Random Ramblings of Everyday Life

Review: 4sevens Preon ReVO

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on August 29, 2010

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Review: Wide/Macro Lens and Jelly Wide Angle Lens Review

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on July 20, 2010

Review: Keep2Go Storage Tubes

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on July 13, 2010

These two items were provided by Going Gear (www.goinggear.com) to review and give away at FCW-6. I chose the small and medium ones as two of my raffle prizes. They can be purchased for a few dollars online.

I believe that these are just baby bottles. Essentially when manufacturers make plastic soda or water bottles, they put these in a mold and heat them up so the plastic becomes soft. Then compressed air is blow into it so that the plastic expands into the shape of the mold. So while a regular plastic bottle is thin and can puncture easily, these bottles are nice and thick and durable.

The company that makes these tubes advertises a bunch of uses for them which I won’t list, but basically you can use it to store anything that’ll fit inside. The capacity ranges from 1 fl oz for the small one and 2.5 fl oz for the largest ones.

The packaging (or lack of packaging really) is very basic. You get the bottle with a tag with information about the product as well as some cord with a cord lock that’s rolled up and stored inside the bottle. You can use the cord and cord lock as a neck lanyard looped through the hole on the cap.

Because they are essentially plastic bottles, the should be water tight which is great for storing small items that you wouldn’t want to get wet. Personally I use the medium one for storing batteries and the small one for storing matches. 18650s just slide into the medium tubes, with a little bit of wiggle room. So you can fit an 18650 and a 123a or just three 123a cells inside the medium tube. I managed to get around 8 strike anywhere matches inside the small one. I also topped off the top with a cotton ball for tinder as well as to prevent rattling. The small ones would be pretty great for vitamins or medicines that are too large to fit into the more traditional pill fobs. One thing you have to be careful about is that while the mouth of the tube is pretty wide, the actual inner diameter is small. Remember, the small can only hold 1 fl oz after all. I can’t really even get my finger into the tighter region at the bottom half of the tube, so be careful of how much stuff you cram into it; you might find it difficult to get the contents back out if they can’t just slide out. This isn’t the case with the larger one as there isn’t as much of an inner diameter transition with the large.

I also noticed that with the small one the cap doesn’t screw down flush with the protruding lip on the outside of the bottle. From what I see in pictures though, that seems to be the case with all the small bottles. It doesn’t affect the water resistance at all, but you can over tighten the cap and have the plastic of the cap bend a little.

One of THE biggest things I don’t like about these tubes is how small the holes on the caps are. I prefer locking, load bearing carabiners myself. The hole just isn’t large enough for me to be able to clip into. One of those keychain carabiners and maybe even the wire gate carabiners should work fine though.

Review: Lumapower D-mini EX

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on July 3, 2010
Tagged with: , , , ,

Review: 4sevens Quark Prism

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on July 3, 2010

This Quark Prism was provided by 4sevens (www.4sevens.com) to review and give away at FCW-6. I was the lucky one to grab this as one of my raffle prizes.

The Prism comes as a kit that includes the optical prism in rubber housing, head strap, and a diffusing filter. The Prism kit can be purchased directly from 4sevens for $20. There is also a filter kit that includes red, green, and blue filters to snap into the rubber housing that’s $10.

When I first saw 4seven’s announcement of the Prism, I knew right away that I had to get one. It’s such a simple idea that I was amazed that no one else has done it before. Basically, it is suppose to use an optical prism to bend light in a 90 degree angle. In combination with the head strap, it allows lights to double as a headlamp. As someone that hikes and camps, I know how useful headlamps are. The Prism is great because it allows me to use my Quark 123a as a headlamp for a fair price without having to buy a completely separate light.

The diffuser lens basically just snaps into the rubber housing and is held in place by 4 tabs. It’s easy enough to get it, but for me it can be a pain to get off. You really need some sort of small, flat tool to pry the lens out. Not that big of an issue though as I really just use the Prism with the filter for the flood. If I need throw, it’s easy enough to just take the Prism off the light and turn the strap until the light is facing the direction I want.

