Laser pointers now illegal in Australia

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Laser pointers now illegal in Australia

Postby gary » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:54 am

I decided I wanted to try a mirror drum projector for NBTV and started hunting around for a cheap laser pointer and noticed nobody seemed to stock them any more, a little more research and I discovered to my astonishment that anything over 1mW is now regarded as a weapon and is illegal to own without a $100+ permit!

I would have thought I had a legitimate reason for owning one (hobbyist, professional engineer and all) but apparently only astronomer club members have such an exemption - goodness knows how the laser level on my table saw, laser levels, etc. get through, I would have thought that laser levels would be over 1mW, perhaps I'm wrong.

Does anyone have any more knowledge or experience with this crazy situation?
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Re: Laser pointers now illegal in Australia

Postby Harry Dalek » Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:57 pm

gary wrote:I decided I wanted to try a mirror drum projector for NBTV and started hunting around for a cheap laser pointer and noticed nobody seemed to stock them any more, a little more research and I discovered to my astonishment that anything over 1mW is now regarded as a weapon and is illegal to own without a $100+ permit!

I would have thought I had a legitimate reason for owning one (hobbyist, professional engineer and all) but apparently only astronomer club members have such an exemption - goodness knows how the laser level on my table saw, laser levels, etc. get through, I would have thought that laser levels would be over 1mW, perhaps I'm wrong.

Does anyone have any more knowledge or experience with this crazy situation?


Hi gary

I jusy got one of ebay all over seas ones are blocked but aussie sellers ok it seems what a pain this is ! looks like we will have to go into scrapping dvd drives for laser diodes at best in the future !

wondering if that green laser will ever turn up now !

One good thing of ebay i ordered 10 high bright uv leds they sent what looks to be 100 ! lucky at last
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Postby gary » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:02 pm

That's the stupid thing about this law - anyone wanting to blind somebody can just rip one out of a DVD - all the info you need to do so is on the internet - it's just another case of punishing the innocent just to be seen to be doing something.

Well done on your bit of fortune...
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Postby Harry Dalek » Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:05 pm

gary wrote:That's the stupid thing about this law - anyone wanting to blind somebody can just rip one out of a DVD - all the info you need to do so is on the internet - it's just another case of punishing the innocent just to be seen to be doing something.

Well done on your bit of fortune...


Yes Gary

I recall they tried or may be did ban all 240v projects to save us all from dieing a dreadful way if you didn't know what you were doing :shock:

I recall it in all electronic mags at the time thinking how dumb that was if they did ban them then theres no stage between a kit and trying it your self with unknown parts .

I went looking for a green laser when you told me they could be got cheap ...tried ebay overseas and tried to buy and the site just blocked me..then i tried a local ebay sale and had no trouble ...baning them never stopped any one wanting a gun or knife just a bit harder to get but if you want one bad enough theres always some one selling one .

I have not tried the uv led on the project yet but looks i have a life times supply worst part if you could call it that i also ordered some others over seas 10 for 2 dollars .
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Postby Klaas Robers » Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:39 pm

As far as I know laser pointers have a power of 1 mW and never more. Visible lasers of powers of 0.5 to 1 mW are class 2 lasers. If the parallel beam hits your eye the close reflex is fast enough to prevent your eye from damage. You should not stare into the beam on purpose, then you get still eye damage.

Lasers of 0.5 mW are lasers of class 1. They won't damage your eyes. Infra red lasers for CD are of class 1. IR lasers of class 2 don't exist, your eye has no closing reflex for IR.

This has all to do with the power levels that our eyes are designed to: the sun. The sun gives 1 kW/m². When you look to the sun the amount of light that passes the small black hole in your eye is 1 mW (surface of small black hole = 1 mm²). So a 1 mW laser beam hitting your eye while all the light goes through the back hole equals looking to the sun. And that is more or less safe, isn't it?

Lasers in DVD writers make 10 mW, however it is difficult to get all that light through the black hole into your eye, as the light is divergent. So don't use a magnifying glass to look into such a laser while on. But it is also difficult to make a parallel beam from the light of such a laser diode. However, if you are clever enough you can try. The same thing counts for a gun. That will not include that they can be bought freely.
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Postby gary » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:13 am

Well there are much more powerful laser "pointers" than that of course, as used commonly by hobbyist astronomers (who are exempt from the law by the way), but of course you are right in that the common laser pointer for school and business use (i.e. board pointing) has no reason to be any more powerful than 1mW.

Unfortunately the law is not restricted to laser pointers but also laser modules that are of interest to hobbyists for a number of legitimate reasons.

There are a number of projects described in the Newsletter and on this forum regarding lasers and they would, according to this new law be illegal (barring the purchase of a >$100 prohibited weapon license). Certainly Colin Hoppers experiments would be difficult to legally reproduce (V27-4). According to that article lasers up to 10mW (Class 3B) are "eye safe"- i.e. invoke the eye blink reflex - just as staring into the sun does...

Of course it is always prudent to be safety aware - I routinely advise people against sticking knitting needles into their ears, or placing 240v across their tongues - not because of the damage they might do to themselves but because of the likelihood that the government will then have another excuse to punish the people who have more sense than to do so.

