back to article Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray

Wannabe Bond villains who'd been planning a world-domination strategy involving sharks armed with a frikkin' lasers should be aware that Wicked Lasers has announced it's withdrawing its "horrendously dangerous" handheld death rays. Long exposure shot showing laser in street According to a brief email from the company's …

  1. PCS

    I want one but the only justification I can give for wanting it would be using it to deal with the local feral cat population and other forms of low life.

    Ah well, back to using buckets of water and foul language :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There can be no justification for intentionally blinding animals or people with super strength lasers.

      1. Stevie

        There can be no justification ...

        ... for intentionally blinding animals or people with super strength lasers.

        Wot, not even "I suffer from Asperger's Syndrome?"

        Works on everything else.

      2. macjules

        Absolutely no justification at all ...

        ... unless they are called Tony Blair

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        what about burning holes in their trousers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have you tried a sonic repellent? I've always taken a handheld model when I go travelling in Asia and its saved me from a good few extremely aggressive dogs at night. I've never tried it on a cat (no reason to), but its supposed to work. Does them no harm at all, but in my experience very effective.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sonic Repellent

        Works on both dogs and horses.

        During the heyday of the Tesco/Asda Special Burger & Beef Lasagne affair the amount of horses "national minorities" were breeding in Bulgaria reached the level which can be best described as infestation. I have a summer house there and the things got so bad that we had trouble getting there - you drive half the way down the 1 mile dirt track to it only to find a 10+ horses on the road which are in no mood to budge.

        The only thing which proved effective at that point was the sonic gun (aka repellent) - got them off the road every time.

        1. Caesarius

          Re: Repellent

          BTW, a sonic repellent needs a lower frequency when used to keep deer out of my friend's orchard.

          I like the idea of a kill-o-zap death ray in the garden for use against various pests, but then I could not actually use it.

          I used to try aggressive means to deter neighbourhood cats, but, when I gave in and was kind to them, they started using my small garden as a sun lounge, and kept it clean.

        2. Sureo

          Re: Sonic Repellent

          One more thing to get I didn't think I needed.

        3. Expectingtheworst

          Re: Sonic Repellent

          "The amount of horses "national minorities" were breeding in Bulgaria reached the level which can be best described as infestation"

          Time for some cheap pepperoni.

      2. Paul Woodhouse

        I'll just leave this here...

    3. Scott Broukell

      @PCS - Have you tried the large clear plastic drinks bottle, stripped of it's label(s), at least one third full of water and left, at a jaunty angle, on the lawn / patio (whatever). Apparently the sight of a motionless body in this form is enough to unsettle the majority of tom cats who come across it.

      1. Shady

        Near where I live the verges are full of these already. The local tramps must be steeped in cat-repulsion knowledge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The local tramps must be steeped in cat-repulsion knowledge."

          Very community spirited as well, apparently.

    4. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      You could also try one of these:

      Son-in-law deployed one a while ago and has had much enjoyment hearing, every so often, members of the local feline population climbing, at full speed, the six foot fence out of his garden.

      Personally I had immense satisfaction form one local moggie that was climbing up a trellis at the end of the garden, intent on a bird box. Being upstairs and not having anything handy to throw at it limited my options. All I could do was open the window and hiss as loudly as possible (something about the sonics they don't like).

      The effect on the Moggie was salutary. It did a full all-4-paws-off start, fell down from the trellis and into the flower bed, where it then made a bolt through the foliage to the only bit of daylight it could see. Unfortunately it was so preoccupied with getting traction it completely overlooked the fact that the gap led straight into the pond.

      You know, its amazing how much skinnier a cat looks when it's had a good dunking.

      It seemed to loose a lot of enthusiasm for our garden for quite a while after that.

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      The other option is just get a cat of your own, they'll also keep rodents out of your house.

    6. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Hook up a garden sprinkler to a motion detector. Bye bye cats!

