Shared May 17, 2019
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I bought a couple blue laser pointers on eBay. I received two laser death rays. Then I made them even stronger.
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Normally I'm not interested in buying handheld lasers off of the internet as what I can make is usually more interesting. That being said there were some eBay listings for blue lasers pointers that caught my eye. Although the claimed output power was under 5mW (ebay's limit as well as the US federal limit) the pictures showed lasers that appeared to be very strong. Now importing a handheld laser stronger than 5mW is usually illegal here, but these listings explicitly stated the lasers had an output that was under the legal limit. Even so, I wanted to play it safe (legally at least) so I found US sellers/resellers of these "5mW" lasers.
The lasers turned out to be INCREDIBLY strong, HUNDREDS of times stronger than advertised. While this may seem like a good thing, a laser like this will blind you permanently the instant it hits you in the eye. Wearing proper eye protection is a must when dealing with these.
It's common for sellers to exaggerate the power of flashlights, cars, etc., so why would these sellers lie in the opposite direction about lasers? It turns out this is the only way they can get away with selling powerful lasers on eBay without blatantly breaking the rules. The bigger issue is that handheld lasers like this are federally restricted in most countries. This isn't a problem for say a seller in China shipping to the US, as our laws aren't relevant there. This a huge issue for all of these US resellers that are sending out powerful lasers by the thousand though, and the FDA very well may lay a smackdown at some point.
Obviously I have nothing against owning strong lasers, but trying to pass off a burning lasers as eye safe in order to make a few bucks is incredibly dangerous. I realize most people will have an idea of what they are getting into, but those out there that aren't aware of the extreme danger involved are going to lose an eye. You think I'm exaggerating but permanent eye injuries happen ALL THE TIME from the cheap death rays bought online. If you really want a powerful laser, read up on lasers and laser eye safety and start small before working your way up to a big laser.
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