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Complete guide to owning lasers- Please Read

Livinloud

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Thanks for the update. Kinda hard to keep up with all these companies sometimes, especiall when I dont tend to order complete lasers anymore since I can build them.

Thanks everyone for keeping this thread alive and reading it :beer:
 



KrowBar

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Re: Новая консалд

-removed quoted spam-

Spamfest today. Sheesh! - reported

Mod Edit -

Yes, and people keep reporting YOUR posts as you keep quoting spammers in your replies.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

mortuus

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Livinloud hey u need buy more lasers its getting a bit empty your laserlist :D
 

Livinloud

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Ive sold a lot of them over the past year. Now im only interested in unique ones now. Everything I have in my collection is one of a kind, only one to have something like it and thats how I want to keep it :beer:
 

Hap

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Ive sold a lot of them over the past year. Now im only interested in unique ones now. Everything I have in my collection is one of a kind, only one to have something like it and thats how I want to keep it :beer:
Hey Livinloud,

I remember posting here but you may not have seen it about adding JetLasers under the trusted company list?

Thanks,
Alex
 

plag

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Thank you for such a nice guide, but I want to know more about the safety. You know safery must be on the first place when you deal with such equipment.
 

Flank Joye

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Once again a very old thread for years, does that mean laser pointer is kinda faded...:whistle:
 

paul1598419

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Very helpful guide. Thanks.

-Newbie
Please don't post to these old threads. This one is over 4 years old and was spam attacked before you posted to it now. These are meant to be read. Not posting to adding nothing new to the subject. :tsk:
 

Sloany215

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OVERVIEW:
It seems like every day I come across new members asking the same questions over and over again. The point of this thread is to compile a list of general information every person should be aware of BEFORE owning a laser. As a new member of this community you should have read all the stickies in each thread. If you didn’t then you should but this thread will help sum up the majority of information you should know. Please beware that if you ask questions that have already been answered many times, you may get bashed on by other members. The rule you should follow is SEARCH FIRST, ASK LATER. If you have searched for the answer and still haven’t found an answer then we will gladly help you out :beer:

Also if you a new here, first please read this review but after finished please go over to the welcome section and introduce yourself. We are always wanting to know more about new members and finding out about you is the only way we can properly help answer your questions. Without knowing your likes and dislikes, along with where in the world you are located, we cant answer your questions. This brings me to the final thing I ask of you; please go to your User CP and update your location. It doesn't have to be specific to your town but please put your state or country. This helps members answer your questions since every country has different rules or possibly even buying a laser from a member near you to cut down on transit time, costs and also customs issues. Thanks for reading this far and you might as well continue to learn more about laser basics :beer:

CONTENTS OF THIS THREAD:
LASER SAFETY
LASER LAWS
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FIRST LASER
SHIPPING
PAYMENTS
CUSTOMS
BATTERIES
TRUSTED LASER COMPANIES
TRUSTED LASER BUILDERS BY COUNTRY
BUILDING YOUR OWN LASER
MACHINISTS
EXOTIC WAVELENGTHS
GET YOUR LASERS LPM'd
GOOD RESOURCES/CONTACTS



