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Thread: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.


    Following up on the Catapult V2 XM-L, Thrunite has now released a V3 XM-L with a revised interface and additional output modes.

    Specifications:
    • LED: Cree XM-L with T6 bin
    • Tighten head for maximum outpt (700+ OFT lumens, 900+ LED lumens)
    • Loosen head for Low, Middle, High, and strobe (with memory function)
    • Mil-Spec Type III Hard Anodizing
    • Constructed from 7075AL for superior durability.
    • Stainless steel bezel
    • Length: 185mm; Head diameter: 58mm; Body diameter: 31mm; Weight: 390g. (Extension tube excluded)
    • Tactical momentary-on forward click switch
    • IPX-8 Water/Dust Resistance
    • Tail cap design allows the light to tail stand
    • Shatter resistant ultra clear lens with double-sided multilayer AR coating
    • 54mm textured orange peel reflector
    • BATTERY OPTIONS: 2 x 18650 / 2 x 17670 / 4 x CR123/ 2 x 18650/2 x CR123/2 x 16340
    • Estimated MSRP unknown, but likely similar to the ~$150 for the V2 XM-L.





    Packaging is similar to the earlier Catapult lights (i.e. simple cardboard case with cut-out foam). As before, inside you will find the light, extension body tube, warranty card, wrist lanyard, spare o-rings and extra tailcap clicky switch and GITD boot cover.

    There have been some cosmetic changes to the body plan of the V3, as shown below.


    From left to right: Redilast 18650, Catapult V1, Catapult V2, Catapult V3.

    All dimensions given with extra battery extender in place, but no batteries installed:

    Catapult V3 XM-L: Weight: 434.8g, Length: 254mm, Width (bezel) 58.0mm, Width (tailcap) 35.1mm.
    Catapult V2 XM-L: Weight: 438.2g, Length: 255mm, Width (bezel) 58.1mm, Width (tailcap) 35.0mm.
    Catapult V2 SST-50: Weight: 446.4g, Length: 254mm, Width (bezel) 58.0mm, Width (tailcap) 35.0mm.
    Catapult V1 SST-50: Weight: 410.5g, Length: 250mm, Width (bezel) 59.0mm, Width (tailcap) 34.4mm.

    Since the overall size and dimensions haven’t changed much from the V2 XM-L, here are some additional pics showing how the Catapult V2 compares to other lights (for rough size comparison):


    From left to right: AW Protected 18650, Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L, Catapult V2 SST-50, Olight M31, JetBeam M1X V2.


    From left to right: AW Protected 18650, M3C4 XM-L, M3C4 SST-50 (OP), Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L, Sunwayman M40C, JetBeam M1X V2.

    Detailed Catapult V3 XM-L pics:




    The main changes from the V2 build are the cosmetic touches to the styling at the base of the head and tailcap, and the revised checkered pattern on the battery handle. The handle changes are the most significant, as the checkered pattern is now much more deeply cut, producing even greater grip than before (which was already quite high).

    The threading seems to have changed slightly as well, and the old battery tubes are thus not interchangeable with this new version. The thin bands of knurling at the tail and near the bezel are also gone now.

    Inside, not much has changed. There is still a spring in the head, battery contact cap in the tailcap, dual o-rings everywhere, and a stainless bezel ring. Body walls remain extraordinarily thick – you could probably run over this with a tank without damaging the batteries.

    Black anodizing (type III = HA) is similarly indistinguishable from previous versions. Lettering is brighter and thicker than earlier Catapults.

    The light can tailstand as before (the raised ridges also serve as attachment points for the wrist lanyard). My V3 sample was a bit wobbly if tailstanding when off, though no problem when on. The switch has a similar feel to before, and is fairly typical for standard forward clicky switch.

    Screw threads in the tailcap and on the corresponding battery tube remain anodized, allowing for lock-out. FYI, as before, the extender portion battery tube goes between the head and the main body tube, not between the main body tube and the tailcap (as is the case on most other lights). It’s important you don’t try to install it the wrong way, or it will interfere with battery contact (i.e. the anodized screw threads will be in the wrong place).




    The reflector and emitter look unchanged from the V2 XM-L version.

    Which brings me to the white-wall beamshots. All lights are on 2xAW protected 18650, about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.

