Update: November 27, 2008
It’s about time to make a general update to this thread and centralize all the relevant information here in the initial portions of the discussion. I’ve left the older information in tact and below this edit for posterity.
The Mako is a small AAA based flashlight, 13mm in diameter and 68mm long. It will be made entirely of 6AL4V Titanium, has the ability to tailstand, and will have a Duracell alkaline battery and a stainless steel split ring pre-installed. Features to the light will also include a pre-milled tritium slot, for installing your own vials or glow powder, as well as a choice between a white LED or a red LED.
A couple of photos:
Photos alone do not really tell the whole story, though. This project has been in the works for the past 3.5 months publicly, but the premise of the project has been under consideration for some time before that. What I’ve been working on doing with the Mako, and what I think has been achieved, is to create a light that is very small, yet capable, with some compelling features that haven’t before been seen in a light of this class and battery type (5mm LED and AAA), and to have it all fit in a nice, rugged casing that would stand the test of time, and for the project to ultimately be reasonably affordable.
The circuit I designed for the driver in this light was markedly difficult to make fit in the 8mm diameter working space available inside the head, and also markedly difficult to solder the parts on by hand – some of the parts are no greater in size than large grains of salt (and many of said tiny components have become lost and found themselves a home in my carpet!). More importantly, however, is the functionality the driver provides – with it you get two fully regulated brightness stages, with high mode set at 20mA and low mode set at 5mA. I believe this is a first in a flashlight of this class, and it provides a higher degree of versatility that I think will be appreciated by most of you.
I do want to be clear about what to expect with regards to the output of the Mako, though, and explain how it works a bit better. The Mako is not a bright light. It’s not a pocket rocket, and it’s not going to blow your socks off from that point of view. It was never designed as such, and there are other much more viable platforms to do that on (IE: my previous Aeon, among others). This is my take on the backup light; What it was designed to do was to provide light output for a very long time such that you would still have light coming out long after all other sources have since been depleted, and to create a beam that was nicely shaped and white, something which all other 5mm LED based lights I’ve come across have consistently failed at doing.
The runtimes for the Mako come in at 21 Hours on High Mode, and 60 Hours on Low Mode. These tests were done using brand new, store-bought Duracell alkalines, which is the cell that will be included with the light and what I suspect many of you will be using to run the light in general. This light would do well with a low self discharge cell like the Sanyo Eneloops, and will work fine with any properly manufactured rechargeable cell (That is to say, any rechargeable with a 1.5V nominal voltage intended to be used as a AAA replacement. Most cells in this size I’ve ever seen are made this way. DO NOT use a higher voltage cell in this light as you will destroy the driver and have the light turned into a paper weight).
Now, with regards to the brightness levels themselves. The Mako can be viewed as having two distinct levels, but you should think of them more as full power, and power save mode. High mode is providing a fair amount of light more than low mode, but it’s not as dramatic a difference as what some of you may be used to in my previous lights like the Aeon and Nautilus. Both of those lights have a 10:1 power ratio, whereas the Mako is roughly 4:1, and it’s simply not possible to have that high of a ratio on a light with a maximum current of 20mA. I would imagine the low mode will see the lion’s share of use from most of you, and high mode will be used in bursts where you need to illuminate something a bit further away.
The LED in this light is different from what most other folks use in their flashlights. Continuing in what seems to be a tradition for my lights, this one also uses a Cree LED, in the 5mm variety this time. I tested a large swath of LEDs from Nichia and didn’t like a single one of them, and was actually on the verge of dropping the project altogether (before this thread was posted in August) because I was very disappointed in the performance of the parts – all of them had distinct blue hotspots with yellowish coronas and none of them could be considered white in my book, and I am not a voracious white wall hunter like many here. Looking for a new LED, I spoke with some folks at Cree and some of my suppliers, and got a few samples of their parts – I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of these compared to the Nichias, but these were still rather cool in tint, so I received a new batch of parts in another bin, and that’s what was settled on for the Mako. The tint on the parts is a fairly neutral white with nice beam coloration, the blue-yellow amalgamated beams that are hallmarks of most 5mm LED based lights are not present here. The light output on these parts is rated at 24,000 Millicandella (I do not have lumens numbers or otherwise). I am very pleased with what has been achieved with regards to the beam quality on this light compared to the alternatives.
The pictures shown above are of the prototype Makos, which were machined from aluminum and then stonewashed. As the title of this thread suggests, the lights will, of course, be made from Titanium. The will not be stonewashed like the prototypes, and will likely be either bead blasted, or left bare from machining – I have not yet decided.
