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Green Laser Pointer help

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#1 N0vice8stronomer

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 02:46 PM

Hello!  Although I've been doing this for a few years, now, I'm still very much a beginner, especially when it comes to this topic, so I'm posting this here...

I'm looking for information and a recommendation for a laser pointer - can someone help? 

I got a green pointer a while ago, but it took weird, blue batteries, and they didn't work more than, dunno, one or two times.  Didn't work at all in the cold.  Paid $20 for it.  Then I found it may have been more than 5 mW, which I've since found out is not good.  Got it on E-Bay, can't find the mfg./seller's info., so!  Starting from square one again.  I've done some research and this is what I've come up with that I THINK I need:

- green, 5 mW, class 3(a?) pointer   (seen some that say 3-5 mW, but I'd like the five)

- something that you've used and works well, plus works in the cold. (New England kind of cold, that is!)

- takes lithium batteries (said to work better in the cold)

- Can something that ordinarily takes alkaline batteries take lithium also?  I've seen a lot that do take regular alkaline.

- Something made in the USA, or, if none, at least the distributor gives their contact info. and they will work with the distributor on any issues.

- It would be nice if it had a switch on/off (versus push button), as a couple of times when using the one I had, the push button would accidentally be pushed in my pocket or even in my hand.  

- I think that's it!

 

Thanks so much!  Terry



#2 Garyth64

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 03:09 PM

Last year I bought a green 5mw laser off of Ebay for $4.49.  I noticed their price is now $7.89.

 

I wanted to use it in place of a small finder, and as a pointer at star parties.

 

When I got it I found that it would fit into one of those small Tasco finders (with a little shimming):

 

Tasco finder.jpg

 

Here it is mounted in a Tasco finder.  It replaced the little original Unitron finder.

 

Laser yes.jpg

 

You can see it's button on the end.

 

I think it works very well.  It does what I wanted it to do, and it sure beats the high prices I've seen elsewhere.

 

It comes with it's own batter recharger.


Edited by Garyth64, 05 April 2017 - 09:31 AM.


#3 Carl N

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 03:48 PM

I use the ADM accessories laser and holder. VERY nice.

 

http://www.admaccess...er-accessories/

 

I have recharged the battery twice in 2 years, disclaimer - I don't use it a lot even though it is mounted on my scope.

 

I like that is has a key that you need to insert and turn on before the push button works.



#4 Adun

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 03:56 PM

I'm looking for information and a recommendation for a laser pointer - can someone help? 

- green, 5 mW, class 3(a?) pointer   (seen some that say 3-5 mW, but I'd like the five)

- takes lithium batteries (said to work better in the cold)

- Something made in the USA, or, if none, at least the distributor gives their contact info. and they will work with the distributor on any issues.

Something certified to be 5mW (they actually hand them and hand-write a certification included with their GLPs), and sourced from the US is ZBolt. They also have a few models geared for astronomy (separate touch on-off button, battery models, etc)

 

I can't talk from experience, but when I was researching for green lasers, that brand came a lot with good reviews.



#5 N0vice8stronomer

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 05:11 PM

Thank you for all your replies!  To the two who have used the green laser pointers, have you used them in the cold?

Ah, I knew there was another question - was wondering how the rechargable batteries do, and in the cold, too.



#6 Alex McConahay

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 08:00 PM

There may be a use for those things if you are observing alone....but they are not generally too welcome at star parties. (At least after the general outreach star-tour.)

 

Alex



#7 Garyth64

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 08:12 PM

I have seen them used many times in showing new people the night sky at outreach programs.  I have used one my self to point out constellations and certain stars.  It's never been an issue.  I could see it could be an issue if someone was imaging, but that's not done at outreach.



#8 Carl N

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 08:22 PM

The ADM one works fine any temperature I've had it in.

#9 vtornado

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 08:35 PM

I bought one at a scientific/surplus store.  

It is effected by cold. I keep it in my  inner coat pocket in the winter.

 

I just place it on the tube, and use the focuser flange of my reflector get it generally parallel with the optical axis.

I usually only use it to get my setting circles generally aligned.

I can quickly point the scope at a bright object with the laser and bam it's in my finder.



#10 starshine4

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 09:07 PM

You get what you pay for, look at Orion laser finders with a mount for your scope.

The $20.00 ones are junk, a waist of $.



