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Thread: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

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  1. #1
    Flashaholic Zigzago's Avatar
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    Default Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    The Black Diamond Apollo lantern has been on the market for about a year now. A number of people have posted here on CPF that they have them, but no one, as far as I know, has posted any pictures. So this is my contribution.

    I wanted an LED lantern for use at home during power outages. My main requirements were:
    - Runs on AA batteries
    - Good light quality (even and white)

    I had read positive reviews of the Black Diamond Apollo on some camping web sites and when I saw it was on sale at REI, I bought one last week. I paid $34.99, normal REI price is $49.99.

    The light comes in a simple cardboard box. The package identifies it as a “3 Watt” lantern but doesn’t describe the model of LED that is used. Someone in another post said they thought it was a Cree. I’m not inclined to take the light apart to try and find out.




    For storage, the lantern collapses with its reflector housing telescoped down and its legs folded up. In this picture you can see the red/yellow/green battery status lights above the orange power button. Oddly, these indicators are covered when you raise the reflector housing. Supposedly, green means you have more than 50% battery power, yellow means less than 50% and red means less than 20%. I haven’t had the lantern long enough to know how accurate these will be (I’m skeptical).




    Batteries are loaded by unscrewing the bottom of the lantern and inserting four AA cells into the battery carrier. The instructions that come with the light state that the light “functions with 4 AA alkaline batteries or the Black Diamond NRG rechargeable battery kit (sold separately).” The kit is a proprietary battery pack. No mention is made of lithium batteries. I used rechargeable Eneloop NiMH batteries with no problems. The battery carrier is made of thin plastic and it takes a fair amount of force to insert the batteries, which made me nervous that I might break the carrier. Otherwise the light has good build quality.




    With the reflector housing and legs extended the Apollo lives up to its name by resembling a lunar lander. Since the lantern projects most of its light downward, the legs help to broaden the illuminated area. They also allow you to level the light on an uneven surface. In addition, there’s a folding ring on top for hanging the light.




    The Apollo produces an even, diffused light. There are no rings or undue glare. The light is a cool (but not blue) white. A very nice feature of this lantern is the variable output level. A single press of the power button turns on the light at its brightest level. If you then press and hold the button, the light dims until it reaches its lowest level at which point it flashes once and then begins to get brighter again. You simply release the button to keep the light at the desired level.





    The Apollo provides a good, useable amount of light. It lights up a room well enough to see everything, and is a good reading light within about 3 feet. Unfortunately I can’t do much of a comparison because the only other LED lantern I have is an Eveready Folding 4AA model I bought about four years ago, and that’s really in a different (dimmer) class. The Apollo’s instructions list a value of 50 lumens on high. Here's a shot in the kitchen on the highest level.





    Here is the same shot on the lowest level.





    And the same view with the Energizer 4AA lantern. (I think this is a second generation model - 2 leds, both on in high.)




    The specs in the instructions state a runtime of 15 hours on high and 60 hours on low. This is curious because I only got about 4 hours on high with the Eneloops. Four hours at this level is adequate for my needs, but I wonder how they ever got 15 hours, especially if they are talking about alkalines.

    Overall, I am pleased with the Black Diamond Apollo. There are cheaper and brighter LED lanterns available, but this one meets my needs for a quality, AA-powered emergency light.

    Pros:
    Even, diffused light
    Variable output
    Handy, ergonomic design

    Cons:
    Somewhat expensive
    Battery carrier might break
    Last edited by Zigzago; 05-10-2009 at 07:55 PM.

  2. #2
    gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Thanks so much!

    I['ve been curious about these lanterns, especially the smaller orbit lantern. I do wnat to see the led inside at some point. Wonder if an upgrade is possible.

    So the light works okay as a room light?

  3. #3
    Flashaholic Zigzago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    gunga,

    You're welcome.

    It works pretty well as a room light. It doesn't light up the whole room like an incandescent lamp or a Coleman (gas) lantern, but it's enough light for simple tasks and up close it's good for reading.

  4. #4
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    DM51's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    This looks very nice indeed. It's compact for travel/storage, and has a very nice even-looking diffused beam.
    Resistance is futile...

