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Thread: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

  1. #1

    Wink2 DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Keeping in the tradition of my Multi-stage 1AA Review - Part III: Runtimes, beamshots & more!, here's a round-up of some of the current <$20 single-stage 1AA and 2AA Cree/SSC lights available at DealExtreme and Kaidomain. Note that although I've generally given the links & sku numbers for DX, many of these lights are also available at Kai's site.

    For comparison sake, I've also included the results of some my mods. I'm not advocating modding here - just giving you an idea of what to expect compared to the current crop on Cree/SSC lights.

    The 1AA contenders:



    From left to right:
    SKU.1993 UltraFire C3 Cree 1xAA 1x14500 Flashlight (with Holster) $17.00
    SKU.1995 MTE 1xAA SSC-P4 42180-U Flashlight $14.50
    SKU.4596 Aluminum 1.25W Cree Flashlight (AA) $10.95
    SKU.1892 DX Cree 1-Mode Enhanced Flashlight (1xAA) $13.95
    SLU.4949 DX Simply Cree Flashlight (1xAA) $8.95
    SKU.927 1W Ultrafire 1AA Green Tail Black $14.71 modded with DX SSC U-bin SWO
    SKU.1120 1W 1-AA MXDL "ELLY" Flashlight Silver $7.24 modded with DX Cree P4 WD
    Note the Elly can be bought already upgraded to a Cree here: SKU.2098

    The 2AA contenders:



    From left to right:
    SKU.4452 UltraFire Cree C3 Flashlight with 2xAA Extension Tube Bundle $20.50
    SKU.927 1W Ultrafire 1AA Green Tail Black $14.71 modded with DX SSC U-bin SWO and C3 extension tube
    SKU.889 3W Ultrafire 601A 2AA Black $16.18 modded with Kai Edison Opto KLC8
    Kai SKU.2081 Optical 1.5W Nichia LED Flashlight (2AA) $15.78 modded with DX Cree P4 (FYI, this is the same stock light at the Aurora/RiverRock 2AA Nichia)
    Note the extension tube for the Ultrafire C3 (which also fits the 602A1 tail) can be purchased separately here: SKU.4438

    1AA Beamshots:

    All beamshots are taken in the same order as the lights up above.



    As you can see, there's a lot more tint variability on these cheap lights compared to the premium tints on my multi-level 1AA review. Here's a lower exposure to show you the hotspots better:



    The Simply Cree beamshot is missing since the first unit I was shipped had the wrong emitter (replaced by DX). I haven't bothered to re-take the beamshots, since it doersn't look appreciably different from the other lights

    2AA Beamshots:


    Note that I sputtered the reflector of the 601A modded with the KLC8 slightly, to help with very noticeable yellow corona. The Aurora-Cree mod throws the Cree die "space invader" image as shown in this mod review thread. Again, here's a lower exposure to show you the hotspots better:



    Summary Chart for 2500mAh Sanyo NiMH





    Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's FR.com method. My relative overall output numbers are typically similar to his, although generally a little lower. You can directly compare all my review graphs - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another.

    Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1m using a light meter.

    Runtimes:





    Note: Although the output looks lower on Aurora Cree-mod, I suspect that's just because the light is such a thrower. I find my home-made lightbox doesn't accurately report output for extremely tightly focused throw lights like this. From a ceiling bounce test, it's not that much dimmer than the others.

    Key Observations:

    Build Quality
    • No way around it - you get what you pay for. The Ultrafire C3 Cree and MTE SSC are the only two <$20 lights I consider of acceptable minimal quality to recommend for purchase. FYI, the battery tube on the C3 is a bit tight - not all high amperage NiMH may fit.
    • The Aluminum 1.25W, Enhanced Cree, and Simply Cree all showed considerable flickering upon arrival. I was able to get the latter two running reasonably stably after much effort, but the Aluminum Cree was just hopeless. All three lights carry current through the screw threads (body and tailcaps don't make direct contact with the too-short battery tube), all have mis-centered emitters with crudely adjusted reflectors. The Aluminum and Simply Cree had lots of debris within the head (i.e. trapped behind the lens in the reflector area).
    • The Ellys (DIY mod or pre-modded) are good performers for the price, but build quality can be poor (I've had a number of DOA units, only some of which I could restore to usefulness). Caveat emptor ...


