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mmykle

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Does anyone know how the HAM radio operators or the rocket hobbyists got their interest heard by the government?

I know that you can send letters to your congress representative but that makes more of a difference when a bill is being discussed. As of now, there are no bills in the work to ban/make a difference in our hobby is there?
 

LSRFAQ

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Does anyone know how the HAM radio operators or the rocket hobbyists got their interest heard by the government?

Ham radio operators and rocketry guys have been responsible for some very spectacular things that have been useful to science and the government. Thus the government(actually governments world wide) talks to hams and rocketeers. During the 1930s to the end of the cold war, the U.S. government encouraged the growth of both, in order to train new scientists and engineers.

Hams are damn useful in emergencies that need communication, and have made developments in satellites so important that Nasa and the Air Force give free or low cost rides to hamsats.

Lasers, no such luck. Very few, if any, positive hobby contributions to the technology, except in say holography. Laser, as a hobby, has produced some people who become engineers, but little or no new hardware.

Keep in mind, LPF, despite its size, is the minority of laser pointer owners. LPF are the folks who take things somewhat seriously to very seriously. The majority of the general public who own pointers have no idea this virtual place exists.

Steve
 
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qumefox

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I think training and licensing is the key, as has been brought up already, and registration, age limits, and background checks are probably bad ideas since the would require massive amounts of paperwork, and therefor... cost for the system to function, or in the case of age limits, be totally pointless. I know plenty adults who are a lot more irresponsible than most children after all.

Toaster downplayed the amateur radio license as just reading a book and taking a test, but that would be all it takes for 99% of people who know nothing about lasers. Granted, I don't remember a lot of the info from the ARRL exams myself, but I DO remember the 'big' things like which bands I can use, etc. I'm sure any laserist test would be similar. Most people would forget the 'theory' stuff that they'd never really use within a week, but the 'big' things, like the very real danger to vision, and sometimes fire hazards, and what things would land you in jail, etc, would most likely stick with people.

One big thing I see that will he hard to overcome though is the danger level. The worst someone with nefarious intents could do with amateur radio abuses is disrupt emergency communications temporarily. While this could be life threatening to someone in certain situations, it in general wouldn't cause immediate bodily harm to someone. Someone with a high power laser on the other hand that's intent on causing bodily harm to someone, easily could.

This is the biggest issue I can see that would have to be tackled but any organization set up to represent hobbyists since it is the most damaging thing that would threaten the hobby.
 

Toaster

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"Toaster downplayed the amateur radio license as just reading a book and taking a test, but that would be all it takes for 99% of people who know nothing about lasers. Granted, I don't remember a lot of the info from the ARRL exams myself, but I DO remember the 'big' things like which bands I can use, etc. I'm sure any laserist test would be similar. Most people would forget the 'theory' stuff that they'd never really use within a week, but the 'big' things, like the very real danger to vision, and sometimes fire hazards, and what things would land you in jail, etc, would most likely stick with people. "

Touché

Same here, I forgot all the technical things but the what you do and dont do, I remember.

I know we arent looking for proposals, but I think they best way to treat these is like the HAM radios.


THIS:
You can get a license, but there is no age limit. That way there is no discrimination, yet order.
 

willpine

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This is a form of a special interest group basically, by forming it would make itself a visible target and bring awareness to people, typically bad aspects given the security hype of the last 10 years( i'll happily give up more freedom for just feeling safer mentality). This group would be a singular entity, people can get behind and unite or retaliate against. A registration just lines up the targets; another way for your name to be on a database...
A way to get behind this hobby..is not to be a hobby...In other words when there is applications behind the.. subject, the formation of group or whatever you want to call it, such as for scientist, industrial, military, even entertainment there are legitimate reasons (defined by societies & gov) for having a potentially dangerous item. Alas, with practical uses.. when there is a lot of money to be made, and need to protect the industry, then one will form generally geared towards that particular interest or use. There are some laser enthusiasts that make money from hobbyist, making mods, builds, host etc, but that doesnt affect enough people or make enough money. The entertainment, with the rise of more technology will grow with the importance of true 3d holograms and projection technology but with typical laser shows i dont see it getting enough demand or money to accomplish a large or influential group that would extend to high power lasers.
I agree this is a great place to start..for research, for help, and to embark on such an endeavor. I hope this makes sense and helps to concentrate your and all of our interest at heart.
 

qumefox

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The problem is there are very few real practical applications of high power handheld lasers. You'd be hard pressed to convince anyone with any power than lighting matches and popping balloons is 'science'.
 
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^Very true.. however there is QUITE a lot of science that can be found in our community, and even the simplest pointer builds tend to introduce a person to basic electronic and optical theory in a hands-on fashion that people might not have access to otherwise. Also the laser hobbyist comes in MANY flavors, with pointer enthusiasts making up a fraction. Pointers and portables also serve as "entry-level" devices that often end up stirring interest in other types of lasers and laser applications.