  5. #5
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Thanks for the review. Do you know if this lantern is regulated?
    Cheers

  6. #6
    Flashaholic Zigzago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Sorry for the late reply. It seems to be regulated. On high, the light level holds fairly steady for about 4 hours and then drops off quickly.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigzago View Post
    The Black Diamond Apollo lantern has been on the market for about a year now.
    Has been on the market ? And if I want to buy one of these now, i will not find it anymore ? :|

  8. #8
    Flashaholic afraidofdark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Edit of my earlier edit: the XP-G warm white emitter works fine. What didn't cut the mustard was my lousy soldering on the positive lead. After I took the lantern apart and discovered this, I resoldered the lead--doing a much better job--and now the Apollo shines with perfect, warm light. I've run it at max for 65 minutes, no problems.

    I hope I didn't dissuade folks from trying this particular emitter swap, apologies if I led you astray.




    <DISREGARD!>Edit: In real-world use, the heat sinking on the BD Apollo wasn't sufficient for the XP-G. My XP-G went poof after about 30 minutes of use on high

    Back to the drawing board.</DISREGARD!>


    ---

    I also modded this lantern, I used a 20mm Indus star with a warm white XP-G from LED Supply. You have to clip one edge of the star to get it to fit but it works great once it's epoxied on, and not too much trouble to center.




    Three bits of advice:

    (1) don't mess with the screws just under the battery compartment lid, all they do is hold the legs on and they're really easy to strip out. The screws you want are at the bottom of the battery compartment. I took off the screws on the top of the globe also, so that I could handle the reflector separately and test the centering of the star before I epoxied.

    (2) the wires from the PCB are really delicate, go easy with them. I broke one and had to solder in a replacement.

    (3) leave a bit of the plastic posts that retained the original square LED mount, they help hold the heat sink in position. But you need to trim them down so that the surface of the heat sink is flush.

    I love LOVE this lantern with a warm tint
    Last edited by afraidofdark; 12-18-2011 at 02:00 PM. Reason: happy ending :)
    "That's why I come here, to be part of that and to learn, and because I can't afford a real midlife crisis, you know with sports cars and boats." -- peskyphotons 2007

  9. #9

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Such a shame about the heatsinking. That warm tint in your picture looks so nice. If you want to try to get it working again, I would test that LED just to make sure its not the driver that died. I use a 2AA battery holder from radio shack, just touch the leads to the LED star for a split second and see if it lights up. (Make sure to get the + and - right!) If the driver died it is possible to to install a nicer driver. I have a b2flex from taskled in my apollo. I have to run it under 500ma due to heat buildup. Good luck!

  10. #10
    Flashaholic afraidofdark's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Edit of my earlier edit: the XP-G warm white emitter works fine. What didn't cut the mustard was my lousy soldering on the positive lead. After I took the lantern apart and discovered this, I resoldered the lead--doing a much better job--and now the Apollo shines with perfect, warm light. I've run it at max for 65 minutes, no problems.

    I hope I didn't dissuade folks from trying this particular emitter swap, apologies if I led you astray.
    "That's why I come here, to be part of that and to learn, and because I can't afford a real midlife crisis, you know with sports cars and boats." -- peskyphotons 2007

  11. #11

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    I had gotten the Apollo largely because I was intrigued by the charger input. I would like to be able to use this product with my solor panels. What is the voltage that goes into the charging port, the typical 5 V typical of USB? So then I'd be able to plug my 5.5 V Brunton panel directly into it? The charging kit doesn't include a 12 V plug, something I like seeing on a portable device.
    Just a detail, I like the lantern so far, just trying to see if the battery kit would work for my purposes. How much would it take to recharge the batteries I have in it now directly in the lantern w/o the kit.
    thanks,
    Moonsnake

  12. #12

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by dark_hood View Post
    Has been on the market ? And if I want to buy one of these now, i will not find it anymore ? :|
    Easy to find right now

  13. #13
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    I'm tempted to grab an Apollo and outfit it with a neutral XM-L - I've noticed the Apollos on sale in a few places, and I also noticed that neutral XM-Ls are available at LEDgroupbuy.com. Any thoughts about this?

    Also: any advice for a first-timer at modding his own lights? I've been bitten by the flashaholic bug badly!

  14. #14
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    do i as its a fun project that will get great results. The lantern is a great tool and an absolute must have just by itself. Have fun and post pics please. BTW, I had put an XML T6 in mine and its bright but would like to do a warm tint.
    "When you do something right, no one remembers. When you do something wrong, no one forgets."
    Edison was right with dc all along...

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