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Thread: Niwalker NWK750 (2x18650, XM-L) *UPDATED* Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO +

  1. #1

    Popcorn Niwalker NWK750 (2x18650, XM-L) *UPDATED* Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO +

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.

    UPDATE August 16, 2012: The shipping version of this light has now been released. Please see my new complete review of the Niwalker 750N1 for more information.

    UPDATE January 18, 2012: Niwalker has sent me a replacement, second-generation NWK750 engineering sample to review. I have therefore updated the original review with details from the replacement sample, describing all the changes where appropriate. Scroll down for more info …

    As before, this is an engineering sample review. First generation body pics below:




    Niwalker is a new manufacturer, based in Taiwan. They claim to have several years' experience manufacturing flashlights, but this is the first model produced under their own name. As you can probably tell from the pic above, it is a hefty, high-output, thrower-style light, of the 2x18650 class.

    Manufacturer's Specifications:
    • LED: CREE XM-L
    • 750 Lumens for 1.5+ hours
    • Tactical forward clicky tailcap switch and reverse-clicky multi-mode tailcap (both included)
    • Optional continuously-variable tailcap switch in development
    • Smooth polished reflector, focused beam
    • Digitally regulated
    • Working voltage: 3V ~ 9V
    • Supports 2x CR123A, 2x 16340 (RCR), or 2x 18650
    • Length: 263mm
    • Head Diameter: 58mm
    • Body Diameter: 28mm
    • Weight: 380g (without batteries)
    • Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
    • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens
    • Military spec Hard Anodized, matt black finish
    • IPX8 Waterproof standard
    • Rugged construction and reliable electronics
    • Tailcap lockout
    • Optional accessories: multi-level tail cap, pressure switch, and diffuser
    • MSRP: TBD

    Original 1st gen sample:


    Revised 2nd gen sample:


    The original sample came wrapped in bubble-wrap with no packaging. The revised sample came is traditional cardboard box, with cut-out cardboard packing inserts. As before, I received the light (with extender tube), a reasonable quality wrist lanyard, single-stage tailcap, and a new engineering sample of the multi-mode tailcap.

    I do not know what the final packaging will be like, but I understand from Niwalker that the shipping lights will only include the single-stage "tactical" tailcap. You will be able to purchase a multi-level "general" tailcap, pressure switch, the diffuser as optional accessories.

    Original 1st gen sample:


    From left to right: Redilast Protected 18650; Niwalker 750; Thrunite Catapult V3; Tiablo ACE-G; Sunwayman T40CS; JetBeam BC40

    I will outline all differences between the 1st and 2nd generation samples as I go along.

    All dimensions are given with no batteries installed (standard tactical tailcap for NWK750 samples):

    Niwalker NWK750: Weight: 392.3g, Length: 264mm, Width (bezel): 59.0mm
    Niwalker NWK750-II: Weight: 396.8g, Length: 264mm, Width (bezel): 59.0mm
    Sunwayman T40CS: Weight: 296.7g, Length 227, Width (bezel): 63.5mm
    JetBeam BC40: Weight: 226.3g, Length: 224mm, Width (bezel): 48.5mm
    Thrunite Catapult V3: Weight: 434.8g, Length: 254mm, Width (bezel) 58.0mm, Width (tailcap) 35.1mm.

    The 2nd generation NWK750 is not appreciably different in its overall size or styling – it remains definitely "beefy", reminiscent of the Thrunite Catapult and the older Tiablo ACE-G/A10-G lights. As before, wthe extra length of the NWK750 seems to be due in part to the deeper than typical reflector.

    Original 1st gen sample:






    The only external features that have changed are some of the labels, as shown below (1st gen on the top, 2nd gen on the bottom):




    The 2nd generation sample has a revised styling for the Niwalker name and logo, and a link to their website on the body (previously on the tailcap). They also seem to have removed the hot surface caution warning.

    One other change is on the tailcap – the two tailcap samples they sent me on the 2nd generation sample had "tactical" (single-stage forward clicky) and "general" (multi-mode reverse clicky):



    Otherwise, build remains very solid as before (sorry for the dusty shots above). While the NWK750 is not quite as thick-walled as the Catapult, this is definitely one of the most solid lights I've seen.

