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Thread: Tiablo A60G (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A/1x18650) Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS +

  1. #1

    Rolleye11 Tiablo A60G (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A/1x18650) Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS +

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.





    The A60G is the latest high-output XM-L "thrower" light from Tiablo. If you want to compare to the earlier generation, check out my ACEG review from 2009 (MC-E-based light).

    Manufacturer's Specifications:
    • LED: CREE XM-L U2
    • Max Output: 850 Lumens @ 2.8A for 110 Minutes
    • Working voltage is 2.75V to 16V with Tactical Switch / 2.75V to 8.5V with multilevel Hi-Lo-Strobe Switch
    • Supports 1x18650 or 2x18650 Li-ion rechargeable protected battery, 2x or 4x CR123A batteries
    • Circuit: Step up and down constant current driver, with high efficiency dual mode DC-DC regulator (PWM / PFM)
    • Reflector: Smooth 53 mm diameter x 55 mm deep, exceptional long distance throw
    • Lens: Toughened ultra clear glass with AR coating
    • Waterproof: IPX8 standard, beyond 5m depth
    • Body: Hard Anodized Type III Aerospace Grade Aluminum Alloy T7075
    • Length: 189mm Head diameter: 57mm Housing Diameter: 25.4mm
    • Weight: 286 grams excluding batteries
    • Switch: Tactical forward clicky switch, and a Hi-Low-Strobe Switch
    • Colour: Black
    • Runtime Hi-Low-Strobe Switch: (4GREER 18650PHT 3100mAh Li-ion rechargeable batteries)
    • 1x 18650 Li-ion High 650 Lumen for 85 Minutes
    • 1x 18650 Li-ion Low 50 Lumen for 132 Hours
    • 2 x 18650 Li-ion High 850 Lumen for 110 Minutes
    • Runtime Tactical Switch: (generic CR123A 3V 800mAh batteries and 4GREER 18650PHT 3100mAh Li-ion rechargeable batteries)
    • 4x CR123A 800 Lumen 85 Minutes
    • 1x 18650 Li-ion 650 Lumen 85 Minutes
    • 2x 18650 Li-ion Battery 850 Lumen 110 Minutes
    • MSRP: ~$140



    Inside the standard Tiablo box with magnetic closing flap, you will the find the light, one 18650-size battery handle extender, single-stage tactical switch (multi-mode switch installed in the tailcap), extra o-rings, GITD tailcap button cover, pair of tweezers (to change the tailcap switch), manual and warranty card.



    From left to right: 4GREER 3100mAh Protected 18650; Tiablo A60G, ACEG; JetBeam BC40; Thrunite Catapult V3; Crelant 7G5 V1

    All dimensions are given with no batteries installed, but with full length battery tube extenders (tactical tailcap for A60G sample):

    Tiablo A60G: Weight: 297.8g, Length: 256mm, Width (bezel): 56.8mm
    Tiablo ACEG: Weight: 292.38g, Length: 241mm, Width (bezel): 56.8mm
    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 A60G is a noticeable bit longer than the earlier ACEG, thanks to the much deeper reflector and longer head. The tailcap design has changed as well, but otherwise the parts are interchangeable (i.e. tailcaps and extender tubes are common across both models).






    Overall build is high quality, with a solid feel. While not as thick-walled as the Thrunite Catapult, this is still a very a beefy light.

    Anodizing (type III claimed) is a matte black, with no chips or blemishes on my sample. Lettering is bright white, and very clear against the black background.

    The body/battery tubes for the A60G and ACEG look indistinguishable, with a raised checkered pattern instead of traditional knurling. Grip is good. Like the ACEG, the A60G comes with one free battery extender tube, allowing you to use 2x18650.

    Threading diameter hasn't changed from the earlier ACEG. Although the threads are standard triangular cut, they seem fairly thick and of good quality. Tailcap threads are anodized, allowing for tailcap lock-out.

    There is unfortunately no clip/lanyard attachment point on the tailcap, but the light can tailstand.

    Light has a beveled aluminum 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.

    There is a spring in the head, so you can use flat-top cells. All my higher capacity flat-tops cells worked fine in this light.

    Tiablo supplies two types of switches – a single-stage forward clicky (tactical) and a multi-mode reverse. You swap the switches by unscrewing the retaining ring in the tail with the supplied tweezers.




