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NSW Bans Laser Pointers

p1 21 April 2008 25

ABC News Story

Other randomly googled news site

It appears that in response to people shining lasers at aircraft, the state is banning laser pointers.  Does anyone know if there is a minimum strength of pointer, of if this is a blanket ban?  If it is a blanket ban, then be very careful driving to Queanbeyan if you have one on your key ring.


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NSW Bans Laser Pointers
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Diggety 4:01 pm 11 Mar 11

screaming banshee said :

Aurelius said :

I used to think this was all a furphy. I mean, surely the planes would be able to land with zero visibility weather, so even if the lasers blinded the pilots, it wouldn’t matter.

Your grasp over reality is truly astounding.

Assuming that have ever driven a car before let me put this into perspective for you, compare if you will
– Driving in wet weather / fog or other low visibility condition
– Driving at night with a 200W spotlight mounted on the dash shining back into your eyes.

Now tell me that under both these circumstances you have no issues reading the instruments on your dash.

Assuming you haven’t driven a car, subsitute driving for walking, and instruments for watch.

And no, I’ve got no idea where to mount the 200W spotlight, but you get the idea.

I know an old man who had a Hella Ralle 1000 spotlight mounted on the back parcel shelf of his Datsun.
He used to use it for tailgaters. Good man he was.

screaming banshee 1:27 pm 11 Mar 11

Aurelius said :

I used to think this was all a furphy. I mean, surely the planes would be able to land with zero visibility weather, so even if the lasers blinded the pilots, it wouldn’t matter.

Your grasp over reality is truly astounding.

Assuming that have ever driven a car before let me put this into perspective for you, compare if you will
– Driving in wet weather / fog or other low visibility condition
– Driving at night with a 200W spotlight mounted on the dash shining back into your eyes.

Now tell me that under both these circumstances you have no issues reading the instruments on your dash.

Assuming you haven’t driven a car, subsitute driving for walking, and instruments for watch.

And no, I’ve got no idea where to mount the 200W spotlight, but you get the idea.

PBO 12:06 pm 11 Mar 11

Woo Hoo, Just got my 1W light saber in the mail. Now to think up a legitimate use.

peterh 2:46 pm 11 Jun 08

serf’s up people!

Skidbladnir 2:04 pm 11 Jun 08

According to the ABC, the ACT is to follow:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/11/2270867.htm

neanderthalsis 10:40 am 07 May 08

Impeding the whole of the general population in whatever way possible is core business for Government.

This newish federal Govt have so far impinged on my rights to get thrashed cheaply off premixed drinks, (my prefered tipple, Canadian Club and Dry has jumped by around $7 for a four pack all because of silly little teenage bints drinking Cruisers) and impinged upon my rights to negotiate MY employment with MY employer without the resultant contract being subserviant to archaic, union pushed drivel.

We are well and truly on the road to serfdom.

Mælinar 9:20 am 07 May 08

So why do pilots have rights over LASERs ?

It would be easier to change the glass on planes so it reflected the beam away, rather than impede the whole of society.

