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)

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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 Valkyrie PL-1 II Pistol Light

The PL-1 II is Olight’s refined and upgraded version of the original PL-1 weapon light. After a year of development Olight have dramatically increased the strength of the mounting mechanism which they claim will NEVER become loose or fall off of any firearm that has a rail.

Taking a more detailed look:

The PL-1 II Arrives in a cardboard box.

Inside the box is the PL-1 II, the instructions, a CR123 cell, a Torx wrench, and a 1913 rail key. The PL-1 II arrives with a Glock rail key already fitted.

Being a pistol/gun light, the PL-1 II is a (mostly) snag free shape with a rail mount on the top. This side has the rail lock lever.

On the other side the rail clamp jaw is fixed.

Rotating the lever 180 degrees to the front opens the rail clamp.

Already fitted is the GL (Glock) universal rail key. You can use this on just about any rail, but if you want the 1913 rail key for a more secure fit, this is supplied and is easily swapped out.

Rotate the locking lever 180 degrees to the rear to lock the clamp jaws in place.

Limited by the size of the light, the reflector needs to focus the beam sufficiently for the ranges you are likely to need.

A Cree XP-L LED is used.

To insert the CR123 cell, unscrew the lens bezel to remove the LED / reflector assembly.

The threads are a nice square cut, bare aluminium, thread.

Robust solid metal contacts are used to connect to the cell positive terminal and to the body contact. These will not scratch off or wear out due to recoil forces.

Inside the light the negative contact is a spring. Also note that surrounding the spring is a rubber buffer pad.

A cell is inserted with the head ready to screw back in.

Here the PL-1 II is mounted on a 1911 training gun (to most obviously show the PL-1 II).

The switches are positioned just in front of the trigger guard, one on each side.

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!

There will be more beamshots in the ‘In Use’ section, but here we can see a nice wide and bright hotspot with good width spill.

Modes and User Interface:

Control of the PL-1 II is intentionally very simple. There are three ‘modes’, Constant ON, Momentary ON and Strobe. There are two switches, one on each side.

To turn the PL-1 II ON, briefly press either side switch. To turn OFF, briefly press either side switch.

To turn the PL-1 II ON Momentarily, press and hold either side switch. While you hold the switch the light will remain ON, and will switch off again when you release the switch (as long as the press is at least approx. 0.2s or longer).

For Strobe, press both side switches at the same time. To switch OFF briefly press either side switch.

Batteries and output:

The PL-1 II runs on one 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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
PL-1 II using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High – CR123 387 0

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

There is parasitic drain but is incredibly low. When using CR123, the drain was 0.2uA (798 years to drain the cells) making it negligible as the cell will degrade long before it is run down.

You get a solid 30 minutes of good runtime, and a further 15 minutes where the output is still strong, before the output starts to really decline. Considering you won’t be using this light as a general light (as you only want to point this at potential targets) and won’t have it on all the time, this balance of output and runtime is a good match for how it will be used.

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 PL-1 II in use

Crucial for any truly ‘tactical’ light (and a pistol light really is the definition of a tactical light) is that it is easy to use. In stressful situations you won’t be ‘thinking’ about how to use something, it must be instinctive.

Here the PL-1 II excels as the user interface is so simple you will be using it right out of the box. The only thing I found out from the instructions was how to activate the strobe. Regular readers will know I don’t have much time for strobe, so I wasn’t looking for it anyway.

It is important to stress that during testing, no part of the PL-1 II shook loose, but I must point out that compared to other similar products, the toolless mount, and screw-in head used in this light have the potential to work loose or be caught on something (in fact my laptop bears the scar of the PL-1 II coming off the gun due to the locking lever catching). This is a very small likelihood, but as other gun lights require tools to tighten the mounts, and won’t open the battery compartment unless removed from the rail, you need to consider both sides of the argument for quick release. Of course, with a toolless mount, you can easily take the PL-1 II on and off the gun (if your holster won’t accommodate a gun light) and you can change the battery while it is still mounted (though I would not recommend it, considering the easy of dismounting this).

The PL-1 II sits very naturally under the frame in front of the trigger guard.

If your hands are big enough, you can activate the switch with your trigger finger, so not requiring a two handed grip to switch the light on. (Clearly not how you would use it in momentary output).

Now, moving onto the sight picture you get with the PL-1 II. Nicely aligned, the sights fall centrally to the hotspot, making pointing extremely natural.

Maintaining your sight alignment and tracking for targets is easy, and at shorter ranges you can use the hotspot as a broad ‘laser sight’ so even if not fully behind your sights the hotspot provides a good guide to the shot placement. These images really speak for themselves.

There is no significant change in balance in the gun as the PL-1 II is light enough at 95g not to weigh down the muzzle.

Overall the PL-1 II gives you and affordable, simple and apparently robust option for a rail mounted pistol/gun light.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Simple to use. The mount’s locking lever could catching on something releasing the rail clamp.
Robust build.
Good beam profile.
Fully ambidextrous.
Inexpensive compared to other options.
Easily mounted and removed.
Runs on a CR123.

 

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 P5x Series with ‘Dual-Light’ LED Swapping Mechanism

Multi-LED lights have always had to compromise the main beam by using multiple smaller reflectors or combined ‘compound’ reflectors, both of which affect the beam considerably and create many beam artifacts. With such powerful LEDs to choose from now, it has become more desirable to make the humble torch/flashlight more versatile by giving it more options. Nextorch have re-thought the concept of multi-LEDs, and designed a ‘Dual-Light’ system that allows the user to actually swap the primary LED that is positioned at the focal point of the reflector, so fully maintaining beam quality. The P5x series of lights (part of the ‘Police’ Series) use a special mechanism that changes the active LED and moves that LED to the centre of the reflector, ensuring the beam quality is uncompromised and giving you two beam options in one light.

Taking a more detailed look:

A few different versions of the P5x were provided, and they had slightly different packaging. The box at the front shows the six variants you can choose from; P5G, P5B, P5R, P5W, P5 UV and P5 IR.

For one of the box styles, this is the inside.

The other box style has a moulded plastic tray insert.

Either way, you get the P5x a Nextorch 18650, a USB charging cable, a lanyard and the instructions.

The LED changing mechanism and built-in USB charging blend into the simple, elegant design.

A flattened section of the grip texture provides a space for the engraving.

If you want to add a lanyard to the P5x, you need to snap on the lanyard ring.

The lanyard ring sits tightly into a groove near the tail-cap.

A sleek tail-cap design hides the USB charging very well.

The power switch protrudes slightly and is easily accessible, however no tail-standing is possible.

If it were not for the small engraving of the USB symbol and an arrow, you might miss the charging function.

Following the arrow, simply pull the tail-cap sleeve up and turn it sideways to lock it open.

A micro-USB socket is used for the charging.

USB charging cable connected.

Opposite the USB socket is a charging indicator light. Red while charging, Green when fully charged.

Taking off the tailcap, the negative contact is a sprung button instead of an exposed spring.

The threads are a standard trapezoidal thread and are bare aluminium.

Peering into the battery tube, the positive terminal is a spring.

Looking closely at the head of the P5x, there is an indicator arrow. Here the White LED is selected.

And now the Green LED is selected.

Our first close-up look at the textured reflector and dual LEDs. The white LED is in the central position.

Now the green LED is centred and active.

With the White LED on.

Then the Green LED on.

White LED centred in the reflector. (Note the yellow phosphor colour.)

Green LED centred in the reflector.

Going in even closer with the XP-L V5 LED in the central position and the green XP-E2 LED to the side.

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!

Each P5 light features a white LED (XP-L V5), so I’m only showing one of these as they all look the same. With this being a dual-LED light, the beam is very clean without the artifacts you might expect from a multi-LED light. The spill is a medium width and the hotspot transitioning smoothly into the even spill.
All of the beamshots shown here have the same exposure for all beam variations.

Now onto the interesting secondary-LED options. The Warm LED is quite warm (XP-E2 Warm), in fact it is reminiscent of a good old incan but without the curly filament artifacts. The camera is set to daylight for all beamshots to show the relative colour shift. As with the white beam, the Warm beam is clean and free of artifacts.

Similarly with the green (XP-E2 Red), a nice clean beam.

Being UV (1000mW UV), this beamshot is not a very good representation as there is no fluorescent material in the beam; it makes it look very dark.

An lastly the Red LED (XP-E2 Red). The spill of this beam is slightly wider than the other colours.

Moving outdoors now. Again all exposures are the same. Starting with white.

Onto Warm White.

Green.

Clearly UV is not ideal for lighting up your garden, but that is not why you use it. You can see that there is a good throw, despite the lack of fluorescent materials.