    Note: The "Catapult V2" refers to the SST-50 version. The V2 XM-L version is so-labeled in the pics below.













    The Catapult definitely retains its impressive throw! Scroll down for more detailed output/runtime comparisons.

    Tint on my V3 XM-L sample seems slightly less warm than my V2 XM-L sample. It would definitely be consider a premium Cool White tint.

    I've recently updated my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the latest XM-L lights. Check out that round-up thread for more details on the testing method, plus higher quality JPEG images of all lights. I haven’t updated it with the V3 XM-L yet, but it is not that different from the V2 XM-L. Here is an animated GIF of relevant XM-L/SST-50 comparisons:




    User Interface

    The main difference with the Catapult V3 is in the UI.

    As before, you turn on/off by the forward clicky switch (press-on for momentary, click for locked on). Also as before, tighten the head for max output. What differs on V3 is what happens when you have have the head loosen.

    On the V2 Catapult, this gives you a Lo mode. On the V3, you have the choice of four modes: Lo > Med > Hi > Strobe, in repeating sequence. You select each mode by flashing or rapidly clicking off/on the tailcap in under one second. The light has mode memory, and retains the last setting you left it in.

    This revised interface actually works quite well. You can set it up to work just as the old V2 did (i.e. Max/Lo), or any other combination of the head loosened. And you can still signal in the user-defined head loosened state, but you need to wait one second between activations (or you will advance the mode).

    To better understand how the output levels compare, on all batteries, see the chart below. Note that these lumen estimates refer to initial activation, not ANSI values (scroll down to methodology section for an explanation of these terms, with links):



    Basically, the Max output is unchanged from the V2 XM-L. The V2 Lo mode is very similar to the V3 Med mode. The V3 Hi mode is not quite as bright as Max, but it is close. And the V3 Lo mode is really just a Moonlight mode.

    As you can also see, there has been some revision and improvement of drive levels on different batteries. 4x CR123A and 2x 3.7V Li-ion now give identical output levels on the V3 (in all modes), and 2x CR123A has a somewhat lower set of outputs across the board. This is quite reasonable, considering the lower capacity of 2xCR123A.

    As before, 1x18650 is insufficient to light up the light in anything but a Moonlight mode. Thrunite informs me that the actual output level on 1x18650 will be quite variable from sample to sample - since the circuit doesn't support <4.3V battery sources, they can't predict how individual samples will perform.

    As before, I believe the light still has a thermal sensor, and will cut-out if the temperature exceeds 120C. A good safety feature, especially when running 4xCR123A on Hi.

    PWM/Strobe

    There is no sign of pulse width modulation (PWM) on the Lo/Med/Hi modes that I can detect. The frequency is either so high that it beyond the testing range of my setup, or the light is current controlled. Either way, no signs of a flicker to worry about.



    Strobe is 13.4 Hz on my sample.

    Testing Method:

    All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

    I have recently devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lighbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

    Throw/Output Summary Chart:

    Effective November 2010, I have revised my summary tables to match with the current ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.sliderule.ca/FL1.htm for a description of the terms used in these tables.



    As shown in my earlier output comparison table, the V3 is basically the same output as the V2 XM-L on Max. Throw was reduced by ~6% on my V3 sample, but that just reflects a small difference in precise focusing (again, you can't compare raw lux as it is a non-linear scale - look at beam distance to accurately compare throw).

    The V3 has a Moonlight mode ("Lo") that allows for very low output. But the next output level ("Med") is actually very close to the V2 XM-L's single Lo mode.

    UPDATE 3/15/2010: It seems likely that my sample has an unusually low output on Lo. There is precedent for this - my Eagletac M3C4 SST-50 SMO/Deep had an even lower Lo mode upon arrival. After being send back for repair, the final Lo mode was 23 estimated lumens in my lightbox.

    Scroll back up to the UI section for a detailed chart comparing outputs at all levels, on all batteries, for the V2 and V3 lights.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:











    As expected, there is no real change in performance on Max output. And the Hi output provides a convenient way to get extended runtime with just a relatively small drop in output.

