FlashFish A101 Portable Solar Generator Review

Today I am looking at the FlashFish 98Wh Portable Power Generator. This is a small power station with 1 120W AC outlet, 12V out, as well as USB-A and C ports. I will also be looking at their 50W Solar panels and how they interact with this unit. Thanks to FlashFish for sending this to me to look at and review.

 

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Packaging & Accessories

The packaging here is a brown cardboard box with black printing on the exterior and a decent amount of data. Inside the unit is protected with large pieces of ridged styrofoam. Accessories include an AC Power 12V power adapter to charge it, 12V car power source to charge, a 12V auxiliary adapter to power things you normally would in a car off the FlashFish, a Lanyard, and a quick start guide. 

The solar panels are a separate product and came in a nondescript cardboard box. They came with a 1M cable, and a bag full of different-sized adapters, and a manual. 

 

Physical Design and Construction

The size of this Power Generator is about 6 x 6 x 4”. Weight is 2.65 LBS. It’s an Orange and Gray plastic construction with a place for the included lanyard. There isn’t a handle here which I think would be a nice edition even though this isn’t a huge unit. 

On the front side there is a small screen in the center that gives you the battery percentage and lets you know if it’s turned on, and in AC or USB mode. The screen is hard to see in direct sunlight. I do wish during use the screen told you the amount of power going out in watts and the estimated time left, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do that. On the front panel, there are 2 USB-C ports, 2 USB-A ports, and a 12V IN, and 12V out. 

On the left side of the unit is the AC power plug, and on the right, there is a small intake fan that comes on when AC mode is turned on. On the back side, there is a diffused panel with a series of cool white LED’s underneath. This is more of a lantern, while I couldn’t fit the entire thing in my lumen tube, what did fit produced about 173 lumens, so I would guess the whole thing is about 200 lumens. Total Runtime was 9:14:00. There is also an SOS mode on the white LED, and all flashlight modes are controlled at the top. 

 

Performance

There are multiple output methods with the FlashFish, mainly USB-A, USB-C, 12V DC, and 120V AC up to 100W. 

 

USB-A on the unit is capable of the following profiles I will insert a photo of the tests I did with the CT-3 Meter. USB-C had a few differences, but overall more support than I was expecting. It’s not capable of PD support over 27W, so don’t expect to be charging most laptops over USB-C here.

I tested discharge here from 100% to 0% runtime using a USB-A load, and got 15849.6mAh of useable power, this took 5:47:00 with a load of 2.5A at 5V. Internally the unit claims it has 26400mAh of battery storage, so that’s about 66% of rated capacity, it’s normal to expect losses here depending on how things are calculated and just normal conversion losses but to me, this doesn’t seem like the most efficient circuitry. 

 

I also tested the 120W DC to AC converter here to charge my Canon Camera battery. Now, this is pretty inefficient because the power is going from DC in the unit’s batteries, to AC with the inverter and then the camera’s charger is taking it back to DC. The battery was about 2700mAh capacity, but to charge this took nearly 25% of the unit’s battery power. Good if you need it but not a very efficient use of power.

The AC power is capable of up to 100W maximum. That includes bursts that are often needed when motors start up etc. I tried to run a portable ice maker but there just wasn’t enough power available when the compressor kicked in. The AC power here is not a true sine wave, instead being sawtooth. This isn’t surprising given the price point here and size but it means that it’s not ideal for electronics, and some motors may not care for this. I hooked up a tower fan to it and while it worked the sound the motor made you could tell that something wasn’t right. I don’t believe this does damage to the fan motor but it’s just not designed for it and there could be issues with speed control. I also used a smaller desk fan that didn’t seem to care. I ran it for 2.5 hours and it discharged the battery to 50%. You can use the light or USB ports when AC mode is in use. 

 

Recharging

In the box, there is a wall wart to recharge the unit. It outputs 12V 2A, and this 12V port is the only way to charge the unit. It, unfortunately, doesn’t charge via USB-C. I charged the unit from 0% to 100% via the AC power adapter in 4.5 hours. During recharging the USB ports can be used to charge other things but the AC out will not work. Also included in the box is a car 12V power plug to adapter cable so you can charge via the car which is a nice touch. 

FlashFish also sent me their 50W 18V solar cells which I was really excited about because it’s the most powerful panels I have. They measure 17” x 16” folded, and 34” x 16” unfolded. They have nylon protecting them, and come with handles for easy transport. On one there is a pocket with the inverter electronics and a place to store cables. The inverter has 3 ports, USB-A capable of 5V & 2A, USB-A capable of QC3.0 but it’s unclear exactly which power specs, of course, this also depends on the conditions the panels are in too. The inverter also has a DC output jack on it as well as various adapters to fit other DC charging needs. The control electronics are designed so that you can use the USB ports and 18V DC if desired too.

I did a decent amount of solar charging on this unit because I was really interested in the different results in different conditions. I charged it from 0% to 100% in only about 4 hours during a very sunny day from about 10 am to 2 pm in Mid August without a cloud in the sky, peak time for solar.

 

I did the same thing in a partially cloudy sky across a 7-hour time window and it only charged to about 78%. So the amount of sun you are getting really makes a difference on how much power you are producing and then storing in the batteries. The solar panels to require adapters to be used with this power station, luckily they are included, but I think it will be hard to keep everything together. 