Personally I view this hobby as very educational, and highly rewarding. While it's true that we as hobbyists don't contribute as much in terms of new hardware and theory as the scientific and industrial laser communities, in general laser hobbyists have helped many people gain knowledge and understanding of practical physics and electronics principles, especially hobbyists that work with lab style and gas/ion laser systems. There are many circuits and power supply designs that have been developed by hobbyists and hobbyists have even constructed lasers from scratch using their own skills and materials.

Laser diodes of course are difficult to make from scratch in a basement or garage, but there is no shortage of circuit concepts and ideas which use lasers (diodes, SS, gas, etc..) as components and thus to me there is little difference between what laser hobbyists do when compared to other hobbies like Ham Radio, rocketry, etc.
 

qumefox

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Don't get me wrong, I do think we would benefit from some real type of representation and accountability. Though as Steve said.. Science/medical/industry has LIA, Display has ILDA.. That doesn't leave many real world practical applications for high power handhelds or DIY builds, etc that aren't already covered by someone else. I'm not saying there can't be some overlap, but there is little point in having multiple organizations regulating the same things.

Yes there is some electronics theory and physics involved in their construction, but unlike, say amateur radio, which can be used for emergency communications, the lasers we deal with themselves have very few practical uses, especially high power portables. This is going to be the biggest hurdle. Whoever ended up managing this organization would have to be REALLY good at selling the benefits of a hobby that has few uses but a good bit of danger.
 
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True, but I'm not sure that "practical usage" is really relevant when it comes time to stick up for our hobby, since it is a hobby by definition.. Also, what is the definition of "practical usage"? Entertainment is already a VERY valid "practical usage" for lasers in laser show apparatus. Is the entertainment derived from building and safely and responsibly using a portable laser any different? The only way to know for sure is to form some sort of representation so we can offer input and insight into the legislative process on some level..

The other option is to "assume" that we're screwed because we "accept" that our usage has less relevance than scientific and industrial users, throw up our hands and accept whatever fate comes our way.. I know which option I'd rather see happen. Before we accept whatever the politicians might decide in the future, doesn't it make sense to try to make the best case we can for ourselves?

I think so, and in order to do that we need to find as many positive aspects of our hobby as possible and focus on them.

Also, just to add: Not everyone who works with and/or builds laser projectors is a "professional" nor are they all ILDA members. The group that represents laser show professionals DOES NOT also represent the interests of laser show hobbyists. The hobbyists will be subject to the same possible future legislation as all other laser hobbyists.
 
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qumefox

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I'm just saying we're dealing with inherently dangerous devices with little real use here. Our situation I guess would be akin to high powered rocketry. The main difference is that high power rocket engines are regulated. You have to be licensed to buy them. You don't have a multitude of chinese companies all trying to import them for any and everyone legalities be damned.

The point i'm trying to make is that the way things currently are, whatever representation that might happen, would have to come up with very good ways to promote the few demonstrative positive things there are, because unless customs really steps up their game, there will always be people getting lasers straight from china and doing stupid things with them and ending up in the news.
 
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because unless customs really steps up their game, there will always be people getting lasers straight from china and doing stupid things with them and ending up in the news.
You're very right here, and frankly there's no guarantee that illegally imported lasers will ever be any more difficult to obtain that they are right now, but there is an equal chance that they could become very difficult to obtain, and it's even possible that high-powered class IIIb and IV lasers could be made illegal for anyone without government permission to even own, much less use. It's all up in the air at this point, which means now is the time for action. The rewards that could be had from stepping up and trying to consolidate and hash out ideas about ways of dealing with the influx of cheap, high-powered imports and the potential/real problems that they present are worth giving it a shot to me. There's a LOT to gain by acting and possibly a lot to lose by doing nothing.

If we can form a government recognized body, then if there are "illegals" doing things that get themselves news coverage it will be FAR less likely to impact us.

It's true that here in the US, the importing of high-powered lasers is tightly regulated already, with little enforcement. If things change, it will likely be for the worse.. unless we band together and show the politicians that our little pastime is worth acknowledging.
 
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chipdouglas

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also note that model rocketry has a governing body yet there are no "practical" purpose. We don't really need to justify the "why". I do wish more people would contribute to this thread though. I know it wasn't really your intentions Pat to have this as a discussion thread, but it has turned into one. I feel that the more people that promote and discuss this is a better cause to show self regulation.

michael.
 
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true.. I didn't mean to discourage discussion, only to encourage discussion of a specific topic, but all of this feedback is great. Let's keep this going!
 

LSRFAQ

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Re ILDA:, the hobby membership class has been proposed and is likely on the way, at a price less then the individual membership slot is. When they do that, I will rejoin. ILDA's current president is a big proponent of hobby/educational users. ILDA's structure requires it to take a better part of a year to do anything on other then absolute emergencies.

Steve
 
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Re ILDA:, the hobby membership class has been proposed and is likely on the way, at a price less then the individual membership slot is. When they do that, I will rejoin. ILDA's current president is a big proponent of hobby/educational users. ILDA's structure requires it to take a better part of a year to do anything on other then absolute emergencies.

Steve

In theory, wouldn't hobbyist membership in ILDA have the same benefits and accomplish the same thing as we are discussing here?
 
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