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Yet another - Wicked Lasers Arctic Spyder III laser review - [very image heavy!!]

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Eudaimonium

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Hello peoples of LPF.

As I recently greedily took a free Arctic chance in exchange for review, I am here posting my end of the bargain.
The laser is a free review unit - but I will not be biased in any way. You all may have seen me ranting on about Wicked and their company policies.
I assure you, I am in no way biased or affiliated with WL. Review is as honest as it can be.


OKAY! Let's start.

The laser was shipped very fast on WL's side, however Croatian customs are so difficult to deal with that I sincerely hope I will never ever have to call the Customs office Zagreb ever again. One week of pulling out my hair finally ended up with them shipping it out to me, and me paying $90 in fees for free laser. Seriously, F*ck the country where you go bankrupt from free lasers.

I have anxiously arrived home and opened the package. In the video below is the actual first opening of the laser and trying it out. Nothing is acted.



I will now explain the video in detail.

At first opening of the package, laser arrived nicely in anti-static baggie, however it was not sealed.




In seperate box there was a charger and battery in it. It would appear the WL does not watch carefuly where do they ship the laser to, so I ended up with a charger with USA type plug, flat prongs. It's all cool since I have my trusty TrustFire charger with me anyhow.

Wicked laser safety goggles arrived too. As you can see later in the video, they are not of much use as you can clearly see the beam of the laser through them even on LOW mode. Which is like, next-to-useless.

I have flipped in the battery that arrived with it (GREEN cell mind you, other members got pink/red Sanyo cells) that says :
Samsung SDI on it.
As you can see here, the battery has no polarity markings.






Now, flipping the battery in and trying to input the code. It's very very easy to get a hold of the code inputting. What's required of you is to do three clicks, and then two short holds.
There's no time limit, you can do 3 clicks and one hold, then do a last hold a minute later to activate the laser.

The laser after inputting the code starts in low power 6Hz pulse mode AFTER about TWO seconds from the release of last button hold. Which could surprise you, like it surprised me, thinking I've inputted the code wrong.
This is NOT GOOD as I can already see people looking into the laser aperture to wonder why the laser didn't turn ON.


When laser is emitting, clicking the SmartSwitch will change PULSE-CW modes. Short hold of the SmartSwitch will change HIGH-LOW power of the laser emission.

Now, onto the lenses attachements.

The lens that came on the laser out of the box was 100% power lens. I have mentioned that there's some sort of Anti-reflexive coating on the lens.
Problem is as follows:
When you are looking at the lens from a small sharp angle, the reflection is yellowish ...

However, as you increase the angle towards the 90° of angle ...




... it shifts into blue reflection to finally at the 90° angle it's reflecting perfect blue color. Somebody overlooked something. Badly.

Also, I could not capture it but the coating on the lens have little defects but not in the path of the main beam.

Next, some lenses I've recieved with it were poorly handled :


As you probably can see, there's a big fat fingerprint right in the middle of the damned lens. Luckily, I have recieved a free LensPen [MicroPro 2] and it's doing a damn good job at getting stuff out of your way.


Main body of the Arctic is cosmetically more or less perfect, only defect I found so far was a little tiny dent on one of the ribs on the head of the laser:


Some chinese guy somewhere at some point ran out of luck I guess.

As you probably noticed by now, this thing is damn huge. The tailcap alone occupies more volume of space than damned 18650 cell which is damn huge on it's own.
Which brings me to the tailcap.








Now, these edges on the tailcap:

Are a little bit sharp and very roughly made... Not pleasent to swipe your finger across those.

Here are some size refferences:






So yeah, it's massive.

Here's the battery barrel:

I can see a spring being secured by a plastic ring, unsure of it's thickness, and I con't see a possibility of a short here. The other end of the spring wire goes through a little hole in the center of plastic behind it, presumably being soldered directly on a PCB, through-hole.

Now, let's see some action shots:

This is the low CW setting :


This is High power CW setting, same camera setting :


Low:


High:


More misc picz I forgot :



Did I mention it's ridiculously massive?? :p



Up there, lubricant from the threads on my finger.

Thread of tailcap are very smooth and nicely machined. Which is more that I can say about headcap lens threads, very rough, but they are anodized after all.