And lastly Red. In this case it was a different evening and there was a light rain which is why the beam is showing up more strongly.

Modes and User Interface:

All of the P5x models have the same simple set of modes and user interface.

Control is via the forward clicky tail-cap switch, and there are two constant modes, High and Low as well as Strobe and SOS. Of course with the Dual-LED, this is the same for each LED.

To Switch ON to High, from OFF, half-press or fully press the switch. Momentary action is always on High.
To access the Low mode, from ON with the switch clicked fully on, half-press the switch briefly to access Low. Low can only be accessed from High with the switch clicked ON.

To switch OFF, either release the switch, if only half-pressing it, or press it fully to click it off.

For Strobe, rapidly double-tap the switch from OFF. This must be half-presses, and once Strobe is activated, you can fully click the switch to lock it on.

For SOS, first the P5x must be ON with the switch fully clicked. It can be in High or Low. Then half-press the switch for 3s and SOS will start.

LED swapping is via the control ring at the base of the head. Rotate this to select the LED. You can do this at any time, whatever mode is selected.

Batteries and output:

The P5x runs on a single 18650, which it can recharge, or two primary CR123s.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Nextorch P5x using supplied cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
P5W White High 722 0
P5W White Low 51 0
P5W Warm High 365 0
P5W Warm Low 41 0
P5G White High 710 0
P5G White Low 50 0
P5G Green High 163 0
P5G Green Low 31 0
P5UV White High 695 0
P5UV White Low 46 0
P5UV UV High 39 0
P5UV UV Low 5 0
P5R White High 707 0
P5R White Low 41 0
P5R Red High 257 0
P5R Red Low 38 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 of the measured 16400 lx @1m giving a beam range of 256 m.

There is parasitic drain at 11uA (27 years to drain the cells).

In this first runtime graph there is also a trace from the green output of the P5G. Compared to the white output, this is longer and lower so is included here to give an indication of the reduced efficiency of the coloured LED.

In the second graph the green output has been removed to better show the white outputs. Instead look at the White output from the P5UV and the Warm output from the P5W. Again the cool white LED is more efficient and provides a longer runtime. The Warm White keeps up with the Cool white up to about 2 hours, then drops off with the Cool white running for another couple of hours.

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 P5x series in use

I first saw the Nextorch Dual-Light mechanism at IWA 2016 and immediately loved the idea. I asked them if they could add a third LED – yet to be seen – and the reply was ‘maybe’; we can live in hope.

Having used many multi-LED lights with different colours in them, though useful, the beams of the secondary LEDs were always badly compromised, and even the main beam was compromised. The Dual-Light is a revelation with the main LED effectively being swapped with a twist of the selector ring – you don’t even need to turn it off.

A trio of dual-lights getting ready to go.

We have had a detailed look over the P5x lights already, but to really show the mechanism, this is a short video of the way it works.

Although it has the LED swapping function, Nextorch have made the P5x a simple and functional light without any external frills. The LED control ring has slightly raised grips which provide a degree of anti-roll, at least enough for relatively level surfaces. There may not be a ‘tactical grip ring’ but the slightly wider tail-cap is enough to let your grip the light securely, and the grip pattern works well (it is not knurling, as the pattern is cut, not rolled).

Fitting the lanyard ring also gives a little more grip (plus you can have a lanyard), but in doing so, I managed to scratch the anodising both fitting and removing the ring, so if you are going to use it, fit it once and leave it on.

Of course it is very convenient to have built-in USB charging, especially if you travel with the light. What would have been useful is to have some indication of the state of charge. There is none, so it is difficult to know if you need a charge or not. Unfortunately this leads to regular topping-up rather than a more planned approach to charging.

Though limited to two output levels (and I generally prefer a few more options including ultra-low) those levels are well chosen for most uses. The lower level at around 40lm is great for indoor use and is perfectly comfortable to use at close range, and the 700lm High level is a good powerful output which a single 18650 can power without being over-burdened.

In the case of Nextorch’s Dual-Light P5x models, the ‘secondary’ LED is actually not secondary at all, instead you have two ‘primary’ LEDs both of which have full and uncompromised use of the reflector, making them as good as dedicated lights using the same LEDs. Your only difficult choice now is which combination of LEDs to go for.

Check out the Nextorch P5x lights on the Nextorch Website here.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Two Primary LEDs with Dual-Light mechanism to swap between them. No charge level indication.
Uncompromised beam for both LEDs. Limited choice of levels.
Built-in USB charging. No direct access to Low level.
Simple interface. Lanyard ring causes scratches when fitted.
Full kit supplied – Light, battery, cable.
You can swap the LEDs while the P5x is ON.

 

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 Preview-Review: Jetbeam TH20 Prototype

In this special preview review of Jetbeam’s new TH20 we take a look at a prototype of this super powered single 18650 Tactical Hit Series light. Featuring an extreme output XHP70.2 LED, over 3000lm peak output capability, a new triple-switch tail-cap, a dedicated high current ICR cell, but full compatibility with all standard 18650 cells (flat or button top) as well as CR123 cells, this light has a lot to be interested in.

UPDATE – New Tail-Cap and Reflector Swap – Included at the end of the review.

Taking a more detailed look:

Though it was supplied in a Jetbeam box, as this is a prototype, the TH20 packaging is not finalised, so I’m not showing it here. It may be a single 18650 light, but with such high output ratings, the light is somewhat chunkier than most lights in this class

In this case the TH20 was supplied with an open bottom holster, offering only head-up carry. The holster has a D-loop, and both fixed and Velcro closing belt loops.

The ‘TH’ model prefix comes from being part of the Jetbeam Tactical Hit series of lights.

On this prototype it also has the Niteye branding engraved. I don’t believe this will be included on the final production version.

Apart from the huge output, one of the TH20’s special design features is the triple switch tail-cap. Surrounding the central forward-clicky tactical switch is a rocking paddle-switch which activates when pressed on either side. This gives quick and immediate access to the secondary function whichever way round you are holding the TH20.

Two posts protect the main switch from accidental activation and to a degree protect the paddle-switch; they also hold the pivot pins for the paddle-switch. Note that as this is a prototype you can see the pivot pin protruding slightly which it would not on a production model.

A set of cooling find surround the base of the head where the LED mounting board is located.

Inside the tail-cap shows there are several things going on. The negative contact is a double spring with one sitting within the other. As well as the bare threads that make up a connection, there are a set of contacts around the circuit board. Since this prototype was made, the design has been updated.

Square threads are used which are bare aluminium as they form one of the electrical contacts.

To enable the triple-switch tail-cap design to work, there are extra contacts in the tail-cap, and in turn this needs there to be an additional tube fitted within the body of the TH20 allowing this extra connection to be made from the head to the tail-cap. This design feature is the reason I’ve not been able to measure operating current and parasitic drain for this light.

In this sample, the XHP70.2 LED sits in a textured reflector.

That XHP70.2 LED is a bit of a monster, and is classified by CREE as an ‘Extreme High Power 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!

With such a large LED, and a relatively small head (being a single 18650 light) with textured reflector, the TH20 could have been all flood, which, though no bad thing, might be a waste of such a powerful output. However, the TH20 is not all flood, instead you have a well balanced beam with smoothly transitioning hotspot and uniform spill of a reasonable width.

Increase the range, and the hotspot blends even more and you have a super area-light with nothing given a chance to hide in the bright beam.

Modes and User Interface:

The Jetbeam TH20 has four fixed output modes (Turbo, High, Middle, Low) as well as Strobe, however, the output level of the Turbo and Strobe modes depends on if the TH20 is set to High-rate or Low-rate mode.

The TH20 has a special triple switch tail-cap with central forward-click button and a pivoting paddle-switch which provides a button either side of the main click-switch.

As the TH20 is able to work properly with either the special high-discharge cell it is supplied with, or any standard 18650 cell (or even 2xCR123), the design incorporates two output levels for Turbo and Strobe (High-rate or Low-rate). This is set after a new cell is inserted into the TH20.

By default, the action of removing and replacing the cell resets the TH20 to Low-rate mode (and Turbo output). To activate High-rate for Turbo and Strobe, switch ON the TH20 by fully clicking the main switch, then rapidly triple-click either side of the paddle-switch. The output will briefly turn off then on again to indicate it has changed to High-rate output. It will do this whatever output level you are currently using, even Low, but you have prepared the TH20 for High-rate output when using Turbo and Strobe.

To turn onto the last-used constant output mode, either half-press (for momentary use) or fully press-and-click the main switch. To cycle through the output levels Turbo -> High -> Medium -> Low -> Turbo etc, briefly press the paddle-switch.

