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LaserCube experience

Nique

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New member, first post. Hope I’m posting correctly and in the right place!

I’ve been interested in lasers on and off for many years as a hobbyist. I enjoy retrieving laser diodes from old DVD drives, bought a Spyder 2 from WL ages ago, a Sanwu Striker 7 watt blue laser a few weeks ago and just recently thought the WL LaserCube would be interesting to experiment with. I was also attracted by the price of US$499!

So I ordered the more powerful model with most of the options including tripod, lenses etc. This was no longer cheap coming in somewhere north of AU$1,200.

The unit arrived quite quickly. Packaging was fine although there was no documentation at all. Also the engraving lens was missing. I downloaded the LaserOS software to my phone, connected it to the LaserCube and was rewarded with beautiful bright images for about 10 minutes. Then the image died and was replaced by a flat, horizontal line. Very disappointing!

Without knowing much about how these things worked, I suspected one of the deflecting mirrors was faulty. I emailed WL, and they told me to contact Magnum Lighting, who I understand are the manufacturers of the device. Magnum Lighting asked me to send a video of the fault, which I did, and they offered to send a replacement scanner, with a tutorial showing how to install it.

The replacement arrived yesterday after some weeks delay. The reason for the delay was that they wanted to include the out of stock engraving lens with the shipment, but sadly the lens was still missing from the package! Eventually I guess they’ll send it but it’s not particularly important anyway. The lens improves resolution if you want to burn images onto media like wood.

So I received a replacement scanner unit complete with 2 galvo motors and associated mirrors. They also sent 2 replacement amplifier boards (X and Y) just in case the fault was in the circuitry. There was absolutely NO tutorial or any other documentation. Nevertheless I thought I’d have a go at the repair. I tried swapping the galvo cables around which convinced me that the fault was limited to just one of the galvos and the amplifier boards were fine. Installing the replacement scanner was fairly straight forward but obviously involved opening the case which is a tight fit, and removing some circuit boards. Fresh heat sink paste also required in several places. But it went smoothly and I was quite proud of myself that I was able to complete the process in about 20 minutes with absolutely no instructions!

The all metal case is VERY solid and heavy. I think that has been done largely for heat dissipation, there are no vents on the case. The unit gets quite warm after an hour or so of operation. The scanner makes a little bit of a sort of fluttering noise, but it’s unobtrusive and I’m sure quite normal. The unit is powered internally by four 18650 batteries.

I spent a couple of hours playing around with the unit last night and I have to say I’m really impressed. Images are beautiful and for me, mesmerizing. Great colour, very crisp and bright. I’m still learning LaserOS (free to download) but I think it’s all I need for my humble purposes. There are thousands (?) of images and animations, plus a number of techno type musical tracks which accompany spectacular sound triggered patterns and animations. I know the galvos are slower than commercial units but I was amazed at the beautiful complexity of images and the speed at which they moved. It’s by no means cheap but I’m really happy now that I have a working unit!

Bottom line I feel I can recommend this as an interesting toy if you're a laser enthusiast, and you're fascinated by colour and movement. It's beautiful! But be aware it is a powerful device and all normal class 4 safety rules apply. I also suspect that eye damage may be a risk from reflected light if you sit too close to the projection surface, some of the patterns display with a very bright central core so be very careful. And obviously when the unit is in Burn mode, laser safety glasses are absolutely mandatory.
 
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green lasers rock

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Nice review!

Glad to hear your experience with customer service was good. It seems like Magnum lighting Is doing some decent work. Would be nice to see a CDRH compliant device in the future.
 

Encap

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Nice review!

Glad to hear your experience with customer service was good. It seems like Magnum lighting Is doing some decent work. Would be nice to see a CDRH compliant device in the future.
Seems unlikely given the choices are 800mW or 1000mW + in the US given even if the device is compliant, every laser operator is required to obtain a user variance according to current FDA laws, rules, and regulations:
"Jun 13, 2019 -
Laser products promoted for demonstration purposes are limited to hazard Class IIIa by FDA regulation 21 CFR 1040.11(c). This means that projectors are limited to 5 milliwatts output power in the visible wavelength range from 400 to 710 nanometers. There are also limits for any invisible wavelengths and for short pulses. Laser light show projectors therefore may not exceed the accessible emission limits of CDRH Class IIIa. Laser light show manufacturers must submit a variance request for FDA approval in order to sell and operate higher class (Class IIIb and IV) laser light show equipment.

