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SKY PL445-1600 review & burning video

trencheel303

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Please note, this thread has now been updated with divergence measurements and a recommendation/note on 18350 batteries - scroll down to the hashes and blue text to see the updated info - thanks!

HI all,

I'm back with a review of the HL532's big brother, the 1.6Watt PL445 blue laser from laserbtb.





^This sock drew the short straw...

The laser has a weighty feel, very impressive output and burning ability. While I have no means to LPM it, it is still a power and a sight to behold.

I have a review video, and a burning video, where I melt some plastic, set some things on fire and even cook a bit of meat!

Review (a little quiet for some reason, turn volume up):


The burn video:




The unfocussed beam shows the shape of the diode




The laser lights up the entire room with relative ease, and does have some fluorescing properties as it is close enough to UV.




The beam is visible outside on an overcast day relatively easily, you just have to know roughly what you're looking for.




and I can confirm it acts as an expensive pen as well.

A little word about the duty cycle - I worked out from my burning video that the laser had been on for around 3 and a half minutes, with a prior rest time of around 2 minutes and several intermittent bursts before that. The laser became warm, but not hot, and experience so far tells me I would not want to run it any more than this. There is conflicting information on the laser sticker which suggests 5-10 minutes on time is possible, whereas one of the answers to a question about this very laser on the website suggests a duty cycle of 1-2 minutes. My own observation suggests using it for no more than 3-4 minutes and then letting it rest again until it cools. Short consecutive runs also heat it quite well, so a large rest period is important at some point during the session.

It also eats batteries, mine die after about 10-15 minutes of use very suddenly, as I am presuming the laser has undervoltage protection.
UPDATE to above - the "sudden death" was due to the fact that I was using ICRs. With IMRs the laser does not die suddenly and will instead gradually decrease in output to almost nothing (probably less than 100mW) where it will flicker, the beam profile changes size (almost as if the fast and slow axes are swapping) before fading to nothing.
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Well, that's the lot, most of the useful information is in the videos, I hope it helped! :wave:


##################################################################################################
Divergence measurements and other information
updated 08-03-2014 (UK date format ;))


Well after two months or so of using the laser and having fun with it I've experienced no problems so far but have made a few interesting discoveries:-

IT runs well from 18350 batteries, and in fact I would recommend this type over the stated 16340. They provide slightly more capacity and the fatter width makes a better fit to the battery barrel, as these hosts are also designed to take 18650. The included 16340 charger even fits and charges the 18350s NO PROBLEM.
18350s are rather harder to find, but AW and Efest ones can be sourced via various websites normally related to E-cig devices as that's where they're commonly used. I now use two AW 18350s for this laser and find it gives a better connection with no rattling around inside the battery barrel.

Divergence measurements

After hearing how "bad" divergence of 445 diodes was I decided to do some fairly basic tests myself, and here's what I got.



The above image shows "dat fat line" of the 445 compared to the relatively tight round beam of the 532 on the left. When held upright (with the power switch facing upward... or directly down!) the 445's long axis runs horizontally as seen here with a length of 4mm "at aperture".

Almost immediately after exiting the laser this narrows a little to 3mm and then at a distance of around 1 metre something quite special occurs: the axes start to flip. By 2 metres, the "horizontal" axis is now shorter than the "vertical" one and from a vertical perspective it starts to become a very clear "line". The following image shows it quite clearly as a "line" at a distance of around 5 metres, rotated 90 degrees to how the "line" appears when it exits the laser aperture:



This has been acknowledged before, and as I understand it, is not an unusual phenomenon with 445s.

When it hit the wall at an approximate distance of 7 meters, we had this lovely dot-er "line" with a "length" of around 16mm, which too roughly correlates with DrSid's post from the linked thread above (though he got 15mm... he either has a better laser or my measurements are out!):



The mathematically eloquent among us should be able to help work out divergence with these figures.