    The A60G uses a Cool White XM-L emitter, well centered on my sample (with a white centering disc around it). Reflector is smooth finish and extremely deep – one of the deepest I've seen. In fact, it looks a lot like the Niwalker NWK750 I reviewed recently.

    Here is how the A60G compares to the earlier MC-E-based ACEG:




    These images don't really capture it well, but the A60G's reflector is actually about the twice the depth of the ACEG.

    User Interface

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

    The multi-mode switch has an electronic switch feel, and acts as a reverse clicky (i.e. click-release to turn on). This switch cycles between Hi > Lo > Strobe > Off, in repeating sequence.

    As with my Niwalker 750, you have to wait ~4 secs before turning the light Off with the multi-mode switch, 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). I also noticed a considerable hum on Hi and Lo on my sample, on 2x18650 (but this may be highly variable between samples).

    For an overview of the build and user interface, please see my video overview:



    Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the quality settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen mode.

    PWM/Strobe

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

    Multi-mode switch:

    2x18650



    There is a slight variation in PWM frequency on 2x18650 sources – measured at 264 Hz on Lo, and 236 Hz on Hi. I noticed the exact same thing on my Niwalker NWK750 review. While minimally acceptable, I would prefer to see higher PWM frequencies on the multi-mode switch.

    1x18650



    PWM was measured at a common 170 Hz on 1x18650. This is lower than I would like, as it may be an issue for those who are sensitive to PWM.

    2x18650


    1x18650


    Like on the Niwalker review, strobe remains is an incredibly dizzying 19 Hz on 2x 18650, and a more typical 10.5 Hz on 1x18650.

    Beamshots:

    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.













    Notice again how similar the A60G looks to the Niwalker 750 …

    UPDATE February 24, 2012:

    For outdoor beamshots, these are done in the style of my 100-yard round-up compendium 2011 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).



    As you can see, the A60G looks exactly like the Thrunite Catapult V3 (aside from the slight variation in aiming). It is a certainly a lot more light – and focused for throw – than the earlier MC-E-based ACEG (although the ACEG also has a wider spillbeam).

    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.



    While my lumen estimates are lower than the manufacturer specs, the A60G is performing right where I would expect for a heavily-driven light of this class. Max output and throw are very similar to the Thrunite Catapult V3.

    Lo mode on the multi-stage switch is not as low as some of the competition.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:



    Runtimes on 2x18650 for the single-stage tactical switch are again exactly as I would for this sort of high-output thrower light, no surprises.

    On the multi-mode switch, you lose some efficiency – Hi output is not as bright, but doesn't run for much longer. On 1x18650, you can see output is much lower on Hi, but with extended runtimes due to the reduced regulation.

    Note that the posted runtimes for the A60G (on 3100mAh protected 18650 batteries) seem fairly good based on my 2200mAh 18650 testing. One exception is max output on the single-stage switch, which I estimate would likely be closer to 90 mins on 3100mAh cells.



    Ok, this will take some explaining.

    On 4xCR123A on the single-stage tactical switch, my first sample A60G failed at around 40 mins into the run. I now have a strong suspicion as to why – when I tried this run again on a replacement sample, I discovered this is also the point at which the CR123A battery PTC circuit appears to fully engage to limit current flow.

    PTC resistors are current-limiting safety devices for CR123A batteries – in a sense, they act like fuses. The difference is that as a resistor in the current path, the PTC introduces a small amount of resistive heating while current is flowing through the battery. If the current is large enough to generate more heat than the surrounding area can handle, the battery will heat up, causing its resistance to increase further, causing even more heating, etc. This thus becomes a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop. Once a certain critical temperature/current threshold is passed, the PTC drives the resistance rapidly upwards, quickly limiting the current passing through the cell. It is a last-ditch safety feature, to prevent the cell from being over-driven to the point of failure. Of course, all that heat may not be very good for the circuit either.

    As you can see in the runtime graph, there is an unusual drop-off in output at around 40 mins on the A60G, followed by a specific recovery pattern. I previously observed a very similar pattern on the Hi-mode 4xCR123A runs on my Thrunite Catapult V2 SST-50 and Olight M31 (both shown above for comparison), and with 2xCR123A in my Thrunite Scorpion V2.

