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Is there such a thing as a "hobbiest grade" spectrometer?

Cyparagon

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I bought one several years ago. It's nice for seeing the spread of the spectrum of a light source, but only has a resolution of ~10nm and the scale is horribly off. A bluray measures ~420nm, green measures ~560nm, and red measures ~700nm on the one I have. There's no way to "calibrate" them as it is all glued together.
 

qumefox

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Maybe it was $500. I'd have to go back through old emails to find out. But it's still been worth it. With the cheapest product Ocean optics has, your looking at $1000 for the spectrometer and another $200 for software. And i've never seen one on the used market. Unless you just have a lab downsizing or something, spectrometers just aren't that common in surplus.

As far as the calibration. there really isn't any reason for it to change unless you start throwing the unit off the desk, or beating on it with a hammer or something. And as far as it's accuracy.. Well it's certainly close enough for me.



 
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rhd

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Um. My spectrometer was worth every penny.. It kind of bugs me that everyone in the hobby seems to think everything should just cost $5. And I wasn't trying to figure out the source to 'do it cheaper'. I mostly was just curious as to what they came out of.
It always perplexes me when members here will chastise other members for trying to source equipment cheaper (whether spectrometers, LPMs, bench supplies, scopes, etc). Obviously $5 is a bit extreme, but finding the tools of the trade (or alternatives to them) for less money is why this is a hobbyist community and not a professional association.

Sourcing things cheaper is a big part of what makes this a hobby, and I think it's disingenuous to frown upon that mentality. It's great that some people can afford $500 spectrometers. I'm happy for those people. There's nothing wrong with those who cannot, wanting to approximate the same functionality on a much tighter budget.
 
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qumefox

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If people are on that limited of a budget then lasers in general probably isn't the right hobby for them.

The OP for example. Even when pointed to $200 align it yourself spectrometers, pretty much said "thanks but i'll keep looking"

Accurate electronic based spectrometers are fairly specialized, uncommon, and **not really necessary** pieces of equipment for this hobby. I lump people who complain about the pricing on them in the same group who complain about exotic sports cars being expensive. No you can't afford it, but you don't really need it either...

On another note.. Actually making a working spectrometer out of the guts of one of these things is going to be beyond 99.8% of 'hobbyists' here. Like I said. science-surplus isn't just windexing these and slapping a markup on them. They developed a USB interface.. They wrote software for them, the had enclosures manufactured... The enclosure part is doable for people here, however I only know a couple of members here who could accomplish the other two.

Though i'm going to get flamed to oblivion for this, but i'm on the side that believes the hobby was a lot better off before everything got cheap. It was only after high power lasers got cheap that the widespread moronic acts with lasers started happening.

Cheap lasers are why it's only a matter of time before this hobby is legislated out of existence.

Part of it is also me being pissed off at the flurry of PM's i've gotten recently of lowball offers for lasers.. Some even being less than what the diodes alone cost.... I know the economy is bad but it's to the point of being insulting now.
 
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rhd

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"If people are on that limited of a budget then lasers in general probably isn't the right hobby for them."

That's crazy-talk Qumefox. I don't have $500 to spend on a spectrometer right now (nor the metal vapour lamp required for calibration of the $200 version). At the same time, I like this hobby. Whether it's *right for me* is more of a philosophical question, but I'd certainly suggest that the lack of $200 to spend on a particular laser tool really doesn't preclude me from being appropriately suited to the hobby.

Your line of reasoning might work for new users who show up unwilling to dish out $30 for a laser itself. But we're talking $200 to $500, and it's a non-essential tool for the trade. If you really think that those on too limited a budget to shell out $200 to $500 on a spectrometer are wrong for this hobby, say goodbye to 95% of this hobby's community.

"Though i'm going to get flamed to oblivion for this, but i'm on the side that believes the hobby was a lot better off before everything got cheap. It was only after high power lasers got cheap that the widespread moronic acts with lasers started happening."

Sure, but it was probably also only after high powered lasers got cheap and widespread, that some of the valuable members in our community, joined our community. The affordability of lasers has surely attracted more people to the hobby. There are idiots, and upstanding citizens in every cross section of the population. So - expect more of both.
 

qumefox

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Things cost what things cost. you can argue with me all you want but that doesn't change anything. I think $500 for a working and calibrated spectrometer is well worth the price. Especially considering its well under half the price of the next cheapest alternative, and a few years ago, you'd be hard pressed to find one period for under five figures. These aren't laser diodes being produced by the millions.. There isn't a 'mass market' for spectrometers. They're lab equipment. Everyone's going 'they should be cheaper!' and I'm saying be thankful they're only $500 (or 200 with DIY calibration)... The price could be much much higher on them considering the limited manufacturing and market for them.