To access Strobe from OFF, press and hold either side of the paddle-switch. If you hold for less than one second the output is momentary, but if you hold the paddle-switch for more than one second the Strobe will stay on. To turn OFF, either tap the paddle-switch again, or turn the main switch on to activate a constant mode.

To access Strobe from ON, press and hold the paddle-switch and after one second Strobe will start, and stay on for as long as you hold the paddle-switch.

Batteries and output:

The TH20 runs on the supplied specialised high current ICR 4.2V 18650 cell, and when using this cell can be set to run in High-rate output mode. Of course if it could only run on this special cell it would make it a bit limited, so Jetbeam have made the TH20 fully functional using any standard 18650 cell or 2x CR123 cells, but on a ‘low-rate’ Turbo/Strobe output.

The TH20 can use button-top or flat-top cells.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Jetbeam TH20 using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo-High – Supplied HR Cell 2895 0
Turbo-High Steady state during runtime – Supplied HR Cell 1046 0
High – Supplied HR Cell 575 0
Medium – Supplied HR Cell 108 0
Low – Supplied HR Cell 14 0
Turbo-Low – AW 18650 or Supplied HR Cell 1561 0
Turbo-Low – CR123 1046 0

It was not possible to measure parasitic drain due to the double wall battery tube design.

There are several graphs to look at for the TH20 as it provides us with a lot of interesting information. In this first graph are four main power options and their output profiles. These are the High-Rate 18650 supplied with the TH20, a standard 18650 cell (an AW 3100mAh), a 20A IMR 18650 (Efest) and CR123. The CR123 is clearly a backup option only and struggles on the Turbo output. What is pleasing to see, and makes the TH20 very attractive, is that the 20A IMR is really not far behind the specialist cell Jetbeam provide. This means you can easily feed the TH20 with readily available cells.

Looking in at the first part of the graph you can see more easily how the HR and IMR cells run on the High-rate output, and the 18650 and CR123 run on the low-rate output. The CR123s don’t manage any form of ‘burst’ output for Turbo.

To really see what the TH20 can do, in the next test I pushed it to the max by switching it off and on again to reset the Turbo output every time it ramped down – this was to push it as hard as possible. The test was carried out with a strong cooling fan and during this test the highest recorded temperature anywhere on the TH20 was 47C.

Expanding the first part of the graph where the TH20 is working really hard, shows that with a fully charged cell the TH20 can manage three full output bursts, before the bursts start to reduce. After 8 full bursts, the output then drops to under 2000lm, but is still well over 1500lm.

In this last graph I’ve included a direct competitor for the TH20, the NITECORE TM03. The measurements were taken at the same time in the same conditions using the cells supplied by the manufacturers, so is the closest comparison I can make. It is however not the full story. The TM03 is much more dependant on the specialist cell whereas the TH20 is much more compatible and runs very well on an IMR. Also note that though the TM03’s initial burst is longer, the output drops much more, so the TH20 maintains a brighter running level.

Troubleshooting

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

Being a prototype troubleshooting is not that relevant, however just to mention that the original prototype tail-cap design shown has been changed and improved during this preview testing process.

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 TH20 in use

Extreme output lights have their limitations, and you need to understand these to get the most out of yours. One of those limitations is that you will only get those magical monster output figures from fully charged batteries. Once you get down to 80% cell charge or less and those outputs are drooping severely. So how practical are they?

There are several things about the TH20 that for me make it a great deal more practical than some of the other options. The first of these is its support of various power options, from the high-rate special 18650 cell shipped with it, to the ever reliable CR123 which you can use as a backup. Then, to accommodate this feature, Jetbeam have taken a very clever approach of having the TH20 run in two modes, either high-rate or low-rate, for the Turbo and Strobe outputs. If you know the battery you are using can take it, you can switch to high-rate and get that extreme output, but if not, you can leave it in low-rate and run the TH20 in a more typical (but still bright) single 18650 output.

To make this as simple to live with as possible, the TH20 defaults to the low-rate mode whenever the tail-cap is fully removed (as you do when chancing the cell), so you never need to worry about being in the wrong output mode. Should you want to use high-rate output, then turn it on, triple tap that paddle-switch and off you go. If you switch the TH20 into High-rate with a protected 18650 that cannot deal with the current, you will find a very effective way of testing the protection circuit (it will trip).

In true terms, for LEO and Military ‘tactical’ use, a switch needs to be as simple as is can be. In times of high stress you won’t be thinking about modes, or where your thumb is, or where a switch is; you want to hit a big button and have the light come on. Multi-switch, multi-mode lights will, I think, always be more appropriate for enthusiasts or home/self defence users than the professional, but I’ll let you make you own mind up on that.

Having said that, I do think this is one of the best multi-function tactical tail switches I’ve used. Starting with the relationship between the switch and the raised posts either side of it, there is a good amount of protection from accidental activation, yet still plenty of access to the switch, even if you have to go over the top of those posts to press the switch.

The secondary switches both perform the same function so it doesn’t matter which one you hit. Interestingly your thumb most naturally falls onto the main power switch without hitting these secondary switches and you need to positively move your thumb to press them, which is further helped by their rounded edges. To be clear, this is a good thing, as accidentally blasting yourself with over 3000lm of strobe is NOT a good thing, and changing modes when you didn’t want to is also bad. The combination of easy to reach, whichever way round you hold the TH20, and difficult to press by mistake, makes the TH20’s additional switches on the tail-cap a well implemented feature.

Beware that whenever you change the battery or remove the tail-cap, the TH20 will reset to Turbo output. I’ve found this a little frustrating as I’d definitely prefer to start on Low and work my way up, especially if trying to conserve power. However it could be argued that in a ‘tactical’ situation, that after changing the battery you might want to go straight to maximum output.

Another aspect I was not so keen on was the order of the modes. I prefer to change up through modes, starting low and working up in brightness. The TH20 starts high and works down, so taking the default of a new battery being fitted, you are on Turbo, and then have to go to High, Medium, then Low (and then back to Turbo). Again, as with the previous point, in a ‘tactical’ situation, it is preferable that if the mode switch is accidentally pressed, instead of going from Turbo to Low, you go from Turbo to High, still leaving you with lots of light; so being a ‘Tactical Hit Series’ light the design choice makes sense.

Of course, the TH20 is bigger and heavier than most single 18650 lights, but that is because it houses an extreme output LED and the circuitry needed to drive it, giving you the ability to output bursts of over 3000lm. The TH20 is a heavy-duty single 18650 light that, thanks to that extra mass and solid build, even during the stress test (where the it was run at a constant maximum output by resetting every 60s), did not heat up excessively, nor suffer from thermal output throttling.

By using the easily available 18650 for power but staying away from proprietary cells, Jetbeam have really done us a favour and made the light much more useful, versatile and future-proof.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Extreme brightness output from one 18650. Does not appear to quite reach specified output.
High and Low rate outputs to suit the cell being used. Resets to Turbo Output when changing the battery.
Monster XHP70.2 LED. Open bottom holster exposes the switches.
Functional Triple-switch tail-cap.
Compatible with any standard button-top or flat-top 18650 cell.
Can use CR123 cells.

UPDATE – New Tail-Cap and Reflector Swap:

This update includes a few details not available when the review was originally posted. The tail-cap design has been updated and there are two reflector options. With my preference for (OP) textured reflectors, I’ve swapped the reflector in the newer higher output sample.

Starting with the prototype, the bezel ring is unscrewed and the lens, o-ring and reflector are easily taken out. If you do this make sure you don’t touch the inside of the reflector.

The lens is a good thickness, being nearly 3mm thick.

There is a groove around the reflector for the o-ring to sit in.

Here are the OP and SMO reflectors.

Before putting things back together, a quick look at the brass pill with LED and mounting board.

Although the initial prototype will be shelved, it has the SMO reflector fitted to show both options.

Lastly, we have the updated contacts inside the tail-cap. To save lots of scrolling back up, first here is the prototype tail-cap.

Then we have the updated version.

 

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: FOURSEVENS Preon P1 Copper Limited Edition

FOURSEVENS’ Preons have been very popular and well regarded AAA powered EDC lights. After their latest reboot (previously reviewed), this is the special edition solid copper version. Grab one while you can here and don’t miss out on the copper goodness.

Taking a more detailed look:

Unlike the standard edition Preons, the Copper version does not come in a clear plastic box, instead it comes in a presentation cardboard box.

The contents are nicely laid out.

Included are the Copper Preon P1 (in a protective plastic case), a Duracell AAA cell, and the instructions. That plastic protector is to ensure that the Copper P1 arrives while still a Copper colour. The patina and darkening can then develop over time as you use it.

The Copper Preon is exactly the same in design, dimensions and machining as the standard P1, just made of solid Copper instead of aluminium.