When the Prism was first announced, a lot of people were arguing about whether it just used a mirror to reflect light or an actual prism. It looks to me as though it really is a prism inside the rubber houses, although I’m not going to be taking it apart to find out. It does reflect (or bend, however you want to look at it) light very well and you can see that there isn’t much loss or distortion of images going through it.

The Prism itself fits very snugly on my Quark 123a. It should fit almost the whole Quark regular line, as well as any lights with similar head diameter. It even fits my Nitecore EX10, even though the Nitecore has a smaller head diameter than the Quark. Obviously it isn’t as snug on the Nitecore, but it’s on tight enough that I’m not worried about it falling off during normal use. You can see in the picture the reflection of the emitter. Because of the rectangular design off the prism, when the Prism is used without the diffuser filter, the beam is pretty ugly. You get a central circular beam and then on both sides you get half circles.

I was a bit worried about retention since my Quark doesn’t have a pocket clip. Doesn’t seem like it will be an issue though as the elastic loops make for a very snug fit. I had no retention issues with either the 123a or the AA bodies. I can see that it might be uncomfortable with a multi cell light like the AA^2 model. The shortest I could make the head strap was about 7.5 inches and the longest about 9.5 inches unstretched. That makes for a pretty tight fit, and I believe that the head strap is the weak link in the Prism kit concept. I think that 4sevens has come out with a redesigned strap after people had complained about how tight it was, so maybe the kit I received was old stock. Also, one of the elastic loops is starting to pull out since you really have to tug it open to get the light in. I’m worried that the loops will rip out, although I’m not sure if there is a way to get around this other than adding a bulky clamp. Hopefully 4sevens will either cover worn head straps in the warranty or give us the option of buying extra head straps.

Overall, the Prism is neat and I like it. $20 is a bit high for the kit, but it’s not a terrible price if you already have a Quark flashlight to use it with. I think people would be less willing to purchase the the Prism kit if they already didn’t have a Quark and wanted a headlamp. Personally, I feel that the kit would be a real deal and a must have if the colored filters were already included in the $20 price point, but I don’t know how expensive those optical prisms and lens are so it’s hard for me to comment on that.

Tagged with: , , ,

Review: EagleTac P100A2

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on June 16, 2010

This light was provided by Pacific Tactical Solutions (www.pts-flashlights.com) to review and give away at FCW-6. I was fortunate to have the chance to pick this light as one of my prizes. The light is relatively inexpensive for what it is, and can be had for around $40 online. The EagleTac P100A2 is a 2xAA flashlight with two modes. There is also a P100C2 version that uses 2x123a cells, also with two modes.

There isn’t much in terms of accessories that comes with the light. What you get in the box is the usual instructions, a registration serial number on the warranty card, and a bag with 2 spare o-rings and a removable lanyard ring. Unfortunately it doesn’t come with a belt holster, something that I feel is necessary for a 2 cell light like this. A lower mode would be great as well, but as I go on and on it does seem like I should just get a P20.

The o-rings are quite beefy and seem to make good contact so I don’t doubt the IPX-8 water rating. The lanyard ring could use some improvement though. It wasn’t formed very well, and isn’t exactly flat. When you put it onto the light, the tail cap doesn’t screw down all the way to keep the lanyard ring tight. That or you could say that the lanyard ring isn’t thick enough to take up all the space. Still, it serves its purpose. Since you do have a removable lanyard ring, the tail cap doesn’t have a hole screwed into it to give you a place to attach a split ring.

One thing EagleTac should have done with create a compatible pocket clip. It would be like many other lights, and the design would be similar to the lanyard ring. Just slip the clip in between the body and tail cap and screw down tight. I think the P20 series has a clip like this, but I don’t see why it couldn’t also be included with the P100 as I’m sure it wouldn’t add that much to the total cost. Still, I’m not crazy about the P20 clip as it seems like it flairs out a lot and could easily get snagged out of the pocket.

