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What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all? *UPDATE*

Rivem

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Update: I was pretty close to getting a Sci-Fi 501B just for kicks after this thread, but I'm glad I didn't after deciding I still didn't need a Class 4. Anyway, my good star pointer went out, and my request for help on the forum got me a 931mW 445nm pen. I must say it's very cool, and the beam is awesome at night. Definitely not as bad for night vision as I thought. That said, I don't think I'll get another Class 4 unless it's 462nm or too cheap to pass up.



Ever since I originally came across this forum years ago, I've known that it's been focused towards high power laser pointers. I'm just not sure I'd want one. Visible beams are awesome, but I've already got that with under 100mW at night. I can see the appeal in burning stuff with one as well.

I like lab lasers for messing around and doing experiments at high power, and I feel much safer with them in bulky form. I've been around them much more in my education and work though. I have a few laser pointers for sky pointing and presenting, but none are specified over 5mW (some definitely are though). I'd like to have a low power rainbow for variety and looking at, but high power pointers just doesn't seem like it'd be all that fun to point around with the danger and safety concerns involved.

Don't get me wrong; I think it'd be cool just to have one, but I'm not sure how enjoyable it would be to use compared to what I've already got. Maybe you guys can give some more insight to the joys of high power pointers. I may buy one if you can convince me.
 
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RedCowboy

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

If you are happy with 100mw or less then good for you, I also enjoy good beam quality for star pointing, for wood burning art I need more power, but for star pointing a reasonable power level that is useful is a good idea.
 

Razako

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

It's pretty fun being able to light up objects thousands of feet away at night. Also you really can't compare lower power pointers<100mw to the effect produced by a >1W unit outside at night. My 445 literally looks sort of like an endless lightsaber outside. Yeah, you can see the beam of weaker lasers, but with the powerful ones it's much more than simply being able to see the beam. It's a spectacle that will make people stop and stare and go "Woah, that's f*cking awesome".

Of course the cons are the danger associated with the higher power. You need to be super careful where you point the thing and avoid reflective objects or anything within 100 feet for good measure. You also need to be extremely careful and look for any helicopters or planes in the sky that might get freaked out and report a "Laser incident" even if you weren't pointing at them.

If you don't already have a higher power unit, I'd recommend you get at least one just for the experience. 445s can be had pretty cheaply now(possibly a little too cheaply) and for only $80 you can get a 1 watt unit from sci-fi. Otherwise you'll never know what you're missing. Personally, I usually use my lower power <100mw lasers about 90% of the time, but it's always nice to have a high powered one handy when you want some WOW factor.
 
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Rivem

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

If you are happy with 100mw or less then good for you, I also enjoy good beam quality for star pointing, for wood burning art I need more power, but for star pointing a reasonable power level that is useful is a good idea.
Wood burning definitely seems like an interesting use. I use an iron, but I could definitely see using a laser.

It's pretty fun being able to light up objects thousands of feet away at night. Also you really can't compare lower power pointers<100mw to the effect produced by a >1W unit outside at night. My 445 literally looks sort of like an endless lightsaber outside. Yeah, you can see the beam of weaker lasers, but with the powerful ones it's much more than simply being able to see the beam. It's a spectacle that will make people stop and stare and go "Woah, that's f*cking awesome".

Of course the cons are the danger associated with the higher power. You need to be super careful where you point the thing and avoid reflective objects or anything within 100 feet for good measure. You also need to be extremely careful and look for any helicopters or planes in the sky that might get freaked out and report a "Laser incident" even if you weren't pointing at them.

If you don't already have a higher power unit, I'd recommend you get at least one just for the experience. 445s can be had pretty cheaply now and for only $80 you can get a 1 watt unit from sci-fi. Otherwise you'll never know what you're missing.
Okay, I use my laser for star pointing at large star parties, and it'd be great to use something with a much more visible beam. I'm concerned about the overall safety of using this in a large, unprotected crowdt at such a huge power level compared to something higher in the class 3r area. The other issue is that I wouldn't want to destroy everybody's night vision.
 
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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

a blue or red laser would not ruin night vision but green would.... a 1.5 watt green can be seen miles away and can be seen by orbiting satelite as well..
 

RedCowboy

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

If you want to preserve natural night vision use red lasers red light.

Rhodopsin is the key to night vision -- it is the chemical that the rods use to absorb photons and perceive light. When a molecule of rhodopsin absorbs a photon, it splits into a retinal and an opsin molecule. These molecules later recombine naturally back into rhodopsin at a fixed rate, and recombination is fairly slow.

So, when you expose your eyes to bright light, all of the rhodopsin breaks down into retinal and opsin. If you then turn out the lights and try to see in the dark, you can't. The cones need a lot of light, so they are useless, and there is no rhodopsin now so the rods are useless, too. Over the course of several minutes, however, the retinal and opsin recombine back into rhodopsin, and you can see again.

A fun fact: The retinal used in the eye is derived from vitamin A. If a person's diet is low in vitamin A, there is not enough retinal in the rods and therefore not enough rhodopsin. People who lack vitamin A often suffer from night blindness -- they cannot see in the dark.
 
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Razako

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

a blue or red laser would not ruin night vision but green would.... a 1.5 watt green can be seen miles away and can be seen by orbiting satelite as well..
Yeah, definitely don't get a high power green for star parties. The beam alone of my 450mw green will mess with my night vision sometimes. A high power 635 might be kinda cool though. People usually can't see the beam of red lasers well and it would be something new.
 