And on the subject of good people brought to the hobby. To be honest. They don't matter much. I'm sure that sounds mean, but seriously. it's the idiots that have to be considered. Good people aren't going to go out illuminating cars and planes.. The idiots will, and it only takes a handful of them to ruin it for /everybody/.

Pointer hobbyists aren't a large self regulated group like the ARRL nor do we have any kind of support from ILDA nor anyone else.. Self regulation was discussed before but no one wanted to step up to the plate to manage the whole thing. As a result any legislation against pointers will just be flat out bans.. Politicians, mostly thanks to the media, just think everybody who owns a pointer goes out and shines them at planes every night and are going to legislate accordingly based on that.... all because of the idiots.

That's why I say the hobby was safer and better off before high power lasers got cheap. Because most kids and idiots didn't have the disposable income to shell out $500+ for a laser powerful enough to cause problems with.

And i'm in no way being an elitist either. I actually don't even have health insurance at the moment due to not being able to afford the premiums... But I would much rather lasers be expensive.. than illegal and banned, which I see likely happening in the US within the next 5 years at the rate things are going.
 
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lasersbee

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Maybe it was $500. I'd have to go back through old emails to find out. But it's still been worth it. With the cheapest product Ocean optics has, your looking at $1000 for the spectrometer and another $200 for software. And i've never seen one on the used market. Unless you just have a lab downsizing or something, spectrometers just aren't that common in surplus.

As far as the calibration. there really isn't any reason for it to change unless you start throwing the unit off the desk, or beating on it with a hammer or something. And as far as it's accuracy.. Well it's certainly close enough for me.



I gotta get me one of these.... Love the Charts...


Gee I wish I could find a real Laborghini 5000S for under $1000.00...
They should sell them at that price... they would sell millions of them...:rolleyes:


Jerry
 
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rhd

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Everything you've said with respect to market size, supply, demand, complexity, etc, all of that is countered by looking at the example of LPMs and the state (and price) they've evolved to in our hobby. Thanks to this forum and many of its members, we can now buy an entry level model for $100, or make our own for ~$50 with the help of tutorials. That wouldn't have been as easy 5 years ago, and might not have been the case today if we hadn't had people pushing for less expensive LPMs along the way.

Regarding the idiots, I accept part of your point. The idiots are likely to be a huge problem for this hobby in the end. However, the people who come on this forum in search of a cheaper spectrometer, are not the "idiots" you need to worry about.

Don't confuse hobbyests who want professional equipment cheaper, from idiots who want high powered lasers cheaper. If I posted a $100 spectrometer in the BST section tomorrow, I'm sure I could sell 10 of them in a week. I'm also sure that none of those buyers would be the "idiots" you're worried about, running around pointing lasers at planes.
 
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lasersbee

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Everything you've said with respect to market size, supply, demand, complexity, etc, all of that is countered by looking at the example of LPMs and the state (and price) they've evolved to in our hobby. Thanks to this forum and many of its members, we can now buy an entry level model for $100, or make our own for ~$50 with the help of tutorials. That wouldn't have been as easy 5 years ago, and might not have been the case today if we hadn't had people pushing for less expensive LPMs along the way.
It wasn't the forum requests for cheaper LPMs that lowered
the price... quality and accuracy of the Hobbyist LPMs... It was
the business competition... not hobbyists pushing to get a
share of the almighty market $$$...

And yet our original LPM prices are near the same they were
3 years ago... what has changed is the introduction of cheaper
quality and cheaper built models to bring the price down to
compete in the business market.

I'm always looking for a bargain on the parts I purchase...
but I don't go to the supplier and whine about his prices.



Jerry
 
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Trevor

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I'm also sure that none of those buyers would be the "idiots" you're worried about, running around pointing lasers at planes.
Yes, but unfortunately we would have an epidemic of people pointing spectrometers at planes.

"Sir, it appears someone is point a spectrometer at us."
"Hm? Oh don't worry about it, he's holding it the wrong way around. Wait... it looks the runway lights have quite a peak around 620nm. I wonder if that's due to..." *crash*

Oh, the humanity!

-Trevor
 

rhd

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Jerry, fair enough. But you wouldn't be selling a ~$100 LPM model if there weren't hobby laser enthusiasts desiring such a product. If everyone was told that an LPM should cost $500, and if you don't like that, you don't belong, then we wouldn't have your wonderful products at an affordable price like we do now.
 

lasersbee

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Four years ago I only knew that a new Laser Power Meter cost
upwards of $2000.00. That was way before I knew of this Forum.
I decided that there must be a way to make a less expensive
and even slightly less accurate LPM for around $500.00.

We spent thousands of $$$ on trial and error R&D design and
redesign coming up with a viable and fairly accurate LaserBee I
three years ago...

