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Looking to get a hand-held (portable) 3B laser in the U.S.

Stryker295

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I read around on here a bit but couldn't find anyone mentiong the rules for stuff above a 'Laser Pointer'. I think that if I try to order one from a non-US source, it won't get through customs and I'll have just lost 30+ dollars.

Does anyone know if it's possible to get on in the US? I don't want something super-strong, just enough to burn through small strings/ribbons and light some firework fuses. I'm totally new to this so I'm guessing I shouldn't need more than 50 mW? Does that sound right? I saw Kipkay's video where he takes the 5mW WickedLaser Core green one and adjust the pot, but (a) he doesn't say how much it actually increased to, or how quickly it would burn out. Also, he's only burning black things, and he doesn't show how long it actually takes to burn, and I'm dealing with white strings that I can't put black marks on.

Any and all advice (other than the 'just forget it' response) is appreciated. I have decent electronics experience, and some low-power (pointer) laser experience, so if necessary I could build what I need (with guidance). It needs to be portable/pocket-sized/handheld, not some bulky, outlet-powered thing though.
 

lasergal

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Most people here have had no problems with customs, but I can't blame you for wanting to avoid that route if possible.

Apparently there is a company called Survival Lasers that is US-based and sells the parts that you build yourself. They say it's easy, and offer support, but are a bit pricey (but just about any like that will be).

You might want to check it out. Although personally I can't really understand the fascination with burning things, lol!
 

Wolfman29

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I would strongly suggest you get something significantly more powerful than 50mW. With 50mW, you will hardly be able to light black matches, let alone white fuses. That said, I would suggest going with 300mW+ of 405nm blu-ray laser. That means it's pretty dangerous though, so you will need goggles.

Anyway, I would say you may as well order from overseas. For ~$100 you can probably get a good 300mW 405nm laser and the odds of it not getting past customs are VERY low. If you want to build one yourself, though, there are plenty tutorials around these parts for building just what you want.
 

Stryker295

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Most people here have had no problems with customs, but I can't blame you for wanting to avoid that route if possible.

Apparently there is a company called Survival Lasers that is US-based and sells the parts that you build yourself. They say it's easy, and offer support, but are a bit pricey (but just about any like that will be).

You might want to check it out. Although personally I can't really understand the fascination with burning things, lol!
Awesome, thanks. I'll look them up.

As far as burning: I do a lot of pyro stuff and while lighters and matches are inexpensive and easy, they're unreliable and require you to get close to your point of ignition. (Too close for my comfort, most of the time.) Wiring up ignition systems is the opposite side of things: you stay a good distance away, they're extremely reliable, a pain to set up, and expensive. Lasers fall perfectly in between that, because I can be a good distance away (or even on the opposite side of a sheet of acrylic/glass) and still reliably create ignition. :D
 
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Stryker295

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I would strongly suggest you get something significantly more powerful than 50mW. With 50mW, you will hardly be able to light black matches, let alone white fuses. That said, I would suggest going with 300mW+ of 405nm blu-ray laser. That means it's pretty dangerous though, so you will need goggles.

Anyway, I would say you may as well order from overseas. For ~$100 you can probably get a good 300mW 405nm laser and the odds of it not getting past customs are VERY low. If you want to build one yourself, though, there are plenty tutorials around these parts for building just what you want.
If I get one shipped and it does get caught up in customs, is it possible to get my money back? I really can't spend that much money and risk it just going down the drain.

Also, thanks for the help. I would probably have ended up just adjusting the one Kipkay used if I hadn't posted here XD
 

Wolfman29

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Unfortunately, no, you probably won't get your money back. But if you're really that worried about customs, you can always build one yourself. Assuming you are successful on your first try, you could get a nice laser build for probably $90 and you could have it output anywhere between 300-600mW (for 405nm blu-ray lasers) or between 500mW and 2W (for 445nm blue lasers - not adviseable - harder to burn at a distance with these ones).

However, if you do go DIY, expect to break your first few laser diodes. Unless you are great at soldering tiny components that are extremely heat sensitive already, it'll happen. I know I killed my first... four? or so diodes when I first got into the hobby. Fortunately, I wanted my first laser to be kind of cheap, so I just burnt up ~$40 ($10 x 4). However, the diodes you will be working with will be $40-$50 a piece, so it's a bit more of a risk.

