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CNI Portable Green 500mW + Multimedia

ohada

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Greetings LPF members and guests.

I've been working quite a bit on this review, mainly on producing the photos and videos.
Finally I have everything I wanted to post, so here we go.

I've divided the review to sections since it's very long.

So where do I start? At the beginning...


[size=+2]Purchase Experience:[/size]
I bought the laser through a group buy on this forum, arranged by member Glenn (username "scopeguy20"):
http://laserpointerforums.com/f55/cni-gb-last-chance-thursday-3-26-a-39838.html
Glenn did a fine job with this group buy, here's another chance for me to say thanks. :thanks:

Unfortunately I received a defective unit, and had to RMA it. This is the time-line from purchase to receiving the working unit:
11/March - Made the order (payment) to Glenn - $900 plus shipping and customs. :paypal:
24/March - Order made to CNI by Glenn.
28/April - Package arrived to Glenn.
11/May - Laser arrived to me. Over next few days turned out to be defective (very unstable and usually underpowered). :cryyy:
18/May - Sent to CNI.
25/May - CNI got it.
16/June - CNI sent replacement (this time directly to me).
22/June - Finally got the good laser. Cheers! :beer:

Summary:
- Overall it took more than 3 months for me to get the working unit...
- I'm so glad I have a good LPM! (Deluxe LaserBee I)
- CNI service was fine (kind and responsive), although they didn't take the initiative to update me what's going on, I had to keep asking for updates.


[size=+2]What I Got:[/size]
So this is the model: CNI PGL-III-C 532nm 500mW.
Spec by CNI: http://www.cnilaser.com/PDF/PGL-III_-C_-532.pdf

What the spec doesn't say, but CNI made it clear before the purchase, is that the 500mW has a strict duty cycle of about 1 minute on and then it needs cool-down (5-10 minutes is enough, depending on environment).

Laser in my hand:


Compared to other models (DL Spartan, WL Executive, DX Dilda) and AA battery:


Comparison of beam exit:


"Class IV Laser Product" sticker :cool::



[size=+2]Safety Features:[/size]
Obviously such a laser must have safety features and be handled cautiously.
The safety features of this laser the standard:
1. Lock & keys at the bottom.
2. Safety pin (I think it could be used for remote control).
3. LED indication for on/off.
4. Few seconds delay before beam is emitted. Together with the LED indication this is very useful.

And you must have protective goggles, I have two WL goggles (for me and the girlfriend, which BTW is the photographer). I wish I had some goggles for the cats, so I wouldn't need to close them in a room when I use the laser...

Keys:


Pin - in & out:



LED - off/on (it shows better in reality):



Goggles (AA battery for size perspective):



[size=+2]Power Measures[/size]
Over the last week I've measured the laser again and again with my LPM, and I'm very pleased with the results.

The LPM is a Deluxe LaserBee I, which is very accurate and reliable, I have used it on many lasers.

Of the 9 measures I took, the laser always reached above 500mw, stayed above 500mW in 6 measures and above 450mW in the other 3, all of this for a duration between 50 to 80 seconds.
It usually peaks above 600mW, the highest I measured was 678mW (!!!).

This laser doesn't like heat. It's usually very hot where I live and I've found that the laser performs better in a cool (air-conditioned) environment - higher output and longer duration.

After 50-80 seconds the power starts to decline gradually (CNI weren't kidding about that duty cycle), so I turn it off immediately, I don't want to take any risks of permanent damage.
When I don't measure it, I try to limit the usage to 60 seconds at most.

*** Edited this section on IR ***
Regarding IR Filter: This laser includes a built-in IR filter, and no IR (or negligible IR) is emitted from it. I've tested this by adding an external extra IR filter (taken from the Spartan BP) and the power measure was not affected (see my reply post below).

Here are the graphs of the 9 measures I took:






Two photos of the LaserBee I in action, checkout the 678mW peak and the nice green reflection:



And a short video:



[size=+2]Beam Shots[/size]
The beam can be seen inside a lit room, without a fog machine, and at night sky it's incredible, like a long infinite light saber.

I don't have a fog machine, the beam shots I took were with long exposure outside (shining on some trees in my block).

Divergence: According to CNI spec it's <1.5mm, which as much as I could see seems right, the laser reaches very far (beyond what I can see) and I see the dot easily kilometers away (at night).

Compared to a WL ~120mW green:


Compared to WL ~50mW green, DL 20mW blue, IgorT 210mW bluray (doesn't appear at all, my camera can't detect this wavelength) and DX <200mW red:



Snapshot from a video inside a lit room:


Unfocused with a lens (I'm no expert, but I think this shows the laser working in TEM00 mode):



[size=+2]Destructive Power[/size]
Here's the fun part... :eg:

Popping 25 balloons in the bath tub:


Popping 23 Balloons in a row, the last one is 6 meters (19.5 feet) far from the laser:


Lighting several matches, the last one is 2.6 meters (8.5 feet) far from the laser:


And some photos taken from the videos.
Balloon pop (see the nice illumination and then the rubber in the air):



Match Lighting:





[size=+2]My Conclusions[/size]
I'm happy to join the very exclusive club of portable Class IV laser owners, the other members are probably Hercules owners.