    However, output/runtime effiicency has dropped on the V3 Med mode, compared to the V2 XM-L Lo mode (which has a comparable output level). Efficiency of the V3 Med/Hi modes also seems somewhat lower than other members in the XM-L class. But to put that in perspective, it is still more efficient than the SST-50-based V2.

    There is one new feature here - on Max, the light starts to cycle between Max and a lower level as the batteries near exhaustion (all batteries). This could be a useful signal to tell you it is time to recharge Li-ion cells, before hitting the built-in protection circuit cut-off (or over-depleting unprotected cells). It is also a lot less annoying than a strobe warning would be.

    Potential Issues

    As with many lights of this class, the light is heavily driven on Max, so I recommend you run it sparingly in this mode. Note the V3 has a built-in thermal cut-off sensor, which is a wise safety feature. But as before, 2xRCR should not be used on Max due to high discharge rate - unless you use IMR cells that can handle the current drain. 2xCR123A is now safe to use at all output levels on the V3, thanks to lower drive levels (this was not the case on the earlier V2 lights, where 2xCR123A was driven too hard on max).

    Although multi-mode, my V3 lacks a regular Lo (i.e. my V3 Lo = Moonlight mode, and V3 Med = V2 Lo).

    Make sure you insert the extender battery tube between the head and primary tube (otherwise, the light will probably not light up).

    The Catapults are heavier than most lights of this class, and no holster is provided.

    The tailcap retaining ring had a tendency to loosen up on my sample, preventing activation on occasion - you may need to tighten periodically. A paper clip works well, if you don't have fine-tipped tweezers/snap-ring pliers.

    Preliminary Observations

    The V3 Catapult is another in a line of solid, high-output "throwy" lights from Thrunite. I consider the V3 physical body changes to be largely cosmetic (although grip is definitely enhanced with the new checkered battery handle).

    Same goes for the max output and throw - these remain unchanged from the earlier V2 XM-L. The real difference is the UI and wider range of output levels. There is also improved handling on 2xCR123A battery sources (see the table in the UI section of the review) and a few other circuit tweaks (i.e. the Med-mode cycling seen as the batteries near exhaustion).

    Personally, I like the new interface. It is thoughtfully designed so that you can run the light exactly as the V2 XM-L (i.e. head tight for Max, head loosened for a memorized Med/Lo). But with the head loosened, you now have a choice of three output levels or strobe, accessed by flashing the tailcap.

    In terms of these new levels, I like the Hi and Med. By eye, Hi seems nearly as bright as Max (according to my lightbox, Hi is just under 600 estimated initial lumens vs just under 800 estimated initial lumens for Max). But Hi has nearly 50% more runtime than Max. This is exactly what most high-end throwers lack - the option for a slightly less-heavily driven max output, for enhanced runtime.

    The V3 Med mode (~300 estimated initial lumens) is actually very similar to the V2 Lo mode, and is well balanced between output and runtime. Unfortunately, the efficiency of the V3's Med is lower than the V2 XM-L's Lo (but is still better than the V2 SST-50 version's Lo).

    Personally, I don't really see the point of the "Moonlight" level Lo of the V3 (i.e. <1 estimated lumens on my sample). I can't quite see myself lugging around a light this size for its Moonlight level, but I suppose some may see a value in it. Still, I would have preferred to see something in ~50-100 Lumen range for a reasonable Lo.

    UPDATE: My sample may be defective on the lowest mode, as at least two other users report a more typical Lo mode. There is precedent for this - my Eagletac M3C4 SST-50 SMO/Deep had an even lower Lo mode upon arrival. After being send back for repair, the final Lo mode on that light was 23 estimated lumens in my lightbox. I'm curious to hear other users' experiences with the Catapult V3.

    And of course, strobe is now there for those of you who like that sort of thing. It is a full-power, high-frequency tactical strobe, accessible on head-loosened series of modes.

    I don't know if the V3 is intended to replace or co-exist with the V2 XM-L, but there's really not much point to getting V2 version - unless you really need the somewhat extended runtime on Lo. By the same token, there may not be a compelling reason to "upgrade" a V2 XM-L to the V3, unless you really want the strobe or the other two constant output modes.

    But all things being equal (i.e. price), I would personally opt for the V3 for its extra Hi mode and improved drive levels on 2xCR123A, along with other circuit tweaks. One thing that is still missing is proper 1x18650 support, but I suppose you can't have everything.

