Olight PL-Mini 2 Review (Sub Compact & Compact Weapon Light)

Today I am taking a look at the Olight PL-Mini 2, a weapon light from Olight designed for compacts and subcompact pistols. Thanks to Skyben for sending this Pl-Mini 2 to me to check out and test at the range.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/bfjczyN

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging for the Olight PL-Mini 2 is much like other recent Olight’s with a white high quality cardboard outer box. On the inside, you have a pull out tray covered by a cardboard cover that contains the manual and a right angle torx key. The light, charger and accessories come housed in a plastic form fitted container. Included accessories are the PL-Mini 2 itself, Olight magnetic charger (Special for the PL Mini lights), a metal 1913 rail piece (Glock is preinstalled), 2 extra screws, and a T6 Torx wrench. Skyben also includes 2 extras, a small little battery case for CR123 batteries, and a USB flash drive sized LED light.

Construction

The light is built from anodized aluminium with a smooth fairly glossy finish. The rear left and right buttons are plastic, and designed to bet pulled down to actuate. Compared to the original PL-Mini the PL Mini 2 is shorter but a bit thicker in height.

The big difference here is the mount. It has the same quick detach lever as the PL2 RL that when unlocked you have to then push on this actuator to expand left and right the attachment point, I like this and it adds additional security incase the quick detach was to come unlatched, the light wont drop off your pistol. The element that the PL Mini 2 adds is that in the unlocked position the mount section then slides forward and backwards allowing you to get the rear end of the light to fit a wider selection of firearms.

For instance the original PL-Mini won’t fit on the rail section I have installed on my S&W Shield, the light is too long, but the PL-Mini 2 I am able to sift the light forward so that it will connect. For those of you wondering I am using a ReCover Tactical SHR9 Rail adapter, and it’s really a nice option for the shield, with super easy install.

One thing to note is that there is No locktight on the screws that hold the adjustable rail section to the light. It hasn’t been a problem through my shooting the light but it’s something I might end up doing to just make sure they won’t ever come loose. I did decide to see if I could pry off the small rail section to see inside, and with a little force I was able. Between the two pieces there is a black silicone gasket, and inside there is a 130mAh battery. I was a little surprised to see the light is mostly potted with a clear silicone type material.

I had no issues with durability, having shot about 300 rounds through it on two outings to the range, from 4 different guns in 3 different calibers, 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 ACP.

Physical Comparisons

PL Mini 2

Weight – 73g

Length (Shortest) – 44mm

Length (Longest) – 52mm

Width – 27.5mm

Height – 32mm

 

PL Mini

Weight 65.5g

Length – 53mm

Width – 28.5mm

Height – 27mm

 

To sum up the numbers the PL Mini 2 is shorter, but has more height and weighs slightly more due to the more complex mount system.

LED/Beam/Runtime

This light uses the Cree XP-L HD LED in cool white. In comparison to the Original PL-Mini the tint in version 2 is a bit warmer, but with a slight green tint in my example. The reflector is a little larger due to the increased height of the light, and it seems to throw a bit larger beam. The light throws pretty well the reflector size, and for a weapon light this is what you want.

600 lumens on such a small platform will have a hard time dissipating heat and this is no different. It’s brightest mode only lasts 2-3 minutes, the good news is the step down is smooth and slow but significant. By the 11 minutes mark, the light is at about 10% relative output. It maintains this steadily for another 35 minutes before decreasing slowly down to almost nothing before it shut off at 100 minutes.

UI

The UI is very basic with essentially no options on this light. The buttons have basically one mode that either lock on if pressed quickly, or act in momentary if held down. There is no strobe on this light.

Recharging

Recharging happens via the magnetic olight charging system. The PL Mini 2 like the original use the special version of the charger, my guess this is to reduce the charging speed due to the small battery. Overall recharge time from shut off point was 52 minutes.

 

Pro’s

  • Adjustable solution that will fit most compact and subcompact pistols with rail support
  • Stepdowns are more gradual and slow, not big steps, but it’s initial 600 lumens only lasts 2-3 minutes.

 

Con’s

  • Holster Support – A few brands announced they will be making holsters for the lights, Olight still has a lot of work to do to catch up to the more established brands in the pistol light market for holster support.
  • Clamp on the left hand side, when mounted easily catches a finger when going to turn it on.

 

Conclusion

The PL-Mini 2 is almost a completely different light from the 1st generation. While they do similar things, the Mini 2 prioritizes it’s modularity to fit smaller compacts and subcompact pistols, and makes design decisions to accomplish this such increasing it’s height, to make it’s overall length shorter to better fit compact and subcompact framed pistols. As a weapon light it works well, I don’t have any complaints there, the magnetic recharging system is very convenient, and works well for the size. My two problems are the quick disconnect lever is a little too long and kind of covers the switch on that side. Left handed shooters would notice this the most or if you trigger the light activation with your off hand for right handed shooters. I think the design could be improved by at least making it round or perhaps coming up with another lever design that is smaller. The other main problem I see is holster support. There are a few manufactures that offer semi custom holsters but not many. Be prepared to be buying custom holsters if you decide to run this light as it’s just not widely supported like some other brands are, especially if you have an adapter rail like I do. As long as you know this going in it’s a nice little pistol light that works well in my testing.