    Anodizing remains a matt black finish, with no nicks or scratches on either of my samples. There is no real anodizing to speak of on the body, although there are a series of concentric ridges to help with grip. While grip is certainly reasonable, I would prefer actual knurling. The "general" multi-mode tailcap has some knurling on it.

    There is a clip/lanyard attachment point on both tailcaps. Light can tailstand, and my 2nd generation sample is no longer wobbly as the first was (but of course, that may vary). Screw threads are anodized for tailcap lockout. Although the threads are standard triangular cut, they seem fairly thick and of good quality.

    Light has a beveled stainless steel bezel ring. There is a spring in the head, allowing you to use the newer high-capacity flat-top 18650 cells. All my flat-top 18650 cells worked fine in the light. However, my thickest cells (4GREER protected 2400mAh) still had difficulty fitting into the light (i.e. inner body tube diameter a bit too narrow for them)

    Standard tailcap remains a single-stage forward clicky switch. An engineering sample of the multi-mode tailcap was included, but it is still a three-mode reverse clicky. They plan to offer a revised multi-mode interface, with the choice of two sets of output modes (see below for a description). I understand an optional continuously-variable tailcap is also in the works, but have no further details.

    User Interface

    The standard switch is simplicity itself – it is a forward tailcap clicky, so press for momentary on, click and release for locked on.

    The engineering sample multi-mode tailcaps they sent me for evaluation used a reverse clicky, and cycled between Hi > Lo > Strobe > Off, in repeating sequence. On my samples, you have to wait ~4 secs before turning the light Off, or it will instead advance to the next mode (this is too long, IMO). There is no memory mode, the light always comes back on at Hi (I would prefer a memory mode).

    The design of the multi-mode tailcap is still in development. Niwalker informs me that the final version will likely have two sets of modes. They plan to set one mode as Low (5%) – Med (30%) – High (100%), and the other mode as Low – Med – High – SOS - Strobe. This multi-mode switch will have mode set memory, and you will be able to switch between the mode sets by pressing and holding the switch for two seconds.

    Niwalker has explicitly asked for feedback on this proposed multi-mode switch design, so please speak up!

    For a more detailed examination of the build and user interface of the two switches, please see my video overview:



    Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the 360p icon in the lower right-hand corner, and select the higher 480p to 720p options, or even run full-screen.

    PWM/Strobe

    There is no sign of PWM on the single-stage switch, as expected.

    Niwalker is aware that the engineering sample multi-mode switch they sent me still has PWM (measured at 240 Hz and 267 Hz on Hi and Lo, respectively). They are working on a new circuit in the 2 kHz range for the final version, which will include multiple low modes.



    Strobe remains at an incredibly dizzying 19 Hz on the engineering sample multi-mode switch – one of the highest frequencies I've seen. I don't know if the final version will maintain this strobe speed, but I rather doubt anyone could be able to "steel themselves" against getting hit with it (although I imagine even the operator would find it ). I'll talk, I'll talk …

    Beamshots:




    The NWK750 uses a Cool White XM-L emitter, well centered on my samples (with a white centering disc around it). Reflector is smooth finish and extremely deep – one of the deepest I've seen (likely accounting for the overall length of the NWK750). Throw is likely to be very good. My second generation sample doesn't look appreciably different from the first.

    And now, what you have all been waiting for. 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 revised 2nd generation NWK750 is labeled as "NWK750-II" below, and the 1st generation sample is just "NWK750".













    The revised 2nd generation NWK750 seems to have a little more output, resulting in slightly greater throw.

    For outdoor beamshots, these were done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography (i.e. the road dips in the distance, to better show you the corona in the mid-ground).

    To start, here was the original NWK750, compared to the Thrunite Catapult V3 and Sunwayman T40CS.



    The original NWK750 appeared to be slightly under-performing for the class. The revised NWK750 now performs as expected, and is very close to the Catapult V3:



    As before, spillbeam width is narrower than typical, due to the deeper than usual reflector.

    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:

    My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the 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.



    There you go – the revised NWK750 is now back up to what you would expect for overall output and throw. Very similar to the Thrunite Catapult V3.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:

    Note: "Hi" on the NWK750 runtimes below refers to the Hi-mode of the multi-mode switch. The single-stage switch (which would give max output only) is labeled as such.

    Let's start with a comparison of the 2nd generation engineering sample to the first:



    Niwalker has clearly fixed the issue with the low output on the first sample – the revised 2nd generation sample now has higher output for the same runtime.