    At the end of the day, I find the V3 to be a successful evolutionary upgrade to the line. If you are looking for a beefy, high-output thrower light, the Catapult series certainly fit the bill.

    ----

    Catapult V3 XM-L provided by Thrunite for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 01-17-2012 at 10:14 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Great review as always.
    I do have one comment about the usefulness of the "moon mode". I keep a Catapult V2 xm-l by the bed to go see what the dogs are upset at during the night. On high I can easily see down our 200 yard driveway or out into the fields. The problem is the low mode is still very bright for exiting the bedroom without waking up my wife. The lowest low on the V3 seems perfect for this use, although I would estimate it at far more than one lumen. On my V3 the lowest low can be seen on the wall thirty feet across a room in daytime with sun coming through the windows. Perhaps the tight beam pattern makes it seen much brighter, but it is definitely way too bright to read by (which one wouldn't do with a Catapult anyway).
    Thanks for all the information.
    westfork

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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I just checked with ThruNite and there is no moon mode on the V3. It appears to be unique to the one you tested. My Catapult V3 does have a very useful low mode.
    westfork

  4. #4

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by westfork View Post
    On my V3 the lowest low can be seen on the wall thirty feet across a room in daytime with sun coming through the windows.
    Ah, that is VERY different from mine - you can barely see the hotspot 3 feet away on mine during the day. It seems my V3 Lo mode is tuned a lot lower than yours. It will be interesting to see what other users report.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I have no way of measuring the lumens, but now that it is dark outside I can see it has a very respectable low. The side of our machine shed at 200 feet is lit up pretty well. At 150 yards you can make out buildings but not well enough to see the siding boards. Now put it on medium and things brighten up considerably. At high and max the limiting factor seems to be my eyesight and not the illumination distance.
    I really love this light!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Just got mine. Ditto what others are saying on the low mode. Just tested it at night in the rain, and it lights up the sides of houses 100 m away with no problem (Hi and Max practically melt houses at that distance, Med may outhrow my 4Sevens Maelstrom--I'll wait for better weather to compare).

    Selfbuilt, since it's becoming clear your sample's driver has problems with low mode, is it possible the slightly reduced max output and throw compared to the V2 XM-L and the poor Med mode efficiency are also due to driver problems, rather than being normal for the V3?

    Also, is there a problem with the image "Hi Output Lights--Max--AW 18650 (2200 mAh) Runtimes"? The key and image don't seem to match up. e.g., the V2 XM_L and V3 XM-L runtime are only a minute different in the key but appear to be several minutes different in the graph, and the Lumintop TD15X is 3 minutes shorter than the V3 in the key but is 7-8 minutes longer than it in the graph.

    Thanks as always for the great work! I almost always wait until I read your review before buying a light, so I felt a bit naked buying the light first this time, but, boy, is this a great light.

    Peter
    aka japanesetools

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    +

    Catapult V3 'modes' are pointless.
    Hi is too close to Turbo, and Med is an awkward output level
    They spaced with no rhyme or reason, a moon mode in a big XM-L thrower is simply silly...

    ****ThruNite, for your V4;
    make the tightened head Max and the loosened head user defined 1~100%,.. including a strobe.

    The user defined mode needs to be such, that the loosened head mode can still be 'signaled' for momentary usage.
    __________________________________________________ _____________

    Thanks again selfbuilt, & glad to see your reviews are intact
    Last edited by orbital; 03-15-2011 at 08:01 AM. Reason: add

  8. #8

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by westfork View Post
    I have no way of measuring the lumens, but now that it is dark outside I can see it has a very respectable low. The side of our machine shed at 200 feet is lit up pretty well.
    Quote Originally Posted by privard View Post
    Just got mine. Ditto what others are saying on the low mode. Just tested it at night in the rain, and it lights up the sides of houses 100 m away with no problem
    Quote Originally Posted by orbital View Post
    a moon mode in a big XM-L thrower is simply silly...
    Given the reports by privard and westfork, it seems clear my V3 sample is in the minority here. To put it in perspective, I can look into the beam on Lo without too much discomfort on my sample - that's how low it is.