      (This solution involves a spot of tinkering-in-the-shed, which makes it perfect for any self-respecting El Reg commentard)

      1. icetrout

        good old cat & rat .22 cal works wonders every time... mines 110 years old & still dose the trick... :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          .22 cal

          Your ideas on how to treath the living creatures we share this planet with must be about 110 years old too. There are way more humane ways to get rid of cat infestations than shoot them with a .22.

  2. Michael Habel

    Looking at those Prices...

    It make me wonder how much more expensive these things are! Can you at least decapitate some Alien's Arm, or Head with it? Will it also defect Blaster Rays? If not then that's really just too much for some pretty lights...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looking at those Prices...

      You can't decapitate an arm, unless the alien has heads growing off it.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Looking at those Prices...

      They can burst a balloon... but only if the balloon is black coloured. They can make smoke on black card or electricians tape. At close range, say a couple of metres.

      So they are as useful as a magnifying glass on a sunny day, but more flexible.

      Ants and other unfortunate invertebrates beware lest you suddenly find your internals boiling and your exoskeleton popping!

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Looking at those Prices...

        My guess is those prices are exactly why the company changed hands. Those things are rather expensive and the folks who had to have one already do by now and the market quickly saturated.

        If I could mount these on a cnc table and cut, well anything - cloth, neoprene or even paper then I'd likely find it useful as might many others and the market would be bigger. If I want to make a bright spot on the wall, pop a balloon and light a match I can do it for under $5 with a $3 laser pointer, a pin and, well, a match.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Looking at those Prices...

      Laser hobbyist know that if you buy a cheap LED laser, and by pass the regulating circuits you get a very powerful laser with a short life. The laser-optic equivalent of the old region code unlocking "secret hacks" that the DVD player makers didn't try too hard to prevent (or keep secret).

  3. Unicornpiss

    I like toys but...

    I kind of agree with their decision. I have a fairly low power violet pointer that has enough oomph to draw lasting trails on a CRT and the reflected spot from a light-colored surface will leave you seeing a spot for a very long time. This isn't much power but it's enough to cause eye damage, and frankly, it's scary what some low life could do with something like the Arctic.

    So while I think they're very cool, and part of me wishes I could rationalize spending the money on a toy like this, I think perhaps there should be a "laser safety" course offered that you must complete in order to purchase one of these, since you could permanently blind someone, cause a car/plane crash, etc. if you're an idiot with more money than common sense.

    1. Asylum Sam

      Re: I like toys but...

      You find the thought of one or two idiots spread around the world with expensive lasers more worrying than the many tens of thousands of idiots within twenty miles of you RIGHT NOW with a license to throw half a ton of car around the roads with barely two brain cells to rub together? Odd.

      ADDED (not to mention the propensity for ultra bright xenon or whatever it is headlights, missaligned so the beam hits oncoming drivers full in the retina from half a mile away, , , I'd much rather chance being zapped with a laser once on my way home than face the dozens of morons with their faulty headlights I pass every evening.)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I like toys but...

        "a license to throw half a ton of car around the roads"

        To balance that, a car is far more useful to most people than a high(ish) powered laser pointer.

        Have to agree about the xenon headlights though. Is there a maximum brightness level for vehicle headlights? If so, do these lights exceed it or is the total light output just focussed more tightly? Should the max light level be based on incident light falling on a defined area at a defined distance rather than max wattage or candellas?

        1. Captain Boing

          Re: I like toys but...

          There is a limit for car headlamps but I think it is specified in Watts (based on a conventional tungsten filament incandescent design). I have KC Daylighters on my 4x4 for when I use it off-road and there is a warning on the box they are not road legal. As we know from 11watt LEDs in our kitchens, Watts != light energy in those terms we are used to and HID lamps can generate much more light for the same power. I think the kits you get to retro-fit conventional headlamps are illegal - I may be wrong, but this might be because they require a different focusing. The the lens has a different design on factory fitted HID lamps - probably to throw more light on the road and not to the sides for exactly the reason the OP bemoans. I have also seen damage done to the poly-carbonate outer on a set of Seat Agora(?) headlights that were converted by a boy-racer - this manifested as a round white "smokiness" directly in line with the internal reflector. Ironic.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: I like toys but...

