Light Review: Streamlight Dualie – 3AA Magnet, 2AA ATEX and Laser ATEX

Streamlight’s Dualie range are not the only dual-beam lights available, so might look familiar. The 3AA version is not new, but the 2AA ATEX and 3AA Laser ATEX are both recent additions for Streamlight, adding more options to this Intrinsically Safe range.

Taking a more detailed look at the Dualie 2AA ATEX:

We are starting with a detailed look at the 2AA ATEX version, but before we do, here are all three Dualie lights on test in this review. The 2AA model arrives in a cardboard box like the 3AA Magnet, with the 3AA Laser in a plastic blister pack.

In the 2AA’s box along with the Dualie is a set of alkaline batteries, a wrist lanyard, an Allen key and the instructions.

Immediately striking is the offset head design of the 2AA.

And this is why it is a Dualie. The flood-light LED in the side of the head.

A better look at that unusual offset battery tube. The top of the pocket clip is kept level with the line of the head of the light.

The tail has a lanyard hole, and also a magnet.

A simple, deep, steel pocket clip is fitted to the 2AA.

The main beam’s switch is the largest, and has a checkered grip pattern.

A close look at the 2AA’s main-beam reflector and LED.

The same LED is used for the side mounted flood beam without any reflector. The side beam’s switch is smaller and has no checkering.

Inside the light’s head are two contacts made from coiled wire.

The coil contacts connect to the battery positive terminal and a contact built-in to the front of the battery tube. The other metal part visible here is the locking screw to fix the head in place.

Instead of screw-threads, the 2AA uses a bayonet fixing for the head / battery tube fitting.

The batteries are now fitted into the body.

Now we see why there is an Allen key included. With the head fitted back onto the body, the locking screw can be tightened.

A requirement of certain Intrinsically Safe standards is that the batteries cannot be replaced in the hazardous environment. This is achieved by use of a locking screw to prevent the light being accidentally opened. Instead you need to use a tool to intentionally open the light.

The head is now locked and can’t be taken off without the screw being loosened.

Ready to go.

Taking a more detailed look at the Dualie 3AA Magnet:

In the 3AA Magnet’s box along with the Dualie is a set of alkaline batteries, a wrist lanyard, and the instructions.

The Dualie 3AA Magnet’s name is due to the two powerful magnets that have been added for more hands free options.

Not ATEX rated, but still intrinsically safe.

One of the magnets is in the very end of the tail which is part of the extended clip.

The other magnet is in the side of the clip.

The clip extension also acts as a hook.

The main beam’s switch is the largest of the two, and has a checkered grip pattern.

For the flood beam on the side there is a second slightly smaller switch which also has a checkered grip pattern.

Looking into the main beam’s reflector and its LED.

A full exposed LED with no reflector provides the flood beam.

To access the battery caddy, the bezel unscrews from the front of the head.

This then allows the main assembly / battery caddy to slide out of the body.

It is a self contained unit with reflector, LEDs, switches, and battery holders.

Each cell holder has spring contacts for the negative terminals.

Plus a coiled positive terminal.

Two cells are fitted to one side, and a single cell into the other.

The threads for the bezel ring are moulded plastic.

Off to work we go.

Taking a more detailed look at the Dualie Laser ATEX:

In the 3AA Laser’s packaging, along with the Dualie is a set of alkaline batteries, an Allen key and the instructions.

It the case of the 3AA Laser, the second beam is a red laser. Intended as a safe ‘pointer’ for communicating clearly what is being discussed in industrial environments.

No mistaking what added feature this light has.

Intrinsically safe and ATEX rated. You might spot one of the ATEX requirements.

I was of course referring to the locking screw.

With the locking screw tightened you can see how it engages with the scalloped edge of the bezel ring, making it impossible to unscrew the bezel without intentionally undoing the screw.

What would have been the window for the flood beam on other Dualie models is covered with a laser warning sticker.

As the laser needs to be projected forwards like the main beam, the main beam’s reflector has been modified with a hole for the laser to shine through.

Another view of the hole for the laser.

As the main purpose of the Laser model is to provide a safe pointer, the clip is a shorter version than on the Magnet model.

Just as with the previous 3AA model, there is a self contained assembly that is removed from the body which contains all the workings of the light.

A brass pill contains the laser module.

Threads are moulded into the plastic body for the removable lens bevel.

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!

With three lights, all with dual functions, there are several beam-shots to look at.

First up are the main beams of each and the 3AA Magnet.

Next is the main beam of the 3AA Laser oddly, though its lumen output is virtually identical it appears brighter despite an identical exposure.

The 2AA’s main beam has a much wider spill than the 3AA models, but is noticeably dimmer.

Secondary beams:
As it is the simplest to show, first we have the Laser’s pointer. That’s it. Using it with the main beam masks the spot so it is best not to do this.