    There is precedent for this type of problem on low - my Eagletac M3C4 SST-50 SMO/Deep had an even lower Lo mode upon arrival (estimated 0.2 lumens). After being send back for repair, the final Lo mode on that light was 23 estimated lumens in my lightbox. That's a very big difference, and may be similar to what is going on here for the Cat V3.

    FYI, the Eagletac M3C4 lights are actually quite variable in their Lo output because they are hand-tuned at the factory. My four M3C4 samples come in at 4, 11, 14 and 23 estimated lumens on the lowest setting.

    Selfbuilt, since it's becoming clear your sample's driver has problems with low mode, is it possible the slightly reduced max output and throw compared to the V2 XM-L and the poor Med mode efficiency are also due to driver problems, rather than being normal for the V3?
    It's possible that the lower efficiency of the driver on Med/Hi is related, but I doubt it - seems more likely to me that we simply have a consistency issue on the Lo mode (based on my experience of the M3C4 lights, as discussed above).

    Also, there is no difference in output or circuit performance on Max, comparing the Cat V3 to the V2 XM-L. Both lights scored the same in my lightbox and ceiling bounce for overall output, and have nearly identical runtimes on 2x18650. The slight reduction in throw is simply due to optics and precise focusing. Again, for anyone concerned, I would emphasize that raw lux is misleading - it is a non-linear scale, so you would need to look at beam distance to compare.

    Also, is there a problem with the image "Hi Output Lights--Max--AW 18650 (2200 mAh) Runtimes"? The key and image don't seem to match up. e.g., the V2 XM_L and V3 XM-L runtime are only a minute different in the key but appear to be several minutes different in the graph, and the Lumintop TD15X is 3 minutes shorter than the V3 in the key but is 7-8 minutes longer than it in the graph.
    Thanks, the TD15X should have read 1:17 and the Catapult V1 as 1:11 (fixed). The Cat V2 XM-L and V3 labels are correct - there is only one minute difference in runtime. I've added 5-min marker labels on the X-axis, to better help gauging time differences visually.

    Quote Originally Posted by orbital View Post
    ****ThruNite, for your V4;
    make the tightened head Max and the loosened head user defined including a strobe.
    The user defined mode needs to be such, that the loosened head mode can still be 'signaled' for momentary usage.
    Actually, that is the interface on the V3. Head tight is max, head loose is user-defined (including strobe) with memory. You can still signal for momentary usage on head loose, but you just have to wait one second in between signalings. You only advance modes if you flash in under one second. I will edit the review to make that last point clear about the timings for memory.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-15-2011 at 07:57 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  9. #9
    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post

    Actually, that is the interface on the V3. Head tight is max, head loose is user-defined (including strobe) with memory. You can still signal for momentary usage on head loose, but you just have to wait one second in between signalings. You only advance modes if you flash in under one second. I will edit the review to make that last point clear about the timings for memory.
    +

    I realized that and was editing just as you posted,..

    meant to say for the loosened head; a 1~100% ramping user defined with strobe option,
    momentary signaling {without the levels switching on you} for both tightened & loosened head.
    This would be ideal for V4

    edit: ThruNite, have achieving the 'user defined' mode by loosen~tighten~loosen head within 1 second,
    then choose what ramping level suits you.
    This will eliminate tapping the switch, so users can momentary signal in the loosened head mode.
    Being able momentary signal is key.

    Hope that makes sense.
    Last edited by orbital; 03-15-2011 at 09:54 AM. Reason: edit

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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Thanks for another great review.

    Looking at the charts, I find it very interesting that nearly all the XM-L lights trump the SST-50 lights for overall output. (Not throw, which I'd expect on account of the smaller die-size)
    Is this because the XM-L produces more lumens per watt than the SST-50?

    I said nearly, because the one exception seems to be the Olight M31 (SST-50) which according to your max ceiling bounce (168) has an even highter output than the Catapult V2 XM-L (158). That kinda also begs the question as to why you have the same estimated max lumens of 760 for both of them?

    I have just purchased a Fenix TK35 which claims a maximum of 820 Ansi Lumens and does indeed look extremely bright on ceiling bounce to me.
    I'll be fascinated if you ever decide to review it or add its readings to the above chart.
    In layman's terms, "theory" means an idea. However "scientific theory" is fact because it requires proof.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by easilyled View Post
    I said nearly, because the one exception seems to be the Olight M31 (SST-50) which according to your max ceiling bounce (168) has an even highter output than the Catapult V2 XM-L (158). That kinda also begs the question as to why you have the same estimated max lumens of 760 for both of them?
    The estimate ANSI lumen output is calculated from measurements in my lightbox at 3.5 mins into the run. I provide the ceiling bounce numbers as an alternate measure of output (although these aren't done at ANSI FL-1 time points, but rather only ~30 secs into the runs). The lightbox is far more consistent in what it reports, but it isn't a very good integrating device.

    In any case, I wouldn't worry about small differences in overall output between lights - most of the lights of a given emitter class tend to be similar in max output, it is beam profiles that differ the most.

    I will be reviewing the TK35 ... it will be coming up after the next couple of Thrunite reviews.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    The estimate ANSI lumen output is calculated from measurements in my lightbox at 3.5 mins into the run. I provide the ceiling bounce numbers as an alternate measure of output (although these aren't done at ANSI FL-1 time points, but rather only ~30 secs into the runs). The lightbox is far more consistent in what it reports, but it isn't a very good integrating device.

    In any case, I wouldn't worry about small differences in overall output between lights - most of the lights of a given emitter class tend to be similar in max output, it is beam profiles that differ the most.

    I will be reviewing the TK35 ... it will be coming up after the next couple of Thrunite reviews.
    Thanks, sorry for the confusion, that makes perfect sense.

    I'd still like your opinion as to why the XM-L emitter seems to increase overall output in the equivalent brands and in the vast majority of the lights?

    It certainly seems to me that this must be due to greater efficiency, although I understand that you may not wish to speculate on this matter and that its off-topic.
    In layman's terms, "theory" means an idea. However "scientific theory" is fact because it requires proof.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by easilyled View Post
    I'd still like your opinion as to why the XM-L emitter seems to increase overall output in the equivalent brands and in the vast majority of the lights?
    Well, that's not always there case - there are a few late-model SST-50 lights that are as bright on max as the XM-L lights (e.g. Olight M31). But the XM-L lights invariably have a runtime advantage, especially as you go down to the lower levels. The only conclusion I can draw is that the current crop of XM-L emitters are more efficient than the SST-50s.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Hi selfbilt,

    I've been speculating quite a bit and I've drooled over the V2 XM-L for a long time. When the V3 came out, I made sure to go for the latest version and I'm impressed.

    I do not have any night use experience yet, but I would like to point out one thing

    1. My V3 does run on 1x18650. I use a Redilast 2900mah Li-Ion and it looks north of 300Lumens

    Using 2x 123, it looks brighter than that of 1x18650

    2. Memory mode. When you loosen the head a bit, there are 4 modes: Low - Medium - High - Strobe. Everytime you move away from loosen mode back to Tighten Max output, which ever mode you left off will be there the next time you loosen the head

    All in all, I think this light is excellent and I cannot wait for night fall.

    Thank you for your extremely detailed reviews. I enjoy them a lot and I really appreciate your time spent and effort


    Edited to add: I just played around for a couple hours in the dark. I had a Maelstrom G5 with an S2 Emitter and the Catapult V3. The Catapult was ahead of the G5 as expected, but I really really thought the G5 was close. I love the Catapult but the extra bulk and weight over the G5 counts more against it than the pros of Extra throw and super regulation.

    I don't know what to say right now, is it worth the money? I can't say I think so.
    Last edited by xtestifyx; 03-24-2011 at 07:39 PM. Reason: Add

  15. #15

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by xtestifyx View Post
    1. My V3 does run on 1x18650. I use a Redilast 2900mah Li-Ion and it looks north of 300Lumens
    Yes, that is certainly possible. According to Thrunite, they cannot guarantee what the output will be below the minimum 4.3V requirement (simply as an IC manufacturing control issue). They inform that that they expect it could easily be anywhere from 0.2, 2, or 200 Lumens, depending on the sample. So you gets what you gets if you try 1x18650.

