Keylock, Delay, Shutter, Interlock, Indicator.
Beam diameter: ~1.5mm at aperture
Divergence: ~1.4mrad
Power Source: 1x 18650 LiIon

Price: $845 (ouch) + $85 shipping (oof.)


Here's one of these lasers, like the 671nm that I ordered a few months back, that I'm betting I took a bit of a punch in the gut over, being one of the first getting these produced from CNI. When I ordered the 671nm (reviewed here, it was ~$600; Glenn/Scopeguy20 was later able to offer them in his Group Buy from CNI at ~$300. Will this be the case with this wavelength? Who knows. But, my primary purpose for taking the leap was getting this wavelength introduced to the hobby, like we've seen recently with 589nm, 445nm and 671nm. -- Here's hoping the price goes down.

THE HOST:

Well, I won't spend too much time here guys; as it's a PGL-III-C. Otherwise known as a LaserGlow Aries, or a DragonLasers Hulk.

For the new and uninitiated, though, who may be reading this post as being relatively new to the scene, here are a few pictures of it.

THE HOST AND PACKAGING


Two Wicked Lasers Arctics, doing their duty, with what they do best - being jackstands. "Move along here, nothing to see folks" -- standard CNI PGL-III-C packaging, like any other DPSS PGL-III-C. Blue on/off button (non momentary), keylock, interlock pin, indicator LED, rotary aperture shutter.

...AND THE BUSINESS END


I noticed they were very vague with the labeling on this one. Wavelength indicated is "500-600nm", and "<500mW". I presume that this is likely a sticker they may apply to 589s, 561s, 523.6s, or anything that they do produce in that range.

CHARACTERISTICS:

I figured for comparison, I'd use a 30mW 532nm DPSS laser, as according to visibility charts, 561nm should be about the same brightness at 20mW as a 532nm at 30mW. Also, since almost everyone here has seen 532nm, it's a good point of reference.

... Now many of us know that 589nm DPSS appears as a sort of golden yellow. 532nm appears to us to be pretty much pure green, with perhaps just the slightest tendency towards the blue side of things, especially if you've ever seen a Green HeNe, at 544nm, which appears more of a lime green.[/QUOTE].

As I was waiting for this to show up, I honestly didn't know what to expect. It sits almost EXACTLY central between 589 and 532. A lot of folks, me included, guessed it would be more towards the yellow of a 568nm Krypton line. Upon turning it on the first time, I was surprised at how green it was. But, it's definitely a much different sort of green.

The best way I can describe it is a more plantlike green.. More of an "olive, military, algae, jade" green than 532 could ever hope to be. Definitely day and night -- but, hard to show on screen.

Getting this across in this review, accurately conveying it, was probably the most difficult thing to do. I tried with several of my cameras: My Canon 5D MkII DSLR. It rendered both 532 and 561 as the same sort of middling green. That wouldn't do. I tried several of my other cameras to no avail.

To get this to work I had to pull out a rather old and obscure tool from my photography box: a Sony DSC-F828 with 4-Color RGBE CCD

Sony F828 Camera with 4-Color CCD


Not to go too off topic, but, I'm a bit of a camera geek in 'my other life', and when this camera came out about 7 years ago, it was actually much maligned; initially labeled a failure, and nicknamed the "Black Beast" or the "Dark Shadow" by photography enthusiasts.

But there are a few aspects about it that make it unusually suited to this review.

THE RGBE 4 COLOR SENSOR PATTERN


Where most normal cameras only use R/G/B subpixels to make up an image, the F828's sensor uses four colors, Red, Green, Blue and Bluish-Cyan.

To make a long story short, this camera was Sony's experiment into widening the color gamut. It has RAW capture (a good thing for stuff like this) - and the 4-color "RGBE" (red, green, blue, 'emerald' -- actually more cyan) - sensor aims to specifically increase the color range (gamut) in and around that sweet-spot that laser folks know as the center of human vision: 555nm.

And, what do you know, it worked. Only after using this camera was I able to capture the subtleties between the beams. So, enough with the explanation and on to the:

SPOT SHOTS


Here, (if your monitor does it justice, and you're not green colorblind) - you can clearly see the characteristic difference between these two colors. While 561nm is certainly more towards yellow, it is still certainly well within the range which we consider "green".