 

Final Thoughts

This is an interesting product, while it works as advertised, it has a number of areas for improvement in my opinion. My first would be to charge via USB-C so that you don’t have to use the 12V AC adapter, solar, or car charger. High-wattage USB-C charging is becoming the norm and it would be one less thing to travel with. A full sinewave inverter would be ideal too. Luckily it looks like Flashfish fixes most of these things on their larger units and I am guessing budget considerations prevented them from including everything here. 

 

The target market here is interesting, It’s small and portable, but 100W of nonfull sinewave power limits what it can power. I suppose a fan if you are out camping, radio, or lighting solution, or charger for a laptop, small medical device, etc. But 100w maximum isn’t a lot of power, and if you are charging things or batteries there is a fair amount of loss from going from DC battery power to AC back to DC most likely. When used as a 12V power source it should be more efficient. And I think if you wanted it for USB-C or A power there are better choices that are smaller, lighter, and accept USB charging. In a way it’s almost too big to be useful as a USB power source, but to small to be used as an AC power source. This is their entry-level unit, and larger units don’t have these problems.

 

I loved the solar panels here, they can be used to charge any 12V power source which is where you are going to get the best performance. I was surprised that in full sun they charged the powerbank at nearly the same speed as AC power did. The USB-C side works, but you just can’t deliver all the power they can produce. For instance, I charged my Sofrin LT1 and it took just as long as it would of plugged in via AC power. More a fault of the lantern then the panels. The solar panels are a must if you do plan to be without AC power for days and need to recharge multiple electronics daily. 

You could power a lot of smartphones, tablets and flashlights with this combo of the portable power generator and solar panels as long as the size and weight were not too restrictive for you. As a former boy scout, there were numerous trips I wish we would have had something like this, and that was back before everyone had as many electronics, or high-quality LED flashlights, like they do today.

Acebeam Pokelit Review ($22, 5000k, 95CRI, 550 Lumens)

Today I am looking at the Acebream Pokelit. It’s a AA-sized light, that can run on 14500 lithium-ion batteries or alkaline/NiMH. It features a neutral high CRI Nichia emitter and is very affordable. Thanks to Acebeam for sending this to me to look at and review.

 

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Get the Black Pokelit AA from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3RZxoW9 (10% Coupon on the page)

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Buy all the colors at Acebeam https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1738751&u=2603230&m=108326&urllink=&afftrack= use code Liq10 to save 10%

 

Packaging & Accessories

The packaging is quite small and compact. It’s a nice retail box with a see-through window. Everything slides out in a plastic tray. Accessories came with the clip preinstalled, optional Accebeam 920mAh 14500 battery with onboard USB-C charging, USB-A to C charging cable, Acebeam lanyard, 2 extra orings, and manual. 

 

Construction and Design

The light comes in 3 available colors as of this review, Green, Orange, and Black that I have here. It comes both with and without a 14500 battery, the version I have is with the battery, and it would be the one I would recommend for most people. 

Starting at the tail, there is a proud button, with a textured grip and hard plastic sides that stick proudly of the light. This is quite a stiff button and is a mechanical switch I believe. The tail cap has straight knurls and is glued onto the body of the light. 

The clip attaches at the rear and is nonfixed in place, more on that in retention. The body is fairly plain with horizontal groves cut into it providing some grip.

The head section is straight with no detail milled into it. It contains all of the engraving of the model name, serial number, brand, and temperature warning. There is a smooth shallow bezel protecting the AR-coated glass lens and a shallow smooth reflector. 

 

Retention

Retention options include the snap-on pocket clip. It’s finished in a glossy blue anodizing. It’s a dual-direction clip that’s reasonably deep carry. A bit of the tail does stick out of the pocket but with the stiff switch, I experienced no accidental activations. Your other option is an Acebeam lanyard. Its only attachment point is the hole built into the clip. Not my favorite attachment method but the clip does fit tightly here. 

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length at 3.74”, the diameter at 0.72”. I measured the weight with the included battery and clip at exactly 2 ounces. The light is IPX8 water rated and drop-rated to 2M.

There are a number of competitor lights that I pulled from my collection. The Olight i5T and i5R are probably your two most similar lights, In general, the Acebeam is slightly smaller in diameter, and the two have a very similar button style. The Acebeam Ryder RX is similar in size, although with its stainless steel outer body and bolt action it’s different. The heads here are not compatible with each other. I will throw in a Reylight LAN as well since it’s dual fuel, although it’s in a different price category. 

 

LED & Beam

The Acebeam Pokelit AA uses a Nichia 219F LED in 5000k and 90+ CRI. I measured the light on medium mode on my Oppple meter at 4438 CCT (k), and 95 RA (CRI). It’s a pleasant tint, without any distracting tint shifts. The beam is a medium-large hotspot and a large minimal spill. Exactly what was expected from the medium-depth orange peel reflector. My meter detects PWM here but it’s very fast so my eye or camera can’t detect it. 

 

 

 

Heat & Runtimes

I will hit on a few highlights here and let the graphs speak for themselves. I primarily will run this light with the 14500 Li-ion battery because of the better performance. High came in just short of 500 lumens, and that decreases to 300 after 1:30. Total runtime slowly decreasing is 1 hour. Max heat here is 61C. This does get pretty warm to hold when on in high. Medium mode with the Li-ion battery is a pretty stable output starting at 150 lumens decreasing to about 80 or so out to 2:35:00 total runtime.

I also tested with an Ikea 2450 NiMH and you get about 225 lumens at the start by 2 and a half minutes you are running at about 70 lumens for two and a half hours, total runtime was 2:45:00. Medium mode extends this out to 3:12:00. 