            Properly executed HiD installations have auto levelling systems. just retro-fitting them onto a car with getting this sorted out is dangerous and will probably get a pull from plod.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: I like toys but...

            "here is a limit for car headlamps but I think it is specified in Watts"

            In the EU it's specified in lumens - and there are limits for bike lights too.

            That boyracer in the Seat probably put 55/100s in, instead of HIDs - the latter are half the wattage or less compared to halogens and correspondingly less hot.

      2. Haku

        Re: I like toys but...

        "I'd much rather chance being zapped with a laser once on my way home than face the dozens of morons with their faulty headlights I pass every evening."

        I'm with you on the hatred for the ever-increasing brightness of vehicle headlights, but I don't think you comprehend the permanent damage a Spyder III laser can easily do to your retinas.

      3. Paul Kinsler

        Re: I like toys but... ton of car?

        Thing is, even the idiots understand that half a ton of dangerously driven car is dangerous (even if they might not care). So only dangerous idiots drive dangerously, and not (so much) the well meaning "idiots" (or "people", as they are often known)

        But a bright (non-eyesafe) laser is just seen like some sort of "super torch" to a much greater fraction of people than just dangerous idiots. Consequently, even mostly well meaning people might use such a laser in a dangerous manner, simply because they do not understand the danger of lasers - even if they understand the danger of cars, and so try to use cars non-dangerously.

        Also, and on a more instinctive level, I (or we) probably tend to imagine that we are mostly going to get better after even a non-trivial car accident (that broken leg will heal....), but blindness is permanent and very likely seems more difficult to live with than (e.g.) a missing foot/leg/arm or whatever. For myself, I just think about how reading will slow to a crawl, and that the benefits of multiple monitors will be utterly unavailable. Are there even screen readers for complicated mathematical equations? What about diagrams and figures?

      4. sisk

        Re: I like toys but...

        'd much rather chance being zapped with a laser once on my way home than face the dozens of morons with their faulty headlights I pass every evening.

        I agree that those xenon headlights are annoying and dangerous and should probably be illegal, but I think that the permanent damage to your eyes by just one high-powered laser would be far worse than the annoyance that overly bright headlights can cause.

        That said I've not seen any news stories involving one of these lasers being used on drivers. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened, of course, but the pricing on them is high enough that your typical numbskull prankster is going to opt for a lower priced model for their shenanigans. I highly doubt that there's any real need to take them off the market, but I do understand the decision to do so.

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: I like toys but...

          "That said I've not seen any news stories involving one of these lasers being used on drivers."

          Aircraft. Too many instances of redneck morons playing games with these and planes recently.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I like toys but...

          "That said I've not seen any news stories involving one of these lasers being used on drivers. "

          I've been lasered whilst driving and in general it bloody hurts.

          It happens regularly enough around here (which is uncomfiortably close to a motorway, should the oiks start getting that idea) that the cops don't give it blues and twos priority until the twats responsible start pointing it into the sky.

          Even with incidents of lasering aircraft, 9 times out of ten the cops don't catch the culprits, no matter what they like to claim.

      5. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Re: I like toys but...

        many tens of thousands of idiots within twenty miles of you RIGHT NOW with a license to throw half a ton of car around the roads

        Half a ton? What are they all driving, Mini Mokes?

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first

      Re: I like toys but...

      In my capable and responsible hands, much fun could be had with one of these but sadly there are people out there who shouldn't be trusted with a pair of shoelaces. Like the chimp who couldn't wait half a minute for someone to negotiate into a parking space yesterday and set off across the pedestrian pathway and grass verge in a car park, wheels spinning and f'ing and blinding at everyone in sight.

      If only I'd had my laser {chin stroke].

    3. Tom 35

      Re: I like toys but...

      At the same time, if you live in the right state you can buy booze and a hand gun in the same store, so I think idiots with lasers are kind of low on the scale of things to worry about scale. Some place around the same level as people on airplanes with 120 ml of toothpaste.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: I like toys but...

