Light Review: ACEBEAM UC15 – EDC / Keychain

ACEBEAM’s UC15 is a new contender in the keychain light market. The UC15 has a range of capabilities that make it stand out, with white, red and UV beams, and the choice of AAA or 10440 for power. We are certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to keychain lights, in many cases with there being very little to distinguish between them, but the UC15 definitely gives you more. It is one of the larger keychain lights, being in the ‘car key size’ class, many of which have built-in batteries and though those have the convenience of USB charging, they are limited by the capacity of that battery. Not the UC15 as it takes 2x AAA or 2x 10440, but can run on only one cell if needed.

Taking a more detailed look:

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Modes and User Interface:

ACEBEAM helpfully provided a diagram to help you navigate the UC15’s UI. However, the current firmware version doesn’t quite follow this diagram once you have activated the ‘colour group’.
On one copy of the UI diagram I have made a couple of adjustments, and the reason for these is as follows…
Turning on to Moon mode does NOT ‘activate’ the white group when the current group is the colour group; it only temporarily enters the white group. So, if the colour group was the active group and you turn on to Moon mode, even if you then select another white output level, once you turn the UC15 off, it will revert to the colour group.
From OFF, with the colour group active, the only way to ‘activate’ the white group is via a double click.
If the colour group is active, and the UC15 is OFF, a double click does NOT turn Turbo on, instead it turns on the memorised white level; it then takes one more double click to enter Turbo.

Batteries and output:

The UC15 runs on 2x AAA or for maximum output 2x 10440. These are used in parallel, so you can actually use only a single cell if that is all you have.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

         ACEBEAM UC15          |   I.S. measured    |  PWM frequency or    
     using specified cell      | ANSI output Lumens | Strobe frequency (Hz)
_______________________________|____________________|______________________
  Turbo  10440                 |      679           |                      
  High   10440                 |      441           |                      
  Medium 10440                 |      251           |                      
  Low    10440                 |      109           |                      
  Moon   10440                 |        5           |                      
  Red    10440                 |       93           |                      
                               |                    |                      
  Turbo  AAA NiMh              |      190           |                      
  High   AAA NiMh              |       93           |                      
  Medium AAA NiMh              |       51           |                      
  Low    AAA NiMh              |       25           |                      
  Moon   AAA NiMh              |        5           |                      
  Red    AAA NiMh              |       53           |                      

 

There is parasitic drain but is incredibly low. When using 10440, the drain was 3.6uA (22 years to drain the cells), and when using AAA, the drain was 1.1uA (165 years to drain the cells).

The runtime graph shows the UC15 running from Turbo to the ANSI cut-off for AAA NiMh and 10440. Also included are the manufacturer output specifications.

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

The only minor observation to report here was difference in the expected behaviour of the UI, as noted earlier.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The UC15 in use

Compared to many keychain lights, the UC15 is a fairly large addition to your key-ring, but it is packed with features and performance. This high CRI Nichia LED version doesn’t quite have the same 1000lm output as the XP-L version, but at around 700lm when using 10440, is very impressive.
Personally I find the levels a bit too bright when using 10440, and I prefer to use AAA, which brings the levels down to a brightness that works better for an EDC light. You have the choice though, a true pocket-rocket, or a seriously useful EDC light. The level chosen for ‘Moon’ mode is more like a low level than a moon mode as at 5lm is too bright for dark adapted eyes.
When it comes to red light, typically this is used to help maintain dark adapted vision. In the case of the UC15’s red output, it is very bright, with nearly 100lms of red when using 10440; this is too much. If you were to go to an astronomy ‘star party’, and broke out the UC15’s red beam, you would be asked to leave – immediately. With the red beam being a specific wavelength (630nm) it is virtually invisible to many night time quarry if you are out hunting after dark, so in this regard is useful. Beyond that, the red could be useful for signaling considering its brightness.
Unlike many ‘UV lights’ the UC15 is a proper UV light using the 365nm wavelength. This has minimal blue light and appears very dim to the eye, until you shine it onto materials that fluoresce. This is particularly obvious with bank note security features. Only true UV brings out their colours and makes them glow brightly.
Rated as IP54, I am slightly surprised that ACEBEAM have left the tail-cap without any kind of seal. It might be slightly splash proof, but it is not waterproof. Perhaps a keychain light is not that likely to get soaked (a car key might not like that), but it seems strange not to have a seal.
Adding the clip makes it more of a pocket light than a keychain light, but gives you that extra flexibility. With the clip open at the tail-end of the UC15, you can slide it onto the baseball cap peak to use it as a head-lamp. Fitting the clip itself is fiddly. The small screws don’t fit through the holes in the clip, so have to be tickled into position underneath the clip, and then tightened.
Overall the 2x AAA side-by-side configuration makes for a very ergonomic light to use, and with three different beams to choose from, the UC15 is a serious contender for your EDC.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