Every part that was aluminium in the standard version is Copper, including the switch button cap.

Taking a closer look at the bare Copper machined surface.

With the small reflector and XP-L LED, the Preon P1 is set for an excellent EDC beam.

The XP-L LED and textured reflector.

With the head removed (for inserting the battery) the contacts can be seen.

The threads are standard and cleanly cut.

Shining another Preon down the battery tube allows us to see the negative spring contact.

FOURSEVEN’s logo is engraved on the switch button cap.

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 with the P1, it has plenty of power for your close range EDC needs, with a nice wide, soft, hotspot and wide spill.

At outdoor ranges the Preon struggles as it is only a single AAA powered light and has a flood orientated beam. These exposures are long to show anything. The P1 doesn’t have much impact.

Modes and User Interface:

Just as with both the standard Preon P1 and P2, the special edition Copper P1 operates in the same way with a forward-clicky switch.
In total, there are 7 output modes which can be used – Low, Medium, High, Strobe, SOS, Beacon (high), Beacon (low).

To fine tune the Preon to your needs, you can set one of 5 possible ‘Configurations’ which have only certain modes available:
Configuration 1: High
Configuration 2: Previous, High, Low
Configuration 3: Previous, High, Strobe
Configuration 4: Previous, Low, Medium, High, Strobe
Configuration 5: Previous, Low, Medium, High, Strobe, SOS, Beacon (high), Beacon (low)

By default, configuration 2 is set. To change configuration, rapidly press the switch 10 times within 2s, holding or clicking the tenth press.
At this point the Preon will flash 1 to 5 times to indicate the selected configuration.
Quickly turn the Preon OFF and ON again to move to the next configuration, and repeat until you have the desired configuration. To memorise the setting, turn the Preon OFF for 5 seconds.

The Preon has a memory of the last mode used. This is relevant only on Configurations 2, 3, 4 and 5.
To change to the next mode in the chosen configuration, turn the Preon OFF and ON again within one second.
As shown in the Configuration list above, when you first turn the Preon ON, you get the ‘previously used’ output mode. When you then change mode, you jump to the start of the set of modes for that Configuration.
For example, if you are set to Configuration 5 and previously used Strobe, when you first turn the Preon ON you get Strobe, and when changing modes the next mode becomes Low, Medium… (In this example you do not go to SOS as the next mode).

Batteries and output:

The Preon P1 runs on AAA 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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Preon P1 Cu using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High 97 1000
Medium 50 1000
Low 7 1000

* 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 200 lx @1m giving a beam range of 28 m.

There is no parasitic drain.

The Preon P1 Cu exhibits the FOURSEVENS ‘Burst Mode’ behaviour. When on maximum output the first three minutes are at a higher output before dropping to a slightly lower level for the remainder of the runtime.

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 FOURSEVENS Preon P1 Copper in use

If you have read my other Preon review, then this will be mostly the same as the light is the FOURSEVENS Preon, just in a lovely raw Copper. I’m including the impressions of the current Preon as they are just as relevant to this special edition as the standard ones.

When compared to the previous generation Preons, these new versions are slightly chunkier, and initially I was not entirely convinced, as the point of an AAA light is to be very small. But then I remembered that as much as I love the older Preons they were always a bit slippery. The smooth body wanting to slide around and not giving much of a grip.

With the new Preons having a grip pattern over the entire length of the light, no longer do you get this slippery feeling. One further observation though, is that these grooves tend to pick up pocket fluff nicely, which does somewhat spoil the look.

Personally I preferred the previous UI where it had no memory, but for some a memory is a requirement as you can pre-select the output you generally use. However, as the memory only affects the mode at switch-on, after which the mode selection goes to the first of the modes in the current Configuration, it only takes one mode change to return to Low.

Unfortunately another aspect has changed in the new version, PWM is rearing its head. The previous Preons had PWM but at 2500Hz and was not noticeable to the naked eye; the new version has PWM at 1000Hz. On High and Medium this has not really been visible, but on Low, I do catch the strobing effect out of the corner of my eye. A minor irritation and not what I would expect of FOURSEVENS. It slightly takes the edge off what could be a great update to this well loved series.

It used to be more common for smaller EDC lights to go with a reverse-clicky switch, but as in earlier versions, the Preon does use a forward-clicky and gives you that immediate response to pressure on the switch.

A great feature that has been added to the Preons is the user-changeable configuration that allows you to limit which output modes can be selected. You don’t get to choose which modes are included in a ‘configuration’ but you can choose one of the five available ‘configurations’ to best suit your needs. This user configuration has great potential and I hope FOURSEVENS expand the number of configurations that can be chosen from.

With the small power source of AAA, the added efficiency of the XP-L (though only around 9%) makes a difference. Thanks to the XP-L having an XM-L2 size die in a smaller package, it is compact enough to be fitted into the Preon’s head and provide a great EDC beam.

The new Preon doesn’t just have a new body design, it has user-configuration and an XP-L LED, and in this special edition version you have a solid Copper body that with age and develop it own unique and attractive patina.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
It’s Solid Copper. PWM at 1000Hz giving some strobe effects on low.
XP-L LED in a truly pocket-sized light. Copper marks easily and tarnishes.
User configurable. Copper is heavier.
Great EDC beam.

 

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.

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Light Review: FOURSEVENS Quark Click QK2A-X (2xAA)

The original Quark models from FOURSEVENS redefined what a light could be, but with redesign forced upon them, FOURSEVENS had to re-imagine the Quark, and the Quark Click was born. This review is of the QK2A-X model (2AA)

 photo 05 Quark Click engraving P1240116.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

FOURSEVENS packaging presents the Quark Click so you can get an all round view.
 photo 01 Quark Click boxed P1240094.jpg

Supplied with the QK2A-X is a holster, hand-grip, lanyard, spare O-rings and 2x AA Alkaline cells.
 photo 02 Quark Click unboxed P1240099.jpg

If you already know the Quark holsters, this is the same as all the others I have. The front/back are semi rigid with elasticated sides.
 photo 03 Quark Click holstered P1240107.jpg

On the back is a D-loop and fixed webbing loop.
 photo 04 Quark Click holstered P1240110.jpg

The Quark range have removable steel pocket clips.
 photo 06 Quark Click clip P1240122.jpg

As standard, the Quark Click comes with the ‘Tactical’ forward-clicky switch.
 photo 07 Quark Click rear P1240125.jpg

Being a ‘Tactical’ switch the button protrudes for easy access, so no tail-standing for this one.
 photo 08 Quark Click button P1240128.jpg

The FOURSEVENS logo is laser engraved on the head.
 photo 09 Quark Click engraving logo P1240129.jpg

At the base of the compact textured reflector is a XM-L2 LED.
 photo 10 Quark Click reflector P1240138.jpg

Thanks to the design including a location guide surrounding the LED, the LED is very well aligned with the reflector.
 photo 12 Quark Click LED P1240135.jpg

Taking the head off, and you can see the contacts inside it. These include physical reverse polarity protection.
 photo 11 Quark Click contacts P1240141.jpg

The threads are square and bare metal. They arrive well lubricated.
 photo 13 Quark Click threads P1240146.jpg

Inside the tailcap is a strong spring contact for the negative connection. Due to the use of bare metal threads, the Quark Click cannot be locked-out by unscrewing the tail-cap slightly – instead you must unscrew the head of the Quark Click half a turn.
 photo 14 Quark Click tail contacts P1240150.jpg

And here we have one of the Quarks’ historical features, its lego-ability (change the head, or battery tube, or switch). In this case, simply use a 1xAA long battery tube and this Quark can now use 1xAA or 1×14500 as well as the original 2xAA.
 photo 15 Quark Click 1AA P1240154.jpg

So this is the Quark Click QK2A-X next to 2xAA cells for size reference.
 photo 16 Quark Click size 2AA P1240161.jpg

The same head and switch now on a 1xAA battery tube next to1xAA for size reference.
 photo 17 Quark Click size 1AA P1240162.jpg

Another feature of FOURSEVENS lights is the inclusion of the hand-grip. Not frequently talked about, this is a very useful accessory. Here it is fitted to the QK2A-X.
 photo 18 Quark Click strap P1240168.jpg

Slipping the hand-grip over your fingers positions the Quark like this.
 photo 19 Quark Click strap in hand P1240176.jpg

You position the hand-grip to wherever it is most comfortable for you. This is where I like it, not quite onto my knuckles.
 photo 20 Quark Click strap in hand P1240174.jpg

No need to hold onto the light as the hand-grip does this for you. You hand is free for other tasks (as long as they fit in with keeping the light where you need it).
 photo 21 Quark Click strap in hand P1240171.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!

