only in Australia - laser pointers to be banned

"It will soon be illegal to possess laser-pointers in NSW, in a bid to stamp out attacks on planes and cars.

Police are promising to ‘get tough’ on laser pointers, in the wake of a string of attacks on planes - the latest on an air-ambulance over Sydney’s south.

It's prompted the NSW Government to bolster its laws, which will soon see even the possession of the weapons outlawed and punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Premier Morris Iemma says there is no room for "reckless cowards", intent on causing carnage.

“These extra powers [are given to] the police to ensure that these lethal weapons are prohibited and their potential for mass murder is reduced,” he told the media today.

People with a legitimate excuse to hold the laser pointers - like teachers, astronomers and engineers, will be exempt - with the laws building on a federal ban on importation. "


only in Australia - the land where you can get pizza delivered and sent back in the same time it takes the police to arrive
by the same logic cars should be banned..........
Hmm, I was going to use lasers to send picaxe data over several hundred metres but this settles the decision to go to RF. One could just see some shiny crisp packet blowing into the beam and reflecting the laser into a plane. And I do live under a flight path. I doubt this ban would affect laser pointers - they diverge to 30cm wide after 100 metres and are much less dazzling than car headlamps at distances over 300. I think the problem is with high power green lasers that can burn wood from a distance.
Blimey Drac, Green lasers burning tree trunks at 5 miles? I want one. Do Ebay sell those for a fiver?

Green/blue lasers are much worse than red for a given power as far as dazzling is concerned and I wish the term 'blind' could be sorted (i.e. defined) for this argument. A brief look at a 1mW red laser will NOT medically and permanently blind you. It can dazzle and it can leave a temporary print in your eyes. When aimed into a lens (maybe a cockpit window) it causes loads of vey visible internal reflections and things and would be very distracting at night. You might say that your were 'blinded' - a subtly different meaning though possibley very dangerous.

Anyway, this is going to turn into that other (non PICAXE) thread soon...

"One could just see some shiny crisp packet blowing into the beam and reflecting the laser into a plane."
- Nah mate, one could just see a crisp packet, pidgeon, wildebeest getting into the beam and ruining your transmission.


Senior Member
I'm somewhat disapponted. I've got a 35mW green which I use for star gazing but I wouldn't consider myself an astronomer, nor am I a qualified engineer (although 3/4 though my degree)...

Might have to get rid of it and sell it (overseas as well, I guess...)

i'm just a little miffed by the logic behind the idea, because using the same logic they may as well start making cars illegal, what about balaclavas? while they are at it hooded jumpers, then maybe go the whole hog we may even ban teenagers from being on the streets after dark..... serious does this really happen anywhere else in the world?


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It's heavy-handed but not surprising. Whether they do any damage or not (*) is really beside the point, people ( including myself ) are getting P'd off with having lasers shone in our eyes and want something done - We wouldn't tolerate yobs spitting at people in the street so why tolerate laser abuse ? They had their chance to use them responsibly, have shown they cannot, so now their toys are taken away. Tough. It's about balancing rights.

I agree the reasoning is ridiculously alarmist ( laser pointer sales fund terrorism yada yada yada ) and people who have behaved responsibly may suffer ( although it is proposed to have exclusions ), but be honest; why do most of these people buy laser pointers if not to be a nuisance with them ?

As to 'does this happen anywhere else in the world' you bet it does; the UK is notorious for crushing the liberties of citizens. The current British Government would seem to be happy to follow your logical argument and ban things like hoodies, balaclavas and all else that offends it. Does Australia allow shops to fit high-frequency emitters outside their shops to ward off kids like the UK does ? Are your olive-skinned residents generally considered a de-facto potential threat ? Welcome to democratically elected totalitarian dictatorships.

However ... don't confuse a Government acting in its own interests with acting in the interests of what people do want to see done or feel should be done.

(*) A fair majority of people are photo-sensitive who find having lasers shone in their eyes distressing at least and that can cause headache or migraine.
DPG: You've gone and got him overexcited again. You know he can switch from Propellors to Marxism is a nanosecond :)

There's a happy-hippy-medium along the way.

As Mr Spock once said "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" - or something like that. He was Vulcan and therefore a lot more intelligent.