Also, I have noticed that headcaps except 100% power lens have cut threads on inside of them, which makes no sense since you can't thread anything in it, thread that's used to hold them in beams path is the outter thread.

Okay, these are initial observations for now, post behind this one will be reserved for more detailed input after one week of using the laser and possibly a higher accuracy power measurement if I get a hold of a profesional LPM from HIMNL9.

Let's do a sum up now:
GOOD :
- very sturdy construction
- awesome host design
- 18650 battery powered, can't do without that
- SmartSwitch technology very well integrated
- Quality threadings
- No contact loss anywhere
- Interchangeable cap lens attachements
- Cap lens attachements that are included are very useable
- Battery indicator works nicely
- Tailcap switch and SmartSwitch button actions are very good
- A LOT of safety warning printed material - very nice - there are at least 5 places where issue of lasing airplanes is addressed, including the laser warning sticker on the handle of the laser


BAD:
- SmartSwitch, although good, could be a little deeper action
- There is a delay between last click and start of emission, which can suprise people!!
- Battery has no polarity markings
- Laser is case positive, untypical for non-DPSS lasers
- Charger included is strictly US type plug, need to order seperate converter or new charger (possibly a new battery too)
- Lenses handled without care, had fingerprints on them
- Pulse modes in general, usability questionable, personally I find them annoying
- 100% power cap can do without any window optic on it, this way only some losses and possibility of getting it dirty are made
- Instruction manual book included is nothing but advertisement, it has nothing to do with the laser which ever one you bought
- Some minor host machining and finish defects, but not really serious

QUESTIONABLE -
- Heatsinking - after around 1:30 minutes of operation on High, I can feel the heat on the laser's head to my hand's temperature. Now, either the laser is so well heatsinked all this mass cannot even be heated up faster, or it's so poorly heatsinked that it's only by then the heat penetrates the thermal insulation. Not sure.



Overall impression - Extremely subjective here:
-My final impression about the laser is POSITIVE for now, if I imagine I had payed a full price on it I would still very well find it very worthy of the price. However, price can be lower and power could be higher, and some care about recipients' home power outlet standards couldn't hurt also. Lenses can be handled a bit better.

In short, if a person who has seen some lasers wanted to buy that and asked me about it, I would RECCOMEND it.

-> Please note, these are intial observations and can change within a week or two of laser usage to reveal any time bombs which require users to RMA the product. In my case it's tearing it down and putting my own components inside the way I like it.


P.S. I tried taking some current measurements. It appears that the laser is drawing 370 mA at Low constant mode setting. I switched to higher power but connection with my DMM probes cut off for split second resulting the laser to go into Standby-for-code mode. Will take current measurements later too.
 
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Eudaimonium

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EDIT - Okay, bigass addendum incoming. This edit was made on 17th December 2010, so have in mind when reading below posts.

Well, due to mistake on Wicked Laser's part, I have gotten not one, but two review units. No idea why or how. I asked Steve, no reply at all. However, as soon as I saw the second package, I think I know why I got two, the original first one was replacement for second one, just arrived unexpectedly sooner.

I will start with another review of second unit. As you can see here, packaging was good...


Except one detail :


Yup, the laser arrived in the standard foam, but without the black box! I mean, forgetting to put a laser inside a package is understandable. But this?! :D How do you get that to happen?
Also, ehh:

They really don't care that I won't be able to use the damned charger without modification or attachement order. It would be better of if they didn't send it at all.

Check this out, 100% lens' window:

Not really worth mentioning, eh? Coating defects, dusty, handled badly. This picture was taken around 5 minutes after laser unpacking, and the window optic was removed 5 minutes after the picture was taken. I did not power up the laser with that window on the front cap piece, since I fear for the backreflection and diode life.

Anyhow...








As you can see, the laser differs very little from the original one. I see no cosmetical outside differences.
The laser with the yellow warning sticker is the second, new one, the one without is "my" unit, original one.

Now, I have measured the power using the old LPM. I have measured my unit which showed me 730, or 731. This new unit showed me 779 . So it's above 800mW, possibly near 900mW , as I have recently measured one bluray laser at 270, while it was proven 300mW flat.

I have noticed one difference to my old Arctic. First a picture of the low power strobe mode of my unit:


As you can see, is as it's to be expected - on - off - pattern. However, with new one:


Notice some sort of transition mode between on and off states. I have seen something similar to this while the MicroDriver was overheating - produced similar pattern. Not sure what to make of this, folks. I am coming to conclusion that these two units have a little bit different electronics inside of them.