THE BEAM: Upon turning on the laser, the laser seems to warm up from maybe 1mW to ~20mW over a course of about 5 seconds. It's sort of interesting, as the whole thing seems to "fade" on. But once it does, its rather stable (unlike, say, 593.4nm.) The interesting aspect here is that the beam starts out immediately oval, sometimes TEM01 for a few seconds, and then tightens into TEM00/gaussian over the course of 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

SPOTS AFTER 30 SECONDS


There are actually very few artefacts around the beam, and as the beam tightens up, it begins to ramp up in brightness. Measuring this the day I got it (I still don't have my own LPM and have to use one in Boulder) - after approximately 2 minutes it was flickering the display between 31 and 32mW.

As Glenn/Scopeguy20 mentioned before, "slow warmup usually means higher peak" - and this seems to be the case with this laser. I've run it for five minutes without signs of dimming from an extended duty cycle, or it breaking back into TEM01.

After about two minutes, the beam is almost perfectly gaussian, and quite a bit brighter, even to the camera, than my known-30mW 532nm "control"

AFTER APPROXIMATELY 2 MINUTES, DARKENED


AN INTERESTING NOTE: Now, I mentioned before that I really have no idea how the 561nm process works. I'm not sure what the pump frequency is, and I'm not sure what the doubling math is. But what I find interesting is, there is a lot of excess light inside the aperture/head of this laser. Upon peeking inside of the aperture, where a normal, flat, IR filter would usually be, on this laser there is a thick, angled block of crystal of some sort.

I can't get a picture of this, but when the laser is turned on, the block lights up from all sides rather significantly and illuminates the inside of the laser head rather brightly with excess 561nm light. So I assume there's some loss going on here, but, I'm wondering if this final block of optical material may be a key to the insight into this process? Someone here probably knows, and I'd love ot hear the explanation!

BURNING?

Nope, no section for this. Its ~30mW, and it's expensive. While I may be able to get a black balloon to pop at close range with 30mW with a lot of work and patience, we're not lighting any matches or melting any plastic. It's also too expensive to monkey around with long duty cycles here to see a little bit of smoke. Onward, to

BEAM SHOTS:

Since the Sony DSC-F828 was also the first ever 8-megapixel camera ever made, its noise characteristics are ... not that great. So please bear with me, as I had to take some long-exposure shots here, and a bit of camera shake was hard to avoid. As usual, this isn't the beam going TEM01 or anything, it's just a 4-8 second exposure.

BEAM COMPARISON


With some lit-match smoke in the air, the brightness comparison between the beams and certainly the color difference is rather visible here. I do have to say, as is true with most laser wavelengths, the difference is a lot more striking with the naked eye than on camera.

ANOTHER BEAM COMPARISON


A slightly better shot, with no camera shake, in low room lighting, showing the different greens here. Again, 561nm 20mW (actually ~30mW) on the left, and 532nm 30mW on the right.

LONG EXPOSURE BEAM COMPARISON


An 8-second exposure showing a bit more "substance" to the beams, and the color difference between the two.

IS THE BEAM VISIBLE IN THE SKY AT NIGHT?
Absolutely, yes, slightly moreso than your average 30mW green pointer, and I'll be working on adding a picture of that, here, too. But, rest assured, it is certainly visible in a clear sky at night, for some distance. And does appear much more 'yellow' in the night sky than green, strangely enough.

CONCLUSION:

An expensive and strange laser, but also a very very interesting color, with some very peculiar warmup and mode characteristics (but generally ending that process rather well.) - and another wavelength to add to our lexicon. Maybe after the 445nm craze we'll see some interest in these new and rare wavelengths, and I hope (CNILASER, I hope you're reading!) that interest in them will encourage CNI to make other esoteric wavelengths (such as cyan or orange) in portables available!!

I'd like to sincerely thank Phi/DJNY, Glenn/Scopeguy20 (both of who seem to have a very good relationship with CNI) for making this review and production of this laser even possible. And of course, CNI, for doing it, in such a one-off circumstance.

And hopefully this was at least an interesting little read for everyone else!

Thanks,
Aryntha
 
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ped

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Superb review +1 rep for you.

As you say, odd but interesting wavelength... also odd the way it changes TEM , this would lead me to beleive the laser is unstable? I'd describe the colour as "mustard" at startup, but a rare colour indeed.

Well done.
 