The $100.00 LPMs of today are a far cry from even the original
1s generation LaserBee I in quality and accuracy...

I've sold more LPMs off our Website... eBay and Distributors
than I have sold on LPF sice I've been here...
It is obvious that it not the Members here that dictate our prices
but the business competition...

Contrary to popular belief I do this as a business... while still
being a Laser Hobbyist...


Jerry
 
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qumefox

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A DIY electronic spectrometer is also pretty much out of the question as well. This is beyond gluing a TEC to a heatsink and reading a voltage.. How many hobbyists do you know RHD that even know what a linear CCD is? Much less how get useful data from one to whatever readout device you prefer?

Sure there's the option of sourcing whatever medical surplus science-surplus is getting the OEM parts out of, but that still leaves designing an interface, writing software, and calibrating the whole thing..

As Laserbee said. It isn't bitching about prices that lowers them. It's competition. And spectrometers are complex enough, as well as low volume, than it's unlikely a 'new entry' would be priced significantly under what's already out there new, much less science-surplus's stuff.
 

rhd

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A DIY electronic spectrometer is also pretty much out of the question as well. This is beyond gluing a TEC to a heatsink and reading a voltage.. How many hobbyists do you know RHD that even know what a linear CCD is? Much less how get useful data from one to whatever readout device you prefer?
You're mistaking how innovation works. It's not about "how many people can do XYZ right now". If that was your measure, then science would never evolve.

A better question is: "How many hobbyists do I know that would learn how a linear CCD works, if it meant they could build something new and useful?". I know lots of those :)

As Laserbee said. It isn't bitching about prices that lowers them. It's competition. And spectrometers are complex enough, as well as low volume, than it's unlikely a 'new entry' would be priced significantly under what's already out there new, much less science-surplus's stuff.
Semantics. If people want something, innovation will give it to them. You say "This is beyond gluing a TEC to a heatsink and reading a voltage", but as Jerry states, it took him many hours of research and lots of money to get to the stage where building an LPM was that "simple". If enough people want a $100 spectrometer, why not encourage that? Maybe the "TEC glued to a heatsink" of the spectrometer world will be something equally simple that we just haven't thought of yet.

You've claimed your objection to stem from the danger posed by cheap laser equipment to the longevity of this hobby. I just don't buy this rationale. I don't believe it. Cheap lasers may be detrimental to the longevity of our hobby, but cheap spectrometers are at worst irrelevant to it. At best, they're beneficial.

Dangerous lasers are cheap now. We can't backtrack that. But we should hope for something like a spectrometer, that furthers an educated scientific interest in lasers, to be inexpensive. This is good for the laser hobby's longeavity. The type of people who would choose to, on a limited budget, buy a cheap spectrometer, are the people we should want in this community, not the people we should try to exclude with dumb statements like "if you can't afford this, you shouldn't be here" etc.
 
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icecruncher

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IMHO tools are always a worth while purchase, even if they are pricey. Years ago, My first red laser from andy was $200.00 and was supposed to be about 200 mw, but without a power meter all I could do was trust him on that.

So, I've spent over $700 on LPM's so far, but I'm not done. Sam Goldwasser sold me a green and yellow that have a low mw rating, for now I have to trust him on those - but sometime soon I will have an LPM that will check low power HeNe's and I will have spent over $1000. Worth it, DEFINITELY!

My power supply doesn't have a fine/coarse setting. But I'll be getting one to help test a hundred 9mm diodes. Right tools.

I won't buy top of the line for a hobby, but I will spend enough to accurately get the job done with something I trust.

If you buy one laser, or build ONE laser, who cares. If you have 50 or 100 and want to compare and figure out you are getting your money's worth for what you are buying or to make sure they are operating correctly, or to test things like TEC's and heatsinks, batteries and thermal paste, etc. -- YOU NEED TOOLS.

Better tools cost more money. Just because some people are too cheap to buy decent tools to do a job doesn't mean that you shouldn't have them.

I'm a locksmith and I have well over $5000 in tools that look worthless to the average person. But, if you get Joe Schmo out to install a deadbolt, it looks like a botch job - if you get a professional (me), it looks professional. A lot of that is the tools.

I've gotten lasers built by some people on here that were very professional. Those people are the ones I want to know what tools they are using.

I agree that a spectrometer is not essential. But it sure would be nice. I'd rather save up for the $500 than buy a $15 paper box spectrometer.

At work, We tell people not to spend $1000 on a safe to keep $20 in and vice versa not to spend $300 on a safe to keep $50,000 in.

Buy in accord to what you have invested.

End of RANT.

Btw, I really appreciate the suggestions in this thread. I've been looking and now I have an item to save for that will do what I want.
 




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