I’ve always like the Quark beam profile, and the latest Quark Click doesn’t disappoint. Good wide spill, and a hotspot giving good reach make this a great all rounder. If you study the beam close-up on a white wall, it can seem a bit unrefined, but step back and the beam is well diffused and very nice to use.
 photo 22 Quark Click indoor P1240746.jpg

Outdoors and the ultimate brightness of the Quark starts to show its limitations, but that hotspot does give you a reasonable range and the broad spill gives you a wide field of view, even if not the brightest. This is a 2xAA after all.
 photo 23 Quark Click outdoor P1240699.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

In its default configuration the Quark Click has two output modes Low and Max, but the model on test has been reprogrammed to include Moon, Low, Mid and Max/Burst (this customisation was requested as it is offered by FOURSEVENS as standard customisation).

For the default configuration (according to the manual):
To turn ON, either half-press the switch, or fully press it so it clicks.
To toggle between output modes turn the light ON, OFF, then ON again.
The last used mode is memorised if the Quark remains OFF for at least 5 seconds and is used next time you turn it ON.
To turn OFF, release the switch (if half-pressing it), or press it so it clicks and release.

For the customised Quark Click with Moon, Low, Mid, and Max:
To turn on, either half-press the switch, or fully press it so it clicks.
To toggle between output modes turn the light ON, OFF, then ON again – However, you have to cycle through Max, Low three to four times to access the additional modes, so Max, Low, Max, Low, Max, Low, Max, Moon, Low, Mid, Max, Moon……
Now we have another deviation from the standard interface when it comes to memory.
When using the Quark Click in the Max, Low mode selection (before reaching the additional modes) it does not memorise Low, it always starts on Max.
Only if you have selected a mode from the additional mode selection (Moon, Low, Mid, Max) is it memorised. Also it is only memorised if the Quark has been ON that mode for 5s and remains OFF for at least 5 seconds. Then once memorised, as long as there is not a full ON/OFF/ON cycle within 5s, it will remain on that mode.
If you memorise Max mode, the Quark Click returns to the Low/Max mode, and always gives you Max until you carry out the memorisation steps described above.
To turn OFF, release the switch (if half-pressing it), or press it so it clicks and release.

Batteries and output:

The Quark Click QK2A-X in its default configuration runs on 2x AA (Lithium, Alkaline or NiMh). With the additional 1xAA battery tube it will run on 1xAA (Lithium, Alkaline or NiMh) or 1x 14500.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Quark Click QK2A-X using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Max/Burst – 2x AA Eneloop 296 0
Medium – 2x AA Eneloop 26 0
Low – 2x AA Eneloop 3 0
Moon – 2x AA Eneloop Below Threshold 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 2500 lx @1m giving a beam range of 100 m.

There is no parasitic drain.

In this runtime graph are the output traces from using 2xAA Eneloop, and an AW protected 14500. Running the QK2A-X head on 3V or 4.2V doesn’t increase the maximum output. Both traces show the Burst mode where the first 30s of output are maximum, before dropping to approximately 50% of this. The output is then very well regulated right up to the point the cells become fully depleted.
With the 14500, there is an absolute cut-off when the protection kicks in (it goes OFF), but the 2xAA trace drops sharply, but doesn’t fully cut out.
 photo FOURSEVENS QK2A-X 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 Quark Click QK2A-X in use

Anyone following my reviews will know that I consider the 2xAA form-factor one of the best. The QK2A-X has a slim battery tube with slightly larger head and tail-cap. making it very secure in the hand.

Even if you don’t really use pocket clips, it provides a very useful anti-roll function, so I’d rather leave it in place. As pocket clips go, it also has a generous capacity so is easy to use on thicker pocket edges like on some heavy cargo-pants.

With this one being a customised version, I was scratching my head a little when it wouldn’t memorise the low mode, but as explained in the UI section, you need to get to the additional modes before the memory function kicks in. It can seem a little fiddly as to memorise Moon mode you need to turn the Quark Click on and off 5 or 6 times watching the output to catch the Moon mode (miss it and you have to turn it on and off a further 4 times to get back to Moon). It works, but is not the slickest interface.

In most lights, lock-out is provided by undoing the tail-cap half a turn. It is slightly counter intuitive that the Quark uses the head to lock-out the Quark Click, but then again, this also means you can leave the tail-cap clicked on and then use the head to give you a twisty interface. Great for silent use, and twisting the head is very intuitive. Suddenly I’m liking that design feature much more.

With the interface being an ON/OFF/ON to switch modes, you can’t really use the momentary action for signaling. I’ve always preferred the immediacy of the forward-clicky tail-cap switch, so definitely prefer this to a reverse-clicky.

A little comment about the available levels and the Burst mode – Effectively, you have a combined Burst/High output as a single mode. After the initial 30s of Burst, the output drops to a very useful 150lm which is then maintained. Unfortunately it is not possible to directly enter the 150lm mode as it is always proceeded by the 300lm burst mode. When you look at the ANSI output levels this leaves a ‘hole’ in the available output levels as you have 296lm, then down to 26lm, then 3lm then Moon. Really that 150lm level is needed to fill the hole, and it is there, but you have to get through burst mode first.

Having Moon mode memorised, you will notice the FOURSEVENS pre-flash is present for this mode. This is a very quick flash of a level slightly brighter than Moon mode before it settles into the constant output. It has never caused me a problem and is more a characteristic than anything wrong. With the Moon mode being a true Current Controlled output it is far preferable to some PWM control of this level.

PWM – well I might have just mentioned it, but I’m happy to say there is none present in the Quark Click. None of the modes available in this sample exhibited PWM at any frequency.

A classic, game-changing, lego-able design, rebooted with a simple interface and one that can be operated as a clicky or a twisty.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Excellent All-Rounder beam. Mode memorisation a little laborious in this customised Quark.
Current Controlled output (no PWM). Tail-standing not possible with standard tail-cap.
Lego-able design compatible with all previous Quark models. 150lm output only available after 30s by first using the Burst Mode.
Optional AA and CR123 battery tubes.
Spacious/removable pocket clip provides anti-roll.
Wide input voltage range 0.9-4.2v.
Can be used as a Twisty or Clicky.

 photo 00 Quark Click feature P1240113.jpg

 

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)

Light Review: NITECORE TM03 (Tiny Monster)

NITECORE have been expanding the Tiny Monster line and with the TM03 have shrunk the monster performance into a single 18650 size light. Now it is even easier to carry Tiny Monster performance with you in the form of the world’s most powerful 1x 18650 light.

 photo 00 TM03 feature P1210997.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

Following the other TM series lights, the TM03 comes in a tough cardboard box.
 photo 01 TM03 boxed P1210968.jpg

The light is held in place with a strong closed cell foam.
 photo 02 TM03 box open P1210973.jpg

Along with the TM03, a holster, the instructions and a spare o-ring are provided.
 photo 03 TM03 box contents P1210979.jpg

Before we look at the TM03 in more detail, let’s look at the holster. Here it is with the TM03 inside.
 photo 04 TM03 holstered P1210983.jpg

You have the choice of D-loop, fixed loop, or Velcro loop.
 photo 05 TM03 holster loops P1210986.jpg

There is a blue plastic lens protector on the front when it arrives. You MUST remove this before trying the TM03 at all as it will melt and make a mess of the lens if you don’t.
 photo 06 TM03 protector P1210991.jpg

As with the NITECORE Precise series, the TM03 has a dual switch tail-cap. One is a forward clicky standard switch and the other is a metal paddle MODE switch.
 photo 07 TM03 switches P1220001.jpg

Supplied in the TM03 is a special IMR cell, clearly labelled ‘FOR TM03’. It is normal 18650 size, so this gives you and idea of the overall size of the TM03.
 photo 08 TM03 cell out P1220005.jpg

In the tailcap are the two normal contacts.
 photo 09 TM03 tailcap contacts P1220008.jpg

Mainly for heat-sinking, the TM03 has a heavy duty thick walled battery tube.
 photo 10 TM03 tube wall P1220011.jpg

Standard threads are used for the tail-cap.
 photo 11 TM03 threads P1220012.jpg

Back to the dedicated 18650 IMR cell. Notice the dual contacts at the front.
 photo 12 TM03 cell P1220018.jpg

Taking a closer look at the dual contacts on what would normally be the positive end of the cell.
 photo 13 TM03 positive P1220021.jpg

The negative terminal of the cell is standard.
 photo 14 TM03 negative P1220024.jpg

Peering inside the battery tube you can make out the positive contact as well as the secondary contacts surrounding it.
 photo 15 TM03 head contacts P1220028.jpg

Finish is to a high standard as is the engraving.
 photo 16 TM03 engraving P1220030.jpg

Despite the high output, the cooling fins are shallow.
 photo 17 TM03 fins P1220033.jpg

Here is the heart of this Tiny Monster, its monster XHP70 Quad die LED.
 photo 18 TM03 XHP70 LED close P1220045.jpg

The reflector is textured to give a smoother beam, but the reflector also has two profiles specifically controlling how much spill and hotspot the TM03 has.
 photo 19 TM03 XHP70 LED P1220053.jpg

Putting the TM03 next to a normal 18650 light, it is slightly bigger and heavier in build, but has performance that outshines the standard light by a long way.
 photo 20 TM03 size P1220127.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!