LASER SAFETY:
I think it is proper to start off any guide with safety. I hope that everyone who is looking at buying a laser, no matter the power, understands that lasers are dangerous. Lasers should be treated like a loaded gun and you should follow these 4 steps:
• ALWAYS wears safety glasses/goggles
• ALWAYS keep the laser pointed away from humans, animals, cars, trains, air planes, etc…
• ALWAYS keep your laser “unloaded” until you are ready to use it (aka don’t store it with batteries inside)
• ALWAYS keep your finger away from the power button until you are ready to use it
If you follow these 4 simple rules then there will NEVER be any accidents involving lasers. For those of you who are new to lasers and are wondering if safety glasses are necessary, the answer is simply YES!!! They say that anything under 5mW is safe for the human eye but true 5mW lasers will cost you a ton. BEWARE that the lasers found on fleabay, bamazon, dx, fasttech, etc….. that are labeled as 5mW lasers are very over-spec. What does over-spec mean? When a laser is over-spec that means it is labeled as say 5mW but when tested on a LPM (laser power meter) it reads at a much higher power.
Another thing to be aware of is that 532nm (green) lasers put out both green and IR (infrared) light. You can only see the green light since IR is invisible. This makes it even more serious to protect your eyes. Don’t worry though since there are inexpensive glasses that will protect your eyes. Below are glasses that have been tested by multiple members.
"Better than nothing" glasses $10- Cheap Safety Glasses- TESTED
Uvex Safety Glasses- Destruction Testing
Great glasses $40-50- Survival Laser- Eagle Pair Glasses
Certified glasses over $100- Laser Safety Industries
Thorlabs - Certified Laser Safety Glasses
Comparison of the Uvex & Eagle Pair glasses found HERE

CAUTION- WELDERS HELMETS AND GLASSES WILL NOT PROTECT YOUR EYES!!!!!!
If you don’t believe me on how important safety glasses are then read THIS thread. Accidents do happen but with protection you can save your eyes and your wallet from costly eye repair.
Another thing about safety, don’t point lasers at your skin. It sounds stupid but everyone's skin reacts differently so it may cause irritation and rashes. Plus high powered lasers will burn your skin and that’s no fun.
More articles to support laser safety:
Plea For Eye Safety
Laser Safety- Newcomers Guide

LASER CLASSES:
You must understand the different classes of lasers prior to buying your first laser since every country has their own laws.

CLASS I (1) LASERS: Class I lasers are low-powered and do not emit hazardous radiation under normal operating conditions because they are completely enclosed.

CLASS II (2) LASERS: Class II lasers are lasers that emit accessible visible laser light with power levels less than 1 mW that normally would not produce a hazard if viewed for only momentary periods with the unaided eye.

CLASS IIIa (3A) LASERS: Class IIIa lasers are systems with power levels of 1 to 5 mW that normally would not produce a hazard if viewed for only momentary periods with the unaided eye.

CLASS IIIb (3B) LASERS: Class IIIb lasers are systems with power levels of 5 mW to 500 mW for continuous wave lasers or less than 10 J/cm² for a 0.25 s pulsed laser. These lasers will produce an eye hazard if viewed directly.

CLASS IV (4) LASERS: Class IV lasers are systems with power levels greater than 500 mW for continuous wave lasers or greater than 10 J/cm² for a 0.25 s pulsed laser. These lasers will produce eye, skin and fire hazards.