    Edited to add: I just played around for a couple hours in the dark. I had a Maelstrom G5 with an S2 Emitter and the Catapult V3. The Catapult was ahead of the G5 as expected, but I really really thought the G5 was close. I love the Catapult but the extra bulk and weight over the G5 counts more against it than the pros of Extra throw and super regulation.
    Hmm, I find that a little surprising. The smaller XP-G can of course be much more easily focused for throw, but the output is much higher on the XM-L. In my testing of the various XP-G R5 throwers (including the G5, TD-15, Predator, etc.), beam distance was max ~260 meters (i.e. distance to 0.25 lux). My Cat V2 and V3 XM-L can both do over 400 meters to that same intensity. My 100-yard beamshots also show a very big difference in the hotspots at that distance. What distance were you comparing the lights at?
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  16. #16

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I did a comparison in my backyard that basically goes into a forrest, I'd say about 100 yards there. I also did a comparison in a sidewalk kind of deal behind 6 tennis courts. I managed to get beam shots and they're really not that drastic in person

    This is going to be very misleading

    Maelstrom G5 S2:


    Catapult V3:


    I believe I will try longer distances and see if the Catapult is "worthy" to me. Pictures above are biased towards to the Catapult as the visual outputs are actually similar.

    Personal question: What is the best thrower under $300?

    Thanks, I enjoy speaking with you

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* easilyled's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    @xtestifyx, perhaps your beamshots prove that your eyes are not always the best judge of output differences?
    In layman's terms, "theory" means an idea. However "scientific theory" is fact because it requires proof.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I agree with you, but side by side I couldn't see how much additional distance I'm getting. It's there but is it worth the weight( double and a little more) and the size? I love the light in every way but this just baffles me.

    I will get more beam shots and side by sides tonight

    Thanks

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    WICH ONE HAVE BETTER THROW ? THE JETBEAM MS2 V2 (W/SMOOTH REFLECTOR & THE 10MIN ON TURBO) OR THE CATAPULT V3??

  20. #20

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    More beamshots here:

    Quark Regular 18650:



    Maelstrom G5 with S2 Emitter:



    Catapult V3:




    I also had some longer distance shots but they didn't come out well, at all

  21. #21

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by easilyled View Post
    @xtestifyx, perhaps your beamshots prove that your eyes are not always the best judge of output differences?
    Quote Originally Posted by xtestifyx View Post
    I agree with you, but side by side I couldn't see how much additional distance I'm getting.
    Thanks for the beamshots. It is an interesting pickle, isn't? With camera settings chosen to show the hotspots well, there is a clear difference with Cat V3. This matches my own beamshots, and my 5m lux measures (when extrapolated for beam distance).

    But in person, I can understand why it may not seem that much brighter to you. Our eyes and brains do funny things in adjusting our relative perceptions. Small differences in beam patterns can have huge differences in how we experience the scene. I've noticed when doing my beamshots that lights with similar output in my lightbox or on ceiling bounce - and with similar peak throw - can look drastically different at a distance, to my eyes. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it depends on how much the corona illuminates the scenery around the hotspot. And this may not correlate well with what camera pics up (which generally seems to fit 5m lux data well).

    I suspect our brains do a lot of dynamic scanning of the scene, and draw some interesting conclusions that don't match the photos. In a similar way, our brains aree also excellent at automatic white balancing on the fly (which is why tint differences always look worse in pics than real life - if the camera has a fixed white balance for all shots). It's actually quite convenient in real life, but it makes it hard to objectively compare flashlights!

    I'm reminded of the well-known visual processing illusion of the full moon low on the horizon (i.e. doesn't it look much bigger than later in the evening, when it is higher in the sky?). You would swear that the moon is actually bigger, and you can make it out in much greater detail. But you don't - it is exactly the same size, and you don't see more detail. You brain plays tricks on you by its expectations of how far away things are when low or high in the sky. For years, people thought this was an "optical" illusion but it isn't - it's actually a neural processing one. And a fun one to convince yourself of how impossible it is to control your own perceptions (i.e. look upside down between your legs at that same moon, and it seems small again with less obvious detail).

