SONAR BLU-RAY PORTABLE LASER
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Wicked Lasers Sonar Blu-ray Portable Laser, retail 11,608.3 CNY ($1,732.19)* (www.wickedlasers.com...)
Manufactured by Wicked Lasers (www.wickedlasers.com)
Last updated 09-15-13


* IMPORTANT: Pricing is accurate as of 11-02-10. Please visit the Currency Calculator for the latest currency conversion rates from US dollars to Chinese yuan.




(In reference to the small package I received from Wicked Lasers around 3:43pm PDT on 06-18-07):
{sung like the Foreigner song "Feels Like the First Time"}


This is a violet-emitting portable laser based on the Sony Blu-ray laser diode the first commercial portable (self-contained) Blu-ray laser pointing device that I'm aware of anyway.

It comes in a handsome aluminum body with the "Wicked Lasers" and "Blu-ray" logos smartly laser-engraved into it, and feeds from two CR123A cells.

As I stated earlier, it uses a Sony Blu-ray laser diode that is reported to output 20mW of laser radiation at 405nm in the violet part of the spectrum. Because it is at the violet end of the spectrum, it will not be as visible mW-per-mW as blue, green, yellow, or red laser pointers, but the color is absolutely gorgeous, and is very radiant and unusual for a handheld laser.

Blu-ray laser diodes (400-410nm) are currently so hard to come by that Wicked Lasers (and anybody else who makes portable lasers/pointers out of these diodes) disembowels Blu-ray disc players and (not Wicked Lasers but some other individuals) PS3 video game consoles specifically to harvest the rare & expensive Blu-ray violet-emitting laser diodes from them.

This is only the second Blu-ray portable laser I've seen; this is the first it is a homemade device. I was able to get this web page published so quickly after receiving the Sonar because I was able to use the other Blu-ray laser's web page as a template and because I went to the Sonar's web page for pricing info, information on the Sonar's TEM (transverse electromagnetic mode), beam divergence, and things like that. So I only needed to add product photographs, optical & electrical measurements, spectroscopy, and text specific to the Sonar itself (like the fact that it is pulsed, not CW).

The beam is rapidly pulsed, not CW (continuous wave), so you'll see a dotted line on the target when the laser is rapidly waved about.







Here are the laser-engraved logos on the aluminum body.
Nice, aren't they?



 SIZE



Feed the portable laser a pair of CR123A cells (not included) (see below), remove the purple plastic cover from the laser aperture (the hole in one end), and then you'll be ready to rock.

To use the portable laser, just aim it at something you wish to point out, and press & hold down the button on the barrel for as long as you need the violet laser spot. Violet laser radiation will literally pour out of the "business-end" for as long as this button is held down. Release the button to turn the portable laser back off. Yes, it really is as easy as that.

The portable laser comes with a hinge-lidded presentation case (that has a magnetically-closing lid) with a foam cutout for the module. You may store the Sonar in this case if desired.



To change the batteries in your Wicked Lasers Sonar, unscrew and remove the tailcap, throw it in the {vulgar term for feces}bowl, yank that silver handle on the front of the cistern down, and flush it away...O WAIT!!! YOU'LL NEED THAT!!! So just set it aside instead.

Tip the two used CR123A cells out of the barrel and into your hand, and dispose of, recycle, or recharge them (only if they're rechargeables!) as you see fit.

Insert two new CR123A cells into the barrel, button-end (+) positive first. This is the opposite of how batteries are installed in most other laser pointers/portable lasers, so please pay attention to polarity here.

Screw the tailcap back on, and be done with it.
Aren't you glad you didn't flush away that tailcap now?

Current usage measures 41.6mA on a set of known-new WF brand CR123A cells.

The website does not state not to use rechargeables; there is a circuit that pulses the laser diode so it *SHOULD* be ok to use them.
But I can offer no guarantees here...do so at your own risk until or if I hear otherwise.

I also do not know if reverse-polarity protection (mechanical or electrical) is present in the Sonar; I'd rather not risk the destruction of an irreplaceable $2,000.00 laser just to find out.
(Update 06-26-07): If the Sonar has reverse-polarity protection, it is *not* mechanical. I determined this by intentionally installing the batteries backward and metering for voltage between the battery's exposed (+) positive nipple and the laser's case, and found close to 6 volts when the button was pressed. The DMM's series resistance (when set to the +40 volts scale) was enough to protect the Sonar's circuit here.

(Update 07-03-07): My contact at Wicked Lasers says a rather emphatic "NOOOOOOOOO!!!" for use of both RCR123A rechargeables and reverse-polarity protection; the Sonar has not been tested with/for either. At $2,000.00 a pop, I can understand - it could be what $4,000.00 whirling down a {white porcelain fixture used for defecation} looks like.



This is a portable laser, not a flashlight. So I won't throw it against the wall, stomp on it, try to drown it in the {vulgar term for feces}bowl or the cistern, run over it, swing it against the concrete floor of a patio, bash it open to check it for candiosity, fire it from the cannoata (I guess I've been watching the TV program "Viva Piata" too much again - candiosity is usually checked with a laser-type device on a platform with a large readout or with a handheld wand), send it to the Daystrom Institute for additional analysis, or inflict upon it punishments that flashlights may have inflicted upon them. Therefore, this section of the laser's web page will seem a bit more bare than this section of the web page on a page about a flashlight.