 

UI

The UI here is very simple with the reverse clicky switch. With the 14500 battery, you have 3 modes with memory mode. Click once to come on in the lowest model, if you fully clicked you do need to shut if off and then on again to advance, but if you don’t fully click you can half click to advance, hopefully, that makes sense. It’s a very simple user interface that I think anyone can understand. 

 

Recharging

While the flashlight itself doesn’t have built-in charging, the optional Acebeam 14500 battery does have built-in charging via USB-C. I had no issues charging this via USB-C to C or PD. Charging here is at 0.5C about .45A at the maximum for most of the charging time. Overall charging time is 2:30:00 at which time the LED on the battery itself goes from red to green. The battery itself has LVP built into it. 

 

Final Thoughts

Acebeam is on a streak of listening to consumers and enthusiasts and has been doing great putting out some new models this year with great emitter options. The Pokelit AA is no different. The Nichia 219F LED here puts out a neutral 5000k tint, with no ugly tones, and a nice beam pattern with High CRI. It does run hot when used for extended periods of time with the 14500 battery in high mode, reaching up to 140F. You may have to change your grip on it to be comfortable when it gets hot, holding more at the rear instead of in your fist. 

 

I like the Pokelit AA better than the Lumentop Tool personally because it has a more desirable LED and a better clip. It also comes with a Li-ion battery here (depending on where you order it from), and is very affordable. It’s available on Amazon right now for about $21 in black or orange. Acebeam sells them directly too, but the cost is a little higher. For a basic, high-quality flashlight that anyone can use with an easy user interface, the Pokelit AA is a great choice that I can recommend. 

Vosteed – Nightshade LT Review (Titanium Shark Bomb Prybar Preview)

Today I am taking a look at a new folding knife from Vosteed, the Nightshade LT. I bought the Limited edition Nightshade earlier this year because it was a unique shape in my collection and have really been enjoying it, as a fantastic all-around blade. That version is sold out for now, but don’t fret because the Nightshade LT is available and is a very similar knife. Vosteed reached out and asked if I would be interested in taking a look at it and I said, of course, I would be. They have offered me a coupon to save $5 or a package deal to save $20 with their titanium prybar, both good deals below.

 

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Get the Nightshade LT from Vosteed direct at https://www.vosteed.com/products/nightshade-lt and use code “LR5” to save $5 off the Nightshade or use code “LR20” to save $20 off the Nightshade and Prybar combo.

Link for just the Shark Bomb Titanium Prybar at https://www.vosteed.com/products/shark-bomb-prybar

Get the Gray Nightshade LT on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3TvWEEY
Get the Black Nightshade LT on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3ebx4Fd

 

Packaging

The packaging here like the other Vosteed products I have is top-notch. You have the cardboard sleeve over the steel case, it reminds me kind of the Altoids boxes but the lid just pulls straight off. Unfortunately, I can blame the USPS for the damage here, mine got squished pretty good. Thankfully the nylon zipper pouch inside the tin with the knife inside was unharmed. Inside you also get a nice card giving knife specs, and a card urging you to join the Vosteed community on Facebook.

 

Specs

There are two versions of the Nightshade LT available. There is the black G10 model with the gray center pivot, and a satin blade finish, and the Gray G10 model with the white pivot color and a stonewashed blade which is what I have. The knives are made in a Kizer facility but by Vosteed employees. It’s a Vosteed design.

Overall length is 7.48”, blade length is 3.26” which should be legal in a lot of places, and the blade width is 1.21” so it’s a little wide in the pocket, I measured blade thickness on the rounded crown at 0.1135” and at the tip 0.025”. Handle thickness is 0.531”. The weight came in at 4.16oz and it does have pockets milled in the liners to reduce weight. It’s a liner lock with a flipper too. The body and clip screws are T6, and the pivot is T8. 

 

The Blade

The blade here is made from 154CM,  and on my gray model here it’s a light stonewashed finish. I like 154CM steel, it has good edge retention for the price range, is easy to sharpen, and is made in the USA. The blade shape most closely resembles a traditional Shilin style knife. The Shilin is a traditional all purpose knife blade shape from the Chinese & Taiwanese regions and has a long history of carry by all different professions and demographics. It has a little Kukri in it too with the downward sloping angle too. 

This blade shape is pretty unique in my collection, the closest I probably have is some of the leaf-shaped Spyderco’s like the Manix or Sage 2, both are different though. The grind here is full flat grind which is always my favorite, here though it has a crowned spine which isn’t super common in my more modern collection, it makes it comfortable in the hand. Centering here was spot on, and lockup was good. 

The blade performance is my favorite feature of the Nightshade. It really can take on a ton of different tasks and excel at that. I did a little food prep with it over my time with it, and it did well here. I tend to do very little food prep with my pocket knives at home because I have kitchen knives, and as a side note, I reviewed the Vosteed Morgan which is from the same designer over at Vosteed. Food prep isn’t all what it is good at, I am in the process of doing some reorganizing at home which involved breaking down a lot of cardboard boxes. This is a lot of draw-cut motions to cut through both cardboard, tape, and an occasional zip tie or plastic strapping. It did that without issue and stayed pretty sharp still. The only thing I have done is to stop this with some Gunny Juice diamond emulsion on leather. 

 

Feel in the hand

The G10 Scales on the Nightshade are simple and rounded, edges are well chamfered so there are no sharp points. The G10 gives some texture but it’s not aggressive, nor is it smooth. One of the more interesting design features of the scales is the different color materials around the pivot of the knife. 

To me the scales are comfortable, I can fit for fingers on the body, and my thumb on the jimping up top on the spine. If I am gripping as hard as I possibly can, the clip creates a little bit of a hot spot for me but it’s not a problem with normal grip strength. I like that the lock bar has a little grip milled into it too. 

 

Action

The Nightshade is designed as a flipper but that’s not the only way to deploy it. It runs on ceramic bearings and it closes just as nicely as it opens. The flipper has deep jimping on it. The detent is good but a little stronger than I expected. I had no issues using a light switch motion and it makes a satisfying swack when opening too. The flipper tab it’s too pocky and actually allows the knife to sit on its back very nice and square. On my knife, I am able to press on the side of the blade a little to open it too. I think Vosteed could easily make a thumb stud version or a version with a thumb stud and both would work very well too. 

 

The closure is drop shut smooth. This is how it came from the factory, I haven’t disassembled it, to clean or get the factory oil out, I did put a drop of Gunny Glide on it though. It’s drop shut closed, I think that’s due to the bearings and the size of the blade. It just adds to the fidget factor of the knife here for me. 

 

Retentions

Retention on the Nightshade LT is accomplished via a deep carry simple stainless steel clip that only mounts on the right-hand side of the knife. For me, I had no issues either with the knife coming loose or the clip snagging on anything. There is also a lanyard hold if that’s your style. 

The only pitfall that I have with the knife is really that this isn’t a lefty-friendly knife. Not a big deal for me personally, I transitioned to right-side carry years ago, but I know this will bother some people. 

 

Prybar

A few quick words on the Vosteed Sharkbomb prybar too. It’s made of titanium, has a heavy stonewash, and has a fish-style backbone laser engraved on both sides. The front features the prybar, and a nail puller, the eye is a hex bit driver, however, my standard-sized bits didn’t quite fit, and smaller ones do though. It has a bottle opener for the mouth, and a deep carry pocket clip on both sides. I like the design and it was an impulse purchase for me. I do actually use a prybar at work sometimes to help depress the lever on an ethernet cable in tight areas. It also came in nice high-quality packaging. 

 

Final Thoughts

I have quite a few pocket knives, and many are drop points, sheep foot, and other designs. Most have some negatives, like the grind might be too thick and not great at slicing or opening mail, others have a delicate tip, or might not carry in the pocket as well due to a compromised factory clip (Spyderco’s standard clip). The Nightshade for me doesn’t have any of those, it’s a slicing machine and the tip has enough steel where I don’t have to worry about it being too delicate.

For me, the biggest downfall is probably its width in the pocket. It’s not thin and takes up some real estate, but even with thin shorts on the knife isn’t what I would call too big for me personally. I’m not sure I would call it a lightweight in its name since it’s over 4oz, but it does have a pretty large piece of steel for the blade too. 

Between my two Nighshades, it’s honestly been in my pocket several times a week, for weeks and weeks. It’s a great pocket knife, it’s fun to flip and play with, and it does very well as a knife. MSRP is $69 with free shipping in the USA,  and I think it’s pretty a good value, especially with the coupon codes I have down in the description. That will knock $5 off for the knife only or there is also a code to save $20 off the Titanium Bomb Prybar and the Nightshade LT combo which makes it a pretty good deal to grab both. 

Get the Nightshade LT from Vosteed direct at https://www.vosteed.com/products/nightshade-lt and use code “LR5” to save $5 off the Nightshade or use code “LR20” to save $20 off the Nightshade and Prybar combo.

Link for just the Shark Bomb Titanium Prybar at https://www.vosteed.com/products/shark-bomb-prybar

Get the Gray Nightshade LT on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3TvWEEY
Get the Black Nightshade LT on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3ebx4Fd

Sofirn SC21 Pro Review ($20 Shipped, 1100 Lumens, LH351D, USB-C)

Sofirn has a revision on their SC21, and they are calling it the SC21 Pro. The main difference is that it’s running Anduril 1 despite what the manual says. It still has the Samsung LH351D emitter as the non pro version, onboard charging, and retrains the 16340 battery. Thanks to Sofirn for sending this to me to review.

 

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Purchase the SC21 Pro at https://www.sofirnlight.com/products/sofirn-sc21pro-anduril-1-ui-mini-flashlight-with-lh351d-led

Use the code “B1VJQER6” to save 30% until the end of August 2022

 

Packaging & Accessories

Packaging is Sofirns standard no-frills box. Inside the accessories include the light itself, a USB-A to C charging cable, pocket clip, lanyard, and Orings. The 800ma 16340 battery is optional but it only increases the price by about $2. Well worth getting in my opinion. The manual has a rather large misprint, saying that this light is running Anduril 2, when in fact it’s running Anduril 1. This makes the diagram and operating instructions different.

 

Construction & Design

The light is made from aluminum, and available in 3 colors, black, red, and the green I have here. The tail cap is magnetic and allows the light to tail stand even with a lanyard. The pocket clip mounts near the tail only and is non-captured. Knurling is a pretty standard diamond knurling of average grip. Threads are anodized, greased, and smooth. Internally there is a tail spring, upfront just a post in the head. There is easy access to the pogo pins to allow you to flash other firmware or different firmware versions if you want to. 

The head itself has the model name and brand engraved on the front and the “required” markings on the back near the charging port. I think the warning hot at the head is unnecessary even though yes it gets hot. The charging port cover is opposite the switch. Sofirn has used this port on other lights. In this case, I find it a little hard to get out of the way and for some reason a little tricky with the cables I had to keep charging. The port does seem to be set back a bit deep. At the top, there is a minimal smooth bezel, with the AR glass lens, and a light orange peel reflector underneath. 

 

UI

Despite what the manual says this light is running Anduril 1. Sofirn tells me that there was a misprint in production and that the manual is created well in advance. Future versions may ship with corrected manuals. I don’t see Sofirn has posted a corrected manual on their website yet, which would be nice to see them do. I won’t go into depth here with Anduril because most of us know it by now. You have the option of a ramping mode and stepped mode, and all the goodies that Anduril offers. It is disappointing though that a light that came out in mid 2022 as a new design and a “Pro” model doesn’t ship with Anduril 2.

 

Size & Weight

For a 16340 light this isn’t the smallest in class, and is a bit on the longer side of things, more in line with my 18350’s almost instead of 16340. I measured the length at 73mm Max diameter at 22.5mm and weigh with the clip and battery at 2.11oz or 60g. It’s IPX8 water rated too. 

 

Retention

I enjoyed carrying this light around on some recent trips out of town. It’s nearly the same size in diameter as my Reylight Lan/Pineapples which I enjoy carrying typically. The light has a dual direction pocket clip that attaches at the back and rotates but is pretty tight. It was a little difficult to get it started when putting it in the pocket due to the tension, but this tension also creates security which is a good thing. It’s a decent pocket clip that’s very deep carry which I like. There is also a place at the tail to attach the included lanyard. 

 

LED & Beam

The light is using a Samsung LH351D in neutral white, and high CRI. I measured 4951k and 96CRI with my Opel meter. My sample didn’t have any green tinge you sometimes see with the LH351D. The beam has a large hotspot, minimal spill, decent for EDC, but they could have used a TIR here and saved some length most likely. There is PWM here, as you would expect with Anduril, but it’s not an issue. The button on the light does have a built-in green LED that can be configured in the UI for low, high, blinking, and off. In low it’s not a huge consumer of power. 

Due to the nature of Anduril, I won’t give specific output measurements since the light doesn’t have defined modes. I will say when I first started the light I saw 1044 lumens, and at 30 seconds I saw 028 Lumens.

 

Runtimes & Heat

I used the optional Sofirn 800mAh 16340 battery for my calibrated runtime tests. Turbo lasted here for about 4 minutes before stepping down significantly to about 250 lumens to cool off. As it cooled it did increase output. The total useable light was 35 minutes, but the light kept running in the absolute lowest mode to 1 hour. Max heat I saw during this time was 63.5C at about 5 minutes. Keep in mind this was after I calibrated the light and raised that temp threshold.

 

Recharging

The light has built-in recharging via USB-C. I had no issues using USB-C to C or PD Chargers here. The port cover is good as mentioned but kind of large for this small light in my opinion. I tested with the optional 800mAh Sofirn battery. I tested it at 734mAh of capacity. The light charged from where it shut off to full in right at 1:06:00. Max charging rate was 0.9A which is slightly over 1C for the included battery. The shape of the charge curve here was pretty normal. 

 

Final Thoughts

There really isn’t much here that’s different on the SC21 Pro vs the non-pro. A 100-lumen difference isn’t going to be very noticeable to the eye. The biggest difference is the firmware where the SC21 Pro is running Anduril 1 which enthusiasts are going to like, and muggles are going to find confusing. 

They kept the exterior design which I think is solid, and the pocket clip here is pretty good. Best of all the LH351D returns in a neutral white and high CRI. Add into that it’s very affordable at $26 with the included battery before any additional discounts. It’s magnetic and available in 3 exterior colors, overall a pretty great value. Sofirn continues to bring in great budget options to the marketplace. In this physical size of light, you can certainly pay more for a light that I don’t think has as nice of an emitter or as good of UI. This would make a nice gift or entry into the EDC and flashlight worlds without breaking the bank.  

 

Purchase the SC21 Pro at https://www.sofirnlight.com/products/sofirn-sc21pro-anduril-1-ui-mini-flashlight-with-lh351d-led

Use the code “B1VJQER6” to save 30% until the end of August 2022

JLasers 450nm Laser (Affordable, 1.6W, 14500 Battery)

Thrower flashlights seem to fascinate many enthusiasts and is a gateway into the hobby. Recently LEP lights have taken that distance to new levels using lasers, what I have for you today here is a very powerful blue laser that can reach an incredible distance, and even burn things. Thanks to JLasers for sending me their 1.6W 450nm blue laser.

 

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JLasers: 450nm the laser I have: https://www.jlasers.org/lasers/450nm-1600mw

JLasers Website: https://www.jlasers.org

Laser Safety Glasses that I have: https://amzn.to/3C7pDbP

 

Safety

Before I get into the actual review, I did want to touch on safety here. These lasers are a class 4 lasers, and that’s directly related to their power. This is not a toy and can do serious damage to people, pets, and things when used incorrectly. Pointing them at an aircraft is a felony in many places. You really should invest in some special laser glasses to protect yourself when using this especially inside. I have a pair of Honeywell Uvex Ultra-Spec 2000 which provide protection and conveniently are also what I use when curing UV glue when I glue tritium tubes in place. I will link to them in the comments below.

 

Performance

Check out the video for this. The results are pretty impressive and it’s near the first half of the video 🙂

 

Talk about the host & lens

So internally the light is using an Osram PTLB450B 5.6mm multimode laser diode powered by a JLasers JBL450 single mode boat driver. It produces a laser beam at the 450nm wavelength. To my eyes, this is a dark blue almost purple beam. Lasers have a duty cycle here to prevent damage, it’s recommended to run it for up to 1 minute on, and then 5 minutes off to cool. The 14500 battery goes positive side up, and interfaces directly with the PCB. One thing I would like to see is a small brass contact like you see on many flashlights, this can help with wear and ensure a good connection in the future, and more compatibility with other batteries if say spring was used.

