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L86 "Ruby" laser projector

ShortyInCanada

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OK. For my first review, to finally report on my "cheap" projector.

It was listed by DinoDirect as :
300mw 650nm RedLaser & 80 mw 532nm Green laser & 300mw 450nm Blue/RGB Full Color Laser Light/DJ Equipment (Auto & Sound & DMX & ILDA PC)RGB-500
It does not have any sort of ILDA interface or capability. When I contacted DD about the possibility of this error before they shipped it they didn't respond but rushed the shipment out the door. But that's another matter.

The item arrived packed well. The actual unit inside another box with extra packing. (I had it delivered to me at work so it sits on a pallet in the shipping dept. in the picture.)
The manual inside is a photocopy( of a photocopy) of a "Chinglish" manual. (see picture) It clearly indicates (somewhat) that this unit is a L-86 "Ruby" Laser Display System.
Inside it lists some of the "Features" as :
Power Supply: AC220/240V, 50/60Hz
Rating Power: 40W
Control: MCU
Motor: N1.8 high precision step motor
Control Mode: Sound active/Auto Run/DMX512
Laser diode: Diode pumped solid state(DPSS), air cooled

It goes on to include some confusing "instructions" and "Warnings" then lists the DMX codes. I don't have any DMX controllers or experience so I am unsure of the accuracy of the listings.
Quote : "When the 10th code is ON, the function of 1-9 codes is the following
The other code is off----Sound control mode
The 9th and 1th code is ON ---- Auto mode"

When plugged in to the North American standard 110 V.A.C. (not the 220/240 as listed) the fan comes on with the power switch. Nothing else happens.
Having DIP switches 1 and 9 "ON" does nothing.
If you move the 10th DIP switch to the indicated "ON" position while all others remain in the "OFF" position the unit goes through a preprogrammed demonstration routine of all sorts of graphic images and shape combinations.(-video provided Full Length Run.mov - YouTube ) A pretty good basic beamshow considering that it comes from 1.8 degree stepper motors.
Having 1,9 & 10 "ON" results in the same preprogrammed routine.
By the way, changing the control on the back from "Min" to "Max" has no effect on the output. This control is not labeled as a volume or sensetivity control NOR is it some sort of output adjustment as far as I can tell.
Switching any single DIP switch "ON" makes no difference except for that last 10th one.
So then I tried each one WITH the 10th one in the "ON" position going through the demo. No changes except for one.
Number 8 "ON" causes the beam to go static at 0 degrees by 0 degrees (relative.see comments later.) in whatever color was being used when it is switched "ON" This effectively freezes everything and could allow for a LPM test of each beam and combination of beams for accurate output measurement. (But I don't have an LPM.)
I tried a multitude of other combinations but they all had no effect on the output. I didn't get close to all 1024 combinations but then I shouldn't need to.
So I guess a DMX controller is really what is required unless I can get and hack in an ILDA interface. (I think confirming exactly HOW to do it will be a lot harder than physically doing it.)

After plugging it in the second time at work the main power cord came apart. Now I wasn't being agressive or pulling on it in any sort of hard way. I had a long heavy-duty extension cord to bring power to where I wanted it so there wasn't any sort of stress on the cable during usage. It simply failed at a crucial point. (see picture.) BUT as it is a standard type of device cord and as I have about a dozen others from computers and the likes from the years I was able to replace it with a much more robust and better quality connector.

At this time I will mention that the output from this projector comes out at about 45 degrees to the front face of the unit. That is to say that if you stand directly in front of the output window at 90 degrees to the unit that the beams all exit and project off to your right. To get the beams to go forward the entire unit needs to be placed at 45 degrees to the direction you want. I'm sure that some tweaking of the mirror assemblies placements can fix this but it is inconvenient to have to go through drilling and tapping new mounting holes in the base to correct this obvious problem.

While the preprogrammed routine runs and you watch the images "drawn" you can see that some of the images are being drawn too large for the system limits. Some of the shapes and lines have the corners or ends "fold" back into the field of view. (Think like having the corner of a page folding back.) As there are very few of these and as the primary function of this unit for me is for projecting beamshows this poses no significant issue. I like to think of it as a bit of an indication that the unit can perform slightly better than is being done by the included show despite the usage of stepper motors.