With such high output, and indoor shot can easily be overblown, so this is not a representation of how bright the beam is, but the characteristics of the beam. Exposure has been adjusted to show the hotspot, spill, and outer spill. For such a large LED, there is quite a defined hotspot, and the spill is a medium width.
 photo 21 TM03 indoor beam P1230313.jpg

Then we go outdoors, and blast the full 2800lm , and this is the effect you get. The TM03 is bright, and it is very compact. Nice!
 photo 23 TM03 outdoor beam P1240710.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The TM03 has four constant modes (Turbo, High, Mid and Low) and one flashing (Strobe) mode, controlled by a dual-switch tail-cap.

Basic operation is with the forward-clicky switch; half press for momentary access to the last used constant mode, and fully press and click to turn the TM03 ON to the last used constant mode. (Release or click again to switch off).

When ON, pressing the MODE switch cycles through the output modes – Low, Mid, High, Turbo, Low etc.

The TM03 allows you to set up the direct access operation of the MODE switch in two different modes – Suppressing Light, or STROBE READY.

To swap between these two modes:
Switch the TM03 OFF
Remove and replace the battery.
Within 60s of replacing the battery tighten the tail-cap while pressing and holding the MODE switch.
The TM03 will then flash once to indicate Suppressing Light, and two for STROBE READY.

In Suppressing Light mode:
Direct access to Turbo – in any mode including OFF, press and hold the MODE switch. Release to return to previous output.
Quick access to Strobe – in any mode including OFF, press the MODE switch twice in quick succession. Press again to return to previous output.

In STROBE READY mode:
Direct access to Strobe – in any mode including OFF, press and hold the MODE switch. Release to return to previous output.
Quick access to Turbo – in any mode including OFF, press the MODE switch twice in quick succession. Press again to return to previous output.

When inserting the battery, a red light in the tail-cap flashes to indicate battery power. Three blinks for above 50%, two blinks for below 50% and one blink for less than 10%.

Batteries and output:

The TM03 runs on a supplied proprietary IMR call with dual contacts on one end, but will also run at a severely reduced output on a normal 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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
NITECORE TM03 using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo – TM03 IMR 2804 0
High – TM03 IMR 1501 0
Medium – TM03 IMR 632 0
Low – TM03 IMR 34 0
Max – ‘Normal’ AW IMR 259 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 21300 lx @1m giving a beam range of 292 m.

There is parasitic drain and due to the dual contact at the head of the light there is drain at the head, and drain at the tailcap. When using the TM03’s IMR cell, the drain was 1.7mA at the head and 15uA at the tailcap. Taking the worst of these as the only significant value, it is the head drain that is relevant as it will take only 76 days to drain the cell.

NOTE: The use of the AW IMR cell for the ‘normal’ 18650 test was to prove that the throttling of output was not due to a bad cell. The TM03 is drastically throttled when not using the supplied cell and this is no reflection on the AW cell.

This graph has three traces on it to show a couple of specific aspects, including comparing a couple of NITECORE chargers, the SC2 and D4 (both used to charge the TM03s’s cell), and also showing the characteristics depending on if you start in Turbo or High.
The SC2 is a rapid charger, well suited to IMR cells. Due to charging at a higher current, it also tends to terminate earlier. This can be seen with the earlier drop to low mode at around 1h 20m. Considering the vast reduction in charging time, this minor loss in overall output is well worth it.
Then look at the overall characteristics when starting on Turbo where after the initial 2800lm burst, the output drops right down to the 630lm Mid level output, and then continues on this until the cell is depleted.
When starting on High, the output remains on High until the cell can no longer maintain the output and starts to drop in stages, gradually reducing at 20m all the way through to 1h from turn on.
Effectively if you want more light for longer, either stay on High, or you’ll have to switch it OFF and ON again to get Turbo (as long as it is not too hot), and expect not to have much runtime.
 photo TM03 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 TM03 in use

Normally I don’t like to start with a negative, but the TM03 does have one issue, and that is particularly with the Suppression Mode. I have found that when closing the holster flap over the TM03’s tail-cap, it is easy to press (or more dangerously – nearly press) the MODE switch enough to activate direct access Turbo. This means that inside the holster the TM03 bursts into life with all 2800lm. It gets hot VERY fast. Now I also said ‘more dangerously – nearly press’, and the reason it is more dangerous, is that the TM03 is now on a hair trigger needing only a tiny pressure on the holster to bring on the Turbo output. I was putting the TM03 into a drawer and as it nestled against some other items Turbo came on. Luckily I noticed, but I could easily have closed that drawer – for the last time.
So my first comment is that if using the holster you need to undo the tail-cap a half turn (a quarter is not enough) to lock-out the TM03.

Now onto the good stuff. This is a very bright light. Even these days when people are used to high output lights, the TM03 still surprises with its compact size. It is not much bigger than standard 1x 18650 lights, but is a lot more powerful. The heavy build is reassuring and is certainly needed for heat-sinking. I never had the sense the TM03 was getting too hot.

My own views on tactical lighting requirements gathered from various members of the armed services and law enforcement are that Strobe is not the preferred output, but very bright is. The TM03 does VERY bright, very well.

Of course with the fundamental law of portable lighting that you can only have two of the three factors – Bright, Small, Long Runtime, the TM03 looses out in runtime. Mainly this is because if you have the TM03 on you, why would you bother with the Low mode? You will be enjoying all those lumens, using bursts of Turbo, and all too soon it does start to struggle. Not the fault of the TM03, but just a factor to be aware of – this is a Tiny Monster after all.

It was worth the extra effort required to check the parasitic drain at the head, as this explains why after only short periods of storage, the runtime is even more reduced. This level of drain is bad. It is easy to pop a light in a drawer for three months at a time, and in that time the TM03 will be dead. Even if you undo the tail-cap slightly, this doesn’t stop the double pole in the head making contact and draining the cell, you need to remove the cell completely.

With regard to using other 18650 cells, NITECORE have severely hobbled the output on the TM03 when not using its dedicated double pole IMR. The maximum output I managed to get was around 250lm. It does mean that you know you can still have enough light to see by if you carry a normal 18650 as a spare, but once that dedicated IMR is depleted, you need to recharge before you get the TM performance again. At least you know it will work as a backup, and with such extreme performance it is sensible to protect the light and the user from ‘unknown’ cells.

If you want a pocket rocket, the TM03 will not disappoint, and brings custom level performance to a production light.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
2800lm on a single 18650!! Direct access via the MODE switch too easily activated by the holster flap.
Solid build. High Parasitic Drain.
Direct access to TURBO. Uses a proprietary cell for full performance.
Sturdy holster provided.
Supplied with cell so you only need a charger.

 

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)

Light Review: Nitecore’s Explosion Proof EF1

With the EF1, NITECORE have confidently entered the market for hazardous environment equipment, with a light which can be used in the petroleum exploration, petrochemical and chemical industries, as it is rated as a Type II non-mine explosion-proof electrical appliance.

 photo 00 EF1 Feature P1200195.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

The EF1 arrives in a box like the ones used for the TM series.
 photo 01 EF1 boxed P1200173.jpg

Closed cell foam is used as the liner.
 photo 02 EF1 box open P1200177.jpg

With the EF1 you get a holster, lanyard, spare o-rings and the instructions.
 photo 03 EF1 box contents P1200185.jpg

The EF1 in its holster.
 photo 04 EF1 holster P1200188.jpg

On the back it has a fixed loop, a D-loop and a Velcro closed loop.
 photo 05 EF1 holster loops P1200191.jpg

It is a chunky light, but that is due to its heavy build for the Explosion Proof rating.
 photo 06 EF1 angle P1200197.jpg

The lens is very thick making it look like a dive light.
 photo 07 EF1 lens P1200203.jpg

On the side it proudly states its explosion proof status.
 photo 08 EF1 engraving P1200205.jpg

There are a couple of exposed screws on the head that seem to hold parts of the magnetic switch together.
 photo 09 EF1 screw P1200207.jpg