    On 1x18650 battery sources, output hasn't appreciably changed – but runtime has improved on the revised 2nd generation version.

    So how does this new sample stack up compared to other lights in this class?



    The NWK750 is now performing right where I would expect it to. On the single-stage tailcap, performance is remarkably similar to the Thrunite Catapult in output/runtime, as well as throw and beam pattern.

    As a result of my earlier findings, Niwalker asked me to verify the tailcap current draws. Shown below are comparisons on 2x18650:

    Niwalker NWK750-II: 1.55A
    Niwalker NWK750: 1.54A
    Sunwayman T40CS: 1.47A
    Skilhunt Defier X3: 1.27A
    JetBeam BC40: 1.55A
    Thrunite Catapult V2 XM-L: 1.52A
    Thrunite Catapult V3 XM-L: 1.64A

    Consistent with the output/runtime results, this new sample is driven to the same level as before. So whatever the original circuit issue was that was limiting performance, it has been fixed.

    And as you can see, the NWK750 is drawing approximately the same initial battery current as the Thrunite Catapult, JetBeam BC40, or Sunwayman T40CS – and as a result, has equivalent runtimes.

    Potential Issues

    Multi-mode tailcap is still in the development stage, and final shipping version is not known. Niwalker is seeking input from members on the design, and I have made some personal recommendations below. Feel free to jump in with your own suggestions!

    Spillbeam width is narrower (but brighter) than most lights in this class, due to the very deep reflector.

    Light rolls easily, as there are no indentations to serve as anti-roll stops.

    The light lacks knurling as such, although the various build elements do help with grip.

    Requested feedback on the engineering sample multi-mode switch

    From my perspective, I found the timings were too loose on the engineering sample multi-mode switch – you need to wait a couple of seconds before you can turn the light off (otherwise, clicking too quickly will advance you to the next mode).

    There was no memory mode, with the light always coming on in Hi (I would prefer memory). Mode sequence was unusual at Hi > Lo > Strobe > Off.

    Output was lower on Hi than the single-stage switch, and there was visible PWM on both the Lo and Hi levels. I recommended Max output on Hi (with no PWM), and undetectable PWM on Lo.

    Strobe was incredibly fast on 2x18650, yet oddly more typical on 1x18650.

    UPDATE for 2nd generation sample: Niwalker informs me that they are working on increasing the PWM to 2kHz, are introducing two sets of modes. They plan to set one mode as Low (5%) – Med (30%) – High (100%), and the other mode as Low – Med – High – SOS - Strobe. This multi-mode switch will have mode set memory, and you will be able to switch between the mode sets by pressing and holding the switch for two seconds. But as always, they are looking for feedback from members here.

    Preliminary Observations

    Just to be clear up-front: the NWK750 samples reviewed here are engineering samples, specifically sent to solicit feedback for the final shipping versions. As an aside, I commend Niwalker on this approach – if more manufacturers field-tested their models with reviewers ahead of time, we would have a lot fewer buggy initial launches, methinks.

    Let's start with the physical build of the NWK750 – it is remarkably robust. Honestly, the Thrunite Catapult is the only light I can think of that has an even thicker aluminum body (and not by much). I have no doubt the NWK750 can survive whatever physical abuse you are likely to throw at it. FYI, CPFer run4jc has recently performed a series of (highly creative) torture tests on the NWK750, which you can read about and view in his torture test thread here.

    The standard single-stage tailcap worked well in my testing. Niwalker is apparently experimenting with various tailcap control interfaces, and sent a sample multi-mode tailcap for evaluation. I have made my comments on this tailcap above, but Niwalker would like to hear from the members here on what they would like to see. Final multi-mode tailcap design will reflect this feedback, so don't be shy.

    The idea of swappable tailcap designs for different types of output control is interesting, and I am curious to see what else Niwalker comes up with (apparently a continuously-variable tailcap is also in development). I recall Tiablo doing something similar with the A10-G, but that was some time ago.

    The original first generation sample sent to me had a circuit issue limiting max output. This has been corrected on the second generation sample. Output, runtime and throw are now all comparable to the Thrunite Catapult V3 on Max.