This is a directly-injected laser though, who's active components are the laser diode and the collimating lens. So it should withstand accidents better than a DPSS (diode pumped solid state) laser the type of laser assembly found in yellow (593.5nm), green (532nm) and blue (473nm) laser pointers & portable lasers (handheld or laboratory). These lasers have several additional components (crystals, filters, etc.) in the optical train, and you can knock them out of alignment by doing little more than looking at them the wrong way. And if any of these components are knocked out of whack, you'll no longer get your yellow, green, or blue laser beam.
You still do not want to intentionally drop your Sonar though, because it's a rather expensive precision optical instrument.

***EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!!***
This laser is a CDRH Class IIIb instrument, and the photons generated by it are much higher in energy than the photons generated by a red laser of equivalent power; so you definitely do not want to shine it into your eyes, other people's eyes, pets' eyes, for that matter, the eyes of any person or animal you encounter. Eye damage can occur faster than the blink reflex can protect them, regardless of what species' eyes you irradiate with this laser. So just don't do it.
And fer chrissakes (and for heaven sakes and for Pete sakes and your sakes too) do not shine this laser at any vehicle, whether ground-based like a motorcycle, car, or truck, or air-based like a helicopter, airplane, or jet. And if you shoot it at a person in the dark and he turns out to be a police officer, he may think he's being targeted, unholster (pull out) his gun, and hose you down with it.


EXTREMELY, VERY, SUPER DOOPER IMPORTANT!!! I know I just said this, but it bears repeating: You MUST NOT shine it in your eyes, not even when the Sonar's batteries have pooped out and it is below lasing threshold!!!!!!!!! You will have bright, long-lasting (several days!!!) afterimages if you do!!! The human eye was not designed for wavelengths much below 420nm in the blue-violet region of the spectrum.

This is a CDRH Class IIIB laser device. Treat it with respect, and it'll treat you with respect.

This laser is not water-resistant, so please be extra careful when using it around sinks, tubs, toilets, fishtanks, pet water bowls, or other places where water or water-like liquids might be found. And you'll probably want to cover it up or otherwise get rid of it (such as by putting it in a pocket or bag) if you need to carry it in rainy or snowy weather.

The case is made from 6061-T6 Aircraft-Grade Aluminum, and is both tough and looks nice.

The beam has a divergence of 1.5mRad (milliradians), and has a diameter of 2.50mm when it exits the product.
According to the web page on the Sonar, it produces a TEM00 (transverse electromagnetic mode 00) beam that is, it produces a beam with a Gaussian power distribution; circular with a central hotspot and dimmer corona. This is a typical laser mode, and is how many lasers (well, most lasers for consumer use anyway) are designed to operate.

The beam from the Sonar is not perfecly circular; it is oval (somewhat egg-shaped) like beams from all directly-injected diode lasers that do not have special beam shape corrective optics.

The beam emerges from this laser larger in diameter than is usual for pointer-style lasers, but the beam "waist" (the smallest beam diameter) occurs approximately 6 feet away. At ~18 feet, the beam diameter is still smaller than it is at the laser aperture.

Visibility of the Sonar's spot is similar to a 1mW to 2mW red diode laser, but it can do something that *NO* red laser can: it causes fluorescence (glowing) in many colored objects and white paper.

At normal viewing distances (~6 feet to ~100 feet), the beam spot may have a "furry" or out-of-focus appearance to it. This is *NOT* a fault of the Sonar (it's quite well collimated actually), it's because human eyes can't properly deal with deep violet light and cannot focus correctly on it, even if the Sonar's spot is the only object visible.

Because of the low current usage, battery life should be quite a long time more than other laser pointers including those red ones that use two AAA cells.

Do ***NOT*** unscrew the front cap while the batteries are installed; doing so may cause the laser to malfunction (it became stuck in the "on" position in my case); this was remedied by screwing the front cap firmly back in place.
Although this may indeed work (it worked with my laser), it is not guaranteed to work.
If you removed the cap with batteries in the laser before reading not to do that here, that's ok.
But if you did that after reading about me telling you not to, then shame on you!!!

There is no CDRH laser warning label on the Sonar itself or on/in the presentation case (yes, I even removed the foam insides to look underneath). However, I will not consider this a negative because Blu-ray lasers are still so new and it is entirely within the realm of possibility that a label reading "Diode Laser 405nm" has not yet even been created.

This is a pulsed laser, not a CW laser...it strongly reminds me of the Nintendo coin-op arcade video game ''R-Type''; in that at some points in the game, you can collect a bonus called "PULSE LASER" (and an on-board speech synthesizer says this phrase at that time) and you'll have...what else...a pulsed laser.
Why the Sonar is pulsed I don't yet know. It has been proven that Blu-ray laser diodes do well in continuous mode; perhaps it was done to increase diode life.
I've never measured a pulsed laser before, so I had to enlist the aid of a laser expert to get the job done properly.

