The RA01 came in a pretty basic package with the Bronte logo and the specs, with a cutout displaying the light. Inside the package you'll find the light held in a plastic seat, with the spare O-rings and instruction/warranty card tucked behind it.
The RA01 SS, being powered by a single AAA, is obviously going to be pretty small. However, when I first picked it up, I was surprised by how small and light it feels, more so than many of my aluminum AAA lights. Though I was supplied the stainless steel version for review, according to Bronte's website they also make a regular aluminum version
and an "Au" version
. I doubt they make the RA01 out of actual gold, but their website does not specify the material. The pictures of the Al version show several colors of anodizing available (red, blue, yellow, purple/pink, and black).
The RA01 SS, though lightweight, has an overall good construction quality. There are a few things that could be done better, but this is a well made light. The finish on the light is especially good, the polished stainless steel looks very professional.
This light is slightly longer than a AAA, and very slightly wider. It comes with a claw clip on a short chain attached to a post on the rear of the light.
Let's take a closer look, starting from the front...
The RA01 features a Cree XP-G R5 emitter. The XP-G is currently the go-to choice for giving a light good throw from a small reflector. The R5 flux bin (brightness group) is the third brightest available for an XP-G, topped only by S2 and S3. This XP-G sits inside a small reflector with LOP (light orange peel) texture, which serves to smooth out any imperfections in the beam at the cost of a little throwing distance.
The emitter and reflector sit behind a small lens and O-ring, held down by a bezel that appears to be removable with a little force. The instruction manual I received specifies that removing the bezel and opening up the head will void the warranty.
The head of the light is removable from the body, and it's by tightening/loosening the head that you can turn the light on and off and change modes. A few grooves are cut into the head to give it style, and the grip necessary for turning it. I find that in normal use these grooves provide sufficient grip, but it becomes very difficult to turn if your hands are at all wet or greasy.
The RA01 has flat portions cut into the sides for more style and grip. One of these had the Bronte logo, and the rest are blank. This logo is the only thing printed on the light.
The tail of the light has a small rectangular post where the chain is attached by a small split ring. The split ring is easy to remove if you desire to replace the chain with something of your own. This post makes it very difficult for the RA01 to do a tail stand, but it is achievable by seating the post inside of the claw portion of the keychain on a flat surface.
Now let's open it up!
The light only comes apart into two pieces (unless you want to void the warranty, as I mentioned earlier), so battery changes are pretty simple. As you can see, at rest the battery sticks out about 3/4 cm when the light is open, but when it closes it compresses a spring with a large travel distance. This means that you have to apply firm even pressure when changing the battery because the spring fights you a bit until you get the threads started, but as a positive it does keep a very good connection between the battery and the head.
The threads on the RA01 are small and triangular cut. I would prefer to see slightly larger threads, square cut, for improved durability, but on a light this small that would mean either increasing the length or decreasing the number or turns required to fully tighten or remove the head. Twist-on keychain lights are notorious for loosing their heads while hanging from keys, so in this case it's probably a good thing that the threads are small and many. This, combined with the large amount of pressure from the spring should keep the head well in place.
Looking into the head (left) you can see the metal contact plate for the positive terminal of the battery. Looking into the tail (right) you can see the contact spring for the negative battery terminal (a little hard to make out due to reflections inside the stainless steel body).
Outer Diameter: 13.75mm
Inner Diameter: 10.45mm
The UI of the RA01 is very simple. It has three output levels--Medium, High, and Low, in that order. You turn the light on by fully tightening he head, and turn it off by loosening it slightly. To change the output level, when the light is on you quickly loosen then re-tighten the head within a few seconds, and the light will move to the next level in the sequence.
This light does not have mode memory, so each time you turn on the light after leaving it off for a while it will start on Medium.
If you'd like to see a video of the UI, take a look at the one embedded at the top of this page.
Light in Hand
White Wall (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/10"
Indoor Shots (Control, Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"
Outdoor Shots (Control, Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"
PWM: Pulse width modulation is used to make an LED appear dimmer by flashing it very quickly (thousands of times per second). I found that the RA01 uses detectable PWM on the low and medium mode, and I could not detect any PWM on high mode. The PWM is only noticeable to me when I move the light quickly; it does not show up in normal use.
Drop: I dropped the RA01 from a distance of about 2 meters onto several surfaces, including carpet, grass, packed dirt, and wood, and I can find no affect on the operation or performance of the light.
Reverse Polarity Protection: I can find no claims of reverse polarity protection by Bronte, so I have not tested this. However, the positive terminal of the RA01 on the circuit board in the head is not raised in any way, so it would be difficult (but not impossible) for the negative terminal of a battery to make a solid connection if the battery is inserted backwards.
Over-discharge Protection: The RA01 is not cleared for use with lithium ion batteries, so there should be no need for over-discharge protection.
Submersion: I submerged the RA01 under about a foot of water for about an hour. During that time I twisted the light on and off repeatedly. Afterwards, the light had no change in operation or performance and I could not find any evidence of water having entered the insides of the light.
Heat: I have not found the RA01 to build up any substantial heat during normal use on a keychain. The light does get noticeably warm, though not hot, when used on high mode for extended periods of time.
All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.