If laser pointers can do damage or are dangerous I don't see how you can analogise a ban with crushing the liberties... etc. Is it your right to be annoying or hazardous?
On one hand a ban on sales is good. They are pointless and the little clods shouldn't be able to have them.

And if this was a dictatorship then you'd be shot for moaning.


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Staff member
That's the clever part - by not shooting the moaners they can pretend they aren't dictatorships :)

No one goes to prison for moaning or more frequently anti-social behaviour - that would be entire unacceptable - instead one's put under an ASBO then sent to prison for breaking it, and that's obviously all okay.

It's a neat way to criminalise non-criminal behaviour and the majority just lap it up.
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However ... don't confuse a Government acting in its own interests with acting in the interests of what people do want to see done or feel should be done.
Agreed. Governments sell this idea that we need their "protection or help or whatever." What the "ruling class" is really protecting is their own ability to remain the ruling class. A lot of people down through history have made these same comments in one form or another - but power corrupts. Human greed will win out over ideals every time. By the time a politician has learned to make it to the higher echelons, he/she already been corrupted.
the ban on it is silly they should have simply made it ilegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess one that would have saved a lot of headaches,

another idea is to simple make it mandatory that each laser pointer has a serial number and registered to an owner in a database on sale and that number is transmitted serially with a little chip inside the laser pointer every time the button is pushed,
then on things like aircraft/police cars and like you would do with a photovoltaic cell to pick it up then it's simply a case of giving the serial number to the police they'll look it up and bingo somone is in trouble,

of course getting the police to actaully police anything down here is another interesting topic you can bet your bottom dollar the lads that still have them and are shining them at planes, when they are caught all they get is a warning ,they've caught hundreds of people shining them at cars planes boats and people generally in public yet not one person has been sent to jail yet,

it's a bit like the japanese illegal whalers down in the whale sancturary, they were armed ,illegally whaling,against a court order even opened fire upon two protest ships and threatened the Aussie customs vessel all at the same time our primeminister was saying "we're going to get tough on illegal whalers" then did nothing, now there is a definition of a joke,

Dippy, i'm waiting for the shooting bit to start but on the other hand we may as well be under a dictatorship we're fooling ourselves if we think we're not, our politicians are inacessible , you try and ring one you get the secretary and it's always the same old storey "if you send a letter or email we'll get back to you, if you argue they hangup"
i've only even gotten a response out of 1 politician was went i sent this link to her secretary and put the word "URGENT BLACKMAIL MATERIAL RING US ASAP" link:

20 mins later the phone rang and it was the health ministers left hand person wanting to know if there was any more (of course i told them there was a few hundred) and what i wanted,needless to say the hospital stuff up was fixed 5 hours later (it's a long long story but in essence my wife had a pilloniodal cyst and needed it removed it got drained and the due to paperwork stuffup at the hospital couldn't get it removed)
Wow - this got me to google 'green laser site:nz' and I was surprised to see even 100mW green lasers commonly available for not much money - these things can pop balloons and place a bright green spot on objects several km away! :-O
I would say that you all definitely have it worse than us here in the US nanny-state wise, but we're not that far away! When did people decide it was better to ban a device that could be used for something illegal, rather than just banning the illegal act?!

On another note, how long before things like this genuinely start to inhibit innovation? I could see people trying to make similar arguments about microcontrollers in a few years once DIY UAVs get even simpler.
Oh, all very true I'm sure. Well, not so sure actually.
And life's too short to worry about our wonderful Governments.
Visit Zimbabwe, then come back and then tell me how badly we live.


Senior Member
DPG- I respectively suggest that such flippant comments are inappropriate. It's unlikely that your worst Oz. nightmares would match even a portion of the daily reality many face in Zimbabwe. Consider their life expectancy (34 women, 36 men) for starters...


Technical Support
Staff member
On another note, how long before things like this genuinely start to inhibit innovation? I could see people trying to make similar arguments about microcontrollers in a few years once DIY UAVs get even simpler.
The UK's anti-terrorism laws makes it a criminal offence to (paraphrased) possess an item which would be useful to a terrorist. That's so widely drafted that it could cover almost anything, from the humble A-Z street map through to craft knives, mobile phones and microprocessors.