With the mix of spot and flood beams, the next set of beamshots show the different beams at a distance.

Here the 2AA starts with the main beam.

Then we go to Flood.

And then both flood and spot beams together.

Changing to the 3AA Magnet starting with the main beam.

Then we go to Flood.

And then both flood and spot beams together.

Now moving outdoors:

The 3AA Magnet; its relatively weak spill fades out and the spot is left.

It is the same with the 3AA Laser.

Spot the spot…

Outdoors the 2AA struggles.

Modes and User Interface:

Operating the Dualie lights is as simple as it gets. Each of the two modes available in each light has its own switch. They can be used independently or together.

The main beam switch is a forward-click momentary type switch, and the secondary side beam switch is a reverse-click type.

Batteries and output:

The naming of each Dualie means there are no surprises that the 2AA runs on 2AA cells (alkaline or NiMh) and the 3AA runs on 3AA cells (alkaline or NiMh). The Laser is bases on the 3AA so runs on 3AA cells (alkaline or NiMh).

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Dualie model and mode. I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
2AA – Main 103 0
2AA – Flood 75 0
2AA – Main + Flood 122 0
3AA – Main 142 0
3AA – Flood 101 0
3AA – Main + Flood 176 0
Laser – Main 147 0
Laser – Main + Laser 146 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

There is no parasitic drain.

For the runtime tests, all measurements were taken with both beams on for all models. Putting all three runtime traces on the same graph, and the lower output 2AA model takes the runtime prize, but at a much lower output.

Removing the 2AA’s trace shows the two 3AA versions more clearly, and it is very obvious the Laser module draws much less power than the flood beam, as the runtime for the Laser is much longer.

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 Streamlight Dualies in use

Before looking at any other aspect, it is important to highlight that these Dualie lights are Intrinsically Safe. That really is what it says – Intrinsically Safe devices are specifically designed to limit electrical and thermal energy that might be available for ignition. It means they are effectively incapable of igniting specific explosive atmospheres. This is why generally Intrinsically Safe lights are relatively low powered, use alkaline primary cells, and are made from plastic.

Take the most typical domestic scenario; you get back home at night and smell gas in the house. You need light to find the main gas valve (which is in a cupboard) and to get to windows to air your home. Don’t touch that light switch, so what can you use in confidence? An intrinsically safe light specifically designed to be safe to operate in explosive atmospheres of course. As long as you check the certification matches the possible hazard (for example the 3AA Magnet says it is certified for methane / air mixtures only) before you really need it.

I keep a couple of Intrinsically Safe lights in the hall sideboard so I can get my hands on one straight away. I also keep a suitably rated one in the car and in the garage in case of fuel spillages.

Personally, as I don’t work in explosive atmospheres, I mostly keep Intrinsically Safe lights as standby backup lights rather than everyday use ones, but generally always have one close by. If you need this type of light for work, then you will know the regulations and exactly what your requirements are.

What is not clearly shown in the beamshots, is that there is an uneven corona around the hotspot with visible yellowing, they are definitely not the cleanest of beams. This doesn’t truly impact on their use, as it is only when you are white wall hunting and looking for beam defects that you really notice them. When you are getting on with a job, it doesn’t matter that much, and will be the least of your worries if you actually need their Intrinsically Safe aspect.

The magnets are strong enough in the two models that have tail magnets (the 2AA ATEX and 3AA Magnet), that they are able to hold the light at any angle. Taking the worst case, they will stick to a vertical steel surface and keep the light pointing horizontally. I’ve also found this to be true on steel bars as well, so not limited to flat surfaces. On the 3AA Magnet there is the additional magnet in the clip on the side of the light, providing more mounting angles. I use this side-mounted magnet for storage of the 3AA Magnet light, having it hold itself on the side of a metal cabinet ready for use.

It is important to compare like with like, and these Intrinsically Safe lights do not compete with the current Li-ion powered lights in terms of output and beam quality, but that is not a fair comparison. These are lights designed to be simple and safe to use just about anywhere. Two independent lighting functions operated by two switches, reliable and predictable AA power, light weight, tough and Intrinsically Safe. I’m certainly glad to have a few of these lights around.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Intrinsically Safe. Not the cleanest of beams.
AA powered. Switches need quite a firm press to click.
Simple to use.
Lightweight.
Reliable.
Tough.
Highly functional clips / magnets.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this 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)

Light Review: Olight H1 Nova Headlamp

Inspired by their excellent S1 Baton pocket light (previously reviewed), Olight wanted to bring the same concept of an ultra compact body with high performance output to a headlamp. As will become clear throughout this review they have managed to do just that with the H1 Nova which is a headlamp and pocket light all in one.

Taking a more detailed look:

The reason there are two boxes here is that this review is looking at the CW – Cool White, and NW – Neutral White versions of the H1.