The head of the light has what I would consider useful crenelations. They aren’t the super sharp and pointy tactical kind. They allow you to see if the light is on or off when standing on the head. There aren’t any bevels on them to make them sharp, so they won’t rip apart your pockets if you carry it loose in pocket. The knurling is also good, not super sharp, but they have enough bite that the light won’t easily slip out of your hands. I’ve never been a big fan of the 2 level body for a cigar grip, but it’s starting to grow on me since I’ve been carrying the light. There are a few spots of annodizing that were chipped off, but that isn’t that big of a deal breaker for me since my lights are users, not shelf queens.

The light only has two modes, something that I’ve missed with flashlights. It reminds me of the old Fenix LxS and LxT series with the loose and tight head for different modes. When the head is tight, the light is in turbo mode. When the head is loosened a little (1/16th of a turn), the light goes into general mode. EagleTac gives the following specifications on the box:

195 lumens for 1.8 hours
55 lumens for 8 hours

They claim flat current regulation in their testing, although they don’t mention the fact that the tests were done with rechargeable AA batteries. Looking at the runtime tests that selfbuilt has done (http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=214890) shows that when using rechargeable, the light does have very flat regulated output and the time given is very close as well. This leads me to believe that the output specifications given must be close too, albeit probably on the higher side. Just looking at the output in comparison with some of my other lights, I felt that the outputs were close to the values given.

You can see how the light achieves the two different modes by making contact with that ring inside the head. There is also reverse polarity protection in place.

The emitter being used is an XP-E Q5 from Cree. I don’t know much about the emitter. From what I can tell, the emitter is smaller and less blue than the XR-E Q5. When side by side with an XR-E Q5, the XP-E Q5 does seem very white. I think it’s considered a “cool white” tint. The glass is suppose to be “Syntax I Ultra clear glass lens with anti reflective and anti‐scratch coating”.

The P100 uses a smooth reflector instead of a textured reflector, giving this light very impressive throw. Out throws my Quark Ti-123 for sure. I credit the smooth reflector, small emitter, and deep reflector for the tight hot spot and long throw. Since it does use a smooth reflector, the transition from hot spot to spill isn’t suburb, but it’s not terrible either. Outside of the very noticeable brightness transition, there aren’t any artifacts or rings of light like I’ve seen on some other lights with smooth reflectors.

I really like the tailcap/switch assembly. The switch has a very positive click to it. It doesn’t feel soft or mushy at all and I’m sure that it won’t accidental get bumped on. It is a forward clickie, so you have momentary on but sacrifice the ability to tailstand. The washer that goes in between the rubber boot and the switch assembly is very thick and I doubt it’ll get bent out of shape. That’s important since the washer is what keeps pressure on the sides of the rubber boot when the switch is screwed all the way down. If that washer isn’t flat, the switch can’t be screwed down all the way and there is a chance that water can get into the light if the water pressure is high enough. The threads are also anodized so you can twist the tailcap 1/8th of a turn to lock the light off.

Overall, I really like the light. I had the choice between the A2 and the C2, but I went with the A2 since I don’t really have any 2xAA lights outside of some cheap Energizers. I love the simple two mode UI, and there is good separation between the two output levels. Build seems solid, although I suppose I’ll see how it holds up to the test of time. If you want the low mode and the pocket clip and belt holster, the P20 is around $25 more. Personally, I think I’ll stick with the P100 and save my money. For $40, its a light worth buying if you don’t already have a light of the same class.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Review: Kodak Zx1 Pocket Camcorder

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on June 14, 2010
Tagged with: , ,

Review: Ultimate Survival BlastMatch

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on June 4, 2010

Review: Solarforce L2m

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on May 28, 2010

The Solarforce L2m is a Chinese made P60 drop in host. Just the body itself can be had for around $20. Solarforce also has it’s own branded LED drop ins, the Cree R2 version, which can be had from $15 to $20. Overall I paid around $35 shipped for my light, plus another $4 for the stainless steel flat bezel ring. The light is a bit cheaper on ebay, but that’s because it’s being shipped from overseas while mine was shipped from a distributor in the US.

