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DL Viper 637nm 50mW

Chicxulub

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INTRODUCTION

I'm a longtime laser fan who is just starting to get back into the hobby after a long time away. I've always preferred the 'warm' colors, but found there to be a distinct lack of warm colored lasers available in the hobby! Years and years ago, I had a 40mW 594nm, which was about perfect IMO. I had always wanted another 'warm' laser that could enter the green laser brightness range, but I didn't want to spend tons of money on another yellow.

One day as I was perusing Dragon Lasers, I happened across their red lasers category. "Hmmm, could be interesting" I thought to myself. I clicked into the category expecting your run of the mill 200mW 660s, but no! Here be 637s!

I was intrigued and immediately decided that I had to drop coin on one lol.​

Ordering and Shipping

Nothing special to write home about here. Adam was responsive and quick with my questions, and the laser made it from China to Florida in five days. Can't complain!​

Impressions
Upon opening the laser, the first thing that I did was look it over. It seems to be a standard CNI glp case with a normal diode in it. Honestly, I was hoping for all of that space in the barrel to be filled with some fancy optics to give a really high quality beam profile, but no luck. Just a typical setup way down in the barrel. I'll wager that this thing will be a PITA to clean.


Looking into the eye of the beast

After dropping in some generic AAAs and firing it up, I was utterly shocked. I've never seen a red so brilliant! (Though not being a fan of burning, I can't speculate on how it compares to a 660nm burner) This bad boy definitely falls into the category of 'annoyingly bright' like the 20ish mW greens are to the uninitiated. It is dramatically brighter than my APC <5mW leadlight. More on power later.

One of the first things that I habitually do with a new laser is take off the end cap (if possible) and see what happens when I do. On this laser, I noticed a much larger dot with tons of splash.


Defocused dot showing artifacts

I found the dramatic change in the amount of rings and splash on this laser without the endcap to be quite puzzling. It appears as though CNI used the endcap to attempt to 'round out' the beam's profile. I believe that this is how they got the 'nearly round dot' that CNI/DL purports this laser to have. As it turns out, the hole in the endcap of the laser is smaller than the diameter of the beam. This was costing roughly a 20% power loss as measured by my iffy power meter, but also cleaning up the dot very nicely.

I rectified the situation by measuring the output of the laser without the endcap, then slowly drilling out the hole 1mm at at time until the power output was nearly the same as the uncapped measurement, while still managing to avoid any significant splashing or artifacts. I'm quite happy with the end result.


Before & after of the endcap modification

Testing
***I wish to caveat immediately that I don't trust my LPM. It has consistently given me numbers that are 'right' for what my lasers are supposed to be producing, but take the measurements given hearin with a grain of salt!***

Click here for details on the power meter

When I dropped this bad boy on my LPM, I got a shocking result of 79mW! Well over spec, but somehow unsurprising with a CNI laser. It is significantly brighter than an APC <5mW Leadlight, which is consistent with this power level.


Being tested

For divergence, I measured thusly: the dimensions of the beam at the aperture subtracted from the dimensions of the beam at distance divided by the distance.

At the aperture, the lasers beam is round, but the hot spot is roughly 4mm by 3.5mm. I sat the laser on the back of my car and put the dot on a telephone pole 190 feet away, or 57.91 meters. The dot on the telephone pole was 30mm by 35mm for an average divergence of .496. Pretty damn good IMO! (I have acreage, so this was safe to do).​

Visibility / Beams
Visibility of the dot is VERY good. I am incredibly surprised at the visibility of this thing. However, the beam is mediocre. Even with how much brighter the dot is than a 5mW greenie, I found the beam to be very comparable to one. When viewed in clear air, the beam is definitely very visible when you're viewing on axis. Curiously, the visibility of the beam drops off very quickly when you go off axis, unlike greens or blues. I suspect that this is directly related to Rayleigh scattering.

When viewed in the fog however, this thing turns into a monstrously bright lance of liquid fire! A very impressive beast in this regard!

Inside with the lights on, there's not really anything for a visible beam. The lack of visibility of the beam was expected however, and doesn't count against the laser IMO.

In the following pics, the clear air pics were taken tonight, the foggy pics were taken last night. Last night, there was enough fog for one to tell that it was foggy, but not so much as to obscure vision or make it difficult to drive.