After I wrapped the Sonar in some store brand nasal tissue (functionally identical to Cleanax) and put it "where the sun don't shine" (get your mind out of the gutter!!! I did not place it in my toliet muscle!!! I just didn't want to put the Sonar in the oven!!!) to raise its temperature to 96F (35.5C), I measured its power output at 2.897246mW. This is average power; peak power is 17.38mW.

I would have liked it if the word "SONAR" was laser-engraved on the laser, but this is just personal preference, and in no way does it affect how I feel about the laser.

Walking around with the Sonar is like walking around with a laser "blacklight"...you'll end up shooting it at a lot of objects to see if they fluoresce (glow), and a surprising number of objects *DO* fluoresce! Many types of white paper glow a brilliant whitish-blue, and many "day glow" plastic items glow very brightly when irradiated by the Sonar's 404.6nm (yes, measured spectroscopically) violet laser radiation!!!

Battery and switch button rattle is totally nonexistant. I shook the Sonar quite vigorously both vertically and horizontally, and did not detect any sound.

The Sonar has three circumfrential ridges in its body; so retention (the ability to hold on to the product when your hands are cold, oily, or soaked with Diet Pepsi, Coke, coffee, chocolate milk, pee, Fanta, strawberry milkshake, bird poop, Mug old-fashioned root beer, or water) should not be an issue.

The Sonar is a wonderful laser, and to use "1337 5p34k" ("leet speak"), "this laser ROXORS!!!"



Beam photograph at ~12".
That white & blue color does not really exist; the spot appears to be a very deep royal purple to the eye.
Digital cameras have a tough time at these wavelengths.

And yes, I know that the colors purple and violet are two different critters, but the phrase "royal violet"
would not make very much sense; however, most everybody knows what "royal purple" looks like.
Purple is a mixture of red & blue; violet is a spectral color, encompassing wavelengths of ~390nm to ~410nm.

Power output measures 2.413816mW
* on a laser power meter specifically designed for this purpose.
Known-new WF brand CR123A cells were used for this measurement.



Beam photograph at ~12".
Argon laser goggles were used; that's why this image appears amber.



Beam photograph on a ceiling; unit was waved about so you could see the pulsed operation.
Again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.



Beam photograph on the front of a dresser; unit was waved about so you could see the pulsed operation.



Beam photograph of the Sonar and the Blu-ray Portable Laser.
The Sonar is on the right - note the pulsed operation.



Photograph of a clock after I irradiated one of the hands with this laser for ~2 seconds.



Photograph of a bottle of green glow powder after I irradiated it with this laser for ~2 seconds.



Photograph of a screwdriver with orange handle; photoflash was used.



Photograph of a screwdriver with orange handle; shown being irradiated with this laser.



Photograph of a Votive LED that I'm about to irradiate with this laser.
It has a white SMD LED.



Photograph of the product's LED fluorescing rather strongly in the Sonar's 404.6nm violet laser radiation.



Photograph of a small flashlight fluorescing rather strongly in the Sonar's 404.6nm violet laser radiation.



Photograph of fluorescence in a CD259 Oakman insulator.
The yellowish beam usually indicates the presence of manganese in the glass, a clarifying agent.
But this is an aqua insulator, so I don't know what's causing the fluorescence.



Comparison of the Sonar and another Blu-ray Portable Laser causing salmon-colored
fluorescence in a compact "flourescent" "lite" "blub".
The Sonar's wavelength is 404.6nm, and the other Blu-ray laser's wavelength is 409.4nm.
The difference is *MUCH MORE* pronounced in real life.



Photograph of the Sonar's beam ~49 feet away. Note the ruler for a size reference.



Beam photograph on a structure ~200 feet away.
Photograph was taken at 8:49pm PDT 06-22-07. 11x zoom was used.
Once again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.
Beam spot appears large because I believe some laser movement occurred. It is virtually
impossible to hold everything still during such a long exposure time (est. 1,200ms (1.20 seconds)).



Beam photograph on a structure ~200 feet away.
Photograph was taken at 9:01pm PDT 06-26-07. 14x zoom was used.
Once again, the blue color does not actually exist.
Beam spot appears large because the laser's divergence is a little on the high side.
This will ***NOT*** affect most users though as the Sonar really wasn't meant for these distances!!!



Beam photograph comparing the Sonar with a homemade Blu-ray Portable Laser.
Both photographs were taken at the same distance (~200 feet) with 14x zoom.
This laser is on the left, the homemade laser is on the right.

This tells me that a single lens may not be up to the job; better collimation may be achieved with multiple lenses, but there
is a trade-off: beam diameter at closer ranges will be much larger than desired, so this is a perfectly acceptable compromise.



Fluorescence in the green part of a Team Edge RC remote control.



Photograph of oscilloscope screen showing that the Sonar is not CW.
For this test, I connected a silicon solar cell to the oscilloscope's inputs, and irradiated it with this laser.