Prior to using Class IIIb and IV lasers for a laser light show in the United States, the following documents must be submitted to the FDA:
Product Report describing the laser projector,
Laser Light Show Report describing the laser light show, and
Application requesting FDA approval for a variance from the demonstration laser product hazard class limit of IIIa (5mW visible output).
These submissions must be prepared with either the CeSub electronic submissions software or the paper reporting guides listed below.

If you are purchasing a certified laser projector for which a product report has already been submitted, you need only submit the laser light show report and variance application.

Your firm can begin to produce laser light shows only after receipt of a variance approval letter from FDA indicating the conditions under which you may produce the laser light show or distribute laser light show projectors.

See: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/home-business-and-entertainment-products/laser-light-shows
 
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green lasers rock

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Seems unlikely given the choices are 800mW or 1000mW + in the US given even if the device is compliant, every laser operator is required to obtain a user variance from the according to current FDA laws, rules, and regulations:
Fair point given that the crowd WL is trying to appeal to is probably not the crowd that is or aims to be varianced. That being said, Magnum lighting seems to produce some projectors that are a pretty good bargain. If they were certified, they could be useful as affordable beam projectors. I might consider getting one (regular projector, not the laser cube) if they were compliant.
 

Nique

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Hi Encap, You're correct. I've been dealing with customer service at magnumlighting.com. I've found them to be reasonably helpful dealing with my warranty issues on the LaserCube, but sometimes they need a little prodding to respond. Still waiting on my engraving lens but at least I have a LaserCube which works perfectly. An unintended side benefit of my having to repair the thing is that I learned a lot in the process!
 

Nique

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Nice review!

Glad to hear your experience with customer service was good. It seems like Magnum lighting Is doing some decent work. Would be nice to see a CDRH compliant device in the future.
Thanks for the positive feedback on my first post! Just checked out the specs of your Kvant Clubmax 3000. Totally inappropriate for my needs but I want one anyway!
 

green lasers rock

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Which Magnum is the one that produces the Cube?

My guess is that it is the Chinese Magnum Lighting.

There are 2, one is a Georgia Company and the other Zhongshan,Guangdong, China ?
1. http://www.magnumlighting.com/index.asp
2. http://www.magnumco.com/
Very interesting. That (Chinese) website has changed quite a bit since I was last over there. It seems like they really don't conduct any direct business anymore. I can't see any projectors on the site at all. I actually contacted Magnum lighting several years ago when I was shopping for a laser and they still had projectors on their website. At the time, I also discovered that they worked with several other firms (Ministar laser) and a production house called (RGB Laserverkoop). You could buy the same projectors on both sites and I remember them being cheap and quite enticing. I eventually decided I wanted a compliant laser and took my search elsewhere. The Ministar site now seems to be a broken part of Laserworld's site and RGB Laserverkoop appears to still be running shows and renting lasers (possibly the old magnum lighting type). Their youtube channel still has many videos featuring the old Magnum Lighting (aka Ministar) projectors.

I wonder if WL and Magnum have gone into some kind of exclusive agreement where all their business goes through WL. They had an extensive product line that seems to have disappeared.
 

green lasers rock

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Just checked out the specs of your Kvant Clubmax 3000. Totally inappropriate for my needs but I want one anyway!
They're good units if you want to do professional shows. Thinking back I do wish I ordered the 2w version since 3w is way too powerful for home use. I actually use a black screen to attenuate the output when doing shows in small spaces. Regardless, the color is great and the 60k scanners rip through even the hardest graphics shows. Made in Europe quality (and price :( ) and fully compliant. The only input into the laser is the classic ilda (international laser display association) port and the laser doesn't come with any software packages.

That being said, I actually started with a projector more comparable to the laser cube. It had 20k scanners and 7 colors. I started out producing simple timeline shows to music I enjoyed in Pangolin's quick show. This was before the laser Dock/cube was a thing and the only automated laser shows were the crappy built in dmx cues that came built into projectors for use in clubs or by DJs. Times have changed over the past few years and the WL animations are actually pretty nice. I hope your laser cube continues to work for you and enjoy the hobby!
 

