Tech Tips

BeamGage 6.1 Professional and Enterprise have a new feature that provides the ability to create user defined special calculations inside the BeamGage Professional or Enterprise application. With this new feature, BeamGage Professional or Enterprise operators can now program their own set of “Custom Calculations”. This functionality allows users to analyze data in any manner they deem necessary. To be able to utilize this capability, it is recommended to have good proficiency in writing programs in Microsoft Visual Basic, and/or C++, and/or C#. There are new Custom Calculations documents that will assist in developing this capability. This documentation is available in HTML format for ease of use and is installed with BeamGage Professional and Enterprise.

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BeamGage produces five different types of files. All use industry standard formats. The list of file types and their naming extensions are as follows:

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One of the differences between a CCD and slit scanning beam profiler is the lower limit of beam size measurement. A CCD is limited to around 10 pixels for an accurate beam measurement. With the current CCD technology, this means that a CCD can measure a beam of approximately 40-50um diameter. A scanning slit profiler is known for being able to measure smaller beams—but just how small?

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Scanning slit profilers (such as Ophir’s NanoScan) boast several advantageous qualities, such as the ability to measure high powers without attenuation, relatively inexpensive infrared compatibility, and more. But whenever someone mentions pulsed beams, there’s always a pause. Well, what’s your pulse frequency? Beam width? What kind of accuracy are you looking for?

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You may have experienced a break in the What’s This button in BeamGage when it is no longer working after you have updated Adobe Reader. This is a security feature in Adobe Reader. You can easily fix this by following the steps the below.

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Click on the Computations tab and in the Optical Scaling section click the icon that looks like a mini ruler. This will enable the box to the right. Input the magnification factor needed in this box and hit enter. When working with a big beam that you are reducing to fit on the camera imager enter the size reduction into this box. When working with a small beam that you are expanding to fit on the camera imager enter the inverse of your magnification into this box.

Example: For a 60X microscope objective you would enter 1/60 or 0.01667 into this box and hit enter. This will take the current beam size being reported in the results and multiply it by 0.01667 to display the actual size of the beam instead of the beam size that is hitting on the camera imager.

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Included below are helpful hints for installing the Pyrocam III, particularly in Windows 7.
Note; in general we recommend to not use 4-pin on-board 1394 FireWire ports (that can be found on some laptop computers) since they tend to be less reliable and/or cause the Pyrocam III to freeze when running. Instead we recommend using 6-pin plug-in adapter FireWire cards that support the 1394a 400MBS protocol used with the Pyrocam III. In newer Laptops with only ExpressCard slots, a 1394b 800MBS ExpressCard Adapter with a 9-pin FireWire connector can be used as long as you use a 9-pin to 6-pin FireWire cable.

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Click on the Computations tab and in the Optical Scaling section click the icon that looks like a mini ruler. This will enable the box to the right. Input the magnification factor needed in this box and hit enter. When working with a big beam that you are reducing to fit on the camera imager enter the size reduction into this box. When working with a small beam that you are expanding to fit on the camera imager enter the inverse of your magnification into this box.

Example: For a 60X microscope objective you would enter 1/60 or 0.01667 into this box and hit enter. This will take the current beam size being reported in the results and multiply it by 0.01667 to display the actual size of the beam instead of the beam size that is hitting on the camera imager.

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in the computer instead of the main processor for displaying the 2D and 3D beam profile. It is recommended that a medium to high end video graphics card be used in the computer for best performance. For laptops, we recommend if a higher performing graphics card is available that it be optioned in. For desktop computers changing the graphics card to an improved performance graphics card is easier and the additional cost will be worth the performance increase.

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BeamGage can generate a report of what is being seen on the screen in either a PDF or XPS format. To do this, click on the Reports tab in the ribbon bar and click on the Include button to show what items to include in the report. Place a check mark next to the items to be included in the report. If you are including the beam profiles, they will be printed exactly as you see them on the screen. If you want to save ink, click on the purple square button to the right of the Include button to enable the report to be generated with a light background. If you want each section of the report on a different page click on the button that looks like two pages with purple squares at their top. The two number windows in this section are for selecting which frame to start the report with and how many frames to generate reports on. Clicking the Save button will allow you to save the report in either PDF or XPS format. The Printer button sends the report directly to your default printer.

