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Thread: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

  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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    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
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by Zigzago View Post
    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.
    That was likely due to your use of NiMH cells. They have a sharp drop in voltage as they near the end of their useful discharge.

    Flat output when using alkaline cells is a much better measure of whether or not a light is regulated. The 15 hour runtime was probably for alkaline cells with steadily decreasing output.

  8. #8
    Banned Lightcrazycanuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Great job Zigzago.

    I just might have to get me one of those.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* GhostReaction's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    thank you for the review and pic. i m picking one up today at local campers store already.
    Lights were once incandescent. And halogen bulb were great

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

    Thanks for the review.

    Now that your review was over 1 year ago, do you still like it? How has it held up under use?

    This might be my first lantern purchase.

    Thanks,
    Robert

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Schuey2002's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Great review!

    .

    After my Black Diamond Orbit gets here, I have this gut feeling that it won't be long after that and I'll be ordering an Apollo to go with it!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    As mentioned in another thread, REI is closing out the 56 Lumen revision at $36.93 and is back-ordered on the 80 Lumen revision which REI offers for $49.99.

    Any idea what the new emitter is, anyone?
    Anything worth illuminating is worth illuminating to excess.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* RobertM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by lemlux View Post
    As mentioned in another thread, REI is closing out the 56 Lumen revision at $36.93 and is back-ordered on the 80 Lumen revision which REI offers for $49.99.

    Any idea what the new emitter is, anyone?
    Yeah, I saw that on REI. Now I'm debating if the extra 24 lumens is worth the extra $15.

    I too am curious as to what emitter they are using if anyone has any insight.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    i've owned the bd orbit, and like it a lot. just checked out the rei webpage, and now it come in colors! lime, lava, and chocolate. however, the lumen specs appear to be the same as the original orbit which is the Rebel LED:

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...6&postcount=12


    both the 2010 apollo, and orbit show "DoublePower LED" in the specs. what is that supposed to mean, two leds?
    Last edited by damn_hammer; 09-16-2010 at 01:45 PM.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* Schuey2002's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    ^^^

    I think "Doublepower LED" is just an upgrade of the older "3-watt LED" that they listed as being in the Apollo..
    Last edited by Schuey2002; 09-16-2010 at 04:14 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    I just received one of these as a gift from a camping buddy.

    It is a pretty good design. The folding legs, folding hang-hooks, and variable brightness control are especially nice. I used it in the mountains last week. Then I opened it up to replace the LED.

    This lantern is the "80 lumens" version. The emitter is a CREE XP-E. My cheapo multimeter (Craftsman 82345) reads 3.12V and 0.49A at the LED on high. If those numbers are accurate, BD used a lowly N-bin emitter. I'm replacing it with R2 flux, 4D tint. It will be significantly brighter with the upgraded emitter. More important, it will be a useful neutral white, not craptastic cool white.

    Disassembly is easy. Remove the battery pack. Remove the 3 screws deep inside the battery well. That disconnects the body from the lower reflector and mantle.

    The emitter is mounted on a 16mm x 18mm mcpcb, which is attached to a folded heatsink by four melted plastic posts. Clip the "rivet heads" off those posts with an end cutter, and you can remove the mcpcb and heatsink as separate components.

    I suggest using an XPE on a 20mm star if you have one. That will give roughly the same heatsinking as the stock 16x18 mcpcb. But I don't have any 20mm stars handy, so I'm using a 10mm round pcb with a little bit of extra metal. Hopefully the more efficient R2 bin is OK with that.

    MCPCB with one post clipped:


    New 10mm mcpcb on left, stock 16x18mm mcpcb on right:


    MCPCB with three posts clipped and one wire desoldered to test amperage:


    MCPCB removed:


    Heatsink removed:


    -Jeff
    Last edited by uplite; 10-25-2010 at 02:39 PM. Reason: fixed image links
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Uplite, what a great project! I look forward to seeing the results.

    Where would be a source for the emitters you are using. I've looked through the marketplace and haven't found one this side of the Pacific.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Please, more photos of the end product!