JLasers recommends a 14500 lithium ion button top battery capable of at least 3A discharge. I found that I could run these Vapcell Gold flat tops without a problem, but the laser was less powerful since it was just at the 3A limit, it took more time as a result to burn cardboard. I ended up running instead of this blue Vapcell that was a button top and capable of 7A continuous discharge, the change in performance was impressive until the voltage sag kicked in. It’s worth noting here that fake and poor quality Li-ion batteries are a big problem, Amazon and Ebay are bad sources for batteries, Illumn.com is my favorite seller of legit batteries in the USA.

Up front, there is a small lens that unscrews so that the beam is focusable. I melted my first lens by getting the laser too close to some black foam, trying to burn a hole through it, and instead, it melted the lens. Good to know these are replaceable if you make some rookie moves like I did. While JLasers doesn’t have this item listed on his storefront, he does sell them separately.

Everything here is packaged in a stainless steel host. This is a common host that you also see on generic flashlights on AliExpress, I actually happen to have one. I think JLasers must polish up his more, though because there is a big difference in appearance. Machining here is pretty decent, the threads are a little gritty but the included grease helps. These are tail-activated lasers with a mechanical reverse clicky switch and lanyard attachment at the tail. It’s not tapped or milled for a pocket clip which I think is ok in this application. There is a spring-loaded piston in the rear, and at the front, there is a battery polarity sticker on the inside of the host which is a nice touch. The weight of my battery and lanyard was 120.7g. 

The packaging was a very basic generic cardboard box. I think it would add to the product to add a Certificat of Authenticity with the specs of the laser, and maybe a half page of safety and operating instructions. 

 

Website

JLasers is a small business out of Canada and that’s worth noting here because of the website. Functionally the website is fine, but it was created using Google sites, so it doesn’t have it’s own domain name, and to finish your order you are bounced out to Stripe. This is fine, but in my opinion, JLasers should go ahead and spend some time bringing the site into the current century for a more cohesive and professional experience. The current format could cause some buyers to question the legitimacy if they didn’t have prior knowledge they were a trustworthy business. Right now JLaser can only be found on Facebook for social media, and it’s a little tricky to find the link on his website, but it’s under Contact Us. Hopefully, they expand out to other platforms in the future. Powerful lasers should go viral!

 

Customer Service

Just a quick few words about customer service with JLasers. Jim was fantastic to converse with over email. I’m not a laser expert and had a few questions, especially about safety and he was more than happy to give me additional directions and reassured me that my laser glasses were appropriate. He was super nice too when I melted the lens too which was completely my own fault.

 

Final Thoughts

High-powered lasers are fun and impressive to shine up into the sky, or point out things at a great distance. My retired neighbor was so impressed with mine that he had me order him one. He loves star gazing and watching the international space station fly over so I am sure this will aid in pointing out those to others.

High-powered lasers have been around for a while. I remember ordering a green laser from China about 17 years ago from China and thinking it was amazing. This one puts that to shame in terms of performance. I always wanted better lasers, especially something that could burn a match head, or pop a balloon, but knew it was pretty expensive after looking at places like Wicked Lasers, where a 1W laser in the same wavelength would run you about $200. This JLasers 450nm is only $60 and is more powerful and smaller. Now if you are in the USA there is a shipping charge that adds to the cost, but you’re still looking at about 40% cheaper for more performance. As of publishing this video, Jlasers offers 7 different models in a variety of colors and wavelengths, all being under $100 before shipping. These are hand built so it might take a little while to build when you place your order but it ends up being a fantastic value and a warranty is even offered too. I can recommend this specific laser.

JLasers: 450nm the laser I have: https://www.jlasers.org/lasers/450nm-1600mw

JLasers Website: https://www.jlasers.org

Laser Safety Glasses that I have: https://amzn.to/3C7pDbP

 

Wuben X-1 Falcon Review (12,000 Lumens, 3X XHP70.2, USB-C)

Today I am taking a look at a new light from Wuben with the X-1 Falcon. What I have here is a preproduction sample, but the light has now been formally announced. Wuben has been around for a while but isn’t super well known. They are not afraid to try things, and they have done that here with the X-1 Falcon. It has 3 Cree XHP 70.2 LED’s and 2 21700 batteries in a side-by-side configuration in a very rectangular package. Thanks to Wuben for sending it my way.

 

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Learn more about the Wuben X-1 at https://www.wubenlight.com/pages/x-1

 

Packaging & Accessories.

Since this was a preproduction light, mine came in a plastic hard case, with a paracord style lanyard and a USB-A to C cable (Who doesn’t have a ton of these at this point 🙂 ). I was also able to request a copy of the manual. I suspect the full version will have the full retail box, Charging cable, Storage bag (According to the manual), and normal paperwork. I will note the manual I have is a little rough in the translations. There looks to be an optional bike mount too. 

 

Construction & Design

The light is made from aluminum and anodized black. It’s a bit of a unique design being a large rectangle. The corners are angled and have extra milling into them as well as milled channels on the sides, top, and bottom for style. To me it’s a “space age design” and kind of reminds me of something you would see in a Sci-Fi movie or something. 