This laser is great, CNI has done an excellent job here. :gj:
It's main disadvantage is of course its duty cycle which makes you plan each experiment you intend to do.
It also has a slightly bigger (worse) divergence than other high power portable greens available by Laser Glow / Optotronics / Dragon Lasers.

I would say the price of this laser is fair ($900), if not more than fair, considering the alternatives such as LG Hercules, Opto RPL and DL Hulk Ultra, which are all excellent I'm sure, and have better cooling (Hercules) to avoid duty cycle, but are much much more expensive.

I do wonder though if it will have a long life. In any case I'll try to use it as much as possible in the 6 months of the warranty period.

I hope you liked this review, and I'll be happy to add more information or multimedia on request,

Ohad
 
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realista

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it is one of the best review.....!!! the bad thinbg is that you firstly received a BAD unit. and if a user do not have a laser power meter.. how can check it??? XD

however.. the laser is very powerful. you payed it 900. but... without the group boy.. how should cost it?
it hasa no so long duty cycle..but its power i've seen that often INCREASE ..in seconds.. :) however... i don't know if is the same thing to buy an o-like 500 or 600mw filtered. i saw a video of the filtered 250 olike that peak at 350... 400. so if i imagine the tiltered 500 or 600.. it schould be a beast( or maybe susie in these laser count PEAK and not sunstained power)

your review is a lot precise...and with nice pics.... your laser is so bigahahahaha .... the only problem is that these kind of laser are NOT PORTABLE XD could be fantastic to go in street or in summer at beach disco's :) ( here where i live ..there are a lot of disco on the beach) and shine in the sky a class 4 laser :) but.. where do you put the laser ???

is for this reason that i only like small laser.. in PEN size.. and i would buy the MOST powerful pen laser to bring with me everywhere :) ( i think it is about 150/200mw the most....in pen size)
 

ohada

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Hey realista,

I'm not sure how much it would cost without the group buy, but I imagine the discount was 10-20% at most.

I had an idea how to test the IR emitted by this laser, the Spartan blue laser has an IR filter cap that can be removed so I'll use it, and update the post with the results.

I know what you're talking about with the laser size, pen lasers are much more fun, I always have a small laser in my bag everywhere I go...

Ohad
 

realista

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ehehhe everywhere you go :p IDEM aahahahha but i only have a 30mw. i qould buy a 150mw green.. one of the most pen laser. but thghere is a problem. all laser seller test them with 3v... BUT.. all person will use laser with 2 x nimh rechargeables batteries!!!! so real power could be lower than advertised :( howeever.. youtr laser is good.. but there is a little rpl that i love.. it is the rayfoss 200mw and dealextreme 200mw.. both sold at about 150$ it seems a good deal. i cant imagine how nice should be to see your laser beam in the real life :) however your choose is one of the best price7quality. for a powerful but cheap laser.. go to olike.. but it divergence is worse than your cni. ( mmmm how watt is your diode? 2 or 2.5 watt?) inteead.. hercules ..and optotronics rpl are one of the best laser.. BUT.. at high price XD. your cni laser is in the middle of price and quality. ..... mmm tour cni is the same sold at novalaser ??
 

john_lawson

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900 is a really nice price i think you scored i mean after a minute a 500-600 532 nm
everyone in town knows its on lol just think winter time its going to be longer duty cycle
 

ohada

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Small update on IR - the laser definitely includes an IR filter and doesn't emit IR.
I've added an extra IR filter I took from the Spartan BP, and made another power measure, same result.

Out of curiosity I tested this filter on a DX Dilda (Red), and saw its power dropping from 190mW to <10mW.

Here are a couple of photos of the laser with extra IR filter and the power measure.



 

themandalorian

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Excellent Review I'm ordering from CNI as another Group buy soon. But I bet you're going to get mad :D

They DO sell the Hercules at CNI. I'm awaiting prices but I can't wait to get a fan cooled laser

Edit: Hey do you want to get in our group buy and get a beam expander. Same as the ones from Laserglow (I THINK! CNI said that beam expander is probably made by them) The price is 52 dollars for a 5x and 104 dollars for the 10x

Post in our GB thread for more info, get a tighter beam! for only 50 bucks
 
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ohada

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Excellent Review I'm ordering from CNI as another Group buy soon. But I bet you're going to get mad :D

They DO sell the Hercules at CNI. I'm awaiting prices but I can't wait to get a fan cooled laser

Edit: Hey do you want to get in our group buy and get a beam expander. Same as the ones from Laserglow (I THINK! CNI said that beam expander is probably made by them) The price is 52 dollars for a 5x and 104 dollars for the 10x

Post in our GB thread for more info, get a tighter beam! for only 50 bucks
I didn't know they have a fan cooled model, perhaps I would have bought it, depending on the price.
Anyway I'm happy with my unit as it's a very high quality.

