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Green Security Clearance Laser Pistol Available 586

nazgul000 writes "You thought those green laser pointers sold by ThinkGeek and others were pretty cool, didn't you? Well, think again." It seems obligatory to point out that even laser pointers, and certainly anything more powerful than those, are capable of causing real damage.
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Green Security Clearance Laser Pistol Available

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  • way different lasers (Score:5, Informative)

    by ack154 ( 591432 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:46PM (#11202233)
    Ok... let's compare. Laser: >100mW (one tested was 191!) Laser: 5mW

    Yes... there is a 20x difference in power here (about 38x with the tested one). While lasers in general can be harmful, the one this guy is selling should really be considered a weapon.

    Also worth noting about the lasershoppe one: "this laser is not legal to use in public."
    • Warning! (Score:5, Funny)

      by pegr ( 46683 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:50PM (#11202292) Homepage Journal
      Warning! Do not look into laser with remaining eye!
    • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:53PM (#11202328) Homepage Journal
      Mod parent up.

      Look. Many things can be made into weapons. In the case of lasers, it is never good to be looking into a laser beam of any wattage especially as the damage to your retina (likely the retinal pigment epithelium initially) may go undetected for years, but could establish a starting off point for macular degeneration. But like the parent said, pump it up 20X in power and you are starting to be able to cause some real damage immediately.

      • Hey BWJones, this is your forté, right? Isn't there some minimal power below which you can blink faster than the laser can deposit enough energy to damage the retina? I'm having some vague recollections from physics courses.
        • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:23PM (#11202718) Homepage Journal
          Well, retinal degenerative diseases and remodeling is my forte, but I do recall that red lasers in the 3-5Mw range should cause no retinal damage per se. I qualify that because the long term studies have not been done, only short term studies to my knowledge. The thing you have to remember is that lasers are coherent light that "packs" much more energy into their beam than does say a 200 watt halogen lamp which throws its energy all over the place wasting about 90% of its energy as light. So, as I recall the threshold for damage is 10Xs the acceptable wattage for lasers assuming that people will guard by blinking when exposed to a bright light. (blink time being somewhere about 2/10ths of a second). So, the currently accepted wattage figures on the threshold of immediate tissue damage are in the 30-50Mw range. But you have to remember that the criteria are somewhat vague and no long term studies (to my knowledge) have been done as to the effects on the retina and RPE of brief exposures to low wattage laser light. I might suspect that you could increase your chances for having dry macular degeneration, but that is hazarding a guess.....Regardless, a good rule of thumb is to never stare into a bright light source. (oh, and always invest in good quality sunglasses).

          • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:40PM (#11202916)
            > Well, retinal degenerative diseases and remodeling is my forte, but I do recall that red lasers in the 3-5Mw range should cause no retinal damage per se.

            ...on account of it being hard to examine the retina when there's nothing left of the head but some vapor.

            There are, however, red lasers in the milliWatt range for which the blink/aversion response is (probably) fast enough to prevent damage.

            > So, the currently accepted wattage figures on the threshold of immediate tissue damage are in the 30-50Mw range.

            True. Because on the battlefield, there's no such thing as overkill!

          • by khrtt ( 701691 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:49PM (#11203029)
            The actual Class IIIa standard allows up to 5mW CW output, with higher allowed peak power for pulsed lasers. The allowed peak power grows as 4th degree root of duty cycle, and decreases as 4th degree root of rep. rate. Or something like that. They assume blinking time of 1/4 second, and the formula gives 5mW with 4 rep/sec pulse rate and 100% duty cycle.
          • YES!!!
            I can play with 1kW metal cutting laser since its WAY under 3MW, so its safe.
            no more fuzzy 3mW lasers. Lets play with real thing that can cut metal.
        • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:48PM (#11203023) Journal
          Isn't there some minimal power below which you can blink faster than the laser can deposit enough energy to damage the retina?

          This is exactly how lasers are classified.