High CRI ~700lm output.
Choice of AAA or 10440 power.
Choice of output levels (based on cell choice).
White, Red and UV outputs.
Good UI (despite minor issue).
Can run on only one cell (as the two are used in parallel).
Very low parasitic drain.
No Pulse Width Modulation.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

‘Moon’ mode is too bright.
Moon mode not memorised.
Red output very bright.
Not waterproof, only water resistant.

 

Discussing the Review:

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Light Review: ACEBEAM H10 Headlamp

The H10 is ACEBEAM’s most powerful Headlamp with an impressive 2000lm burst mode (using an IMR 18650) and uses the high power MT-G2 LED array.

 photo 06 H10 angle P1150631.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

Presentation is good with the ACEBEAM packaging. The box is sealed with a tamper evident tape.
 photo 01 H10 boxed P1150612.jpg

Inside there is a foam liner holding the contents in place.
 photo 02 H10 box open P1150614.jpg

In the box there is the H10 (with unlabelled 18650 inside it), spare O-rings, pocket clip, headband and mount, plus the instructions.
 photo 03 H10 box contents P1150621.jpg

The headband is fully assembled and opens out like this.
 photo 04 H10 headband P1150625.jpg

The headband mount has two retaining rings that line up with grooves in the body of the H10.
 photo 05 H10 holder P1150627.jpg

Looking at the back of the H10 you can see the shallow heat sink fins on the head, and the domed switch on top.
 photo 07 H10 tall P1150637.jpg

Surrounding the domed switch button is a rotating selector ring.
 photo 08 H10 switch P1150640.jpg

On the battery tube cap, the make, model and serial number are engraved.
 photo 09 H10 tailcap P1150643.jpg

As we will see further on, there is parasitic drain, so for transit (and to prevent accidental activation) as the supplied 18650 is fitted inside the H10, an insulating disc is included to break the circuit and lock-out the H10. You need to discard that white plastic disc to use the H10.
 photo 10 H10 tailcap off P1150644.jpg

Inside the tail-cap the negative terminal is a spring. The top edge of the battery tube makes contact with the gold ring-terminal on the circuit board.
 photo 11 H10 tailcap P1150648.jpg

Peering inside the battery tube there is a simple positive terminal surrounded by a plastic insulator.
 photo 12 H10 inside P1150652.jpg

The threads are almost square, perfectly cut, fully anodised and well lubricated.
 photo 13 H10 threads P1150655.jpg

With a large MT-G2 LED the reflector is relatively small and is textured to further smooth the beam.
 photo 14 H10 reflector P1150660.jpg

Looking straight at the MT-G2 LED.
 photo 15 H10 LED P1150662.jpg

Of course the H10 can be used as a right-angle light, but it is intended as a headlamp. Here it is fitted in the headband mount.
 photo 16 H10 mounted P1150666.jpg

At the back, the top strap fits into the headband adjustment loop to help keep it centred.
 photo 17 H10 strap detail back P1150669.jpg

Though the mount is a soft rubber, the strap is threaded through the mount to keep the elastic strap itself against the user’s head. This provides maximum comfort.
 photo 18 H10 mount detail back P1150673.jpg

Some of the detail in the rubber mount’s moulding.
 photo 19 H10 mount detail front P1150682.jpg

A pocket clip is provided for when the H10 is used out of the headband mount. It clips into either one of the grooves that are used for the headband mount. You cannot leave the clip on and fit it back into the headband mount properly. The clip is stiff to fit and has already marked the anodising.
 photo 20 H10 clip P1150687.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

For most purposes, a headlamp benefits from a flood beam, as it is generally used as task light. The H10, with its large LED and small reflector doesn’t disappoint, with a wide and even flood beam.
 photo 22 H10 indoor beam P1170359.jpg

Moving outdoors, this headlamp does have enough power to give it some range despite the flood beam and the area is evenly lit.
 photo 21 H10 outdoor beam P1170276.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The H10 has a two-stage domed button switch, and surrounding this a selector ring. The selector ring has four tactile stops for the four normal modes (1000lm, 500lm, 200lm, 30lm).