LASER LAWS:
First off let me say I am not a lawyer or attorney and I don’t pretend to be one. I can only report what other members have said are the laws for their countries. I will just provide a link to a great post started by Grix: Laser Laws by Country
If you are unsure of a law in your country either post a question in Grix’s thread or here and we will be glad to help you out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FIRST LASER:
DON’T BUY YOUR FIRST LASER UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE BOUGHT SAFETY GLASSES. While no one can tell you what to buy as your first laser we can help guide you to something you are interested in. I personally suggest that you buy a “5mW” 405nm (violet/purple) or 650/660nm (red) laser pen as your first laser. Now even though these lasers are going to be over-spec, they will be good training tools for you. First off neither of these lasers produce IR so you don’t have to worry about the invisible killer. Second, these lasers are less dangerous than the high powered lasers new members ALWAYS are looking for and they will be easy on your wallet, roughly $10 each shipped. If after you have learned more about lasers and how to handle them than you can expand into higher powered units and even 532nm. If you are interested in buying your first 532nm laser then please use Guide to Buying First Green Laser guide to help you in your search. Each wavelength has its pros and cons and ultimately it is up to you to decide what will fit you best.
By now I bet you have noticed that lasers aren't cheap by any means. A good place to grab brand new lasers for a discount is in the Group Buy (GB) section. A groupd buy is basically when a LPF member (sometimes companies post GBs as well such as JetLasers) contacts a laser seller and gets them to agree to sell lasers in bulk for cheaper costs. The member who is running the GB (GB host) will collect everyone's payment (usually by Paypal) and will have one massive order for everyone's lasers at the discounted price. Every GB is different depending on who is hosting it but normally the GB host will receive the shipment of everyone's order and then test each laser on a LPM to verify the output is correct. Once everything is set the GB host will ship everyone their orders. This is great since you get a discounted price and output is normally tested by a third party (GB host).
One last thing, if you are buying or interested in buying a laser from the Buy/Sell/Trade (BST or B/S/T) section on LPF, please dont put something like "I'm interested, PM me." If you want to purchase something please be kind & courteous and PM the seller saying you are interested in _____ laser they have for sale and i would like some more information. You can always leave a comment on the thread saying something like "I'm interested, PM coming/sent." Being kind and courteous, to not only sellers but everyone here at LPF, will not only earn respect from members but will help you out in the long run when it comes to negotiations and the seller going above and beyond to please you. Inside tip: Most of the time, NOT ALWAYS, if you are extra nice to the seller and everything goes smoothly, they add little surprises/extras to your package :)

SHIPPING:
Keep in mind that most laser suppliers are located in China or Hong Kong. This is important for many reasons. First China and Hong Kong can produce large amounts of lasers at low costs. This doesn’t mean that they are all low quality though (please refer to the list of trusted laser companies below). This also means that they don’t have to follow the same rules as the rest of the world. China and Hong Kong are notorious for “shutting down” completely for national holidays/festivals. Please refer to Official Public Holidays in China, 2013/2014/2015 China Holidays & Festivals for a list of holidays in China/Hong Kong. It may not be the best idea to place an order around these holidays because orders can get lost or forgotten due to the commotion and chaos. Don’t worry, if you do place an order around these holidays your order will still be filled. It will take longer than average to be processed and shipped. In some cases your order may get lost or overlooked due to trying to process all of the orders during the holiday. If this happens simply contact the company and remind them of your order. Shipping normally takes anywhere from 5 days to 4 weeks so be patient but be aware of the time. Once your laser hits customs, you may see a delay in tracking or think your laser got stuck. Please see the customs section below for an answer to this problem.

PAYMENTS:
It is recommended that you use Paypal (PP) or a Credit Card (CC) when paying for a laser. Western Union, Money orders, money grams and services like this aren’t recommended due to the risk involved and lack of protection for you. PP and CC offer protection for you, the buyer, in case anything goes wrong. PP offers 45 day protection for buyers so it is important to keep an eye on how long it takes for your order to arrive. It is recommended to open a claim once day 40-43 comes around. The seller may get mad but you can explain that you opened it in case a problem occurred. If the laser gets there safely after the claim is open, you can always close it. Check with your CC Company to learn more about the protection plans they offer since every card is different.
NEVER USE THE WORD LASER OR ANY REFERENCE TO LASERS WHEN USING PAYPAL. Paypal will flag both your and the sellers account and you will not be refunded the money you lost. Paypal doesn’t allow the selling or buying of lasers but we always use it :)

CUSTOMS:
Customs are different for every country and I am sorry if you live in Australia since your customs are the worst! However there are a few tricks to get lasers past customs. First off, NEVER BUY BATTERIES with your laser. Li-Ion batteries are easy to detect when the package is scanned by customs. Many countries also prohibit the importing of Li-Ion batteries if not done properly. Lasers are tougher to notice when scanned since many of them are made to look like flashlights. If you have batteries in the package with the laser and it gets caught then you have also given customs the key to testing your laser, not good. Rule of thumb is, don’t buy batteries with your lasers.
Now what happens if your laser does get caught by customs? Well, it’s as good as lost. It isn’t worth fighting with customs because they have most likely already destroyed or stole your laser for their own personal use. If you do fight it, the chances of you winning are slim to none and it will take a ton of effort, time and possibly money. If you have enough packages confiscated your address will be flagged and they have the right to open every package shipped to you. If a package is confiscated, your best bet at getting a laser is buying from within the country you live in. In Europe, many times they don’t scan packages from other countries within Europe. See a list below of laser builders located in each country.