Inside the outer box is a zip-up carry case.

In each of the cases is the H1 in its headband mount, a pocket clip stored on a foam holder, and the instructions held in a mesh pocket.

Laying out the contents of the case.

The main parts are the headband with rubber mount, the H1 Nova light, and a steel pocket clip.

Just like the S1, the H1 has the blue highlights surrounding the lens and switch.

A TIR optic is used, but this also has a hexagonal diffuser pattern to give a flood beam to the XM-L2 LED.

On the top of the H1 is its rubber power switch. This is an electronic click switch.

A plain tail-cap has a hidden magnet.

Though designed as a headlamp, the H1 also has a pocket clip that can be fitted either way up into one of the two grooves in the body.

It is a deep carry type of clip with a secondary ‘catch’ to help it hold onto a pocket edge.

When it arrives, the H1 has a CR123 fitted inside it, but there is also a plastic insulator to stop the H1 from coming on, or having any parasitic drain.

The threads are square cut. In this case there is some chipping to the anodised finish on one side of the thread.

Inside, the tail-cap looks very simple. This is actually the positive contact so doesn’t have a spring. Surrounding the aluminium terminal, there is a ring of the tail-cap magnet visible.

With the less conventional “negative into the tube” contact arrangement, there is a negative terminal spring contact inside the battery tube.

To remind you which way the battery goes in there is a guide marker inside the battery tube.

Refitting the cell after removing the transit insulator, the unconventional cell orientation has the positive terminal of the cell visible.

And we are ready to go.

With the NW and CW versions on test we can compare the beam tint in the next section.

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!

In this first beamshot we have the CW version. All beamshot photos are taken with daylight white balance set. Of particular note is how wide the beam is, an excellent flood beam which, although it has a hotspot, this hotspot is large and surrounded by a super wide spill.

Now the NW version and the tint is significantly warmer than the CW and gentler on the eye.

Taking them outdoors, and back to the CW.

I didn’t quite get the beam alignment the same for these comparison photos, but the NW version appears to have a better reach.

Modes and User Interface:

There are five constant modes, Moon, Low, Medium, High and Turbo, plus an SOS mode. Access to these is controlled via the single electronic click switch.

To turn the H1 ON to the last used output level, click the switch once. Click again to turn OFF.
Note: Turbo is only memorised for 10 minutes after which is changes to Medium, and SOS is not memorised.

To change the output level, when ON, press and hold the switch to cycle through Moon (or Turbo), Low, Medium, High, Low etc.
Note: ‘normal’ brightness levels are Low, Medium and High.

For Moon mode, from OFF, press and hold the switch for 1s and the H1 will turn ON to Moon mode. This level is memorised.

For Turbo, from ON or OFF, rapidly double tap the switch. Double tap the switch again to change to the memorised output level.

For SOS, from ON or OFF, rapidly triple tap the switch. To exit SOS carry out any action with the side switch.

The H1 also has an electronic lockout to protect against accidental activation. To LOCK the H1, from OFF, press and hold the switch for 2s. After 1s the H1 will enter Moon mode, but continuing to hold the switch and the moon mode goes off again. The H1 is now Locked Out.

While locked, pressing and holding the switch for less than 1s will activate Moon mode momentarily, going off as soon as the switch is released. Holding it for 2s or more will unlock the H1.

To UNLOCK the H1, press and hold the switch for 2s or more. The Moon mode output will blink briefly to indicate it is unlocked and the H1 will be on in Moon mode.

With the anodised tail-cap threads there is also the option of a mechanical lockout by unscrewing the tail-cap 1/4 to 1/2 turn.

Batteries and output:

The H1 Nova runs on CR123 or RCR123.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Olight H1 Nova Version using specified cell. I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Cool White Turbo – AW RCR123 575 0
Cool White Turbo – CR123 308 0
Cool White High – AW RCR123 193 0
Cool White Medium – AW RCR123 70 0
Cool White Low – AW RCR123 14 0
Cool White Moon – AW RCR123 2 0
Neutral White Turbo – AW RCR123 560 0
Neutral White High – AW RCR123 190 0
Neutral White Medium – AW RCR123 70 0
Neutral White Low – AW RCR123 14 0
Neutral White Moon – AW RCR123 2 0

There is parasitic drain but it is low. When using CR123, the drain was 19.6uA (8.15 years to drain the cell) and when using RCR123, the drain was 23.6uA (3.63 years to drain the cell).

Initially looking at just the first part of the three runtime traces shown in the graph, and the first observation is that the H1 does not achieve full output on CR123 instead requiring a RCR123 for the full 500+ lm. Also note that for the maximum Turbo output the H1 is quite sensitive to the cell condition with the CW run only managing about 45s on Turbo before dropping to High, but the NW taking this to the full 3 minutes of Turbo before ramping down to High. There is more to discuss on this in the full length runtime graph.