          You are refering to a Class II laser. It has the potential to cause damage to your eyes, but it is low enough power (and in the visible light range) so your blinking reflex will protect your eyes. Though, like looking into the sun, people can fight that reflex (usually children) and blind themselves.

          Class III lasers are the most dangerous ones, resulting in instant damage. I believe most if not all laser pointers are class 3 devices.

          Class I lasers are so low powered that you can look directly into them for a long period of time, and not cause any damage at all, as a result.
          • by jstott ( 212041 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @07:54PM (#11204352)
            Class III lasers are the most dangerous ones, resulting in instant damage. I believe most if not all laser pointers are class 3 devices.

            Class III means the laser is an eye hazard. Class IIIa are hazardous if focused, class IIIb are focused as-is. There are also class IV lasers, which are burn hazards (I've worked with both) and are more dangerous than class III lasers. Most laser pointers are class IIIb, although I've seen lower. Note too that laser classification is based on power at the output, not at the source.

            "Instant damage" is a bit over-stated, but class IIIb lasers (especially at the >100mW levels in the original article) are most definitely capable of causing retinal damage.


          • That would be Class IV lasers that are the most dangerous. I have worked with with many class IV laser on account of having run an entertainment laser show outfit for some time. I do believe the article linked to (the FAQ from the Sam bloke) is a bit hysterical though. I used to get guys over from Coherent to get the core optics a proper cleaning, and they always used to freak out about the fact we didn't have goggles. Although I have quite a few burn scars on the side of my arms from working on live optics
            • Putting the lasers in the trees is one thing, but in the course of working several years for a large laser integration company that dealt with everything from 5 watt green YAGs to 5 kilowatt CO2s, I learned that it's really a good idea to have goggles anytime you're going to be exposed to *any* high-power (i.e. more than 10 mw or so) system - you just don't know when you're going to have a stray reflection that catches you in the eyes or when some idiot working on something fails to put a proper backstop up
            • it is a general rule that if you need goggles, you are not right for the job.

              If that's the attitude you had towards safety, I'm glad you're no longer in that line of work. I suspect your insurance carrier wouldn't have been too pleased, either.
          • by PurpleFloyd ( 149812 ) < minus painter> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @09:00PM (#11205000) Homepage
            Not quite. As referenced in the Laser FAQ (linked from the article), laser classifications are as follows:
            • Class I. Totally enclosed within some other device, with safety interlocks to prevent the laser from powering up when safety covers are off. Interestingly, even a really dangerous Class IV laser falls into this category if it is completely contained within an OEM device with the apppropriate safety interlocks.
            • Class II. Reasonably safe to look directly into the beam. I think that the threshold is 1000 seconds continious exposure without permanant eye damage, although I could be wrong.
            • Class IIIa. Lasers which would cause near-immediate damage to eye tissue, but which are blocked in time to prevent damage by the blink reflex. This is the category of most laser pointers, although probably not the monster which is sold at the linked site.
            • Class IIIb. These are lasers which can cause permanant eye damage before the blink reflex kicks in. This is where lasers start getting Dangerous with a capital D.
            • Class IV. Dangerous to look at the reflection of the beam, even from matte surfaces. Can cause damage to flesh or other objects in the beam path. Eye exposure will probably cause immediate and permanant blindness with lasers in this class. Very dangerous stuff.
      • by voxlator ( 531625 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:19PM (#11202670)
        Look, it's not lasers that cause retinal pigment epithelium damage to people, it's people that cause retinal pigment epithelium damage to people.


      • laser classes (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:34PM (#11202843)
        But like the parent said, pump it up 20X in power and you are starting to be able to cause some real damage immediately.

        The classifications are based upon wattage levels which will cause damage to the eye before your brain reacts AND the eyelid closes.

        Anything over a certain class (II or III, I forget which) falls into the 'damage will happen before you blink" category. That's why they usually require a keylock on a shutter or output control, a lasing indicator light, etc. OSHA regs then mesh in with this- lasers in operation over a certain level mean guards on equipment, goggles for anyone in the room, blah blah.