Artifacts in the videos of the lines/graphics out of sync are purely from the camera and the conflicting speeds between the electronic devices. The visible image has no artifacts or obvious problems. (other than the one listed previously.)
The noise under operation is fairly quiet too. Comfortable music levels almost completely hide the sounds, even when ticking through the more laborious renderings. The constant fan noise isn't much louder than a typical home computer but definitely wouldn't be comfortable for long in a silent environment. (video Inside Under Operation.mov - YouTube )

On to the insides of this little power house.
Nothing fancy or outragious here. A fair bit of room for lots of airflow and most everything glued down with that hard white epoxy. (see blurry picture. Sorry.) I haven't tried removing anything yet so how easy it is to remove has yet to be determined.
The red and green laser heads are labelled but there isn't anything on the blue. (see pictures.)
Nothing fancy about the mounting for the mirror assemblies either but a picture none the less.

Beam characteristics are pretty much typical for each type from all that I've read here at LPF. The green and red are pretty tight and solid with the blue being about twice the size all around as can be seen in the picture.
One of the surprises to me was the ammount of spill light that went directly up out of the unit when the top was removed. Most of it was that fat blue beam but some of the other colors was lost too. (-see video. Light SPILL From Inside.mov - YouTube )
This calls the total output power from the front opening into serious question. How much of the 300+80+300=680mw total is actually coming out is anyone's guess at this time.

To sum it up I would say that it is a pretty good bang for the buck. For a first time projector it is a great deal. The component parts could be sold individually for about twice what the unit cost. The projections are surprisingly flicker free and good for being stepper motors. With DMX control it should prove to be very effective and even an ideal candidate as a support projector(s) with a more capable main unit.

Too bad DD tries so hard to slip it by as something that it isn't. It does stand up as it is by itself.


 

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Blord

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Thanks for the review. It looks a fine projector !
 

Gryphon

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Looks good, i have to admit i was little dissapointed to find that there was no ruby laser involved :D
 

ShortyInCanada

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"i was little dissapointed to find that there was no ruby laser involved "

Just another of the deceptions involved in the product I'm afraid.
 

bdgreenb

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at 1:12 isn't that the apple logo? i guess just dont use this thing in cupertino or the iLawyers will get ya!
 

ShortyInCanada

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To be honest I can't say that I am completely familar with the details of the Aplle logo so I can't say for sure that it would be the same.
All it takes to avoid a copyright battle is the smallest variation or slight change to prevent copyright infringement. If a two color logo is used in place of a one color one for example. Or a reversal of the color might be enough to indicate the intention to NOT be the same.
It all needs to be worked out by lawyers that get paid a whole lot more than me to decide.
In the mean-time my smoke machine finally packed it in and now I'm looking to find a suitable replacement(s).

But thanks for watching.
 

Bionic-Badger

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Oh yes, I've got an "L-86" type projector. They're inferior to the Rekes in many ways, though I think they have a better galvos/laser than the Reke. The dichro mounts are better in the Reke.

Still, did you check whether the red laser is actually 638nm? Mine was, so it might be slightly better than you expect.
 

AAlasers

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This looks pretty promising, with a few minor tweaks, of course.
I was wondering..

What kind of colours does/can this output?
How much did it cost?

Good job on the review!

AAlasers
 

ShortyInCanada

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Back when I got it the cost delivered to me was about $250.
As it stands I think it actually only produces the 7 colors (blue, red, green, blue+red=purple, blue+green=cyan, green+red=yellow, and red+green+blue=white) but with additional controls and PWM applied it could be manipulated to produce many more.
It just becomes more of a consideration of cost effectiveness due to the limitations of other component parts.
Why spend a lot of time and effort to try to modify the color outputs when the stepper motors can't really draw much in the way of graphics ?
Why upgrade the stepper motors when the laser heads are poorly set up ?
Without the ILDA control how much will you use the DMX controlling for operation ?
Etcetera.

As I stated in the review, it is a good little unit for beamshows and even for the basic parts if you want to get involved in re-engineering the insides for experience, but it will never be good for more than that.
I wouldn't mind having another for my outdoor display on new years using fireworks for added fun and the all important smoke, but as I lost my employment back in January I am seriously short on funds so it won't be happening anytime soon. But it tells you that the unit isn't that bad. Everyone that I expose it to is rather impressed with the output.
The brightness is comparable to the LED lights that I have and even the strobe lights don't overpower the output when compared brightness wise.
I'm quite happy with it except for the missing advertised ILDA interface.
(And DD kept advertising it as such for months afterwards. They finally changed it back in May/June.)

And thanks for the compliment.
 




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