1) please add more info to your profile.... especially Tampa- We have members near you and some are nealy guru status-- but the only one reverred by all is Sam. check out Sam's Laser FAQ and more- he is a retired professor from U Penn and authored what some call the 'Laser bible.'
2) make a new thread in this section with more info.. other hobbies, more about your goals regarding lasers etc.
Also at LPF we have many sub forums called social groups- in fact there is one just for laser nerds from Florida. Each year there is a small by=ut nery nice gathering in Orlando these are known as LEMs. I just returned from the Mack Daddy SELEM < google that and watch the vids on Ytube. AWESOME times!!
Once you add tampa to your profile it will appear under your user name every time and make getting help better. also at the Fl group find 'group tools' and click subscription from the menu- you will them get a notice that something new has been added like a FLEM. On the open forum you can sub threads too or just make a post in any and you get emails when a new post is added.
If you fail to find answers to Qs in our search function, Sam, or from Bing/ Googlle etc then seek out a member and ask your Q- making a new thread on an old topic that has many asked and answered Qs is much better than just posting a Q that has been asked (maybe hundreds of times) that you can find the answer on your own..
Noobs may try to help but could actually give you BAD advice--
Be sure to use lasers in the safest manner--
never hand one over to a person that you would not hand a loaded gun to.
Correct eyeware is not a suggestion-- it is a must have.
most injuries come from refections off mirrors window chrome etc.
For any laser over 5mW (especailly 405 purple) eyeware must be used when measuring beam size- doing power reading with a LPM and doing a check on divergence. I keep mine around my neck so they is ready to put on when needed.
With more time and experience staying out of the danger zones becomes second nature but your quests will alwaya need protection, tell them to only taken off the glasses when they are seated and are sure to be in a safe zone. Watching a laser show is no fun wearing goggles but getting an eye injury is no fun at all.
There is currently a big push to make lasers illegal in the USA- if this happens you will never be legally allowed to use any laser at a gig.
Last bit of info..
Technically you cannot use any lasers over 5 mW when your band is doing a gig- even at private parties. While there is very little chance that the FDA will show up and shut you down its something you need to know- becoming 'legal' is nearly impossible...
one of the worst things that can happen is to have someone accuse you of being the cause os an eye injury and starting a lawsuit on you. They only need to prove you were not compliant to win a case as lawsuits are not judged like criminal cases-- its not 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
One time that gets DJs and bands in trouble happens when someone informs the FDA that you are doing illegal laser shows and this is often done by a band or lasershow operator that wants to get you shut down.. mainly so they can replace you.
Becoming 'legit' for you is not really an option- as it requires a ton of paperwork and forms- insurance- permits- filed show plans- and OKs from both the FAA and the local fire department and much more.
A legal projector will cost more than twice as much and if you build your own the paperwork doubles.. Your best way may to be this-- forget lasers and go with DJ lights powered by LEDs-- ALSO never let anyone bring a handheld laser to a event you are working- I have heard of people getting eye shots at shows and blaming the band instead of the idiot who brought his 'greenie' to 'play' with at your gig.
Very likely you will be the one that gets into trouble not him.
Outdoor gigs are worse- you are not allowed to even display a laser of any kind near any heliport or air port.
Your beams cannot hit any windows of buildings or homes.
There is a course that can be taken that covers all this but it is 1500$ and lasts three days followed by a VERY hard to pass exam.
I just took the short version( 445$ and one long day of lecture)- waiting now to see if i passed- we only were allowed two hours for the exam and for me that was not enough time. the math part is very hard. I may have to take the exam again--
WOW!, I didn't expect such a detailed welcome, thank you hakzaw1. I have read the first page of Sam's Laser Bible; I didn't realise it was that big until I finished the first page. I have updated my personal info. as you suggested. I wish I would have read your post before I bought the laser. My band and I where planning on pointing towards the wall behind us, to avoid eye injuries, but now I'm not going to use it at all.
We do have one of those cheap American DJ low powered ones that do the same pattern over and over.
Since I was jumping into lasers as an added element for the band, I now have a lot more time to learn about them, since I'm not going to use them at gigs. I'm thankful that you warned me. I wasn't worried about the bar getting me in trouble (which I thought of), but didn't think about individuals faking injuries.
I already ordered a cheap dongle type of DMX512 controller, so I could use the built in laser animations. I really wanted to go the Soundcard DAC, but the next show was around the corner so I settled. Now I have plenty of time to learn.