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Watch Dan Ford, Ophir-Spiricon’s Regional Sales Manager demonstrate the latest laser beam profiling software at this year’s Photonics West 2013 trade show.

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For USB and IEEE 1394 FireWire cameras, this means connecting them on their own connection and not via a hub. All the built in USB connections on a computer could be on the same internal hub, so it is best not to connect the cameras just to different USB ports on the computer. The same is true for IEEE 1394 FireWire connections. It’s better to use a dedicated adapter card for each camera in order to achieve the best possible bandwidth.

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Camera Driver Installation. The Ophir-Spiricon BeamGage beam profiling software includes the actual software program itself and requires additional drivers for the camera source being used with the software.

Beginning with BeamGage version 5.9, a new Camera Driver Manager “DriverManager.exe” utility is included which automatically starts the first time after installing BeamGage and assists with installing the correct driver for the camera source. The Camera Driver Manager “DriverManager.exe” installs to the C:Program FilesBeamGage folder and can also be run again later when switching to a different camera to install the correct corresponding driver.

Read more for instructions on operating the Camera Driver Manager utility.

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The NanoScan 9mm/5µm (aperture/slit) is the best scan head for measuring M-Squared with NanoModeScan. We do not, however, recommend using the smallest scan heads (3.5mm aperture, 1.8μm slit) for M2 measurement, because they are subject to a distortion effect called vignetting: Scanning slits are usually thought of as two dimensional, but they also have thickness, based on the material that they are cut into. Since this material is generally about 13μm thick, what we think of as a slit is actually more like a tunnel (over seven times thicker than it is wide). As a result of this configuration, if a laser beam is either too wide or incident on an angle, part of the beam can be cut off. To avoid this, we make sure to use a slit that is wide enough to allow for this. The smallest 1.8μm slit can be subject to vignetting when the laser beam width exceeds about 2mm.

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The NanoScan slit and pinhole aperture substrates are very thin and extremely fragile. Any physical contact will likely damage them. For example, fiber tips placed too close to the aperture can easily damage a slit. Treat the slits with care; because of their fragility, never touch them with anything!

Debris such as dust particles can lodge in the very fine openings of the slits or pinholes and obstruct the passage of the incident beam. This can compromise instrument performance, resulting in erroneous or inconsistent measurements. With slits, a few dust particles may or may not be a problem, depending on the application and measurement configuration, and contamination by many particles is more likely to create a problem. With pinhole apertures a single particle can be disastrous. Therefore, when the system is not in use, it is recommended that the protective plastic cap be used to cover the scan head entrance aperture to avoid possible contamination. If inconsistent performance is observed and contamination by debris is suspected, a clean jet of compressed air may solve the problem, but excessive pressure may also damage the apertures. Do not under any circumstances attempt to clean the apertures with solvents! If aperture contamination is suspected, it is recommended that the unit be returned to Photon for aperture inspection, cleaning or replacement, and recalibration.

When returning a NanoScan for inspection/repair/recalibration, do install the plastic cap cover to protect the apertures from debris contamination during shipment.

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In order to get proper results from the ModeScan 1780 beam profiler, it is necessary to understand which lens to use and where to locate it for particular parameters of the laser under test. The ModeScan 1780 calculator

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We are frequently asked how one can output data from the NanoScan to other programs for additional analysis or publication. Depending nature of the desired end results there can be many answers to this question. In this application note we will try to explain these different solutions.

Active X
The NanoScan Pro analysis software program includes the Active X server. This allows the user to write programs and routines in a number of platforms, such as Visual Basic, LabVIEW, Excel and others, which will control the NanoScan and output data to different automation systems, spreadsheets or databases. Active X automation takes the place of the older SDK (software developers’ kit) that was available for BeamScan. The software package has a folder entitled “Automation” that is loaded onto your computer when the software is installed. You can find this folder in the Photon program file (e.g., C:\Program FilesPhotonNanoScanAutomation). In it you will find examples of Active X routines for Excel (***.xls) and LabVIEW (***.vi), which should give you a starting place to create your own routines.