  19. #19
    gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Very cool, I'd just reflow the emitter onto the stock board...

    Too bad the smaller lantern uses Rebel, less easy to work with...

  20. #20

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by filibuster View Post
    Where would be a source for the emitters you are using. I've looked through the marketplace and haven't found one this side of the Pacific.
    I get mine from Cutter, near Melbourne, Australia. If you're buying from the US you're stuck with the $1 USD = $1 AUD exchange rate right now. Doh! Just a decade ago the exchange rate was $1 USD = $2 AUD. But anyway, it's still worth it for the convenience of a good bin selection pre-mounted on a variety of mcpcbs.

    You can also buy Cree emitters from the usual US electronics sources like Digikey et al, but it can be difficult or impossible to get the bins you want, let alone pcb mounting.


    Quote Originally Posted by LobsterX View Post
    Please, more photos of the end product!
    Yes, eventually. I test-fit the 10mm pcb and found that it was too small...the reflector would hit the screws and solder joints. So I need to order some 20mm stars before I do this.


    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    Very cool, I'd just reflow the emitter onto the stock board...
    That's the way to go if you have proper reflow equipment.

    I don't have that equipment, and I'm not going to subject the heat-sensitive diode, phosphors, and primary optic to a frying pan or toaster oven. Also there's the issue of pre-baking components to remove all moisture so they don't POP during soldering. Maybe someday I'll try this. For now I leave that stuff to the professionals.


    -Jeff
    Last edited by uplite; 10-28-2010 at 03:43 PM. Reason: political commentary removed :)
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    Too bad the smaller lantern uses Rebel, less easy to work with...
    By the way...why do you think the Rebel emitter is less easy to work with?

    I haven't worked with any Rebels yet, but if you're doing reflow, I'd guess the larger emitter board of the Rebel would be even easier to place than a tiny XPE board. Not true?

    -Jeff
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  22. #22
    gunga's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    I reflow using a frying pan and a gas range.

    As for ease of use, I suppose you are right. I've never reflowed a rebel, I am just more familiar with XP-E/XP-G (having done a few dozen).

    I have never popped anything, tho I have knocked off a few domes...


  23. #23

    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by gunga View Post
    I have never popped anything, tho I have knocked off a few domes...
    Same thing.

    The datasheet for these components specifies a fairly constrained reflow profile. If you skip the preheat stage (60-180 seconds at 100°-200° C, depending on the solder) or you exceed the rampup rate (3° C/sec max), or you exceed the times or temperatures in the critical zone (183°-260° C), you may cause the trapped gas between diode and dome to expand too fast and "pop" the dome.

    The damage to the diode and phosphors is harder to assess, since it is a gradual degradation. The LED may end up dimmer or tint-shifted, but you won't know unless you have a decent integrating sphere and spectrometer to measure it afterwards.

    You can hack a toaster oven with precise temperature control to reflow some components, but it's still a gamble with these LEDs. The phosphors and dome are especially sensitive.

    Ymmv.

    -Jeff
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  24. #24
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    Thinking Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    I looked at the Apollos at the Adventure16 store in Solana Beach, Ca yesterday and was surptised theat the packaging read 50 Lumens. Previously I bought a closeout 56 lumen version at REI before they restocked with what I thought was the current 80 lumen version.

    What gives with the 50 lumen version?
    Anything worth illuminating is worth illuminating to excess.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Apollo Pictures

    Hey, thanks for showing your deconstruction! Amazing! I personally love this lantern, and the whole Black Diamond brand really...i always think they come up with innovative, if not a little pricey products.
    I am researching for a university project this particular lantern and i've stupidly misplaced the instruction booklet!! i've looked all over the web for one, but no one has seemed to upload one...

    so i was wondering does anyone mind looking in their instruction manual for me and telling me the patent number?
    i would be forever grateful!!
    Thanks!!

  26. #26

    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 ? :|

  27. #27
    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

  28. #28

    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!

  29. #29
    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

  30. #30

    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

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