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  1. #1

    Default NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    As a fairly new laser hobbyist I wanted to share my experience to help others in selecting their first green lasers.

    I started like everyone else by doing a ton of web research. I looked at all the usual vendors: WickedLasers.com, DragonLasers.com, LaserGlow.com, ebay, etc. and then I found this CPF forum. After reading some forum posts and reviews it seemed that the best price / power / quality combination was available from LucentOptics.com so I decided to give them a look.

    My initial review of their website in early January 2007 left me wondering if they were reputable. The site had very little content and was obviously still under development. The most concerning part was the absence of verifiable contact information. No names, physical addresses, phone numbers, personal email addresses, and not even a company bio, welcome message, or mission statement. Just the generic sales@lucentoptics.com address which could go to anyone anywhere. I then checked their domain registration record and was further concerned to see an anonymous registration by proxy which hides the domain ownerís identity and contact information.

    At this point I was going to give up on them but I found some more posts in the CPF forum which included photos, videos, and comments from several satisfied customers. I also noted that at least two forum member accounts identified themselves as the owners of LucentOptics.com so I decided to take the risk. I sent them $300 cash via Paypal on Sun 1/7 for an NV-100 which was the best laser they had listed on their site at the time. I was mildly concerned again when Paypal did not display any contact information for them other than their account name but I figured there was probably some basic safety in using Paypal so I proceeded. Five days went by and I had not received an order confirmation or email so I started to worry again. I contacted forum member FNinjaP90 (Gary) via PM and he replied with a USPS tracking number for my shipment so I was relieved again and excited to receive my unit soon.

    The shipping label was printed on Mon 1/8 but the package didnít arrive until Tues 1/16. The tracking number was in ďAcceptanceĒ status the entire time so I was worried and frustrated by the delay. Gary assured me that it had already shipped so I called USPS and they explained that for the cheap delivery confirmation service they do not update the tracking status until delivery occurs. They only scan the labels and update tracking status in real-time mode for the more expensive priority shipments and delivery tracking services, so this explains why the package appeared to be in limbo when it was in fact already well on the way. I still donít know why it took 8 calendar days to arrive since 99% of all my other USPS packages arrive in 5 days or less but Gary recently decided to send all units via Priority Mail so this should not be an issue for future customers.

    The NV-100 was wrapped in a thin foam sheet and was packed very well in the center of a small box that was filled with foam peanuts. The package included two safety keys, a removable safety dongle, and the laser itself. I was a little surprised that there wasnít an instruction manual with at least basic instructions and safety warnings but the laser is simple enough to use and I had already learned about safety on the forums. The only thing I wasnít sure of was which direction to insert the batteries but there were only two choices so I got it right the second time: positive tip facing the tailcap. I had also read on the forums to use the Energizer Lithium batteries so I had those waiting and I fired it up immediately.

    The first thing I noticed was that the beam is not visible at all or is only barely visible in a well lit room. I tried it in the living room which had no lights turned on at the time but it was well lit by the sunlight from a few normal windows: no visible beam. I tried the kitchen which only had one small window and I could just barely see a thin beam but it was not impressive. Then I tried it in the bedroom which was pitch dark and holy cow! The laser was bright enough to light up the entire room well enough for me to read a book from the diffused light and reflections alone!

    Once it got dark outside I found a safe area with no airplanes, vehicles, people, animals, buildings, unauthorized spectators, etc. and tested the laser. Truly amazing. The beam is bright and clearly visible and seems to go on for miles. The actual dot is extremely bright under all lighting conditions. In fact it is so bright that I am afraid to look at it for more than a few seconds without safety glasses even though the diffuse reflections from a Class III-b 100 mW laser are supposed to be fairly safe. I put on a small light show for the wife and even she was impressed, which says a lot since she is not usually interested in my tech gadgets.

    Over the next few days I attempted a few of the common experiments like burning plastic, lighting matches, testing it on skin, etc. I didnít have any balloons so I couldnít try that yet but I will later. The NV-100 burned through a thin black plastic garbage bag in 1-2 seconds at a range of about 4 inches. It also created a mild stinging sensation when held 4 inches from my arm for 5-10 seconds but there wasnít any visible damage afterwards. When I tried the match test I found it difficult to keep the beam focused on the tip of the match head without staring at the dot continuously and it was too bright to do that so I am going to wait for my safety glasses to arrive before testing it further.