        So how many drive-through beer & bang shops lead to death by lead slugs accelerated to several hundred meter per second?

  4. CatoTheCat

    CAUTION: Do not point laser at remaining eye!

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime


      Sorry, can't see the issue here.....

    2. Arachnoid


      If you have two or more don't cross the streams

    3. Squeezer pretty much what the yellow warning label on one of the optical benches at the NPL says:

      "Warning : Do not look into the laser with your remaining eye"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that would be an awesome glowstick...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5 mW?

    I was looking for something in the GigaWatt range, for reasons.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 5 mW?

      Go home Kim Jong Il, you're drunk.

      1. hplasm

        Re: 5 mW?

        He no drunk, he Il.

    2. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: I was looking for something in the GigaWatt range, for reasons.

      5 mW is the continuous output. Pulsed lasers get to 10 TW/cm² and higher, 1TW=10^15 mW.

  7. Fred M

    Useless anyway

    They're too powerful to be safe and not powerful enough to be useful, so no great loss. I'll stick with my 40W CO2 laser, thanks. A bit less portable I admit, but at least it will actually cut through stuff. Not tried it on the neighbourhood cats that crap on my lawn, but very tempted...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DO they really think that by their stopping the sale of the products they make that it will make a dent on the availability of high powered lasers ??

    Not to mention that these lasers are perfectly safe as long as you arent a total stupid idiot & we already have laws to deal with those who are idiots who misuse sure equipment.

    It just makes it hard for those of us who can use such things safely / effectively & even in a fun manner to get hold of them from a safe reputable manufacturer. We shouldnt be inconveiniancing perhaps many millions of people for the tiny less than 1% of dicks who cant be trusted with anything more difficult than autonomic bodily processes

    Totally spineless decision on the part of this company, typical these days though more is the pity

  9. Peter Mount

    Obligitory XKCD

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Obligatory XKCD - II

    2. Anomalous Cowturd

      Re: Obligitory XKCD

  10. Mayhem

    It's pretty obvious they've had to do this because more and more developed countries are cracking down on the sale of Class II and above lasers, so they simply can't sell them any more.

    This way they can attempt to remove the automatic sales stigma of Wicked Lasers = Dangerous, which might have been useful in building the brand, but is now a hindrance internationally.

    After all, few enough customers have the spare cash to splash on a fancy light with not many real practical uses.

  11. O RLY

    I own one (1.7W blue laser), and thought I'd have a lot of fun, sciency uses for it (read: burn things and melt things), but I find I don't use it all. Indoors, it marks the walls (which upsets domestic tranquility) and outdoors, I don't trust the fence with its gaps to keep the beam from inadvertently hurting someone down the street. So it stays locked up.

    1. Jonathan 27


      I recommend getting a few clay targets and heading down to the local gun range. Sure, you might get some strange looks but it's fun to explode clay targets by superheating them and at the gun range no one is going to care.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: meh

        That sounds like about the most unsafe thing you could possibly do. Forgetting for a moment that a plane or bird might be overhead in the path you sweep as you try to train it on the clay target, if you turn it on/off too soon/late, you could get someone on the ground, in a building or car behind the range, etc.

        1. toxicdragon

          Re: meh

          Not all gun ranges are outside, the one I use isn't, and as for shooting clays sure its not done all the time but its the Christmas shoot soon, we do shoot them then, as well as polos, they make a nice noise when hit.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Garage mate

  12. Gary Bickford

    For those who _need_ a bigger death ray ...

    Check out the book "Build Your Own Laser, Phaser, Ion Ray Gun and Other Working Space Age Projects" by Robert E Iannini. Among other things, this 1983 book can tell you how to build a 30 watt CO2 laser. The author cautions: (1) always have a visible laser (such as one of those pointers) aligned with the infrared CO2 laser, so you can see approximately where the beam goes; and (2) stay out of the beam! He notes that he accidentally walked through the beam and instantly cut a slit in the leg of his jeans. 30 watts is definitely enough to cause damage, even if poorly focused. CO2 lasers can be built in almost any size - IIRC the length of the chamber determines the power of the output. Car companies use big CO2 lasers for welding cars.