Thumper 8:21 am 07 May 08

Wow…

The last novel I read was shorter than that 😉

masu 12:29 am 07 May 08

Hi folks,
I don’t normally post on this site, however, the NSW government’s plan to crack down on the availability and misuse of LASER pointers, particularly when they are used to illuminate airborne aircraft, has brought it to my attention.
My primary use for a LASER is aligning my astronomical telescope and while it is not absolutely essential that I use a LASER it makes things dramatically easier and negates the requirement for a second person helping.
To align an astronomical telescope you need to point it at several reference start which the computer then uses to point the telescope at other targets and track them as they move across the night sky. However, the field of view can be extremely narrow and in my case has a maximum field of view of 40’ (minutes of arc or ?°) so if you were more than 20’ off target the star would be outside the field of view.
Normally you align the main telescope using a series of less powerful telescopes that are attached and aligned with the main telescope, but this can be time consuming and is generally a pain in the but.
If you align a green LASER pointer with the centre of the telescopes field of view you can instantly see which star the telescope is pointed making the alignment procedure much simpler and doesn’t require you to do a pretzel impersonation in order to look down the sighting telescope/s.
Please don’t take this the wrong way, I am not being critical of anybody, just trying to correct some misconceptions and misunderstandings. I am also a pilot and armature astronomer and use LASER devices in conjunction with my telescope so I have at least one foot on either side of the debate.
Unfortunately there are a considerable number of anecdotal and vague snippets information circulating that has resulted in the sledge hammer to crack an egg approach the NSW government has towards the use of LASER pointers and other LASER devices.
Before we go any further it’s probably worth going over what a LASER actually is, but keep in mind this is only meant as an overview so no complaints about specifics please.
The word LASER is actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification Stimulated by Emissions of Radiation. LASER. LASER light has a whole host of specific properties but the relative ones in this situation are as follows:
• Non-divergent or Parallel Light: Unlike normal light that radiates from a point which diverges and dissipates over distance LASER light consists of parallel rays that do not diverge or converge with distance. Normally the intensity of light is inversely proportional to the square of the distance the light has traveled. For example if you were to double the distance between the source and target the intensity would be a ½2 or ¼ of the original intensity.
However, LASER light does not diverge so the intensity remains fairly constant with distance. Put simply it doesn’t matter if you are right next to the LASER or hundreds of metres away the intensity will remain constant as will the potential to injure.
An example of this occurred when I was aligning the LASER with the axis of my telescope. I picked a street sign about 1 km away and centered it in the field of view of the telescope. I then manually aligned the LASER so that it appeared to point at the street sign. Unbeknown to me the street sigh was made of that prismatic backing that reflects light straight back from where it came from and I suddenly found the laser pointed straight at me. Even at that range and after being reflected by a less than 100% efficient reflector for a fraction of a second the light was extremely bright and it took at least 30 minutes before my night vision recovered fully.
• Monochromatic: LASER light has a very pure colour that can’t be separated into other colours by passing it through a prism. This has some interesting effects when it passes through a lens as it can be focused to a point that is much smaller than with multi-chromatic light.
White light is actually made up of a mixture of colours which will refract at different angles as they pass through a prism. Many will have seen this in high school when you used a glass prism to split sunlight into the ROYGBIV rainbow. When white multi-chromatic light passes through a lens the different colours will be refracted differently and as a result produce different focal lengths that are colour dependent. As a result you can never focus the light fully and you will get a smudgy rainbow effect around the edge.
To a certain extent this can be counteracted by using complex lens systems and mirrors rather than lenses but in this case this is inconsequential.
Because LASER light is monochromatic it does not have the smudging or partially out of focus effect you get with multi-chromatic light and this allows it to be focused to an extremely small point. Since the intensity of light is inversely proportional to the area over which it dissipates the extremely small point of focus results in an extremely intense point of light that has the potential to burn the retina and cause permanent damage and loss of vision.
Normally when the eye detects such intense light it protects itself by triggering the blink reflex. However, it’s not the point intensity but rather average or median intensity over an area that triggers the blink reflex. Consequently, even though the retina may be burning the overall intensity isn’t enough to trigger the response and protect the eye.
The retina also packed with so many light sensitive and image transmitting nerves that there is no space for pain receptors. As a result you will not feel any pain even though the retina is suffering irreparable damage.
So, how does this relate to our situation?
In post #2 adeptacheese wrote:
• any laser with the power to hit an aircraft would already have been banned. Seems like some pointless “tough on crime” posturing to me
This would be true if we were talking about causing sufficient damage to the airframe to prevent if from remaining airborne. The most critical, complex and difficult part of any flight is the landing. Pilots have a phenomenal work load and need to respond to changing situations quickly and defiantly. Dazing the vision of the pilot or pilots while a jet airliner is on final approach or a rescue helicopter landing at a hospital could have cataclysmic results.
Now before everybody pipes up about autopilots, automatic landing systems zero visibility landing etcetera, you still need somebody that can see to input the appropriate data and set the aircraft up accordingly. Things can get very hectic, horribly nasty and downright dangerous in less time than it takes most people to decide whether or not you need to scratch that itch on the tip of your nose.
So, while a laser that could knock an aircraft out of the air is probably already illegal you don’t need anything like that sort of power to knobble the pilots.
In post #3 Aurelius wrote,
• But then I remembered that I had seen X-wings taken out by lasers. So they must be extremely dangerous!
Yep and it’s definitely a spectacular way to down an aircraft. However, these are special, highly specialized LASER devices that need truck loads of equipment to produce outputs in the kW and even MW range. LASER pointers are usually less than 1 mW to 5 mW with a few getting towards the 20 mW range.
Some how I can’t see the neighbors being happy about you parking all this kit in your front garden and taking pot shots at passing aircraft. The added drain on the local power distribution cables would probably mean they would miss the latest episode of “Neighbors”, “Big Brother”, “We Havn’t Got Talent” or some equally as cerebral spongiforming TV program
In post post #7 Meconium wrote,
• So, again, we give up a civil liberty for a useful item, and we still end up having numskull kids shining them at incoming passenger jets for a laugh. Well done again state government.
My sentiments exactly.
The sledge hammer approach usually results in smashing everything but the bit you wanted smashed. Unfortunately the amoeba brained idiots that are misusing LASER pointers are probably illiterate and I doubt they will even comprehend what they are doing is not only illegal but horrendously dangerous, so I can’t see it having the desired effect
However, the powers to be have stated that legitimate users will be allowed to possess and use such devices. From what I have been able to find the idea is to declare LASER devices Prohibited Weapons and if you have a legitimate use you will need to apply for and be granted a Prohibited Weapons Permit and guess what?
It costs AU$127.00 to apply for a permit.
One thing that you need to keep in mind is the “prohibited” part means just that and you don’t need to be caught using a LASER in a dangerous manner just being in possession of one is an offence.
I havn’t yet put in an application for a PWP, but I have all the paperwork together and plan to put it in tomorrow (Wednesday 6th March 08) and when I get back I will post the results of the excursion here.
When the first LASER was built somebody said that they were one the greatest scientific discovers for which there was no practical use or application. We managed to get past that off target tidbit and LASER devices are now used in a phenomenal number of legitimate, safe and justifiable applications. Having broad all encompassing sledge hammer rules that turn the myriad of legitimate and responsible owners and users into criminals just because they legally purchased and own such equipment can only be counterproductive.
However, having 1,000 m long path of annihilation scythed out of a heavily populated city by Boeing B-747 loaded with more than 100,000 kg of jet fuel and hundreds of people because an idiot blinded the pilots with a LASER pointer is also unacceptable.
It’s all about balancing the good with the bad. On one side you have the cretinous, amoeba brained idiots that would more than likely have trouble spelling their names let alone comprehending the consequences of their actions. On the other we have the responsible and legitimate users that comprehend the consequences of such misuse and avoid causing others problems or harm.
It is immoral to penalize the legitimate users for doing nothing wrong, but it is also immoral to allow idiots to carry on and potentially kill hundreds of innocent people. Will making LASER devices prohibited weapons achieve either of these goals? I don’t know, but you can bet your last dollar the restrictions on LASER devices will never be lifted so all we can do is try and work within the rules regardless of how draconian they are.
Has anybody got any other ideas on the matter? I would love to hear them.
You never know, if we explain it in monosyllabic words and simple sentences we may even be able to convince the powers to be that there are better ways to achieve their goal. Then again, politician-understand, that’s an oxymoron in the league of those all time greats military-intelligence and airline-food.
PS: Sorry about the length of the post but it’s a fairly complex topic that I believe it deserves the time and effort.

imarty 10:21 pm 22 Apr 08

Skidbladnir said:
“but anything else without a valid permit will get you up to 14 years in jail”
Yeah, remember when NSW gov. came out and said the same thing about knives…

Mr Waffle 8:44 pm 22 Apr 08

They said on ten news last night a police chopper got “hit” with a laser pointer last night, but “luckily they were able to maintain control of the helicopter”. I get hit with the blinding light of the sun every time I drive down Fairburn avenue in the afternoon, bouncing off those bloody glass panels, do I deserve a medal for not wildly veering into oncoming traffic?

Moleson 6:15 pm 22 Apr 08

Aurelius said :

I used to think this was all a furphy. I mean, surely the planes would be able to land with zero visibility weather, so even if the lasers blinded the pilots, it wouldn’t matter.
But then I remembered that I had seen X-wings taken out by lasers.
So they must be extremely dangerous!

Aurelius do you play the game “Savage” ?

Moleson 6:14 pm 22 Apr 08

I CANT BELIEVE THEY BANNED LASER POINTERS, WHAT A BUNCH OF RETARDS, THIS PROBABLY THAT POTATO HEADED KEVIN RUDD’S DECISION! >:(

(By the way Aurelius, do you play the game “Savage” by any chance?

Skidbladnir 12:31 pm 22 Apr 08

Very odd… These proposed laws make laser pointers of any variety or strength illegal and in the same category as prohibited weapons and firearms unless they either have a licence\permit for the strength and variety or valid reason.
(but the Class II, IIIa, and IIIb ones avialable around the place would need licences if ever you were sprung anyway, and Class IV and higher are only research\military hardware)

So you could possibly get away with having an unpermitted <1mW red one for “entertaining a cat” according to Iemma, but anything else without a valid permit will get you up to 14 years in jail.

Way to limit opportunities for non-institutional research and spontaneous in-the-field astronomy education, while increasing opportunities for beat-up arrests, and increasing government bureaucracy.

But at the same time, its illegal to possess or own one without a permit, its illegal to sell one without a licence\permit, and without a permit it is illegal to buy one.

So everyone at the time of passing who has one without a permit is a criminal with options including either destroy it or sell it on (black market style), and unless you make it like the fireworks where the ‘applictaion form’ is a self-assisted licence, applicants are still criminals until the licence is granted.

Although apparently the secondary market price of green lasers and component hardware has increased significantly, meaning people like this guy just get to rake in profits.

Iemma is displaying an extraordinary degree of ineptiude here.

Skidbladnir 9:27 am 22 Apr 08

I have previously had need to use a green pointer (the ones visible in air at night) for saying “That group right there is the Southern Cross” to a bunch of scouts with an interest in astronomy but no idea about the basics.

They do serve legitimate educational purposes and not just trying to blind pilots.

But 65mW and above (above 50mW above legal limits) green ones are still selling on eBay, so the laws haven’t worked yet. :\

Meconium 12:16 am 22 Apr 08

GTA IV – one week before release, and counting.

ant 10:46 pm 21 Apr 08

Thumper said :

The frightening thing is what sort of person would do this?

Seriously?

People who think that life is a video game.

Thumper 9:41 pm 21 Apr 08

The frightening thing is what sort of person would do this?

Seriously?

Meconium 9:05 pm 21 Apr 08

Considering only about one in ten packages marked “gift” are randomly opened by Customs, you’re likely to be able to buy a powerful laser from overseas. In fact, there’s a long thread on Whirlpool Forums discussing that exact topic.

These lasers are powerful enough to pop a balloon (not sure about an X-Wing though) and can be seen up to six kilometres away!

Banning laser pointers a tenth or a hundredth of the strength of these ones is a stupid idea, laser pointers are tiny, people will easily be able to bring them in from overseas, either in their bags or by mail.

So, again, we give up a civil liberty for a useful item, and we still end up having numskull kids shining them at incoming passenger jets for a laugh. Well done again state government.

gooterz 6:15 pm 21 Apr 08

I can see them having a big laser bust at the Uni’s some lectures have like 5 each:P

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