DJNY

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I´m so glad that everything worked out so fine!
Great review Matt +:beer:
 

Addonex

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Up until the last 3 beam shot pictures I couldn't tell the difference on the dots but the beams really look profoundly different. What an interesting laser that must be to see in person :) I would rep you if I could for the excellent review/description/commissioning of a new laser.

Time to go bug CNI to make a 488nm pointer :D
 

DJNY

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Up until the last 3 beam shot pictures I couldn't tell the difference on the dots but the beams really look profoundly different. What an interesting laser that must be to see in person :) I would rep you if I could for the excellent review/description/commissioning of a new laser.

Time to go bug CNI to make a 488nm pointer :D
If you can´t see the difference in the dot pics, you should check your monitor kalibration or your eyes ;)
 

aryntha

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A lot of 473s will start TEM01 and then 'merge' into TEM00; Doesn't really mean they're neccessarily unstable, just that the temperatures and alignments have to reach their final levels.

And, I'm already talking to CNI about a 488nm portable. So far, they say they can't do it - but have indicated they might be able to later. I'll keep on them, of course.

I wouldn't call it quite "mustard". It's a bit more to the green side than mustard, but that of course depends on your monitor type, brand, calibration, backlight age, all sorts of things. Very hard to get this difference across through LCD monitors and JPEGs and difficult lighting.

But if you saw it in person, I guarantee -- its QUITE different from 532.
 

Addonex

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If you can´t see the difference in the dot pics, you should check your monitor kalibration or your eyes ;)
I was going to post a screenshot of it.. but then I thought about that for a moment :p I'm going to guess it's my monitor settings though, I think my vision is pretty good still (surprisingly..) :crackup:

I just wish I had the opportunity to see it in person, I know transmitting laser color accurately through a camera and someone else's monitor is no easy task, it must look even more amazing.

And, I'm already talking to CNI about a 488nm portable. So far, they say they can't do it - but have indicated they might be able to later. I'll keep on them, of course.
Same thing they told me when I asked a while back :( we just need to keep bugging them! Although when I was asking about 480 and 488nm she did mention they have a 491nm module which costs 4000$ for 2mW, I'm guessing that's out of the question for a pointer too :p
 
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ped

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Yeah when i was reffereing to the "instability" i know your right in what you said, i had one similar, but it settled down within a seconds, but the CNI is undoubtedly higher quality, with far better heatsinking, thus resulting in a longer "warm up" period.

And also your right in saying its down to the colour calibration on the monitor, i dont think any photos will do this laser justice, its really one of those things to behold in person. :)
 

DJNY

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Addonex, you can test your color sensibility with this test here http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/color-acuity-test-52863.html

According a new wavelength, we should wait a bit, it´s rather boring to see all new wavelengths at once. But I can tell you that the next WL will be 515nm.


@aryntha
When do we finally see your full signature in one pic?
PM me, I´m going to send you some smoke cartidges :evil:
 

aryntha

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Heh, when I get a lot of time, thats a lot of 18650s and power supplies. But I probably could do it, or at least pretty close to it. It'd be a bit of a project, though. And, yeah, I probably need to stop running around and lighting matches to do beamshots :)
 

Addonex

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Addonex, you can test your color sensibility with this test here http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/color-acuity-test-52863.html
Very nice link! First attempt (did poorly) -> adjusted gamma correction/color settings on nvidia controls-> retook test (did much better) -> the dots look much more distinguishable now :D

:thanks:

According a new wavelength, we should wait a bit, it´s rather boring to see all new wavelengths at once. But I can tell you that the next WL will be 515nm.
This is relevant to my interests :O can't wait to see that.
 

Xtrm2Rick

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Thats a verry nice laser you got there! great color to, looks "exotic":yh:

You must have one of the coolest laser colections ive seen!
Im surprised to see you dont have a White fusion kit, after seeing all the laser colors you have in your sig

Nice review!
 

aryntha

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White Fusion -- I've considered it, but I think the alignment would drive me insane.
 

RA_pierce

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Damn, aryntha.
That laser is cool, but that is one unique item in your camera collection.
I don't know which is more impressive.

I'd also like to point out that 532nm should be more visible in low light than the 561. With photopic vision, the 561 will be closer to the peak of visibility.

I'm still waiting around for some real solid-state orange in the 615-600nm range. I'm not sure if 593.5nm is close enough for me.
 




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