The switch is a rotating/sliding switch with four positions.
 photo 10 EF1 switch P1200210.jpg

It is difficult to really show how thick this lens is, but it is thick – 10mm thick.
 photo 11 EF1 lens P1200220.jpg

A view from the tail-cap end.
 photo 12 EF1 tail view P1200227.jpg

Inside the tail-cap is a spring and ring terminal.
 photo 13 EF1 tail contacts P1200235.jpg

That is one thick battery tube with a minimum thickness of 3mm.
 photo 14 EF1 battery tube P1200237.jpg

A long section of well lubricated standard threads are used for the tail-cap. They are fully anodised, so you can physically lock out the EF1 by unscrewing the tail-cap slightly.
 photo 15 EF1 battery threads P1200245.jpg

With a battery being inserted you see how thick that battery tube is.
 photo 16 EF1 battery insert P1200248.jpg

Peering deep into the battery tube for a view of the positive contact.
 photo 17 EF1 head contacts P1200256.jpg

The XM-L2 U3 LED sits in a smooth reflector.
 photo 18 EF1 LED P1200261.jpg

It is a relatively deep reflector to focus the beam.
 photo 18 EF1 reflector P1200264.jpg

Next to an 18650 cell you can see the heavy build of this light.
 photo 19 EF1 size P1200286.jpg

Slightly surprisingly, the head does unscrew giving access to the reflector and LED. This may be to provide access to the o-ring to allow it to be inspected.
 photo 20 EF1 head off P1200290.jpg

The detail of those threads for the front part of the light.
 photo 21 EF1 head threads P1200291.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!

Starting off indoors, the EF1’s beam is narrow overall. There is a relatively average sized hotspot, but only a very narrow spill around this. This appears much more suited to inspection duties than general lighting for getting around.
 photo 23 EF1 indoor beam P1230323.jpg

Giving it some more range outdoors and that narrow spill is still an obvious characteristic.
 photo 28 EF1 outdoor beam P1240708.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

Nitecore have kept the interface of the EF1 very simply. There is a four position sliding switch, OFF (0), Low (1), Medium (2) and High (3).

Simply slide the switch to the position you want. There is nothing more to it.

Batteries and output:

The EF1 runs on either 1x 18650 or 2x 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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
EF1 using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
High – NL189 729 0
Medium – NL189 341 100
Low – NL189 5 217

* 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 13900 lx @1m giving a beam range of 236m.

There is parasitic drain which varies between 2.68 and 1.2 mA. When using a 3100mAh 18650 it will take 48-108 days to drain the cell. This is very bad for a standby light.

Initially I was testing the EF1 with an Xtar 3100mAh 18650, but the output figures were not up to specification. Subsequently I re-ran these tests with a Nitecore NL189. With the NL189 the ANSI output was higher, but as you can see the runtime was overall lower. Output is not regulated and drops off during the entire run. In the environments in which you would use this light, you definitely don’t want a sudden drop in output at the wrong time, so this is a better runtime profile to have.
 photo EF1 runtime plus Xtar.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 EF1 in use

Before we get any further we must clarify what ‘Explosion proof’ actually means. Firstly, it does not mean you can drop a bomb on it! Instead it relates to the world of hazardous environment equipment, for which there are many different and very specific standards for the various classifications of hazard. The safest equipment are ‘Intrinsically Safe’ devices which are intrinsically incapable of igniting hazardous atmospheres even if destroyed, as no component within them can achieve ignition, including the cells. Then there are the ‘Explosion-Proof’ ratings where the device does indeed contain enough energy to ignite explosive gasses, but critically, should the device have been opened in that hazardous atmosphere and contain an explosive mixture which can be ignited, if there is a small explosion within the device, that explosion is completely contained and cannot propagate into the surrounding atmosphere. The ‘Explosion Proof’ rating is protection from internal explosions.

Now we have got that clear, a direct consequence of the explosion proof rating is that the build is very heavy. Putting the EF1 next to a two cell light, the P36 shows how even though it is a single 18650 light, it really has presence. We are looking at one very tough light.
 photo 22 EF1 size p36 P1200296.jpg

With it being a very solid build, and having a sliding switch, actually the EF1 could also be very suited to diving use. While carrying out my Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review I also took the EF1 with me, but wasn’t able to get any in-use shots. It was ceratinly taken to depths greater than the 1.5m specified, but not more than 10m where I was diving.
One thing I did put the EF1 through was the dive knife corrosion testing (details in the Dive Knives 2016 – Mega Test Review) and this is what happened to the EF1.
Taking in the overall view, the most obvious sign is a small white patch on the handle.
 photo 24 EF1 corrosion P1230810.jpg

Going in closer we can see this is a patch of aluminium corrosion from the salt water exposure. There must have been a small flaw in the anodising for this to have happened.
 photo 25 EF1 corrosion P1230823.jpg

Just next to one screw on the head was a rainbow like colouring on the anodising looking like an oil film. It was perfectly dry and free of oil, and this was only visible after the corrosion test.
 photo 26 EF1 corrosion P1230817.jpg

The last visible effect was that the grease around the sliding switch turned a dark brown/black colour, so was not an inert grease.
 photo 27 EF1 corrosion P1230820.jpg

There were no issues with the EF1 following this intensive corrosion test, and it is still functioning perfectly.

Though we tend to prefer smaller and easier to carry lights, there is a certain satisfaction to carrying the tank-like EF1. Its weight is comforting and there is nothing fragile about it. The slider switch is positive and simple to use and needs no explanation. There is a noticeable delay in the switch response, most notable when switching the EF1 on from OFF. It is probably only 0.3s or thereabouts, but you move the switch, then the EF1 turns on after that brief pause. The same when changing levels.

For my own use, the biggest issue is the mode spacing. It has a useful 5lm Low mode, but then jumps to 341lm. It definitely could have done with something around 80lm-100lm mark instead of jumping right up to 340lm. When the 5lm is not enough, that jump can be blinding.

Not working in a hazardous environment myself, I can’t say if the beam profile is a good fit for this type of use. It certainly seems to be an inspection type of beam rather than one for general use and getting about. I found it too narrow for navigating on rough ground as the hotspot was giving peripheral blindness when shining it at the ground. It is fine for longer distances, just not good closer up.

For the domestic user, there is the attraction of the Explosion Proof rating particularly in case of gas leaks. Personally I have several gas-safe lights including intrinsically safe lights. Those intrinsically safe lights however are all AA Alkaline powered, so the EF1 with its Li-ion power means the output is much higher, and I would consider it totally safe to use in a domestic gas leak situation. Some users would argue that any waterproof light will be safe to use, but this is wrong. If you change the battery and the explosive atmosphere gets inside the light, turning it on could create an explosion that would break out of a normal waterproof light. It would have been fine if you hadn’t opened it, but you did. With the EF1 this would not matter, as if this internal explosion did occur, the EF1 can withstand it – I know what I’d rather be holding.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Explosion Proof rating. Big jump in output from Low (5lm) to Medium (341lm).
Simple sliding switch. High parasitic drain – remember to lock out the tail-cap.
Predictable gradual drop in output (no sudden cut-out). Narrow spill limits versatility.
Extremely solid build. PWM used on Medium and Low modes.
Excellent corrosion resistance.
Holster supplied.

 photo 00 EF1 Feature P1200217.jpg

 

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)

Light Review: Rofis TR20

Rofis were the first manufacturer I came across which have made a standard tubular light that transforms into a right-angle light. They have applied the same principle to a couple of different models, and in this review we are looking at the TR20, which is an 18650 powered model with built in USB charging, making it an all-in-one lighting solution.

 photo 00 Rofis TR20 feature P1240405.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

The TR20’s box.
 photo 01 Rofis TR20 box P1240376.jpg

Included in the box is the TR20 (with 3400mAh cell inside), holster, USB cable, wrist lanyard, two o-rings, a spare USB port cover and the instructions.
 photo 02 Rofis TR20 box contents P1240379.jpg

The UBS cable is of a nice quality with metal plugs and a braided cable.
 photo 03 Rofis TR20 USB Cable P1240385.jpg

On the holster there is an apparently overly long patch of Velcro, but we shall see about that later.
 photo 04 Rofis TR20 holster P1240389.jpg

There are three loops on the holster, a D-ring, a fixed belt loop and a loop secured with a press-stud.
 photo 05 Rofis TR20 holster loops P1240393.jpg

And here we have the TR20 in its ‘normal’ tubular configuration.
 photo 06 Rofis TR20 angle P1240396.jpg

Switching round for a different view.
 photo 08 Rofis TR20 rear angle P1240415.jpg

Fitted to the TR20 is a long steel pocket clip.
 photo 09 Rofis TR20 clip P1240418.jpg