    I will just add that it is illegal to sell lasers of that power at least in the US, for good reason. I don't know if it's illegal to buy one or build one. At least if you have the technical chops to build one, you're _probably_ not so cognitively challenged that you would use it unwisely.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So much for my plan to use two of them along with an ultrasonic rig for enhanced sonoluminescence (SBSL), the idea being that pulsing the lasers just before the bubble flashes supercharges the reaction and if you get the timing right results in detectable weak X-ray emission due to the rapid "Brehmsstralung" ie slowing down of electrons upon impacting the water.

    These also work well for DIY etching machines and "upgrading" Lightscribe writers for making graphene, have a project on the go at the moment using one of these.

    They will also etch indium tin oxide and as such can be used for making custom EL panels, not to mention lots of other "Fun Stuff" (tm)

  14. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Evil toys

    I have a 2W violet laser and it's a nasty device to use as an open air toy. It reflects all over the place and natural fluorescence means that blue-blocking goggles aren't effective for protecting your eyes.

    I'm all for selling component lasers, though. I suspect that a large number of people buy the toys and pull the laser diode out because they're nearly impossible to buy directly. They have lots of legitimate uses in hobby tools and devices.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Evil toys

      natural fluorescence means that blue-blocking goggles aren't effective for protecting your eyes


      1. Conundrum1885

        Re: Evil toys

        Yeah, I read that somewhere.

        The light emitted from say fluorescent orange paint is actually bright enough to do damage close up.

        Fortunately this is fixable by simply using the OD6+ goggles which block blue AND red light, available from the folks on laserpointerforums.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it wrong

    That for the first few seconds when I read this I thought "damn, I better buy one of those because I might not be able to in the future". Luckily I quickly realized that I had absolutely no use for it whatsoever.

    1. Sinick

      Probably not as wrong as...

      ...knowing first that you have absolutely no use for it whatsoever, THEN thinking, "damn, I better buy one of those because I might not be able to in future."

      And buying it.

      And then going back and buying all the accessories you didn't notice the first time round.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Soo whats available?

    Does this mean its useless to google for that hand held 10kW continuous output rated affair I want to use for hunting?

    I dont mean Sarah Connor

  17. Captain Boing

    All these down-votes on comments mentioning using these on creatures - from now on, anyone who has had their Sensoyumer Gland removed is not allowed to comment, k?

    No-one is seriously suggesting it guys! You don't need to stamp your little foot, Jeez!

  18. Zangetsu

    James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?

    Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

  19. Conundrum1885

    Re. Soo whats available?

    Hi, I am in the process of acquiring a dead (busted Z axis) 3D printer for a lot less than a new one.

    It would be ideal for this PLUS it is all open source so a laser mod would be an afternoon's work.

    My current plan is to use a 12W red phlatlight (cough ca$io ebay /cough) and a UV burner diode to etch difficult materials; the idea here is that multiple wavelengths allow finer etching as the power to the main burner can be kept low due to the 12W of red making up the difference

    This is also handy for my other project of etching complex heterostructures on superconducting precursors (ie Mott insulator) under glass in an O2 atmosphere at >150C, the idea is that the oxygen only anneals where the laser hits the Mott insulator.

    150C+laser = closer to 800C so the required structure forms in seconds whereas with conventional annealing it would take tens of hours.

    This would be handy for forming neural net pathways but then the problem becomes how to make thermal tolerant CPUs that can withstand >900C reliably. (SiC maybe?)

    Anyone interested in schematics?

  20. Deckmunki

    I gather they're a US company?

    If so, highly likely this decision had something to do with US Gov (allegedly) starting to take steps to crack down on the use of lasers in attacks on landing aircraft in the US.

    A recent incident saw both pilot and first officer receiving eye injuries approaching Albuquerque airport - they landed safely though, thankfully:

    Scary stuff, and just as dangerous when used against drivers of cars.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon