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Thoughts on Using a Laser Pointer


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1 hour ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

We should ask the pilots. Both types of incident have the potential to put the pilot out of action for an extended period or cause critical damage to the plane.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/23/ba-pilots-eye-damaged-by-military-laser-shone-into-cockpit-at-heathrow

There are many reports of a similar nature.

The key words in the Guardian report are ‘military strength’. This incident was not caused by someone pointing out a star with a low-powered pointer; this was someone who had a far nastier intent. 

I think all the bases have been covered now in response to the OP. I’m outta here ...

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I have a green one that I use on occasion to point things out to passers-by. I just check there are no planes in the bit of the sky I am going to point it (but it sounds like this will not be a p

Green light is really the only color that shows up well.  I've tried red and violet without luck.  Don't let the kids talk you into letting them use it.  They'll just play with it like a light saber a

You’ll be fine. Obviously, make sure it stays in your hands and keep it switched off until above head height and pointing at the sky. Explain that it is dangerous. All obvious, I know, but you di

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5 hours ago, Louis D said:

More than about 10 feet off axis, and it is nearly impossible to see the laser line unless there's lots of crud floating in the air.  Perhaps if you shine it on an object or into someone's window, that might draw attention.  Basically, the police would practically have to be in your yard to see the light.  My backyard is surrounded by trees and bushes, limiting my views, but also limiting anyone else seeing what I'm doing.

Sorry mate,  but I was in a field with a teacher friend and some of his kids when a couple of HM constabulary rocked up, aggressively demanded to know what I thought I was doing and tried to insist I hand over the pointer I was using.  I said nothing about them seeing it - I assume someone else saw us and phoned them.  

Spin on your own axis if you like, just sharing my experience....

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54 minutes ago, Hallingskies said:

Sorry mate,  but I was in a field with a teacher friend and some of his kids when a couple of HM constabulary rocked up, aggressively demanded to know what I thought I was doing and tried to insist I hand over the pointer I was using.  I said nothing about them seeing it - I assume someone else saw us and phoned them.  

Spin on your own axis if you like, just sharing my experience....

In that case, I hope someone was videoing the entire encounter and posting it to social media to guarantee an impartial point of view.  A lot of police in the US have been getting fired/arrested for overreach only after these videos come to light contradicting their official reports.

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35 minutes ago, Louis D said:

In that case, I hope someone was videoing the entire encounter and posting it to social media to guarantee an impartial point of view.  A lot of police in the US have been getting fired/arrested for overreach only after these videos come to light contradicting their official reports.

We actually didn't feel too badly disposed towards Thanet's finest at the time, despite their initial brusque approach. They have a tough job and had probably had a bad shift.  After a little bit of explaining (10 kids, a few parents and a teacher in tow gives you quite a good alibi - as well as back-up) they backed off and were actually quite interested in the constellation tour I was doing!  We were about five miles from Manston airport and a few weeks or so after 9/11 so sensitivities were probably quite high, but I still think it's best not to use laser pointers in public even if there are no planes about.  Nut jobs have given them a bad name, to the point where anyone seen using one is automatically assumed to be causing mischief, at least on this side of the pond.

PS:  Just noticed you are Texas-based, Louis.  There is a world of difference between US and UK policing styles, I think, sorry for any misunderstanding!   

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4 hours ago, Hallingskies said:

Sorry mate,  but I was in a field with a teacher friend and some of his kids when a couple of HM constabulary rocked up, aggressively demanded to know what I thought I was doing and tried to insist I hand over the pointer I was using.  I said nothing about them seeing it - I assume someone else saw us and phoned them.  

Spin on your own axis if you like, just sharing my experience....

Well, hang on a bit.

Leaving aside policing styles I was using my pointer at a club evening ‘in a field’ with lots of folk and several of them said they couldn’t see the laser line unless they came closer. So different atmospherics? Different power? Different colour? I don’t know but I agree with Louis and I would think that if someone phoned the police they must have been pretty close before they could have seen it.

There’s nothing adversarial here, Hallingskies. As you write, ‘just sharing my experience’. I planned to leave this thread ‘cos I had nothing to add but felt I ought to chip in again. ?