Here's proof that the solar cell has a fast enough fall-time; the gentle fall-off in the above plot is not the result of the PV cell.
(Update 06-19-07): The solar cell *MAY* be at fault here; I'll know more
when I connect the correct resistor across the PV cell.
This is of the red LED in the LRI Proton.

(Update 06-20-07): I redid the test with a 330 ohm resistor connected across the solar cell; no significant change was noted.



Beam photograph at ~10'.
Once again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.
Beam image also bloomed significantly; it is smaller in real life.



Beam photograph at ~10'; photoflash was used this time.
Once again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.

Those rectangular graphic things near the center of these photographs are marquees from:
Nintendo ''R-Type''
Super Tiger...er...uh...Konami ''Super Cobra''
Midway ''Omega Race''
Sega ''Star Trek''
Williams ''Joust''
Venture Line ''Looping''
Universal ''Mr. Do!'s Castle''
Jaleco ''Exerion''
Gremlin/Sega ''Astro Blaster''
Atari ''Tempest''
Gottlieb ''Q*bert''


upright coin-op arcade video games from the 1980s.

And that graphic toward the right is:
A "BIG SCARY LASER" poster sent by www.megagreen.co.uk




Beam photograph comparing the Sonar with a homemade Blu-ray Portable Laser.
The Sonar is the spot on the right.

Those rectangular graphic things near the upper left quadrant of this photograph are marquees from:
Venture Line ''Looping''
Jaleco ''Exerion''
Atari ''Tempest''

upright coin-op arcade video games from the 1980s.

And that graphic toward the right is:
A "BIG SCARY LASER" poster sent by www.megagreen.co.uk




Beam photograph on a ceiling; unit was shot through a pair of binoculars to widen the beam.
Yet again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.



Beam photograph on a patio floor; first day of summer 2007 (06-21-07).
Yet again, the blue & white color does not actually exist.



Beam photograph in light fog, taken at ~5:49am PDT 11-01-07.




Beam photograph in heavy fog, taken at ~5:57am PST 12-06-08.



PRELIMINARY LASER STABILITY CHARTS:
Spectrographic analysis
One minute four seconds of operation.


Spectrographic analysis
One hour (60 minutes) of operation.


Spectrographic analysis
16.50 hours (990 minutes) of operation.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser, with spectrometer's response band limited to 400nm - 410nm.
Wavelength appears to be 403.95nm, and spectral line halfwidth appears to be ~2.2nm.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser; spectrometer's response narrowed again to a range of 401.0nm to 404.5nm.
Peak wavelength appears to be 403.57nm this time.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser under lasing threshold, with spectrometer's response band limited to 390nm - 410nm.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser under lasing threshold, showing a somewhat dim broadband emission from ~475nm to ~700nm.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser under lasing threshold; spectrometer's response narrowed to a range between 475nm to 700nm to show this broadband emission.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser; spectrometer's response broadened to its maximum range of 175nm to 874nm to show the total lack of any emissions whatsoever beyond the laser line itself.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser; newest (03-25-12) spectrometer software settings used.


Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of this laser; newest (03-25-12) spectrometer software settings used. Spectrometer's response band limited to 401nm - 406nm to pinpoint wavelength, which is 404.277nm.


Spectral line halfwidth
Spectral line halfwidth of the laser diode in the Sonar is ~1.80nm.

The raw spectrometer data (tab-delimited that can be loaded into Excel) is at http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/43/sonar.txt

USB2000 Spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.


ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis (X-axis).
Beam widened with the lens furnished with this product.


ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis (Y-axis).
Beam widened with the lens furnished with this product.
Images made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.




Video on YourTube showing the laser irradiating (and spinning) the vanes of a Crooke's radiometer.
This clip is approximately 7.1 megabytes (7,305,974 bytes) in length; dial-up users please be aware.
It will take no less than twenty five minutes to load at 48.0Kbps.
I cannot provide it in other formats, so please do not ask.

The sound you might hear is the TV game show "Weakest Link", and may be muted or ignored if desired.



The laser diode inside the Sonar; argon laser goggles were used which is why this image appears yellow.



The laser diode inside the Sonar again; this time it was well below threshold so the goggles were not necessary.



And here's a photograph of an Exveemon plush with this laser. Exveemon is blue, and has a weapon called a "Vee Laser".
Veemon, digivolve to...EXVEEMON!!!
{shouting} VEEEEEE LASERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!

The Vee Laser isn't blue (and the Sonar isn't either {it's violet} it's called a "Blu-ray" laser), but Exveemon himself is,
so I believed it appropriate for this web page.



And just for "funzees", the bumper sticker I received with the Sonar.








TEST NOTES:
Test unit was sent by Steve of www.wickedlasers.com and was received on 06-18-07.

Product was made in China.
A product's country of origin really does matter to some people, which is why I published it on this web page.

* How I measured its power:
  1. I irradiated the sensor of a Sper Scientific model # 840011 laser power meter with the Sonar for 60 seconds (1 minute).
  2. I multiplied the maximum reading of 1.448 by 10 to arrive at 14.48.
  3. I then multiplied this by 0.1667 (the laser's duty cycle) to obtain the final reading of 2.413816mW.