    The actual quality of the laser was impressive too. I really like the 5 main safety features: locking tail cap, removable dongle that acts like a circuit breaker, momentary power switch, 3-second power-up delay, and aperture shutter. These make it quite safe and fully legal in the US which is important if you donít want to run the risk of being fined or your device being confiscated. The large high-quality aluminum tube and solid construction also provide additional opportunities for modifying the laser if you choose to do so. I am planning on the following mods when time permits:
    1. install a constant-on power switch to override the momentary switch when desired
    2. add a dip switch to disable or enable the 3-second power-up delay as needed
    3. create a flush-mount dongle plug for portable use
    4. add a remote key switch (wired and wireless) to operate the laser from a distance
    5. build an external power pack that uses CR-123 or similar batteries
    6. add additional power-on LEDs so you can confirm the power state from any direction (preferably using LEDs that can be seen through the filter of most laser glasses)
    7. add an audible power-on confirmation signal

    Overall I am fully satisfied with the power, quality, and value of the NV-100 but I plan to have it tested soon to confirm that it is truly => 100 mW. I do believe it will meet or exceed specs but I want to be sure since it was not a cheap product. I also plan to get a more powerful unit down the road since I want something that will burn thin materials faster and from further distances, and that will have an even wider visible beam since I plan to use it for some outdoor shows once I have the proper safety equipment. I am also hoping to get red, blue, and yellow lasers of similar power so I can improve my laser shows dramatically.

    My advice to LucentOptics.com is as follows:
    1. add more content to your website including verifiable contact info, company background, and FAQ
    2. send order confirmation via email soon after receiving payment
    3. continue to ship all orders via Priority Mail
    4. include a basic safety and instruction sheet with each product
    5. provide a toll free phone number for customer service
    6. explain the warranty info and how to get parts or service if needed
    7. continue to be active in the forums but donít be overly aggressive at promoting your site in the forums, too much praise and marketing hype tends to make one suspicious of new companies or products and there could be some members that are overdoing it a bit
    8. implement an online anonymous customer survey tool so you can collect stats and brag about them as your business builds

    I also recently ordered one 20 mW and one 30 mW green laser pointer from DealXtreme.com since they were fairly cheap and this seemed to be a good deal based on the forum posts. Now that I have used the NV-100 I donít think I will be happy with anything less powerful but I wanted something safer to play around with in populated areas while still having a slightly visible beam. I also plan to use them for testing and alignment on my projects prior to firing up the NV-100. If I ever do get an accidental shot in the eye then I prefer it to be from a low power unit so it makes sense to keep some of the smaller lasers around for testing and project work. The only drawback is that the cheaper low quality lasers could actually output more harmful IR than the higher powered good quality lasers so I will have to check out the DealXtreme.com units carefully once they arrive. If needed I will just buy an IR filter lens for each of them which is probably a good idea anyway.

    Well that is it for now. I will post some pictures of the NV-100 in action later after finishing my experiments but the outdoor photos will have to be posted elsewhere since CPF will not allow them due to an illogical ban that we donít agree with but we must abide by as members of the forum.

  2. #2

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Great review! Thank you for taking the time to post your experience as it is a great help to people like me looking to pull the trigger soon when they have enough "fun money" saved up.

  3. #3
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    I think you could have said all that just as well with half the words or less! But still, a nice enough and honest review

    I also bought a 100mw Envee laser from Lucent, based on what I had read in this forum and im quite pleased with it.

    Paul

  4. #4
    Flashaholic Johnawesley's Avatar
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    I am pleased with my EnVee too....
    Green Lasers are AWESOME!!

  5. #5
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnawesley
    I am pleased with my EnVee too....
    We would never have guessed

    Paul

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* wvaltakis2's Avatar
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Ok, so I'm a little confused now. I too have been doing a lot of research in plans to purchase an app. 100-125mw greenie, and all the reviews of the similarly powered models (Fusion, Aries, etc.) usually indicate a VERY visible beam in moderate lighting. Maybe someone can clear this up for me, basically I'm looking for a very visible beam that has a high burning capability and some potential for modding once the warranty is up, somewhere around $500 or so. Thanks in advance for your help.

    ~Wilfred Valtakis II [img]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/TONYMC%7E1/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot.jpg[/img]

  7. #7
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Quote Originally Posted by Apex007
    Great review! Thank you for taking the time to post your experience as it is a great help to people like me looking to pull the trigger soon when they have enough "fun money" saved up.
    It's worth your fun money. I've been having fun with mine for quite awhile, but I'm waiting for my laser goggles to have the real fun.
    ---Leadlight >5mW, pot modded to 17mW. ---AtlasNova CPF Special 38mW!---enVee 122 mW---
    --- Fenix L0D-CE, L1D-CE Q2, L2D-CE Q5 --- NS Lummi Wee 50 ---

  8. #8

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    I was also under the impression that the beam would be VERY visible under normal daylight or indoor lighting conditions. This is why I was initially disappointed that the beam was invisible in the living room which only had indirect sunlight coming in from two normal windows on a slightly overcast day. The kitchen only has one smaller window and the beam was just barely visible in there during the day. As I sit here now and type this it is totally dark outside and my office has a single ceiling fan light turned on with 3 bulbs that provide a total of 90 watts (25+25+40) of light aimed in three separate directions toward the corners of the room. While sitting directly under the ceiling fan where the light is indirect and using the NV-100 the beam is totally invisible no matter which direction I point the laser. If I shine it out the door and down the hall which is mostly dark, a portion of the beam is just barely visible against the dark contrast of the hallway. When I shine it into the bathroom door at the end of the hall the green dot is bright enough to light up a good portion of the bathroom well enough to read a book, similar to having a small night light turned on beside your bed. The only exception is when the beam hits a particle of dust in the air in which case the dust spec flashes brightly for a split second which illuminates that small portion of the beam. So if you have a very dusty or smoky house then the beam may be more visible.