Now, one more crucial difference about the package. Goggles. I have actually gotten a real protection goggles, actual working pair. Another myth busted! Not one blue photon goes through. [A.K.A. Surely above OD4]

Blue cleaning cloth is behind both, but only visible through one pair


View through old, weak goggles


View through new, better ones


High power dot through old ones


High power dot through new ones. See it? Me either.


Closeup, there we go. Laser was aproximately 3 meters from the wall.

However, when taking closer look here:


So let's do some more beamage and misc pictures just to make the most epic longest page #1 thread in entire LPF history.


















This latest one is the most accurate representation of the Low-power constant beam mode I could get, as I see it and as I could make my camera cooperate with me.

These would be somewhat a representation of the High power mode in dim and light conditions, however they are not as accurate as low power mode picture, as simply the camera won't do it justice, gets oversaturated.




Okay, I am trying to give you an idea of what the output bar looks like at 4.5 meters from laser here:

It is aproximately 1.3 cm by 4 mm.

Also, to compare goggles more effectively, I have hung them in front of my desktop neon lamp:



So basically, the color of the light.blocking material is exactly the same, it's just that more of it was applied to the plastic. Or something to that effect, I don't know much about laser protection glasses. Some input on this would be appreciated.
Here are some minor observations:
Unlike my unit, this new one has the diffraction grating lens marked with proper sticker:

The finish of that lens is same as with previous laser - this particular lens has different, rougher finish than all others lens caps and laser itself.

Also, there is an error in the instruction manual provided regarding the unlock code of the laser.
Picture is not embedded as it's too large:
http://i690.photobucket.com/albums/vv263/Eudaimonium/PC160524.jpg
Noting here that, with my first unit, I have gotten a rather generic looking little booklet which just about sums up all the items WL has for sale. With second one however, I have gotten a booklet which describes Arctic only, in great detail (how to disable the laser in two ways on the tailcap contacts and stuff)

Anyhow, I'd like to do a very short summary of all my opinions here:

If it were any cheaper, it would be the best 445nm laser out there. By cheaper, I mean, $200 for it. Additional lenses could be cheaper. Build quality seems great so far. Positive and negative sides would be the same as the first one, except glasses (which turned into good) and packaging (which turned into bad).

==============================================================================

Now, for additions of information about first unit.

Performs great so far. No timebombs revealed in 2 weeks and 4 days of owning it. Paint from SmartSwitch does NOT chip off (perhaps "yet"), unit suffers no degradation. Battery life great.
=Measured 3.56 V of cell when Arctic declared it too empty to use it. So that's great , no danger of unprotected cells getting into Deep discharge.

One thing is that the box it arrives in is pretty poor, and not too great for carrying it around. It wears down badly.


So, that's all from me for now folks. 'Till next review, go get an Arctic. Don't buy additional lenses, and if you get proper safety goggles (takes luck), you're doing an investment which you won't forget.

 
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ReNNo

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It's very honest review.
The best review I've read.
And must say that Arctic looks very good for its price.

I get upset when see people glorify free review unit.

+1 Rep (if forum allows me).
EDIT
I need to spread some reputation to other members to give you again, but I'll not forget.
 

Eudaimonium

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It's very honest review.
The best review I've read.
And must say that Arctic looks very good for its price.

I get upset when see people glorify free review unit.

+1 Rep (if forum allows me).
I could be wrong, but I haven't actually seen that happen lately. Or anywhere.

The host design is indeed a killer, however the functionality is questionable.

You see these grooves?


On the inner edge of those, it's kind of the same situation like on extruded part edges on tailcap, they are a little sharp-ish and take getting used to holding in a hand.

But what it would look like without them? :D
 

ReNNo

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I really don't mind to have this host :D
Lasers are dangerous tools, can blind you in matter of second.
Cutting finger on these sharp edges is nothing compared to loosing eye :D

I really don't mind to be cut each time I use this awesome laser. I really don't :D
 
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Hey Eud, nice review. :beer:

My lens has the terrible AR coating as well, it's got a bluish tint to it. That'd probably be appropriate for red, but certainly not blue. Either that, or they did it to "make it look cool".