I had bought this light to use as a host for Malkoff’s P60 drop ins, specifically the M61 since it’s really hard to find a regular M60 now. Since the Malkoffs had yet to go into full production at the time, I decided to just grab the light with the Solarforce drop in. I had ordered the 5 mode but got the 3 mode instead. Oh well, doesn’t really matter to me that much. I didn’t want to have to deal with shipping the drop in back to them.

The Solarforce drop in I got is the R2 version made for 4.2-8.4V. That means it can be used with either 1 or 2 cells (123a or 18650). Using single cell requires the use of rechargeable 3.7Vs because a single primary 123a will not drive the emitter enough and output is significantly lower.

The reflector is a orange peel texture that can be unscrewed from the rest of the drop in. I suppose if you could find a smooth reflector of the same size you can screw that on instead. It seems like textured reflectors are the big thing right now and almost no one is making smooth reflectors anymore.

Solarforce lists the output of the light as 325 lumens but that’s doubtful. From what I see, on fresh cells high mode, the output is probably around 200 lumens. The modes go from 100%, 60%, and then 40% the max output. I haven’t done any runtime tests, but the light will be sure to run over an hour, although I have no idea what the regulation looks like. The medium and low modes use PWM, and it is really noticeable on low. The drop in is really worth it because it has memory in my opinion. If there was no memory, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it and would have just bought the body and waiting for the M61.

Another note is that Malkoff drop ins will not fit directly into the head. Most P60 drop ins use a large spring to keep the reflector up against the lens. The Malkoffs don’t have this so it’ll have to be wrapped with several layers of aluminum foil to make good contact as well as allow for better head transfer. This of course is not an issue with actual Surefires.

The light came with a crenelated bezel that would be very effective for its intended purpose. the edges on the flat parts are quite sharp though; the first time I unscrewed the bezel it cut the top layer of my skin. I wouldn’t necessarily EDC the light with the crenelated bezel since it’ll shred up clothing easily. I keep the crenelated bezel on when I think I’m going to need it, or just for when I have the light on my desk or bedside dresser. When I do carry the light for EDC or as a pack light, I swap in the stainless steel flat bezel. It’s not the greatest made, but it does the job of holding in the glass lens.

The switch is a reverse clickie, of decent quality. It’s a robust switch and I don’t have any issues with it other than the fact that its protruding. I would prefer the boot to be recessed considering there’s no momentary like with a forward clickie. The exposed boot isn’t necessary at all in this configuration, and in my opinion not even necessary in a forward clickie switch.

Generally with aluminum lights I don’t care that much about the finish. My lights are meant to be used, so I don’t care if the anodizing comes off in places. It’s a HAII so no where near as durable as the HAIII on the Surefire lights or the Solarforce L2P.

The reason why I got the L2m over the regular L2 is for modularity purposes.

Instead of having a single tube for the body, it has a single cell body and comes with the ECR extension (which can be purchased for around $8). With these extension tubes, you can basically make the light take as many cells as the drop in can handle the voltage. I believe the single mode drop in can take up to 18V, so thats a lot of primary or rechargeable batteries. The original L2m design would only fit 123a cells, but post 2009 L2ms are tapped for 18650s with still some rattle room. With 123a cells, there is a lot of battery rattle, but the cells made constant contact so I haven’t had issues with light reliability even with the rattle.

For EDC purposes, it might be easiest to take off the ECR extension and just run the light with a single rechargeable 123a cell.

No issues with water as the o-rings are quite robust and fit snugly into the body as the parts are screwed together.

