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Hands on with RedBack Lasers DGL1010GM Digital Grade Match Laser

DGL1010GM Digital Grade Match

The RedBack DGL1010GM has many outstanding features such as digital grade setting from remote, Li-ion power and millimeter display receiver.  But was makes it stand out from the crowd is its ability to automatically grade match.

Setting Grades

So what is automatic grade matching?   It is the ability for the laser level to automatically slope up or down and lock onto the height of the receiver on a particular axis.  The display on the DGL1010GM then shows the grade between the height of the laser level and the height of the receiver digitally.  Grade is displayed as a percentage to three decimal places.  This can be extremely useful in earth moving, drainage and general civil construction projects.

DGL1010GM Grade Match

The RedBack DGL1010GM can also set digital grades on one or both axis up to 10%.   Simply by entering the required grade into the laser levels keypad or into the radio smart remote control.  Also included with the laser level is a fine adjustment plate and telescopic sight which allows quick and accurate alignment of the axis.  Making the grade setting process as accurate as possible.

DGL1010GM Grade Remote   DGL1010GM Grade Axis Scope

The receiver supplied with the DGL1010GM is pretty special too.  Not only does it communicate with the laser level for automatic grade match but it also has a millimeter display.  The millimeter display indicates up to +45mm and -45mm above or below level and the level bar itself has 3 accuracy settings; =/- 1mm, 5mm and 9mm level bands.

DGL1010GM Grade Match RF ReceiverDGL1010GM millimeter display receiver

More Features

Further Features of the RedBack Lasers DGL1010GM include V-W-S which is Vibration and Wind Settings.  Normally with electronic self levelling lasers if once rotating vibrations are detected the laser will stop rotating adjust level and start rotating again.  On a windy day or near heavy machinery these small adjustments can become so frequent that working becomes difficult. With V-W-S activated, the DGL1010GM continues to rotate during these minor adjustments.  The laser level will, however, still stop rotating after major disturbances.  Another feature is TILT, this is like tilt on a pinball machine.  If the laser has a major vibration or someone kicks the tripod by accident the laser will stop rotating.  It will not re-start until you tell it to do so.  TILT is a warning that something has changed and you may want to re-check you datum before continuing.

Vertical Operation

The DGL1010GM can also operate on its side for vertical alignment and site layout applications utilising the side mounting plate.  When on its side the rotating beam is now vertical and at 90 degrees to this is a laser dot and a site square can be accomplished.  To do this is to electronically aim the dot laser to a target left to right by pressing and holding the grade/slope arrow button. The longer you hold the faster the dot moves.

  • Place datum marker over the datum point marking the conjunction of the 90 degree lines.
  • Roughly align laser housing so dot is striking target point along the one line of the 90 degrees, then use the direction buttons to electronically fine tune this alignment.
  • Once the dot is on the target use the receiver to pick up the rotating line on the second line of the 90 degree. Your square is now set.

DGL1010GM Side Mount

DGL1010GM Site Square

Whilst on its side the DGL1010GM’s automatic grade match facility can be used for automatically aligning of the vertical beam by using the receiver on its side.  Again the laser will automatically hunt for the receivers and lock onto it. This features makes this laser level handy for fence alignment applications as well as other construction jobs.

The DGL1010GM can also be used inside for visible installation  work to produce both vertical and horizontal laser lines.  The beam is intensified with the scan line mode. Which means instead of the laser rotating a full 360 degrees it draws a line left and right.  The size and position of this line can be adjusted using the remote control.

Li-ion Power

The laser level itself is powered by a substantial Li-ion battery pack that can be charge either whilst inserted into the laser or externally.  The DGL1010GM also comes with a standard “D” cell battery holder so you can carry on with your work when someone forgets to charge the battery.  The smart remote control unit and millimeter receiver use “AA” Alkaline batteries.

Conclusions

The build quality for this laser is impressive with full cast metal internal chassis and heavy rubbersied outer housing.

