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Benm

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Bans only make the problem worse really. If you say importation of >5 mW lasers is illegal, chinese vendors will simply label them to comply with that ban regardless of actual power output.

This is a problem with 532 nm lasers in particular since the efficiency varies so greatly - units that look identical in every respect can be 1 mW or 50 mW just depending on invisible details in the crystals. To actually ban the ones over 5 mW would require literally lab testing every single one of them coming through customs, an impossible task.

The risk is that people will presume the label to be accurate and it is 'safe' to shine these "1 mW" pointers into peoples faces, when the actual output power is high enough to cause instant damage.

The best solution would, i think, to forego any import bans and motivate vendors to state the absolute maximum power output on the label. This basically goes back a decade or so where a label stating "<200 mW" actually ment that - although 1 mW is a perfectly valid "<200 mW" and you might be disappointed with output power if you though it meant that the laser was anywhere close to that maximum.

In all other electronic components we have minimum, typical and maximum ratings, and even laser diodes have those specs for a given current. Sadly pointer manufacturers do not communicate them.
 
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Bans only make the problem worse really. If you say importation of >5 mW lasers is illegal...

It is has been illegal for may years to import non compliant lasers according to FDA rules regulations. There are hefty fines if caught.
 
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Benm

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And how often does anyone actually get caught and convicted?

Realistically, could you even be fined if you ordered some laser from china that is marked <5 mW and sold to you as such, but actually produces greater power output? How could you have known?

Obviously the vendor could have known, but they are back in china not giving a rats ass about US customs rules.

Really high power units (say class 4) tend to come with safety features like keys, but there is a huge market of pen-style lasers that don't look very powerful at all, of which some samples will surely exceed 5 mW by far. I reckon ordering a dozen or so from any random vendor selling them as <5 mW will yield a couple that far exceed that rating despite the label.
 
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And how often does anyone actually get caught and convicted?

Realistically, could you even be fined if you ordered some laser from china that is marked <5 mW and sold to you as such, but actually produces greater power output? How could you have known?

Obviously the vendor could have known, but they are back in china not giving a rats ass about US customs rules.

Really high power units (say class 4) tend to come with safety features like keys, but there is a huge market of pen-style lasers that don't look very powerful at all, of which some samples will surely exceed 5 mW by far. I reckon ordering a dozen or so from any random vendor selling them as <5 mW will yield a couple that far exceed that rating despite the label.
You've missed the point. Let me explain why. I'm simply relating what the law states.
It's well known (you know it, I know and nearly every member knows it and so too the Feds know it) that laser pointers are generally overspec from the many posts stating such a thing. If you buy a laser from over seas you are an importer and subject to importation laws. The law makes no distinction whether it's one or more. Knowingly or not, buying such lasers makes one culpable. It's said, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Yes, realistically you could be fined. Just because it hasn't happened yet does not mean it won't happen ever.

P.S. Chinese companies should not care for they sell to a worldwide market some with laws some without. it's not in there best interest. If anything has made the problem worst it's the it's not a ban but the low purchase prices of todays lasers. I don't know how you define worst though.
 
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Razako

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You've missed the point. Let me explain why. I'm simply relating what the law states.
It's well known (you know it, I know and nearly every member knows it and so to the Feds know it) that laser pointers are generally overspec from the many posts stating such a thing. If you buy a laser from over seas you are an importer and subject to importation laws. The law makes no distinction whether it's one or more. Knowingly or not, buying such lasers makes one culpable. It's said, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Yes, realistically you could be fined. Just because it hasn't happened yet does not mean it won't happen ever.

P.S. Chinese companies should not care for they sell to a worldwide market some with laws some without. it's not in there best interest. If anything has made the problem worst it's the it's not a ban but the low purchase prices of todays lasers. I don't know how you define worst though.
The ban on >5mw isn't stopping anything from getting in though. All it does is encourage sellers to lie and mislabel their products. This ends up putting the public at risk because ignorant people buy <5mw labeled lasers(which are actually 50+mw) and then use them carelessly.

