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Wicked Lasers Arctic Spyder III G2

Things

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Wicked Lasers Arctic Spyder III G2 Review

REVIEW IS NOT YET COMPLETE, POWER GRAPHS NEED TO BE ADDED I just thought I'd post it so I don't accidentally loose it all if Windblows decides to update or something overnight.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by another LPF member, who was contacted by Steve from Wicked Lasers. He was told to gather a list of people to do reviews on the new Arctic G2’s.

The list went in, and without any notice of shipping, they started arriving at peoples doors. They were shipped via EMS express, though I can’t give a delivery time as I do not know when they were shipped.

This is a very long review, I don’t think people will even bother to read ½ the stuff I’ve written here, however I hope it’ll be of assistance to Wicked by providing them with as much information as possible. After all, thats one of the points of a review. Skip to the bottom for a summary.

The Arctic was shipped a bit differently to other lasers I have had from Wicked. I assume due to size constraints, the Arctic was in its own box, with no outer bigger box. Instead, the charger and goggles were placed beside the box, and the whole lot wrapped in bubble wrap. I did not know what to expect from the package, so it was nice to receive the extra’s too.



One thing I did notice when I picked up the package, it was damn heavy! I did not have a perspective of the size of the laser until I opened it up.
Upon opening the Arctic box, there was the laser, wrapped in plastic and in its foam insert. Beside it, an array of different lenses.



There was already a lens attached to the laser, the 20% practice lens. This was smart thinking on WL’s behalf, as when the user first receives their laser, they will not be instantly startled by its power.
The next thing I noticed was the size of the laser itself. I’m not really a laser pointer guy myself, although I have owned a few. This was the largest pointer I’ve ever owned by far. Upon picking it up, I felt like I was holding a weapon. It is SOLID. You’d have no problems knocking someone out with it in an emergency situation :p



Of course, you also need to feed the laser.
Included in the package was a 18650 battery and a charger. The battery arrived in the charger, in a little box. This would not have been my ideal way of shipping the battery, as a fault in the charger could have turned the situation nasty, however it’s not a huge deal.


Also included in the package were a pair of the Wicked LaserShades. These were nicely packed in a carry case, which also included a microfiber cleaning pen, and a cleaning cloth.



OK, now onto specifics.

GOGGLES

I have heard people mentioning that the Wicked LaserShades were useless for protection from this laser. As I do not currently have any other form of protection from 445nm, I thought I’d test the goggles out just to see how bad they really were. The results:

<graph of goggles, laser @ full>

<laser at low>

There was no point even trying the goggles with the 20% lens, the power was already too low to register on my thermal LPM. These results show the equivalent of OD2. Although this is low for a laser of this power, the amount of light getting through the goggles is too small to cause much of a worry. Personally, I can see why people do complain about these glasses, however you must take into account that they aren’t designed so that you can point your laser into your eyes and “look down the barrel” so to speak. Infact, it’s idiotic to even think of doing that. They will melt if you hold the laser on them at high power, however as they are designed for diffused reflections and maybe a few accidental swipes, I really don’t see the problem.

CLEANING PRODUCTS

This was an interesting, unexpected inclusion in the package. I personally have never used a microfiber cleaning pen, so wasn’t sure what to expect. The pen has 2 sides,one has a retractable brush, and the other is some sort of cleaning solution applicator (Although it seems to be some sort of dry solution, if anything) I have not had to use it as of yet, though it does seem effective at removing small dust particles from the lens. The cleaning cloth is pretty much standard with all laser goggles, no surprises there.

BATTERY & CHARGER

I have heard about the Arctic battery explosion incident, so naturally I was a little suspicious. Unpacking the charger and battery, the battery is a green Samsung cell. It does not have any ratings on the label, however I believe its 2300mAh. The battery appears to be of reasonable quality, and I was told was not the same battery as the one involved in the explosion incident. If this is the case, I applaud Wicked for taking the initiative to quickly replace the batteries included with the Arctic. The charger appears a generic 18650 charger, not much to say on it. The only criticism I have for the charger is it has a non-interchangeable US power cable. This made it pretty much useless in Australia or any other country unless you buy a plug converter (The charger says its fine at 240V input, so a pin conversion is all that is needed). A tip to WL here would be to include a charger with an interchangeable cable, so it can be used without fuss in any other country.

THE LASER

Alright, here is the main event. The Arctic itself. As I mentioned before, this laser is quite large and bulky. This has its downfalls, however it also has advantages. The 445nm diodes are fairly efficient devices, however as with everything, nothing can be 100% efficient. As such, these diodes produce a fair bit of heat. The input to the laser diode is roughly 1A at 4V, equating to around 4 Watts. The diode converts roughly 1W of this power into visible light, however the rest is converted to heat. Suddenly, you have 3W of heat to move away from the diode. This is where the Arctic’s huge body comes into play.
When I opened the battery compartment, I was shocked at the thickness of the walls. The walls are easily 5mm thick aluminium around the battery barrel alone. This added thermal mass provides somewhere for the diode to dissipate heat, without having to dissipate it all instantly. Without this huge host, the Arctic would require larger heatsinking fins and most likely a fan.
The laser itself appears of high quality. The symbol on the power button is a nice little inclusion. The only thing I really noticed is there is a small gap between the head of the laser and the rest of the barrel, which is not visible except when you can see the battery indicator lights shining under in darkness. Once again, not a huge problem, it doesn’t affect the operation or heatsinking of the laser.