DGL1010GM Quality Built

The DGL1010GM comes with a certificate of calibration and an automatic 5 year warranty with no registration required.  So you sure the laser level is ready to get straight to work.  In conclusion the RedBack DGL1010GM is a professional laser levelling and grading system  packed with features you will be pressed to find on other lasers levels twice its cost.

For more details and specification check out the DGL1010GM automatic grade match laser HERE

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What makes RedBack Lasers Different to the Crowd?

EGL624 Concreting

Many rotating lasers on the market these days look very similar to each other, with a broadly square shaped casing, handle on one side and a four glassed light house on top.  Many on the market are, indeed, pretty much the same under the skin but RedBack rotating lasers are very much different and in the following post I will detail the differences and what makes RedBack Lasers a better option.

 

RedBack Lasers – Safety Cage Technology

imex, powerline, cpi, pls, tuf, ebay

On the RedBack Below note the Steel Chassis top and bottom with steel posts, also note heavy duty cast metal pendulum assembly inside the chassis and thick rubberised plastic lower casing.  The difference in construction is clear. 

safety-cage1

RedBack Electronic Rotating Lasers are constructed very differently to most in that they have a full steel or cast metal chassis protecting the internal mechanics and electronics, this we call Safety Cage Technology.  This means that RedBack electronic rotating lasers are much tougher than those without this technology. Most brands have all their mechanical/electrical components built directly onto the outer casing which is fine until the inevitable drop or knock happens.  Without any chassis around these parts gears can get dislodged, sensors damaged, the components can even break completely away.  With RedBack’s Safety Cage Technology, all these parts are all safely cocooned within it.  Its true that the outer casing may get damage in a heavy fall, but its just the skin, the laser level itself is often ready to go back to work.

 

RedBack Lasers 3 Power Options

RedBack Lasers 3 Power OPtions

All RedBack rotating lasers have three power options; Rechargeable batteries as standard (except the 509KIT where it is an option) some models with Ni-Mh and others with Li-ion technology. Mains power adapter/charger allows running of the mains power for indoor operations. Standard Battery power either “AA”, “C” or “D” cell.  This is all standard and included in the advertised price.  Many brands advertise a price without rechargeable batteries and charger and sell them at a premium price later.

 

RedBack Lasers Automatic 5 Year Warranty

RedBack Lasers 5 Year Warranty

All RedBack Electronic Rotating lasers have a standard 5 Year warranty and its a genuine 5 year warranty in that its automatic, NO registration is required and so NO penalty of a reduced warranty if not registered.  So when you see other brands offering a 3 or 5 year warranty make sure it really is.  They know that 80 to 90 percent of people forget to register and so under their terms purchasers now only get a 1 or 2 year warranty instead.

RedBack Lasers Calibrated and Certified

All RedBack Lasers, rotating, line or dot have been checked and calibrated here in Australia by one of our technicians on our CCTV calibration station and certified with the date of this calibration.  This ensures a couple of things; firstly that the laser level is operational before leaving our warehouse and secondly that it is operating within specified tolerances. The included certificate includes the name of the technician and the date the calibration was carried out.

So in conclusion not all rotating laser levels are created equal, RedBack Lasers may cost a little more than some available, but its because RedBack Lasers are better constructed and use better components to many and are checked and calibrated in Australia.  This is also why RedBack Laser warranty for electronic rotating lasers is automatically 5 years because they are built tough for reliability on the work site.

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Ever had you Laser Receiver Keep Going Off with No Lasers On? and other receiver FAQ’s

Strobe Light

High intensity strobe lights. This is something that crops up once in a while and can slow you down.

Most of the time this is due to high intensity strobe lights on plant such as earthmovers, backhoes and bobcats. It’s something that can effect pretty much every laser receiver out there and can only be resolved by working further away from that machinery or by switching off the strobe.

For the majority of laser receivers your standard rotating orange lights do not create any interference, it’s just limited to some of the newer high intensity ones.  Some strobes can even interfere when out of direct line of site they produce so much electro magnetic interference.

Another common problem is Reflections.

This can affect pretty much all laser receivers, in that they can not only pick up the original laser beam but also a reflected one of glass or other shiny surfaces.  Most of the time the reflected beam will be at a different height to the original so the receiver may pick up two heights as being level.  To stop this problem is pretty easy and that is to make sure that when you set up the laser reflections cannot be bounced back to the receiver.  So for example if on site there is some large glass surfaces, make sure you set up the laser so that when you hold the receiver the glass is behind you and the receiver so cannot reflect onto it.  Some laser come with a quadrant beam shield function which can turn off segments of rotation again which will prevent this situation. (DGL3000, DGL2510Q)

Another source of potential interference when inside is faulting fluorescent lights.

This has come up a few times, many laser receivers will produce intermittent beeps (without even the laser turned on) inside close to a faulting fluorescent light, again this due to a pulsing interference. If you move away from the light all works well again.

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Wet Weather and Laser Levels

Wet Weather Laser Levels

How to treat your laser level during wet weather can have a big impact on how long the laser is going to last.

Even though your laser may have a good resistance to water penetration there are some things you can do to help prevent damage due to water. First of all a few lasers are rated to be able to be submerged so try not to place or drop your laser into standing water. (IPX8 allows for submersion, to learn more about IP ratings)

Many laser levels however CAN handle being left out in the normal showers and rain (IPX5 and higher) but it’s important that the laser levels are dried off before being stored away in their carry cases. The problem is that being wet in an air tight environment it will get very humid and this humidity will enter the casing of the laser as if it is submerged and condense water onto the internal components leading to damage.

If for some reason your laser appears to have water inside it then it is important to get it dry as fast as possible before corrosion sets in, contact your laser supplier for advice immediately.

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A Basic Guide to Laser Safety Classifications

Laser Safety

Lasers have been classified internationally on the basis of how safe they are to use and there are also Australian standards in the use of lasers in the construction industry, here I will outline the basics and try to clear up some misunderstandings.  Laser Safety Classifications.

A Basic Guide to Laser Safety Classifications.

Australian Standard AS/NZS 2211.10 (2004) outlines the various classifications which have been adopted internationally, Class1 are extremely safe as they have very low power output insufficient to cause damage under “reasonably foreseeable conditions”.

Class2 are also extremely safe, they have a greater power output but the human blink reflex will prevent any damage to eye sight under most circumstances. Class 3R (formally 3A) emits greater power again and there are potential hazards particularly if viewed through a telescope or similar and finally class 4 which are strong enough to burn objects.

In the Australia construction industry only Class1, Class2 and Class3R (formally class3A) can be used. This is covered in the Australian Standard AS 2397 (1993), note this standard was written prior to the change in the classification so references to class3A can be read as class3R.

Class1 laser levels are few and far between due to the very limited range that the power output can produce, in fact I am not aware of any available on the market at present, the last one I saw was an old spectra precision and it had a very limited range of 60m in one axis and 100m in the other making very limited for larger construction jobs. There are no real special safety precautions for this class of laser.

he majority of laser levels on the market are class2 and are mainly red visible beams and are used in a variety of formats such as; rotating lasers, line lasers and dot lasers. The Australian standard for this class state very basic safety precautions such as “don’t stare into the beam”, display warning signs where access to the beam is possible (setting the beam out of reach of eye height negates this requirement), nominating a Laser Safety Officer (no certification required) to determine the lasers are being used in a safe manner and finally line or dot beams are terminated (as most line and dot lasers are used indoors they are automatically terminated) so as not to shine out of the work site. Class3R (3A) have the same requirements as class2 plus the need to terminate rotating beams (prevent shining off site), Prevent shining laser onto mirrored surfaces, set up so that operators of optical devices such as theodolites or dumpy levels cannot see the beam (set up above or below level of view) plus a couple of other points such as prevent unautherised use by removing batteries etc.

In conclusion all lasers levels with class1,2 and 3R(3A) are approved for use on Australian construction sites as long as the appropriate precautions as outlined are followed.

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What does the Laser Level IP rating Mean?

Water and Dust Resistance

The Laser Level IP rating is an international standard for rating how dust and water resistant an enclosure or a device is. Laser Level IP rating.