This may go for other countries but the US is notorious for letting packages sit in customs. Many people think their laser has been confiscated or inspected since tracking just shows it sitting in customs. PLEASE dont worry right away!!! Domestic mail has priority over international packages, doesnt make sense since customs is mostly international packages but its also the USPS so dont question it :crackup: Give it about a week or two and if it still shows it stuck in customs, then you can contact the USPS to inquire about your package. Ive had flashlights sit in customs for over a week, run of the mill flashlights!

BATTERIES:
Since its not smart to buy batteries with lasers you should purchase them from within our own country. Beware of companies such as ultrafire, trustfire, sunfire, etc… because the mAh listed is not accurate at all. It is a safe bet to take the advertised mAh and divide it in at least half! If you want quality batteries then stick with companies such as Panasonic, Sanyo, Sony and Nitecore. These will be more expensive but they will have accurate mAh and will be of higher quality. These companies don’t make every type of battery so you may be forced to get ultrafires. Getting ultrafires isn’t necessarily a bad thing and they will work fine but they may not have as long of a life span or hold a charge as well.
Another thing to be aware of is protected vs unprotected batteries. Protected batteries are larger than unprotected so check with the seller if protected batteries will work in your laser. The only difference between protected and non-protected are that protected batteries have PCB boards to prevent over charging, power spikes and malfunctions of the battery from frying your driver or diode.
FINALLY, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dont use cheap chargers like:
These type of chargers shown above are nothing but junk and WILL, i repeat WILL die on you. In some cases they have even fried the insides and become a extreme fire hazard! Dont believe me? See THIS thread and pictures for proof!
Do yourself a favor and buy a quality charger! The Nitecore i2 & i4 are both great chargers that wont break your bank. Illumination Supply sells them currently for $10 & $15 respectively (prices may change but ill try and keep the prices updated). Illumination Supply link is under the resources and parts section. i2 & i4 shown below:
One thing you cant see in the pictures is that you can use a wall charger OR you can purchase a plug for the cigarette charger in your vehicle.

TRUSTED LASER COMPANIES:
It is hard to find trusted companies who sell lasers but luckily you can avoid previous member’s mistakes. Below is a list of trusted companies who sell lasers. Some companies guarantee delivery and they will be noted
LaserBTB
Dragon Lasers
Survival Lasers (US site)
Survival Lasers (International site)
Laser Glow
Optotronics
NOVAlasers
****Adding more as I think of them
Have a question about Wicked Lasers? Please visit this thread Why Wicked Lasers are not good and you will see why I haven’t linked them as trusted :beer:

TRUSTED LASER BUILDERS BY COUNTRY:
If you are looking to purchase a custom laser built by a LPF member then use this list to find members by country. (This isn’t a complete list and will update constantly but these members almost always have something for sale)
Blord- Belgium
Thejoker301- Israel
ZeroLaser- USA
ApexProxy- USA
Silvershot- Germany
daguin- USA
Jayrob- USA
bloompyle- USA
mhemling33- USA
ARGLaser- Canada
offroadfreak8582- Netherlands
***Updating constantly as I think of more members

