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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:18 am 
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Not too long back I splashed-out on a Bosch GLL3-80 self-levelling laser level kit with the DM-1 wall bracket for my work in 1st and 2nd fix. This is similar to the 2-line GLL2-80 laser (which generates a horizontal line and a single vertical line) but has an additional vertical line at 90° to the first. This laser replaced an earlier Leica Lino L2 laser cross line. To put things in context I have also used both the deWalt DW087K and the PLS 180 laser cross liners quite extensively as well as owning a large Leica rotary construction laser, so I've several years experience of using these levels in everyday situations

At first sight the GLL3-80 appears to be a bit of a bulky unit. It is 1-1/2 to 2 times the size of a DW087K or PLS 180, but it's still a very light unit, light enough to be carried about in my tool belt pouch if needs be (although I don't do that). It comes with a nice blow-moulded case which holds the reflective target and the DM-1 wall bracket, etc and has a sculpted ballistic foam block to protect the level. On the underside of the level there are conventional photo tripod and 5/8in construction tripod threaded recesses (the DM-1 uses the smaller of these). For positioning the unit also has two magnetic "spots" at the front so that it can be aligned with metal lath on the floor and project alignment beams along the lath or a pair of crossed vertical beams to the ceiling (to align the MF header). To one side the unit has a 3-position slider to turn it on and off. In the first position the laser is turned off and the pendulum is locked for transport, which prevents internal damage. Leica Linos also have this feature whilst neither the popular DW087K or PLS units have it. I believe that the pendulum lock helps extend the life of the unit, after all it can't do any unit much good to have the pendulum knocking about inside all the time. The second position turns the laser on, but locks the beam which is useful for projecting a line at an angle as you might need to if installing a frieze up a staircase, for example. In this mode the beam(s) flash every 5 seconds or so to remind you that the unit is not levelled. The third position unlocks the pendulum and allows the beam(s) to self level. The unit will self level up to about 4° off, about the same as its' competitors. If the unit is out of level the unit beeps at you to warn that it is out of level (this can be disabled). The final control is the mode switch at the top rear which allows use in 4-modes; horizontal line, vertical line (front, parallel to tin), two vertical lines at 90° and all three lines simultaneously. The beams are generated through prisms protected inside small glass houses on the top, front and one side of the unit.

In use the GLL3-80 is very quick and easy to set-up. The beams generated (red) are crisp and thin, certainly well up to the standard of the Leica and streets better than, say, a Stanley CLL2. The big difference between this laser and items like a PLS is that the GLL3-80 generates each beam in a full 360° arc. For example a horizontal beam would extend around all 4 sides of a room, the sort of thing you'd need to install dado rails, wainscotting/panelling or built-up cornices, a feat which used to require an expensive rotary laser. In two vertical line mode the unit becomes a laser plumb bob which can be used to install stud work or fix items into a ceiling, the sort of thing sparkies do a lot these days.

The second part of the kit is the DM-1 wall bracket. This can function as a conventional wall bracket to mount the GLL3-80 onto a wall using a screw, but it can also be hung onto any steel structure (e.g. metal lath) using its' magnetic back plate in the same way that the wall brackets supplied with the DW087K or PKS 180 work. The DM-1, though, is a little larger and incorporates a couple of added extra features. Firstly it has two small fold-out feet which allow it to become a sort of mini-tripod. Secondly the unit has a locking rack and pinion rise and fall function which allows accurate changes in the height of the beam to be made over a vertical range of 70mm, useful if trying to get the horizontal line bang on level. On further item provided is a reflective target for distance work. Other options available from Bosch include several tripods and an interesting monopole kit which I may well purchase down the line

So, how's it worked out in practice? Pretty good, actually. Me and my team have so far used it to level and install several MFC (metal lath framed) ceilings, level a coupled of badly bowed timber joist ceilings (using sister joists), install door casings, lay-out and install metal lath and timber stud partition walls and drill holes in ceilings for extractor vents. It has worked flawlessly and the 360° beams means that most of the time it can be set-up and left in position without any need to move it for the duration of the task - one less annoyance over the conventional cross line lasers. It will automatically switch itself off very 30 minutes or so to save the batteries (4 x AA cells), too. Would I recommend it? A qualified yes, there, mainly because of the price. I paid £350 for my unit, which isn't cheap, but for anyone not requiring the plumb-bob facility Bosch do the two beam GLL2-80 at about £100 less and that would be worth considering against the likes of the PLS and Leica Lino L2+. Only time will tell how durable this will be, but my previous Bosch laser level (a rotary) was a star and I've generally been impressed with the blue Bosch products I've bought in the past

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"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

OK, I'm an "old school" chippie, so please don't ask me to do a bodge job - I didn't bring my horse today and in any case you don't seem to have a hitching rail!


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