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5 hours ago, Hallingskies said:

We actually didn't feel too badly disposed towards Thanet's finest at the time, despite their initial brusque approach. They have a tough job and had probably had a bad shift.  After a little bit of explaining (10 kids, a few parents and a teacher in tow gives you quite a good alibi - as well as back-up) they backed off and were actually quite interested in the constellation tour I was doing!  We were about five miles from Manston airport and a few weeks or so after 9/11 so sensitivities were probably quite high, but I still think it's best not to use laser pointers in public even if there are no planes about.  Nut jobs have given them a bad name, to the point where anyone seen using one is automatically assumed to be causing mischief, at least on this side of the pond.

PS:  Just noticed you are Texas-based, Louis.  There is a world of difference between US and UK policing styles, I think, sorry for any misunderstanding!   

Here's the story from today I was thinking of.  In summary, a woman has a gun pointed at her, she calls the police, and they manhandle her and arrest her instead of the guy she called about.  It was only after the bystander's video came to light that things changed dramatically.  This was in Florida, though we've had our share of these in Texas as well.

Back on topic, I guess you really need to know your local laws with respect to laser pointers and the sky and to stay within those bounds.  Just don't be afraid to stand up for your right to use them as spelled out under those laws when challenged by the police, or no one will be allowed to use them under any circumstances.  That, and make sure there are corroborating witnesses and/or impartial video.

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These conversations on the policing of laser operators is interesting as every country has different laws governing use.

Not that I wish to participate in such discussion I will say police over reach in the USA is mainly confined to large cities were police are quite outnumbered overwelmed and are tasked with the enforcement of many more laws and ordinances, criminal activity in American cities can be many thousands of times greater than in the countryside. Where I live in the US we don't even see the police and when we do it's usually on trip to the metropolis, we treat them in high regard though as theirs is a most difficult and dangerous lifestyle and they are the threads that hold the fabric or our communities together.

 

 

 

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On 15/03/2019 at 15:31, Merlin66 said:

Just to add....

Here in Victoria, Australia you need a police permit to have and use a laser pointer.

It cost me $ 180 to renew for three years.

As you know, they can be dangerous, take care.

 

 

We have 7 clubs in South East Queensland

Under Section 67 Offensive Weapons Act, astronomy clubs have to be gazetted on Queensland Police Force website, use of laser pointers

Politicians pass the legislation, then try and get gazetted on Police Website

Took combined societies committee over 2 years

Done now

Check down there with respect to astronomy clubs been gazetted on the Vic Police Website, and then except from annual fee

Have attached copy of Cubs Space badge, which put together, with some of the group leaders

John  

Space Badge.docx

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On 15/03/2019 at 15:31, Merlin66 said:

Just to add....

Here in Victoria, Australia you need a police permit to have and use a laser pointer.

It cost me $ 180 to renew for three years.

As you know, they can be dangerous, take care.

 

Merlin

Documentation in Queensland

 

https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/weaponsLicensing/fees/Documents/Laser-Pointers.pdf

 

John

 

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9 hours ago, cletrac1922 said:

Interesting that they allow up to 20mW lasers for astro clubs.

A bit off topic, but what the heck: What are Australian regulations with regard to those laser light shows that project patterns on the outside of your house?  There have been multiple cases of them being aimed too far upward here in the states, and they were unintentionally dazzling pilots.  These lasers tend to be 100mW inside the box, but after going through the holographic diffraction grating, are not supposed to emit more than 5mW in any one beam.  I haven't heard of any homeowners being fined or jailed.  They have merely been warned to be more careful.

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On 18/03/2019 at 23:10, Louis D said:

Interesting that they allow up to 20mW lasers for astro clubs.

A bit off topic, but what the heck: What are Australian regulations with regard to those laser light shows that project patterns on the outside of your house?  There have been multiple cases of them being aimed too far upward here in the states, and they were unintentionally dazzling pilots.  These lasers tend to be 100mW inside the box, but after going through the holographic diffraction grating, are not supposed to emit more than 5mW in any one beam.  I haven't heard of any homeowners being fined or jailed.  They have merely been warned to be more careful.

 

Louis

Have a couple of theme parks close to where I live

Movie World and Dreamworld

Movie World also has a WB movie lot as well, and when do releases of new movies, or other functions at the complex, have large search light panning the skies

We live directly overhead flight path in Brisbane Airport

Never thought about laser shows and aircraft

Know our local council has had complaints about light pollution been admitted from local theme parks, and response from local council, is exempt under State Government permits

One rule for one, different rule for the rest

How life in Texas

Make it down this way, look me up

John 

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Well it has arrived. my Laser 303 300mW Professional Green Laser Pointer.    Tidy little device. I particularly like the lock and key for safety.   