Pick up the PL-Mini 2 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Zt1RkL

Klarus ST15R Review (Bike & Camping Flashlight)

Klarus has a new handheld light on the market called the ST15R Night Guardian. It’s a general purpose light that comes with a bike mount, diffuser and a clip to go with you where you go. It runs on multiple lithium battery sizes and will recharge 18650’s via onboard microUSB. Thanks to Flashlightz for sending it to me to take a look at today.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/WrODgx0

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging on the Klarus ST15R is a retail top hanging box, that’s mat black with the light in raised gloss black on a camping scene, It touts the lumen rating on the front, that it includes a battery and that it’s rechargeable. The sides show a few feature such as the intelligent thermal protection system, USB rechargeable and others. On the back you get headlining features, and more detailed specifications including LED used, Brightness ratings, runtime, throw, and sizes and weight.

The package includes Flashlight, YLE 18650 2600mAh battery (More on that in the recharging section), pocket clip, lanyard, extra oring, MicroUSB charging cable, Bike Mount, and silicone reflector dome. The dome is nice, I wish more lights included them in the package.

Construction

Klarus stepped up the game on the ST15R in my opinion. The light is very nicely machined and the finish is without fault. The light is made from 6061-T6 Aluminium and anodized in a smooth mat black, with a very light texture. Starting at the tail, you have the mechanical switch that takes a firm press, covered with a silicone boot. It has 2 small raised areas for a lanyard to pass through and that allows the light to tail stand. While not truly deep carry the clip on the ST15R is only 20mm from the top allowing for a decently deep carry, much better than some of the competitors lights.

The tail and body are one piece, below the tail section there is a ring milled out for the clip to attach. The clip is fairly standard, it’s removable and rotates 360 degrees, plenty of relief to fit jeans or a fairly thick piece of clothing but there is a ledge that will get caught slightly. The finish looks to be a glossy parkerized type finish, not paint.

The body tube portion of the light has a nice milling pattern of a tight fine spiral of about 180 degrees. While this does not provide a ton of grip, I like the way it looks alot, it’s something different over standard knurling and is easier to keep clean too. I think it’s a classier look as well, and I suspect it isn’t cheap to machine either. Threads are anodized, and squarecut. There are springs on both ends of the light as well.

On the head section the button for me is a nice little upgrade. It’s an electronic switch with LED indicators underneath the bezel. The way the LED’s are diffused in the bezel makes the light soft and pretty even it just looks nicer than I expected. The LED’s are green, yellow and red based on the battery charge level. Opposite the button is the MicroUSB recharging port with a silicone cover. The cover is tight and there is a little extra bit to fit down into the port. I didn’t have any trouble with any of the MicroUSB cables I have but if yours had a wide connector area it might not fit. The of the head do have some milling for heat dissipation.

The front of the head section itself is smooth, the bezel is a silver anodized aluminum. It looks like the head is assembled from the front. The glass is double anti reflective coated with a large visible black o’ring. The reflector is smooth and deep. The LED is nicely centered and surrounded with a black disk.

Size/Weight

I measured length at 142mm, maximum diameter at 33mm and minimum diameter on the body tube at 25mm. Weight with the included battery, and clip came in at 152G.

Length wise it’s slightly shorter than an Olight Warrior X, and very similar in most dimensions to a Nitecore MH12GTS. See the video for some visual comparisons of this.

 

LED/BeamShots

LED in use is a Cree XP-L HD V6 LED, no official tint data is given but I would call it a bright white, not too cool, but not warm. I don’t find it offensive and like it. For nature stuff it’s probably a little too cool for my ideal light.

The beam pattern has a definite hot spot, more like a thrower, the spill is pretty minimal, less than 5% of the light if I had to guess. I like that Klarus decided to include the diffuser on this light, since it is a bit throwy this really change things up and provides more light 360 degrees around. Now you could use it not only at night while hiking but also inside a tent suspended from the top, etc. More lights should come with a diffuser.

Working Voltage is 2.5 – 8.4V beaning it has no problem taking 18650, 2x 18350, or 2x CR123A.

Low – 10 Lumens

Medium – 100 Lumens

High – 400 Lumens

Turbo – 1200 Lumens

 

Strobe – 1200 Lumens

Beacon  – 100 Lumens

SOS – 100 Lumens

 

For my runtime tests I used the included 2600mAh battery. Total runtime was 210 minutes. The curves on this are generally pretty gradual, no hard step downs until the end. I believe this is due to the active thermal controls the light has and not timed step downs. The light held 80% relative output for right at 20 minutes which is pretty good. The graphs really tell the story, so make sure to check those out.

UI

The light has an on/off switch on the tail, with an electronic switch in the head. Once turned on you have constant on modes, Low, Medium, High and Turbo and you cycle through these with a single click each. The light does have memory mode if switched off with the tail switch in the constant on modes. When the light is on double clicking the switch in the head gets to the strobe modes. Long press on the same button to switch between Strobe, Beacon, and SOS. There are no shortcuts to turbo, or low.

While charging you can can click the mode button and the light will come on in low.

 

Recharging

The light recharges via Micro USB in a port opposite the button. It is recessed and wide cables or cables with large molding may have trouble reaching. I didn’t have this problem on the 3 or 4 I tested. The light does have LED indicators around the button so it will show battery charge status for 5 second when the light is turned on or changed modes. Green is greater than 70%, Orange is between 30-70%, and red less than 30%, and red flashing is less than 10%

The light includes a 2600mAh 18650 battery that is a button top and protected cell. It says working voltage is 4.2V to 2.75V which is a bit low for my preferences. On mine I can clearly see the label of the underlying cell and in this case it’s a YLE INR18650A260 the datasheet can be found http://www.yiklik.com/upload/manual/INR18650A260.pdf This is a Chinese battery supplier, that makes a variety of 18650’s. It seems they have been focused more on batteries for bikes, other personal transportation, and tools more then high draw flashlights.

Recharging Speed was measured at 1A, so charging the light over USB from it’s shut off point took 3 hours and 5 minutes in my test. Terminating Charge Voltage after rest of the battery was 4.17V.

When charged the red LED’s around the switch go to green, and the light gives a brief low power flash of the main emitter. I like this, it’s more noticeable than just an LED changing color.

Pro’s

  • Can take a wide variety of batteries, 18650, 2x CR123A, 2x 16340, 2x 18350
  • Definite upgrade in machining, finish, and packaging.
  • I love the slight sliver of LED’s around the switch, it just better done then similar lights that do this.
  • Includes a bike mount and diffuser dome.

 

Con’s

  • Not a big fan of double click to strobe, I would prefer a double click to turbo UI with triple click to Strobe.
  • No Moonlight mode.
  • Not using a well known established brand of battery for their branded cells.
  • No holster is included, not a big deal for me personally but worth mentioning.

 

Conclusion

To sum up the Klarus ST15R is a nice balance for a light that can be used in a lot of different applications. I wish the user interface was a little different, because I don’t like strobe so easily accessed with a double click. It’s nice that it comes with a bike mount and a diffuser, and I think this improves its usability with it’s more throwy beam. The LED isn’t a super cool tint which can happen with other Klarus lights, so I like that too. The fit and finish is a step up too in my opinion from some of the Klarus lights I have looked at in the past. I love the milling pattern on the body and the anodizing seems to be nicer as well. It’s a pretty nice light and let’s hope Klarus continues this trend in 2019.

 

Pick one up at https://www.flashlightz.com/klarus-st15r-1200-lumens

Xtar X4 4 Bay Battery Charger Review

Xtar has a new charger on the market the X4. I previously looked at the X2 but today I have a review of the X4, the 4 bay version. It’s capable of 4A and capable of charging Li-ion and Ni-MH batteries, with AC or 5V MicroUSB Power. Thanks to Xtar for sending this to me to test and review.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/E6G69Ki

YouTube version of this Review:

Packaging

The packaging is a white retail box with a gloss photo of the X4 on the front. The sides list a few key features such as the charging speed, Inputs, LCD display, the chemistries and sizes of batteries that are supported. The back gives more specifications and features of the charger. It contains a scratch off anti counterfeit sticker and is insured worldwide. The package contains the charger, AC power cable, and the manual.

Construction

The Xtar X4 charger is a 4 bay charger that can accommodate most common battery sizes. I had no trouble with all 18650’s, it will fit 4x 26650, and I didn’t have any issues with an unprotected 21700. Smaller batteries were ok too, 18350, AAA, etc. It will not charge a protected 21700 battery. The metal sliders are fairly smooth and have enough tension on them to hold a battery securely.

The body of the charger is a black ABS plastic that is heat and flame retardant, and is kind of in an X configuration, in outside appearance. There isn’t a fan in this charger meaning it’s silent, and I didn’t notice it get very warm during use. There is one button on the top, middle near the screen that when held turns the screen off, for night time charging if you wish.

I took some photos of the inside of the charger here. I am not a circuit engineer but to me it looks decent. Quality of the solder joints look good, A few components are not 100% squarely placed but not bad either. I don’t see any cold joints or things that I am alarmed about. If you see something you are concerned about, make sure to leave a comment. I suspect the second contact further down the slot is used in the detection of the battery as well.

Screen

The screen is a LCD with a dark black background and white text that’s tinted blue with a blue backlight. On each bay you get a 0-100% indicator showing what percentage the battery is at, on the top right corner you get the current voltage, below that you get the charge rate, below that in the center you get the mAh that’s been put into the cell since the start of charging, and lastly on the bottom left hand corner you get the cell chemistry that’s been detected. The screen is easy to read and I had no complaints about it. It does time out after a few minutes, you can press the button to wake it up.

Performance

Performance of the X4 is similar to the X2 but faster. The X4 will charge at up to 1A for all 4 slots or 2A on the outer slots if they are used solo. The charger has reverse polarity detection and didn’t charge batteries when they were placed in backwards. Battery chemistry was correctly identified, when you place a new cell in it takes a few seconds for it to go through detection and begin charging. Depending on the battery voltage the charger will apply the proper charge for most cells.

I tried a variety of cells, all the way from 21700’s, 26650, 18350, and of course 18650’s. I had no complaints about Lithium ion charging. It will not charge protected 21700s. I do have a little complain on NiMH charging of AAA cells though. It detected my Duracell AAA batteries here as the proper chemistry but charged them at 1A each. While not terrible, it’s faster than I like to charge them, and I can’t decrease the charge rate with this charger.

Terminating Voltage for a 18650 cell was 4.16V

Terminating Voltage for a AA NiHM was  1.42V

Terminating voltages as you can see from above were lower then what I would expect to see. I probably need a larger sample size of cells and chargers to see if this is a problem with just my example of the charger or an issue with my batteries.

The charger has 0V activation (Although this is generally not recommended for batteries with a Lithium chemistry). For  charging it has a 3 step process TC-CC-CV with soft start technology. This helps with overall battery longevity and long term health. I had no problems with excess heat during use of the charger.

 

USB PowerBank Function

The charger also has a powerbank function on slot 4. If no incoming power is put into the charger and you put a lithium battery into slot 4, the charger will go into powerbank mode. Plug a USB-A cable into the charger and then plug in your device to charge and it’s that simple. It’s not a feature I use often but it’s nice to have if needed.

 

Pro’s

  • All automatic, this make the charger very easy to use but doesn’t give enthusiasts any options on what speed to charge the batteries at. Default settings are generally conservative, which is safe.
  • AC Power via a fairly standard cable. The charger is compatible with 120/240v so it’s safe for international use. It can also be powered via MicroUSB.
  • Affordable, at US retailers it’s coming around $25-30 generally

 

Con’s

  • I would like to see the USB input be in USB-C over MicroUSB because it’s 2019.
  • Terminating voltages seemed to be a little low
  • A little high charge rate of 1A for AAA NiHM batteries.
  • A total of only 4A total charge rate is a little slow for a 4 bay charger.

 

Conclusion

The Xtar X4 is a nice updated charger from Xtar at a pretty affordable price. I have been a fan of Xtar chargers because they are a good value and provide a quality, safe charging experience. I was a fan of the X2 and am also a fan of the X4.

 

A total of 4A charge rate between all 4 bays is a little slow when charging 4x 18650 or larger batteries. Most larger modern batteries can easily take 2A charging speed. That said it’s an upgrade over Xtar’s previous 4 bay model the VC4 that I still end up using a fair amount. It would just be nice to see the X4 do a total of 8A but this might make it a little less easy to use with then having options to select. Maybe that’s for a future product, to offer enthusiasts more options and higher charge rates. Time will tell if this holds true or not. Until then the X4 does a nice job at a pretty affordable price.

More Information on the Xtar X4 Charger  can be found at: http://www.xtar.cc/cdq/AC_Power_Series/2018/1116/292.html

Pick up an Xtar X4 at Illumn or Amazon.

Brinyte WT-01 Prototype Review (SST-40, Qi Wireless Charging)

Wireless charging is popular on many mobile devices these days, but most of the rechargeable flashlights have either a cable you need to plug in or a magnetic charger. Brinyte has come up with a flashlight that uses inductive charging to charge up the light. Today I have a prototype version of the Brinyte WT01. Thanks to them for sending it to me to take a look at.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/Yhdc5Co

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

With my light being a prototype the packaging was not anything near final form. It was a sturdy brown cardboard box. Accessories included the light itself, unbranded generic 3000mAh protected button top 18650 battery, Generic international 2A AC USB adapter with US adapter plug, Charging cradle and microUSB cable.

Construction & Design

The light is made from aluminum, and will be offered in a sand and black anodizing. My prototype was in the Sand color and unfortunately it’s paint and not anodizing. The result is it’s not a very durable finish. I have been assured that in the production version this will be a hard anodizing.

As far as design it’s a larger light. It’s capable of using a 18650 battery with the included spacer or a 26650. Starting at the tail cap, it’s a bit large, and simple. It tail stands nicely. The tail cap is glued in place. On the body tube there is a slight ring to do a cigar grip on. Moving on to the body tube, there are rings milled in and then 4 flats milled in. On my example these flats don’t always line up with the switch which is a little disappointing.

Inside this is a double wall design, threads on the body tube are fine and square cut cut, I would prefer something a bit more course to make it a little easier to thread on and minimize the risk of cross threading. One thing that does happen is when you take off the head and put it back on the light does come on in low mode. There are springs on both the head and tail of the light.

The head of the light itself is pretty smooth, with minimal heat syncing. The switch is electronic and covered by a green silicone cover. It has green and red LED’s under used when charging. The front bezel is smooth, and able to be unscrewed. The glass lens is anti reflective coated. Underneath is a deep smooth reflector and the LED is nicely centered.

Size and Weight

I measured overall length at 156mm, width at its widest point was 45mm, and at it’s thinnest point 33mm. Weight with the included battery is 313g

While this light is capable of running at 26650 battery and double wall construction it just feels a bit long and a bit thick. The tailcap adds to the length.

LED/Runtime

SST-40 LED with deep smooth reflector that’s a fairly neutral white. The SST-40 is a pretty good LED in my opinion. It doesn’t seem to suffer noticeable rainbow but it does seem to turn a bit more green a lower power inputs. The beam is more of a thrower. It has a small hot center, with a small area around that center of corona before it fades into the spill.

Runtimes

I did my runtime testing with the included 3000mAh generic button top protected battery the light came with. Total runtime was just at 100 minutes of usable light. It did do a pretty good job of being able to sustain it’s brightest mode for almost 20 minutes.

UI

UI on this light is non traditional but not complicated. It has 4 output modes of constant light and starts at high, then decreases to medium, then low, each time the button is pressed then off. Press the power button again and you get turbo, then it steps down through all the lower modes. The mode spacing is pretty even to the eye.

Brinyte lists outputs as:

Turbo 1100 Lumens

High 430 Lumens

Medium 70 Lumens

Low 10 Lumens

Strobe and SOS 1100 Lumens

Long press for 2 seconds to reach the 2 blinking modes of Strobe and SOS. To go back to constant on mode you have to go through both blinking modes and the light will resume to where you left off. There were no No shortcuts to go to turbo or to shut off

Light does come on in low if you disconnect the head and reconnect it with a battery inside.

Recharging

This light uses wireless inductive charging in it’s cradle. The cradle is pretty basic, no instruction or lights on it, just a microUSB port. It appears to be using Qi charging, because my Anker Qi chargers recognize the light and it goes through a sequence where it starts to charge but then stops. My guess this is because the inductive coils are not oriented correctly. My guess would be these run around the tail cap and are not on the flat where they would be for a phone typically. The cradle draws 0.2A (about 1W) on standby regardless of if it’s charging or not which is kind of high.

When charging the flashlight has a Red LED inside the button that comes on and it goes green when fully charged. I observed a 1.2A charging rate during charging, so a flat battery took 3 hours and 30 minutes to fully charge. The charging curve was pretty flat, not the usual taper. At the end I measured cell voltage at 4.17V. I will insert a photo of what I found overall capacity of the cell was at when I put it through a capacity test.

One other feature I noticed when recharging this light was that when you pull it off the charger it automatically comes on in low mode, or if the power is stopped to the charger. I could see this being useful for use if your house were to lose mains power and it would help you locate the light.

Pro

  • SST-40 LED, Fairly neutral white, solid beam performance
  • I like that colors are being offered from the beginning. Hopefully the anodizing will be more durable.
  • Nice to see someone try inductive charging on a flashlight.

 

Con

  • It’s a chunky light, and personally I don’t find it very attractive.
  • Recharging cradle draws 0.20a (About 1W) on standby regardless of if it’s charging or not. Kind of high.
  • UI is just different I would like to long press to turn off, and double click to go to turbo, maybe triple click to go to strobe.

 

Conclusion

I like the idea of wireless charging that doesn’t have exposed contacts but not if the cost is a larger light. Design wise I feel like the light is just a bit too generic and large for me. I don’t love that the tail cap is glued in place, but understand why they are doing it. I would like to see them go back to the drawing board and try to reduce the overall size of the light and add some more interesting design features.

 

With the emergency power type of feature I think I will set this light on my kitchen counter in it’s charging cradle so that if the power goes off it will automatically come on and can easily be found. I would like to see at the minimum a UI tweak to allow you to shut off the light without cycling all the way through the other modes.

 

It’s fun taking a look at a prototype light, let’s see if Brinyte makes any changes to the production version before I can say definitely if I give it a recommendation or not.

Quadhands Deluxe Helping Hands System Review

I have been doing some flashlight repair recently and was tired of getting burned hand holding or propping up very small wires, on very small drivers and springs. I was looking at “Helping Hands” solutions on Amazon and just didn’t want to pay some of the higher prices for the quality flexible systems from the industry vendors like Panavise and I didn’t want something light and flimsy. I reached out to Quadhands to see if they would be interested in sending me one to take a look at and they agreed. Thanks to Mark at Quadhands for the support, I think he might be interested in the flashlight hobby now after talking too.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/az3yl4W

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging is plain but functional on my Quadhands Deluxe. It’s a sturdy cardboard box and all of the individual pieces were wrapped up in bubble wrap to prevent any scratching or rubbing during transport. No assembly or manual was required.

Construction

The heart of this work holding is the 5lbs, 5mm thick steel plate that’s powder coated bright yellow. On the Deluxe kid like I have it’s 8.5” x 11” base, this is really a great size for smaller flashlight project and most larger electronics type projects as well. It gives you plenty of space to work around, and allows you to space out the 5 arms to get things positioned just right. On the bottom you have 4 fairly large rubber feet that keep it in place, on a variety of surfaces. The powder coating is a great choice here over paint because it’s more durable and can better tolerate heat if your soldering iron makes contact or a blob of solder falls onto it.

The deluxe kit came with 5 of the all metal magnetic arms. You get two 8” arms measured tip to tip, one 12” arm, and two 16” arms. The arms are black in color and are made of flexible metal painted a matt black. They are capable of bending in all directions, up, down and all 360 degrees. Each have an alligator style stainless steel clip to hold your wires, components and circuit boards. In addition to that each has a small knurled wheel made from a black nylon behind the clip that allows you to loosen the clip, to rotate it to the exact angle you need and then tighten it down. For me this was a 2 handed operation to get it just right. There is a little bit of spring back on more extreme bends, this can be a little annoying if you are holding a wire to a small pad to solder but I found moving the arm further away to make less of an extreme bend fixes this most of the time.

The arms have made an improvement over previous generations with exposed magnets. Now they are using a thin slick piece of slick plastic on the bottom to allow  the arms to slide around with no visible scratching while still holding strong. These are very strong rare earth N57 magnets. One of the arms can easily pick up the entire 5lb steel plate, and more.

How it works in practice

I used this most recently to replace some wires on a flashlight driver that had come off due to an impact it suffered. I found the shorter arms for me worked better to hold the circuit board. I held the small board with 2 short arms and then used a third to hold the wire and then held the iron and solder in my two hands. I have done this job before without the Quadhands helping hands system and the result often times was slightly burnt fingers.

I can think of a few improvements that they could implement as addons or different kits. Different size alligator clips could come in handy, even better if they were swapped on and off, I could also see maybe a multi head design to allow you to hold a clip and an electronics or multimeter probe. Maybe offer a heavier duty arm that was threaded with a ¼ 20 thread the popular size for camera tripods and flashlights would open up some cool ideas too for testing or filming with a gopro during testing etc.

Conclusion

The Quadhands workholding helping hands system is a really great option to hold your small PCB’s while soldering or doing other fine work. For a flashlight enthusiast and electronics builders this is a really nice option. I love that it’s made in the USA, and has makers that are easy to get a hold of. It really does work well for small soldering work, and foresee this meeting my needs for a long time. I think this is something that would fall into that buy it for life category and it’s all at an affordable price.

 

Quadhands Website https://www.quadhands.com/

Quadhands Deluxe on Amazon https://amzn.to/2JAaZQJ

Haikelite Q30 Review (12,000 lumens?)

Today I have the Haikelite Q30 triple LED Quad battery soda can style flood light to take a look at. This light has some interesting things about it that I will talk about here today. Thanks for Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/WuBQgVV

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

The light comes in a pretty generic cardboard box that folds out from the top. It has a simple Haikelite sticker on the top and nothing else. Inside the light came in bubble wrap. You get a sheet of paper product descriptions and then on the other side you get the UI instructions. Accessories include 2 spare large red o’rings, a large green lanyard with a quick disconnect and a threaded loop insert as a place to attach the lanyard. One note about the lanyard is the part that actually attaches to the light is pretty thin material, I would recommend just using paracord instead the loop is large enough.

 

Construction

Th Q30 is made from aluminum and then hard anodized black. The tail cap is one piece with a flat bottom for excellent tail standing capabilities, it is removable which exposes the rear circuit board which has 2 springs and 2 brass disks that are surrounded by a rubber cap. The rubber donut is done for safety to prevent the use of flat top batteries, you can remove them if you with and the light will work with flat tops it’s just not recommended. The mid section has fairly shallow knurling that doesn’t provide a ton of grip. Threads on both ends are finely cut square threads. The body tube with end cap are their own unit. It mates to the head of the light by screwing on. Inside the head there is a single large diameter spring that makes contact with the body assembly creating one light.

 

The head steps up in diameter and features lots of mill work in the sides for appearance and cooling reasons. In the center there is a large brightly anodized blue button and ring. The button sits on a translucent silicone dome with small indicator LED’s under. The button is a little mushy and can be moved left or right. It reminds me of a joystick. At the front you have a polished stainless steel reflector in front of a piece of anti reflective coated glass. The reflector has a satin orange peel and is split into 3 section for each of the LED.

 

Size/Weight

I measured overall length at 134mm, maximum diameter at 66mm, and minimum diameter at 50mm.

Weight with 3 Samsung 30Q batteries is 670g.

 

Below are some images comparing it to the Sofirn Q8

 

LED/Runtime/Beamshots

The LED’s on this light are a bit of an unknown officially. On the product description they are only listed as a “7070” LED. On the inside of the tail cap of the light the circuit board says XHP 70, and they do look pretty similar to images of those that I see online. The LED has a large dome and you can see the 4 individual emitters under each. The beam is mostly a flood, with a slight hot center. You can also see 3 lines coming off of the beam as reflections of the beam dividers.  The light has the following mode spacings. 10 lumens, 500 lumens, 2500 lumens, 5000 lumens, and 12,000 lumens.

 

Runtime

For runtime this light ran on turbo for just about 2 minutes before stepping down significantly due to heat. The bulk of the total 150 minutes of runtime on the Samsung 30Q batteries I used was at about 25% relative output. While that seems like not very much, keep in mind this light is claimed to produce 12,000 lumens. This runtime ran for 135 minutes in a linear decline. At the end the light will kick up for the final 10 minutes and quickly ramp down before low voltage protection kicks in and the light shuts off. It would be nice to see a bit of flashing out of the main emitter to know you were at the end.

UI

The light has a hidden moon light mode that can be accessed by long pressing the button when in off. Normal modes once the light are on, can be accessed with a long press and the light will begin to cycle and you can stop in the one you want, and you have 4 normal brightness levels. Tubo is not a part of these normal modes, to access turbo double click from anywhere when on. Double click again when in turbo to access strobe. Both Turbo and strobe are able to be memorized but the instructions are not clear how this this is done.

 

The light has electronic lockout but with most of these lights I prefer mechanically locking out the light by just giving the body tube a slight turn to break connection. I find it to be easier and more reliable.

 

The switch does act as a battery indicator, however the manual states it’s a green LED but on mine it’s a blue LED under the switch. Above 50% power the LED is on constant under the switch. Between 50% and 9% it starts to blink every 2 seconds, and below 9% the light will step down to moonlight to conserve energy.

 

Pro

  • Seems to be made well without any machining problems.
  • It’s big and heavy but that’s what you expect in this type of light
  • Minimal branding
  • Tripod mount!

 

Con

  • Unknown LED’s but they seem to be cooler neutral white.
  • While the eye is not a good measurement of lumens, to me it doesn’t look like 12,000 lumens
  • Beam has some artifacts.
  • Quite heavy with batteries

 

Conclusion

This light is a little bit of a mystery. Haikelite doesn’t list it officially on their website, and there isn’t a ton of existing information out on it. I have seen some suggest that it’s not a true Haikelite, however all the circuit boards do have the Haikelite name on them and the box is consistent with other Haikelite flashlights I have had. Maybe it’s a Banggood exclusive? I don’t have the equipment to verify the total number of lumens yet but since we don’t know for sure what LED it’s using I am somewhat suspect if it can hit the claimed 12,000 lumens.

There are a handful of good high quality soda can floodlights on the market, and with this one being somewhat and using undocumented LED’s possibly, it’s hard for me to say this is the one to buy. I have not had any problems with mine, the UI is decent and it’s got a pretty neutral tint and its been working without issue. The timed stepdowns are a bit disappointing, I would prefer thermal regulated ones instead so you can get maximum lumens for the most amount of time.

 

If you are interested I will have links and any discount codes I might have in the description below. If you have a Haikelite Q30, let me know what you think of it in the comments below. As always thanks for subscribing and I will catch you on the next video!

 

If you are interested in picking up the Haikelite Q30 you can get it for $58.99 at https://goo.gl/8zwbjG (Affiliate Link) using coupon code: BGMMY

Astrolux FT01 Review (Cree XHP 50.2, 2215 Lumens, 21700mAh battery)

Astrolux has a new larger light the FT01 with a Cree XHP 50.2 that takes up to a 21700 lithium ion battery and has onboard microUSB charging. Thanks to Banggood for sending this to me to take a look at.

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/yoGueKe

YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging

Packaging on this light is a white cardboard lift off box. It has silver embossed image of the light but no real technical detail except for the sticker on the end denoting the model and color. Inside the light is well protected foam cut to fit the light. It comes with a lanyard, orings, a spare button and the manual. It also comes with a conversion tube that shipped in the light to hold an 18650 battery in the light.  

