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Review of the 473nm Rechargeable Blue Laser

The_LED_Museum

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This is a long post with at least 42 images on it; dial-up users please allow for plenty of load time.

473nm Rechargeable Blue Laser, retail $423.00
Manufactured by (Unknown)
Last updated 12-01-11







This is a blue DPSS (diode pumped solid state) laser that is advertised to output 5mW of laser radiation at 473nm in the blue part of the spectrum.

It comes in a cylindrical aluminum body, and uses one 18650 rechargable lithium-ion cell for power.


SIZE



Feed the laser a freshly-charged 18650 rechargable lithium-ion cell (see below), and then you'll be ready to rock.

To use the laser, insert one of the included interlock keys into the keyway in the laser's tailcap, turn the key clockwise 90°, and then remove it. The circular region around the pushbutton on the barrel should now glow blue, as the photograph directly below indicates.



Press & release the large button on the side of the barrel to turn it on.

Press & release the button a second time to turn the laser back off.

Momentary operation is available by pressing the button more lightly (after it clicks once but before it clicks a second time) and then holding it that way for as long as you need the pretty blue dot; releasing it turns the beam back off.

To shut the laser down, insert one of the included interlock keys into the keyway in the laser's tailcap, turn the key counterclockwise 90°, and then remove it. This turns laser power completely off.




To change/charge the battery in your 473nm blue laser, unscrew and remove the tailcap, throw it in the can, yank that silver handle on the front of the cistern down, and flush it away...O WAIT!!! YOU'LL NEED THAT!!! So just set it aside instead.


Tip the used cell out of the barrel and into your hand, and recharge it.

Insert a newly-charged 18650 rechargable Li:ION cell into the barrel, flat-end (-) negative first. This is the opposite of how batteries are installed in most flashlights, so please pay attention to polarity here.

Screw the tailcap back on, and be done with it.
Aren't you glad you didn't flush away that tailcap now?


Current usage in quiecent mode was measured at 624µA (0.624mA) on my DMM's 4mA scale.
Current usage in lasing mode was measured at 1,329mA (1,329 amps) on my DMM's 4A scale.


To charge the 18650 cell, place it in the charging cradle, orienting it so its button-end (+) positive is on the same end of the chamber in the charger that has a (+) embossed in its bottom.

Plug the charger into any standard (in the United States) two- or three-slot 110 volts to 130 volts AC 60Hz receptacle.

A red light on the charging cradle should now come on; this indicates charging is in progress. When the 18650 cell has reached full charge, the light on the charging cradle will turn from red to green.

At this point, unplug the charger, remove the charged cell from the charging cradle, and install it in the laser as directed above.


Because this is a DPSS laser, dropping it even onto soft dirt or carpeting will very likely (not certainly, but *PROBABLY*) kill it.


The key switch (interlock) has already failed
, however I was able to easily bypass it by placing a nickel (US 5¢ coin) in the tailcap. You know, the old "penny in the fusebox" trick. But doing so means that I'll have to remove the battery when I don't plan on using the laser for more than a day or two; otherwise it will draw its quiecent current of 624µA (0.624mA) on a continuous basis. This current is low enough though that I do not have to go out of my way to hurry and remove that battery.

Additional investigation revealed that the battery barrel had become partially seperated from "the good part"; screwing it all the way down rather tightly did restore (mainly) proper operation of the interlock switch; rendering the use of the nickel no longer necessary.

Although the beam from this particular unit is rather weak, it is ***EXTREMELY WELL*** collimated!!!




Beam photograph at ~12".
Beam is not white like this photograph makes it appear.
Beam also bloomed SIGNIFICANTLY; it is not nearly this large in diameter in reality.


Power output was measured at 21.448mW on a laser power meter specifically designed for this purpose. Since the visible output appears to be approximately 0.6mW and the spectrometer detects only a weak 808nm line from the pump diode, I'm guessing that a majority of the measured output is from the 946nm laser line from the Nd:YVO4 crystal...guess I'll have to fire up the other computer so that I may perform spectroscopy on the PC2000-ISA spectrometer in it, which is sensitive to radiation to 1,000nm in the NIR.


