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Sanwu Spiker 3W 445nm with G7 lens and 3X beam expander

KMitch

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I once again have to thank the staff at the Texas Petawatt Laser Facility for working after hours to help me meter all three of my portable lasers, the Sanwu Spiker being the last one that I'll be reviewing until I purchase something new :san:

I had a lot of concerns before buying this because I was just getting into the hobby. Francis at Sanwu was excellent with communication, and he always answered within the day regardless of how many times I bugged him about which way to insert the batteries, how to toggle between different modes...etc. I ordered the 3W Spiker that takes (2) 26650 batteries, had the G7 lens installed, and ordered the 3X beam expander because everyone seemed to recommend it.

The laser and components were bubble wrapped, but the packaging wasn't the greatest as you can see in the photo below. While the Spiker is a tank and could probably survive a nuclear blast, it would have been nice to receive it in at least a cardboard box.





Aside from a few metal shavings left inside the battery tube, the Spiker was put together with amazing attention to detail. The threads were butter smooth and the battery end cap screwed to the battery tube seamlessly. The stainless steel was polished, and I couldn't see any dents on the host. I should also point out that the entire thing with beam expander attached is HEAVY, which I personally think adds to my impression of this being a high quality product.







I bought two name brand batteries: the Basen IMR 26650 4500MAH 60A from Li-ion Wholesale, and the Efest 26650 4200mAh from IMRbatteries. I used a Nitecore IntelliCharger New I2 battery charger and relied on CE certified Noir LaserShield goggles rated at OD8 for 445nm.



Here are a couple shots of the beam without the beam expander.





For some reason, my camera had issues picking up the blue in the most intense regions of the beam while I had the beam expander on. While it looks purple, the color is actually blue throughout.







It's also a good burner, cutting through 1 cm of wood in about 3 minutes. Wood will spontaneously ignite only if the beam is focused. When the beam expander is unscrewed as far as possible, the smallest diameter of the beam will be about 2-3 feet in front of the lens as you can see in the next picture.



I measured divergence against some silicon carbide sandpaper but it burned holes through it pretty quickly. I even managed to burn a hole through white paper but not before I could take a measurement. The widest part of the beam (the slow axis?) measured 8 mm at 10 feet (3.048 m) and 30 mm at 50 feet (15.24 m) giving a divergence of 1.80 mRad without the beam expander. For reference, my Optotronics 54 mW green has a divergence of 0.656, and my LaserBTB 300mW green measures 1.39. A higher divergence is expected for these powerful blue diodes though the NDB7875 has less than the NUBM44 and the G7 lens helps reduce the spot size. I didn't measure the divergence with the beam expander, but it should be reduced by a factor of about 3.5.

One of the reasons I wanted to test the power of this laser was because visually, I could not see any difference whatsoever between half power and full power mode. The laser MAY have burned at a slightly higher rate on full power but even that was hard to tell. Was this stuck on half power or something? Well, the LPM test results clear this up. Using a Scientech 365 digital power meter, with the laser about 3 feet away, we measured 2.13W at half power, quite a bit higher than the 1.5W I expected. On full power mode, it started at 3W then dropped down over the next 30 seconds. The second photo was taken while it was still dropping, but it settled on about 2.70W, which is 10% lower than advertised. With less than 0.6W between half power and full power mode, it makes sense that I couldn't tell the difference.





If half power is at 2.13W, do you think that the laser is trying to get to 4.2W, but having difficulty? I'm not too knowledgeable about how these multimode controls operate.

After using this laser for a few months, it's still going strong but I did notice one issue about the button in back. For the first month, I didn't have any issues going to a certain mode, turning the laser off, then seeing it on the same mode when I turn it on again. Recently, I've seen it going to the next mode when I turn it on regardless of how careful I am in pressing the button. This can be dangerous if you're expecting the laser to be at 10mW and it's actually putting out > 2W. Granted, safety and all that, but it's still a valid concern I think. Overall I love the purchase though, and the laser is incredibly well machined. I wish it were putting out a true 3W but it's at least pretty close and with the beam focused it makes a great burner.

Finally, here's a quick video of the laser in action at a golf course late at night. I usually play with my lasers around 2-3 am when no one is out there, and planes have stopped flying in. I found a man laying face down on the grass, unresponsive but breathing, and I called 911 to get him help. An ambulance actually drove down the fairway and a team of about 10 people finally got him up. First time my laser hobby has helped anyone, though I hope he didn't get stuck with a huge bill.

https://youtu.be/TSc64VUYavs
 
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Sta

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Excellent review. The Sanwu Spiker is really a fantastic host. Just how heavy is it? I suspect it's heavier than my saber build (which actually feels quite light!)
Great pictures, and good for you for helping that person.

I would +rep you, but I must spread some around first. Someone +rep this man!

:beer:
 

KMitch

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Thanks Sta! I don't have a scale that can take anything over 220 grams, but it says that the Spiker weighs 370 grams on the website. With the beam expander at 30 grams, and the two batteries at 180 grams, the total weight is 580 grams or about 1.3 pounds.

It's definitely a lot heavier than my LaserBTB with the PL host. The problem is that LaserBTB lists their PL host at 1500 grams. There is no way that the Spiker is 1/3 the weight of the PL and I don't believe that the Spiker is only 1 pound. Anyone with the Spiker care to weigh it for us with the batteries in?
 

Jhop

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Great review ! I want a Spiker so bad. Still a little pricey for me at the moment though. I like the way the Saber Spiker looks compared to the reg spiker though. Is there any real difference between the Reg Spiker and Saber Spiker other than saber cant hold 26650's? I also would go single mode all the way.