The only reason that possession of a PICAXE is not de-facto illegal in the UK is that most who possess them do not fall into the demonised demographic of those 'most likely to be terrorists'. When those people are hauled into court on suspicion of terrorism such items are used to indicate terrorist intent or threat and convictions have been obtained.

So where do 'alarm keycode cracking', 'drive-by access point location', 'GSM dialling/SMS sending', 'firework launching' and wireless related projects sit ?

That currently depends on whether you're going to be dragged into court on suspicion of terrorist related activity. They may be entirely innocent projects but try convincing a Court and Jury which is told you're a terrorist that such projects aren't the evidence that you are.

How long before what can be used to convict now becomes "thought crime" in its own right ?

Martin Niemöller had some words on the subject.
Oh Blimey.

I'm just so please that, contrary to popular belief, in most cases in the judiciary that common sense prevails.

Life ain't like 'Spooks'. This is all getting a bit paranoid. Sorry.


Technical Support
Staff member
I think the best judgement on whether common sense prevails and how much is paranoia comes from actually examining where people have been convicted and imprisoned in such circumstances.

IMO, no it's not like Spooks, it's simply the authorities wanting to get their man, having decided who that is, using legislation which is deliberately crafted to be so wide-sweeping that they are near guaranteed to get one on a 'technical offence'.

There have been many miscarriages of justice proven with the authorities fabricating evidence. This makes it even easier and avoids the need to fabricate as almost "any evidence will do".

Do the majority or even individuals have anything to fear ? Of course not, unless one has a particular coloured skin, a certain length beard or chose a particular faith to live by.

How your, "but the Anarchist Cookbook isn't a prohibited publication, that PICAXE project is for launching pyrotechnics, the Guide to Parliament was a gift from my MP I never asked for, and the footage from Basra was just a random click on YouTube", is perceived depends very much on how prejudiced society is about you.

Just because one may be in a group which isn't by default treated as criminal doesn't mean that the very same things done aren't seen as criminal when others do it.

Here's a precautionary tale about how things could go deadly wrong when one gets carried away with PICAXE skills and falling for Stan's promotion of breadboard ...
"Visit Zimbabwe, then come back and then tell me how badly we live."

it's an unrealistic stament
there is no way i'm going to zimbabwe , i don't have the money and i'm not going to sacrifice part of my income by taking time off to experience some of the worst parts of human existance on this planet,

if the general public down here were willing to see the truth of what goes on behind closed doors with the people running the country they'd be horrified, but unfortunatly they are all too busy driving to and from work up to 4 hours a day in bumper to bumper traffic on roads that should freeways, where the alternative is a public transport system where at best gets a 60% reliability rating as far as world standards go, and when they get home are usaully glued to the tv eating dinner while enjoying "reality tv" if not current affairs shows which only seem to actaully tell their version of the truth,

one thing i have noticed over the years is that people don't seem to think critically of anything anymore if somthing pops up in the news on tv or over the radio it is believed no matter how suspect the storey looks,

personally i think the worst thing that could happen in society is the people in it that stop thinking critically about what they see and are told (ever heard the saying believe half of what you read and none of what you see) (goes somthing like that) once people stop thinking critically about the people that make the rules and what they do, they may as well be under a dictatorship and thoe publically critical of them may as well be shot

my insightful greek nieghbor put it quite right when he said "whats worse than a corrupt government that lies to it's people and squanders their tax money? the people they rule who don't think it happens

as for life expectancy that's shocking but on the other hand have you walked into a nursing home lately? and i mean a nursing home that doesn't know your comming to visit?
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Blah, Blah, Blah. Laser pointers are a very real hazard to aircraft. At least two posts on this thread alone confirms for me how reckless people are with these devices and the need to ban them. Seemingly intelligent and knowledgeable people appear to be unaware of the hazards lasers pose. Pointing a laser beam at almost any object, causes dangerous beam reflections in multiple directions. Pointing a laser at something outside, exposes the entire neighborhood to dangerous eye damaging beam fragments. Pointing a laser into the sky is just plain idiotic or ignorant or both.
You won't find a laser technician anywhere in the world that doesn't wear laser protective goggles while working with lasers. Next time you power your laser up and start pointing it around the room, be aware that reflecting beam fragments ARE causing damage to your eyes. Not maybe.. Are causing damge.
The FBI said that between 1990 and 2005 there were over 400 of them. The focused beams of a laser light remain powerful at extended viewing distances and can expose pilots to radiation levels above those considered to be flight safe. Brief exposure to even a relatively low-powered laser beam can cause discomfort and temporary visual impairments, such as glare, flash blind, and afterimages.