OPERATION

Like a kid on Christmas day, I was eager to fire up the laser and see just what it could do. I grabbed the battery from the charger, and went to insert it into the laser. However, I could not find any instructions as to which way to insert the battery. Luckily a few people had already received their Arctics and could advise me. However, I did insert the battery the wrong way around multiple times, however no harm was done to the laser. This indicates reverse polarity protection is included in the Arctic, another + for Wicked. However, the inclusion of a small instruction manual with the laser would have been handy, demonstrating the correct polarity of the battery, and a few more points I’ll highlight a little later on in the review.
Now with the battery inserted correctly, it was time to power up the laser. I clicked the button on the side of the host, nothing. I wiggled the interlock pin, nothing. Although this is more of a user error caused by me rushing to turn it on, I did not realise there was actually a clicky switch on the bottom of the laser. Maybe another inclusion into the manual?
Sure enough, the power switch and battery indicator lit up. I pressed the power button, but once again, nothing happened. I was advised there was a press code to turn the laser on, however there was no mention of it anywhere in the documentation. #laserchat to the rescue again, I found the press combinations. Maybe another good thing to add to the manual.
So now I had the laser lasing. In the low mode, the laser has a nice single mode beam profile. I decided to remove the 20% lens and unleash the laser. Without the 20% lens, the dot on a close white wall is somewhat hard to look at, not something you’d want to be doing all the time without goggles.
I have heard of people having issues with the battery indicator. It does work, and it’s sufficient for what it needs to do, however I have found it to be somewhat unstable.
There was 1 more final problem I noticed with the Arctic. The interlock pin. Despite using my fingernails and teeth, I am unable to remove the pin from the laser. Dont laze Me Bro has also mentioned he has tried prying it out, but didn’t succeed. I’m sure it will come out, however I decided to just leave it in to avoid breaking the plastic handle, as the laser is already loaded with safety features.

OUTPUT POWER

Yup, the important part.
I’ll let the graphs do the talking:

<GRAPHS HERE>


BEAM PROFILE

Wicked advertise the Arctic as having a 5mm beam diameter (At aperture), and 1.5mRad divergence. Please 'scuse the dirty lenses :(
I have conducted my own tests, and here are my findings:
Beam size at aperture:



Dot Profile – Low Mode



Dot Profile – High Mode


I have calculated the divergence to be around 1.53mRad, which is very close to Wickeds rated specifications. This measurement was taken with the Fast axis and slow axis issue into account, however the goal of this test was to compare to Wickeds specs. Assuming this is how Wicked measured the divergence, this laser is definitely up to spec.

SUMMARY
Yes, finally the end of my stupidly long review. Here is a sum up of the pros and cons of this laser.

Pros

• Nice build quality
• 18650 battery for long runtimes
• SmartSwitch preventing numerous injuries
• Variety of lenses included
• LaserShades are sufficient for their designed use (Reflections and accidental swipes etc)
• Fast EMS shipping
• Laser feels like quality in your hands
• Great duty cycle, can run for minutes before beginning to heat up.
• Long battery life. Runs for over an hour before becoming noticeably dimmer.
• LEDs on the laser itself add a nice touch.
• 20% lens included making the laser much more eye safe, and useable without goggles
• Multiple modes, high, low, and high and low pulsing.
• Battery indicator useful to tell when the battery is low

Cons

• Non interchangeable plugs on battery charger
• Interlock pin difficult to remove
• Some 18650’s do not fit properly
• Small gap between head and barrel
• No flat surfaces on the laser for the sticker
• Battery indicator fluctuates
• LaserShades could be maybe OD4
• Another battery would also be nice, and wouldn’t cost too much to add
• No operating manual. This would be useful for detailing battery polarity and the SmartSwitch codes.

Anyway, sorry for the stupidly long review, I bet most people will just tl;dr and look at the pictures instead, but who knows, maybe someone wants some light reading (Hahaha, geddit?? :p )

Hopefully Wicked will have a read of this. Like I said, the cons are only minor problems, the laser still works beautifully.

And now some pictures:




 
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ZapU

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I see they put stickers on the different lenses so you can tell them apart, that's new.

The beam profile on high looks like it is out of focus.

Nice review. +1
 

Things

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Yeah, apparently the stickers are a new addition, they are quite handy. What would have been cooler is if they were laser engraved or something so they were permanent :)

The beam profile on high was actually taken through 2 lenses, the 20% lens and the expander lens, so that may have altered the look a bit.

Its interesting to note when I did some basic power tests earlier, my results were VERY similar to yours, infact almost identical, ZapU.

Cheers guys :)
 
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Vodka

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Good review!

• No operating manual. This would be useful for detailing battery polarity and the SmartSwitch codes.
Maybe that's new. I got an operating manual which says how to insert the battery and there was an extra sheet that tells how the smart switch works.




Although the manual says to insert (-) first, there is a handwritten (+) on the picture with the battery.
 

IsaacT

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VERY awesome review....now you just need a case with Liquid Nitrogen or something in it, so that when you open it some frigid smoke pours out :D
 
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yes i got mine through no probs.. the uk have no laws on lasers

100% wrong....the UK has some of the strictest laws on lasers....Just cause you got it through customs doesnt mean its legal...I would wrather get cought here in the USA then over there with an illegal laser.
 

jakeGT

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Never heard of a primus
but you think that wicked laser arctic is powerful? thats Less than 1W. No wicked laser arctic I ever heard of did 1W at all.

But, now we have more powerful 445(deepblue) lasers. I have one right now at 2.1W, and there are many others like it around

EDIT: a quick (1 second) google search of Prima 1W led me to this.
http://www.vectralasers.com/primus-series/primus-1000mw.html

It is an arctic host. Apparently wicked crap couldn't sell their crap, so they sold it to some other crap laser manufacturer loL!

I have never heard of vectra lasers until now. Might you be a friend(employee) of theirs?
 
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