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Laser Distress Flares - looking for advice from esteemed experts!

Esseintes

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Greetings and salutations, hope all is well.

I'm seeking the advice of forum members here, having read some of the stickies and only become more confused.

Maritime SAR flares are used to signal distress and location, and were primarily pyrotechnics. However, companies have now started producing both LED and LASER flares.

In particular, the LASER flares seem tremendously powerful and more capable than pyrotechnics in a SAR environment: however, they are also expensive.

The cheapest red laser light, running from one cr123 battery is £80!

Take a look here: Rescue Flares - Marine Flares - Safety Flares

Does anyone have recomendations for a laser pointer with similar capability for alerting people at night at approximately 20 nautical miles, while running from a single rcr123a (A rechargable cr123)?
 

hakzaw1

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almost ANY green handheld would work for this-I have a waterproof 100mW green that fits the bill- AND an exception in the US laws regarding laser on aircraft has use 'in distress' as OK.. not a crime..

I keep mine inside a waterproof case with a second battery- fire starter kit and mirror for day-time signaling..
 

Esseintes

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Great to see that you have taken something you're knwoledgable about to improve your safety.

However, I am very wary of using anything like a 100mw laser, especially for helicopter pilots on their approach.

Do you have any advice on less powerful/dangerous lasers?
 

hakzaw1

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I WOULD WORRY MORE ABOUT BEING NOT SEEN..

IN order for any pilot to get an injury you would need to be extremely good and steady aim and the pilot would need binoculars to get enough power to do harm-- you would be flashing the aircraft or making SOS as the point is being rescued- I know several pilots and they say most injuries are imaginary--- divergence would make the laser almost harmless at any great distance- even 1000mW should not harm (unless that was your intention)

as far as brightness-50mW of 532 'looks' the same to us as 1W of blue laser...

best is 555nm green
 

Esseintes

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Thanks for that advice, you're quite right.

What is the correct procedure for signalling as a helicopter flying lowish approaches (it is very hard to see a person in the water, even flying low and with that person in orange). Should the laser be used within mile, 500 yards, 100 yards? Where should one point the laser, at the pilot or the winch operator (especially at night if the pilot is wearing night vision goggles?).

I've been looking at this 50mw green waterproof laser for 80 dollars (£55), but it isn't 555nm, but 520: though at 50mw, also 520, this should still be adequate for SAR purpose? http://www.laserbtb.com/productshow.asp?id=63

How safe is a 50 mw 520 nm laser if accidently shone at the eyes at less than 1-2 metres? I read the safety thread about classes and the scarring of the eye of a user from a 100 mw laser, but accidents do happen and it is unlikely goggles will be worn in a SAR situation.

Thanks for being helpful, it's a good topic to talk about, as these are much safer than flares.
 
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cistercian

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Thanks for that advice, you're quite right.

What is the correct procedure for signalling as a helicopter flying lowish approaches (it is very hard to see a person in the water, even flying low and with that person in orange). Should the laser be used within mile, 500 yards, 100 yards? Where should one point the laser, at the pilot or the winch operator (especially at night if the pilot is wearing night vision goggles?).

I've been looking at this 50mw green waterproof laser for 80 dollars (£55), but it isn't 555nm, but 520: though at 50mw, also 520, this should still be adequate for SAR purpose? Diving laser 50 meters

How safe is a 50 mw 520 nm laser if accidently shone at the eyes at less than 1-2 metres? I read the safety thread about classes and the scarring of the eye of a user from a 100 mw laser, but accidents do happen and it is unlikely goggles will be worn in a SAR situation.

Thanks for being helpful, it's a good topic to talk about, as these are much safer than flares.
With a green drawing circles around the plane would be very visible.Forward scatter is brighter than back scatter which you can observe with a mirror very carefully.I don't think you should point directly at the plane...just close to it. This is just my opinion so take it for what it is worth.

50mw at a few meters is very dangerous to eyes.
 

Laser Chick

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A laser in the range from 515nm to 561nm would be your best choice for visibility. 520nm and 532nm being the most common. Remember that some lasers are affected by temperatures above 95° and below 35° F. Aim slightly above and in front of the aircraft. IMHO I would not go below 300mW as you want to be seen. You will probably want to go with a waterproof model or keep it in a good quality waterproof container. Lasers at that strength are a multipurpose tool so a good quality one (and your life) are worth the extra cost.
 




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