(yes I know I'm a cranky old b*******)
Last edited by gary on Tue May 10, 2011 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Klaas Robers » Tue Apr 19, 2011 8:53 pm

No Gary, lasers of class 3A and 3B are not eye-safe. The close reflex is not fast enough. Only are they eye safe for the reflection of the parallel beam against a polished, but not mirrored surface, e.g. a glass window.

The experiments of Collin are safe in the respect that as long as the beam is scanning the laser light is distributed over a larger surface, so even if the beam hit your eye, it is for a so short time that damage is not expected. This is the same with the lasers in discos, there the power is much more, e.g. 1 watt. But as they are always scanning rather fast there is no danger. There has to be a provision that if the scanning fails, the laser should be cut off immediately, because even looking at the reflection against a oblique surface (the wall) is already dangerous. I do'n know at which distance, because also here the 1 mW into the iris of the human eye is the limiting factor.

I had the idea that Collin is professionally incorporated in these high power lasers and the scanning mirrors, so he will know the dangers. As far as I remember he had a 30 mW laser for the demonstration at the Convention about 10 years ago.
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Postby Harry Dalek » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:21 pm

I think we better buy up luxeons before the law finds out they are really bright :twisted:
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Postby M3DVQ » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:44 am

are they going to make CD burners illegal then? or perhaps just make screwdrivers illegal so that you can't dismantle them.
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Postby Harry Dalek » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:42 pm

Found a nice 1mw blue laser to test if you don't hear from me again i am doing time :shock:
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Postby gary » Thu May 12, 2011 11:59 pm

harry dalek wrote:Found a nice 1mw blue laser to test if you don't hear from me again i am doing time :shock:


Harry you seem to have gone AWOL - I hope there was no truth in your last statement...
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Postby Dave Moll » Tue May 17, 2011 1:57 am

gary wrote:Harry you seem to have gone AWOL - I hope there was no truth in your last statement...

It would seem that the explanation is rather more innocent :) :
harry dalek wrote:Have not been on for a while as i have been ironing out some problems with the design...
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Postby gary » Tue May 17, 2011 12:01 pm

Dave Moll wrote:It would seem that the explanation is rather more innocent :) :


As long as he is not in gaol nor blind I am happy ;-)....
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Postby Harry Dalek » Tue May 17, 2011 11:01 pm

Dave Moll wrote:
gary wrote:Harry you seem to have gone AWOL - I hope there was no truth in your last statement...

It would seem that the explanation is rather more innocent :) :
harry dalek wrote:Have not been on for a while as i have been ironing out some problems with the design...


No i am ok ! i was joking !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


i have not gone ! i like the hobby to much they will be dragging me away kicking and screaming with a dc motor and a luxeon in either hand !
i have posted since to prove at least i am alive.

Just a bit cold in the garage to work to much .

Oh and Gary i got the green laser the blue one ended up being just a uv led and red laser bad wording in the advert for it . i have been very careful with it ,i like it has a focus control and the lens comes off its blinding looking at the dot reflected off a wall...Yakes ! without the lens or the lens way off focus it could be used for a projection Nipkow ...i don't think i am brave enough to have this bouncing off some mirrors yet anyway.amazing the amount of light this one gives off.
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Postby gary » Fri May 20, 2011 2:16 pm

Hmmm. it seems I have missed a couple of posts in this thread - don't know why.

Klaas Robers wrote:No Gary, lasers of class 3A and 3B are not eye-safe. The close reflex is not fast enough.


Hi Klaas, it may have been unintentional but you seem to be implying that I am saying they are eye safe whereas I am merely referencing what was written in that particular article. My point was that this and other articles are now potentially encouraging a breach of what I regarded as a stupid law. In fact I now realise this is not the case as I will return to below.
But I take your point, it is imperative to use proper safety precautions when using these devices, just as it is when working on mains voltages, table saws, arc welders, driving cars, etc.

Klaas Robers wrote:I had the idea that Collin is professionally incorporated in these high power lasers and the scanning mirrors, so he will know the dangers.


Indeed, and that is why I quoted the article.

harry dalek wrote:Just a bit cold in the garage to work to much .


You wuss!!! ;-)

It's usually the summer heat that keeps me out.

harry dalek wrote:Oh and Gary i got the green laser the blue one ended up being just a uv led and red laser bad wording in the advert for it . i have been very careful with it ,i like it has a focus control and the lens comes off its blinding looking at the dot reflected off a wall...Yakes ! without the lens or the lens way off focus it could be used for a projection Nipkow ...i don't think i am brave enough to have this bouncing off some mirrors yet anyway.amazing the amount of light this one gives off.


Yes it seems I am complaining for no reason (well not quite) because I really don't give a tinkers cuss about laser pointers per se, it is the laser (or laser module) itself that is the useful bit - and it seems that the law is only related to pointers, so places like Jaycar etc are still selling 10mW green lasers (at outrageous prices of course). I am not sure how long this loophole is likely to last though.

The downside of the law is that the prices for these modules has sky-rocketed because there is no competition from the laser pointer retailers. In addition, no one in Australia (as far as I can tell) is selling protective eye-wear (except for medical use). This is no doubt because no-one is supposed to have them and so there is no market.

In any case, Harry, observe all the warnings (I am sure you will) and take adequate safety precautions.
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