Power output measured 950.0µW (0.950mW) with the IR filter from this blue DPSS laser over the aperture - this is the 473nm visible emission.



Measures 34mW on a LaserBee 2.5W USB Laser Power Meter w/Thermopile; however, most of this power is the NIR radiation from the pump diode.
The following graph illustrates this quite vividly:



As you can see, it tops out at 1mW, but remains below that level for most of the duration of this test. Again, the IR filter from this blue DPSS laser over the aperture was placed over the laser's aperture.



This is the IR filter from that other blue DPSS laser.


Spectrographic analysis of the NIR emission, using the PC2000-ISA spectrometer in the other computer which was able to register it. I had to aim this laser well off-axis to avoid overloading the spectrometer's input with the NIR laser line.
This emission was spectrographically measured at ~928.50nm.



Beam photograph of the replacement laser at ~12".
Beam is not white like this photograph makes it appear.
Beam also bloomed somewhat; it is not this large in diameter in reality.



Beam photograph on a wall at ~10'.
Again, that white color does not really exist.



Beam photograph of the replacement laser on a wall at ~10'.
Again, that white color does not really exist.

Those colored graphics toward the left are my "Viva Piñata" posters, and that clock on the right that looks like a gigantic wristwatch is my Infinity Optics Clock.

You may also be able to see two of my SpongeBob SquarePants plush (Squidward Tentacles and Patrick Star) and a Digimon plush (Greymon).



Beam photograph with the laser ~10', shown onto the black part of one of my "Viva Piñata" posters to try and show some of the NIR component of the beam.
The NIR is the purplish color you see.



Beam photograph with the laser ~10', shown "blasted" onto a small piece of black electrical tape to help mask the main beam.
The NIR is the purplish color you see.
This helps show what I have already determined spectroscopically: that this laser lacks the IR filter designed specifically to block this otherwise invisible radiation.



Beam photograph at ~18" from the test target; collimating assembly removed to expand the beam.



Photograph of the beam outdoors in moderate fog.
Photograph taken on 09-19-10 (or "19 Sep 2010" if you prefer) at 6:02am PDT in Federal Way WA. USA.
***VERY IMPORTANT!!!***
This photograph was taken early in the morning and in such a location that nobody could possibly be accidentally irradiated!!!




Photograph of the beam outdoors in moderate fog; laser was directed toward of the camera this time instead of being pointed away from it.
Photograph taken on 09-19-10 (or "19 Sep 2010" if you prefer) at 6:04am PDT in Federal Way WA. USA.



Spectrographic analysis of this laser.
Note the weaker-than-expected 808nm laser line from the pump diode.



Spectrographic analysis of the replacement laser.
Note the 808nm laser line from the pump diode.



Spectrographic analysis of the replacement laser; spectrometer's response narrowed to a range of 468nm to 476nm to pinpoint wavelength.



Spectrographic analysis of the replacement laser; spectrometer's response narrowed to a range of 800nm to 840nm to show emission from the pump diode.



Spectrographic analysis of this laser; different spectrometer used to show all three laser lines simultaneously.



Spectrographic analysis of the replacement laser.
Different spectrometer used to show all three laser lines simultaneously (at the same time).



Spectrographic analysis of this laser, with spectrometer's response narrowed to a range of 463nm - 483nm.
Spectral line halfwidth appears to be ~1.9nm.



Spectrographic analysis of this laser, with spectrometer's response narrowed to a range of 472nm - 475nm to more accurately pinpoint wavelength, which is 473.680nm.
Spectral line halfwidth appears to be 1.00nm (+- 0.05nm) for this analysis.



Spectrographic analysis of the blue LED under the on/off switch.
Although this is of little consequence, it *IS* a light.




Red "charging" LED in its charging cradle.


Yellow-green "charge cycle complete" LED in its charging cradle.


Photograph on the test target showing *ONLY* the 808nm NIR laser radiation from the pump diode.
That purplish-white color is how my digital camera "sees" the laser's NIR radiation.


Showing *ONLY* the 808nm radiation from the pump diode.


<a href="http://ledmuseum.net/fifth/usb2000.htm">USB2000 Spectrometer</a> graciously donated by P.L.