Picking up from the previous comment, where the CW only ran at Turbo for 45s (possibly indicating a cell that was not fully charged) it actually managed a slightly longer runtime than the NW (which had the full 3 minutes of Turbo), so in reality the cell had the same level of charge, but the CW terminated Turbo earlier.
Also note that the supplied CR123 has managed approximately the same overall output (though it does tail off and gives a longer total runtime). What is important to note is that when using the RCR123, it’s protection kicks in and the output of the H1 does cut out completely around 5 minutes after dropping down to Medium. If used on Medium for long periods, you won’t have any warning a RCR123 is running low, it will just cut out.

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 H1 Nova in use

Honestly, before trying out the H1 Nova, I was never a fan of 1xCR123 headlamps. The reasons for this were that many would only work with primary cells (I definitely want the option of rechargeable), and the interface/beam/runtime never seemed a good fit to my needs.

Personally, the critical aspects in a headlamp are no PWM, a flood beam, direct access to moon mode, plus a comfortable headband. Add to this easy conversion to a pocket lamp, and the ability to use rechargeable cells, and you have a winning formula.

Though I prefer rechargeable cells, you often have the issue that output can shut off completely if the protection circuit kicks in. Unfortunately the H1 does have this slight issue, and it can be very disorienting to suddenly lose all light. As the H1 will drop from High to Medium when a RCR123 is getting low, if you are already on Medium, then you don’t get that warning and it will just go off. Using a primary cell completely removes this problem, so depending on your type of use you can pick the cell to suit.

With the switch being very low profile, which helps avoid accidental activation, I have found it difficult to operate reliably. When you don’t hit the middle of the button, but are more to the side, the click is not clean, or might not click at all. As soon as you find the middle of the button, it has a very precise action and works perfectly. Mounted on your head, finding that sweet spot on the button is not always easy, and if wearing gloves, forget it, so the compact design can work against the H1 in this way.

The beamshots really do speak for themselves, and the H1 has a beam that is so easy to get on with. A headlamp is predominately a task light, and when you are carrying out a task you don’t want to have to ‘point’ the beam with your head. When using the H1 as a headlamp you can just focus on the task in hand, and the fact the H1 pretty much disappears from your awareness is the signal it is working really well.

It is great that the H1 is capable of the Turbo output, however, I find that this is rarely used, it is just too bright for anything within arms reach. Moon mode is an essential, and the Low and Medium levels are just right for the vast majority of my needs. If out walking with it, I will use High sometimes when I want that bit more range, but even then Medium is my go-to level.

There is one feature I hadn’t really noticed that much, the gradual brightness changes: When turned on/off on medium, high, and turbo modes, it will turn on or off gradually. This mimics the characteristics of incan bulbs that have to heat up and cool down, making it much kinder to the eyes; Thank you Olight. The reason I hadn’t noticed this much was due to mainly using Low and Medium where the effect is less noticeable. It is more significant with the High and Turbo modes, and does make a difference.

I wouldn’t normally bother to mention the magnetic tail-cap except in passing, but I would like to make a point with the H1, to say that the strength of the magnet is one of the best I’ve come across. Often a magnetic tail-cap can be too aggressive and end up sticking to everything, yet with the H1 it is sufficient to hold the light where you put it, without ‘grabbing’ everything incessantly.

Considering this is based on the excellent S1 Baton, my one slight disappointment is that the parasitic drain is much higher. OK, it is only 20uA, but the S1 is 1uA. Parasitic drain is pure waste, especially with primary cells, so I’d have hoped to see this at the same level as the S1 instead of 20x more.

This does lead me to prefer using the mechanical lockout as this does kill the drain completely, but also the electronic lockout is not ideal to prevent accidental activation as this is too easy to unlock, and if squashed in a bag or pocket, it is very likely the button will be pressed for 2s or more.

Converting the H1 between headlamp and pocket light is very easy, and getting the light out of the rubber mount is no struggle at all. Regular fitting and removal of the pocket clip will mar the anodised finish, but there is not much that could be done about that, so you decide if you want to convert it to and from. I find it most useful as a headlamp, and a bit on the small and lose-able size when taken out of the mount.