Nique

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Maybe a Clubmax or similar unit is in my future! In the mean time I am really enjoying the LaserCube, but of course I don't have anything to compare it to. I'm slowly learning LaserOS but my impression is that it is somewhat clunky and navigating through the various options is a bit confusing, especially with the android version on a small phone screen. It has a huge number of animations, images and effect options, although a lot of the still images are very basic and things like the dozens of corporate logos and Pokémon images are of very limited interest. At some point I will download LSX and compare.

Even at a total power output of less than 1 watt the image is very bright for home use. LaserOS has a continuous power slider so it's possible to attenuate the brightness but I'm assuming all projectors would have that facility? A black screen is an interesting idea since it would also improve contrast. I'll have to try it! White output looks well balanced, not too blue as has been suggested. Power sliders are provided in LaserOS for each laser so a good white balance should be achievable.

YouTube has some useful comparisons of the LaserCube and higher power LaserDocks with faster scanners. The improvements are subtle but definitely desirable. LaserCube is really just a delicious sample of what is possible!

Critical viewing of the LaserCube output shows some minor deficiencies: yellow lines show up as green and red lines when viewed close up but certainly look rich and yellow on casual observation at a reasonable distance. Purple line are fine when drawn horizontally but separate out into closely parallel blue and red lines in the vertical, but again fine on casual observation. I'm guessing this is a function of how well the dichroic mirrors have been aligned? Of course individual units may vary! It's not perfect but, but it's more than satisfactory IMHO - especially at the price point.

After 90 minutes running at full power the unit becomes quite warm to the touch, especially on the base. Probably not an issue but might cause problems in a hot environment? Perhaps Magnum Lighting could have used a finned heatsink for the base, but maybe it's unnecessary, not sure.

So I remain very positive about the LaserCube! I think you get a hell of a lot for your money. It's a fascinating piece of technology combining electronics, three substantial lasers plus an ingenious mechanical/optical pathway, along with quite workmanlike software. The fact that it's battery powered makes it very versatile and quick to set up. For me it's a way to bring an otherwise static collection of hand held lasers to spectacular life. Paying the extra for the higher power model is probably a waste of money for most unless you want to project as large an image as possible.

I must give full marks to what I guess is a WL/Magnum Lighting partnership. Magnum Lighting took full responsibility for the faulty scanner in my unit and couriered a new scanner plus other parts I may have needed but didn't. They emailed DHL tracking numbers to me at all times and my missing engraving lens has now been sent.

The usual Class 4 precautions apply to the LaserCube. Laser glasses while setting up and be careful of reflected light when the power is cranked up, especially when projecting on a white or very reflective surface!
 

green lasers rock

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Maybe a Clubmax or similar unit is in my future! In the mean time I am really enjoying the LaserCube, but of course I don't have anything to compare it to. I'm slowly learning LaserOS but my impression is that it is somewhat clunky and navigating through the various options is a bit confusing, especially with the android version on a small phone screen. It has a huge number of animations, images and effect options, although a lot of the still images are very basic and things like the dozens of corporate logos and Pokémon images are of very limited interest. At some point I will download LSX and compare.
Hey, at least Laser OS if free. Many other solutions are not and that doesn't even include the laser. And corporate logos are found throughout Pangolin software. Looking on the WL website, it looks like the software is much more complex than I first thought and has many interesting features. Does it have a timeline?

That being said, if you're interested in making your own laser shows, you can't go wrong with LSX. It will give you more control over your projector and may allow you to create shows without the scanning flaws that Laser OS produces. That may come at the expense of scan rate though. If you want to see some amazing LSX content check out Christopher Short (Swamidog) or Jason Salt (SaltyRobot). Be aware that they are using faster projectors.

Also, if you do decide to upgrade your laser, don't just go straight for a Clubmax. There are many other good options including building your own.

Even at a total power output of less than 1 watt the image is very bright for home use. LaserOS has a continuous power slider so it's possible to attenuate the brightness but I'm assuming all projectors would have that facility? A black screen is an interesting idea since it would also improve contrast. I'll have to try it! White output looks well balanced, not too blue as has been suggested. Power sliders are provided in LaserOS for each laser so a good white balance should be achievable.
Yeah, I think it's a bit of a shame that lower power projectors are increasingly hard to find. laser sources have gotten much cheaper in recent years and all the manufacturers seem to be pushing higher power at ever-cheaper prices. Luckily the black screen fixes most of the problems with that. When I do gigs, the extra power can also come in handy when used on large screens or for beams.

