THE AMAZING HAIKU
So . . . fate, it seems, is not without a certain sense of irony. And this is not the first time that I’ve noticed this. Back around the time when I wrote my SF A2 thread, I was asked a number of times what it would take to swap out the A2 high beam incandescent LA for an LED, and I was like (in so many words) “don’t know, don’t care; one of the things I love about the A2 is the incan high beam: two different beams, two different levels, and two different types of light--plus, I want the high to be incan for the superior color rendering.” Yup. And yet three years later, what did I end up with? A LunaSol 20! Which, functionally, is very much like an A2, only the high beam is LED! I was wondering if anyone would find some of my previous remarks and point out this irony to me, but no one ever did (so of course, I’m doing it now, myself).
And here’s yet another one! My LunaSol 20 has been knocked off it’s place as my benchmark for EDC lights and has been replaced by . . . a smart UI, micro-chip controlled, 3 level, CLICKIE! And all this after I went on at length in my LunaSol 20 thread about how much I was annoyed by those smart UI lights and having to cycle through the levels, and how pleased I was at not having a rubber tail cap activation! But, well, here I am. And, I have to tell you, I’m really glad to be here. It’s only because of a series of accidents and a gracious offer by Don.
WHY I DISLIKED CLICKIES AND HATED SMART uC LIGHTS - A NOT-SHORT-ENOUGH-HISTORY
As many people might know, I was an enthusiastic and outspoken proponent of the Piston Drive (PD) lights. I felt, that as far as flashlight User Interfaces went, that this was IT! That so many issues had been so elegantly solved. That here was the perfect UI for a flashlight: a KISS UI. And, well, that is exactly how I felt! Let me give just a bit of my history with clickies and uC lights. So, early on, when I first jointed CPF, it was because of Arc Flashlight. It’s fair to say that I started out as an Arc fan boy, for better or worse. And I came on the scene just as Gransee was discontinuing the “twisty” pack for the Arc LS and replacing it with the freaking Kroll switch pack. He went from this wonderful light:
OMG! What a fall! The first is a picture of compact perfection. It’s still the most compact 1x123 light I know of. And once I put the right foam washer (of my own making) in the back of the twisty (not at the head) and wrapped a bit of tape around the CR123A battery, it was a dead simple, completely reliable, and very pleasing UI. I still have this light, and in fact it’s my wife’s favorite (although I think the SunDrop will probably take it’s place soon).
So to go from that to the second picture . . . what a disaster. Look at that stupid butt-ugly hat-like boot! And the Kroll switch/boot combo to me personally has a poor feeling activation. Not only is it easy to accidentally activate (I nearly burned the Arc Logo into my leg one day when the kroll switch activated inadvertently) but it is stiff and cumbersome at the same time--or such is my personal opinion of the Kroll. YMMV.
Then there were SureFire’s early, less-than-100-percent-successful attempts to market a clickie. I had a very similar reaction to the first SF clickie that I got as I did to the Kroll. Less than great! Why go from the KISS LOTC, with it’s utter reliability and lack of tiny inner moving parts to break, to an oversized and unpleasant clickie? I even posted a thread asking this question (and Don replied there! LOL!)
And that’s just about clickies, right? Then there’s the whole “smart” light, the whole uC thing. As an Arc fan boy I was super excited about the Arc 4 and I took part in the long development thread, where Peter and Henry and the Arc forum members were working out how such a UI would work--and it WAS exciting. I mean, in theory, it was a super cool idea. There was even talk of making it so that you could update the firmware with your computer and some kind of connection to the light--or reprogram it via computer. But of course, that would have been prohibitively expensive and hard to physically fit into the light package (something like a micro USB port, that is). The point is that we were all drunk with the possibilities of such a light, and the Arc 4 prototypes were much the worse for it! I mean, according to reports from early field testers, getting the thing into “programming mode” was SO difficult and annoying that one tester was about to smash his Arc 4 with a sledge hammer, take a picture of it, and post it to the boards, saying “I’ve figured out how to get my Arc 4 into programming mode!” Fortunately for that Arc 4 someone walked in at just that moment and convinced him not to destroy it. Too funny!
So when I finally had the chance to buy an Arc 4 for myself, even I, an Arc fan boy, said, “you know, I’m not so sure about this . . . I think I’ll wait for more user reports.” Then, as we all know, Arc when Tango Uniform.