The most unique aspect of the design is functional too, right under the button the light has a passageway for active cooling with a heat sync under and a small fan on the right-hand side. The fan is thermally controlled, and it only comes on when it gets hot enough and turns off when it cools. You can hear it slightly and feel it too if holding it near the top. I suspect the fan is why I don’t see a formal water rating either for this light and also why I didn’t really want to test this myself. Opposite the fan is the USB-C port with a silicone cover. It’s tucked nicely away.

The light is a very solid feeling in the hand. The button sits at in a pretty natural position, where you want to rest your thumb. It’s not a small light and one I will probably put the lanyard on. It has some harder edges and isn’t the most ergonomic thing, but it’s not uncomfortable either.

While they don’t advertise the batteries are replaceable, it is if you remove the 4 screws on the tail cap. So here is what I found inside.

Up front is the unique shaped lens to fit the 3 emitters side by side. It’s an anti-reflective coated glass lens with a short orange peel reflector where the 3x Cree LED’s sit behind. 

 

Retention Options

According to the manual, the light will ship with a Storage bag that looks like a holster, and a lanyard. Since this is the prototype I only have the lanyard to show you. You guys know I am not a big lanyard user but on this one, I will be installing it. I think with the size and weight here a bit of extra security when in use is a good idea. 

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length at 128.4mm, width at 56mm, and depth at 28mm. Weight is 13.42oz or 380.5g. Like I said it’s very solid feeling light, and the heft adds to that. There is no official water rating on this light, I imagine do to that fan. I would imagine it would handle light rain ok, but definitely don’t submerge it. I don’t have a ton of lights like this to compare it to, but here are a few that I choose to give a size reference.

 

LED & Beam

This light is running 3x Cree XHP 70.2 emitters in a side-by-side configuration. With my Opple meter, I measured 5369K tint, and 65Ra. The DUV here indicates it does have some green in the tint, which I tend to see more on lower power output. This isn’t uncommon from these LEDs but not too overpowering. Minimal PWM on lower outputs.

The beam itself isn’t completely round, the hotspot is more oval than round. It’s not pure flood but pretty close, there is a minimal large hot center and a significant amount of spill around. The outer edges of the spill does mimic the shape of the reflector too. 

 

Outputs

Outputs for the most part looked pretty close to what was claimed on my homemade lumen tube with the exception of Turbo. My lumen tube and the different adapter sizes are really designed for round lights, I didn’t custom design a rectangular one for this light, so that may be where part of the losses are. Even with that, it’s about 74% of the claimed max output. I have to also mention this is a prototype so there may be some slight differences in it too. It could also be part of the programming mode which I will explain later.

 

Heat & Runtime

Let’s start with Turbo for my Heat and Runtime tests. Turbo as expected here doesn’t very long, right at a minute and heats up the light quickly to 47C within the same amount of time. From there it steps down to about 2200 lumens where it runs happily for the remainder of the 2 hour runtime. Peak heat ended up being about 55C. I think it may have gotten a little hotter, but my tape stretched and didn’t hold the thermal couple as tightly. 

The small internal fan seems to be thermally reactive, not coming on until it reaches a certain temperature, instead of coming on automatically in certain modes. I can’t say how much of a difference this really makes, but I would guess it helps mostly that middle LED that’s less exposed to outside air, and has a smaller surface area with the casing.

 

I did a comparison testing Turbo, High, Medium, and Low as a comparison between each other. Turbo and High were identical basically. Medium ran out to 5:37:00 just under 1000 lumens, and low for 12:30:00 at 200 lumens or so.

 

UI

My light arrived in Lockout mode, so 4 presses of the button unlock or lock the light. Single press to turn on, long press once on to cycle through the 4 main modes. Double press from anywhere to get to turbo. The light does have blinking modes that you can get to from anywhere by triple pressing. Triple press again to cycle between strobe and SOS modes.

The unique aspect of this light is the programming mode, It allows you to adjust the preset value of the 4 main modes by one on Clicking and holding and the light will ramp up slightly and blink when at the top of the range. Just stop when you reach the brightness you want and it will memorize it. There are upper and lower bounds on what each mode will do too, so I will show you the chart here rather than explain it. 

 

Recharging

The light uses 2 internal 21700 batteries, while not advertised to be user replaceable, they are pretty each to reach by removing the 4 (PH#1 Sized) screws at the tail. The included lights are flat tops, unprotected LG INR21700M50T 5000mAh according to the wrapper and have springs on both ends inside of the light.

On the left-hand side of the light, just behind the grill air exhaust, there is the USB-C charging port protected by a silicone cover. It’s a little different design but works well here and stays out of the way nicely. What’s neat is this light will charge at 9V instead of the lower 5V like most lights. This means a little faster-charging speed if your charger supports it. Completed the charge in 2:44:00 which is impressive considering the light has 10,000mAh of batteries inside it, about 41Wh. I had no issues charging it with USB-C to C or with a PD charger. 

 

Final Thoughts

You don’t typically see a lot of side by side lights, especially larger cells like the 21700’s in this light. This is a hefty package but it feels very solid. I like the space age, Sci-Fi type design here, and it seems Wuben is the only one doing that really.  

The UI here is easy to use, and the programming feature of each mode is kind of cool too, it helps you dial in exactly the mode spacing you want within reason. High, medium and low had impressive runtimes, but I wish Turbo lasted for more than a minute, especially with the fan and the compromises that have been made to accommodate it, like water resistance. 

