Review By Dean Bielanowski  RoboToolz Website - http://www.robotoolz.com


RoboToolz Crossliner
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

When it comes to layout or marking of many different DIY, commercial, building or trade skill tasks, a quality laser level becomes invaluable. Whether it's just hanging a series of photo frames all at the same level, or setting out a straight line for a tiling job, or perhaps for setting kitchen cabinets all to the same level or setting electrical outlets around a room at the same level, a laser line generator will make the job much easier, quicker and more accurate than most other layout methods.

I, like many of you perhaps, have fiddled around with budget lasers, and after buying two lower priced lasers that didn't really cut the mustard, I decided it was time to look into a quality unit that would get the job done with minimal fuss. I grabbed a RoboToolz Crossliner unit, and found that it met all my needs, and at a very reasonable price. Let me tell you why I like this particular unit so much...

RoboToolz Crossliner
Firstly, the issues I had with my other two budget lasers were primarily, a) the inability for them to be mounted easily to a wide range of surfaces, and to a tripod;  b) the laser line they generated was not very accurate over longer distance, and c) there was no self-leveling function. These three factors are pretty much essential features of a good laser unit, as I have now discovered!

The RoboToolz Crossliner offers a twin beam level and plumb laser line which can also be set to be self-leveling (vertical and horizontal). The Class IIIA lasers offer two 635-650 nm diodes to project the laser lines. These are more powerful than those found on most lower-priced units and offer brighter lines and more accuracy over longer distances. Of specific note is the beam consistency. unlike some lower grade laser units, where the beams can taper off in intensity and clarity the further away you move from the source, the Crossliner seems to retain a more uniform and accurate beam. The Crossliner offers reasonably good accuracy too, with a rating of +/- 1/8" (3mm) over 30' (10m). This may not sound too accurate... I mean 1/8" is a fair inaccuracy, but in terms of laser line accuracy, this actually rates very well against the competition in the same price range, and is FAR more accurate than lower priced units, whose accuracy can be 3 or 4 times worse! For all my DIY and renovation tasks, accuracy has not been a concern with the Crossliner. The unit's maximum range is 100'. The laser is visible at this distance, but not in overly bright conditions outdoors. Indoors it is much easier to see, and visibility is still good right up to the further distances, although the longest indoor straight run in my house to test this was about 80'.

The Crossliner is powered by three standard AA size batteries. These sit in the rounded end of the tool and a basic screw lock compartment provides access to the battery compartment. Three AA batteries are included in the box to get you started, and they are Energizer Industrial brand. I'll admit I hadn't ever seen these "Industrial" line of batteries from Energizer before, but they have lasted a very long time in the Crossliner already, and are obviously quality batteries. Lasers generally consume little power from batteries, so running the tool is very inexpensive. And if you have some rechargeable NiMH AA batteries on hand, these can be used to make operating costs almost non-existent on a cost per hour scale. Sure beats any unit using specialized non-standard battery packs.

One of the best features or specifications of the Crossliner is its extremely wide laser fan angle. With a 140 degree vertical fan angle, the laser is projected onto three sections of a room simultaneously. That is, the laser will be shown on the floor, the vertical wall, and onto the roof as well, and the floor and roof projections begin and end quite close to the vertical plane of the actual tool itself. The wide fan angle means there is less moving of the laser needed, and you can achieve very accurate marking and layout since the three surfaces can be marked from the one laser reference position. The 120 degree horizontal angle, although less than the vertical fan, is still much more than many lasers on the market, and allows the horizontal beam to be projected around a wide radius from the laser emitter. The Crossliner can project both the horizontal and vertical lines simultaneously, making it ideal for a broad range of tasks, from tiling alignment, level and plumb for carpentry work, or square for kitchen fit-out (as examples). The button on top of the Crossliner controls which beam is projected. When first switched on, the horizontal beam is active. A press of the button switches it to a vertical beam. Another press of the button switches both beams on, and that cycle of three beam settings continues as you press the top button. Obviously, the horizontal and vertical beams are projected at right angles to each other. I don't think its possible to have both beams being adjustable and projecting at the same time. At least I have not seen a single laser unit yet that does this.

The main ON/OFF switch is located on the side of the unit. It has two switch settings. The first setting, indicated by the "locked padlock" (which is seen exposed when the switch is moved) is the regular fixed beam mode. In this mode, the unit projects a beam that is NOT self-leveling, and you can manually angle the beam(s) to whatever angle or orientation needed for the task. Pushing the switch further to the position which exposes the "unlocked padlock" sets the laser in self-leveling mode. In this mode, a gravity leveled pendulum mechanism ensures both the horizontal and vertical beams are level in their respective planes. This mode works pretty much perfectly, with the self-leveling beams confirmed by my best carpentry level, or is it that the laser beams are confirming my level is indeed square? The latter I suspect! Of course, the self-leveling feature too has its limitations. The unit will only accurately self-level if it is set on the tripod (or mounting surface) within about 4 degrees of the true horizon or 4 degrees off true vertical. How do you know if you are within that range? Well, the lasers will actually blink if they are not self-leveling, so as soon as they stop blinking and project continuously, you know they are indeed correctly self-leveled in that mode. It's all very easy actually, and a simple verification method employed at that. Plus, a visual verification of self-leveling mode will help avoid time consuming (and cost-incurring) errors.