#11 North of Sixty

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 09:36 PM

Good thread. With the grandkid being 4 now and very interested in the night sky it's time I picked up a green/blue LP. Also find myself more in small outreach situations where a LP would be handy. The ZBolts with the on/off cable look pretty cool. The cable could be tied to the handle of some of the alt-az mounts like SV's M2 or TV's Telepod to give a quick targeting burst when panning. Makes me wonder why we haven't seen a built in LP and handle switch in some of the higher end alt-az mounts. 



#12 halx

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 09:44 PM

All consumer grade lasers are affected by cold because the laser LED crystal generation just stops at the certain point. Even though I'm in California, where it's rarely anywhere below 30 I do have that issue too but just because of the rechargeable AAA batteries failure. However, my friends from Siberia are reporting most certain failure of the crystal near and under 0F after just a couple of minutes even with an external power source (car socket). An electric heating pad helps with that, though.

 

Keeping the pointer on your body unless really needed is the great immediate solution. All you need is some sort of a pointer base on the OTA, where you can clip the laser easily. Precise alignment with thumb set screws (which I saw at one of the links above) is the typical $50+ rip-off. You don't need that. On my Astroscan, I have just 2 simple ropes around the OTA and can tuck my pointer ends under both, move it to lay flat against the focuser bump in order to align with the OTA, and finally rotate to push the button against that bump in just a couple of seconds. I then can see the tip of the laser beam exactly at the center of the 40x FOV of the scope.

 

AstroScan001.jpg

 

That's a lucky coincidence indeed, but note - no any screws necessary, just a prealigned base with simplistic clipping. If not yet convinced, consider this: even though, I have a decent 3D printer at home and can print anything imaginable just overnight, including the entire Astroscan OTA replica with the laser holder integrated - I don't even bother improving that rope mount, as it's simply perfect.



#13 t_image

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Posted 04 April 2017 - 10:57 PM

I don't want to say too much here but the cheap ones may have a safety concern,

as they may be missing a vital IR block filter,

as the cheap tech has to do with halving the wavelength to produce the green,

but does have substantial invisible laser energy leaking as well,

-energy that one cannot see, eyeballs do not have a (close eyes because it is bright reflex),

and can possibly have more mw energy behind it than the rating at the green wavelength.....

Even though the bright green causes your pupils to dilate, reflections of the beam and looking at it in the dark (pupils wide open),

one cannot possibly tell that there is bright invisible energy that can be entering your eye and can las your retina.

And retina damage is not painful and not immediately detectable sometimes.......

FWIW.
http://www.nbcnews.c...laser-pointers/



#14 GaryCurran

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:35 AM

As a pilot, although not currently flying, I would like to share just how dangerous green lasers are.

http://mentalfloss.c...ointer-aircraft

Even if you're not intentionally aiming at an airplane, if you're anywhere within 30 miles or so of a large airport, you can have not only commercial, but civilian, law enforcement, or military aircraft overhead.  Even those 5mW lasers, as seen in this story, can be pretty damaging inside the cockpit.

I don't recommend shining ANY laser up into the air, either as a pointer or other style of device for tracking or aligning to start.

Don't use a laser!

 

More references.

http://abcnews.go.co...ory?id=32499432

http://www.laserpoin...s_aircraft.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35576741



#15 Joe Gerardi

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 09:22 AM

I have this one. Don't believe the sales hype, it's still a 5mW, and won't burn anything. That said, it has a brilliant, big beam than never fails to elicit an "Ooh" from people when they see it, astronomers included.
 

if you're anywhere within 30 miles or so of a large airport, you can have not only commercial, but civilian, law enforcement, or military aircraft overhead.  Even those 5mW lasers, as seen in this story, can be pretty damaging inside the cockpit.

 
Quite true. As a pilot, I call KSAV's tower, give them my tail number, tell them we'll be out and using lasers, and that I'll have my handheld with me. If any traffic is getting near, they can call my via my tail number, and I'll make the announcement to kill all the laser light till they call me back and issue a "traffic no factor."
 
.Joe



#16 Penarin

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:08 PM

I had a cheap green laser pointer from ebay, and then a nice one from Orion.  The Orion one is much better!  Howie Glatter also makes very nice green lasers.

 

I use Eneloop rechargeable AAAs in it and have always been impressed by it.  Never tried it on a truly cold night, but the Orion with the Eneloops has worked fine on chilly fall or early winter nights.



#17 GaryCurran

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:19 PM

 

 

Quite true. As a pilot, I call KSAV's tower, give them my tail number, tell them we'll be out and using lasers, and that I'll have my handheld with me. If any traffic is getting near, they can call my via my tail number, and I'll make the announcement to kill all the laser light till they call me back and issue a "traffic no factor."