        Over a certain level in mW also requires approval from the FAA to use outdoors [at night] as it could blind pilots. Sounds silly for a single point source, but it's intended for laser light shows where hundreds or thousands of beams- which often sweep/scan out into the sky- stand an excellent chance of blinding a pilot.

        Pretty much all the FAA does is say "sure" and then put out a NOTAM (NOtice to AirMen) saying "there be lasers here". NOTAMs are automatically pulled up if your flight plan crosses through the area the NOTAM applies to.

    • by jd ( 1658 ) < minus city> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:02PM (#11202430) Homepage Journal
      Pity you can't use sed to upgrade them from mW to MW.
    • by Ann Elk ( 668880 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:01PM (#11203178)

      100mW? Ha! []

  • by Unloaded ( 716598 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:47PM (#11202238)
    ....till someone uses one of these as a cat toy...
    • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:51PM (#11202302)
      Luckily, the use of a laser pointer as a cat toy is patented and therefore you are required to get a license before engaging in such an activity. A reasonably responsible corporate entity would never grant such a license. (God, I wish I was joking).
      • by SnapShot ( 171582 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:58PM (#11202382)
        Some ignorant fucker accused me of being a troll... Here's the patent, my dear friend.

        United States Patent 5,443,036
        Amiss , et al. August 22, 1995
        Method of exercising a cat


        A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.

        It looks like they've gotten more sophisticated.

        United States Patent 6,651,591
        Chelen November 25, 2003

        A pet toy and exerciser which produces an automatically movable, outwardly projected laser beam. The function thereof is to provide virtual "prey" for the stimulation and exercise of an animal. The device, which does not include a conventional motor, is small (e.g., can be handheld), lightweight, battery operated and silent, and has an extremely long potential cycle life. Electrically energized nitinol wires deflect a visible laser module to produce a virtual laser light target moved through three dimensions.
    • So do those keychain lasers ruin your cats eyes? I use one and until I read the Laser Faq in the article I wouldn't have though there was enough power to do much unless you sat there and pointed it into the eye for a while. So is there a safe way to use it, or is it best to give up?

  • He wanted them attached to sharks.
  • I want one, but only for entirely professional and responsible purposes... yes, I would *never* use such a thing to burn holes in cups and other fun things like that. I think its a bit expensive although I dont know the actual costs of lasers of this power/type/whatever.

    Kinda went overkill on the safety features built in my opinion. But I guess safety is a must with lasers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:49PM (#11202279)
    This laser is not legal to use in public, and while we are not asking for any proof that the buyer is qualified to own this device, we trust that it will be used in a responsible fashion.

  • OMG (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:50PM (#11202290) Homepage Journal
    from the article/sales pitch
    - There is a 2 second delay after you click the "on" button before the laser will produce a beam.

    (Peering into lens)
  • PLEASE! (Score:5, Funny)

    by af_robot ( 553885 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:51PM (#11202304)
    Any links where i can also buy some fricken sharks?!
  • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:51PM (#11202305) Homepage Journal
    I can't get past Red clearance according to the beloved and benevolent Computer. After my last clone was killed by the room-blender-bot, the evidence of him not being a commie mutant traitor was destroyed. Red lasers for me until the next clone as I have to give my life to the needs of the Computer in a spectacular blaze of glory to redeem myslef... or volunteer to go outside for experiments! Eww!!! That fireball in the sky scares me. The Computer should have it destroyed!

    What do you mean I said too much?!?!? I'm not a traitor! I'm not a commie spy! Nooooooo...........

  • Whoa.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by ShadeARG ( 306487 )
    That sure makes this guy [] look real smart :)
  • by bludstone ( 103539 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:52PM (#11202323) do realize that that makes them EXTRA cool, not less cool, right?

