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This laser level is surprisingly compact for the range of functions and 230' range! My tape measures in the background are now just that, background.
Click image to enlarge

Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure

Small in size, big in range, accuracy and quality

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 8-26-2011

Brand new from Johnson Level and Tool is their 230' Laser Distance Measure (Model: 40-6005) that sports a new compact size but extended range and ease of use. As is their custom the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure not only measures from here to there, it comes with a load of functions designed to make your work day easier with a remarkable accuracy of +/- 1/16” at 230-feet with an overall range capability from 2-inch-minimum to the 230-foot maximum. Let’s see you get that spot on with a tape measure!

The Basics

The Johnson Level's 40-6005 230' Laser Distance Measure kit shown in this review includes the Laser distance measure itself, 2 "AA" alkaline batteries, a soft carry case with wrist strap and an instruction manual that actually shows you how to use it.

The Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure is compact at 4.33”-long by 1.77”-wide and 1.18” deep and it weighs just a tick over ½-lb. The AA alkaline batteries are good for an expected 10,000 measurements! When you forget to shut the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure off, it does it for you. The laser itself shuts down after 30 seconds and the overall power shuts down after 3 minutes of inactivity.

I have tried and tried to find an error (left) but the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure just does not seem capable of making one. Part of the ease of use comes from the well-written and illustrated instructions manual (right) that comes with it.
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The laser specs are Class II, Protection Class 54, wavelength 650nm (Red) with a maximum output of <1mW. I know that some consider this type of lasers to be little more than a toy because it doesn’t blow holes in steel like on TV. Despite lacking lethal power levels it is wise to heed the warnings on the caution stickers. The Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure might not burn a hole in your head but intentionally misusing it is clearly dumb and definitely not good for the eyes.

The Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure measures in a bunch of ways, including single distance, min/max, continuous measuring, countdown timer, stakeout function along with addition & subtraction, area and volume. It also does 2 point, 3 point and 3-point partial Pythagoras. For the uninformed (like me) Pythagoras is a way to measure a vertical surface from the ground. It uses a distance shot to the top and another distance to the base (both shot from the same place) and uses those to figure out the height. The 3-point and 3-point partial Pythagoras let you add a third dimension between the base and top.

The Laser Distance Measure will display the numbers in decimal and fractional inches, feet, feet & inches and metric. The large LCD display makes reading the measurements easy. The range of number formats helps eliminate mistakes. Johnson Level and Tool added a microprocessor to be sure the calculations happen instantly and correctly.

You can tell the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure to measure from its front end, back end or from the end of this extension (left) that lets you reach over obstacles to get a true dimension. What is remarkable about how bright this laser dot is (right) is that this photo was taken with my large photos lights shinning on the same wall. visibility doesn't appear to be an issue.
Click images to enlarge

The Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure also makes measuring the total volume of an area or the square footage very fast, and easy for one person to do accurately. There is much more to the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure than just measuring from here to there.

All of the functions are controlled using the front-mounted blister button control panel. The blister-style buttons that resist dust and other contaminations are graphically labeled and the included instruction manual does a good job of explaining their use.

Multiple Reference Points

One of the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure features that will come in handy for woodworkers (and metalworkers) is the ability to base the measurement off of different surfaces on the unit’s body. You can set it to measure from front edge, rear edge or the swing-out rear extension. We often find ourselves working in confined areas and the small size of the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure plus the ability to choose the best surface to measure from lets you be more accurate with a quick push of that button and maybe swinging the extension out. This is one of those features that sounds very simple but has a huge favorable impact on use later on.

In the Shop

The large LCD screen, (left) multiple numbering formats and graphical displays make using the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure simple. The blister-type buttons (right) on the control panel also have graphical markings that make learning what does what easier.
Click images to enlarge

For those of us who readily recognize a folding stick rule getting ourselves to trust the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure might take a little time. I have been using similar laser measuring tools from Johnson Level and Tool for some time and no matter how I try to refute their accuracy I have yet to find any error at all. I certainly know that I have no hope of being within 1/16” of correct at 50-feet let alone the 230-feet the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure is capable of and it does it over and over again.

I have been better able to check the shorter accuracy of the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure where some laser measuring tools have problems. Here again I have not been able to catch the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure offering up a bad measurement. I think that the short distance accuracy is just as important to many of us as measuring across a room because so much of our work is on a smaller scale than construction.

The array of features built into the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure should more than cover the needs of even the busiest woodworker or metalworker. The compact size of the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure makes it easy to carry around in a pocket or tool belt to keep your hands free for larger tools. The included carry case (with a belt loop on the back) is nice also for protecting this instrument when not in use.

Conclusions

Video Tour

If you want to be accurate in your work the Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure should at the very least be on your must-see list. This is a versatile, highly accurate tool that is much faster than we can be even if we could shed the built in human error that plagues anyone with a pulse.

The Johnson Level’s 230' Laser Distance Measure is due out in October of 2011 and is listed as carrying a retail price of $290.00 which should put the street price at about $220 or so. To be honest, $290 for this kind of accuracy and versatility isn’t all that bad. Anything under that price can be considered a very good deal.

Visit the Johnson Level and Tool website – Click Here

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