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Wicked Lasers Spyder III

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diachi

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Hello Everyone!

Well I recieved my Spyder III ( 400mW green model ) a couple of days ago so now it's time to do a nice review!

First impressions:First off I (My sister actually, I wasn't in ;)) had to pay £15.56 in imporation tax, not complaining though ;).After opening the package I saw that the laser was very well packed in bubble rap and then inside it's own case. The charger was inside a box filled with foam and then inside another box. When I first unpacked the laser I was amazed at how big it was! It looks like a real weapon and it certainly looked VERY rugged. It felt great in my hand too, very solid feeling. After giving the batteries a charge I was simply blown away by how bright it was, clearly visible beam even in daylight. My 25mW pen was of no comparison at all! I looked at the graph and saw the AMAZING 741mW PEAK power.




^^Taken with the flash ON^^

The spyder burns everything it touches, including me and my drawers when I was taking pictures!

The Cons: The Spyder is A LOT less stable than I had expected with huge power fluctuations of nearly 100mW at times, compared to the EVO units this is a lot, but for a hand held of this power this is quite common. For the first 160 seconds the power stays above 500mW which is GREAT for a 400mW unit BUT after that 160 seconds the power drops to 100mW and stays there, I wouldn't complain but the duty cycle on the spec sheet is 100%, constant, I would not consider this a 100% duty cycle. I was not impressed by this, especially considering the price tag of $3,497.97! I tested this myself and sure enough after using it for around 2 minutes, the power dropped off to around 100mW and would not stay at 500mW long unless I let it cool for at least 3 minutes.

Next thing I noticed was that the Spyder STRUGGLES to stay in TEM00, it fluctuates between all sorts of weird modes, TEM01 and TEM01* being dominant. The dot's shape changes eratically along with the power fluctuations. Not AT ALL impressed by this, a $3,497.97 laser should NEVER have issues with mode hopping, unless it was ouputting well over a watt, stability fair enough, I can understand it being hard to maintain powers of >500mW for long periods of time in a hand held, but it should at least be able to maintain a nice clean TEM00!

In my opinion the laser is also GROSSLY over priced, there is no way that it is worth the $3,497.97 that WL charge for it, not in parts or labour, even taking it account R&D costs it would still not be a fair price, $2000-$2500 would be more acceptable.

Pictures to come of the weird modes later!


Now the pros! The peak power is great and the laser does stay above 500mW for a fair time. Divergence is acceptable, I'm sure it would be better if it stayed in TEM00, it can still light matches from >5m ;). Beam diammeter is nice and low too, great for burning. Build quality is really good, feels rugged and well made, although the paint beside the collimation lens has completely come of with just a q-tip and isopropyl alcohol ( Which is now making me a little high, I should open the window!). WL had the really clever idea of adding a battery indicator to the laser, it's very handy and functions well :). They also thought it would be a good idea to add an aperture window, which is good for stopping dust from getting on the collimation lens (unless you're like me and you take the window off to clean it and get dust on the lens anyway), the aperture window appears to be AR coated too. My preference would have been a shutter anyway.

Burns matches, CD cases, CDs, tape, wood, skin, hair, plastic, paper. EVERYTHING.

This thing just looks and feels great, it looks like something you'd use to cause some serious pain! The Police should consider using them as batons!

I'm pretty glad that the warning label also has a warning telling the user never to point a laser at a plane. Although it does say <500mW and class 3b when it's clearly >500mW and Class 4 ( most of the time ).

The 18650 battery provided with the laser seems to last for a decent time and has only needed charged once since I got it. There will be no unnecessary charging thanks to the battery indicator!







VIDEOS:





( Thanks Niko and Prototype )

I managed to get SOMETHING on the aperture window which made the dot rather speckled. I gave it a clean but there wasn't much improvement, so I took it off to clean the inside, now both the window and the lens need a good cleaning. I've been trying for a while using IPA, q-tips, microfibre cloths, weak soap and water solution, toilet paper. I've tried everything that would normally work FLAWLESSLY on normal AR coated optics. IT just doesn't seem to work :rolleyes:. I'm going to buy some proper lens cleaner, expensive stuff.


