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Red Ferret Competition – win an Elite Laser worth $400.00

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I’ve been having a sporadic email discussion with Wicked Lasers, purveyors of various laser products, for a year or so. They’ve been angling to get me to review one of their products, and I’ve been resisting, as I really don’t see the purpose of them at all. I finally relented a few weeks back and they sent one over to look at – and it’s interesting. They’re very well made, albeit a bit pricey, and I can see the novelty attraction, but I still don’t get the full why of this type of product. 

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So in the cause of scientific research I’ve decided to hold a competition for a reader to win one of these Wicked Laser Elite things. Simple rules, tell us in the comments what you think is the best real or feasible use of a laser. The one we like the most wins. Simple eh? Usual rules apply, all decisions are final and all that blah. You can make the comment funny (not crude though please), original, quirky or whatever, let your imagination run riot. We’ll pick the winner in 10 days.

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Who knows, you may even come up with a really really valuable use that transforms the whole world, brings global warming to an end and solves the economic crisis in one hit. Now that’d be nice.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


39 Comments

  • Well, it'd be good for testing line of sight. If you attached it to a level, you could use it to line up pictures on your wall. And, of course, there's always driving your cat crazy.

  • I'd use it to point out items during the inevitable and obligatory PowerPoint/KeyNote presentation…sort of driving the audience crazy, just like driving the cat crazy.

  • I recently had the idea to use a laser for guiding my friends to hand- and footholds when rockclimbing outdoors. I would stand on the ground and coach them up the wall. I would love to try this, so this laser would get it's test in a rough free-climbing environment.

  • I personally think the laser marking of fruits and vegetables with date/lot codes is 100 times better than the inks and stickers they use now. Inks smear or wear off, stickers fall off, etc. and if there is an outbreak of E. Coli or Salmonella again, a potentially tainted item isn't left on the shelves simply because it doesn't have a sticker on it.

    Or we could just use it to instantly tattoo criminals who do dumb things in plain view of the public, like drunk drive, vandalism, etc. Would YOU walk on the same side of the street as someone who has "THIEF" tattooed to their head? ;-)

  • The funniest (and best) use of a pen "laser" is to torment my cat. My personal favourite is to trace the point up my girlfriend's leg or back and wait for the pounce and subsequent scream. Then repeat as many times as I can get away with.

    Seriously tho, what you could to is install this "laser" on the moon along with your secret moon base and ransom the world for $100bn! *evil mwahahaha laugh and pinky finger to mouth corner*

  • I’ve been coveting a high-power laser along these lines for several projects I’d like to try out:

    * Attach it to a microcontroller-based pan/tilt cradle and use it to burn graffiti into various, er, surfaces.

    * Integrate it with my LEGO Mindstorms, making a CNC mill that can carve 3D shapes out of styrofoam blocks.

    * Mount it on the ceiling, just inside my office door. When an annoying officemate is lingering just there – as is their wont – start up the laser. See how long it takes before A) they feel uncomfortable heat on their dome or B) their hair starts to smolder.

  • Clearly playing with a cat is a fine use of any laser, but why use one so bright that the cat sees a dot every time it blinks for weeks to come?

    So, let me introduce something similar that would actually benefit from a super-bright dot … Coral fish during snorkeling. That is right, you can go snorkeling in the tropical waters and watch the fish be lured to your bright dot as if it is some kind of annoying food that they have to eat to get rid of. You get to see tonnes of fish and the fish get to imagine that they are going to eat and get really disappointed in the mean time.

    Of course you are going to need some kind of triple-layer zip-lock or sea-worthy clear-plastic pelican case to bring any electronic device into the water, but that is the easy part.

    Do I win?

    -Trent

  • I have been developing a new type of data holder that would revolutionize cd"s and any other type of mass storage i simply need a burning laser to do so. i can not give full description of this idea for concern of theft on this idea. But i can assure you this device would be able to run faster than any zip drive and hold more info than any cd on the market today. there would be unlimited uses for this unit even revolutionize computer technology.

  • I would make a Lego Mindstorms robot that would chase it because I don't have a cat. How powerful is it? If it is strong enough I would burn the garbage with it. I've done it with a frenel lense before. Another thing it could be used for is positioning little mirrors on a satelite dish to make a death ray to melt stuff.

  • Quite simply, so I could take over the world.