Beam cross-sectional analysis.
This is to demonstrate the mainly circular beam profile.



Beam cross-sectional analysis (replacement unit).
Again, this is to demonstrate the mainly circular beam profile.

Images made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.





TEST NOTES:
Test unit was purchased on the morning of 03-25-09, and was received at 4:36pm PDT on 04-13-09.

The battery charger is labelled to output 4.2 volts at 1A (1,000mA).

It is not known where this product was manufactured; though I'm guessing that it was either made in China or Taiwan.
A product's country of origin really does matter to some people, which is why I published it on this post.

I can't in good "conshence" (conscience) award this laser a full five stars, but it likely won't rate super badly either. I'm not yet ready to deem this laser a "feline flagellated segment of caca maternal parent inseminator" (toliet words replaced with innocous ones - the correct acronym is PWPOSMF) but like I said, it isn't going to get the full five-star treatment either.


I've been informed by the seller that a replacement laser will be made available in the not-too-distant future; so this thread will not go "fallow" for lack of updates.

In fact, I'll wait until I receive & test the replacement before applying a rating at all; after all, it's the only right thing to do.




UPDATE 04-17-09:
Unit has been returned for repair; therefore, the dreadful "
*" icon now appears appended to its listings on my website to denote that I no longer have it available for additional testing or analyses, but that I'll get it back sometime in the not-too-distant future.



UPDATE 05-19-09:
The replacement was received yesterday at 5:32pm PDT; after being certain that the battery was fully charged, I obtained the following measurements:

34.82mW (no IR filter)
1,540µW (1.540mW) (IR filter from this blue DPSS laser over the aperture).

This is still lower than I'd like, but I think I can live with it.



UPDATE 05-21-09:
This appears to be the same physical unit that was returned for repair; the tiny knife scratch on the barrel near the tailcap placed there by me when I performed "The Knife Test" is still there.



UPDATE 10-30-09:
I have determined that this unit emits light that is polarised; determined by the admittedly crude method of discharging it at the LCD (liquid crystal display) of a clock and rotating the unit along its major axis. I observed the reflected radiation change rather drastically in intensity as this was done.

I also used the old "penny in the fusebox" trick to bypass the key interlock, and obtained a power output reading of 1,200µW (1.20mW) (again, the IR filter from this blue DPSS laser was placed over the aperture).

This is what the "business-end" of this laser looks like with the collimating assembly removed:





UPDATE 11-18-09:
The blue LED around the switch is *NOT* usable as a "reverse polarity indicator" - this LED lights even when the battery is inserted incorrectly!!!

When the battery is put in wrong, the blue LED still illuminates but the unit will not lase.

Power output measures 506.50µW with IR filter, and 25.97658mW without.



UPDATE 08-03-10:
This laser functions with two CR123A primary (disposable) cells along with the 18650 Li:ION secondary (rechargeable) cell that it was intended to use.

Current usage on a pair of CR123A cells measures 1.410mA (quiescent) and 1,399mA (1.399A) while lasing.

Power output with these cells measures 2,124.00µW (2.1240mW) with IR filter, and 37.620mW without.



PROS:
Unique, attention-getting color that's radiant and unusual for a handheld laser
Beam is "clean", with no visible speckling or artifacts around it
Unique, attention-getting color...o wait I said that already.



CONS:
Fragile interior construction - like all DPSS lasers. Will not figure into my rating
Not water-resistant - but most other DPSS lasers aren't either. Will not figure into my rating
Much of the power output consists of NIR radiation from the MCA!





MANUFACTURER: Unknown
PRODUCT TYPE: Large handheld laser
LAMP TYPE: DPSS laser (473nm blue output)
No. OF LAMPS: 1
BEAM TYPE: Very narrow spot; it's a laser, remember?

SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off on barrel
BEZEL: Metal; has aperture (hole) for laser beam to emerge
BATTERY: 1x18650 2,400mAh 3.7v Li:ION rechargeable cell
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 624µA (quiecent), 1,329mA (lasing)
WATER-RESISTANT: No
SUBMERSIBLE: FOR CHRIST SAKES NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
ACCESSORIES: Interlock keys, 18650 cell, charger, hard-sided storage case
WARRANTY: Unknown/not stated


PRODUCT RATING:



Update 09-12-11:
Performed two power output analyses with my LaserBee thermal-type LPM.