The FBI noted that it is illegal to target aircraft and represents a danger to flight crews and, potentially, the public from an accident that could occur if a flight crew is impaired in its ability to safely operate its aircraft. Many lasers are over 10 times more powerful than the typical red laser pointers used in the classroom or workplace and can cause significant damage to the eyes.

Let's keep it in perspective, we are talking about the very low power laser pointers, not STAR WARS lasers. From what I have read, the pilots were intentionally be "beamed' with high power green lasers not the little laser pointers running off 3 hearing aid batteries.

Yes, the little laser pointers are annoying in the wrong hands, but the potential for injury is non existant.

In the same vein, are you promoting banning DHMO for all uses?

You are wrong Myc, as are most people I talk to about this subject.
Per the law of the conservation of energy, the energy density (measure of energy per unit of area) of the laser beam increases as the spot size decreases. This means that the energy of a laser beam can be intensified up to 100,000 times by the focusing action of the eye. If the irradiance entering the eye is 1 mW/cm2, the irradiance at the retina will be 100 W/cm2. Thus, even a low power laser in the milliwatt range can cause a burn if focused directly onto the retina.

A laser is the strongest source of light ever created by scientists. The beam that comes out of a simple hand-held laser pointer is at least a million times brighter than the average light bulb in your home.
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You are wrong Myc, as are most people I talk to about this subject.
Per the law of the conservation of energy, the energy density (measure of energy per unit of area) of the laser beam increases as the spot size decreases. This means that the energy of a laser beam can be intensified up to 100,000 times by the focusing action of the eye. If the irradiance entering the eye is 1 mW/cm2, the irradiance at the retina will be 100 W/cm2. Thus, even a low power laser in the milliwatt range can cause a burn if focused directly onto the retina.
You science is correct, but you are missing one point. the collimation on the laser pointers is very poor due to the cheap lenses being used. The 1 to 5 milliwatts of power is spread over a significant area at a distance. The amount of power that is intercepted is controlled by the size of the iris and is a very small portion of the overall power emitted by the laser pointer.

Of course, don't put the laser pointer directly on your eyball..

Here is a WIKIpedia link to laser pointers:
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what they should do is say "righto" all laser pointer imports are now banned" then bring in a "standard" for them which requires every laser pointer sold to have a serial number and that serial number is to be transmitted on the beam serially and a specific baud rate
then it's a simple case of when they are purchased they you fill out a form with your details on it

then go out and install some kind of recieving device on every cop car plane police chopper etc and when somone shines one on them chances are from any distance they are going to hit the reciever and bingo police just look up the number,

this was a proposal about 7 years ago but didn't get the go ahead because there we'ren't that many people pointing them at planes and such,

speaking on fun, last night we had some cats fighting outside in the street so i went a got my laser pointer out and put a dot on the road between them, they both eye'd it up for a minute until i made it dance around on the road these cats chased this thing from one end of the street to the other up every driveway onto the neighbor i hate's car bonnet through gardens up a bush
after 25minutes i got sick of and the now 3 cats we're puffed and also quite confused as to where the red dot had gone


Senior Member
Splutter -$20! These abound in NZ coin shops at just $2, & even with p&p could suit export. I too have found cats totally entranced by them, although interestingly not even the most alert dog (such as my Aussie Terrier) spares the dancing red spot more than a glance.
my staffies do exactly the same thing they sit there and give me a stupid look as if to say "yes it's a dot", it cost me $20 because i purchased it when i was in high school quite a few years ago

the cats i had some fun with are actaully being the cause of my lack of sleep they insist on fighting in the street and somwhere near the front of my place it's probably the rough border of the two territories i've got to do somthing about them they are driving me nuts
when i do play with the laser pointers they usaully don't make it anywhere near the bright red dot,
my brother in law came up with this fantasic idea, "cat races" in a similar fashion to grey hounds, only they chase laser pointers around in a similar circuit, imagine the industry it would create, people could even bet on the cats like they already do with dogs and horses