So, overall I’ve been won round by this CR123 headlamp, which has been helped by how easy it is to carry (living in my coat pocket), by its very usable interface, the excellent beam, and comfort. There have been far fewer battery changes than I expected, so its practicality has been proven.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Compact and easy to carry. Though low, the parasitic drain is much higher than the S1 Baton.
Excellent flood beam. Electronic lockout too easy to unlock.
Runs on CR123 and RCR123. When used on RCR123 the cell protection is ultimately triggered, cutting the output completely.
Direct access to Moon mode (and Turbo). Sometimes difficult to press the switch in the right spot.
Very functional UI.
Useful level selection.
Soft ON/OFF is easy on the eyes.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this 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)

Light Review: Nextorch GLO-TOOB, GT-AAA, GT-AAA Pro and GT-LITHIUM

Who doesn’t like a light-stick? Apart from the need for emergency marker lights, there is something great about a tube that just glows, and the main problem with chemical light sticks is that when they are on, they are on; until they go out forever. Nextorch have taken the light-stick and made it battery powered and even more versatile with its GLO-TOOB range. Now the reusable super durable emergency / safety marker light has an on-off switch and flashing modes, and can survive immersion up to depths of 3500m!

Taking a more detailed look at the GT-AAA:

We are going to start with the standard AAA model the GT-AAA, but first here are the three that are on test in their boxes. The Lithium and AAA models are in the older packaging, with the Lithium being the original model. The GT-AAA Pro is a more recent addition and uses updated packaging. One crucial difference between the models is their depth rating for waterproofing. The GT-AAA has the lowest rating at 60m, the GT-AAA Pro is good to 200m, and the ultimate is the GT-LITHIUM which will go to 3500m. (That is not a typo it really is three thousand five hundred metres.)

Back to the GT-AAA, the simplest and cheapest model, and this is what is in the box.

With a frosted casing, the GT-AAA has a keyring on one end and the black twist cap on the other.

Taking that black twist cap off, there is a very simple metal contact disk with raised centre.

The twist-cap’s plastic threads fit onto the aluminium threads of the battery tube.

With an AAA cell next to the GT-AAA you see how big it is.

With the cell inserted, its end slightly protrudes due to the internal spring. This forms part of the ultra simple switching mechanism.

A close up of the threads and O-ring (the end of the battery is also just visible).

Directions for turning the light on and off are marked in the twist-cap.

The LEDs are at the opposite end to the battery cap \ switch which is the keyring end of the GT-AAA.

Taking a more detailed look at the GT-AAA Pro:

There is nothing wrong with the basic AAA model, but the GT-AAA Pro immediately looks much more serious with its clear body and metal battery cap / switch.

Thanks to the clear body, you can see a bit more about what makes the GT-AAA Pro tick (or glow).

You can make out the PCB and LEDs through the casing.

The very end is a frosted finish, and this disguises the other side of the PCB.

In the case of the GT-AAA Pro, the keyring is fitted to a metal post making it much more robust. This also forms part of the switch mechanism; instead of the entire cap being rotated, the keyring and its post are twisted to activate the light.

The entire end cap is metal, so has metal threads instead of plastic.

Look at the middle of the cap. This is the cap in the OFF position.

Twisting the keyring pushes the middle of the cap forward and turns it ON.

With the battery fitted you can see how the middle of the battery cap will make contact with the battery terminal when it pushes out. The cell wrapper acts as an insulator allowing this switching method to work.

On the side are markings to confirm which way round the battery goes in. This follows the almost universal ‘positive terminal in’ direction.

The GT-AAA Pro switched ON.

A closer look at the lit up LEDs.

Taking a more detailed look at the GT-LITHIUM:

Last up is the most serious of all of the GLO-TOOBs, the LITHIUM. Notice that there is a switch cap already fitted, plus a second cap with keyring.

Already fitted to the GLO-TOOB LITHIUM is a click switch. This is mostly metal, but with a rubber switch boot.

On the opposite end of the GLO-TOOB is a black plastic end cap which the other models don’t have.

Having a clear body, like the GT-AAA Pro, you can look inside at the LEDs. In this case 5mm type LEDs are used, but the LED’s clear casing almost disappears in the clear resin used for the body of this light.

The click cap might be easy to use, but for the ultimate in resilience you need to use the diving cap switch (twist switch with keyring), so let’s swap them over.

While we are swapping them over, the contacts on the click switch look like this.

Unlike the GT-AAA Pro, here the keyring and its post are fixed (and you use them to screw the cap into place), with a plastic rotating switch ring instead.

To keep the contacts totally fresh, there is a metal protective cap supplied with the twist switch cap.

Now the protective cap is fitted to the click switch.

A CR123 fitted into the GT-LITHIUM. Battery orientation is marked in the red coloured band.

This version is the Red LED one.

A closer look at the lit up LED.

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!

Clearly, being light-stick style, marker lights, there is not really a ‘beam’ to show, instead I’m showing each one at a short distance (3-4m) from the camera.

This is the GT-AAA; actually all three are hanging next to each other on a clip.

At the same exposure, this is the GT-LITHIUM.

With the GT-AAA Pro up last. This appears quite a bit brighter than the GT-AAA.

All of them on at the same time. The red of the GT-LITHIUM is a bit drowned out.