I did a further test out in the garden with the lasers positioned as follows, poised to hit that little wooden plank:



The results somewhat surprised me - sure, it's a "line", but the 445 doesn't diverge that much more than the other lasers, a 532 (top) and a 650 (bottom):





distance from lasers to termination is unknown and probably too approximate to be of any use - I'd say maybe 15 metres - which is why I didn't take any dot measurements. The red was about the size of a tealight candle, the green slightly smaller and the blue a touch larger on the long axis.

Although I appreciate most of these measurements are only approximate and not scientific, I hope some use can become of them.

As for the laser itself, I suspect a lot of these get bought up for their burning abilities and then when the excitement of cutting through CD cases wear off they get left in their box and forgotten about, especially when bought by "non laserists". Me, I stopped burning things with it as a matter of course weeks ago but it's still one of my favourite lasers and I "luv" using it, it's a great star pointer and initial feelings about the blue colour being "dirty" have faded and I now rather like the colour.

Only notable "con" of this laser is the focus mechanism causes the beam to move a bit as it's focussed - I suspect the lens or mechanism was glued in slightly off centre - but performance and beam specs are UNAFFECTED... and since it stays either at infinity focus or half a turn away, it really doesn't bother me.

A final word about focussing - divergence improved on this to the specs we see in this thread, when I screwed the focus to infinity and then gave it one last "nudge" to tighten the focus ring. Not too much, but just enough to lock it in place. It seems to focus these lasers to true infinity you have to use a small amount of force, but now the "line like" characteristics of the beam are nigh on impossible to spot when looking down the beam axis even on a dark night.

I also stand by what I said in the initial write up about duty cycle - I've used it many many times for a few minutes until the head just started to become warm and then shut it off. I also used it recently to destroy dozens of floppy disks by pulling the metal cover back and shining the laser onto the disk surface - melting a big hole in it - quick successive "on/off/on/off" bursts - the laser only needed a short break once through the session and was a trooper all the way through despite being switched on and off dozens of times.
 
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crazyspaz

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Nice review! +1
I really like the PL hosts- wish I would have snagged a PL445 with my 532 in the last group buy, because my 445 just died :(
 

trencheel303

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thank you.
Yes the PL host is quite nice, something I would add is you barely need to use the focus ring with this host/diode combination. A few turns and the focus point is right at the end of the laser - I did turn it all the way and it came to a reluctant halt showing either the end of the threads or a glob of lubricant. Made me a bit nervous but never need to go there again thankfully.
 
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adamgopro

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another nice review mate i see you also ordered the tripod too wish i got that one now looks really nice, I've just updated my thread also with a burning video.

i think I'm gonna read through the forum abit more and eventually learn to build my own perhaps a nice simple burning 650nm with a custom hosts :D

oh and what batteries are you using? i have 16340 GTL 3.7v 2300mah and they last about probably 30 mins if your using ultra fire they are only 1000mah?
 
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trencheel303

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I'm using AW IMR 16340s, rated 750 mAh. The laser chews through them in about 10-15 minutes flat. Might be inefficient batteries or the laser may be significantly overspec causing faster drain.

Much later edit: No I'm not, it turns out Flashaholics sent me ICRs, not IMRs! sorry Livinloud, appears you were correct!
 
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Livinloud

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AW doesnt make a 750mAh cell, they are really 550mAh. Dont believe me, check HERE. Read under the first graph
 

trencheel303

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insightful, but they do say 750 mAh on the side hence why I said ;)

more importantly I doubt Adam's 16340s are really putting out 2300mAh...
 

Livinloud

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Yeah GTL over states everything. I think I've seen GTL 16340s that say 2800mAh, what a joke

HERE is a review of the GTL 18650 and they did half of what the other cells did......
 
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Operator

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Post like these have me anticipating my PL445 purchase even more!
 

trencheel303

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BUMP I have made numerous edits to this with some useful info re divergence, 18350 batteries and a confirmation of its duty cycle...

All edits at the bottom of the original post.

Livinloud was also correct about the capacity of IMR cells, I ordered IMRs but Flashaholics gave me ICRs instead (which are 750mAh) - I never noticed it until I ordered more (and this time got IMRs!) which were red instead of black. You live and learn!
 
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