The IP is followed by two numbers the first is a rating for dust and the second for water and the higher the number the more it can handle with 1 being the lowest and 8 (6 for dust) being the highest, note that only a water rating of 8 means it’s safe to submerge the laser for any period of time, very few laser fall into this category the RedBack PL650 Pipe laser is an example.

IP stands for Ingress Protection; For dust (the first Digit) 0 is not protection, 3 is protected for objects greater than 2.5mm, 4 is 1.mm, 5 is “dust protected” but may let some in and 6 is “Dust Tight”. Most outdoor lasers are rated between 4 and 6. If there is no first number just an “X” then it’s not rated for dust.

The second digit is water and here are some of the definitions; 0 is no protection, 2 protection from dripping water, 4 protection form sprayed water from all directions, 5 water jets (higher pressure), 6 streaming water, 7 short term immersion and 8 full submersion. Remember though if any laser gets wet its best to dry it off before storing away as this can cause damage to even quite high IP rated equipment.

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Is the accuracy rating on a laser level important?

EGL624 Concreting

Well yes and no. The important thing is that the laser level accuracy is enough for the job that you are using it for.

In reality pretty much all lasers on the market today have a tolerance rated between 1mm to 8mm in 20m. For indoor work over short ranges any rating in this band would be fine as most of the time you would not be able to or need to work to any better tolerances.

For long range outdoor lasers something within the band of 1mm to 4mm in 20m would be fine as users are likely to generate more error variance by the way receivers and staffs are used than by the tolerance of the laser itself. In specialised high accuracy engineering environment the tolerance of a laser becomes far more important.

The next points to cover; are the tolerance rating itself and whether the rating quoted has been checked post manufacture in the country of distribution. Many high quality brands will calibrate each and every laser level they sell and then put a calibration certificate with date on the unit, whether the laser maintains this accuracy depends on the quality of manufacture and how it is used and stored by the user. Also some brands will calibrated their lasers well within their quoted tolerances allowing some margin for change and still remain within tolerance. Cheaper models may well rely on the factory calibration before shipping and may also select a rating based more on marketing edge rather than reality this I would suggest is quite prevalent on internet auction sites.

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How to use a Basic Rotating Laser

ARL509

As Prices fall on quality rotating lasers, more and more builders and DIY self-builders are buying them so here is a very basic guide on how to use a basic rotating laser.

Most lasers on the market today are automatic levelling so for the purpose of this guide we will assume you are using one of these, secondly I’ll assume you are using the laser to level outdoors.

First thing to do is to find a good spot to put the tripod and laser, somewhere that is out of the way so it won’t get knocked or damaged is a good start but also, most importantly, a position that allows a clear view of the site that you want to level. Laser beams are beams of light and like any other light will stop if blocked by an object, when levelling you use an electronic receiver to “see” this light so if there is something between the laser on the tripod and the receiver then the receiver won’t be able to pick up the laser and so not be able to show you level.

There are two main types of automatically levelling lasers; the first uses a pendulum and gravity to find level and the second used electronic sensors and motors. Gravity pendulum rotating laser almost always have a pendulum locking knob which is engaged when you are not using the laser to protect the mechanism, so to use this type first thing you need to do is locate this locking knob and unlock the device. Unlocking the pendulum allows the pendulum to swing free within gravity and after a few seconds due to a dampening mechanism will settle into a level position then all you have to do is press the power button and the laser beam prism will start to spin creating the rotating laser dot. With electronic leveling mechanisms simply power up and the motors and sensors get the laser into a level position and the laser beam will rotate.

The rotating beam is drawing an invisible (to the naked eye) flat level disc with the laser level being in the center. Next turn on your electronic receiver, the receiver will most times have both a visual display and audible sounds. Hold the receiver facing the laser level and move it up and down slowly through where you think this invisible laser disc is when the receiver passes through the path of the rotating laser it will indicate this and the display and sounds will indicate when you are slightly above the laser, slightly below the laser and exactly on it. This level point indicates a level height between the receiver and the laser level, Now by attaching the receiver to a staff or stick you can move around the site taking readings and determine level at different parts and so level the site with the help of hurdles, stakes or other means.