Overall I'm not too impressed with the performance of this laser. For something which costs $3,497.97 it really doesn't perform as well as it should. Yes the power is wondeful for the first 160 seconds, but I'd expect it to maintain a power of AT THE VERY LEAST >400mW @ TEM00 for AT LEAST 300 seconds, it is a 400mW rated laser afterall so it should be able to perform to this level, especially for the price. It should never drop to 100mW, it's average and minimum powers should be nothing less than 400mW during a 300 second period.

What I was impressed with was the build quality and how well thought out it is, it feels great, it looks great and it has some nice features that no other lasers have, kudos to WL for that.

I do like this laser and I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun with it, but it's not something I would buy for the simple reason that it doesn't stay above 400mW for more than 2 minutes, or even less if it's already warm!

I would recommend this laser to people IF:

  • The mode hopping and stability issues were sorted out.
  • It's average and minimum power was >400mW for at least 300 seconds of constant use.
  • The price was a good $500 or more lower than what it is.
I KNOW that WL can sort out the problems with stability, mode hopping and power. Steve if you're reading this, you guys NEED to sort the problems I mentioned here and reduce the price.

I hope everyone enjoyed my review , even though it was a bit negative. I wasn't biased in any way.

If anyone has any questions PLEASE ask. I'll add more pictures later on at some point. If you spot any spelling mistakes that I may have missed, please point them out. I'm tired and the spellcheck on firefox isn't working at present.

Cheers!

Adam
 
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Ivan

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Someones rich...
Oh yeah and good review. A bit on the pricey side for the power output though. Oh well thats WL for ya.
 

diachi

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Someones rich...
Oh yeah and good review. A bit on the pricey side for the power output though. Oh well thats WL for ya.
WE ( the reviewers ) got them for the cost of imporation tax, £15.56 in my case!.

thanks! :D
 

diachi

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Diachi, good review, and congrats on the laser! For youtube videos, use and inbetween them, take the numbers and letters from the end of the URL and put them there.

Thanks!

You'll need to modify the tags a little so they dont dissapear when you post them ;).

EDIT: Niko gave me them over MSN, thanks man! :D
 

FireMyLaser

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That's a good honest review, well done Adam.

[yt*]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y53798f-FVM[/yt*]

Only use the red stuff (but don't make it red lol) and remove the "*"

 
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To imbed YouTube try

[.yt][./yt], but only insert the final code in the HTML link and remove the dots before the yt.
 

Jaseth

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EDIT: videos moved to OP

There you go mate :) Just type [yt.] [/yt.] without the dots, and in between you write the video code only. That means, if the link is
http:// www. youtube .com / watch?v= f9J1bWufLjo
you just copy+paste f9J1bWufLjo in between the two.

Very nice review by the way, a shame about the terrible power fluctuations.. and that laser is indeed crazily overpriced. I can't imagine anyone actually buying it for that much.. you could get all the components for a pretty good RGB scanner for $3500.

However, it must make you happy to get it for free :p

Seb

EDIT: Damn you guys are quick :D Tell me if I should remove the videos from my post to clear up space.
 
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diachi

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To imbed YouTube try

[.yt][./yt], but only insert the final code in the HTML link and remove the dots before the yt.
That's a good honest review, well done Adam.

[yt*]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y53798f-FVM[/yt*]

Only use the red stuff (but don't make it red lol) and remove the "*"


thanks guys, Niko and Prototype bet you too it though! ;)
 

diachi

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There you go mate :) Just type [yt.] [/yt.] without the dots, and in between you write the video code only. That means, if the link is
http:// www. youtube .com / watch?v= f9J1bWufLjo
you just copy+paste f9J1bWufLjo in between the two.

Very nice review by the way, a shame about the terrible power fluctuations.. and that laser is indeed crazily overpriced. I can't imagine anyone actually buying it for that much.. you could get all the components for a pretty good RGB scanner for $3500.

However, it must make you happy to get it for free :p

Seb
Thanks for the video thing, got it already ;).

