- May 28, 2017
Hello, as some of you know I am new to LPF and am loving the community here. I signed up when I ordered my first two lasers (not pointers) from Jetlasers, however I am going to write two separate reviews so they may be easier to find for people interested in the different models. Let's start with the Pl-E Mini 405nm 300mW. This is my first review, and first major post on the forum so please be patient with me, and know that I still have much to learn about this hobby.
DISCLAIMER: As I am new, I do not yet have the necessary equipment (LPM/ Electrical Testing Equipment) to do precise measurements of output power, electrical performance and current draw, nor beam/dot measurement. I apologize in advance for not being able to provide this information if that is what you are looking for. I WILL however promise to give you my unbiased opinion about this laser and provide plenty of pictures for your drool-worthy pleasure
Let's get right to it. As this was my first high-powered laser purchase, I wanted something of quality and reliability, and I wanted a focusable laser that I would be able to see the beam as well. After looking through the forum it quickly became apparent that Jetlasers was the way to go. I know 405nm is not known for it's beam visibility in comparison to other wavelengths, I loved the 445nm beam and performance, however I was leery to get such a powerful laser for my first and wanted something more modest (even though 300mW is still very dangerous and needs to be handled with respect) that I could establish familiarity with before growing into the Class IV.
Ordering from Jetlasers/Gray was a real pleasure. He was very patient with me in answering all my noob questions and helping me make a well-informed purchase decision. He was very prompt in his replies, and never acted annoyed or put off by my many questions. If we had more companies that provided customer service as Jetlasers does here in the US, businesses would find themselves to be much more successful as I believe happy and loyal customers are the best marketing a business can have! Gray even offered to upgrade me to the 1.6Watt 445nm Pl-E Mini for free as he knew I wanted a visible beam, but I didn't feel comfortable getting something that powerful...yet. Ordering was easy and simple, and took 10 minutes to make an account, checkout and finalize payment. I really like how they only use PayPal as that not only makes things simple, but does provide a level of security as well. I always get nervous when purchasing high-value items internationally.
I decided to order the 300mW 405nm as the price was affordable, $153.00 ( $149.00 for the 150mW version) NOT including batteries, or the $38.00 shipping charge which in itself was worth every penny (more on that later). I ordered mine with the Coded switch which allows you to have the laser powered in Constant-On at 100% or 50% power output, and also a smaller button which enables a pulse mode. I would have preferred to have a momentary on/off button (as the Mechanical Switch option does) but I liked the ability to decrease the power output especially for use indoors.
As I stated earlier the shipping charge is $38 via DHL/FEDEX. As you can see, the package was in transit for a total of 55hrs!! Now I've ordered items from China in the past and paid over double that amount and had to wait for 12-15 days to receive the package. Now that wasn't with either of these carriers, but I was blown away with how fast the shipping was!
The package came in a FedEx envelope which due to excitement I did not take any pictures of, son of a diddley! However, here are some of the box and the items once unwrapped of the liberally applied bubble wrap to the Laser, Tail-cap, And Battery Charger each independently which was excellent to see. Part of me thinks an egg could've survived in this packaging, and that makes me very confident ordering from them again as they really go the extra mile to ensure a safe delivery of their products which also shows the pride they take in their products!
The Tail-cap and Battery Charger were also wrapped in anti-static bags underneath their cozy bubble wrapping.