Update 12-01-11:[/b] Performed ultra-narrowband spectroscopy to more accurately pinpoint wavelength.
 
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MarioMaster

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Quite the in-depth review - shame about the abysmal power output though. Maybe I missed it, but what company did this laser come from, and what was its power output supposed to be?

Props to the company for using a good IR filter though.
 

Trevor

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While I'm amused that you included them, how are the wavelengths at which a screwdriver fluoresces actually relevant? I feel like you just enjoy playing with the spectrometer. I would too. ;)

Would you consider placing links to those images so that unconcerned parties (such as myself) don't have to constantly scroll, looking for our place as the page jumps around while it loads said images on slow student center wireless internet? :)

-Trevor
 

The_LED_Museum

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Quite the in-depth review - shame about the abysmal power output though. Maybe I missed it, but what company did this laser come from, and what was its power output supposed to be?

Props to the company for using a good IR filter though.
It is not known (AT ALL!!!) what company made this laser, sorry about that. :(

As to the use of an IR filter, I presume you meant that sarcastically -- as there was no evidence whatsoever that such a filter was installed in this laser.
;)
 

The_LED_Museum

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While I'm amused that you included them, how are the wavelengths at which a screwdriver fluoresces actually relevant? I feel like you just enjoy playing with the spectrometer. I would too. ;)

Would you consider placing links to those images so that unconcerned parties (such as myself) don't have to constantly scroll, looking for our place as the page jumps around while it loads said images on slow student center wireless internet? :)

-Trevor
Trevor,

If you don't like my evaluations, the solution is quite simple: DON'T READ THEM.
However, in the public interest, I'll go ahead and remove all of the spectra of fluorescence and whatnot -- leaving just those of the laser itself.
 

Trevor

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Trevor,

If you don't like my evaluations, the solution is quite simple: DON'T READ THEM.
However, in the public interest, I'll go ahead and remove all of the spectra of fluorescence and whatnot -- leaving just those of the laser itself.
I didn't suggest that you remove them altogether - I suggested that you place links to them so that interested parties can still view them but they won't be disruptive for people on slow internet.

-Trevor
 

The_LED_Museum

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I didn't suggest that you remove them altogether - I suggested that you place links to them so that interested parties can still view them but they won't be disruptive for people on slow internet.

-Trevor
Trevor,

They are all links -- they weren't completely yanked from my OP. :)
They're simply not visible any longer unless you click on the text portion.
 

lazeerer

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Nice Review, Very in depth.:)

Iam also curious what company did you buy or was supplied this laser from as MM and EF where asking.?
 
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The_LED_Museum

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Nice Review, Very in depth.:)

Iam also curious what compny did you buy or was supplied this laser from as MM and EF where asking.?
Like I said earlier, I do not know what company makes this laser; I purchased it from a private individual off of Ebay in March 2009. There are no markings on the laser itself, and it came with no instructional materials or other paperwork. :/
 

lazeerer

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^^No need to get defensive. I asked where did you buy it from not the manufacture. We read that in your OP. :)

Not always the company that sells a laser makes it as well.
 

The_LED_Museum

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^^No need to get defensive. I asked where did you buy it from not the manufacture. We read that in your OP. :)
I did not mean to come off as defensive; I sincerely apologise if you took my response in that manner.
 

ElektroFreak

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I do very much enjoy these reviews, since they go in to such great detail, but you'll have to forgive me for wondering why make a review of a unit that we can't buy? Reviews are typically for letting the community know about new systems or devices that are out there, and/or for letting the community know about build quality/features of systems/devices that we can obtain. A review of a unit that we cannot buy or find for free seems to lack a purpose.
 

ElektroFreak

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^^Very possible..

I don't want to seem like I'm being condescending.. I think we need more reviews with this kind of depth.. I just also think that these would be 100 times more awesome if they were all reviews of currently available devices.
 




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