Removing the ban would at least let sellers accurately label their products.
 
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The ban on >5mw isn't stopping anything from getting in though. All it does is encourage sellers to lie and mislabel their products. This ends up putting the public at risk because ignorant people buy <5mw labeled lasers(which are actually 50+mw) and then use them carelessly.

Removing the ban would at least let sellers accurately label their products.

Answer to the bolded text. That may be true and perhaps it would be a good thing to label laser pointers at their true output.
 
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FYI-Steve & I have spoken when we met ~ 5 times at SELEM- he is highly regared by his peers.. He sat next to me at the ILDA LSO course...

One point we heard at the LSO was how many millions of people watching millions of hours of laser shows have a near perfect safety record (in USA) -in ten years 77 people DIED at USA amusement parks== shall we ban them??

... here is a copy from a guide I would like to post ----once I get the OK to use it--here is just a part which may clear up some questions..


"
How divergence affects hazard distances: If a laser’s divergence (beam spread) is
increased, the hazard distances directly decrease.
For example, doubling the divergence will reduce the hazard distances by half.
Usually, the more powerful a laser, the larger the typical divergence of the laser.
Divergence can be improved (made tighter) using a lens or better engineering of the
laser itself.
How laser power affects hazard distances: If a laser’s power is increased, the
hazard distances are longer by the square root of the power increase.
Going from a 5 mW to a 500 mW laser is a 100 times power increase -- but the
hazard distances only become 10 times as long. (The square root of 100 is 10.)
 
 
 
 
 
How wavelength affects hazard distances:
For visible lasers, the wavelength (color) does not affect the eye hazard (NOHD), skin hazard or fire hazard distances. But wavelength
does affect the three visual interference distances: Flashblindness, glare and distraction.
The human eye is most sensitive to
green light of 555 nanometers. This color would appear brightest, and most distracting to pilots, compared to other colors from an otherwise
equivalent laser (e.g., having the same power and divergence).
At this time, most consumer lasers emit
green light at 532 nanometers. This appears only 88% as bright as 555 nm light. Because it is so common, we will use 532 green as the
baseline for "brightest available laser" in the following calculations:
-- Compared with
532 nm light, the common red wavelength 635 nm appears only 27% as bright. This has a square root effect on the visual interference distances. A 532 green
laser appears 4 times as bright as a 635 red laser -- but the green visual interference distances are only 2 times the red distances. (The square root of 4 is 2.)
-- Compared with
532 nm light, the common blue wavelength 445 nm appears only 3.5% as bright. Again, there is a square root effect on the distances. A 532 green laser appears
29 times as bright as a
445 blue laser -- but the green visual interference distances are only 5.4 times longer than the blue distances. (The square root of 29 is 5.3.)
-----------------------------


Last and perhaps the most important fact--'EYE SAFE' is at best a misnomer and IMHO no member here should EVER use it.

Even a true 1 mW laser can be an distraction to a pilot or driver of a vehicle.

+7 when I can to Mr Steve Roberts..
 
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Benm

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Answer to the bolded text. That may be true and perhaps it would be a good thing to label laser pointers at their true output.

It would be helpful at least. Obviously they used to put on rather silly "<200 mW" claims on lasers that produced say 30 mW, though that is technically correct. You are duped in the sense of the product you expect etc, but if you set up safety precautions to deal with 200, a laser that outputs 30 does not pose a risk.

Als for it to be technically illegal to import lasers with <5 mW labels that have higher output power: Stating that no individual has ever been conviced for ordering one from china is practical proof that his legislation is not enforced, especially since there are enormous numbers of lasers being imported that are mislabeled - there must be millions by now.

And no such cases have even been tried yet, so we don't know if there would be a chance of conviction. Compare it to you ordering a kilogram of nice fancy dutch rock salt (we have really good stuff!) for a reasonable price of $20 that you can demonstrate you paid for it and i'll back that claim up. Instead of the salt i'll send you a kilogram of mdma (we have really good stuff here!). You should be careful what you order, although we don't really have $20/kg xtc here for now ;)


Eye-safe is not really a misnomer. It simply means that you can look into that laser forever without sustaining permanent eye damage. It does not mean you cannot be distracted by one. People drive off the highway or into cars ahead of them all the time while distracted by billboards, road signs and stuff like that. I still consider them eye safe unless i get one in my eye.
 