BUILDING YOUR OWN LASER:
If you feel up to the challenge then this will help you with your first build. The easiest way to build your first laser is with a JAD (just add diode) kit. These kits come with everything you need to build a laser, minus the diode. The driver will be pre-installed and set to a desired output, usually already in a pill, with leads already attached. The only thing you’d need to do is solder the diode to the driver leads and put it in the heat sink.
Jayrob offers many “Hot Option” builds which are the same as JAD kits
Jayrob Builds & Kits
Once you feel comfortable enough you can build a laser on your own. You will need the following: flashlight/laser host, heat sink, diode with proper module (3.8mm, 5.6mm or 9mm), driver, pill (not always needed), contact board (if driver isn’t used as contact board), batteries, insulated wire, heat shrink tubing to protect solder connections from shorting.
You can follow these videos/tutorials on making your first laser:
Soldering for Beginners
Jayrob Build Advice
I Want to Build a Laser Thread
Video above is a simple guild to building a C6 Laser

MACHINISTS:
When building your own lasers you will most likely come across a problem finding heat sinks for your host, unless you are using the C6 host. These members will be your go to guys for machining custom heat sinks and focusing knobs.
Eudaimonium- http://laserpointerforums.com/f64/eudaimonium-s-machine-shop-73749.html
Mrcrouse- http://laserpointerforums.com/f39/mrcrouse-s-machining-services-design-milling-turning-polishing-anodizing-78525.html

For custom hosts contact:
Sinner
ehgemus
These guys make some amazing hosts. Guaranteed to make your jaw drop :drool:


EXOTIC WAVELENGTHS:
Now that you’ve built a few lasers and have the basic wavelengths; 532nm, 445nm, 405nm and 650/660nm, you are looking for more exotic lasers. You have a few options but keep in mind, exotic lasers are like exotic cars, and they WILL cost a lot more than your average laser. You can buy the following lasers; 473nm (light blue), 520nm (light green), 638nm (orange-red), <808nm (infrared), 266-355nm (UV) and 589-594nm (yellow). DragonLasers (linked above) is a great place to buy these lasers. These lasers will be more expensive than your average laser and the output will not be as high as your average 532nm or 445nm. You can also buy a 520nm diode directly from DTR (see his website in the below section)

GET YOUR LASERS LPM'd:
Now Laser Power Meters (LPM) are expensive but it is always advised to know your lasers true output. You cant tell a lasers power by the beam and if you think you can then read HERE and you'll see how wrong you are. If you dont have a LPM dont worry because the members of LPF have your back! scumbagatheist was kind enough to compile a list of members who are willing to LPM your laser for FREE (just need to pay for shipping to and from the member). If you are interested in having your laser metered then PM me. I offer a free metering service for any laser under 5000mW (5W). You dont need to purchase a LPM but it is always nice to have.

GOOD RESOURCES & PART STORES:
DTR- DTR Diodes, Modules & More
Survival Lasers (US Customers)- Survival Lasers
Survival Lasers (International Customers)- Survival Lasers
Cajun Lasers- Cajunlasers Store
Aixiz- AixiZ
Illumination Supply Chargers, Batteries, Flashlights and More
Laser Glow- Safety Glasses & Handheld Lasers

I suggest buying some of these accessories when you get a chance:
DJNY's Guide to Laser accessories you should own



Suggestions and comments are welcomed. If you think I missed anything important or have recommendations for companies, members, new sections, improvements, etc....please PM me or leave a comment and I will get on fixing and updating this thread constantly.

REMEMBER: Please search first and ask later. Many of your questions have been answered before. Lasers and this hobby are not new and if you have the question, 95% chance someone else has had the same one. If you can never find the answer to your question there is a good chance you aren't using the search function properly so please read THIS. I promise after you read that last one, you will have better luck at finding answers to your questions.

As you could guess, this thread took a long time to create and re-read so if you find any errors please PM me and i will fix them ASAP! Also please let me know if any of the links dont work. Websites tend to update often and its hard to keep on top of them.

****Feel free to link to this thread to help answer any questions****

Thanks for reading, enjoy your stay here at LPF and please lase safely!!!!
I for one would like to say thank you for all this excellent information you have made available to all of us who choose to educate ourselves regarding lasers and accessories. Bravo !
Sloany
 




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