Edit: I bet the dude on the golf course was just passed out drunk... probably. Not a very good place to pass out though! could catch Pneumonia out there in the middle of the night. Good on you for calling help :D
 
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diachi

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Thanks for the review! Very nice, shame it's a little underspec! Still a nice laser though.
 

dden4012

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Thanks forbthe review. I have been eyeballing the spiker for a while. Great pics of it too. How is the beam output to host alignment? Also how well is the beam centered in the BE? I notice there is a slight wobble to the reflection on the output lens of the BE but it may just be my setup. Oh and +REP if thats how its done
 

KMitch

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Great review ! I want a Spiker so bad. Still a little pricey for me at the moment though. I like the way the Saber Spiker looks compared to the reg spiker though. Is there any real difference between the Reg Spiker and Saber Spiker other than saber cant hold 26650's? I also would go single mode all the way.

Edit: I bet the dude on the golf course was just passed out drunk... probably. Not a very good place to pass out though! could catch Pneumonia out there in the middle of the night. Good on you for calling help :D
I don't think there's much of a difference besides that. I like the 26650 batteries because they last forever, even with a laser approaching 3W but newer 18650's are approaching the capacities of the larger diameter 26650.

If I had to make this purchase again, I'd go single mode as well but take the batteries out after each use. I think Sanwu did a good job designing the multi-mode setting, and it was smart to put the blinking mode between half and full power mode so you know for sure what power you're on. Without a dongle or key switch, multi-mode is a great safety feature in theory. However, I'd prefer to see single mode with dongle or key, since these are a lot safer to use than a button that may accidentally take you into the next mode.

Thanks for the review. I have been eyeballing the spiker for a while. Great pics of it too. How is the beam output to host alignment? Also how well is the beam centered in the BE? I notice there is a slight wobble to the reflection on the output lens of the BE but it may just be my setup. Oh and +REP if thats how its done
Thanks! I haven't paid close attention to the beam alignment only because it seems to be right on target. I've held it in all sorts of orientations because the button is on the end cap of the host and I've never seen the beam come out at an angle. It did seem like the beam came out of the BE slightly off center though. I'll have to take a closer look next time I use this.

Thanks for the +Rep, but you have to press the 'Rep' button under my avatar ;)
 

RedCowboy

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Sanwu brings the goods.
Nice review, congrats on the sweet unit. :)

p.s. When burning with my 7w I will sometimes set my primary ( 3E G2 G7 ) at less than a sharp focus, rather more of a just short of sharp focused rectangle than a sharp line at my working distance, it takes some working with to fine tune multi mode for optimal usefulness.
I also love single mode, but where to get a 5W single mode at a good price?
If you correct the fast axis prior to the expander that makes a big difference for these multi mode diodes, but that is custom work, but who knows, it could be an option later on. :D

The Spiker is a good looking unit and so is their whole lineup, I really like the new lenses Sanwu brought us. :beer:
 
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Podo

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Thanks for the review!

Regarding to this problem: Recently, I've seen it going to the next mode when I turn it on regardless of how careful I am in pressing the button.

If you turn the laser off and on so quickly like in one or two seconds, the laser will start with the next operation mode instead.

For the memory function to work, you must run the laser with the mode you want to save for more than three seconds before you turn the laser off.

Then the laser will start with the last mode it stored in next run.

And to the output: If you use the laser with the beam expander, G2 lens would be a better option instead of G7 as the laser would doing well over 3W constantly and peak at 3.4W with G2 lens.
 
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KMitch

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Thanks Podo. I like the narrow beam diameter of the g7, so I'll stick with that for now and take a small reduction in power. In the distant future, I might be tempted to open it up and slightly increase the potentiometer to boost it to 3W. I wouldn't try this for at least a year (I'd like to enjoy the product for awhile in case anything goes wrong) and would ask for advice from you and others about whether doing so is too risky.

While I'm talking to you, I'd also like to ask if you know anything about the small hole that the Spiker has in the heat sink. You can see this in the picture of me holding it. Is this used for measuring the voltage left in the battery?
 

Sta

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Thanks Podo. I like the narrow beam diameter of the g7, so I'll stick with that for now and take a small reduction in power. In the distant future, I might be tempted to open it up and slightly increase the potentiometer to boost it to 3W. I wouldn't try this for at least a year (I'd like to enjoy the product for awhile in case anything goes wrong) and would ask for advice from you and others about whether doing so is too risky.

While I'm talking to you, I'd also like to ask if you know anything about the small hole that the Spiker has in the heat sink. You can see this in the picture of me holding it. Is this used for measuring the voltage left in the battery?
I think that pot modding a laser of this nature is not a good idea. The 7875 diodes do not enjoy being pushed past 3W. Sometimes they retaliate :undecided:

I believe that that hole is for the set screw of the heatsink. Probably there to keep the heatsink from rattling/rotating. :)

Edit: Though it's not possible with the Spiker - thanks for reminding me of the possibility to check voltage from a point outside of the host! Just realized that I can actually do that with the recharge port on my lightsaber build. Now I don't have to disassemble it to check the charge level. :thanks:
 
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Pman

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Podo beat me to it as I was going to tell you your output will be higher with the G2:)
 
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Excellent review. The Sanwu Spiker is really a fantastic host. Just how heavy is it? I suspect it's heavier than my saber build (which actually feels quite light!)
Great pictures, and good for you for helping that person.

I would +rep you, but I must spread some around first. Someone +rep this man!

:beer:
Done !
 




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