Overall it’s a nice light. Worth the $40 dollars I paid for. The nice thing about these Chinese lights is that there are lots of accessories that can be bought for cheap to change around the light. Also, like many other P60 drop in style lights, parts can be swapped between other P60 lights.

Tagged with: , , ,

Review: VersaTi ET10 (high first)

Posted in Gear Reviews by ziptrickhead on May 5, 2010

Today I got my VersaTi ET10. I got it as a sort of graduation present to myself since I should be graduating college this month. It’s $59.99 at GoingGear. Actually, GoingGear is the only distributer I can find now. It wasn’t a popular light because it had lots of issues, but it also happens to have features I wanted which is why I ended up getting it.

In terms of production AAA titanium lights on the market now, the ET10 is actually one of the more expensive ones. A titanium Preon I can be had for $55. The iTP titanium AAA can be had for around $45. Both have better fit and finish as well, better polish jobs for sure.

First the bad things about the ET10. The biggest problem that a lot of people had with them was the way that the light switches mode. It uses a plastic disc with brass connectors to change the mode. With several of the lights from the first batch, that plastic disc would come loose and then rotate around. If the brass pins don’t contact the right areas, then you’ll lose one of the two modes.

The fit and finish isn’t all that great on it either. There are a lot of machining marks left over on the light. It’s pretty evident on the tail cap.

The head on my also seems to lean towards one side. I think that the threads were just cut a bit lopsided. When the head is screwed all the way down, you can see that the gap is larger on one side. You can also feel the edge of the head on one side while it is flush on the other side. There is no side to side movement when the head is screwed all the way down though. There is side to side play when the head is loosened though.

There is also a chip on the edge of the body near the threads. Also the emitter (Cree Q5) isn’t that centered, but I don’t care much about that.

The threads themselves are really small and super tight. Take it as a neutral I suppose. I would prefer more robust threads though since it seems like it would be easy to cross-thread with them.

I also wanted the low first version and had ordered that but then Marshall from GoingGear contacted me saying that they only had the high first version. Sucks, since low first would make much more sense in a small light like this but whatever.

There are 2 big reasons why I got this light even with all the bad reviews and the high price. First is the fact that the light is off when the head is tight down. Almost all twisty lights have the light off when the head is loose and the light on when the head is tight down. The other reason is the AMAZING regulation. Even on alkaline AAA, its practically completely flat.

You can see runtime graphs by CPF’s selfbuilt here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=251177

Looks to be a little under 30 mins flat on high and 44 hrs flat on low.

The output is basically all flood. It’s definitely something I have to get use to. It doesn’t seem all that bright on high; the Fenix E01 seems brighter even though its technically “less lumens”, but that’s because the E01 has almost everything concentrated to a hot spot. I’m not sure which I like better. I’ll have to use the ET10 outdoors first to see how well it works. It does have a super dim low mode which I love.

The light is also titanium. Coolness factor right there.

Another thing I love about it, although it is a small detail, is how thick the split ring hole is:

Granted I’ve never had a thin split ring hole break on me, but I just don’t trust it when the metal is so thin (like on the ARC AAAs).

It also comes with a bunch of extra o-rings and even a carabiner type clip. I love it when manufacturers package extra o-rings with their lights. It’s something small and cheap for them, but it can be a pain to find the right size replacement as the end user.

In conclusion, you can do better for cheaper, but if you really want the UI and the regulation, its currently one of a kind in the production world. I probably would have paid the difference and gotten a Mako if Endeavor was still making them. I’m not too concern about the lopsided head, so long as it remains water resistant. I’ll see as time goes by I suppose.

EDIT (5-6-10):

Well that was short lived. The lopsided head was indeed a problem. I tried dunking it in a bottle of water and water slowly made its way through the threads and into the battery compartment. It’s going back to GoingGear tomorrow. Excellent customer service from Marshall though. He said I’ll get a refund but maybe I’ll just have him ship something of equal value to me. No wonder no other vendor wants to distribute the lights…

Tagged with: , , ,