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Help, Need Advice, First post here.

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I have been poking around his board for a while and found a great resource. I own a couple low-power lasers and my friend has a 1 W blue wicked laser which we play with. I want to purchase something similar.
My question is, and I’m sorry if it’s been asked here thousand times, what should I buy or build?

What I would like something that could burn wood, pop balloons from a distance. Someone looking for something pretty powerful color doesn’t matter. My friends is blue, but heard that diffuses quickly in the atmosphere, although I’m not against blue.

I can build something if it’s simple, a probably start building them the next time around. For now it would be preferable to purchase something out-of-the-box. I’ve looked through several brands and this is where I’m lost. I was looking at the sparton this morning, but have no way to compare it against others. Other than that looks smaller than the 1w blue wicked laser I have been playing with, this is where some advice would really be helpful.

The other thing I don’t like about the wicked laser is you have to use a lens to get a very tight beam pop balloons far away. I don’t mind if it did on the laser, but they tend to use an external magnifying glass.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

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Welcome to LPF! :beer:

I have several Lazerer LZCS units, I like them well enough and they are pretty good overall. Perhaps browse that site, although I don't know much about their other lasers.

You need to get some safety glasses. The glasses you get need to be appropriate for the wavelength(s) you will be using, and they need to have sufficient optical density. I have seen O.D. 4 recommended as being a good minimum level of protection, higher is better.

Get a good understanding of laser safety in general, www.laserpointersafety.com is a good resource. Please do read it. Your vision, or somebody else's, could depend on it. Not to mention there is a serious risk of getting into trouble with the law if you're reckless or negligent with your lasers. It happens, and the punishments are often severe. Don't let it happen to you.

Avoid any infrared (IR) lasers for now, you can't see the beam and can barely see the dot, but they will blind you just as fast as a visible laser. Faster, really, because your blink reflex will not work, due to the radiation being invisible. Also, standard "red laser" safety glasses will NOT protect you. You would need wavelength-specific glasses for IR (e.g. 808nm, 980nm, 1064nm, etc.) just as you do for visible light.

Everybody here "plays" with their lasers, there is no denying it, but have a care. If you're pointing at something, don't think of just that object, think of what is beyond it and whether it will be a problem if your laser hits it. A reflection from something you didn't know was there, especially with a 1.4W laser, could leave you with instant, permanent retinal damage. Or a person down-range, who you didn't notice, could get hurt. If you're going to point your laser into the sky, look up and check for any aircraft prior to doing so. The FAA requires pilots to report ANY laser they observe, regardless of whether it is actually directed at them, and if you're not careful you could wind up "on the radar" and not even know it, until it's too late.

As for burning, I only have two lasers I've used for that. One is a 500mW 405nm (violet) and the other is a 1W 808nm (IR). I only have the 808nm for the sake of having that wavelength, but I seldom actually use it. The 405nm is better for burning, IMHO, because it is visible, it can be focused to a tighter dot (due to single-mode diode), the wavelength tends to be well-absorbed by most things, and because I have safety glasses for that wavelength.

The 405nm laser I have is a Skylaser HL-405 and it burns and pops balloons well enough. Google "laserbtb.com" if you want to look at those, but there are many others out there and I'm sure other members can recommend lasers that are just as good if not better.

Lastly, use the search function here, there is so much information that most of the questions you have have likely been talked about before. But, if you feel you need more information, please do ask, even if you're not sure if the question is a good one. Much better than to ask and maybe look silly, than to make a mistake and look downright stupid, IMHO.

Good luck, be safe, enjoy!
 
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