  • I would drink a couple pots of coffee until I start to shake uncontrollably. I would then go into my room, shut off the lights, and have my own personal laser light show…maybe I would invite the cat for an audience.

  • I need one to put on the head of my pet shark

  • I'd love to see a projected version of a heads up display for boats, ships and perhaps aircraft. Literally a map projected with a laser out onto the water 200 feet ahead of the boat. Could also be miniaturized for hard of sight people. Mounted on a hat, the laser could project a bright display onto the ground in front of a pedestrian, alerting them to walking hazards as well as getting them to their destination.

  • To put it simply : Pug Bowling

    http://www.blameitonthevoices.com/2009/03/pug-bowling.html

  • Assuming this thing has some power, i'd use it in a CandyFab ( candyfab.org ) I am building. Failing that, I would use it to make a CNC machine to cut papercraft, stencils etc.

  • Any old laser will amuse the cats. An "elite" laser would have to be used for something special. I'd wait for a UFO to come and try to communicate via morse code. Who knows?

  • Use it to burn down your house (you know, the one your bank is foreclosing on) from outside. That way you leave no forensic evidence and can collect the insurance money. Housing crisis solved, at the expense of big insurance.

  • Use it to pop all of the Jiffy Pop popcorn stored in my unethical Professor's house and expose him as a thief to the Dean and local Congressman.

    Then chow down as Tears for Fears takes it away:

    "Welcome to your life.
    There's no turning back.
    Even while we sleep
    We will find you.
    Acting on your best behavior
    Turn your back on mother nature
    Everybody wants to rule the world."

  • 1. Win laser
    2. ????
    3. PROFIT

  • I have a lower powered version of the Wicked laser shown. I use it to check the water level of the stock tanks when its cold/icy outside. That way I dont have to go all the way out. Since I am getting more stock and therefore more tanks, I could use a higher powered laser to check the farther tanks.

  • I would use the Wicked laser as my personal safety wand for the kids on my block. Let me explain. My street is a straight through street and people constantly speed on it. We have tried everything. We parked look a like Police cars in driveways, we stood out with video cameras (I video collection of that famous "Hawaiian Peace Sign"- I didn't know that there were that many variations!). We did the hair dryer thing (I have a beer bottle and brick collection from that gig ). Nothing worked until one night I was playing with my red laser outside and I waved it across one of the light reflecting speed signs on our street and it looked like the same kind of flash/reflection you might get if a fire engine was behind you. Needless to say a car was flying down the street at the same time and immediately slowed down to see where the fire engine was. If I win the Wicked laser, I can increase my range all up and down the street and be safer because I can now hide in the bushes. However, if I get arrested for "flashing" while hiding in the bushes, I'll let you guys know.

  • I would use the Wicked laser as my personal safety wand for the kids on my block. Let me explain. My street is a straight through street and people constantly speed on it. We have tried everything. We parked look a like Police cars in driveways, we stood out with video cameras (I have a video collection of that famous "Hawaiian Peace Sign"- I didn't know that there were that many variations!). We did the hair dryer thing (I have a beer bottle and brick collection from that gig ). Nothing worked until one night I was playing with my red laser outside and I waved it across one of the light reflecting speed signs on our street and it looked like the same kind of flash/reflection you might get if a fire engine was behind you. Needless to say a car was flying down the street at the same time and immediately slowed down to see where the fire engine was. If I win the Wicked laser, I can increase my range all up and down the street and be safer because I can now hide in the bushes. However, if I get arrested for "flashing" while hiding in the bushes, I'll let you guys know.

  • Fun hobby = advanced sighting system with a Wicked Laser attached. My hobby is throwing knives. It releases the stress of the daily grind. I throw my knives into a big fir tree in my backyard. The problem? My fence is right behind the tree, and, because the neighbor behind me has the foundation of his house at an elevation 3 feet below my backyard, once in a while, the knife will go over the fence and stick high up into the back of his home's exterior (no windows, kids, animals, or people back there). It's embarassing to have to walk around the block and meekly admit that, yet again, I have stuck another throwing knife into the siding in the back of his house. Then we have to reach up there and pull them out. He doesnt mind, but it can't be good for our relationship. My idea? Construct a plastic sheath that releases the throwing knife as I come to the full extent of my throw. The Wicked Laser would be attached to the side of the sheath so I get "dead on" sighting into my tree, and not the back of my neighbors house. This laser could save my relationship with my neighbor. Plus, my idea might spark a new fad into laser sighted knife throwing devices! Thanks!