Over the following years, uC lights became more common, and among the ones I got to play with was a LionHeart. Once again, I was definitely not impressed. First, there was no way to flash the light, and, OK, I’m sorry, but I think a FLASHLIGHT should be able to be FLASHED. Next, as I recall there were a stupid number of brightness levels and options, and it was anything but KISS. It was better than an Arc 4, I’m sure, but it was definitely not for me. And there were others, the last one I can remember being Atomic Chicken’s smart ring for the A2. I got one of those for free from him as a thank you for my SF A2 thread. And, it was kind of “neat”, but what I was excited about from him were the “dumb” rings. And I got a red LED ring for my SF A2 for use in star gazing. (I always wished that SF would offer extra rings for the A2, but they never did and I can understand why--it’s not the most trivial thing to remove and install.) But, the smart ring that Bawko came up with wasn’t for me either, in terms of a smart UI scheme. Like so many lights, a level change was accomplished by a very quick on duration. But, again, this meant that it couldn’t be flashed without changing levels or modes, and it also meant that it was far too easy to accidentally change levels without meaning to. To me, this is HIGHLY freaking annoying and buggy, and, well, I just have no tolerance for that!
This is why I disliked clickies and hated smart uC lights. But that was before I encountered the McClickie and the “3S” three speed McGizmo converter board.
THE EXCELLENT McCLICKIE and McCLICKIE PACK
So, what’s different about the McClickie switch? Well, for starters, it’s a proven and reliable switch. That much is true, and it’s important, but mainly--at least for me--the McClickie is so excellent because it is inside the McClickie pack! And this means that you have this wonderful, user-replaceable silicon rubber boot, and o-ring set-up. You can very easily pry out the o-ring,
pinch out the boot,
and replace the boot if it gets worn, and also, of course, replace the switch if needed or wanted:
Just as important, however, is the feel of the McClickie pack activation. That boot, o-ring and switch combination, snugged and turned down inside the McClickie pack have BY FAR the best feel of any clickie action I have ever experienced. It’s crisp without being “tight”. It is easy to activate without being sloppy. Like many McGizmo products, it is a near-perfect balance of factors. I love it. I really do. And I didn’t think that I would. Although I didn’t think that I’d dislike it or anything, I just felt that I was spoiled by the PD UI and wouldn’t love the McClickie.
THE OUTSTANDING 3S UI AND CONVERTER
However, what I was pretty sure I would hate was a smart uC controlled “three speed” converter. It’s why I didn’t buy a SunDrop before now: because Don moved to the SunDrop 3S, and I was like “Hell no! I hate those so-called smart lights!” I was so sure that I wouldn’t like a smart light that I had Don make up my SunDrop special as a single level light. It was a close thing, though. Don pointed me to the video of how the 3S switches levels, and I was impressed right away. I was thinking “Wow! Now there’s a smart idea! Switch levels with a short OFF duration!” But, since the light wasn’t going to be my EDC and would be used by my wife a lot in the end I went with a single speed.
Still, I got curious about Don’s scheme for switching a smart light, and I got interested in the Nichia 119, and then Don offered to send me a Haiku High CRI head to check out and buy if I so desired. I was thrilled with this gracious offer and said “Hell yes! Please send me a 119 Haiku head!” And he did, and a day later I bought it from him, and well, the rest, as they say, is history!
WHY THE 3 SPEED McCLICKIE LIGHTS HAVE SURPASSED THE PISTON-DRIVE UI
After only 5 minutes of playing with the Haiku, I had the level-switching thing down. Much more importantly, though, I found that there were zero inadvertent level-switches with Don’s scheme! This is amazing to me. I mean, really. Seriously. I don’t know if anyone else out there is using this scheme--and I’m kind of out of the flashlight scene so I’m not going to find out--but this is far and away the best scheme for switching levels I have ever experienced. More than that, though, it is my considered opinion that the 3S McClickie lights have surpassed the PD lights. It’s just simply a better UI, all things considered. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the PD and the engineer in me is still enamored of the elegance and simplicity and reliability of the piston-drive, but in terms of actual use, for me personally the 3S just wins out, overall.
Why? Well, let me go through the Pro’s and Con’s as I see them:
Beautiful rear end! Yes, she’s got a really beautiful backside, she does. It’s like porn for flashaholics. OK. It’s not like porn for flashaholics, it is porn for flashaholics. What a thing of beauty! How incredibly cool is that Tritium vial and the Titanium metal activation nub, surrounded by that perfect tail flare. God, what a tail! She’s a thing of beauty in both looks and feel. Since I started EDC'ing the Haiku, I seriously miss this aspect of the PD. *sigh*
Activation from either end of the light: yes, overhand or underhand, back or front, you can get light right from that grip. However, this isn’t really the whole story. The fact is that constant on and momentary have been sent to the front and rear of the light respectively. So if you want momentary from an underhand grip, no dice, and similarly for constant on from an overhand grip. So this plus isn’t as a big of a plus as it might at first appear.
Instant access to both levels: this is very nice, to be sure. Want low, press or turn part way. Want high, press or turn all the way. Even so, getting to constant on high is far from fast (see below).
Dead simple, super reliable: yes, as I said above, the engineer in me will always love the PD best. How can it fail? What is there to fail? It’s still a brilliant piece of design, in my opinion. No question.