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When to go “Green”, green laser level that is

Green Beam Laser

Red beam lasers have been around for some years now, but more recently green laser level beams have become available.

Green Beam Lasers are up to 4x brighter than red when using them as a visible laser dot or line indoors. Outdoors in full sun you cannot realistically see any construction laser dot or line (red or green) more than a hand full of meters and that is where your electronic laser receiver comes in, to see the laser for you. So for Outdoor work Red or Green makes little difference (slight extra range with green).

So going back to the opening statement “when to go green?” the answer is when you want to use your Laser indoors visibly without the receiver. What about cost? To produce a green laser beam a green laser diode is used, these diodes are currently substantially more expensive than the more common red variety. For rotating lasers typically only one diode is used so the additional cost for green is relatively small. In multiline lasers there can sometimes be in excess of 6 diodes so to make an all green beam multi line laser can be double the overall cost compared to the red beam version.

One other factor to keep in mind when selecting, particularly, a rotating laser level is if you plan to buy a machine mounted receiver either now or at some point in the future.  Most machine mounted receivers at present do not work with green rotating beams, to be precise they sort of work but at a much reduced range.  So in this case it is best to buy a red beam as apposed to a green laser level.

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A Guide to Charging Batteries

880BAT Battery

There are a number of different battery types available for laser levels these days, the following is a guide on the pro’s and con’s of each type and some advice on how to get the most out of them.

Some levelers can only operate on standard (use once) type batteries, this is generally the case with smaller internal dot and line lasers but also some lower cost rotary lasers. Note that some of the higher quality trade lasers have a standard battery option as well as a rechargeable pack this is handy if you on site and someone forgot to charge it up the night before and you need to finish a job.

Recently even some major well trusted brands have been selling rotating lasers with no rechargeable batteries as standard to keep their prices competitive.  If after buying you decide you need to purchase the batteries and charger they can cast far more than you would think.  So when comparing different brands see what you are getting in the price so you can make a more informed decision.

Laser devices draw a fair amount of power so it is well advised to use a high quality “Alkaline” battery such as Duracell or Energiser. Do not be tempted to use a low cost Heavy Duty or Super Heavy duty battery, they will discharge pretty quickly, the best value for money are the alkaline, they cost a little more but last much, much longer.

Ten years ago rechargeable batteries in Laser levelling devices where Ni-Cd these had pretty poor performance in holding charge and you needed a fairly bulky pack to do the job. Ni-Cd’s also liked to be completely discharged before recharging and could over time hold less and less charge. These days most rechargeable batteries in construction lasers are Ni-mh these hold more charge with less bulk compared to the Ni-Cd and suffer less from losing performance if not allowed to completely discharge before charging up once more. It is still advised, from time to time, to completely discharge to help maintain the condition of the battery. There are a few lasers on the market now with Li-ion rechargeable batteries for example RedBack Lasers DGL1010VS, DGL1010GM and DGL2510Q. Li-Ion are the batteries used in modern smart phones and laptops and can provide a large storage capacity for a small physical size (and weight), they also suffer very little loss of performance due to irregular charging.

Rechargeable batteries of whatever type do not last forever and for a laser level that is used regularly (two to three times a week) I would expect to get three to five years or so of service out of it so checking the cost of a replacement pack when purchasing your laser in the first place is a good idea.

Batteries of all types do not like getting wet, so if water does get into the battery compartment it is well worth taking the batteries out and drying them off. Another thing to keep in mind is, if you are not going to be using you device for some time (a week or more), to remove batteries out of the battery compartment as they may leak. I have seen a number of laser levels ruined because a battery has leaked and caused corrosion within the device. One final point is about battery chargers, I cannot stress enough the importance of using the correct charger with your laser level. To start with many chargers are NOT just a power adaptor or transformer they may have charging circuitry built into them specific to the model of laser and without this circuitry it could overload and overheat the rechargeable battery pack. Also using the wrong voltage or polarity can have a similar effect, so if you are in any doubt contact the laser supplier for advice before trying a non-original charging unit.