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What a cheap laser can do, Beware!

WizardG

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Hi WizardG
I also grew up in the boonies-the Sierra. I was taught respect and gun safety from an early age-never point at any one at any time, keep the safety on-don't shoot at rocks-etc. I was plinking with a single shot 22 at age 11 with 22 shorts. Then it was clean the rifle. I had a hill to shoot into. Many cans and pinecones met their fate!
I treat lasers the same way- although I've yet to zap any pinecones or cans. :)
Laser pointers are not kids toys. Originally, it was 1 mW 650 nm. Relatively lower hazard.

Only more recently have the crappy 532 nm taken off. Elsewhere I describe trying to buy an actual 1mW 532-and getting a way over spec pen-that makes my eyes ache just viewing the dot on a wall-not for presentations!
Solved that need with a 505 nm from Laserlands. Probably less than 5mW. It's a direct diode and the beam spot is larger than the DPSS 532-and of course no splatter of IR either.
From the manufacturer's point of view making a 532 DPSS laser that is reliably at or under 5mW is a pain in the neck requiring a more complex driver with APC feedback. That adds to the cost of manufacture as does the requirement for someone to adjust each pointer to the correct power. And often the darn things just aren't stable at very low power. Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.
 

Pelagius

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Thanks! I wondered why it was cheaper to make over spec than actual "safer" 532 nm. I've mentioned that I bought from Laserlands for a presentation pointer-opting for a 505 nm-for color-and because it's NOT DPSS. + REP if I can give it.
QUOTE=WizardG;1546246]From the manufacturer's point of view making a 532 DPSS laser that is reliably at or under 5mW is a pain in the neck requiring a more complex driver with APC feedback. That adds to the cost of manufacture as does the requirement for someone to adjust each pointer to the correct power. And often the darn things just aren't stable at very low power. Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.[/QUOTE]
 

Benm

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Much simpler to just stick a generic bonded MCA in front of a 500mW diode and call it good. Nice and bright=positive customer feedback and it's dirt cheap to produce. I've paid less than a dollar a pop for poorly made pointers out of china in batches of 10. Most of them actually lased.
Yeah, that's the problem. The cheapest way to make them is doing as you describe and then ship out those units that lase at all (if they do quality control at all).

Then again, most customers would probably be disappointed if you actually delivered them a 532 nm laser with a power guaranteed between 0.9 and 1 mW even over a wide temperature range.

Such a product would be superior and more complex to build. But I bet the vast majority of buyers would actually complain about it being far dimmer than something they got off ebay for $0.99 shipped.

It's also customs that creates this problem though: if you want to import something as a 'pointer' it'd probably have to be < 1mW. Manufacturers are happy to supply to print labels that state this, regardless of output power, so their product is legal to import on paper.

I'd personally be alarmed to see a package weighing in at a kilogram and showing an enormously large laser (like a 3D-maglite sized thing) on x-ray inside of it. Then again, even on x-ray it may not look suspect if it's aluminium - given the low atomic weight aluminium just looks like plastic with simple x-ray scanning.
 

Durge

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Gotta say I disagree completely with H20 on the argument of responsibility. This is not the fault of the mother. The article said the laser was sold at a well known toy store. You buy a toy at the store, tell your children not to eat it or stick it in their eyes, and that's the best you can do. I mean, they sell playdoh and elmers glue that are specially formulated so as to not cause harm when children inevitably ingest the stuff, as they are bound to do being young and curious. This issue is the responsibility of the store, not the mother. You said it's so easy for the mother to google the dangers of a laser. Why? Why would I google the dangers of a barbie doll or playdoh? I bought this toy at a reputable toy store with the expectation that said toy is suitable for play. They even make edible blowing bubbles at this point. Kinder eggs were banned in the US because they were considered dangerous. When I buy something from the toy store, I have an expectation within reason that said toy will be safe to give my child, especially if it's a "well known" toy store, such as the one in the article. Packaging usually has warnings and suggested age ranges.

The responsibility undoubtably falls upon the seller of the item in this case. The seller tried to make a profit by selling incorrectly labled Chinese junk, and put potential buyers at risk. That's tantamount to selling faulty batteries on purpose simply to make a profit. The potential harm was magnified by the fact that the laser was being sold at a toy store directed at children. This was a case of seller greed and seller negligence, not a negligent mother that was unfit to have children. The insults directed at whether she was fit to be a mother are unfounded. None of you have enough facts about the situation to make such a negative determination.

Atleast she took her son to the doctor to get the issue checked out. Atleast she alegedly warned her son not to look straight into the beam of the laser. Give the mother some credit for that, I couldn't even afford to go to the doctor the majority of my upbringing. Telling the son not to look into the beam was just common sense, like not looking directly at the sun or standing 2 inches away from a huge tv screen. It doesn't mean being out during the day or watching tv in general is severely dangerous and warrants a google search into the dangers of being within the viscinity of such things; that explaination is absolutely ridiculous! The expectation is that being outside and watching tv are generally harmless activites, like using that mislabled laser bought at the "reputable" childrens toy store.

I hear you guys when you express concerns about how these reckless, negligent, or greedy situations harm our hobby. On the topic of policy and law, it's difficult to make policy that fits every situation. The root of the issue is lack of education on the subject, and certain shady sellers attempting to sell items that are mislabled. There will always be those who are deceptive about the products they sell, their motivation is profit. A commenter before me was correct to say that sensationalizing these issues will only make for tighter law enforcement on the issue, which won't really eliminate the illegal or less-than honest sale of lasers, but make it harder for enthusiasts like ourselves. I would probably argue for better labeling and more clear warnings on products, more accessible education on the subject for the public, and potentially less strict laws. The reason I say less strictness is because the sellers from China know what output power means, and they know what class laser is legal to sell in the states; they probably even know the average output power on most of the devices they sell. The big issue is that they are motivated by the laws and regulations to lie about that number, maybe saving money in not testing each individual product, but mostly to circumvent the regulations alltogether. Lasers, unlike illicit drugs, actually have value and aren't inherently harmful to own. They can be fun, and they add immesurable value to our lives when paired with other technology. These types of considerations would be valuable to those who make the policies. Maybe this is all a bit idealistic of me, but I stand by what I have said.
 
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