Difficult to hold momentary for any length of time: I’ve been using my LunaSol 20 for three years now, almost every single day, and I’ve had plenty of time to develop my thumb muscles, but even I can’t hold a PD on momentary for more than 30 seconds or so without it starting to get difficult. Putting in the less stiff “Lee spring” helps matters, but at the expense of crispness and action feel, in my personal opinion, which is why I have the original spring still in my LunaSol. Don't get me wrong, though! It’s a wonderful feeling momentary action! I love it! But, even so, if you decide you need to continue having light after 10 seconds or so, you always feel the need to twist the head. You just do.
Slow to turn to constant on modes: twisting the head is relatively slow, isn’t it? We’re talking two or three seconds in an underhand grip, which is about 5 thumb and first finger turn actions. If you use two hands, then fine, it’s down to a second, but you have to use two hands. I’ve never really minded this, over the years, but now that I’ve gotten some EDC time with the Haiku, it seems clunky and slow.
Very easy to HOLD momentary: you can hold momentary on a McClickie light just as long as you like. It’s easy. But there’s no slop or accidental turn-ons to deal with either.
Very fast to click to constant on: want constant on? No problem, push all the way and release. Fast, easy, and one-handed.
Fast to change levels, momentary or constant: Don’s 3S UI scheme is a thing of elegance and excellence. After only a short time, changing levels is fast and easy and accidental level changes are rare or non-existent. This is quite an accomplishment! One that has not been achieved with any other smart UI light that I am aware of (although I haven’t done much searching, so it’s certainly possible that there are other good smart UI schemes out there--but either way, this one is pretty much perfect!) In fact, you can simply use this as a single level light if you so desire! Further, after a week or so of using this light, I find that switching levels is almost second-nature, intuitive, and that it feels to me as fast as thought (it's not, of course, but I'm just trying to convey how fast and easy and fun it is to switch levels.)
Three levels instead of just two: after some thought I have to agree that with the very high output LED’s now available, you really need three levels instead of just two. You obviously want a very low level for night-adapted eyes, and you obviously want a high level that gets near to the max output of the LED, and if you’re LED is only putting out 100 torch lumens or so, then two is enough. But 200+? Well, then, clearly you want a medium level of about 100 or so lumens. The 3S converter provides this, but a PD light doesn’t, and really can’t be modified to do so without losing its elegance and simplicity, or turning into, well, something very much like the 3S McClickie UI.
Better grip (for Haiku, anyway): yes, it was a surprise to me given how much I love the grip of the PD lights, but there it is: the McClickie pack with Haiku head is better. Here’s a large part of the reason why:
The PD pack has to start with a piston around the CR123A battery, and then around THAT it has to have the PD body itself, the sleeve. So you can’t make the outer diameter of the main body section as small as it needs to be for best grip. The McClickie pack, on the other hand, is the perfect diameter, and there’s still enough metal there to allow for deeper grip ridges (rings). After getting used to the McClickie pack, when I switch back to the PD, it at first feels like it’s in danger of popping away from my hand when I push for momentary. Add to this the much lower activation force of the McClickie, and that lovely groove for the ring finger in the Haiku head, and my hands state a clear preference, a clear winner:
And, I mean, LOOK at that head! Look at those cooling fins! The PD may have a better rear end, but the Haiku has a head and shoulders that are to die for! And those fins aren’t just for looks, they do a good job of dissipating heat and keeping the Haiku head just a bit cooler than the PD heads. Plus, believe it or not, they feel really good and are very grippy.
Better, more reliable converter: no offense to the previous boards Don was using (which were very good), but this new 3S converter is a thing of quality, sophistication, and reliability. According to Don, he has had fewer failures of the 3S converters than the previous ones he was using in the PD lights. And, I can tell you as someone who has an EE minor and a bit of circuit experience that this converter has to be quite the piece of circuitry! I’m sure it must cost Don quite a bit of money all by itself. A lot of the lights on CPF are all using the same circuitry and boards, designed by the same few people, but Don has gone completely outside this well-trod circle to have the 3S converter designed and built to his specifications. And no detail was spared either, no corner cut: we’re talking gold traces and everything. The Haiku has a heart of gold! It’s easy to overlook the converter when thinking about lights, but a light is only as good as the board it is using, and this one is fan-freaking-tastic! This is no small thing in a smart uC light, either. Bawko did revision after revision to his smart ring for the A2 and even so, it was still too buggy and glitchy for my taste--as good as any I had yet seen at that point, but still not for me. Same goes for all the other smart converters I have experienced. This is the only one I have experienced that makes the grade. Of course, needless to say, my experience is far from all encompassing, and there may well be other very good or even better converters out there, but however that may be, I can tell you that this one is really great.
No constantly moving parts to lubricate: if you own and EDC a PD light, you know that you definitely feel the need to take it apart from time to time and clean and re-lube everything. You don’t absolutely need to do so. I went over a year of use on my LunaSol 20 without doing so, in fact, but after that I also felt the need not only to clean and re-lube, but also to change the o-rings. With the McClickie pack, on the other hand, the switch is sealed and needs no maintenance, and the head doesn’t turn, so you only twist it for a battery change, which is far less frequent than a twist-to-get-constant-on light. Personally, this is a small, but definite plus for the McClickie lights.
Rubber again: yeah, I’m not a fan of rubber booties. It’s a strike against the McClickie pack vs. the PD. Still, this is a really nice boot! Silicon rubber, with the best action (inside the McClickie pack) of any I have tried. And it’s just very easy to change. And inexpensive. In fact, you can buy an extra boot or two when you buy a McClickie pack. I used to change out my SF A2 LOTC every year, to the tune of about $30. With the Haiku (and SunDrop) I’m already set for three years, and I can buy a new boot, switch, and o-ring for only $10 when and if I do need another boot. So this is only a minor strike against the McClickie based lights.
Tail-side activation only: if you’re holding the light in an underhand grip, you’re stuck with whatever state it’s in. However, again, it is so fast to switch levels or turn on or off that you can flip the light around to an overhand grip, adjust things, and flip back all in about the same amount of time (or less) that it would have taken you to twist to change levels or turn off or on with a PD light. So, again, this is a pretty minor issue.
Arguably less reliable switch: well, yes, how could you beat the piston-drive? But even so, at this point the McClickie is a proven, time-tested switch with few failures. And if it does fail? Just swap it out for a new one! This is very cool, and one can start to think of the switch as a consumable item, like an o-ring, but with a similarly long service life.
So, when I look at this list of pros and cons I personally can’t help but conclude that the 3S McClickie lights have surpassed the PD lights. THIS is why Don isn’t making them any more. Because he doesn’t believe in them any more. And, well, neither do I. I personally feel that the 3S is just better in most situations. I will miss some things about the PD, but overall, I’m very happy to be switching to the Haiku for my EDC.
I am not trying to coerce or steam-roller anyone into sharing my opinion on this matter, however! To those who perfer the PD lights, I say this: I totally understand. They are amazing lights with an amazing UI. However, to those who haven't tried the 3S lights, I would definitely encourage you to do so, just on the off chance you might be surprised. I was! Enough said, I hope.
Finally, I should mention that I will miss having a low-flood, high-throw combination in one light, but the High CRI Haiku makes up for that failing (for me) by having light quality that rivals (or really, exceeds) an incan, and a beam with a good amount of nice even spill. Or if you chose some other flavor of Haiku, you get the lovely punchy flood (is that the term?) of the XP-G, or the serious horsepower of the XM-L, either of which is a lot like having flood and throw in one light. Plus, you don’t need to compromise the high beam by having the smaller reflector like the LunaSol 20 has. And, as time has passed, for various reasons, I find having a low flood isn’t as fantastically useful for me as it used to be and a normal beam low-level works almost as well for my current uses. Partly this is because I’ve gone from being a country-mouse to a city-mouse, but in any case, everyone will decide what trade-offs and compromises are acceptable, and what features are a must-have, and what is a deal-breaker, and so on. For me, overall, the High CRI Haiku beats the LunaSol 20, which is seriously impressive given how much I love the LS20. And I'm not alone in my appreciation of the Haiku! Below is a partial list of excellent threads on the Haiku. Check them out! Also, at the end of the list, is a thread about the Classic Ti-PD with an important reply from Don (#17)
A PARTIAL LIST OF IMPORTANT HAIKU THREADS
The Titanium "Haiku"
High CRI Nichia 119 Haiku is ASTONISHINGLY GOOD!!
A McGizmo Haiku XP-G review...is this the new standard for EDC Lights? You decide!
Haiku Batteries. Which Do You Use? Primaries or Rechargables?
Haiku/Makai Animated Beam Comparisons
Trial by fire: Haiku from the ashes
McGizmo Haiku - An Ideal EDC- An Essay
5 McGizmo Beamshot Review
Haiku XP-G Runtimes?
McGizmo Haiku XP-G Finishes Comparison
I love my Haiku more and more!!
Your Thoughts on Ti Haiku
Will The Classic Ti-PD Ever Be Produced Again?
THANK YOU, DON!
Once again, Don, I have to say a hearty THANK YOU to you for all your good work! The Flashlight community is lucky indeed to have you around! Your lights are a bargain to those of us who have had the pleasure and joy of using them for any length of time. Once you go to a Titanium McGizmo you don’t go back. Not really. You’ve spoiled us all! Ruined us, really! (And we thank you for it! )
*EDIT* Please see post #183 for some minor changes to my opinions on a couple things! Thanks!