The tail-cap has a plain appearance, but the very end looks slightly different.
 photo 10 Rofis TR20 tail P1240421.jpg

The explanation for the way the tail-cap looks is that screwed onto the end is a removable magnet.
 photo 11 Rofis TR20 magnet off P1240425.jpg

Inside the tail-cap there is a gold plated spring contact. Bare threads mean there is no physical lock-out.
 photo 12 Rofis TR20 tail contacts P1240430.jpg

As the TR20 ships with the 18650 inside, it comes with an insulator which you need to remove.
 photo 13 Rofis TR20 insulator P1240434.jpg

Square cut threads are used for the tail-cap.
 photo 14 Rofis TR20 threads P1240437.jpg

It is a Rofis branded cell that is included.
 photo 15 Rofis TR20 cell P1240440.jpg

An unnecessary detail, but a nice touch is that the negative terminal has the Rofis logo etched into it.
 photo 16 Rofis TR20 cell logo P1240442.jpg

The positive terminal is gold plated.
 photo 17 Rofis TR20 cell positive P1240446.jpg

Opposite the control switches is the rubber USB port cover.
 photo 18 Rofis TR20 USB cover P1240449.jpg

Using your nail, you prise the hinged cover out.
 photo 19 Rofis TR20 USB cover open P1240452.jpg

Here the supplied USB cable has been plugged in for charging.
 photo 20 Rofis TR20 USB connect P1240462.jpg

While charging, the red indicator light in the dual switch is on. Once charged this will go green. Also note the dual switch where the front part is the mode change switch and the rear part is the power switch.
 photo 21 Rofis TR20 USB charging P1240458.jpg

The smooth reflector does have a few visible machining marks in it, but these don’t aversely affect the beam.
 photo 22 Rofis TR20 reflector P1240463.jpg

A XP-L Hi V3 LED is used.
 photo 23 Rofis TR20 LED P1240473.jpg

So, the reason for the extended Velcro area on the holster is so that when the TR20 is transformed into a right-angle light the flap folds over further and still fits the TR20 perfectly with the lens sticking out sideways.
 photo 24 Rofis TR20 holster 90 P1240475.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!

Starting indoors, the TR20 does have a bright hot spot, but the transition to the spill is smooth and the spill is sufficiently bright that the beam does not appear unbalanced.
 photo 25 Rofis TR20 indoor beam P1240743.jpg

Moving outdoors you can see how the spill is nice a bright and gives a good view. Though not a flood beam, the beam has a good useful width.
 photo 26 Rofis TR20 outdoor beam P1240696.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

The TR20 has 6 constant output modes (Turbo, High, Mid, Low, Lower and Ultra-Low) and three flashing modes (Strobe/Beacon/SOS) controlled by a dual button.

From OFF, to switch ON to the last used constant output (not including directly accessed modes), briefly press the Power switch. When ON, press the Mode switch to cycle through Turbo -> Ultra-Low -> Low -> Mid -> High back to Turbo etc. To switch OFF briefly press the Power switch.

From OFF, for direct access to Turbo, press and hold the Power switch for more than 1s.

From OFF, for direct access to Ultra-Low, press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s.

To access flashing modes, from ON, press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s. This will activate strobe. Press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s again to switch to Beacon mode. Press and hold the Mode switch for more than 1s once more to activate SOS.
Once activated, pressing the mode switch briefly returns the TR20 to the previous steady mode, or a brief press of the Power switch will turn the TR20 OFF.

The TR20 is Strobe-Ready and to activate Strobe directly from OFF, double-click the mode switch.

There is a lockout mode included. With the TR20 OFF, press and hold both buttons simultaneously for 3s to enter lockout. When entering Lockout, the TR20’s red indicator light in the dual switch will come on to indicate Lockout has been activated. Like this the buttons will not turn the TR20 on. To exit Lockout press and hold both buttons simultaneously for 3s and the TR20 will turn ON in Low mode.

Lastly when turning the TR20 ON, or changing mode, after 3s the dual power switch will light up to indicate the remaining battery power. This will light green if there is more than 50% battery left, red if there is less than 50% and will flash red if the battery is low.

Batteries and output:

The TR20 runs on a standard 18650 which is supplied.

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.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Rofis TR20 using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 883 0
High – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 503 0
Medium – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 199 0
Low – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 72 0
Lower – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 19 0
Ultra Low – Rofis 3400mAh 18650 9 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 15600 lx @1m giving a beam range of 250 m.

There is parasitic drain at 83.8uA. When using a 3400mAh cell it will take 4.63 years to drain the cell.

At switch-on the near 900lm output is short lived and after only around 30s starts to decline to the 750 running output. There are some unexplained dips around the 15 minute mark where the output briefly drops to 560lm but then goes back up to 750lm again. After 20 minutes from switch-on the TR20 no longer maintains regulation and the output starts a steady decline until the end of the ANSI runtime at 2h 15m.
 photo Rofis TR20 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 TR20 in use

Right-angle lights are incredibly useful and bring an added dimension to the function of a light. Personally I find the variety of grip options they bring make them amongst the most comfortable to use, with a natural pointing of the beam as well as allowing various arm and hand positions that still direct the beam forward where you want it. If I had to choose between a straight or right-angle light it would be a right-angle that I would choose, but there is a definitely a place for the straight tube light. Why have to choose one or the other when you can have both?
 photo TR20 500ms.gif

Having a dual-switch does make the UI very functional, but these types of switches don’t work so well when using gloves as you can’t feel the two parts of the switch. For gloved hands the two switch parts are a bit small so you can miss the part you meant to press. Gloved use may not be the highest priority because this light is not a tactical light, it is a utility light.

Another example of how functional this light is, is the holster that adjusts to the straight or right-angle configurations. But there is more. When in the right-angle configuration, the control buttons now line up with the gap on the side of the holster opposite the lens. In this way you can operate the TR20 when it is still in the holster giving you easy access and hands free use; this is the real benefit.
 photo 24 Rofis TR20 holster 90 P1240475.jpg

USB charging and the use of a standard 18650 cell adds convenience and ease of carrying a spare cell. The power indicator which tells you ‘Over 50%’, ‘Under 50%’ and ‘Empty’ is better than nothing, but might tend to lead you to keep topping up once you hit ‘Under 50%’. At least you only need to flip the USB port cover aide and hook it up to your USB charger.

One aspect that very much surprised me, and it is one I’ve heard others have found, is that the rotation of the head to transform to and from the right-angle configuration is very stiff. I’m known for a pretty strong grip and am the person at the archery club who is asked to pull out the arrows others can’t. I say this as I feel that if I find this too stiff, I think there are plenty of people who would struggle with it. Clearly you don’t want the head swing back round to straight, and this certainly won’t, but you do want to be able to transform it easily. Another way to look at it though, is that any concerns that the articulation of the head might introduce a weakness certainly doesn’t seem to be the case.

The instructions say that the last used output mode is memorised, but doesn’t mention that this does not include a mode activated by the direct access option. Only the mode set when the TR20 is on and the mode switch pressed to choose the level is memorised. As I typically use the Ultra-Low level, this is the reason I’ve become aware of this. To be sure you get the lowest level you will need to use the direct access method for Ultra-Low rather than relying on the ‘last used’ mode. This behaviour is good as you end up with direct access to one additional mode; if you have memorised medium, but have used the direct access to get ultra-low, simply switching it off and on again gets you back to medium.

Magnetised lights leave me in two minds; I find them more annoying than useful as they stick to everything I didn’t want them to, the TR20 completely removes this annoyance by making it very easy to remove the magnet, and not only that, but the threaded hole left where the magnet was will fit onto a tripod.

A quick observation about the lockout mode; As the only indication you have entered lockout is a flash of the red indicator in the dual switch, when you are pressing both parts of the dual switch, your fingers mostly hide the red light. It would be easier to see if the main LED was given a brief flash to let you know it was going into lockout.

Pocket clips are normally something I strip off straight away, largely because they are often too stiff and damage the pocket. Rofis have got this clip spot on. It is long and stable, yet the spring force is low enough not to be harsh and damaging. Add to this the right-angle configuration and the pocket clip is much more practical than on many lights.

Overall, the ability to transform the light into two different configurations overrides any minor quibbles with this light and makes it very attractive and very useful.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Transforms from a straight to right-angled configuration. Head is very stiff.
Direct access to Turbo, Ultra-low and Strobe. Dual button is difficult to use with gloves.
Removable Magnet. Lockout indication not clear.
Tripod mount.
Excellent clip.
Holster adjusts to straight or right-angle configuration.
Built in USB charging.

 photo 00 Rofis TR20 feature P1240401.jpg

 

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)