    All that to say that a 1x18650 XP-G thrower may suit most of us perfectly well. I find I never really ever need to use even those lights on max at night in a suburban area (or even a wooded one, for that matter).
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Absolutely, I whole heartedly agree with your statement where most of us would do well with an 18650 XPG Thrower. I actually bought the light knowing I will only have limited use with it, since I haven't really used the Maelstrom a whole lot before this

    The beamshots of the Orange tree certainly explains most of the story. Yes, it is brighter and it is nice. I can see a pretty good distance with the Catapult where as the G5 would fall off and the beam wouldn't be visible anymore

    I don't know the distance between where I stood and the tree at the end, but I'd say it's something like 200-250ft


    Catapult V3


    maelstrom G5 S2




    I really enjoy reading your well thought points. I read them like an interesting article and try to learn as much from it as possible

    I do believe I will enjoy playing with this light a lot and maybe get rid of the middleweight contender sometime soon

    Thanks a lot selfbuilt! Cheers!

  23. #23

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I am very happy with my V2-XML which I use mainly on high for its long-throw capabilities. I EDC other lights for general use.

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    ...I will be reviewing the TK35 ... it will be coming up after the next couple of Thrunite reviews.
    That's good news. I'm impressed by my TK35; it is a unique light in terms of compactness, UI, and semi-balanced beam (a thower with a somewhat broader beam which makes it a better general use light than many dedicated throwers. Frankly, I wouldn't have minded an even broader beam).

    Brightnorm

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    I have a G5 S2 and the Malkoff Hound Dog (XP-G version). I don't even feel these lights are remotely in the category with the XM-L Catapult. In fact they are out performed by the Lumintop TD15X (XM-L version). All of my XM-L lights are like having a thrower and flood light in one flashlight. Just goes to show each of us are looking at these things a little bit different.

    By the way for XP-G lights both the G5 S2 and Hound Dog are great lights.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    In all of these beamshots it seems there is a slight doughnut in both lights. In fact most of the beamshots I've seen have a slight donut for both the XP-G and XM-L LEDs. Is this obvious in person, or just because of the cameras?

    In any case, I just ordered a Cat V3 and now I'm wondering if I should have spent the extra money on the OP reflector. Guess I can always get one if I find a doughnut in my beam.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by Xak View Post
    In all of these beamshots it seems there is a slight doughnut in both lights. In fact most of the beamshots I've seen have a slight donut for both the XP-G and XM-L LEDs. Is this obvious in person, or just because of the cameras?

    In any case, I just ordered a Cat V3 and now I'm wondering if I should have spent the extra money on the OP reflector. Guess I can always get one if I find a doughnut in my beam.
    XP-G lights typically have some degree of a dark centre void in the hotspot (i.e. a doughnut), but this is variable. Typically, I recommend an OP reflector when possible for this emitter.

    But for XM-L based lights, I don't typically see much of a doughnut (if any). If you want a max thrower, it is probably best to stick with SMO. In any case, the reflector could always be swapped later for an OP version, if you found beam needed it.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    WOW. It finally arrived. I think I burnt the wall and my retina at the same time showing my wife how tight the hot spot was. Got a V3 Neutral. Tint is AWESOME. Just slightly neutral, bright as hell, built like a tank. Luke Skywalker would be proud.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    One last thing. Is there much battery drain while off? Should I leave the tailcap locked out while not in use?

  29. #29

    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    Quote Originally Posted by Xak View Post
    One last thing. Is there much battery drain while off? Should I leave the tailcap locked out while not in use?
    No, there is no drain - the Catapult uses a a physical switch for on/off, so there is no electronic stand-by.

    But it is still a good idea to store lights locked out, to prevent accidental activation (i.e. especially is you are carrying it in a bag/backpack or something, where the forward switch could be inadvertently activated by something bumping up against it).
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Thrunite Catapult V3 (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS +

    My Cat V3 has 5 levels of light. With the head on tight it's turbo. Loosened I can cycle through low-med-high-strobe. Any idea what sort of runtimes I'll get with 2xAW 18650 2900mAh?

    When running 2xRCR123 the light cycles through the levels when I shake it and the batteries rattle inside. The 18650s don't rattle at all and the light performs flawlessly with them in it. I haven't tried it with 1x18650 as I want to discharge the new batteries equally as a pair (does this matter or am I being too anal?).

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