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^^^ we will have to agree to disagree on the 'misnomer' thing... I did not make that up --found it in an article written by an expert. AND It seems that many pilots care nothing about the diff. between distraction and/or worse-- real injury.

and... the USA law has NO distinction between the various powers--NONE!
its a Federal offence to intentionally laser ANY aircraft with ANY power laser.

The only laser I ever want into my eyes needs to be in the hand of a Doctor.
 
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It would be helpful at least. Obviously they used to put on rather silly "<200 mW" claims on lasers that produced say 30 mW, though that is technically correct. You are duped in the sense of the product you expect etc, but if you set up safety precautions to deal with 200, a laser that outputs 30 does not pose a risk.

Als for it to be technically illegal to import lasers with <5 mW labels that have higher output power: Stating that no individual has ever been conviced for ordering one from china is practical proof that his legislation is not enforced, especially since there are enormous numbers of lasers being imported that are mislabeled - there must be millions by now.

And no such cases have even been tried yet, so we don't know if there would be a chance of conviction. Compare it to you ordering a kilogram of nice fancy dutch rock salt (we have really good stuff!) for a reasonable price of $20 that you can demonstrate you paid for it and i'll back that claim up. Instead of the salt i'll send you a kilogram of mdma (we have really good stuff here!). You should be careful what you order, although we don't really have $20/kg xtc here for now ;)
You said a ban would make matters worst. The law that makes non FDA compliant lasers illegal to import is a ban. It's not the ban though that has made the matter worst. What really has made the matter worst is the low cost of purchase of lasers. For example. When I bought my *first green 5mw laser pointer many years ago it cost **$450. I remember when a red 670nm 5mw laser pointer cost $200. My first red 670nm red cost $50. now I've seen red pointer in dollar stores sometimes. Nowadays lasers of all classes are extremely low to moderately low in cost to buy making it easy for some yoyo on an impulse to buy, that's the problem.

I would agree in part that it is unlikely some individual would be fined for importing a non compliant FDA laser pointer. A more likely cause for levying a fine would be a scenario where an individual with malicious intent caused a seriously grave incident with an aircraft while it was in flight and was prosecuted and found guilty in federal court was also fined as part of the sentencing. With all I just said it is still possible for some individual to be fined for importing a non compliant laser.

* The only green pointer I knew of at that time which had a higher output was one sold by Casix and it had an output of 10mw. It cost $700.

**I have a feeling many of the young members would be surprised at how costly lasers were in the beginning. I've read that green lasers were even much higher in price ($2000) at the very beginning.
 
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This is a direct quote from the laser 'Safety Bible' 1038 pages- & even tho the last printing was 1982 it still sells for ~$100 USED at Scamazon-(That is what I paid) SAFETY WITH LASERS AND OTHER OPTICAL SOURCES BY David Sliney and Myron Wolbarsht.

From Page 1.

"...the eye is often far more vulnerable to injury than from visible and near-infrared laser radiation" ... duh.. that is something we ALL should already know..
'' The increased hazard to the eye from visible and near infrared is a consequence of the eye's imaging process. .... parallel rays of visible light from a distant object, or from a laser at any distance, can be imaged on the retina in a very small area. This focusing effect of the cornea and lens will concentrate these rays by of the eye by an enormous factor-100,000 times. Such a concentration of radiant power can cause the retina be burned in much the same way that a piece of paper can be set ablaze when a magnifying glass focuses the rays of the sun."


If one accepts the idea of an 'EYE SAFE' laser you are assuming several things-- while the laser may labled or described as 5 mW we all know that is not reality. IMHO it is far better to err on safe side and call all lasers NOT eye safe.