The Crossliner can be directly mounted to a standard 1/4" x 20 screw camera or similar tripod, but for more mounting options, the multi-purpose accessory attachment is the bees knees of laser mount design. With this attachment, which comes supplied with the tool out of the box, you can attach the laser to just about any surface accurately and easily. To begin with, the underside/base of the accessory attachment features the same 1/4" x 20 screw recess, as well as a larger 5/8" x 11 recess for dedicated builder's/surveyor's tripods. Four strong magnetic plates allow the unit to strongly attach to any magnetic surface, such as steel beams, steel framing etc. On the side of the unit are two screw mount holes so the laser can be mounted to any surface using screws. This is handy if using timber framing, or any material screws can be applied to. This method of mounting will obviously leave holes or marks behind, so it is best used where the holes can be covered up easily later. There is also both a horizontal and vertical slot where an adjustable tightening strap (included in the package) can be threaded through so the Crossliner can be secured to posts, beams, poles or any other suitable material or shape for this purpose. Two retractable legs can also be pulled out from the base to provide a wider base of support for the tool then sitting it on a flat surface, or for helping stabilize the laser when strapped to an object in a non-conventional manner. These legs also prevent the tool from tipping when the laser is angled laterally from the base (see photo). The end of the accessory has the same four magnetic plates for mounting to metal surfaces. These provide more than enough grip on most magnetic surfaces to hold the laser securely. I used it attached to my workshop's metal framing structure recently to help position the location of power outlets equal distance from the ground around the perimeter of the shop. It worked great. On top of the attachment accessory is a ball and socket type pivoting mount. This allows the laser to pivot, tilt and turn to achieve just about any laser angle needed for the more peculiar tasks that might pop up from time to time. This feature, in conjunction with a tripod will provide pretty much any laser beam angle imaginable. I think a tremendous amount of though has gone into the design of the laser and the mounting accessory. I have not found a situation yet where the laser cannot be mounted easily and readily using one of the various attachment methods it offers.

In Use
Once you have the laser mounted to whatever device or structure suits the task the best, all you need to do is switch the unit on, to either standard or self-leveling mode, adjust the position of the laser or the beams (if necessary) and get to work. The laser will project a continuous laser line in one or two planes. To conserve battery life, the laser will automatically turn itself off after one hour if no buttons have been pressed or the unit has not been moved. This is a handy feature if you have a tendency to forget to turn things off at the end of the day (or end of project), but this feature can be bypassed by the user if you plan on having the laser on for several hours in the same spot and do not want to have to turn it back on every hour. To swith off battery save mode, you simply press and hold the line selector button while switching the laser on. The green LED light will flash to confirm battery saving mode has been disabled. In addition to battery save mode, the unit offers a low battery level indicator. When battery is low, the red LED light will flash, however, you still have about an hour's worth of use after the red LED begins flashing. The Crossliner is also encased in a rubber-type overmold on and around the edges which afford it some protection from bumps and knocks. Luckily mine hasn't endured any (nasty ones) as yet.

I have used the Crossliner so far for;

  • Setting and laying tiles straight and square

  • Applying wallpaper border around a room at perfect height and horizontal

  • Setting out power outlets at equal heights around the workshop

  • Setting framing edges vertically and square

There are many more tasks too of course. Here are some more visual examples from the RoboToolz website:


Image Source: RoboToolz Website

Needless to say, I am quite impressed with the RoboToolz Crossliner. But, this is not my first RoboToolz laser tool. Before this I purchased their Vector 3 level and plumb laser which simply projects dots onto walls to obtain levels and marking points. I was very happy with that purchase so I decided to again go with RoboToolz for a full beam fan laser. The Crossliner fit my needs for some DIY and renovation projects I had on the drawing boards. After buying several other cheaper lasers, I am now glad I have the Crossliner. It may cost a little more, but it is well worth the expense, plus, these tools have excellent resale value, so after your project is done, you can sell it (if you dare!) and get a good return on your money. You will rarely be out of pocket any more than wasting that money on a cheap and flimsy laser that wont deliver the accuracy or results you need.

Well done to RoboToolz for building a quality product that seems very durable, and is definitely very accurate. It is also very affordable for a quality tool and cheaper than many similar spec'd lasers on the market. I personally will definitely look at other RoboToolz lasers in the future if a need arises for a particular task the Crossliner cannot handle (which is very few at the moment at least!). The Crossliner retails for around US$200 (As at August '07)

Overall, a solid product at a great price.

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RoboToolz Crossliner Photos
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The CrossLiner's protective
carry case


The laser head


Top button control switches between horizontal, vertical and dual line modes.


Battery compartment case with screw lock.


Main ON/OFF switch for setting fixed or self-leveling modes.


The versatile attachment accessory mounting base.


Two retractable legs provide a wider base of support for improved balance.

 


Mounting options include two tripod mounts, screw and strap mounts, and strong magnetic plates!


The laser projecting both horizontal and vertical beams.


Look closely at the white power outlets on the ply wall. You will see the red laser line projecting onto the wall. I used this to quickly and accurately measure the distance from the ground for each power point location.


Just a fancy shot with lens of camera looking into laser beam. Of course, you should never look into the laser beam with a naked eye! Note the laser is magnetically mounted to my steel framed workshop.

 

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