The camera is set to daylight WB (as is the case with all my beamshots) to try to make colour and tint as clear as possible. The amber GT-AAA and GT-AAA Pro take over, masking the GT_LITHIUM’s red colour.

Modes and User Interface:

Each of the GLO-TOOBs is slightly different in its operation so we’ll take them one at a time:

The GT-AAA has three modes, High, Low(25%) and Flash.
To switch ON, tighten the entire end cap.
To cycle through the available modes twist-ON, then twist-OFF, and back on again within 2s and repeat to change from High – Low – Flash – High etc.
To Switch OFF, loosen the entire end cap.

The GT-AAA Pro has three modes, High, Low(25%) and Flash.
To switch ON, turn the keyring as if tightening a screw.
To cycle through the available modes twist-ON, then twist-OFF, and back on again within 2s and repeat to change from High – Low – Flash – High etc.
To Switch OFF, turn the keyring as if loosening a screw.

The GT-LITHIUM has 11 modes, Equal Flash, Beacon Strobe, Fast Strobe, Slow Strobe, SOS, Pulse, Half Flash, Bounce, Ramp Up, 100% Constant On and 25% Constant On.
To switch ON to the memorised mode, either click the switch or turn the end cap.
To switch OFF, either click the switch or turn the end cap.
To set the current output mode, switch ON, count 5s, then switch OFF and ON again. Now you can cycle through the available modes (in the order above) by turning it OFF and ON again until you get to the one you want. To ‘fix’ that mode, simply leave it ON for 4s and it will be memorised.

Batteries and output:

The GT-AAA and GT-AAA Pro run on a single AAA Alkaline cell, and the GT-LITHIUM runs on a CR123.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
GLO-TOOB model using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
GT-AAA High – AAA Alkaline 10 0
GT-AAA Low – AAA Alkaline 2 166
GT-AAA Strobe – AAA Alkaline 10 10.5
GT-AAA Pro High – AAA Alkaline 9 0
GT-AAA Pro Low – AAA Alkaline 3 0
GT-AAA Pro Strobe – AAA Alkaline 9 4
GT-AAA Lithium High – CR123 3 0
GT-AAA Lithium Low – CR123 1 500

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

There is no parasitic drain on any model.

With such low outputs and long runtimes I have not included a runtime graph for any model.

Troubleshooting

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

There was one slightly odd observation with the GT-AAA Pro. During the first few full runs (turning it onto high with a fresh cell, and leaving it to run until is went off) the PCB end of it started to dome out, as if there was some pressure building inside. It was also observed when fitting a mostly depleted cell and then leaving it on high.
I suspect the cell might have been gassing, and this pressure blowing the PCB out a little.
It was not observed after the fourth cell was used, so might have been connected to something on the PCB creating a pressure build up.
Not being able to replicate it any further, I asked Nextorch about it and they replaced the GLO-TOOB. The replacement did not exhibit this behaviour at all.

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 GLO-TOOBs in use

With the GLO-TOOB lights being marker lights, in general, to use them you simply attach the light to whatever you want to mark. The main aspects to discuss here are the user interfaces and battery change.

Each of the three models in the review is constructed differently so despite being similar overall they do feel quite different in use.

Starting with the lowest end model, the GT-AAA, and to operate this you have to turn the entire black cap. Of all three this is the stiffest to operate, and though not requiring much force to turn it, it does require reasonable force to be able to grip the cap strongly enough that you can turn it. This is due to the cap being relatively smooth to hold.

The operation is simple, very immediate and easy to judge as the cap position is obvious. The High output level is clear and has a useful level of light, but in comparison to the other GLO-TOOBs in this review, the Low uses a low frequency PWM making it quite obvious, and the flashing mode is a bit manic, being more of a strobe than a beacon.

Stepping up to the GT-AAA Pro, and there is a leap in performance and build. This time the battery cap is metal, and has a central threaded post which is used to operate the light. Starting with a battery change, you then screw in the cap, and tighten fully; at all times this cap is fully tightened. Now to operate the light, you twist that threaded post using the keyring (or you can hold the ring in place and twist the body. This action is super smooth and possibly the easiest action of all the GLO-TOOBs. It does seem a little vague though as it lacks any real feel until the unit comes on. At this point the action stiffens and becomes a bit grindy; I am slightly worried about over tightening this switch as it might crush the battery.

In terms of output, the High mode is great, making it so much nicer to use. And when it comes to the flashing mode, though not quite a ‘beacon’ the flashes are much slower than the GT-AAA and so much easier to be around. The increased waterproofing and the significantly better low and flashing modes make this Pro model a worthy upgrade to the GT-AAA.