    Output vs Runtime
    • Generally no surprises here for the 1AA lights - the lower the initial output, the longer the battery lasted.
    • The Simply Cree was definitely the low output runtime king, but build quality issues prevent me from generally recommending it.
    • The older 2AA models typically were not better overall output/runtime performers than the newer 1AA lights, except for the C3 and 602A1 where the 2AA extension tube greatly increased runtime - but with negligible effect on overall output.


    Output vs Throw
    • None of the 1AA are throw monsters, although the modded Elly has pretty good throw for it’s overall output.
    • The Aurora Cree-mod has quite good throw with relatively little spill, but projects the die image unless you put a diffuser film over the center of the optic (I find Glad press 'n seal works well ).
    • The lower quality stock Cree lights tended to have poorly adjusted reflectors, resulting in even less throw than you might expect for their lower overall output.


    Modded vs stock
    • None of the 1AA lights could out-throw or out-output my SSC modded 602A1, although the C3 and MTE were pretty respectable.
    • The Cree-modded Elly is good all-around performer. If you already have one, you may not feel inclined to go with the stock Cree single-stage models.
    • No one of the modded 2AA lights was a particularly better performer than the others in overall output/runtime, although the Aurora Cree-mod threw pretty far.


    Conclusion:
    • For either Output or Throw fans, the C3 and MTE are your best bets among the stock Cree/SSC lights. Both have acceptable build quality, although nothing spectacular
    • I can't recommend any of the lower output lights for runtime, since they all had build quality issues
    • If you already have a modded 602A1 or Elly, you may not see much of a benefit to getting one of these stock Cree/SSC lights.
    • The 2AA extension tube is a good buy if you already have an Ultrafire C3 or 602A1, since it increases runtime (but has no effect on overall output).
    • If you can afford it, I'd recommend one of the better quality multi-stage 1AA lights reviewed here.


    Hope that was a helpful comparison. I have a number of the recent cheap multi-stage lights from DX and Kai, and may do a review of these if I have time. FYI, build quality is typically similar to single-stage versions shown here. I still recommend the higher quality multi-stage lights.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-17-2008 at 10:44 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Thanks for the review. Looking forward to the multi-stage review if you get the chance to do it.

    Any chance that it might include the Rebel 100 multi-stage from DX?

    For $18, it seems like a real bargain if performance is up to snuff.

  3. #3

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by musicalfruit View Post
    Any chance that it might include the Rebel 100 multi-stage from DX?
    I don't have that one, but I do have the $18 70 lumen Rebel MTE version (sku.4862) that came out first, as well as the $19 Cree MTE version. What I can say so far is that the Cree version has noticeably greater output than the Rebel version (note that I haven't done runtimes on either yet). My Cree also has a very floody beam compared to the Rebel version.

    Build quality is the same on both: quite good, and is actually a step up from the decent single-stage MTE reviewed here. The switch mechanism is a bit finicky and stiff for switching modes, but works ok.

    These are on my list to review - but currently I'm doing runtime tests on the new Luma 301 and Rex 2.1 for the multi-stage 1AA update. I'll keep you posted on my progress ...
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 08-08-2007 at 01:19 PM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    EXCELLENT review, as always.

    Great tool for making a decision as to which light to buy.

  5. #5

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Fantastic review selfbuilt. Thank you for your effort!

  6. #6

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Thanks for support guys.

    Although most of us are into multi-stage lights now, it's pretty common to see questions in the LED forum on which single-stage is the best to buy. Although I haven't covered all of them here, I think it's a fairly safe rule that build quality is well correlated with price. You get what you pay for.

    Not sure when I will get around to the cheap multi-stage lights - takes a lot of time to do all the runtimes, and build quality is pretty poor on most the lights (certainly in ~$15 range). So far, only the MTE 5-stage lights have impressed me as likely worth the money, although I wish they had lower low modes.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  7. #7
    Flashaholic* LA OZ's Avatar
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Thank you for the great review.

  8. #8

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    So far, only the MTE 5-stage lights have impressed me as likely worth the money, although I wish they had lower low modes.

    Do you find anything odd about this graph for the MTE 5-Mode Cree Flashlight (CR123A):




    Do you think its correct?