UPDATE 06-20-07:
I have decided to rate the Sonar 4 1/2 stars and place it in The Trophy Case on this website!!!
The primary reason it did not receive five full stars is the cost: almost two grand!!! For a handheld laser!!!


UPDATE 06-23-07:
This website shows how the Sonar comes to life Blu-ray laser disc drives are disembowelled for their precious cargo the expen$ive Blu-ray laser diodes of course.


UPDATE 06-23-07:
No, you're not seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
I have decided to increase its rating from 4 1/2 stars to 5 stars...cost is a rather irrelevant issue here, and should not be affecting my judgement on this laser.


UPDATE 06-24-07:
From Jack O'Neil at Optotronics (a person who knows his {vulgar term for feces; rhymes with pit} about things that lase) comes this:

Hi Craig, I wanted to chime in on the way output power is calculated for a pulse laser.

RMS is for AC waveforms, this is because for part of the cycle the current is going in the opposite direction and thus goes below zero and then to a negative value.

With laser diodes, the current will only flow in one direction (that's what a diode does). So instead of RMS, you need to use the average output power during the "on time" of the laser and multiply that by the duty cycle of the laser pulses.

The duty cycle of the laser can be calculated by measuring the ratio of the on/off time in your picture above. Your picture shows a slow fall time/decay, this is an effect of the solar cell, perhaps it is being oversaturated and falls slowly. So, to find the duty cycle, the "on time" is from the point when the positive edge of the pulse begins to the point where the pulse no longer is at it's flat positive value and begins it's decay.

This measurement can even be done from your browser screen as it is only a ratio and not affected by size or even if the aspect ratio of the picture was changed.

I used my digital caliper and measured the length of the "on pulse" as 5mm. I then measured the length of one positive pulse edge to the next positive pulse edge, this length was 30mm. This gives a duty cycle of 16.67% for the Sonar.

Now to figure out the power output.
A meter that uses a thermal sensor is usually the most accurate, but you have to look at the specs of the meter and see what the integration time of each sample is and to make sure the pulse rate of the laser is much faster than the integration time; it's best if pulse rate is at least 10x the sample integration time as this will reduce the margin of error to a much lower level.

Actually, since this laser has a pretty flat (peak), a lasercheck (which measures peak value over a 2 seconds time period) will work good or you could use a thermal meter that records peak value over time as well.

The output power would then be calculated by multiplying the lasercheck reading by 0.1667 to find the true average output power/energy. If your meter is recording a peak value like most inexpensive silicon meters do; the 11.6mW you measured at room temperature is really only 1.93mW and the 17.38mW at high temperature converts to 2.89mW.

You had asked why the laser was being pulsed when they could be used CW.
Well, it is done to save money.
It takes extra components to make the laser pulse on and off and these cost money, but this allows the use of a lower power diode and this can save a huge amount on the final build cost. This way a lower power rated diode can be overdriven by a great deal if the duty cycle is short like the 16.7% shown here. With this duty cycle, the diode can be overdriven by 6x it's CW rate because the diode can be cooling off for 5/6 of the time and the average power rating is never exceeded.

Thanks Craig for doing this review.
Jack



UPDATE 06-25-07:
Beam divergence appears to have slightly but noticeably increased over the last couple of days. Disassembling (removing the tailcap, batteries, and front cap) & then reassembling the Sonar in reverse order appears to have had no effect. The beam is "waisting" closer to the laser; at ~18 feet, the beam is now a little larger than it is at the aperture; it was a little smaller than it was at the aperture before.


UPDATE 06-25-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
The beam waist (the point at which the beam is at its smallest diameter) is now 7 feet, instead of the 6 feet it was earlier today. So diassembling (removing the tailcap, batteries, and front cap) & then reassembling the Sonar in reverse order did make a minor improvement. This tells me that the overall divergence would be slightly lower.


UPDATE 06-25-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, another same-day update.
After I once again wrapped the Sonar in some store brand nasal tissue (functionally identical to Cleanax) and put it "where the sun don't shine" (once again get your mind out of the gutter!!! I did not place it in my bunghole!!! I just didn't want to put the Sonar in the oven!!!) to raise its temperature to 93F (33.9C) to see if there was any change in beam size at short distance, the beam was just slightly larger than it is at lower temperatures. This also tells me that the overall divergence would be slightly lower.


UPDATE 06-25-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a TWELFTH same-day update.
I attempted to use a small screwdriver to screw the lens assembly inward slightly, and was not successful.
Actually, I *did* meet with some limited success; the beam spot appears approximately the same size at ~18 feet as it does at exit.


UPDATE 06-26-07:
Beam waisting now appears to occur ~8 feet away from the laser aperture.


UPDATE 06-27-07:
Wicked Lasers will be coming out with a "Blu-ray Burner" edition of this laser sometime in the near-future.
It will be considerably more powerful than the Sonar on this web page.