  • Since every military/police sniper gun has a red laser, having a green one might be a better idea.
    Longer range, and easier to camouflage.
    If a solider/police officer runs out of ammo, they can blind the human target :).

    • i am quite agree with you. I also think green laser is much better than red lasers while used in military. The green ones are powerful enough to blind enemies, which is a perfect tool for aiming targets.

  • On the practical side, this laser is an excellent long-range level for landscaping and would make one heck of a beacon for lost skiers/hikers (just follow the line and here I am!)

    On the fun side, I would plan on using this at the museum of natural history. There is a huge display of various colored crystals just waiting for the Lite-Brite treatment! Option two is to tie the laser to a small rotary device (model helicopter will do), place it up high outdoors in the rain (shielded) and see what it looks like to stand underneath and look up.

  • The real best use for a wicked laser green with some power is not burning holes in things, including people’s eyes. It is in the hands of an Holographer, being used to make holograms and to teach the craft and science of Holograms to neighbor and school children.

    I finished an AS degree in Lasers and Fiber Optics last year. There are significant and reasonable safety factors involved with visible lasers over 5mw that make them a danger to be waving around, and the fact that they will light a match after a few seconds only makes them seem safe-ish.

    However, if you remove the focusing lens, a laser pointer makes a very good holography source: the beam naturally spreads to form an illuminating beam large enough at a few feet to suffice for a 2.5″ square photographic plate. For the larger plates, more power is desirable.

    The simplest hologram is the single-beam or Denisyuk hologram, where the beam from the pointer laser (properly spread) passes through the film/plate, strikes the object, and returns to interfere at the emulsion. Once properly processed, the hologram can be viewed in white light, and retains all the three-dimensionality of the original object, looking just as it did when illuminated.

    Normally, we use red lasers. Green lasers add a crystal between the laser diode and the focusing lens, and this hasn’t been well-tested for holography. I’m set up to make these tests, and to make holograms with the laser after that, if I win it. In fact, I have been developing holographic techniques in my basement optics lab since my second semester.

    On the other hand, I would be more than willing to give up hope of winning one to assist the judges in making their decision (or being a judge) in order to ensure that the laser is given to someone who will not injure someone. With litigation capable of reaching back through the chain of acquisition (gift from Red Ferret in this case) it’d be a good idea to consider laser safety seriously when making the award.

  • Best use of lasers in general to the lay-man?
    Optical discs systems, such as CD audio to Blu-ray discs.

    Best use of an Elite green laser worth $400.00?
    IMHO, star gazing with a group of fellow geeks, to point out various constellations, in true high geek style.
    The heavens deserve an out-of-this-world pointing device.

  • Because my kids would think I'm the coolest dad ever!

  • With a $400 laser, the only sensible thing to do is to setup a portable Lasik service. Ophthalmologists being able to make house calls = better world.

  • I'd get round to making those cool Holograms that I've been promising myself I'd do for years,

  • Use it to make shadow puppets on the moon?

  • Comined use of LIDAR and holographic heads-up-display and/or direct retinal projection for synthetic vision while driving at night or in poor visibility.

  • Who won the laser?

    • Patience. :) We'll announce soon.

  • Umm. My entry has gone missing? (it was about holography and laser safety.)

    • Send it through again Ray. We'll put it back in the queue.

    • ok, but since I didn't keep a copy, this isn't going to be identical. Maybe that's good?
      1. I agree with the general confusion about what to do with these high-powered laser pointers: they are patently dangerous, far above the level that should be operated outside of an enclosure (by federal rules 5mw is about max for visible continuous laser light, limited by a 1/4sec exposure, the "blink reflex" reaction time.)
      2. The best use for one of these is as a portable source for holography. I've made a large number of holograms in my basement optics lab using 5mw red pointers: take off the focusing lens and you get a beautiful, well-spread, very polarized and spatially-filtered illumination enough to cover a 2.5"-square glass plate at a couple of feet distance.
      3. so my entry was to use it for Holography, to demonstrate it for school kids, letting each make their own. First, it has to be tested, to ensure that the crystal puts out the right kind oof beam (polarized). I'm ideally suited to do this, and it is unlikely that anyone else will be able to afford to test one of these lasers.
      (Note: the 100-second duty cycle is perfect for holography, and probably not for any kind of laser-engraver/etcher use!)

  • i have also bought an elite laser. it is a great gadget

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