On the other hand, you could always buy one from one of the builders here on the forums! I would offer my services if I wasn't away for the rest of the summer >.> Our prices are competitive with overseas suppliers and they come from the US ;)
 
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Stryker295

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Unfortunately, no, you probably won't get your money back. But if you're really that worried about customs, you can always build one yourself. Assuming you are successful on your first try, you could get a nice laser build for probably $90 and you could have it output anywhere between 300-600mW (for 405nm blu-ray lasers) or between 500mW and 2W (for 445nm blue lasers - not adviseable - harder to burn at a distance with these ones).

However, if you do go DIY, expect to break your first few laser diodes. Unless you are great at soldering tiny components that are extremely heat sensitive already, it'll happen. I know I killed my first... four? or so diodes when I first got into the hobby. Fortunately, I wanted my first laser to be kind of cheap, so I just burnt up ~$40 ($10 x 4). However, the diodes you will be working with will be $40-$50 a piece, so it's a bit more of a risk.

On the other hand, you could always buy one from one of the builders here on the forums! I would offer my services if I wasn't away for the rest of the summer >.> Our prices are competitive with overseas suppliers and they come from the US ;)
ok, good to know.

I'm not so sure it'd be a great idea to start DIYing with such expensive components... I went to the Survival Lasers site and pulled up the cheapest red bundle, seems a bit pricey so I'll definitely check out the builders here. Thanks again!
 

Wolfman29

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Yeah, I love SurvivalLasers for their accessory prices, but hate them for their kit prices... their kits are WAY overpriced. The 2W laser kit is like $400+, whereas I can build a 2W laser for ~$140.
 

Stryker295

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Yeah, I love SurvivalLasers for their accessory prices, but hate them for their kit prices... their kits are WAY overpriced. The 2W laser kit is like $400+, whereas I can build a 2W laser for ~$140.
O.O wow that's crazy. I just might wait for you to be available... how long did you say? :p
 

Wolfman29

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Heh, I said I could build one for $140. Doesn't mean I would sell it for $140. Anyway, I am definitely not the most skilled builder here. I'm pretty and I have a name, but there are some others that are more skilled than I.

I would love your business, but I won't be back till August 5th or so and I wouldn't want to keep you waiting!
 

Stryker295

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Heh, I said I could build one for $140. Doesn't mean I would sell it for $140. Anyway, I am definitely not the most skilled builder here. I'm pretty and I have a name, but there are some others that are more skilled than I.

I would love your business, but I won't be back till August 5th or so and I wouldn't want to keep you waiting!
well that's not bad, as far as wait time. I have no idea where to start really so starting with someone I've at least said hi to :p
 

Atomicrox

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Beware that focusing a 405nm laser from a safe distance to light fireworks is a PITA. It looks defocused all the time because it's on the border of UV.

A 445nm will be easier to focus but the dot will be bigger, which means less power density.
 

Wolfman29

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I would think, with proper goggles, it would be easier to focus, no? Especially with the fluorescence getting through the goggles and the 405nm not?
 

Stryker295

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well actually my eyes can't focus on anything past green so it wouldn't be much of an extra difficulty anyway. And I don't have to get a blue or purple one, do I? Everyone seems obsessed with those but I'm really fine with any color. Wouldn't extra milliwatts make up for lower frequency?
 

Wolfman29

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The reason I advise 405nm is that it is most readily absorbed of all common laser wavelengths, and coming in at powers around 500-600mW at the max, it's also pretty powerful. Next, there is the part that single-mode 405nm, 500mW blu-rays are the ONLY single-mode class 4 lasers that are common, meaning that they will be easily focused down to a point at a longer distance than, say, a meter or so.
 

Stryker295

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The reason I advise 405nm is that it is most readily absorbed of all common laser wavelengths, and coming in at powers around 500-600mW at the max, it's also pretty powerful. Next, there is the part that single-mode 405nm, 500mW blu-rays are the ONLY single-mode class 4 lasers that are common, meaning that they will be easily focused down to a point at a longer distance than, say, a meter or so.
see, this is exactly why I came here: people know waaaaay more about this than I do and I want to get it right the first time. :)
 




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