Behold...The Probe of Violet Glory
First, I really only have three words to describe the craftsmanship and attention to detail....wow, WoW, WOW! The Laser feels solid, no rattle from anywhere even the Focus Ring has no movement and stays where it's set. The host is hefty, but not in an uncomfortable or bulky way...in fact I like the weight. It is hefty in a way that you just feel the quality and time that was put into it. I don't know how big of a company Jetlasers is, but aside from the machining if feels like the entire unit was hand assembled and they took their time doing so. The anodizing is flawless and seems to be robust and not easily scratched. The threads slide right in like on prom night. The battery tube and Laser head is one unit unlike it's well endowed brother. But that is okay because it will hold both x1 18650 or x2 18350/16340 batteries, however with this diode you need to use the latter two. I got some 18350's as I wanted to get the best run-time I could. (*Note - Online is the only place to get these at least in my area. I was told by many vape shops/hobby shops around that 18350's stopped production in 2015. I went with AWT 18350 850mAh. The buttons are very responsive and well secured, however not as clicky as a mechanical switch. I like the feel of the coded switch! With Batteries the unit is well balanced but is heavier in the front end. Lastly the focus ring is perfect! It's operation is very smooth and stiff so it keeps it's setting. I believe they hand match these two pieces together for best fit during assembly. No edges are too sharp or rough and theres no burrs...this was well prepped before being anodized. What I really like about this laser is that it seems a lot of lasers out there are conversions from flashlights (which makes sense in their similarities) however, the Pl-E was clearly designed from the ground up to do what it does best. It's clear it was designed to provide the laser module with what is necessary for reliable operation in many environments and to stand the test of time and maximize the life of the diode. The lens at the front of the aperture appears to have an AR coating of some type. The only thing I did not like about the host is that there is no reference marking on the body to indicate where infinity is and align the Focus Ring with body like the Pl-E Pro does. This would be a helpful thing to have, however to me it's more a luxury as operationally the laser functions flawlessly I've really been impressed!
Here are the Specs copied from Jetlasers website.
Dimensions - 34mm Head Diameter x 27mm Tail cap Diameter x 23.3 mm Length
Net weight without batteries - 380g or 0.837lbs
Power Supply - x2 16340's/RCR123A's/18350's
Working Voltage - 7volts
Diode Life Time - 6,000 Hours
Beam Divergence - ~2mRad
Beam Diameter at Aperture - 2.5mm at aperture (*Adjsutable)
Transverse Mode - Code Switch = CW and Pulse Mode
Working Temperature - 15 to 35 degrees C (59-95 deg. F)
Warranty - One Year
Note the clean machining and detail on the crown!
For reference to size...here it is next to an eBay 532nm Laser Pen
From the bottom you have the Battery Orientation indicator, Constant ON/OFF then the smaller Pulse Mode button, followed by the 2 LED's, and further up the body the Focus Ring.
The bottom of the laser, you see the Pl-E Mini etching and the port to use a Remote Switch. Look at how clean and masterfully machined the heatsinking is!
The threads are very well tapped and buttery smooth! Also, as you can see the handle has a very nice knurling.
Here you can see the position marker on the Focus Ring. As stated earlier, there isn't a matching one along the bottom indicators which indicate infinity when aligned. The Pl-E Pro will have this.
Batteries, Powering Up, and uh, LASING!
Okay, so once you feel you've adequately fondled your new Laser Rod of Pleasure, you'll feel that the right time has come to turn each other on. As I stated earlier, this particulate wavelength requires x2 18350's or 16340's (As does their 445, 465, and 520nm models. The DPSS Pl-E Mini 473nm and 532nm will use a single 18650). The batteries go in with negative facing the Laser Head. I've seen you can use magnets and Jetlasers has even sent them out before in other people's orders on the forum, however I did not receive any so I've been using a small brass disk in-between the batteries as they're both buttonless. The magnets would be much nicer but I've found the disk is small enough to be caught between the top of one battery and the wrapper of the other.
Just incase, Jetlasers was kind enough to etch the Battery Orientation on the Host.
Once you've inserted the batteries and screwed the Tail cap on, all that is needed to do to power up the unit is to activate the click-button on the bottom of the Tail cap. You'll see the two LED's turn red indicating it is active. (*Note - I just feel responsible to say this even though I shouldn't have to but someone always thinks their invincible. One powered on, BE SURE the laser is pointed in a safe direction free of mirrors or other reflective surfaces as it only takes a slight press of the button to activate the laser and it's easy to activate if not paying attention.)