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Rivem

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

a blue or red laser would not ruin night vision but green would.... a 1.5 watt green can be seen miles away and can be seen by orbiting satelite as well..
Definitely wouldn't trust a green that bright at a star party. The overspec eBay pen is already bright enough that shining it on the ground really can mess with my night vision. My question was mainly directed at the 445 Razako suggested as I feel it would be just as bad.

If you want to preserve natural night vision use red lasers red light.

Rhodopsin is the key to night vision -- it is the chemical that the rods use to absorb photons and perceive light. When a molecule of rhodopsin absorbs a photon, it splits into a retinal and an opsin molecule. These molecules later recombine naturally back into rhodopsin at a fixed rate, and recombination is fairly slow.

So, when you expose your eyes to bright light, all of the rhodopsin breaks down into retinal and opsin. If you then turn out the lights and try to see in the dark, you can't. The cones need a lot of light, so they are useless, and there is no rhodopsin now so the rods are useless, too. Over the course of several minutes, however, the retinal and opsin recombine back into rhodopsin, and you can see again.

A fun fact: The retinal used in the eye is derived from vitamin A. If a person's diet is low in vitamin A, there is not enough retinal in the rods and therefore not enough rhodopsin. People who lack vitamin A often suffer from night blindness -- they cannot see in the dark.
I figured red would be best, but at what power? Thanks for the info. Though I've been a stargazer for a while, the only bit that I knew was that I needed vitamin A to help see. My optometrist that visits the star parties suggested it.

Yeah, definitely don't get a high power green for star parties. The beam alone of my 450mw green will mess with my night vision sometimes. A high power 635 might be kinda cool though. People usually can't see the beam of red lasers well and it would be something new.
I really like the color of my HeNe, so I'd definitely like a 635 pointer. Any good sources for a high power pointer or diode?
 

RedCowboy

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

A single mode 638 at 180mw would do just fine.
Something about 405nm, even though it is very powerful per it's visibility, is just such a good looking wavelength, but I don't know how easily it would wipe out natural night sight viewing the beam.
 
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Razako

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

Definitely wouldn't trust a green that bright at a star party. The overspec eBay pen is already bright enough that shining it on the ground really can mess with my night vision. My question was mainly directed at the 445 Razako suggested as I feel it would be just as bad.



I figured red would be best, but at what power? Thanks for the info. Though I've been a stargazer for a while, the only bit that I knew was that I needed vitamin A to help see. My optometrist that visits the star parties suggested it.



I really like the color of my HeNe, so I'd definitely like a 635 pointer. Any good sources for a high power pointer or diode?
Red Laser Pointers : Dragon Lasers
Dragon lasers has some nice CNI 637 pointers ranging from 50-90mw. I don't know if they're quite powerful enough to produce a good beam though.

New Waterproof 635nm 500mW Red laser torch/focusable [OL-NW635-400] - $99.99 : Zen Cart!, The Art of E-commerce
O-like sells a 500mw 635 pointer for $100.

There's also a 1000mw 635 on Sci-Fi for something like $180.
 
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BowtieGuy

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

I've got to agree with RedCowboy here; my favorite night pointers are the single mode 638's.
I've got three of the 120mW versions, putting out between 230 and 260mW's; they're bright enough to see well at night, but not too hard on the night vision.
 

Rivem

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

A single mode 638 at 180mw would do just fine.
Something about 405nm, even though it is very powerful per it's visibility, is just such a good looking wavelength, but I don't know how easily it would wipe out natural night sight viewing the beam.
Would the 180mW in 638nm be a bit more visible than my 15-30mW 538nm? Not by color intensity, but by contrast against the sky.

Also, I like my 405nm, but I'm not sure many people could see it if I used one for star pointing. I've shown mine to some of my buddies, but they all seem to have different visibility.

Red Laser Pointers : Dragon Lasers
Dragon lasers has some nice CNI 637 pointers ranging from 50-90mw. I don't know if they're quite powerful enough to produce a good beam though.

New Waterproof 635nm 500mW Red laser torch/focusable [OL-NW635-400] - $99.99 : Zen Cart!, The Art of E-commerce
O-like sells a 500mw 635 pointer for $100.

There's also a 1000mw 635 on Sci-Fi for something like $180.
Thanks for the links. Any diode sources? I'd kind-of like to build one.
 

RedCowboy

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

There's a perceived brightness calculator somewhere, but if the single mode 638nm leaves your natural night vision intact where as the green wont, then that has a hidden advantage, I think the red is really pretty too, on a foggy night I love the old 200mw 660nm's.
 
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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

So, does supplementing with Vitamin A restore that loss night vision sight? I'm an avid gym goer and usually consume a lot of vitamin rich foods and vitamin supplements.
 

Rivem

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

There's a perceived brightness calculator somewhere, but if the single mode 638nm leaves your natural night vision intact where as the green wont, then that has a hidden advantage, I think the red is really pretty too, on a foggy night I love the old 200mw 660nm's.
The issue I have at star parties is that people can't tell where the beam goes unless they're right next to me since the beam isn't hugely visible from the side on most nights. What I'm wondering is if the higher power in red would be better.

I just shined a 1.2mW HeNe outside, and the beam was just about as visible as a 10-20mW 655nm pen, so I'm thinking there may be a significant improvement around this wavelength.
 

Rivem

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Re: What's the appeal of high power laser pointers to you all?

So, does supplementing with Vitamin A restore that loss night vision sight? I'm an avid gym goer and usually consume a lot of vitamin rich foods and vitamin supplements.
I started taking it, and mine definitely improved a bit. Not super dramatic, but a bit. Consciously carrying sunglasses with me everywhere made a much bigger difference for me though.
 




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