While the beam was quite visible to the naked eye, I couldn't get a satisfactory picture of the outgoing beam in clear air with my crappy cellphone camera.


Clear air, standing 190 feet away, looking toward the laser.


Foggy, dot terminating 190 feet away, viewed from behind the laser.


Foggy, standing 190 feet away, looking toward the laser.
 



Hap

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Neato!

That's interesting that CNI used a GLP(AAA's host) when using this wavelength. I thought only 593.5 and 532 came in that host, oh well, looks a lot sleeker IMO! Have you tried any burning with it yet?

Enjoy your new "bright red" laser :D

-Alex
 

Gabe

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Good overview. I absolutely adore those GLP hosts, thinking of some day starting up a GLP rainbow. Interesting what they did with the clipping of the beam/artifacts. Enjoy your new laser!
 

APEX1

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awesome review!! Take notes people, this is how it's done
 

gozert

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Looks very nice! I don't like the matte finish on Viper pens these days but other than that they're excellent lasers.
 

Gabe

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Looks very nice! I don't like the matte finish on Viper pens these days but other than that they're excellent lasers.
Oh, I never noticed the matte finish. Nyeh. Eh. No likey.
 

gozert

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Oh, I never noticed the matte finish. Nyeh. Eh. No likey.
You should probably ask DL or wherever you're gonna get your GLP's to make sure you get the glossy finish.
 

Chicxulub

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Rather expectedly with a laser of this power, as the regular, el-cheapo batteries start to lose juice, the output diminishes. I can't fault the laser for this, as it is entirely normal, but it is only fair to report it. This laser would thrive with lithiums, methinks.
 
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The_LED_Museum

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I've taken note that the Wicked Lasers Spyder III series of lasers (the directly-injected ones anyway) also suffer from some beam vignetting, but I don't think it is 20% like your laser exhibits.

+1 rep! :thanks:
 

Chicxulub

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Oh, I never noticed the matte finish. Nyeh. Eh. No likey.
Honestly, it looks really nice in person. The matte finish also seems to be MUCH more durable than the old gloss finish, too. A laser like this is a 'pocket laser' for me, and being bounced around with keys and coins, it shows no visible wear thus far. The old gloss finish lasers would always scratch and chip quick, fast and in a hurry.


I've taken note that the Wicked Lasers Spyder III series of lasers (the directly-injected ones anyway) also suffer from some beam vignetting, but I don't think it is 20% like your laser exhibits.

+1 rep! :thanks:
Thank you!



For what its worth everyone, this laser comes with a plastic lens. Every CNI laser that I have ever had before this one has had a glass lens. I moved forward operating under the assumption that it too would have a glass lens, only to end up with those typical microabrasions that are so easily caused in a plastic lens.

My next step with this laser is going to be to take the thing apart and try to fit it with an aftermarket lens (though to be honest, I've got a lot on my plate right now and that project probably won't be tackled too soon).
 

Chicxulub

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Honestly, it looks really nice in person. The matte finish also seems to be MUCH more durable than the old gloss finish, too. A laser like this is a 'pocket laser' for me, and being bounced around with keys and coins, it shows no visible wear thus far. The old gloss finish lasers would always scratch and chip quick, fast and in a hurry.




Thank you!



For what its worth everyone, this laser comes with a plastic lens. Every CNI laser that I have ever had before this one has had a glass lens. I moved forward operating under the assumption that it too would have a glass lens, only to end up with those typical microabrasions that are so easily caused in a plastic lens.

My next step with this laser is going to be to take the thing apart and try to fit it with an aftermarket lens (though to be honest, I've got a lot on my plate right now and that project probably won't be tackled too soon).
After doing some research, I have been able to conclusively prove to myself that I was wrong about the lens being plastic. It is glass. I was able to get the same marks on a known glass lens laser, which I was able to remove woth a lens pen. The lens pen won't fit inside of the viper, inconvenient though that may be.

When I contacted Dragon, they were EXTREMELY insistent on replacing the laser even though I made it abundantly clear that I messed it up accidentally on my own and was only seeking info on how to fix it. I couldn't be happier with my customer service from them.
 







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