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1 hour ago, Geoffw said:

Well it has arrived. my Laser 303 300mW Professional Green Laser Pointer.    Tidy little device. I particularly like the lock and key for safety.   

300mW!?  What on earth are you planning to use it for?

James

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3 hours ago, Geoffw said:

Well it has arrived. my Laser 303 300mW Professional Green Laser Pointer.    Tidy little device. I particularly like the lock and key for safety.   

The Laser 303's are 5mw but test on average a little higher, nice they are though and for the price are hard to beat. Just remember batteries that are run down more that 50% have a drastically reduced service life so never run the laser until it stops working, this will ruin the battery and it's ability to retain a maximum charge.

Best of Luck Geoffw, and Clear Skies of course ?

                                   

                           Freddie...

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1 minute ago, Geoffw said:

 

Capture.JPG

This must be a typo of some sort, or a liability disclaimer because they know the lasers are not 5mw...a 300mw laser would need a better power source or have a very minimal run time...

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2 minutes ago, SIDO said:

This must be a typo of some sort, or a liability disclaimer because they know the lasers are not 5mw...a 300mw laser would need a better power source or have a very minimal run time...

I'd suggest that a class 3B laser would be totally inappropriate for pointing out objects in the sky, too.

James

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7 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I'd suggest that a class 3B laser would be totally inappropriate for pointing out objects in the sky, too.

James

Agreed...

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20 minutes ago, JamesF said:

I'd suggest that a class 3B laser would be totally inappropriate for pointing out objects in the sky, too.

James

For the not so well informed ... why? I’m interested in getting one myself and so am wondering the answer?

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25 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

For the not so well informed ... why? I’m interested in getting one myself and so am wondering the answer?

Ok school time, 

A class 3b laser is any laser from 5 milliwatts to 499 milliwatts, so indeed using the class 3b criteria is a misnomer, for astronomical location purposes 5mw to about 20mw is the desired power to be effective for the task.

It is ridiculas I think that sellers mis state specifications so regularly, the laser 303's have good reputation for astronomical use and have been tested by many to be in the bottom end of the 3b class rating.

Never suggest someone use a class 3b laser for astronomy as this is not at all "Zero" a finite description of laser power.

Hope this helps ?

 

                          Freddie...

 

http://www.lasersafetyfacts.com/3B/

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15 minutes ago, SIDO said:

Ok school time, 

A class 3b laser is any laser from 5 milliwatts to 499 milliwatts, so indeed using the class 3b criteria is a misnomer, for astronomical location purposes 5mw to about 20mw is the desired power to be effective for the task.

It is ridiculas I think that sellers mis state specifications so regularly, the laser 303's have good reputation for astronomical use and have been tested by many to be in the bottom end of the 3b class rating.

Never suggest someone use a class 3b laser for astronomy as this is not at all "Zero" a finite description of laser power.

Hope this helps ?

 

                          Freddie...

 

http://www.lasersafetyfacts.com/3B/

 

I did google but thanks. I just didn’t understand James F saying a class 3b is ‘totally inappropriate’ but in fact astro lasers lie within the class 3b range?  Obviously I understand you don’t want to be using 499mw lasers ?

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23 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

For the not so well informed ... why? I’m interested in getting one myself and so am wondering the answer?

Firstly because any member of the local constabulary who happened to come across an individual using a 300mW laser as a pointer, especially outdoors, is probably going to have a highly unpleasant sense of humour failure.  That would be enough for me in itself.

A 300mW class 3B laser probably has a a fair range (perhaps 150m, maybe 200m, depending on the quality of the laser?) over which it could cause permanent eye damage, which makes accidental operation potentially harmful over a larger area than one might reasonably expect to control.

The actual range of such a laser might well be several kilometres depending on the beam divergence, which means you may never be too sure what's on the other end.  Even an accidental flash into an aircraft cockpit carries the potential for a prison sentence (in the UK).  At that kind of distance I reckon it would actually be quite hard to deliberately light up the cockpit of any aircraft, but it would be much easier not to go there in the first place.

A lot of the time, all you need for pointing out objects in the sky is a "longer finger", and a 1mW pointer will do that quite readily.  There may be cases where a more powerful laser is required, but anyone doing so probably needs to be able to justify what they're doing with it and how they're ensuring the safety of those around them, particularly as has already been pointed out, there's a legal limit of 1mW for pointers in the UK.

James

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