 

Construction

Starting at the tail cap it has a 3 lobe design that means it tail stands pretty well. You can attach a lanyard to any of the wings. The rubber button is easy to access the mechanical button underneath, and requires a decent amount of force to lock, but momentary comes on sooner. There is no knurling on the tail cap but instead smoothed over flutes, it’s not a lot of grip. Inside there are double springs in the tail cap. There are quite a few fine threads at both ends of the light, the tail section being anodized. The walls of the body tube of the light are quite thick.

 

The body tube has 3 panels of a flat diamond pattern milled into it. These would be fine on an EDC light but are not as grippe as I would like on a tactical light. The head of the light contains just a little area milled for heat dissipation  and aesthetics. The front button feels pretty tactile and has an audible click. The LED under it is used as an indicator when charging. The microUSB port opposite the button for recharging. The cover is very well done, it’s out of the way, and the tab doesn’t catch your finger. The bezel on this light is a a screw on aluminum piece. On mine it’s not round, with one side hanging over the body of the light a little, while the opposite side is a flush fit like I would expect, it has crenelations. The lens is glass and isn’t antireflective from what I can see. The reflector is deep and has an orange peel.  

 

This is a big light in all dimensions for what it is.I measured it at a length of 143mm, 37mm head diameter, and 29mm minimum body diameter. The weight came in with a Sanyo 20700 in it, at 250 grams.

 

I compared the light with a Lumintop ODF30 which uses a 26650 battery and the Lumintop is considerably shorter due to not having a tail switch and recharging but it just shows how big the Astrolux is for what it is.

 

LED/Beamshot

This light has a Cree XHP50.2 in a fairly cool white. My example suffered from pretty bad cree rainbow, the center was the cooler white, but then you got a pronounced green ring, before fading into the cooler white again, not my cup of tea. The reflector is deep, and has an orange peel.

 

Runtime

For my runtime tests I did so with 2 different battery sizes for this light. I used a LG HG2 (3000mAh) for the 18650, and then a Sanyo NCR20700 (4250mAh). Surprisingly both lights had relatively similar total runtimes, about 150 min and 170 min respectively. However the main difference you saw was that runtime after initial step down from turbo. Tubo lasted 2-3 minutes. Then with the 18650 you saw about 45 minutes of high before stepping down due to voltage. With the larger capacity 20700 I saw that high mode last for 65 minutes which is a nice real improvement.

 

UI

This light uses an easy interface. The tail switch is the on/off button and that’s all it does. The front button controls the modes. You have 5 modes in normal operation. Double click to access the shortcut to turbo. From any mode if you press and hold for about 1 second you get strobe. There isn’t memory on this light and it starts on low always.

 

For being marketed as a tactical light I don’t feel like the UI is very tactical. I would prefer a little quicker access to strobe for a tactical light. Having to press on at the tail and then long press on the front switch either takes 2 hands or changing your grip, neigher are ideal.

 

Recharging

Fastest I saw for the built in MicroUSB recharging was 0.72A, which means it took right at 4 and a half hours to charge the a 3000mAh 18650 battery. This is fairly slow by modern standards, I would like to see at least an amp. The side button acts as a power indicator, going red when charging. I will say the charging port cover is well designed, it sits flush and the tab doesn’t catch your hand at all.

 

Pro’s

  • I like that this works with a 21700, 20700, and an 18650 batteries with the included spacer.
  • Minimal branding and the light is available in a sand/gold color as gray and black

 

Con’s

  • It’s big, and heavy for what it is.
  • It’s expensive without a coupon, for not coming with a battery
  • Pretty bad Cree color shift rainbow.

 

Conclusion

It won’t be a big surprise but this isn’t a light I personally enjoy. It’s too big, heavy and the UI is more general purpose then tactical. I like that it comes in colors and you can use the newer larger generation of 21700 batteries. However for tactical useage you won’t find it on my belt or bag.

 

I do think this would be an ok light for someone wanting to get something basic for an older person in their life. It’s larger, and USB rechargeable. You could give it to them, and tell them to just use the tail on/off switch. Low is fairly high powered, and is probably brighter than many alkaline incandescent lights they had previously. The modes are easy to cycle through if they wanted and turning it off and on again resets it. Other then that I generally think there are better options on the market for most applications with this one.

 

Get the Astrolux FT01 for $55 with coupon code: BGDLH at https://goo.gl/ZhjsaA (Affiliate Link)

Sofirn SP36 (6000 Lumens, USB-C Charging)

Sofirn has a new light on the market called the SP36. It’s basically a smaller, lighter version of the BLF/Sofrin Q8 that has charging over USB-C. Instead of 4 18650 batteries, it’s using 3, but retains 4 LED’s. Thanks to Sofrin for sending this to me to take a look at. Remember to checkout the coupons at the end of this post if you are interested in this light.

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/Tfteaor
YouTube Version of this Review:

Packaging
Packaging is pretty minimalistic. The light arrived in an unlabeled brown cardboard box with a bit of foam in the bottom. The light was in a thin sheet of bubble wrap. It arrived with a Happy/Not Happy card, a manual that while small print does a solid job of explaining things and does warn about using button top protected cells. It also includes a USB-A to USB-C cable which is nice given how USB-C is still an up and coming spec.

Construction
Construction of the SP36 is comparable to other Sofirn lights, and is good for the price range. The light is made from aluminum and anodized a semi gloss black. All edges are nicely machined. Threads are square cut but mostly dry. The tail cap is removable, and flat, it tailstands very well. Inside you can see 3 phillips screw holding the rear circuit board in place, these were very tight, but removable with the right driver and pressure. The board itself has 3 fairly heavy duty dual springs inside. The body tube has 3 bands of continuous heavy knurling on the outside, it’s a basic design but it’s effective. The inside has a seperator for the 3 batteries and when everything is screwed in I didn’t get any rattle.