 

.Joe

That's real nice of you, Joe, since you are the 0.01%.  But, for those who have never been lased in the cockpit, and have no idea of how damaging a laser can be during an approach (imagine breaking out just above minimums and being lased).  

I like lasers, have a Crimson Trace on my EDC, but other than playing with kitties around the house with a little penlight one, I don't really see the reason for many.  Take a laptop and show them the real stars versus Stellarium.



#18 Chesterguy1

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 12:29 PM

I take Gary's point and do feel one needs to be careful using green--and red lasers for that matter.  I have green laser pointers on my 8" dob and my 120 mm refractor and am seriously considering replacing my Telrad finder on my 15" with one.  My reason is simple: I have a serious neck issue that makes the initial two-star alignment for my DSCs difficult.  I like to think that I am careful and responsible in the use of my lasers and I don't live near any major airports (there is a small municipal airport several miles away).  I am careful checking the sky for blinking lights when I do my alignment and unless I lose alignment during the viewing session I'm rarely using the laser more than a brief three or four times per night for a mere instant or two.  You'd think if this truly were a significant problem it would be easy enough to control the sale of them.  I'm guessing the vast majority of owners use them responsibly.  Of course, keeping them at a higher price point might at least keep them out of the hands of kids.  I'm not sure what to do with the merely irresponsible.

 

Chesterguy



#19 SteveG

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 01:28 PM

Lasers are fantastic finders, pretty much all I use anymore. But you need to spend real money if you want one that works in cold weather. I have one that works down to about 25 deg, but it is no longer available. The Z-bolt lasers usually get very good reviews, but you need to check your unit as soon as you get it, and be prepared to exchange it if it doesn't hold up to the cold (place it in the freezer). Another good seller is Howie Glatter, on these forums. He has very high quality lasers that work in the cold. I believe he also has brackets as well. There is a small plastic laser bracket on Amazon that fits your standard Synta mounting shoe.

 

Regarding aircraft, just be careful how you use it. The planes that have been hit by lasers were done so intentionally by non astronomers. A plane flying directly overhead several thousand feet up will never see your laser beam unless you deliberately try to track it. And for the record, I am a pilot (current), and was targeted once by a very bright laser while flying.



#20 Philler

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 05:51 PM

I hate lazer pointers, refuse to have one, don't want them anywhere around where I am observing, and I think they should be banned by law. If people simply used them sparingly and briefly only as an aid in locating things in the night sky, I would be ok with them. Trouble is, people misuse them in annoying and even dangerous ways around others. And if kids get a hold of them is like they have found a loaded gun.
If my opinion makes me a few enemies here, so be it.

Edited by Philler, 07 April 2017 - 05:54 PM.


#21 Maurolico

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 06:09 PM

1.2 volts from rechargeable batteries is low voltage for laser pointers; do use common 1.5 volts battery.



#22 Feidb

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 10:21 AM

I used one as a locator for a decade and still have it on my scope. Since I now have a digital finder, I only use it mainly for outreach or occasionally when I feel like it. Never had an issue with it. It's still there if my digital system ever goes on the blink.



#23 drollere

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 10:55 AM

this is a classic example of a technology being used where it is not needed and not wanted.

 

a simple flashlight with a decent collimating reflector will cast a very sufficient beam to point out any naked eye celestial object. the beam only has to ascend about 40' to do the work for a star party.

 

pointing a telescope with a laser? you've apparently never heard of a red dot finder, or you think a telescope is cousin to a sniper rifle.

 

everything gary said about air hazard, not to mention the federal hazard to your legal position, suggests it's extremely misguided to point lasers into the night sky.



#24 izar187

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 11:19 AM

The number one thing that using a laser pointer at an outreach does...

  is to show guests that they should go out and buy a laser pointer, to shine up into the night sky.

 

They will then buy one of them first, before ever a telescope.

Frequently never a telescope, because they weren't that motivated in the first place.

 

But they got a life lesson on how cool, easy and cheap it into shine lasers up int o the night sky.

So they can now wow others too...

 

Who can now also carry the derangement forward, and do so.

Teaching still more folks.

From my experience, as an outreacher.


Edited by izar187, 08 April 2017 - 11:20 AM.


#25 North of Sixty

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:45 PM

Living a thousand miles up the Alaska Hwy, kind of in the middle of nowhere, I look forward to getting my first GLP. An RDF works good for finding what I want but the GLP will be awesome for showing others and especially our wee granddaughter what is up there naked eye and through the eyepiece. Hopefully they are not banned or anything ridiculous like that before I finally get around to ordering one up. 




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