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Normally, you do get what you pay for. Those $1 pointers can vary wildly in both power output and beam quality, but I've found a few that can be boosted way beyond the intended power output. Samples which measured around 4mW (the brightest samples you're likely to find in any given purchase of several or more) were boosted to nearly 7mW by the addition of an extra cell. NOTE: This procedure is NOT recommended for two primary reasons: (1) The diode can instantly POP, leaving you with something to feed the hungry, hungry garbage can. And (2), if you boost the output above 5mW, the laser pointer is no longer a Class IIIA device, as defined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the CDRH (Center for Devices and Radiological Health); the two govenment agencies that determine what is and what is not safe for use by the general public. You can then get into some really hot water if you take the souped-up pointer into any public space and start blasting people and objects with it, or you can be held liable if someone suffers eye damage from exposure to your newly-created Class IIIB pointer!

WARNING! Neither myself, nor anybody associated with any outside links to this page are liable if you screw things up while performing this hack and end up setting a chair on fire, shooting down your cat, blinding yourself, vaporizing a toilet, setting off your hidden cache of illegal fireworks, or injuring someone as a result!
Nor are we to be held responsible for any property damage, traffic accidents, weapons fire, or other damages resulting from your use or misuse of this information.
PLEASE BE RESPONSIBLE! Observe all normal laser precautions for a CDRH Class IIIB instrument.

the right kind Laser safety goggles for the visible diode range (600-800nm) are recommended.
To perform this hack, unscrew the battery lid off your $1 or $2 "bullet" pointer and dump out the cells. If it uses three LR-44 button cells, put them back in and see if you can cram a fourth cell in - with some of the models that have a slightly elongated case, you can do this and still screw the end cap back on - otherwise you will need to tape the cells in.

The picture to the left is of one common and dirt cheap model you should look for - all variations of this model tested work well with the hack.
The back of the box says it uses a SONY laser diode, and the German version of the laser warning on the back state the diode is a 650nm model (the American label uses the range "630-680nm" instead of a specific wavelength).

It has been reported by somebody trying this hack that the second cell from the bottom tends to short against the metal case, so wrapping the outer edge of the cell with a thin insulating material (cigarette rolling paper should do) or inserting a piece of this tissue rolled to fit the inner edges of the pointer's case will eliminate the short circuit.

As stated earlier, this hack will either boost your laser to dangerous power levels or destroy it altogether - so have spare pointers on hand and be especially observant of where you direct the beam. If you blow out two of them consecutively, then the hack will not work with that particular brand and type of pointer and you should hop onto ebay and try another kind. Like I said, those bullet-style pointers selling for $1.00 and $1.25 on ebay seem to work successfully with the additional power. And never try to substitute the LR-44 button cells with any other kind of power source, for you are almost certain to burn the laser diode out if you do.

Update 01-01-01:
Don Klipstein tried this hack and reports getting 9.2 milliwatts with newer or well-rested cells, and 10.4 milliwatts using a specially-rigged external power source. Unless you choose your power source carefully, the laser diode is very easy to burn out. The best recommendation is to stick with using the LR-44 button cells the pointers come with.

I am not responsible for any damages should you try anything you see on this page and cause your modified laser pointer to burn, melt, explode, burn a hole in your favourite chair, kill your cat, knock over your mailbox, take off some of your fingers, blow a toilet off the wall, burn your house down, or otherwise do anything that costs you time or money - whether that time or money is yours, your neighbor's, your whore's, your doctor's, your septic tank pumper's, your milkman's, your car mechanic's, your plumber's, your mailman's, your insurance company's, and especially your garbage man's.

WHITE 5500-6500K InGaN+phosphor 
ULTRAVIOLET 370-390nm GaN 
BLUE 430nm GaN+SiC
BLUE 450 and 473nm InGaN
BLUE Silicon Carbide
TURQUOISE 495-505nm InGaN
GREEN 525nm InGaN 
YELLOW-GREEN 555-575mn GaAsP & related
YELLOW 585-595nm
AMBER 595-605nm
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Spider (Pirrahna) LEDs
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Agilent Barracuda & Prometheus LEDs
Oddball & Miscellaneous LEDs
Programmable RGB LED modules / fixtures
Where to buy these LEDs 
Links to other LED-related websites
The World's First Virtual LED Museum
The Punishment Zone - Where Flashlights Go to Die
Legal horse puckey, etc.
LEDSaurus (on-site LED Mini Mart)

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