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Proper alignment of the MS-1780 is essential for its operation, and this can occasionally seem difficult to achieve. Here is a simple method for making sure the system is properly aligned to get the “first light” conditions that will allow easy fine tuning for experimental results.

In order for the system to work properly the laser beam needs to enter the optical center of the aperture on the horizontal axis of the instrument. In order to be able to fine-adjust the beam it is useful to use steering mirrors to direct the beam. These can be mirrors or quartz plate front surface reflectors if attenuation of the input beam is desired. For ease of alignment the MS-1780 and the laser should be set up at the same height.

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When using Ophir’s ModeScan 1780, it is important to use the right lens in the proper location to get the most accurate results. To this end, you should download the ModeScan 1780 Calculator (an excel workbook) to calculate the optimal lens placement given your laser parameters. You can also download our Calculator Guide for step-by-step instructions on using this calculator, as well as more detailed background information on the subject.

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As the BeamScan products reach the end of their useful lifetime, we are often asked which NanoScan models most closely match an existing BeamScan model. There are far fewer configurations of NanoScan head than there were BeamScans, because some of the features that were hardwired into BeamScan models are software adjustable in the NanoScan.

For example, some BeamScans were wired to run at 5Hz, instead of 10Hz, and this feature was part of the model number. This is unnescessary in the NanoScan, because the scan rate is controllable from the operating software.

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BeamGage Professional and BeamGage Enterprise version 5.7 are supported with Automation via .Net components. Both include a LabVIEW example that can be run with the LabVIEW Run-Time Engine that is provided with the BeamGage software CD or available for free download from National Instruments.

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All of the Beam Profiling systems include comprehensive PDF User Guide Manuals. These manuals are provided on the software installation CD and are installed to the folder where the beam profiling software installs as a separate PDF file. In addition to the User Guide Manuals, there are also readme files and support documentation that can be found in the folder where the beam profiling software installs. For example the BeamGage Professional software installs a full hypertext manual for automation in the C:Program FilesSpiriconBeamGage ProfessionalAutomationDocumentation folder.

If you are searching just for a PDF copy of a particular beam profiling system manual, they are also available from the web site at; http://www.ophiropt.com/laser-measurement-instruments/beam-profilers/services/manuals

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How does one get the most attenuation with the three (3) supplied ND filters that come with BeamGage® CCD cameras?

For most applications, laser beam intensity is too high for the operating range of the CCD. Therefore, ND glass attenuator filters are available to reduce the intensity to the proper level at the CCD. One stackable ND1 filter and two ND2 filters are supplied standard with each CCD camera. These filters are carefully designed not to affect beam quality or cause interference effects.

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by Allen M. Cary, Sales & Marketing Manager, Ophir-Photon LLC

When compared with the cost of Plexiglas blocks, burn papers, or even IR cards, a beam profiler may seem expensive. Almost anyone who has sold test equipment, at one time or another has heard the complaint from a potential customer, “It’s too expensive!” In fact, almost anyone who has ever sold anything has heard this lament. In most sales training courses there is an extensive section on overcoming objections, and the most prominent objection discussed is always the “it’s-too- expensive” objection.

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it is important to input the correct pulse rate into the software. Often this is not the value that the laser manufacturer reports or that the user remembers. For this reason the NanoScan will actually measure and report the pulse repetition rate. Use this number in the software acquisition set up, and the results will be much better.

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By William Owens, Engineering Dept., Ophir-Spiricon, LLC

So how did this whole concept of an “Automation Interface” come about? Well, here is my short-short history on the topic. In the beginning, all programs were simple. Users had simple menus with a few equally simple commands. Most commands had shortcut-key combinations that were fun and easy to remember. The world was a wonderful place. Then somebody got the bright idea that adding “New Features” to an application was cool. Pretty soon the idea caught on and the whole world was playing “keep up with the Joneses.” Fast-forward a few decades and we seem to have thousands of applications with thousands of features. Unfortunately, this evolutionary process did not take place within the human mind over an equally short period of time.

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