UPDATE 06-28-07:
Just an observation here...not impirical science. Holding the Sonar feels like holding a small piece of the future. I remember purchasing a red laser pointer around 1990; it cost almost $500.00 for a 3mW 650nm unit. It came with a 30 day money back guarantee, so on day 30, I returned it, giving some bull{vulgar term for feces} excuse like "it's just not bright enough" or some such horse puckey. I would have never even *DREAMT* that a true handheld violet laser would exist in my lifetime...but look!!! We now have the Sonar!!!

Just think...only 17 years from red diode lasers produced en masse to violet diode lasers!!!
When green lasers came out, I thought they were "the bomb". Same with yellow lasers and blue lasers. Now that the violet laser is here, I once again think it's "THE BOMB!!!".


UPDATE 06-29-07:
Just a random measurement here...I saw the laser, and saw the power meter, and thought to myself "I think I'll take a measurement" and I did.
Measures 2.347136mW.

How I measured its power:
  1. I irradiated the sensor of a Sper Scientific model # 840011 laser power meter with the Sonar for 60 seconds (1 minute).
  2. I multiplied the maximum reading by 10.
  3. I then multiplied this by 0.1667 (the laser's duty cycle) to obtain the final reading of 2.347136mW.

UPDATE 06-29-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
You must not *** UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES *** use the Sonar as a pet toy!!!
Even though the average power output is just ~2.5mW, the peak power is consistently over 14mW, and that much laser power makes using the Sonar as a pet toy a rather severe no-no!!!


UPDATE 07-01-07:
O NOOOOOO!!!
The switch appears to be failing - if it is pressed with moderate force, the laser comes on, but if it is pressed quite firmly (but not so firmly as to risk switch breakage), the laser sometimes brightens quite noticeably. Because of this unwanted behaviour, I have little choise but to derate it by one half star (from five stars to four and a half) - continued malfunction will derate it farther and result in the Sonar's removal from The Trophy Case on this website. A $2,000.00 laser should ***NOT*** do this.



UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
The Sonar does not behave this way *ALL* of the time, just *SOME* of the time.


UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, another same-day update.
Sometimes, the solution to the most vexing problem can be the simplest.
In this case, if you press the button fairly firmly right from the get-go, this issue may never come up in your Sonar.


UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
The beam divergence appears to have decreased slightly. At ~18 feet, the beam diameter is smaller than it is at the laser aperture; and at ~49 feet, the beam spot appears smaller than it did several days ago.
Laser temperature was 82F (27.8C).


UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
At ~18 feet, the beam diameter is even smaller than it is at the laser aperture than it was earlier today.
Laser temperature critical ...er...uh...laser temperature was 82F (27.8C).


UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, YET ANOTHER same-day update.
At ~18 feet, the beam diameter is yet ***SMALLER*** than it is at the laser aperture than it was the last time I checked it today.
If I had to guess, the beam diameter is ~1.25mm at this point!!!


UPDATE 07-01-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, YET ANOTHER same-day update.
From a Candlepower Forums member, comes this:

{quote text} RMS is for AC waveforms, this is because for part of the cycle the current is going in the opposite direction and thus goes below zero and then to a negative value. {end quote text}

Just so you know, this is BS. The waveform does certainly not have to be AC for RMS to become useful. Also, that the current is sometimes negative is hardly the problem why you want to measure with RMS as full-wave rectifiers have taken care of that problems since the early tube-times.



UPDATE 07-02-07:
O NOOOOOO!!!
The switch button on my Sonar no longer has that satisfying tactile "click" sensation that it had before. It still functions (as far as I can determine, properly), but it has a kind of "mushy" feel to it. This is totally unexpected from a $2,000.00 laser.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
I just had a terrible dream. In this dream, I accidentally dropped my Sonar approximately 18" onto a concrete floor, and it no longer functioned. When I looked down the barrel (something I would *NEVER* do in the waking world!!!) and activated the laser, I could see a point of violetish-white light of a low enough intensity that it could be looked at indefinitely. The insides were also somewhat well-illuminated in this dream; in actuality, the insides would be nearly totally dark. The dream was vivid & realistic enough that when I awakened, I immediately went for my Sonar and blasted a wall with it just to be certain it still functioned.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, another same-day update.
I think I figured out what's going on with the switch. I believe the batteries are shoving the Sonar's internal laser module a bit too far forward. Loosening the front cap just one turn is all it takes for the laser to become "stuck" in the ON position now; this also explains why the switch button feels "mushy" and is more sensitive than it was before. I'm going to attempt to fashion a shim out of household aluminum foil to place inside the front cap - a washer would work better for this test, but I do not have or have access to any...o wait, I'll see if Longs Drugs has any when I go there in less than an hour...BBS...


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
I went to Longs Drugs, Raleys, Nugget Market, Radio Shack, Big Five, and Right Aid, and nobody had washers. There is no hardware store (Home Depot, Loews, Eagle, Ace, etc.) that I can get to, so I'm going to attempt to fashion a washer out of kitchen aluminum foil, and see if I meet with any success.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
I had no success with the foil washer; if anything, it made things worse.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things. Yes, yet another same-day update.
O NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The switch button has now fallen out of my Sonar!!!
I have it taped in now, and I'm going to (regretfully) remove some points off its rating and remove it from The Trophy Case on my website.