    Based on a detailed analysis of this behavior, I believe this pattern is due to PTC resistor engagement in the batteries, reducing current in response to high heat in the head. For a full discussion, with input from many members, please see my discussion thread here:
    CR123A battery (circuit?) question - any explanation for this behavior?

    As you will see in that discussion thread, there is a great difference in the temperature/current sensitivity of different brands of CR123As to engage their PTCs. I do all my standard testing on Titanium Innovations CR123As, which appear to be slower to PTC self-limit in response to heat than made-in-the-USA brand cells. As such, your experience may vary (i.e., you are more likely to see this pattern in a number of heavily-driven lights if you use made-in-the-USA cells).

    You will also see in that thread that it is the battery nearest the head that heats up the most. Presumably the failure of my first A60G sample (right as the battery's PTC became fully engaged) was due to the higher heat being generated near the circuit.

    As a result of these findings, I would recommend users not run 4xCR123A continuously for more than 20-30 mins before giving the light (and batteries) a break. This recommendation is not unique to the A60G - this is now my general recommendation for ALL high-power XM-L lights. Similarly, I recommend no more than 10-20 mins continuously on 4xCR123A for heavily-driven SST50-based lights, and no more than 5-10 mins for 2xCR123A on heavily-driven XM-L lights.

    The above recommendations are based the minimum lengths of time I have observed before presumed PTC engagement occurred. Obviously, you do not want to rely on the PTC feature of your primary CR123A cells in everyday use. PTC protection should really be considered as a last-ditch safety stop-gap, and should you strive to avoid ever pushing your cells that hard/hot. Stay safe!

    Potential Issues

    The head heats up on 4xCR123As on the single-stage tactical switch. I recommend you limit runtime to 20-30 mins at a time, to keep your cells from overheating (and tripping their PTCs). My first sample failed at the point the PTCs engaged, ~40 mins into the run - presumably due from excessive heat buildup.

    The multi-mode tailcap switch has visible PWM and lower efficiency. Both aspects seem to be common on lights that use a tailcap circuit in addition to the main driver in the head. You also need to physically change between the switches in the tailcap. My sample also produced a significant amount of hum on all modes on the multi-mode switch (but of course, your experience may differ).

    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.

    Preliminary Observations

    The A60G is a solid high-output thrower. The build is sufficiently robust – very similar to the earlier ACEG, but with a XM-L emitter and much larger reflector for maximum throw.

    As discussed in my earlier ACEG review, the overall build feels about right to me. Not as heavy as some (e.g. Thrunite Catapult, Niwalker 750), the A60G still has good hand feel and overall grip.

    I like the fact that the light can run on 1x18650 (albeit at somewhat reduced output). Many lights in this class are limited to 2x/4x battery sources, so it is good to have the flexibility here.

    The single-stage tactical switch worked well in my testing – max output and runtime efficiency were exactly as I expected for a circuit-controlled light. I'm not so crazy about the multi-mode switch (or the need to manually swap it back and forth). I would also note the visible PWM and reduced efficiency when run on this switch. But at least you have the single-stage tactical switch for max output operation.

    The issue with excessive heat on sustained 4xCR123A use with the single-stage switch is hardly unique to the A60G. Based on my all my flashlight testing, I recommend users do not run heavily-driven XM-L lights on 4xCR123A continuously for more than 20-30 mins (and no more than 5-10 mins on heavily-driven XM-L-based 2xCR123A lights). Please see my heat/PTC discussion earlier in the runtime section of this review for more info.

    The A60G is another solid member of the 2x18650/4xCR123A class of "thrower" XM-L lights. While I would like to see some work on the multi-mode switch option, I do note this is one of the few lights of this class to also support 1x18650 operation.

    ----

    Tiablo A60G provided by Kit-tronics.com for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-24-2012 at 01:15 PM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tiablo A60G (XM-L, 2x18650/4xCR123A/1x18650) Review: RUNTIMES, VIDEO, BEAMSHOTS +

    UPDATE February 24, 2012:

    I just added the outdoor beamshots (got these in while there is currently no snow on the ground here).

    For outdoor beamshots, these are done in the style of my 100-yard round-up compendium 2011 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).



    As you can see, the A60G looks exactly like the Thrunite Catapult V3 (aside from the slight variation in aiming). It is a certainly a lot more light – and focused for throw – than the earlier MC-E-based ACEG (although the ACEG also has a wider spillbeam).
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

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