At any time (either from OFF or from any normal mode) a full press of the button gives you the maximum output 2000 lm Burst mode. When the button is released, the H10 returns to the previous state (either from OFF or any normal mode).

To turn onto a normal mode, half-press the button and hold for 2s. The H10 will then come onto the mode set by the selector ring. The mode can be pre-selected before turning on, or selected once the H10 is on.
To turn OFF, half-press the button and hold for 2s.

Batteries and output:

The runs on a supplied LG18650HE2 20A 2500mAh IMR 18650 cell, but can use any button top 18650 or 2xCR123, both of which will limit the maximum output.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
ACEBEAM H10 using supplied 20A IMR cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Burst 1940 0
High 998 0
Medium 481 0
Low 211 0
Firefly 31 0

Peak Beam intensity measured 6800 lx @1m giving a beam range of 165 m.

There is parasitic drain at and average of approximately 62uA (it varies between 32 and 93uA) which would mean a fully charged 2500mAh cell will take 4.6 years to drain.

Due to the extreme nature of the 2000lm Burst mode and the requirement to keep the button pressed, the runtime was not measured for this output level. Instead the runtime was for the highest constant output level the 1000lm high mode. This 1000lm output is well regulated for as long as the cell can maintain it; a very good performance.
 photo ACEBEAM H10 runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The ACEBEAM H10 in use

Two highlights of the H10 are its lovely smooth flood beam and the neutral/warm tint of the MT-G2 LED. These features allow you to focus entirely on the task you are doing and not even think about the headlamp.

A single 18650 makes for a comfortable weight to have head mounted, and thanks to the use of a top-strap as well, you don’t need to have the headband very tight for it to stay securely in place. A top-strap really does improve comfort. With the strap routed through the mount so that it is the strap itself that is against your forehead, again comfort is very good.

What I don’t like are interfaces that make you wait for the light to come on or go off, and unfortunately, the H10 requires a half-press, wait, and 2s later the light comes on (with the same for off). If you fully press the button by mistake you get the full 2000lm burst output, which is not a nice surprise, and you have to try again to get the H10 to come on. For every day use, I’d much prefer the on/off to be controlled by a simple click, and the burst to require a longer hold, but perhaps only 1s before it activates.

With gloves on, or with cold hands, I found the half-press unreliable, or at least my ability to find the half-press position. 2000lm when you wanted 30lm is not good.
Still, that beam is worth the wait when you are not rushing to do anything, and once on and running, the H10 melts away and you just have light.

Depending on how many lights you use, you might also not hit the right mode first time. There are no marks on the selector ring to indicate which mode you have chosen. A few simple marks would make the pre-selection of modes so much easier. If this was your main light you would quickly learn the positions, and there is a stop at each end of the selections, so you can simply turn it all the way one way until it stops, then count the clicks back to the mode you want.

Parasitic drain is acceptable, but with fully anodised threads you can lock-out the H10 easily.

The optional clip can be fitted into either groove on the body to give up or down positioning. Fitting is very stiff and does mark the anodising, so depending on if this bothers you, you may choose to make it a dedicated right-angle light or leave it as a headlamp. Swapping between the two will scratch the H10.

The H10 gives its specified outputs effortlessly including the impressive 2000lm burst mode (as long as you use IMR), and has not had any issues with heat. In normal use and for indoor jobs, I find the 1000 lm output too high so use it on 500lm or below. When outdoors I have ramped up to the 1000 lm mode but the added airflow seems to cope with the extra heat easily.

The lowest mode is named ‘firefly’…I would not want to meet the firefly that provides 31 lm! that 31 lm output with the flood beam is a great mode, and one I use a lot, but I’d prefer it if there was a 1lm or lower mode as a true firefly level.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
2000 lm Burst mode. Half-Press-and-Hold for 2s to turn on and off.
Smooth flood beam. ‘Firefly’ mode a bit bright at 31 lm.
Secure and comfortable to wear. Mode selector ring has no markings.
Well regulated output. Pocket clip scratches the anodising.
Nice tint from the MT-G2 LED. Needs IMR for best performance.
20A IMR cell supplied.
Well spaced modes.

See ACEBEAM’s Website for more of the manufacturer’s specifications

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

CandlePowerForums – Flashlight Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)