You can see the 2 LED's indicating the laser is powered on
Okay, so for activating the laser remember this unit has the Coded Switch. REMINDER- I do not yet have an LPM so the output power referenced is based off the power selected while ordering from Jetlasers.* So 1 press of the Constant ON/OFF button (The bigger matte one) will activate the laser at 50% power setting which for this laser is 150mW and the 2 LED's will turn green. Pressing the button a second time will rustle your shorts and you'll see the laser in all it's glory, 100% at 300mW. It is a very visible difference between the two. At anytime, you can press the smaller chrome button which will activate Pulse Mode which will turn the 2 LED's blue/red. Pressing the chrome button again will take you back to constant on. I don't know of any useful applications for using the pulse mode, if anyone here knows of some I would love to hear from them but it's neat nonetheless. To deactivate the laser, you have to hold the Constant ON/OFF button down for 2 seconds. The LED's will return to red. You may also use the mechanical button on the Tail cap, however I like to have the laser deactivated before powering down...I guess that's the pilot in me and years of checklists.
Here the laser is activated at 50% power setting (1 Button Press) at 150mW.
And here, the laser is activated at a keister-spanking 100% (2 Button Presses) at 300mW!
And now, the toe-curling ending you've all been waiting for!
You've made it this far! As I don't have the equipment to measure laser power, beam divergence, etc. it has been my aim to give you a detailed look at the function, design, and quality of this laser so anyone looking to purchase one can get a good feel for the looks and craftsmanship without having to see one in person. I must say, I have an appreciation for well built, well-designed technology and am known for not spending my money unless it's on a quality piece of kit. With that said, the Pl-E Mini 405nm completely meets and exceeds my expectations. I am not familiar with the average cost of diodes/modules and drivers, or lenses...but simply from a build quality/performance perspective, I believe Jetlasers could be charging much more for these units and that the Pl-E Mini demands every penny it costs in what I think is a very fair price Jetlasers charges. *Note - I was in no way compensated by or encouraged by Jetlasers for my time doing this review. I paid retail price for this unit, and simply want to make a contribution I can to this community in helping others who may be considering buying this or another Jetlasers product but also to share the outstanding product Jetlasers puts out and the wonderful experience I've had in purchasing from them. Thank you Gray and Jetlasers!
Okay, without further ado...BEAMS! I did use steam for some of these pictures, however I can clearly see the beam in a dark room with no performance enhancers.
Pl-E Mini 405m at 100% 300mW.
Here are some beam shots with a Pl-E Pro 532nm 300mW for comparison. The Mini is operating at 100% 300mW for all these photos. Steam was used.
Well that's it for my review of the Jetlasers Pl-E Mini 405nm 300mW. I appreciate you bearing with me to read through all of that. I apologize I can not provide LPM measurements or beam/dot measurements, and other technical data. After I complete my first laser build I plan to start getting proper measuring equipment. If there is anything I missed, or things you'd like to see please let me know. I would be happy to answer anyones questions to the best I can and if someone wants more pictures, I can make that happen as well. Next I will be working on my review of the Pl-E Pro 532nm 300mW laser, and stay tuned for a Pl-E Mini 473m 50mW review!! Thank you again, and i hope you enjoy.
EDIT: I forgot to mention two things. First, the Focus Ring works very well and has a very small window of focus at distances up to 50ft. I have not yet had the opportunity to play with focusing the laser at greater distances but will post updates when I can. I enjoy the way the focus works on the Pl-E Mini more than I do on the Pl-E Pro. The Pro just seems to be more 'mushy' in it's focusing and has a much larger window of focus and I've found it isn't as easy to get focused as the Pl-E Mini as it takes a lot of back-and-forth. Maybe that's just because it's still new to me and at the different wavelength and being DPSS it makes it harder to see as well with the goggles I have. My goggles are rated for 190-540nm AND 800-2000nm so I use them for both lasers. Second, you can't see it in the pictures but there is an artifact that is visible ~ .5-.8 inches away from the dot at around 20+ft. I have tried cleaning the lens with the microfiber cloth that was included, but it is still there. It's not a big deal to me as the laser can still burn just fine and when using goggles t view the dot, it looks perfect and precise. Just wanted to mention that as some people will be more concerned with it than I am.
Also, battery life has been terrific. I have not measured a total runtime as it's been using the same charge since I've got it, and I'm very conservative on the duty cycle I use with it. If I had to guess, I would say you may get 3-4+hrs of total runtime out of 2 850mAh 18350's but that's purely a guess based on my short time with the laser.