Thanks. It is a shame about that. If it were cheaper than I wouldn't have complained as much. An RGB scanner would be more fun too ;)

It does make me happy to get it for free - I'll be even happier when I can get this darn lens cleaned! Speckle annoys me something awful. The speckle isn't WLs fault though, it's mines :( .
 

RA_pierce

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Congrats on the laser.
Good job on the review.
It's a bit disappointing though.
Aren't these supposed to have a 100% duty cycle?

About the instability, My >400mW PGL-III also has large fluctuations in power, but this I think is common in higher power DPSS.
Generally, the power (of my laser) doesn't "spike" or "dip" more than 60mW, but after holding the peak for 5-15 seconds, the power slowly drops to whatever it wants to settle at. When you consider that +/-60mW is <10% of the average power over a 120 sec. cycle, stability is actually not bad.
So I think the power fluctuation issue should not be a big concern as long as it stays over the rated power.

On the other hand, you are right that for almost 4K, this laser has issues. Knowing me, I would end up taking the sucker apart to investigate.
A current adjustment in the (-) direction might do some good.
A 2.5W pump source produces a LOT of heat, and even a slight adjustment in current input makes a big difference.
I would be curious to see what kind of TEC wicked really uses in these, so if you ever get the guts (weak pun intended), PLEASE do a dissection! :D

By the way, are these review units covered by warranty?
 

diachi

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Congrats on the laser.
Good job on the review.
It's a bit disappointing though.
Aren't these supposed to have a 100% duty cycle?

About the instability, My >400mW PGL-III also has large fluctuations in power, but this I think is common in higher power DPSS.
Generally, the power (of my laser) doesn't "spike" or "dip" more than 60mW, but after holding the peak for 5-15 seconds, the power slowly drops to whatever it wants to settle at. When you consider that +/-60mW is <10% of the average power over a 120 sec. cycle, stability is actually not bad.
So I think the power fluctuation issue should not be a big concern as long as it stays over the rated power.

On the other hand, you are right that for almost 4K, this laser has issues. Knowing me, I would end up taking the sucker apart to investigate.
A current adjustment in the (-) direction might do some good.
A 2.5W pump source produces a LOT of heat, and even a slight adjustment in current input makes a big difference.
I would be curious to see what kind of TEC wicked really uses in these, so if you ever get the guts (weak pun intended), PLEASE do a dissection! :D

By the way, are these review units covered by warranty?
Thanks!

I Believe they are supposed to be 100% duty cycle. It probably could manage 100% duty clycle, but not at any where near rated power levels.

Good point about the fluctuations only being 10% or so. But they seem to be related to mode changes mostly, which there shouldn't be any of. I assume that your PGL maintains TEM00?

I wasn't aware that there was a TEC in these units, that surprises me as I'd expect it to be able to maintain it's rated power for much longer than it does. I plan to take the laser apart (I'll need to in order to clean the lens anyway ). I'll ask steve if it's covered by warranty, although it's probably void since I've taken off the aperture cap type thing and removed most of the paint that was underneath it!

Cheers!
 

RA_pierce

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Thanks!

I Believe they are supposed to be 100% duty cycle. It probably could manage 100% duty clycle, but not at any where near rated power levels.

Good point about the fluctuations only being 10% or so. But they seem to be related to mode changes mostly, which there shouldn't be any of. I assume that your PGL maintains TEM00?

I wasn't aware that there was a TEC in these units, that surprises me as I'd expect it to be able to maintain it's rated power for much longer than it does. I plan to take the laser apart (I'll need to in order to clean the lens anyway ). I'll ask steve if it's covered by warranty, although it's probably void since I've taken off the aperture cap type thing and removed most of the paint that was underneath it!

Cheers!
My PGL likes to switch modes too, but the mode switch does not have any negative effect on power.
For the most part I get TEM00. But it is not perfect. The laser is sensitive to temperature changes... the usual operating mode during warm up is (cylindrical) TEM10. It also Operates in TEM10 near the end of a long run cycle.

From what I understand, Wicked's "Tesla" cooling is supposed to be some sort of thermo-electric cooling system... which I think was/is a bad idea, since a peltier does not reduce heat, they just "move" it. Also, it just means that the battery is not only supplying a huge amount of current to the Pump, but also a TEC...
 
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