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Thread: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Popcorn Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Black Diamond Storm - at the first look it is not especially different from the Black Diamond Spot - powered from 4 AAA cells and 100 lumens except of 75 and 3 AAA. However, after a closer acquaintance, it turns out that it is not a headlamp competing with Tikka 2 XP but with Princeton Tec EOS 70. In addition, it looks like the designers have met all assumed targets: compact size, 100 lumen, regulated, waterproof headlamp.



    Some marketing data.

    When you need bright, reliable light in the worst conditions, the fully waterproof Black Diamond Storm offers up 100 lumens of illumination for spotting rap anchors or lighting up the trail. In addition to versatile proximity, distance and strobe modes, the Storm's 2 red LEDs preserve night vision and activate without cycling through white mode. We also included a lock mode to stop accidental battery drain when the lamp is stored in your pack.

    LED Type : 1 TriplePower, 4 SinglePower (2 white, 2 red)
    Lumens : 100
    Max Distances* : 70 m (TriplePower LED); 25 m (2 SinglePower LEDs)
    Max Burn Time* : 200 H (TriplePower LED); 125 H (SinglePower LEDs)
    Batteries : 4 AAA
    Weight Without Batteries : 110 g (3.9 oz)
    IPX Rating : 7 (Protection against immersion in water - immersion to the depth of 1 metre for 30 minutes).
    * - all values are approximate.
    Price : 49.95$

    Impressions.

    In total, similar to Spot, but somewhat another, the front glass integrated with then casing, screw closure, gray – orange colors… Where did I see it? That is exactly Princeton Tec EOS on steroids; well, almost, the closing screw is somewhat smaller what makes opening a little bit more difficult and the header deflection range is also smaller. The control system is known to me from the Spot already, though I do not bother too much. First switching on and the first illumination: wow, this little thing lights really good !



    This TriplePower led looks somehow familiar; this is Cree XP-E - the economic version of XP-G that I’m putting into all modded headlamps these days. XP-E is a good industrial standard for the present day, considerably cheaper but only a little lower efficient; these small things of 350mA provide at least 90 lumens of light at the lowest selection.



    The screw closure, the casing halves are not matched ideally; but, this time, it does not mean any gap - the additional edge ideally contacts the rubber gasket surface what ensures the tightness of the whole casing.

    The battery level indicator known from the Spot - when the light is powered on in white mode, the battery meter on the side of the headlamp will show for 3 seconds:

    • Green – more than 75% - this is a very important information since, in this headlamp, it means also the time during which the light is regulated.
    • Orange - from 25 up to 75%
    • Read – below 25%




    Never less, I would like that the screw will be a little bit bigger. The pushbutton rubber is also glued into the casing; thus, nothing will leak here, too.

    What does whine inside ?



    This time, the battery compartment has been thought over very carefully; the batteries find their way accurately into their places, they may be pulled out easily, the additional strap enables to remove the fourth cell. In the middle of the compartment , a little riddle. But I'll write about it later.



    4 screw later, everything is on the top; this additional component in the battery compartment is a heat sink screwed to mcpcb , on which the LED-s are set. This is an interesting solution since delicate heating-up in the case of chargeable or not chargeable batteries enables to squeeze more energy from them - and it is simply and genius solution for winter season.



    The mcpcb (metal core pcb) mentioned earlier, enables for much better heat distribution from the LED-s, in contrast to normal PCB applied in the Spot. Diode, inductor, some transistors and sepic processor - typical modern DC-DC buck driver.

    Power supply.

    In contrast to the Black Diamond Spot, Storm is a headlamp lamp offering regulation of the amount of emitted light what means that, within the defined voltage range, the amount of light will be constant. The manufacturer declares regulation till the instant that the power supply voltage falls down to ca. 4,7V, i.e. exactly when the voltage across the cell drops down below 1,2V what enables to use the NiMH type rechargeable’s without any loss of the amount of light with respect to the battery power supply. This is also a nice statement since, frankly speaking, nobody knows after what, accurately, time the voltage falls down below that level; thus we bypass the declaration concerning the regulated operation time. For the user, there is left the information: “green – regulation on, orange – you don’t have any regulation” .




    The measurement results confirms that the regulation is working; honestly speaking, obtained efficiency levels do not drive to ecstasy, but it is well enough ;-).
    Code:
    Black Diamond Storm - 4xAAA rechargeable batteries NiMH - 5,26V, at no load.
              V-In    I-in    P-In     V-led    I-led   P-led   Eff.
    XP-E high 4,87V  336 mA  1,64W     3,17V   407 mA   1,29W  78,9%
    XP-E low  5,21V    7 mA  0,04W     2,56V    10 mA   0,03W  71,0%
    SMD-high  should be about 70mA... I have to check that again.
    SMD-low
    If we divide the current consumption results by the energy stored in 4 cells type AAA NiMH , of the capacity 950mAh , we should receive 4,56Wh / 1,64W = 2,78h, i.e. the lamp could light at the full power for more than 2,5 hours. The riddle remains the result of the efficiency for the low-range illumination.

    Intermediate modes – there is a problem with that since the automatic control between the minimum and maximum is infinitely variable ; any user will receive other amount of light and operating time .

    How does it light ?

    Black Diamond Storm is a development of the Spot’s marketing idea; we do not declare the amount of light on the LED but the amount of light emitted by the headlamp. This is important since, even when using the very good optics, the light losses on the optics are about 10%. Due to that, we obtain, in direct comparison, a very good „wow factor” – they declare 100 and we declare 100 , but our lamp lights lighter ! Driving the Cree XP-E LED with current above 400mA , event at rather poor selection, we will gain 112 lumens, what, exactly, enables to gain 100 lumens at the output .

    Black Diamond Storm – high


    Princeton Tec EOS 70 – high


    Black Diamond Spot 2011 – high


    Petzl Tikka 2 XP - high


    Resume

    I have to admit that Black Diamond caught up Princeton and chased out ’a Petzl in the race of the compact forehead lamps; if somebody thinks how the fourth cell impacts on the mass: inconsiderably: Storm is only of 4 grams heavier than the EOS supplied from 3 cells AAA (90 vs 86g – without straps). Good design, good workmanship, met expectations and declarations. It looks that the Black Diamond Storm shall find its place in our outdoor market for a longer time. One I get used to the control system: after several hours with the Spot provided with Storm, I had no even smallest problems yet. It was worthwhile to wait for it and , for sure, to pay the differences in the price with respect to the Spot; the logo is the same but I almost can't believe that the manufacturer is the same.

    And if you have access to the hot-air and you have spare Cree XP-G Outdoor White emitter...
    Storm XP-E vs. Storm XP-G
    Last edited by Szemhazai; 06-19-2011 at 10:18 AM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    wow. finally, a BD lamp worth buying.

    Did you notice any PWM strobe on the lower settings?

    How about the comfort of the forehead pad?
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 05-12-2011 at 02:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    It is blinking during dimming, but when you set the level it stops and the light output seams to be constant.

    I think that it is ok - the strap may be softer, but it's individual stuff.
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    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Cool. All the little details make me really excited about this HL. The power meter is cool though unnecessary and the battery "heater" is a nice touch. I'll probably eventually snag one of these for my own use and testing.

    One thing I couldn't figure out playing with the Spot (not Storm) in store is the UI. I couldn't figure out how to operate the thing for the couple of seconds I was playing with it.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Great review Szemhazai. I have been waiting for this review for a while. If you had to choose between this and the EOS 70 which one would you choose?

  6. #6

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    [/QUOTE]One thing I couldn't figure out playing with the Spot (not Storm) in store is the UI. I couldn't figure out how to operate the thing for the couple of seconds I was playing with it.[/QUOTE]

    Carrot, I had the same issue with the Storm while at EMS. Then i noticed on a tag the had instructions that were pretty clear. I think it is a ui that would be pretty easy to get used to.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Thx for the great review and tear down as usual! Might be interested in picking one up in the future if I can find a good deal.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Thanks for a great review. How easy is it to get into the dimming mode and is mode memory available? My personal pet peeve are headlamps that start with a blast at max before dimming down with frantic switch presses - had enough complains from camp mates who have received a blinding flash when I turn on my headlamp while facing them

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Changing the modes makes a new user “grrr” .


    After a brief moment with manual, you can learn everything that you need to master this headlamp. The lock mode is indicated by a blinking of a blue led - sometimes, instead of entering the lock mode you will enter to the maximum light level and change it continuously from a maximum to the minimum, but this option is not used too often.

    It is possible to set an intermediate mode on the main light source, but unfortunately, this setting is not saved and every time you will need it you will have to set it again.
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  10. #10
    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    delete
    Last edited by Szemhazai; 05-13-2011 at 01:19 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Great review! I was looking into getting the PT EOS, but now I'll have to look into this one.
    Don't you guys find the UI too complicated? I know you can learn to use it, but it doesn't seem as you can just hand it to someone and say here, use this.
    Last edited by cccpull; 05-16-2011 at 07:10 AM.

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    I don't think the UI is too complicated as it's very logical but I think with any UI it's hard to hand it to someone and have them immediately know how to use it.

    The only improvement I'd make to the UI is to have mode memory (not necessarily light level memory) or even no memory but it has "toggle memory" so it comes on in spot mode one time and then next time it will come on in flood mode. So for someone who always uses spot mode it will always be in the wrong mode upon power up.

    Otherwise, the UI is very good considering its use of one button and all the modes it supports.