I may be interested in some items from CNI, I'll post it on the GB thread.
 

themandalorian

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Alright cool. Hey no denying that that is a great price and that looks like a great laser.

My friend has glens 265mw PGL III A and he loves it.
 

scopeguy20

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A very good review Ohada! I saw one member post that if you have no meter you don't know the output. It is something I check with a meter before I re-ship. I don't know why your first one was doing well here in California then bad in your town, but I suspect it either got it's internal alignment messed up from a shipping bump, or the unit had some other early failure. These are a bit delicate. However most of them I have sent along to the various GB folks held the output that I measured upon receiving them. So a member with no meter will usually know the output of the unit. I also have bought several pen type, and these can be great so, the size is a little deceptive. We pay about $300 for the 150 rated pen, (not including shipping), but it has been usual to output 175+ mW and the 50 mW units, ($105 shipped) are 90 to 110 mW from the earlier orders. Another great deal is the 473 nm blue laser pens (GLP 473 nm 5 mW) these are doing 10+ mW and what a beautiful color! Try about $308 shipped in USA! Thanks all and A special Thank You to Ohada!
 
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themandalorian

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Yeah His review will help me (and Glenn) get more interest in our group buy. This is really amazing though!
 

realista

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50mw that.. are 100mw XD wow.. seems a good deal at 105 shipped. about 100mw FILTERED?... mmm too good to be real :)
 

Gryphon

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WOW o_O Watching the mW's sail past 1/2W and continue up past 600mW's was insane! I can only imagine what it must be like to hold that laser while its in operation.
 
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Oh..WOW...CHUCK this is an EXCELLENT review, man.

+1+2+3+4+5 +10 if I could, great videos, especially the 23 balloons in a row... I reached 1:04 and thought "Hey is he gonna pop the 23 balloons in less than 50 seconds?" And when you turned that beast on and I saw you popped like 15 of them in less than 3 seconds my eyeballs fell out of their eye sockets.


Please keep doing these amazing reviews :)
 

themandalorian

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OK CNI is being rude. And then I found out they won't sell me the hercules, first they said they would and now they won't. I HATE people going back on their word.

The Duty cycle for this does scare me. How is it that this has a duty cycle of about a minute with a few minutes coold down, and an RPL is 5 minutes with about 2 minutes cool down?
 

BrewCityMusic

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@Mandolorian: A lot probably has to do with the strict QC that companies like Optotronics and Laserglow implement - Justin and Jack have excellent reputations to uphold, and accepting products that aren't perfect in every sense of the word for resale just wouldn't work with the type of business they conduct.

As an example, I routinely order chinese pointers for resale from several suppliers and can say that out of an order of 20pcs of the EXACT same model, some will have a really short duty cycle, some will be stable as long as you feel like holding the button. Out of that same order, the specs can range from 20% under to 40% over, divergence can be from needle-perfect to baseball bat beams. Now, granted, these are low $$ lasers but I still don't want to resell crap so the underpowered, unstable, off-center, or poorly set-up lasers either go back for credit OR I take a partial credit and sell them at a greatly reduced cost at the shows, just to move them.

Viasho makes the RPL, but do you think they're going to slap the Optotronics sticker on a 400 that puts out 350 or maybe heats up really fast? Nope - that honor goes to the 400 that tests at 475 and stays cool under pressure. Same with CNI and the Laserglow models they produce, the best go to Justin and the rest go to whoever orders them, as long as they work, they ship.

While I'm the first guy to love a "deal", over the years I've learned that quite often (especially with "specialty" products such as lasers) there really is a lot of truth to the saying "you get what you pay for". If I MUST have a 400mW green with PERFECT attributes, no matter what, I'm gonna spend $1300 with Justin, If I am willing to roll the dice, and can live with possible quirks like having to return it if it isn't quite right and wait for another, or maybe get a laser that heats up quickly, or whatever - then I'll roll a $900 set of dice in a group buy or something to that effect.

And lastly (WOW the coffee's strong this morning or maybe I wasn't as hung over as I thought, sorry about the mile-long post) in regards to the "Herc" from CNI, that's a simple one - Laserglow holds the rights to that model, period. Selling one direct would be a huge leap of bad faith for CNI, and to be honest, if I was Justin and I saw someone talking all over the forum about getting a cheap Hercules in a GB or for that matter ANY WAY, you can bet I'd be up at 4AM on the phone with CNI reminding them of the rules. The Herc is a $2-4K laser and has proven itself to deserve that price tag, there just ARE no "bad" or "iffy" Hercs out in the public - yes, there's an issue of distribution rights, etc involved but the bottom line is that those rights protect the reputation of both the Hercules model and Laserglow as a Company.

It's good to see people making the shift from "OOOh, a 500mW laser for $600" on (insert URL here of chinese reseller) to seriously considering a $900 investment from a company such as CNI in the name of quality - but no matter how you slice it, it's a step in the right direction, but it's still just a step. The next one is to get your $$ in hand and call Jack or Justin - then (and only then) is the journey complete.
 




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