    If I was thinkgeek, I'd double the price, or at least up it to $150.00
  • by voidptr ( 609 )
    The laser pointer at TG is 5mW, the primary link is selling ones 20 to 30 times stronger. What's the similarity again? I thought we already knew lasers were dangerous.
  • by duckpoopy ( 585203 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:55PM (#11202355) Journal
    because they seem like advertisements...
    • This guy's site got hammered once when it was on a couple different link sites last week. Now it's getting hammered by slashdot. Anything he makes will probably be offset by his hosting bill.
      • Actually slashdot linked to the coral cache of his page: de x.htm

        See the in there? Smart move. Hopefully submitters will be doing this more often.
  • rut ro (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kevinx ( 790831 )
    ...Hooked up to a scope, this could be a very deadly tool. This would easily blind someone at a distance.

    I hate having strict regulations on everything..but.. the thought of a couple of kids playing a prank and permanently blinding me while I'm on my way to work is very scary.
    • Re:rut ro (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Delphiki ( 646425 )
      They could also run up to you any number of hazardous chemicals you can find around the house in your face, or hell, just throw a pencil and have it hit in an unlucky way. You can do horrible things to people with just about anything, if you want to be a dick. Should we need a license to buy peanuts because so many people are allergic?
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:55PM (#11202359) Homepage

    I remember reading that traditional "red laser" pointing devices were being banned from British football matches because fans would point them in to the eyes of goalkeepers. Someone told me that they were at a Liverpool match once and one of the goalkeepers had about 8 red dots all over his body when he made a save.

    Now we've got something that can fry the friggin ball itself...

    Anyone want to bet on the "responsible adult" factor for international soccer fans.

    These things are a bad idea....

  • The Alan Parson's Project......

    --Poor college student in monologue-- Now comes the time to blackmail the US for 1 Miiiillion Doooolarrs... However since I only have 700 dollars and no reusable launch vehicle, I shall buy this green "laser" and a bathroom mirror to reflect the beam from the general direction of the moon and hope they don't notice the large black shadow.

    --The RA walks in the door-- *Ahem!* (RA walks up and snatches 120 dollars from the kid's hands) I thought you would have the money
  • Public service (Score:3, Insightful)

    by confusion ( 14388 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:58PM (#11202383) Homepage
    Posting a link to buy a high-powered laser on slashdot is certainly a good way to keep them off the streets... er shelves.
    That being said, I really want one. I wish the site hadn't died so soon.

    Jerry []

  • by ravenspear ( 756059 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @04:59PM (#11202392)
    i.e. is it strong enough to melt metal?
  • by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:00PM (#11202401) Journal
    Just need three lasers, red, blue (not yet widely available), and green, and means to switch their (big not needed!) output power to 256 levels very rapidly. Then a fairly simple arrangement of horizontal and vertical rotating mirrors can scan the flickering beams across, say, an ordinary home-movie projection screen, rather like we do with electron beams and electromagnets in a CRT. Somehow I think somebody somewhere has been working on this...but the lasers have so far been too expensive. But not much longer! Remember Blu-Ray? That diode laser is the last piece needed!
    • I believe you can not easily change the power level, however you can do pulse width modulation. There are also now laser light modulators, that can change the frequency of a laser to an other color.

      And yes, people are working on a projector build with a single laser and that gismo to modulate light. There have been expensive two laser versions helium and argon. The argon laser actually produces 4 colors, blue and green.

      The green laser pointer from thinkgeek also uses a frequency divider to change the co
    • ...just not mass produced or affordable.

      I'm really hoping there is a push to market for these things. Sony has exclusive rights to the technology, developed by Silicon Light Machines. I've read anecdotal accounts from people who've seen the technology demoed that the images were amazingly crisp and vivid.