    Once you read the manual and play with the UI you won't forget how it works. It is logical. You just need to be exposed to the logic once of course.
    Last edited by gcbryan; 05-18-2011 at 12:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Thank you to the original poster! I had the Black Diamond Spot and had never used it other than to test it. It was about 3 months old. I was just able to return it to REI and I got the new Storm.

    I liked most things about the Spot but most of the things I didn't like were corrected with the Storm!

    The one thing I wasn't expecting when I got the new Storm home is the brightness of the secondary white light mode (5mm leds for flood). They are brighter than the 5mm leds in the Spot as far as I can tell. The spec sheet says 25 lumens and I seem to recall that the Spot is 14 lumens.

    I love the improvements to the battery compartment (thumb screw) and the water proofing and the regulation of course. I'll use the dimming feature a lot so regulation won't be as much of an issue as for some but it's still nice to have.

    If I'm wrong about the 5mm white leds being brighter on the Storm someone please correct me.

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    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    There are no 5mm led's in the Storm - there are 2 big smd leds on both side of the mcpcb - and they are powered with even higher current than main cree led ! If they use one XP-E emitter as a flood light source they will have 100+ lumens of flood.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Quote Originally Posted by Szemhazai View Post
    There are no 5mm led's in the Storm - there are 2 big smd leds on both side of the mcpcb - and they are powered with even higher current than main cree led ! If they use one XP-E emitter as a flood light source they will have 100+ lumens of flood.
    so that's what those things are. thanks for clarifying that. i've never seen SMD LED on a personal lighting application before. only on light bulbs.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Szemhazai, looks like you've upgraded the Storm w/XP-G already. Any chance for an outdoor shot (when you have time). Based on the comparo indoor shots, seems it lost a little throw but has better flood.

    Also, does it look like it's possible to swap out the SMD's?

    Thx!,
    Tim

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Szemhazai, your indoor beam shot looks a bit different than mine. Maybe it's just a photo issue. Your beam looks round as one would expect. Mine has more of an odd shape. The led may not be centered perfectly on the optic but mainly I think it's just the six sided plastic surrounding the optic that picks up glare and projects that shape as well.

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    Flashaholic Chongker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Might be getting this soon, was it difficult swapping out the emitter? Might be ordering some HI CRI XPGs soon too =)

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    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    gcbryan, there were rectangle shape patterns cased by shape of the front cover I think, but you need a bigger picture to see them.

    Chongker, if you can swap the emitter on the mcpcb star (try that first ), you can swap the emitter in the storm
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    As always nice review.


    I played around with a floor model at EMS. Seemed bright and the low looked good. I kinda liked the ramping UI but think having to do this each time would be a pain. I think the LED blinked once it reached the highest and lowest levels. Is there a way to jump to these modes? I seen a bit of PWM on everything other than high when the light was shaken. Seemed better than the PWM on the Tikka though.


    Not sure I would replace my EOS with this. It appeared brighter but 4XAAA would mean I gotta pack 8XAAA total as take an extra set in my pack. Given my 1XAA headlamps even the EOS is used less as only need 1 AA for a backup battery. I don’t remember any PWM with the EOS and they have great CS. All that being said it did looked good and the ramping UI is unusual for a headlamp.

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Quote Originally Posted by Woods Walker View Post
    ...
    I think the LED blinked once it reached the highest and lowest levels. Is there a way to jump to these modes?
    ...
    I'm not sure I understand your questions. Are you asking if it has lighting level memory? The answer to that is no. Jumping to spot or flood is easy. Turn it on and it's in spot mode. Turn it off and back on and it's now in flood mode (it toggles between the two).

    Jumping to red led mode only requires pressing and holding the button for 3 seconds.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Quote Originally Posted by gcbryan View Post
    I'm not sure I understand your questions. Are you asking if it has lighting level memory? The answer to that is no.
    So the main XP-E has no preset modes just the ramping?

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Quote Originally Posted by Woods Walker View Post
    So the main XP-E has no preset modes just the ramping?
    That's correct. It comes on at max output and you hold the button down until it's at the level you want.

    High is often more than I need so I just hold the button until it dims down a bit. To me that's easier and more accurate than clicking through high, medium, low.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic Chongker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Got my Storm today, and I quite like it! It does quite a lot of things right, the UI is not perfect but better than quite a few I've seen before. The only thing I don't like is the abysmal efficiency of the flood SMDs, does it seem possible to swap them for something else? I've so far only swapped emitters already mounted on stars, which is straightforward and easy to do, but I do in principle know how to swap bare emitters, and I have a heat gun, so I guess this is my next project! Will use the light for awhile before touching it, and will probably practice on my Eos before giving it a go on the storm. HI CRI XPG ready and waiting for as spot LED =)

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    Flashaholic* Szemhazai's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Chongker, I dint test that, but I think that you can use 2 Cree MX6 Q5 leds to get 100+ lumens of flood light
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    I think I just improved the Storm for my uses. I just put a piece of translucent tape over the plastic covering over the spot led. Now the beam looks much better. It still throws further than the flood leds (and more efficiently) and yet it has no annoying artifacts or halo bouncing around when I'm trying to locate something.