The output delay is actually a mandatory feature- WL needs it to comply with the IEC requirements (which are much less stringent than the FDA ones anyway). All three SS LEDs blink before it begins outputting, though.
 

Eudaimonium

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Hey Eud, nice review. :beer:

My lens has the terrible AR coating as well, it's got a bluish tint to it. That'd probably be appropriate for red, but certainly not blue. Either that, or they did it to "make it look cool".

The output delay is actually a mandatory feature- WL needs it to comply with the IEC requirements (which are much less stringent than the FDA ones anyway). All three SS LEDs blink before it begins outputting, though.
I have removed the window from my 100% power lens cap. I took a razor blade a gently cut into the white glue which I mistook for thermal paste in the video. Then I simply pushed out the little glass piece. No mess, everything neat and clean.

They don't make it look cool, they make it look dead. I have tried measuring the reflection. I have placed the laser on full power on my floor pointing it up, then I took my LPM sensor on the table and held the optic piece half meter above table trying to reflect the beam into the sensor.
I have placed the DMM on "max" and after a minute of trying, I have read a max of 7 mW reflected. If I could hold it perfectly steady, it would gone up to 10mW for sure.

It's like, every time you turn on your laser, you fear that it'll go LED. Call it COB, but I just HAD to get rid of that itchy feeling.

Great review man. :beer:
Thank you sir :)


Oh guys, something that I forgot to mention.

You see, here's one of the lens cap that arrived with it:


All lens caps have the same finish as Arctic and eachother ... except this one which is the diffraction grating cap:


From what I understand, the G1 series of Arctics had the same finish.

Don't know what to make of that.
 

The_LED_Museum

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Regarding the lens holders being threaded on the inside, this is because a metal collet screws in there with use of a spanner wrench to hold the actual lenses themselves into place.

The full-power ("standard") lens holder is not threaded in this fashion because a collet is not used -- the AR-coated window is cemented into place -- hence the threads are not needed.
 

danefex

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Awesome review Eud! Love the pics too...

One big surprise from reading that is the 2 second delay it takes before powering on you mentioned after entering the code. Mine takes about 3/4 of a second to lase up after the code. I'm curious how many S3's take that long to power on? 2 seconds does seem like a delay when you're talking about pressing a button
 

The_LED_Museum

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Let me check my two Arctics and see what's up...BBS...

Arctic #1 (received 29 Sep 2010): 2 seconds
Arctic #2 (received 03 Nov 2010): 2 seconds

I do not have ready access to a timepiece that can measure down to the millisecond, so these are "eyeballed" values.
 

danefex

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^ I'm not using a stopwatch or anything to measure accurate time either, but it's never seemed like 2 seconds to me between completing the code & the beam strobing.

After powering my S3 up just now I'd say I'm closer to 1 second (maybe even 1.2s) rather than a 2 full seconds
 

Eudaimonium

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It would appear my post disappeared.

Anyhow, I am taking a closer look at the powerup delay.

It seems more to ONE second flat rather then two. It is still very suprising. :undecided:
 

danefex

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It would appear my post disappeared.

Anyhow, I am taking a closer look at the powerup delay.

It seems more to ONE second flat rather then two. It is still very suprising. :undecided:
That's where mine is at, give or take a tenth of a second here or there... 2 seconds seems dangerously long as you said, it could prompt the ol 'looking down the barrel of the cannon' mentality after the fuse has burnt out :)
 
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It's not dangerous- if they make a note of it in the instruction booklet.

The startup delay is required. The mandatory delay is actually 5 seconds, but somehow WL have gotten away with a 2 second delay.

When the delay begins ticking away, all three battery indicator LEDs blink.

On other lasers (such as the PGL-III-C-447), the laser comes on just below threshold for 5 seconds, before lasing at full power.
 

Eudaimonium

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It's not dangerous- if they make a note of it in the instruction booklet.

The startup delay is required. The mandatory delay is actually 5 seconds, but somehow WL have gotten away with a 2 second delay.

When the delay begins ticking away, all three battery indicator LEDs blink.

On other lasers (such as the PGL-III-C-447), the laser comes on just below threshold for 5 seconds, before lasing at full power.
Raise hands who read the instructions before using the laser.

*waiting*

Thought so.

By what rules should they uphold? FDA sure not, since they are illegal after all in USA.
 
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