    How many lumens do you think it puts out?

    -Joel

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* f22shift's Avatar
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    thanks. lots of effort.
    i agree. go for a more expensive multimode. save yourself the headache

  10. #10

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by f22shift View Post
    thanks. lots of effort.
    i agree. go for a more expensive multimode. save yourself the headache
    Actually, I've managed to cut my workload way down - from early testing, it seems my two Kai 5-stage lights (one in black Elly body, other in single-stage body shown above) and my two DX MTE C2 lights all use the same circuit, so runtimes are identical. So I won't need to bother testing all of them on all modes. And special bonus - runtimes are very low on alkalines, so things are going faster than expected on the low modes.

    I'll be giving a major update to the multi-level review in a few days.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    That is a nice review and good observations. Other then the fact it won't take fat AA cells, I've been pretty happy with my C3. I haven't beat the crap out of it or thrown it about the room but thus far it's worked every time I activated the switch. Depending on what comes down the pipe in the next three months or so, I hope the quality may be good enough to give as gifts to family members.

    One question about the C3. It's looking like from the graph that at the tail end, there is a bit of a gradual drop off, meaning it won't suddenly die on you like my Huntlight FTA2 does.
    I live in a van down by the river

  12. #12

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by geepondy View Post
    One question about the C3. It's looking like from the graph that at the tail end, there is a bit of a gradual drop off, meaning it won't suddenly die on you like my Huntlight FTA2 does.
    Good point - the "moon mode" is indeed a nice feature of the light. I also like how well regulated it is on 2AA.
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  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    I see that DX5332 and 5346 SAIK RC-A3 (black and gray respectively) Cree 1AA 1-mode were not included.

    They have a REALLY nice beam for a Cree light and seem a trifle brighter than my 1995.

    Anyone considering the above lights might wish to take a look.
    http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/2640/usflaghalfmastmdwht.gif

    PBJS



  14. #14

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Are SAIC RC-A3 with P4 or P3? How many bond wires on the LED? P4 has 4 bond wires.

    - Vikas

  15. #15
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    4 wires in my three examples which are all within a whisker in brightness and tint (a wee bit cooler than 1995 Seoul).

    EDIT: And if 4 wires is P4 and 3 wires is P3 what the heck are two wires??? Because that's what RC-G2 has!
    Last edited by PlayboyJoeShmoe; 02-25-2008 at 09:06 PM.
    http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/2640/usflaghalfmastmdwht.gif

    PBJS



  16. #16

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by PlayboyJoeShmoe View Post
    I see that DX5332 and 5346 SAIK RC-A3 (black and gray respectively) Cree 1AA 1-mode were not included.
    The reason for that is they didn't exist when I wrote the review (August 07).

    I haven't stayed up to date on the budget Cree lights (although the Rominsen RC-G2 is a nice single-stage light that I can recommend - especially if you want to mod it with an update driver and emitter).

    Frankly, just too many lights coming out all the time there to keep track of (plus changes to existing lights from batch to batch). But I've noticed bessiebenny has happily taken up the challenge - those of you interested can check out his latest up to date review here:

    Budget Rebel/Cree/Seoul/LED EDC-Sized DX/KD Flashlights Review (Part II)

    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by PlayboyJoeShmoe View Post
    4 wires in my three examples which are all within a whisker in brightness and tint (a wee bit cooler than 1995 Seoul).

    EDIT: And if 4 wires is P4 and 3 wires is P3 what the heck are two wires??? Because that's what RC-G2 has!
    I know for sure that RC-G2 is P2 and it has two wires. I also know 4 wires is at least P4.

    - Vikas

  18. #18
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Quote Originally Posted by PlayboyJoeShmoe View Post
    EDIT: And if 4 wires is P4 and 3 wires is P3 what the heck are two wires??? Because that's what RC-G2 has!
    Romisen RC-G2 has Cree XR-C P2 http://cree.com/products/xlamp_xrc.asp

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: DX/KAI Single-Stage 1AA Cree/SSC shootout: BEAMSHOTS + RUNTIMES

    Inccidently, checked my G2 for Vf and got 3.07v
    http://img32.imageshack.us/img32/2640/usflaghalfmastmdwht.gif

    PBJS



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