As for color tools, yes they are fairly universal but I tend to stay away from them because reducing the brightness in software also reduces the color range that can be produced. This is because each laser has a fixed threshold "floor" that doesn't change as you reduce the peak output "ceiling". This results in an increasingly narrow range of colors the projector can produce. As per the analogy, imagine the colors your laser can produce as being contained in a room where the ceiling gradually becomes lower as you reduce the brightness. I also really enjoy fades and dim colors in my shows so I always try to use the full output.

YouTube has some useful comparisons of the LaserCube and higher power LaserDocks with faster scanners. The improvements are subtle but definitely desirable. LaserCube is really just a delicious sample of what is possible!
It's a gateway drug :)

Critical viewing of the LaserCube output shows some minor deficiencies: yellow lines show up as green and red lines when viewed close up but certainly look rich and yellow on casual observation at a reasonable distance. Purple line are fine when drawn horizontally but separate out into closely parallel blue and red lines in the vertical, but again fine on casual observation. I'm guessing this is a function of how well the dichroic mirrors have been aligned? Of course individual units may vary! It's not perfect but, but it's more than satisfactory IMHO - especially at the price point.
You have guessed correctly. Some lasers are easily user alignable while other's aren't. You could open the laser again and see how the dicros are mounted. I'd be worried they're epoxied in place. If you're feeling brave you might be able to break them free, align them, then re-glue them. Probably not worth it though based on your descriptions.

After 90 minutes running at full power the unit becomes quite warm to the touch, especially on the base. Probably not an issue but might cause problems in a hot environment? Perhaps Magnum Lighting could have used a finned heatsink for the base, but maybe it's unnecessary, not sure.
Can you measure how hot it's getting? What's more important is the temperature of the galvos and laser diodes. Most galvos are designed to take some heat so I wouldn't be too concerned. WL does seem to run them hard though.

So I remain very positive about the LaserCube! I think you get a hell of a lot for your money. It's a fascinating piece of technology combining electronics, three substantial lasers plus an ingenious mechanical/optical pathway, along with quite workmanlike software. The fact that it's battery powered makes it very versatile and quick to set up. For me it's a way to bring an otherwise static collection of hand held lasers to spectacular life. Paying the extra for the higher power model is probably a waste of money for most unless you want to project as large an image as possible.
This reflects how I felt when I saw my first real laser show in middle school. I had already been into pointers for a while but projection gave me a whole new way to appreciate them. I love how projectors combine numerous feats of engineering together in a harmonious dance of light, optics, and moving parts to create a final image that no other method can replicate. I like to tell people that laser projection is one of the least practical ways to display an image, and that's exactly why I appreciate the art form so much. It's highly addictive :)

The usual Class 4 precautions apply to the LaserCube. Laser glasses while setting up and be careful of reflected light when the power is cranked up, especially when projecting on a white or very reflective surface!
Always good. Keep enjoying your laser and if you do ever start producing shows feel free to share them here on the forums. I'd love to see more laserists around here.
 

Nique

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No, Laser OS does not have a timeline. But although I haven't tried it, it does have a "Playlist" function which sounds like a bare bones alternative to timeline. I think now that I have the LaserCube I should try LSX when I get bored with LaserOS. In fact I have watched some of Christopher Short's vids and they're fascinating! My interest is also in more abstract creations than illustrations and basic animations.

Not sure how the dicros are mounted, I didn't look too closely when I had the unit open. If there is some kind of easy adjustment I would have a go at improving the convergence. If they're epoxied in then I think I'd leave them alone rather than risk messing them up and potentially turning the thing into spare parts.

Yes, I can measure the temperature of the various box surfaces quite easily! Good suggestion, I'll try running the unit for a couple of hours in a room about 22 celcius and see what I come up with. Also good idea on videoing. I should try to do a video review and put it on my YouTube channel (which to date is primarily about the Australian birds in my Sydney neighbourhood!) with a link posted on the forum. I might also do a video review of the Sanwu Striker 7 watt blue laser. XM360 did a nice review but I'm not sure he knew how to fully adjust the Sanwu beam expander. I get a much more uniform dot at distance than he did, by screwing the expander right out, then attaching it to the laser and steadily screwing it back down.

Anyway, that's off topic, sorry. Many thanks for all your thoughtful input, it is much appreciated!
 

green lasers rock

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No problem. I also love abstracts, probably just because I can’t draw :( Let us know what the temperature measurement reveal.
 







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