Lastly, the much more serious Lithium model. It is more expensive than the AAA models, but one important reason you might consider this the ‘serious’ version, comes from the CR123A cell’s shelf life. You can put a fresh CR123 in this and leave it for 10 years and it will work. I’d certainly not expect the same out of an alkaline cell. In addition to the power source, the build of the GT-LITHIUM is seriously strong, and it has a ‘diving’ switch cap designed to make this usable to 3500m depth. Not many people will even use that level of waterproofing, but it does mean that overall you are getting a massively robust light. Optionally you can also use the click switch cap instead for a different way of using it.

Now we also have 11 modes to choose from, and my biggest complaint is finding it hard to choose one, as they each provide a different mix of visibility and attention grabbing. My favourite visible but not too manic is the ‘pulse’ mode, with another that works well for me is ‘Bounce’. The others are each so good, you have trouble choosing between them; the only one I’ll never use is the Fast Strobe. Depending on your application, battery life might be a consideration, so the total time the LEDs are lit are a factor. In this case the Slow Strobe or Beacon Strobe would be good choices.

Both switch cap types are equally easy to use. In some ways the click cap makes mode selection easier, but doesn’t have the solid hanging ring or levels of waterproofing as the diving switch cap does. The twist action is a smooth ‘detent’ 1/4 turn to go between on and off. Grip is very good with the deep scallops round the ring.

Unlike the GT-AAA Pro, when fitting the diving switch to the GT-LITHIUM, you now use the keyring to twist the cap on tightly; you can’t use the twist ring itself as it moves.

One of my main reasons to use this type of marker light is as additional safety lighting when cycling. Typically attached to something behind me, I don’t get to see it, so because I like these, I am constantly looking for an excuse to use them. Things like tent marking, or even leaving a slow strobe on my car dashboard when parking the car at night in a public car park are amongst the ‘excuses’ I’ve come up with.

If you like light sticks then these GLO-TOOBs should be on your shopping list.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
‘On-Demand’, reusable light stick. GT-AAA uses PWM for low mode.
Incredible 3500m waterproofing on the GT-LITHIUM. Light not as evenly spread along the length as a chemical light stick.
GT-LITHIUM has 11 modes to choose from. Currently limited to AAA or CR123 cells (an AA option would be great).
Choice of 3 modes for the AAA versions.
Keyring makes it easy to attach.
Super tough and resilient.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this 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)

Light Review: Olight M3XS-UT Javelot – Super Thrower (3/4xCR123, 2×18650)

Olight have been building up performance levels with the other Javelot models. These Javelots have been getting noticed for their enhanced throw, and then Olight released the M3XS-UT taking performance up another notch. The M3XS-UT is currently the top of performer amongst the Javelots.

Taking a more detailed look:

Like all the Javelots I’ve tested, the M3XS-UT comes with a plastic carry case rather than a disposable cardboard box.

Inside, the contents are held in place with a foam liner. The empty slot would contain the CR123 holder, but in this case this demonstration light had a set of cells fitted into the light when it arrived.

Included are the M3XS-UT, an extender tube, holster, two O-rings and the instructions. (the CR123 cell holder is already in the light here).

Out of necessity, the M3XS-UT has an open bottom holster.

You have the choice of D-ring or Velcro-closed belt loop.

This is why there is an open bottom in the holster.

This holster can be used with or without the extension tube.

The M3SX-UT has a removable grip ring.

Instead of standard knurling a very effective pattern is machined into the body.

In addition to the tail-cap switch, there is a side-switch for mode selection.

Either side of the side-switch are heat sink fins.

The switch boot is wider than most and the tail-cap has four small raised lugs which allow it to tail-stand (though not very stable).

Looking into the tail-cap, the negative terminal is clearly visible, but the contact for the battery tube is only seen as small glimpses. This is due to the design not using a contact point on the end of the tube, but instead fitting into the cone shaped inner edge.

Removing the battery tube completely shows the positive contact in the head as well as the circular battery tube contact.

For the tail-cap end of the battery tube, the threads are a square-cut.

At the head end of the batter tube, the threads are standard and two O-rings are used.

There is just a tiny hint of texturing in the large reflector, and at its heart, a fully exposed XP-L HI LED.

A closer view of the bare phosphor of the XP-L HI.

Making comparison to the M2X-UT (using 1×18650), this larger version is clearly longer from the lens to the battery tube due to the inclusion of the side switch and larger heat sink. The non-extended battery tube is also 3xCR123 in length.

Comparing again with the extension tube fitted.

Taking the M3X-UT at its smallest size, it runs on 3xCR123 and has a cell holder to stop any rattle.

Stepping up to the full length M3XS-UT it runs on 2×18650 or 4xCR123.

To get the most runtime out of the M3XS-UT use it with the extension tube fitted.

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!

Starting indoors, it is immediately obvious we have a super-high intensity hotspot. In fact what you can see in this photograph is the effect of the hotspot being of such high brightness it is acting as a significant source of light. The edge of the spill is easy to see, but the whole scene is lit behind the spill edge due to the hotspot’s light bouncing back.