The head is very reminiscent of the Q8, which this light is roughly based off of. Unfortunately the circuit board is glued in place, I tried removing it with a pair of snap ring pliers and ended up damaging the circuit board slightly. Reading on BLF the board is removable but it takes heat and a lot of work. The exterior of the head features milling on the sides for heat dissipation. On the front you have the only label on the light, it’s name. Below that is the button. It’s recessed into a milled area. Under the electronic button you have 2 green LED’s. Opposite the button on the other side of the light you have the USB-C charging port. It’s at normal depth and I didn’t have trouble with different cables I tried. The cover is tight fitting and stands proud a little bit. It’s rounded and comfortable in the hand. The bezel is smooth and flat, it’s all one piece so it’s not removable. The lens is glass and has some anti reflective coating. The optic is a deep quad with thin walls.




Unfortunately the head lacks a threaded insert for connecting the light to a tripod or for a solid attachment point for a lanyard. This is disappointing to me as I really like that on these larger lights, I think it helps for use with area lighting and lanyard attachment. I will have to look up some paracord work to use an attachment instead.

Size
The SP36 feels good in my hand. If the Q8 is just a little too fat, the SP36 should be about right. I measured total length at 125.25mm, maximum diameter at 49mm, minimum diameter at 45mm and weight with 3x Samsung 30Q at 436g.

Compared to the Q8 you really notice the difference in diameter in the head. There is a difference in size in the body tubes but it’s less than you would think. Only about 5mm of difference in diameter. The difference in weight with 30Q’s is 157g. While that’s significant both lights are heavy enough it’s hard to tell much of a difference when in use.


LED/Runtime/Heat
This light uses the Cree XP-L2 LED’s in the 5300-5700k range. Mine seems to be on the cooler side of this, I guess I will call it neutral white, better than cool white. Beamshot is more of a flood then the Q8, but with the 6000 lumens its enough power to throw ok too. Good general purpose beam. There are not any real artifacts i notice at 10+ feet. At shorter distance there are definitely petals in the beam due to the deeper quad reflectors.The head can be powered directly off USB-C but it won’t get anywhere near full brightness.

The light does have LVP (Kicks in at 2.8V) but Sofrin recommends using button top protected batteries. I didn’t have any of those I wanted to use with this light so I used button top Samsung 30Q’s for my runtime tests which worked well. Turbo (6000 lumens) ran on this light for 2 minutes before stepping down to a relative output putting it around 1200 lumens where the light ran and declined out to the 145 minute mark where it stepped down significantly over several steps over the next 30 minutes. At about 180 minutes the light effectively was at 0% relative output but still powered on out to 400 minutes.

The SP36 6000 lumens and smaller diameter means it gets warm, pretty quickly. At the brightest I measured the light at 1 minute at 104F, at 5 minutes at 107F, and at 10 minutes at 116F. This is quite warm, and the light gets even warmer, after about 20-25 minutes (I did a brief turn off, then turn on and run again) it was at 139F which is too hot to hold and is in burn you territory.

UI
NarsilM 1.2 Firmware with good ramping support. It has lots of options but it’s also easy to use. I love the ramping, it’s easy and intuitive and you can pick the exact amount of output you want. On this light there is no complaining when it comes to mode spacing. I plan on leaving my light at the default settings but if you do want to change things please consult the UI section of the manual. You need to read it more than once before attempting to make any setting changes. Things that are configurable are vast. You can disable ramping and go with 12 different mode spacing options, you can configure moonlight levels, thermal controls (Several), blink modes, mode ordering, LED locator feature, battery level indicators etc.

In stock mode the light also has memory mode, direct access to turbo with a double click. Triple click shows the battery level. 4 clicks to lock or unlock. When in max output mode double click to get to the different strobe modes.

Recharging
The SP36 features USB-C for recharging which is great. Unfortunately it only accepted a charge while using a USB-A to USB-C cable, not a C-C cable. It doesn’t support USB-C PD for faster charging meaning it took me 4 hours and 25 minutes to charge 3x Samsung 30Q batteries that were depleted. The peak charge rate I saw was 1.86A. With the ability for USB-C to draw more wattage from a compatible charger, and that this light has 3x batteries it would be nice to see this utilized but for the price here, I am just happy it has USB-C.

Pro’s

  • Proven Design & well built (Except for the glued in board)
  • USB-C recharging
  • Good NarsilM 1.2 firmware
  • Good pretty comprehensive manual, with some funny translation easter eggs. Very small print though.

Con’s

  • No Tripod mounting hold or place for a Lanyard. Kind of disappointing as this is a larger heavier light and I tend to use a lanyard with them.
  • XP-L2 LED’s in a cooler neutral white.I would love to see some different LED’s (warmer, High CRI, etc). offered here as would many on BLF. I would love to see something like a LH351D used on this light.
  • Heat – It gets really hot, fairly quickly and can get dangerously hot.

Conclusion
The Sofirn SP36 what you get when you take a BLF Q8 and reduce it by ¼ in most ways. It has one less battery, the body is narrower, and it’s lighter, but the spirit of the Q8 and SP36 are same. It gains USB-C charging which is great to see over MicroUSB, but it’s not gaining a big speed increase USB-C is capable of, so with 3 18650 batteries it still takes a while to charge. The built in charger does seem to add some cost over a Q8 which is to be expected. The SP36 is a good light, I think the decision between it and a Q8 variant comes down to how much you want built in USB-C charging and how much of a tint/LED snob you are. Both are great lights and I don’t see getting rid of either anytime soon.

 

Deals

Sofirn SP36 Light Only https://amzn.to/2WpSIrA
Sofirn SP36 Kit Version https://amzn.to/2WmgaGl

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