 

I really appreciate here that the batteries are replaceable with a bit of work. That should lead to a long life, on what I am sure will be a higher-priced light. It’s a unique beam pattern that I found to be just fine during normal use. The XPH 70.2 isn’t my favorite LED, but here it’s not too cool white, and the tint is’t overwhelmingly green so it works. 

So all in all a solid offering, in a different format, with a modern design, and something a little different in the flashlight world. I like that Wuben took the chance with the X-1 Falcon to be different. Let me know what you guys think of the X-1 in the comments below.

Thrunite TC20 V2 Review (4000 Lumens, XHP 70.2, USB-C)

Today I am taking at the Thrunite TC20 V2. It’s not the newest model but it’s still recent and an update on the Thrunite TC20 V1. It’s running a Cree XHP70.2 LED, a 26650 battery, and has onboard USB-C charging. If you want a light that can sustain 2000 lumens for more than an hour, listen up. Thanks to Thrunite for “accidentally” sending this to me ?.

 

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Get the TC20 V2 in CW at https://amzn.to/3JgfX0p

Get the TC20 V2 in NW at https://amzn.to/3oFSV9A

 

Packaging & Accessories

Standard Thrunite brown cardboard box here with the elastic band, I would call it functional minimalism. Inside is the entire kit with almost everything you need to maintain and use the light for years. You get the light itself, a 5000mAh 26650 Thrunite battery, nylon holster, USB-A to C charging cable, lanyard, a bag of extras including o’rings, button seal, USB port cover, and split ring, a manual and warranty card.

 

Construction & Design

The light is made from Aluminum and hard anodized black. Build quality is always good from Thrunite and this is no exception. The tail cap provides a flat surface that allows for tail standing and has a lanyard hole. The cap is removable and non-magnetic. Inside there is a stout spring on the tail end only.

The body tube has traded knurls for milled blocks in an almost frag pattern. The corners are well chamfered though so it’s not too aggressive. Square Threads on both ends are anodized, smooth, and nonreversible.

The head features the standard Thrunite electronic switch with a metal button on top, and a small battery indicator LED in the middle. Directly opposite the button is the USB-C charging port that’s covered via a silicone rubber flap. It’s decent fitting and does stay out of the way. The light has moderate milling at the top for heat dissipation and weight reduction. The bezel is flat. The lens is AR coated and the reflector has a moderate orange peel. Overall small but positive design changes from the original.


Retention

Retention options include the included nylon holster. It has elastic sides, plastic dring, and a fixed belt loop. It gets the job done but is just of average quality. The light also comes with a branded lanyard and split ring that can be attached at the tail if you wish.

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length at 118.1mm, the diameter of the body tube at 32.6mm, the diameter of the head at 42mm. The weight with the battery is 242.5g. The light is IP68 water rated.

 

LED & Beam

The TC20 V2 is running the Cree XHP70.2 LED that Thrunite says is capable of 4000 lumens. It’s available in Cool and Neutral white, and I have the cool white version here. On my Opple meter, I measured 5737 lumens, 66CRI. The tint didn’t have any green tinge to it and it seems to be a constant current driver. 

You would think this would be a pure floody light but it actually has a decent amount of throw to it at the hotspot that’s fairly tight.

Mode spacing here is less than ideal. I am very happy that it still has firefly at 0.5 lumens, but with 3 main modes to cover 0.5 to 1800 lumens, there are some pretty big jumps there between medium and high going from 350 to 1800. Another mode somewhere around 1000 lumens would be nice at least.

I will insert the output results I got from my lumen tube testing here. 

 

Heat & Runtime

The light is able to sustain it’s 3500+ lumens for 3:45 before stepping down to around 1600 lumens where it will run for 45 minutes, before stepping down to about 1400 lumens to finish out the remainder of it’s 1:45:00 runtime. Peak heat during this time was about 58C. Running on medium nets an impressive 11:15:00.

Where this light really shines in my opinion is the amount of time it can sustain well over 1000 lumens. This light maintains over 1400 lumens for over an hour. I frequently get asked what light can I buy that will stay over 1000 or 2000 lumens for an hour, well here is a good option for you if that’s what your looking for.

 

UI

UI here is Thrunite’s standard. Single press to turn on, long press once on to cycle up between the 3 main modes, double press to go to Turbo, triple press to go to strobe. It’s a very simple interface, and it’s easy to use which is nice but also limiting. A fast ramping interface would work pretty well here too given the limited number of modes and wide range of outputs it must cover. 

 

Recharging

The TC20 V2 has onboard USB-C charging that’s protected by a silicone rubber port cover. I charged the light charged the light from LVP to full at 4.15v in 3:48:00. The curve here wasn’t as clean as I am used to seeing but nothing that I was concerned about. You are able to use the light during charging but only in low and medium modes. It charges via USB-C to C or PD without an issue. While the included battery is officially rated at 5000mAh, I tested mine with my Vapcell S4 Plus at 5500mAh.  

 

Final Thoughts

The 26650 flashlight form factor seems to have kind of fallen out of popularity with the increasing availability of 21700 batteries having similar capacities, but I like the 26650 size in my hand personally from an ergonomic perspective.

One of the best features here in my opinion is probably how long this light can sustain 1500+ lumens before stepdown. That’s a feat that many high lumen output lights just can’t do due to heat and battery fatigue. This does that with ease. That said mode spacing here could be better to give you something between 1853 lumens and 320 which is the jump between high and medium.

This is going to be a good all-around use light, I think it would be a good option for something like camping or emergency prep as it’s good around, has quite a bit of life at higher lumen outputs and size isn’t as critical of a feature.