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New review: LaserBee 2.5W USB Laser Power Meter w/Thermopile

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LaserBee 2.5W USB Laser Power Meter w/Thermopile, retail CA$189.99 (US$194.36) * (http://www.bauer-ee.com...)
Manufactured by J. Bauer Electronics (www.bauer-ee.com)
Last updated 06-27-11


* IMPORTANT: Pricing is accurate as of 06-13-11. Please visit the Currency Calculator for the latest currency conversion rates from Canadian dollars to US dollars.




This product does not emit light of its own (much like this spectrometer, this one, and this laser power meter), so the standard review format will not be used and the product will be assigned a rating at once. A very high rating too, as during the (admittedly short thus far) time I've had it, it has thus far performed flawlessly.



{Lifted from the furnished .PDF; minor changes to capitalisation and syntax were made}
The LaserBee 2.5 Watt (2500mW) USB only Laser Power Meter was designed to enable the hobbyist technician to test higher power lasers and laser diodes. It was designed for people like ourselves that needed to know the output power of the numerous lasers we had in the shop.

It needed to check a wide range of lasers up to 2500mW.

The LaserBee 2.5W USB LPM uses a thermopile sensor and microcontroller electronics that are pre-calibrated against a Newport Model 1825-C LPM using a Newport 818T-10 thermopile sensor head. The output of the LaserBee 2.5W USB is shown on your computer’s screen.

Just install the PC Data Logging Interface Software onto your computer then plug the USB Cable into your computer's USB port and shine your laser’s beam on the thermopile sensor to get readings in 1mW increments. The LaserBee 2.5W USB LPM is powered from the computer’s USB port.

The readings of the LaserBee 2.5W USB LPM starts at 1mW and go to 2,500mW (2.50 watts).

For consistent readings, make sure that all measurements are taken at the same distance between the sensor and the laser being tested. (3" {7.60cm} to 12" {30.50cm}) and that the entire laser beam falls on the sensor of the LaserBee 2.5Watt USB LPM.

The instrument itself connects to your PC via a 21" (53.30cm) USB cord; the thermopile sensor is connected to the LaserBee with a 16" (40.60cm) cord.



SIZE:




To take a measurement, just follow these simple instructions:

User Instructions
You must first install the PC Data Logging Interface according to the instructions on the Soft Install Instructions PDF onto your computer.

The LaserBee 2.5W USB LPM is very easy to use. Attach the Thermopile Sensor cable to the LaserBee 2.5W enclosure.

Plug the Enclosure’s USB cable to a free USB port on your computer as described in the Soft Install Instructions.

Set the PC Data Logging screen’s com port to the com port that your computer assigned to the USB cable. (check the Windows Hardware Manager COM Port assignments -- I was checking the USB ports and found no reference to the LaserBee -- then I checked the COM Port assignments and found it there!!!)

Once set up press Start on the PC Data Logging screen and just before taking a reading press the RED button on the enclosure to zero all internal counts. This is the Zero Button. It shoulds always be pressed just before taking another reading once the on Screen display drops to Zero on it’s own.

You may not take another reading before the on screen display drops to zero. This is to allow the thermopile sensor to cool to ambient temperature so that the next reading will be as accurate as your last one.

It is very important NOT to collimate the laser beam to a pin point as this will damage the Thermopile coating using higher powered lasers!!!

It is also important to note that the entire laser beam should fall on the sensor and the laser’s beam should be adjusted accordingly (an acceptable/usable beam diameter would be 3.0mm to 7.0mm; the larger, the better).

DO NOT USE A BEAM DIAMETER OF LESS THAN 3.0mm with high powered Lasers

You should also note that unlike LPMs that use a silicon photodetector (sensor), you need to continuously irradiate the sensor of this one for 40 to 50 seconds or until the reading stabilises. This is because it relies on heating of the sensor, and this process does take some time.



When you plug the LaserBee into a different USB port and then see the following pop up on your screen, check the COM port assignments in your Windows Device Manager; it very likely (well, "almost certainly" actually!!!) got changed.


The solution is actually quite simple: click on the "OPTIONS" tab, select "Comm Port", and set it to the port number shown in Windows Device Manager that reads, "Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COM 7)" {where it reads "COM 7" here may read differently on your PC; this is only for illustrative purposes because that's what mine reads).



On the plus side, due to the way this LPM functions, you do not need to fiddle with wavelength conversion tables (multipliers)...just shoot your laser at the sensor, wait a bit (40 to 50 seconds is a good place to start here), and read your power output value directly with no math involved.






This is the window that comes up when you launch the LaserBee Interface ("Eagle Eye™") application.




This is an example of a chart output by the logging software:


TEST NOTES:
Test unit was purchased on Ebay on 06-07-11 (or "07 Jun 2011" if you prefer) and was received at 3:04pm PDT on 06-13-11 (or "13 Jun 2011" if you prefer).

Now that I own one of these fine instruments, I have permission to publish this graphic:




UPDATE: 06-16-11
The problem resulting in the error message appears to be due to my computer itself; not a fault in the LaserBee hardware or software.
As a result, I'm upgrading its rating to five full stars!!!