In Europe audience scanning is still being done.. not so much here. Last time I checked we all have the same eyes.
At Laserpointersafety.org some of those arrested for lasing aircraft used the 'eye-safe' defense/excuse... to no avail.

be safe and never assume ANY laser is eye safe..
 
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Benm

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its a Federal offence to intentionally laser ANY aircraft with ANY power laser.

It is the exact same offence to fuck around with a mirror reflecting the sun at an airplane endangering it that way, or any other creative method you can think of of endangering air traffic.

Doing so is illegal in most countries, just the plain act of endagering traffic (also road traffic), regardless of method.

Eye-safe obviously relates to the potential of doing direct damage to your eye. You'll probably suffer eye damage as well if you crash a plane into a building, but that's not really the point.

A light source is eye-safe if you can look into it for an indefinite amount of time. Something like a 40 watt lightbulb a few meters away is eye-safe. Something like the sun is not. I can't really think for a more clear definition of 'eye safe' than 'unable to injure the eye'.

Crowd scanning can be eye-safe under that definition as well, but requires failsafes in case of scanning systems seizing up and such. I suppose the US culture of suing for millions for an injury is a reason to stop doing it - it's fairly hard to prove afterwards that there was no MPE exceeded, but very easy to testify you have vision problems that cannot be objectively (dis)proven by a retinal photo or similar method. In europe damages awarded are usually much lower and can be more cheaply insured against.
 
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AFAIK almost all the bigger lasershow companies use vid-cams to vid the entire audience and keep in case a lawsuit is filed and they need proof that no laser entered anyone eyes. In one case that green laser was used by another person in the audience.

My thinking about not using the term 'eye safe' is based on the fact that w/o a meter just how is anyone supposed to tell them apart-- do you tell (kids) that THIS one is OK but THAT one is not-far better to never call any laser (except a broken one) is eye safe.
I have a true 4.99mW green pointer ($140) and ONLY a total fool would shine it directly into his eyes.
 

Benm

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Proof is a problem indeed. Even when taking video you can't do crowdscanning since you cannot see how intense a beam/dot is reliably on video, so they go for missing the crowd entirely.

I understand why they would, but it is not -neccessary- from a safety standpoint. The MPE are set for a reason, and your 5 mW pointer would far exceed MPE when pointed steadily at someone.

One potential problem with MPE safety is that things can break, and people can change things. One example of the latter would be someone 'upgrading' the 200 mW 532nm in a laser show to a 1000 mW model, but not adapting the software and/or optics to account for it.

But this all assumes one is going to do MPE level calculations in the first place. Not that it's relevant to aircraft though, you cannot exceed MPE over a distance of a few kilometers with a portable laser of any kind.
 
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Another thing I did not know/consider is the LACK of scientific proof of a laser which cannot do ANY harm to the eyes.. not exactly the kind of 'clinical trials' one would volunteer to take part in... there has been some testing using Rhesus Monkys which so far shows that an accumulated effect could do damage even below 1 mW.

We all know of things once thought of as being totally safe as well as the opposite...only to later learn it was NOT so... (Flint's water)

I cannot wrap my brain around telling children that THIS laser is safe BUT THAT one is NOT... is it not far better to just keep them away from kids. I CAN imagine bullies holding kids down and laseing their eyes/faces..

Just last night I was thinking about all this.... what bad things can happen if things do not change--
IMHO a laser is a poor choice for the terrorists tool box (at least considering the way laser 'pranksters' do 'thier' thing)
..there is a way (which we should NOT post) to make this a real bad thing....

THEN it occurred to me that a terrorists reading about the laser on aircraft and the 'reported ' serious injuries...
this could draw more towards the use of a laser.. it could give them bad ideas IMO.

From Mr Roberts..
'Fair Enough? One rule in the airspace discussion, I refuse to tell potential terrorists how to make a better device. So you might see me omit a few things.
I'm not naïve enough to believe the genie can be put back into the bottle, so to speak. But I'm not going to issue a full design here, either...

Steve "
^^^^ as he sez...



brb with some scary facts---
 
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