I’ve been keeping a list of people who want to order this flashlight in those who have e-mailed me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Accordingly, those who have e-mailed me and expressed their interest will be contacted first to allow them to purchase a light when they’re made available for ordering. A thread will be posted subsequently on the Custom BST forum here on the CPF regarding these lights as well, and orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. If you send me an e-mail you do not need to tell me what you want right now – I will be putting up a page on my website for easy ordering where you will be able to choose all options you want.
Pricing on the light will be $115 plus shipping.
It is looking like the run of Makos will be completed before year's end, barring any unforeseen circumstances or delays, and you can keep apprised of the progress in the project by checking in every now and again in this thread.
It has been fun designing this project and getting it to its current status, and I’m looking forward to the completion of these last few steps and delivery to you guys to see how you like them.
This has been a rather long-winded explanation and description of the Mako, and it comes “straight from the horse’s mouth”. Horses mouths are ugly, though, so here’s someone else’s opinion :
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...d.php?t=214187 (A Review by CPF Member Goatee)
Wishing you all Happy Holidays,
I'm working on a new project and thought I'd fill you in on what it is and explain the premise behind the design.
The new light is called the Mako (pronounced Mey-Co), and is unlike any of my prior designs, but still is made with the same sort of quality and ruggedness, but which runs off a more commonly available battery type, and has a very, very long regulated runtime. In essence, this is my take on the backup light - a lightweight, durable item that you can rely on to be putting out light still after all other sources have long since expired.
This is a small, AAA based flashlight 13mm in diameter and 68mm long. The light sports a milled slot for a standard sized Tritium vial in the back (which will be optional for those who do not like Tritium), and will come equipped with a two-stage driver, providing fully regulated current to the LED in both stages. Attachment to a keychain, backpack, or otherwise can be accomplished by fastening a lanyard to the attachment point at the rear of the light.
Continuing in the tradition of my previous designs, my CR2 Ion design from many years ago being the first light to ever use the Cree XLamp in a flashlight, and the Nautilus and Aeon using the highest available bins of Cree XR-Es as their light source, this light will also come equipped with a type of Cree LED. Many, if not most others use parts from Nichia as their light source, and I’m sure the question will come up sooner or later as to what drives my decision making in using the LEDs I’ve chosen. Simply put: color.
Most 5mm LEDs have very poor beams, the Nichias I’ve tested have a rather blue “hotspot” with a corona that’s very yellow. These 5mm Cree diodes, while not as good as power LEDs in producing a true neutral white, produce a very clean and uniform beam color that is far nicer than any other LEDs I’ve seen in this size and output class. This, and they have a significantly lower forward voltage compared to the alternatives, which translates to higher efficiency and longer runtimes.
There are some folks out there who design their products as a one-time use sort of device, putting a 6V potential across a 3.6V LED and effectively burning it out through severe overdriving of the diode. Others use current regulators, and rather than follow manufacturer’s specified guidelines choose also to overdrive their parts by design and force 60mA through the diode, three times the recommended drive current and two times the rated absolute maximum. This, of course, causes problems - namely, phosphor degradation, which results in significantly diminished light output very shortly into the LED’s life. I’ve tested brand new LEDs against flashights which are overdriven and have been run for just a few minutes, and a new LED of the exact same type being driven at 20mA produces significantly more output, and much cleaner color, than the one being driven at 60mA. One of the greatest features of the LED is its long operating life, and the Mako is designed to make sure that that is maintained.
The Mako will be making an appearance in 6AL4V Titanium in the not-so-distant future, and a list will be kept to keep track of those interested and a pre-pay will be done at the start of production to secure your spot in the queue. I expect the price of the light to be somewhere in the general area of $100, but it's too early to give an exact number until after all prototyping and testing is completed.
I expect to have some prototypes to show everyone here soon, and more details around that time. It is unusual for me to talk about my projects prior to their being ready to release, but I do hope you all like what you see and look forward to your feedback.
For those of you who are interested I'll be setting up a list and sending occasional news & updates via e-mail - if you'd like to get put on this please feel free to e-mail email@example.com and I'll get you squared away.
Take care folks.
Just wanted to give everyone an update on the project. The design changes have been finalized, and here's what I'll be going with:
The light will now come equipped with a keyring, and still be able to tailstand, and the physical design of the exterior of the light has been changed to allow for a more secure hold all around while still keeping as clean of a design as possible. I don't carry a AAA light on my keys (the Aeon is shorter and better suited for my pockets), but I know many of you do, and a keyring attachment point is useful to anchor to light to many other objects. Since it could be done without any major sacrifices in functionality (tailstanding in particular), I went ahead and added in the keyring cutout to increase the overall utility of the Mako.
I'd mentioned earlier that the head was easy to turn when wet or dry, and it is, but when greasy it becomes much more difficult, and I want the light to be able to function properly in every condition that it could conceivably used in, and an oily environment is certainly easy to come by. Form follows function, and I think in this case the two have coincided fairly well.