UPDATE: 06-17-11
I have confirmed -- with absolute, positive, 100% certainty -- that the error messages and inability to record a "long-term" logging file in the Eagle Eye™ software is a fault of my computer, ***NOT*** the LaserBee hardware or software. I determined this by performing an entirely successful (and might I say rather easy too!) installation on the HP laptop computer shared by my stepsister & stepmother. I reluctantly uninstalled it a short time later, as neither individual has any interest whatsoever in lasers.


UPDATE: 06-26-11
I have had absolute, positive, 100% success in installing the LaserBee hardware *AND* software on my lab computer -- a Gateway 200 with Pentium III CPU running Windows 98. Not only do I have realtime metering (which has never presented a problem on my work computer {an Emachines model # W3502 tower}), the data logging function now works as intended!


This is an example of a chart produced by the furnished "LaserBee Laser Power Meter Interface" application.
That spurious "0" in red at the extreme left should probably read "mW" instead, but this is quick & easy enough to repair in Photoshop prior to uploading it to my website that I do not at all consider it a serious issue.


This is what it looks like after a quick "fix".



UPDATE: 06-27-11
The "0" vs. "mW" thing must have been a simple fluke; the LaserBee's furnished "LaserBee Laser Power Meter Interface" application (for computers running an OS of Windows 2000 or earlier) produced the following chart with no modifications necessary at all:






PROS:
Easy to set up & install (so easy, a caveman could do it!)
Can measure power output of those pesky Class IIIb and Class IV lasers that are too powerful for other LPMs -- up to 2.50 watts anyway


CONS:
USB cord could be longer; not every PC has a front-mounted USB port {though some laserists actually prefer the shorter cord!}
For some as-of-yet unknown reason, the COM Port assignment can occasionally go to pot -- but the "fix" is quite simple. This is what lopped off that last ½ star (see 06-16-11 update above!)




MANUFACTURER: J. Bauer Electronics
PRODUCT TYPE: USB-driven laser power meter
LAMP TYPE: N/A
No. OF LAMPS: N/A
BEAM TYPE: N/A
SWITCH TYPE: N/A
CASE MATERIAL: Plastic
BEZEL: N/A
BATTERY: N/A (USB-powered)
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: I was advised by the manufacturer that it is 50mA to 60mA
WATER- AND URANATION-RESISTANT: No
SUBMERSIBLE: NO WAY HOZAY!!!

ACCESSORIES: Mini CD-ROM with "Eagle Eye™" app. and documentation on it
SIZE: 95mm L x 60mm W x 25mm D (instrument itself); 38mm H x 43mm W x 26mm D (sensor head)
WEIGHT: Unknown/not equipped to weigh
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Unknown/not stated; but very likely Canada
WARRANTY: Unknown/not stated

PRODUCT RATING:


 
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lasersbee

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Nice detailed review with charts..... Well done...

BTW... the LaserBee 2.5W USB Laser Power Meter is only
available on eBay and LPF at this time... ;)


Jerry
 
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snoutke

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Jerry,

I see that the LPM's interface software has a new version 2.2.0.3?

My software version is 2.1.0.29.

What are the improvements in this new version?
 

ARG

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Great review, with all of the praise this LPM has been getting on LPF, I may have to pick one up for myself soon. :whistle:
 

RayBurne

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Re: " CONS: USB cord could be longer; not every PC has a front-mounted USB port"

Not everyone wants to jump rope with the USB cable. ;-)
Suggest you use a USB extender cable... they run typically $2 - $6 depending on length.
I am just not a big fan of cables that are too long... I use a lots of wireties trying to keep things neat on the lab bench. Nothing worst than to get all tangled-up in a cable and have that brand spanking new LPM go sailing into the stratosphere!

-Ray
 

Bluefan

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For me the biggest disadvantage would be the risetime of ~15 seconds from 0 to 90%, I'm used to the <1 sec of ophir thermopiles :)
 
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I just (finally) got a 100% successful install on my lab computer (a Gateway 2000 w/Pentium III CPU) running Win 98! :)
(This is the first install I have attempted on this particular computer; just saying that so that the word 'finally" does not throw you off!)

"100% successful" meaning that not only do I get realtime power values (not a problem at all on this computer), but I got the data logging feature to function. :D

Looks like I'll have an update to post in my eval. of the LaserBee (both on my website and on this BBS) tomorrow morning. :) :D :)
 
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lasersbee

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For me the biggest disadvantage would be the risetime of ~15 seconds from 0 to 90%,I'm used to the <1 sec of ophir thermopiles :)
You can't possibly be comparing a $119.99 complete
LaserBee 2.5W USB LPM
Thermal sensor's response
time with a $375.00 OPHIR Thermal Head ONLY....

There is a thing about comparing Oranges and Apples....:whistle:

I suppose if your life depended on the additional 14 seconds
as a deciding factor I could see some logic in your statement..


Jerry
 




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