      This link [] for a little blurb & small picture

      This link [] for an abstract & link to a semi-technical pdf

      Kodak just introduced a similar, competing system, as you can read here []. Maybe that will dr
  • by slusich ( 684826 ) * <> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:03PM (#11202441)
  • Very Bad Idea. This thing is a damn weapon, not a "laser pointer".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Choices, choices, choices...
  • That's not a bad deal for a 532nM laser. You can't find air cooled Argon putting out anything near that for less than a thousand bucks (ignoring the crappy Ebay American lasers where the tubes are all over preasure). Make a nice beam show if you can find a good set of actuators or a set of scanners for some atmospheric affects if you had a fog machine.
  • How much more powerful must devices like these become before they are subject to oversight in the United States by the ATF rather than the FDA? Does anyone know where the dividing line is between the two?

    (assuming they're sold in a way affecting interstate commerce.)

    • Ah, yes, America - land of the free, where everyone has the right to bear high powered narrow frequency optical emitters.

      I can see NRA members country-wide strapping these lasers to their hunting rifles so that if they don't manage to shoot the crap out of something at least it will become road-kill when it wanders blindly into the path of an oncoming 40 ton truck. Yeah for outdoor sports!
  • The bug-zapper I've been waiting for! Can wait to spay some ladybugs!
  • It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Then it's just a game. Find the eye.
  • by human bean ( 222811 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:09PM (#11202524) for the governmental take on this sort of thing.

    Aside from that, It's pretty easy to bang together anywhere from one to thirty watts or so of genuine tm00 when you need to. The laser diode bars out of high-end (real) laser printers do an pretty good job of pumping either gas or solid phase lasers. Microwave oven parts and glass tubing can be recycled into a pretty good nitrogen laser, and you don't even need a vacuum pump...
  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:10PM (#11202542) Homepage
    IP license from SCOG. Coincidence?? I don't think so.

    "Do the Right Thing. It will gratify some people and astound the rest." - Mark Twain
  • This site was hammered last week went it went up on a couple different link sites, now it's getting hammered again by /. Oh well, hopefully he sells a couple.
  • Legality? (Score:3, Funny)

    by AragornSonOfArathorn ( 454526 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:20PM (#11202684)
    from the site:

    "This laser is not legal to use in public"

    then they say:

    "it makes for a great way to point out objects in the night sky"

    Isn't that sort of thing usually done in PUBLIC? heh
  • Lawn Mower (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Corrado ( 64013 ) <rnhurt&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @05:46PM (#11202994) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I know I'm not the only one who has thought of this, but why not build a lawn mower out of this laser? It would be silent, energy efficient, compact, lightweight, non-polluting, and cheap to build and maintain. Just mount a spinning mirror to the bottom of a regular power mower and shine the laser down on it. You could even diffuse the beam so that it becomes "non-lethal" after 1 meter or so. It wouldn't even have to have an grass discharge outlet (clippings (c|w)ould burn up completely?) that usually let's all kinds of objects fly out at you.

    This would be a much safer lawn mower than the one you have in your garage right now. Think about it; how many times have you run across rovers dog bone remains and had them shoot out at high speed? What about accidentally sticking your foot/hand in the path of the blade? At least with the laser it will make a clean cut. :)

    Hell, I'd pay $1000 for a power mower with those qualities! I recently paid $300 for a crappy mower and good ones are going for $500. Then there's the upkeep (spark plugs, oil changes, fuel consumption, etc.) that rack up at least $100/year. In 5 year's time, this mower would pay for itself.

    Hmmmm...I gotta go now... /me runs to USPO!
  • Laser as a Weapon. (Score:4, Informative)

    by JollyFinn ( 267972 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2004 @06:36PM (#11203590)
    There is some geneva convention or something similar international agreament that blinding lasers are banned as military weapons. So the end result for laser warfare is that they make a STRONG laser intended to burn through tank, and the reflections from the tank that hit eye will have blinding result, but thats not the lasers MAIN purpose, an equipment destruction lasers are allowed in the agreament. BTW: If someone uses missile defense lasers near your city, then you should have strong curtains just to make sure that any weak reflections wouldn't pass inside your house. And blind someone.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle