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Old 07-02-2010, 10:47   #1
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Using Laser Light to Find Markers

I read of someone using a laser light to locate channel markers, and that seemed like a good idea, if it works. No being blinded by the spotlight lighting up the foredeck would be great, but I wonder how obvious the reflection would be, and if you can discern the color of the marker.
Before I plunk down $100 for a serious one,I thought I'd ask if any of you have seen if this really works. And what kind of range could be expected ?
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Old 07-02-2010, 21:45   #2
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The right tool for this is radar. Save until you can buy one or use it if you already have it!

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Old 07-02-2010, 22:07   #3
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I cant imagine that this would work well. Are we thinking of the same kind of laser light? A small pen like object? If you knew where the marker was, you might be able to hit it with the laser. Even then, you would only see a small red dot on whatever surface it hit. I am not completely discounting it, but seriously doubt it as an acceptable tool.
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Old 07-02-2010, 22:12   #4
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It also would require to have a fair range and then become a serious weapon. At least unlike a radar it would not return false target.
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Old 07-02-2010, 22:17   #5
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We used to carry a powerful laser-pointer aboard with a stated range of about 1,000 yards.

Its primary intended use was to serve as a possible nonviolent deterrent when being approached by vessels with unknown but suspect intentions at night. Fortunately, we never had a chance to find out whether it might have worked or not....

When we tried to use it to help spot buoys, etc., the light reflected by such objects showed such strong interference patterns (because of the coherent nature of the laser beam) that it was nearly impossible to make out any shapes or forms, let alone any textures or colors, in the dark.

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Old 07-02-2010, 22:25   #6
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a night vision scope can be an amazing tool...
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Old 08-02-2010, 06:50   #7
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How on earth could a pinpoint laser be hand-held and stable enough to find a channel marker while being used on the deck of a pitching boat? Unless the laser beam width gets really wide at distance, but then wide beam = less accuracy.

Unless you find an automated tracking / pointing system I think this would be a waste of time.....

Radar & night vision are better alternatives IMHO....
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:21   #8
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So is a good pair of 7x50s and the Mark I eyeball -- so long as night vision hasn't been spoiled by looking at screens or other non-red lights.

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Old 08-02-2010, 08:00   #9
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I was surprised myself how well a pocket laser-pointer will light up a reflective roadsign; if you're a block away, it lights up the whole sign, not just a pinpoint. But that's because I could see the sign and knew where to point the laser. I'm not sure how well it would work trying to locate something you can't see.
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:33   #10

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I saw a prototype product that was made for this a few years ago. It wasn't one of those presentation-type pinpoint laser pointers. It looked like a flashlight and it somehow scattered or vibrated the laser coming out to throw a much wider beam. We pointed it at a buoy in the fog a few hundred yards away and it's reflector showed up clear as a bell.

I've never seen the product appear. It was created by a guy in Alaska from what I remember. There are some patents in this area too.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:26   #11
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I've done it, and once you actually hit the marker, it works great (first finding the marker can take a little longer). The problem is that on most markers (oddly, not all...) you cannot see a green laser beam on the red markers, so you need both a red and a green, but yes, it does work, and it is bright. pete
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Old 08-02-2010, 12:04   #12
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In theory one might be able to use a Laser Rescue Flare (see Greatland Laser ). In practice, however, we have never had much difficulty picking up marks with a spotlight and a good pair of binoculars. (We do have these devices attached to each individuals' PFD--Just in case.)

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Old 08-02-2010, 14:51   #13
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I keep a inexpensive laser infrared thermometer to measure
motor and exhaust temperatures on board(laser to sight, infrared
to measure temp) the laser will reach at least several hundred feet. I also use a night vision scope to spot buoys when needed.
Using a laser such as svHyLyte refers to would be a great addition to PFD's or a ditch bag.
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Old 08-02-2010, 21:07   #14
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OOOkay. This does help. I was hoping to hear from folks who had tried one.

HyLyte, Greatland was the one I had heard about.

Sounds like they indeed do something, but not as much as I had hoped. I wondered about the color thing. Pete, your point really shows the limitations.

Thanks to all.
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Old 08-02-2010, 22:39   #15
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Greatland Laser Rescue Flares are for distress!

The Greatland Laser Rescue Flare is meant as a rescue item, to attract attention when you need help. Presumably you wouldn't use a pyrotechnic distress flare as a light source for finding channel markers? I suggest that rescue laser flares be reserved for situations when you are in distress, and NOT be used for other purposes.
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