    I can't put a small beam of light on a tree 200 feet away but I don't usually need to do that. If I'm climbing with steep drop offs at night I'll bring along a flashlight that will put out more light than the headlamp anyway.
    Last edited by gcbryan; 05-18-2011 at 12:41 AM.

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    Flashaholic Chongker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Szemhazai, ordered some warm Q2 binned MX6's from DX today, will be some weeks before I get them. I'll update on here what I manage to do with them once I get them though =)

    gcbryan, if you're willing to tinker with your headlamp, looks like swapping to an XPG like Szemhazai did made the beam profile more floody, with a much larger hotspot (sounds like what you'd want) and also looks less artifact-y (as far as I can tell from the picture). You might even be able to put in an XML in there and have a really floody 'spot' mode, and it should be pretty efficient at those drive levels.

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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Quote Originally Posted by Chongker View Post
    Szemhazai, ordered some warm Q2 binned MX6's from DX today, will be some weeks before I get them. I'll update on here what I manage to do with them once I get them though =)

    gcbryan, if you're willing to tinker with your headlamp, looks like swapping to an XPG like Szemhazai did made the beam profile more floody, with a much larger hotspot (sounds like what you'd want) and also looks less artifact-y (as far as I can tell from the picture). You might even be able to put in an XML in there and have a really floody 'spot' mode, and it should be pretty efficient at those drive levels.
    I'm willing but not able (don't have the skills for it) Putting in a XPG would result in a larger hotspot but it wouldn't do much regarding the artifacts in this case I don't think since the plastic optic and the plastic six sided cover would be the same.

    Replacing the flood emitters with something more efficient would be nice however putting a piece of tape over the optic did a great job of diffusing the output (even more so than a XPG would do) and was a simple solution (for me).

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    Just for the sake of keeping all posts on the Storm to one common thread and now that I've used and thought about the features more I thought I'd list the changes I'd make to this light if I had the ability to make this the ideal light.

    There is nothing really wrong with it the way it is but here are the changes I would make.

    More efficient flood emitters (equal to the spot if possible) and a bit brighter (50 lumens rather than 25).
    Better spot beam pattern. Lightly frost the front plastic cover if necessary.
    Change round battery compartment screw to flat thumb screw to make it easier for cold fingers to operate.
    Use two CR123 batteries and have reverse polarity protection.
    Start spot and flood mode in low rather than high.
    Have mode memory for spot and flood and trigger between the two with 2 quick clicks (make strobe mode 4 quick clicks).
    Incorporate some type of tiny glare guard below the lens area.
    Make the button more distinctive to the touch.
    Just to be consistent allow the red emitter to ramp (I think the BD Spot did this).
    For a redesign BD could actually just use one emitter for flood and put the spot and flood emitters vertically (one above the other) in the center of the housing.

    A light like that would be my ideal light. The Storm is close in practical terms.
    Last edited by gcbryan; 05-19-2011 at 05:49 PM.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic Chongker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Diamond Storm - review => Waterproof 100 lumens

    gbcryan, I agree with most of what you suggest, just a few small little changes here and there, but otherwise not crucial.

    Still waiting on my emitters to do the swap (as always, DX will take weeks) so that ticks no.1 off the list.

    As for a more even flood, the scotch tape idea is a nice temporary fix. I'd taken a step further before by using glass frosting spray to frost some lenses of some lights (my old Eos had that done to it). Again, not a permanent solution as the layer is not quite so durable and needs reapplication every now and again. Right now, my Storm has a diffuser lens from a Spark XML headlamp taped in front of it (mostly because I only had clear, but not translucent tape on hand) and that works reasonably well as well. These are by no means the most efficient methods, however. The most ideal situation would probably to replace the optics with something else. I've seen the beam of an XPE behind a Carclo narrow frosted 10mm lens before, and the results were quite pleasing. Smooth, but quite narrow and throwy, not quite fully flood. It might fit into the Storm, but I'm not too bothered to change that aspect myself just yet (maybe some day).

    As for UI, my favourite so far for a single electronic switch is Zebralight's. If possible, a SF Saint style dial would be nice too (of course with adaptations for spot/flood/red), but these wishes are probably gonna be fruitless :P

    I guess without going custom, it's gonna be almost impossible to find the perfect light of any form (handheld, headlamp) from commercial companies like BD. We can only really go for the closest thing, and so far I'm liking the storm for what it is =)

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