    I am looking forward to testing the final multi-mode switch. I certainly have no qualms about the physical design - it is a very substantial build, again reminiscent of the Catapult and some of the Tiablo lights.

    P.S.: I notice that Niwalker has confirmed in run4jc's thread that they used to design and manufacture for Tiablo. So it looks like my speculation above and in my YouTube video wasn't too far off ...

    ----

    NWK750 provided by Niwalker for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 08-18-2012 at 05:23 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: Niwalker NWK750 (2x18650, XM-L) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO +

    Great review as always! It is a very solid light, and I tried as I might to 'kill it', without doing so. I stayed away from any testing / reviewing, but I do want to add that I measured approx 500 lumen in my home made integrating sphere, but the opening for the light is too small for the head of the Niwalker, so there was obviously some loss. I'm betting that Selfbuilt's estimate of 580 is on the mark.

    Thanks for all the hard work - great job!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Niwalker NWK750 (2x18650, XM-L) "Thrower" Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO +

    Niwalker has responded to my initial testing results of their NWK750 with a revised version, with a corrected circuit. I have revised the main post to show the additional data from this new 2nd generation sample (labeled as NWK750-II throughout).

    Basically, I found there was lower than expected output on the initial sample, compared to others in the class. I am happy to report that Niwalker has corrected the issue, the latest NWK750 sample now performs as expected.

    To summarize the changes in the review:

    Build:

    The only build features that have changed are with some of the labels, as shown below (1st gen on the top, 2nd gen on the bottom):




    The 2nd generation sample has a revised styling for the Niwalker name and logo, and a link to their website on the body (previously on the tailcap). They also seem to have removed the hot surface caution warning.

    One other change is on the tailcap – the two tailcap samples they sent me on the 2nd generation sample had "tactical" (single-stage forward clicky) and "general" (multi-mode reverse clicky):

    User Interface

    As before, the engineering sample multi-mode tailcap they sent me used a reverse clicky, and cycled between Hi > Lo > Strobe > Off, in repeating sequence. But the design of the multi-mode tailcap remains in development, and they are still soliciting feedback from members here.

    Niwalker informs me that the final version will likely have two sets of modes. They plan to set one mode as Low (5%) – Med (30%) – High (100%), and the other mode as Low – Med – High – SOS - Strobe. This multi-mode switch will have mode set memory, and you will be able to switch between the mode sets by pressing and holding the switch for two seconds.

    Niwalker has explicitly asked for feedback on this proposed multi-mode switch design, so please speak up!

    PWM/Strobe

    There is no sign of PWM on the single-stage switch, as expected.

    Niwalker is aware that the engineering sample multi-mode switch they sent me still has PWM (measured at 240 Hz and 267 Hz on Hi and Lo, respectively). They are working on a new circuit in the 2 kHz range for the final version, which will include multiple low modes.

    Strobe remained at a dizzying 19 Hz.

    Beamshots:

    Note: The revised 2nd generation NWK750 is labeled as "NWK750-II" below, and the 1st generation sample is just "NWK750".













    The revised 2nd generation NWK750 seems to have a little more output, resulting in slightly greater throw.

    For outdoor beamshots, the revised NWK750 now performs as expected, and is very close to the Catapult V3:



    Throw/Output Summary Chart:



    The revised NWK750-II is now back up to what you would expect for overall output and throw. Very similar to the Thrunite Catapult V3.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:

    Note: "Hi" on the NWK750 runtimes below refers to the Hi-mode of the multi-mode switch. The single-stage switch (which would give max output only) is labeled as such.



    Niwalker has clearly fixed the issue with the low output on the first sample – the revised 2nd generation sample now has higher output for the same runtime.



    On 1x18650 battery sources, output hasn't appreciably changed – but runtime has improved on the revised 2nd generation version.

    So how does this new sample stack up compared to other lights in this class?



    The NWK750 is now performing right where I would expect it to. On the single-stage tailcap, performance is remarkably similar to the Thrunite Catapult in output/runtime, as well as throw and beam pattern.

    Tailcap current draws are unchanged on this 2nd generation sample (i.e., still 1.55A as before). This is comparable to other lights of this class. So whatever the original circuit issue was that was limiting performance, it has been fixed.

    Preliminary Observations

    I am glad to see they have resolved the earlier problem with the circuit. Output, runtime and throw are now all comparable to the Thrunite Catapult V3 on Max.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

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