I have emailed my contact at Wicked Lasers regarding warranty service:

Hi {censored},

My Sonar Blu-ray Laser requires warranty service; the pushbutton has fallen out.
I have it taped on; the laser itself is still operational.

What is the procedure for obtaining warranty service?
And what address should I send my Sonar to?

Expect me to mail it no sooner than July 23; I probably will not have sufficient funds at my disposal until then.



UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things. Yes, YET ANOTHER same-day update.
I have fastened the switch button with some Super Glue, so the tape is no longer necessary.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things. Yes, AN EIGHTH same-day update.
Beam divergence appears to be at an all-time low!!!
Spot size at ~18 feet appears to be significantly less than 1mm.
Beam size at aperture is ~4mm by ~2.50mm.
Because the switch button was such an easy fix and because the beam divergence is lower than it has ever been, I'm going to increase its rating from 3 1/2 stars to 4 stars. Although this still does not place it back in The Trophy Case, a 4-star rating is certainly nothing for Wicked Lasers to hang their heads in shame over.


UPDATE 07-02-07:
No, you aren't seeing things. Yes, A NINTH same-day update.
I'm normally pretty anal when it comes to examining & describing things on this website, but I see I failed to mention that the end cap has a threaded aperture. That is, the small hole is threaded inside, making it female in gender. The hole appears to have an ID (inside diameter) of 4.5mm.


UPDATE 07-03-07:
Power output measures 1.793692mW on batteries that have had ~2 minutes of prior use on them.
Peak power was approximately 10.74mW.


UPDATE 07-03-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
I have heard back from my contact at Wicked Lasers, and the "fix" I made to the switch button was the correct course of action; they would have done the exact same thing if I had returned my Sonar. The external switch button may have been glued on right from the get-go.


UPDATE 07-03-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, another same-day update.
Now that I think about it (and "thinking" is never a good thing with me!) , I honestly cannot remember if the switch had a tactile "click" sensation to it when actuated or not. So that "mushy" feeling I described in one of yesterday's updates might be at least somewhat incorrect.


UPDATE 07-03-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
After warming the laser to 92F (33.3C), the beam spot at 49 feet was ~0.4" (~10mm) in diameter; I believe this to be the smallest beam diameter at this distance I have seen to date.


UPDATE 07-03-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, yet another same-day update.
I checked it just a short time ago for the possibility of cyanoacrylate vapour (from the Super Glue I used to repair the button with) clouding the lens and/or laser diode face, and found no evidence of that whatsoever. The laser beam is as "clean" now as it was when I received the Sonar.


UPDATE 07-04-07:
From somebody who knows his {vulgar term for feces} about lasers & optics, comes this:

"0.4 inch at 49 feet is .68 milliradian. A good Gaussian TEM00 beam of this wavelength with that divergence would diverge at that rate from a waist almost a millimeter in diameter.

If the waist is at 18 feet and the beam is 0.4 inch at 49 feet (31 feet from the waist), then the divergence is 1.07 milliradian. If the beam is a nice Gaussian TEM00 one, then the waist diameter is about 0.6 millimeter.
The beam may have some astigmatism, with two oblong waists maybe 0.6-0.8 mm in the narrow direction and a little wider in the wide direction, with these ellipses perpendicular to each other. Between those may appear to be an "oversize" round waist if you don't check for an astigmatic waist pair (if you have that).
Many red diode lasers have astigmatism in addition to oblong beam divergence. The astigmatism, if corrected, is corrected by a "cylinder" lens (converges or diverges only perpendicular to a specific axis) or a "convex plus cylinder" lens (converges slightly more about one axis than the other).
"


UPDATE 07-04-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
The beam probably *DOES* have some astigmastism - it is oblong (like many directly-injected lasers without corrective optics) rather than being circular like the beams of most small-frame plasma lasers. And the lens on the Sonar appears to be either plain old ordinary old PCX or DCX; however I can't tell for ***CERTAIN*** without destroying the unit.


UPDATE 07-07-07:
I measured 2.548843mW from the Sonar with new batteries.
I just saw the laser & meter there, and thought "I think I'll take a measurement" and so I did.
Remember, this is a pulsed laser; the peak power output for this measurement was 15.29mW.
Laser temperature was 92F (33.3C) for this measurement.


UPDATE 07-07-07:
No, you aren't seeing things.
Yes, a same-day update.
Beam waisting appears to be the longest and divergence the smallest when the laser temperature is between 90F (32.2C) and 95F (35.0C).


UPDATE 07-11-07:
I purchased some Panasonic brand CR123A cells on Ebay specifically for use in the Sonar, and they ***DO NOT FIT!!!*** These cells appear to be just slightly too large in diameter to fit the barrel. I bought 30 of the little {vulgar term for intercourse}ers to use in this laser, so I had to go out and buy 20 more of another brand.


UPDATE 07-12-07:
In my opinion, this laser should have been called the "Pulsar", and the Pulsar should have been called the Sonar. The reason is that this laser (the Sonar) is pulsed, and the Pulsar is CW. Make any sense?