    I have also tried to burn a number of things with the beam, sometimes keeping the beam just an inch from the object, but the only thing it can really burn is thin plastic which is black or dark in color. I have tried thin sheets of white paper and foam, tissues, wax, fabric, etc. and nothing burns. If I color the objects black with a permanent ink marker first then some of them do smoke a bit, which I initially thought was making them burn so that they might eventually ignite, however I have found that in some cases it is just making the ink burn off and then the smoke stops once the whole ink surface has been charred. A normal piece of 20-lb printer paper with a spot colored black by a marker does not burn at all, it only smokes until the ink is charred and then the smoke stops and there is no hole in the paper and no burn marks visible from the other side of the sheet. My conclusion is that this laser will ignite very thin flammable materials and pop balloons but usually only at close distances and when the objects are a dark color and/or colored black with a marker.

    Another slight disappointment was the width of the beam which is visible outdoors at night. It is definitely very bright and has a long range but the beam is pretty thin and sort of a transparent green color instead of a solid thick green color like you see in all the photos that are posted on the web. My guess is that most photos are shot with cameras that enhance the brightness of the beam and make it appear to be more solid and thick than it really is. I am sure some of the photos are also edited to enhance the effect as well. Even the video cameras could distort the appearance of the beam so I am not sure there is a good way to know what to expect until you buy one and see it in person.

    Overall the NV-100 isn't quite the power that I had expected for the money but since the beam is so brightly visible outdoors at night I plan to keep it and will eventually have enough fun with it to justify the cost. If I get bored with it I can always resell it on ebay or CPF.

  9. #9

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    most pictures taken have a longer shutter time.


  10. #10
    Flashaholic Ragnarok's Avatar
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Thanks for the review, Wile E., it is much appreciated.

    As for your "4. add a remote key switch (wired and wireless) to operate the laser from a distance" mod, if the dongle is just a shorted jumper, you could make a remote cable with a switch to replace it?

    I've noticed when trying to take pictures of crystals and other translucent/transparent objects it is hard not to overexpose the subject, but when taking beam shots, it it hard not to underexpose. Things just don't look the same to the camera as to the human eye.

    Beam visibility also depends a lot where you are. Here in the southern San Joaquin Valley of California where the air quality isn't that great much of the time, the beam from my 35mW Atlasnova CPF Special shows up just fine outside at night, and is noticeable inside during the day if you are looking up or down the beam. The beam visibility changes greatly with the weather. After a cold front cleans everything out the beam visibility is more or less halved. If you live at higher altitudes, say in mountainous areas, or less populated areas that have cleaner air it can mean a lot less beam visibility.
    Last edited by Ragnarok; 01-20-2007 at 09:33 PM.
    "Man, that's WAY too bright!!" "Yeah, and your point is...?"

  11. #11

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnarok
    ...if the dongle is just a shorted jumper, you could make a remote cable with a switch to replace it?...Things just don't look the same to the camera as to the human eye...Beam visibility also depends a lot where you are...
    Great points Rag.

    I do plan on using the dongle for a remote switch however I have to install a permanent power-on switch first to get around the momentary power button which comes from the factory. I also have a small wireless remote control device with about 40' range so I plan to connect the remote receiver to the dongle and then operate the laser from a distance for various experiments. I could also use the remote to hook it up to my elaborate security system to illuminate the far end of the workshop when I enter the door at night. Anyone that is not familiar with lasers (like a burglar) would be pretty freaked out if they broke in through the door and a bright green laser splits the shop in half and lights it up like an electric pickle. I'm sure they would be reluctant to cross the beam too - not that I am actually going to do this mind you...

    I am going to experiment with my NV-100 in different weather conditions and try some photos with different cameras. I have a good SLR with TONS of filters, a decent digital, and a decent camcorder so I am hoping to find a way to show others a realistic view of the beam which is not altered or enhanced. I also have 20 mW and 30mW units on the way so I will include those for comparison purposes, perhaps before and after modding them since I plan to experiment with both being that they were cheaper.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* SenKat's Avatar
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    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Quote Originally Posted by wileecoyote
    a bright green laser splits the shop in half and lights it up like an electric pickle.
    OMG - Electric PICKLE !!! I am ROLLING HERE !

  13. #13

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    Quote Originally Posted by SenKat
    OMG - Electric PICKLE !!! I am ROLLING HERE !
    It is true, they really do light up, although not quite as nicely as the NV-100...
    click here to see the electric pickle

  14. #14

    Default Re: NV-100 review, advice to new laser buyers

    The dongle is actually designed for that reason. It was not meant to be a safety key. As one of the safety features they are supposed to make the laser in a way that would allow the user to set up a remote switch. So they used that dongle. It's only removeable so that you can put a regular dongle in its place if you dont want to permanantly use a remote switch.


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