Outdoors the hotspot burns out the centre of the image.

To really appreciate the full power of the M3XS-UT we need a little more range. How about a driving range?

The beam is aimed at a set of four distance markers behind a circular net. The closest marker is 100 yards, with the others set 50 yards apart going up to the furthest at 250 yards.

The beam lights well beyond the markers.

Modes and User Interface:

There are four constant output modes, High, Medium, Low and Moonlight as well as a Strobe mode.

Access to these is via a series of clicks of the forward-click tail-cap switch combined with the side switch.

Turning the M3XS-UT ON with the tail-cap switch, the steady modes are cycled through using the side switch Low -> Medium -> High -> Low etc. The selected mode is memorised for the next time the tail-cap switch is used.

While ON, pressing and holding the side switch turns the output to Strobe.

From OFF, half-pressing or fully pressing the tail-cap switch activates the memorised output level.
From OFF, a rapid double tap of the tail-cap switch activates High. This is not memorised.
From OFF, a rapid triple tap of the tail-cap switch activates Strobe. This is not memorised.
From OFF, holding the side switch while activating the tail-cap switch turns the output to Moonlight. This is not memorised.

Batteries and output:

The Olight M3XS-UT runs on 3/4x CR123 or 2×18650.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Olight M3XS-UT Javelot using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High using 3x Olight CR123 cells 1243 0
Medium using 3x Olight CR123 cells 678 0
Low using 3x Olight CR123 cells 118 0
High using 2x Olight 18650 cells 1234 0
Medium using 2x Olight 18650 cells 666 0
Low using 2x Olight 18650 cells 116 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity measured 249000lx @1m giving a beam range of 998m.

There is no parasitic drain.

After 8 minutes on High (using either CR123 or 18650) the output makes a controlled reduction to 832lm which is then maintained as a regulated output for as long as the cells can manage.

Running on 2×18650 you have a huge difference in total runtime with the CR123s running into the ANSI cutoff at 35 minutes from turn on, but the 2×18650 (and only 2600mAh cells) gives you up to 1h51m at which point the protection cuts in and the output goes off.

The regulation used in the M3XS-UT means that you get little or no warning of the output cutting out. On 18650 the protection activates, and with CR123 the output plummets once the cells are depleted.

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 M3XS-UT Javelot in use

This light is an out-and-out throw monster. Unless the extra 3.5cm is a deal breaker, you will want to use the extension tube for the massive increase in run time and guilt-free rechargeable lumens.

At short ranges the M3XS-UT is too tight a beam for comfortable use. It is great for ceiling bounce, but not when directed towards whatever you are looking at. Of course if you are peering into a deep space, the tight beam works wonders, but for general use this extreme-thrower is not the right choice. What you want this light for is its throw and lightsaber like beam.

Due to the intensity of the beam, if you hold it too near to your line of vision the beam itself can obscure your view of what you are shining it at. It is best to hold the light away from your head to allow you to see further. This varies with atmospheric conditions being far more noticeable when the air is moisture laden.

Compared to the smaller M2X-UT (which has very impressive performance – see my review of the M2X-UT for more details), the M3XS-UT steps things up. At 182800 lux@1m the M2X-UT has a beam range of 855m, but with the M3SX-UT this is raised to 249000 lux@1m and a beam range of 998m. A significant jump in beam intensity from the same diameter reflector.

If you are using the momentary output to flash a signal, it is quite easy to activate strobe, and I’d much prefer there to be no strobe at all. In an extreme-range searchlight I see no point in strobe.

Much better is the partly hidden Moonlight mode. In practical terms, due to the highly focussed beam, Moonlight mode is not terribly useful. All you end up seeing is a small bright circle with very dim spill round it. Better than nothing, but this is not a close-range light even with moonlight mode. If only strobe were hidden in this way, then you could easily avoid it.

Handling with the extension fitted is really good. Though the grip ring is now further from the switch, it simply sits between your middle and ring finger, or ring finger and little finger, and gives you plenty of security. I particularly like the machined grip pattern on the battery tube. It is not as abrasive as knurling, but the knobbles give great hold without acting like sandpaper.

The lux figures speak for themselves, and yet the M3XS-UT is not overly large, so you get fantastic throw in a still relatively compact and easy to handle light.

It may not be an all-rounder, but that is not what this light is all about – give it some range and the M3XS-UT truly sings.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Super throw with 249000 lux @1m – 998m beam range Strobe too easily activated
1200lm output Not suited to short range use
Included extension tube allows for longer runtimes Regulated output results in shutdown with little warning
Holster accommodates extension tube
Bare XP-L HI LED used for highest lux
Relatively compact for its performance