UPDATE 07-17-07:
The Powerizer brand CR123A cells I purchased on Ebay to replace the Panasonic cells do work in the Sonar.


UPDATE 09-03-07:
The switch appears to be flaky...as you can see in the movie clip below, the intensity varies depending on how hard you press the button.

WMP movie (.avi extension) showing the laser's brightness variations.
This clip is approximately 0.9 megabytes (959,178 bytes) in length; dial-up users please be aware.
It will take no less than four minutes to load at 48.0Kbps.
I cannot provide it in other formats, so please do not ask.

That sound you might hear is The Simpsons on the boob tube; the product
is not sound-sensitive, so you may ignore or mute the sound if desired.


UPDATE 09-26-07:
Beam waisting appears to occur approximately 18 feet (~5.4864 meters) from the laser aperture.
This means the overall beam divergence would be lower.


UPDATE 10-03-07:
I saw the Sonar sitting there, and I saw the laser power meter sitting there, and thought "I think I'll take a measurement", and so I did.
Measures 2.405481mW.


UPDATE 05-18-08:
I measured its power output at 3.560712mW (pulsed output was 21.360mW; I adjusted this to average power) after leaving it for awhile outdoors at a temperature of 102F (38.9C).


UPDATE 10-30-08:
This laser is now being offered for sale to help pay the electric bill before our power is disconnected - this is scheduled to occur on 11-01-08. Since I use an ***ELECTRIC*** wheelchair, this is a very critical - if not downright life-threatening situation.



UPDATE 11-24-08:
Forgot to add the dreadful "*" icon next to its listings on this website.


UPDATE 05-07-09:
As you can see, I still have the Sonar.
The wayward electric bill was paid after other items were sold, so I did not have to let go of this wonderful little laser.


UPDATE 11-03-10:
The Sonar is no longer being sold, so the dreadful "" icon will now be appended to its listings on this website.


UPDATE 08-14-11:
Power output analysis
Output power measures 12mW on my LaserBee 2.5W USB Laser Power Meter w/Thermopile.
DISCLAIMER! This is a thermal sensor LPM, not a silicon photodetector-based one. Optical (silicon sensor-based) measurements may be better for deadly accurate measurements of quasi-CW lasers like the Sonar. However, I've been told by the manufacturer of the LPM that I used for this test that this value should be reasonably close to the actual average power produced by the Sonar.

From HIMNL9 on Laser Pointer Forums comes this (corrections to grammar, capitalisation, punctuation, and syntax were made with the writer's permission as the writer's native tongue is not English):

"Also, remember the sensitivity curve...optical sensors are a lot of things, EXCEPT linear.

For a 404 / 405nm emission, a standard silicon optical sensor for lasers must be compensated, multiplying the reading for its correction factor for the wavelength... Of course the OP may have a special photodiode, but I don't know this, so i'm assuming theorically that he has a "standard" silicon photodiode, not a "blue enhanced" or any other special photodiode...their sensitivity at quasi-UV range is normally around 0.2 (assuming at 1 the usual peak of sensitivity that they have around 900/910nm), so this means that for the given wavelength, the reading needs to be multiplied at least by 5.

Then there is the average versus effective power emitted, and the frequency response of the measuring apparatus...16.6% duty cycle at 265Hz, if i'm correct, means something like 626 microseconds "on-state" length pulses, right ? What is used for the measurement, a common LPM or an oscilloscope? (the diode itself usually doesn't have any problem at this frequency).

There are also some other things to keep in consideration, when a photodiode is used for taking measurements, like gain peaking of the coupled diode-opamp, sensitivity shift due to biasing current and due to temperature changes, and so on, but these ones usually are important only for lab type precision."






PROS:
Color is very radiant & unusual for a handheld laser
Case is hefty and nice looking
Beam is "clean", with no visible speckling or artifacts around it
Potential for long battery life
Color is very radiant and unusu...o wait I said that already.


CONS:
Costs a lot of $$$, so please be careful with it
Not waterproof or submersible - but most lasers aren't. Will not figure into rating
Switch *MAY* be flaky - the Sonar is at extreme risk of falling out of The Trophy Case on this website.


    MANUFACTURER: Wicked Lasers
    PRODUCT TYPE: Portable violet-emitting laser
    LAMP TYPE: Sony Blu-ray laser diode
    No. OF LAMPS: 1
    BEAM TYPE: Very narrow spot; it's a laser, remember?
    SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton momentary on/off on barrel
    CASE MATERIAL: Aluminum
    BEZEL: Metal; has aperture (hole) for laser beam to emerge
    BATTERY: 2x CR123A cells
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 41.6mA
    WATER RESISTANT: No
    SUBMERSIBLE: NO WAY HOZAY!!!
    ACCESSORIES: Presentation case
    SIZE: 20mm D by 123mm L
    WEIGHT: 113.30g (4.00 oz.) incl. batteries
    WARRANTY: 90 days

    PRODUCT RATING:

    Star Rating





Wicked Lasers Sonar Blu-ray Portable Laser * www.wickedlasers.com...







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