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View Full Version : Pricey green lasers are pranksters' choice



SnakebyteXX
01-06-2005, 07:48 AM
Jersey man accused of zapping pilots bought his online
Jesse Hamlin, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Those cheap red laser pointers you see all over are fine for adding a dash of color to some dull presentation or zapping unsuspecting cats for amusement. But for those in the market for a hand-held doodad with enough juice to shoot a bright beam 10,000 feet in the sky and point out stars, the pricier green laser is the ticket.

David Banach apparently thought so when he bought a $119 Jasper laser pointer last month from Bigha Inc., one of dozens of online outfits peddling the potent green lasers. He's the 38-year-old Parsippany, N.J., man who was busted by the feds this week for allegedly zapping a private jet with his little green laser and temporarily blinding both pilots as the plane came in for a landing at Teterboro Airport near his home.

According to his attorney, Banach -- who was charged Tuesday with violating the Patriot Act and could face up to 25 years in jail and be fined up to $500,000 -- was simply scanning the neighborhood and the sky for the entertainment of his 7-year-old daughter. He apparently admitted that he did zap the Port Authority helicopter dispatched to locate the offending laser.

Thousands of green laser pointers, generally made in Russia, China and Taiwan, are sold online in the United States every year. The device uses a complex battery-operated mechanism -- a diode, crystal and rod -- that creates a green wavelength far brighter and more visible than a red laser pointer, which can bought for as little as $10. The green jobs, which can range in price from about $70 to $150, are big with astronomy teachers and other star gazers, as well with people who think it's cool to shoot a glowing green beam into space and wow their friends.

According to federal authorities, laser pranksters have hit a handful of aircraft around the country in recent months, which is why Banach found his house surrounded by cops the other day.

"We have to send a clear message to the public that there is no harmless mischief when it comes to airplanes,'' said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, quoted on NorthJersey.com.

The green lasers are all over the Internet but have yet to make their way onto the shelves of three-dimensional shops.

"We don't sell them, but when the price goes down, the demand for them will go up,'' says David Gari, a salesman at Electronic Plus in San Rafael, who will happily sell you an old-school red laser starting at $20. He says he might buy a green one if the price drops to about $30. Until then, Gari says, he'll stick with his red one, "which I just use to annoy cats and dogs.''

Ah, but the red is so passe, say the people pushing the green beam on the Web.

"We're pretty sure you want to be a superior geek -- and doing it with a green laser is the way to go,'' says the Web site ThinkGeek.com, which is offering the pointer for $99.99. "I mean, come on,'' writes some nameless geek, "a 532 nm (nanometer) wavelength is obviously superior to a laughable 650 nm red laser wavelength.''

You'll get no argument from Ernest Davis, the sales manager at the Lasermate Group, a Pomona company that manufactures and sells all kinds of laser stuff, including green pointers for $119 to $150.

"You can buy the Yugo,'' says Davis, referring to the cheaper lasers out there, "or you can buy the Lexus. We're the Lexus.'' Davis, whose company has a factory in Taipei, sells about 30 green lasers a month, in addition to tens of thousands of red-laser diodes used for everything from DVDs to supermarket scanners. He estimates total annual gross sales for all green laser pointers at $15 million to $20 million.

Davis has read the reports of Banach's alleged plane zapping and has serious doubts that the beam blinded the pilots. "I don't think he could've done it with a pointer, because it's not that powerful, unless he had it souped up,'' says Davis. He thinks the plane might've flown into the beam, and the cockpit went green for a second.

The pilots probably overreacted, Davis says. "There are reports of terrorists attacking things, and they're on edge,'' Davis says. "There's this 'War of the Worlds' thing going on now.''

link (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/01/06/MNG6IALQAK1.DTL)

SpiderMan
01-06-2005, 08:34 AM
I'm curious - since he's not being charged with illuminating the 'copter (because apparently that didn't violate the homeland security act), how do they expect to prove that he was the one green-laser owner out of thousands (millions?) who illuminated that particular airplane at that particular time? In this case, the "perpetrator" wouldn't even be able to be certain it was he, should he wish to confess. At most, he could confess that it "could have been" him.

SpiderMan

Deeman2
01-06-2005, 08:54 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> I'm curious - since he's not being charged with illuminating the 'copter (because apparently that didn't violate the homeland security act), how do they expect to prove that he was the one green-laser owner out of thousands (millions?) who illuminated that particular airplane at that particular time? In this case, the "perpetrator" wouldn't even be able to be certain it was he, should he wish to confess. At most, he could confess that it "could have been" him.

SpiderMan <hr /></blockquote>

<font color="blue"> Spiderman,

According to a report I saw, he did fess up. He, at first, claimed it was his 7 year old daughter (what a jerk), then admitted he had flashed the plane for a second or two.

I'm thinking of ordering a couple of these before they outlaw them. I won't be flashing planes but my Lab goes crazy over my red one so I might as well torture him with the real deal. Besides, I want to be able to say. "You can have my laser when they pry it from my cold, dead hands." /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif </font color>

"Laser" Deeman

Wally_in_Cincy
01-06-2005, 10:28 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Deeman2:</font><hr>

I'm thinking of ordering a couple of these before they outlaw them. <hr /></blockquote>

[ QUOTE ]
"We're pretty sure you want to be a superior geek

"a 532 nm (nanometer) wavelength is obviously superior to a laughable 650 nm red laser wavelength.''
<hr /></blockquote>

/ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

You could rig up a Luke Skywalker light sabre.