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Thread: Streamlight Waypoint Review (4xC / 12V)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Streamlight Waypoint Review (4xC / 12V)

    For the second in this series of three Streamlight reviews, it is the Waypoint, a pistol style handheld spotlight. (The first review of this series can be found here)

    Once you start to use this light, you find that the Waypoint is indeed very appropriately named. It is a thrower and its form naturally allows you to ‘point’ where you are looking, to point out things of interest and to point the way.





    Initial Impressions:

    My first impressions are probably different to most because the reflector assembly and bezel of this light has an uncanny similarity to another light I have reviewed (see here). So when viewing this light for the first time it seemed familiar with some shared components. I will be interested to see if I can find out the link.

    Regardless of that, the Waypoint, despite being made of plastic, feels solidly constructed and the ergonomics of this light work very well. Just as a pistol ‘points’ very naturally, the Waypoint handles just the same. The only slight disappointment is that the switch is not a forward clicky as if it were this would add to the immediate, involving, sense this light gives you.





    What is in the box:

    The Waypoint comes in blister packs and cardboard box packaging, the review sample uses the cardboard box.



    Looking inside the box.



    Included are a wall mount, car power lead and the Waypoint itself




    Taking a closer look and looking inside:

    Looking into the heart of this thrower this is a close-up of the LED. Due to Streamlight using their ‘C4’ classification of LEDs, it is not entirely clear if this is a Q5 or R2 Cree XR-E (but based on performance an R2 seems likely) but the XR-E is still a good choice for throw.



    As well as having a high surface brightness emitter, the Waypoint has a very large and deep reflector.



    The already attached wrist strap has a ‘plastic screwdriver’ to make it easy turn the battery door screw.



    The battery door is hinged and opens to reveal a space for 4 C cell batteries. The configuration of fixed terminals (positive) and springs (negative) can be seen.



    Here a side view shows the hinge, battery door seal and screw.



    For testing I have been using Eneloops in C-cell convertors. With the output of the Waypoint the Eneloops are more than capable of delivering the required power.



    Built into the Waypoint is an adjustable stand to allow hands free use of the light.



    The stand has click stops and can be set at any position from folder to the most open position shown here.



    Incorporated into the stand is a metal hanging loop.



    In the base of the pistol grip is the DC input socket. The Waypoint is dual powered and will run directly off a 12V source via the 12V adaptor that comes with the Waypoint.



    The manufacturers specifications and runtime graph are shown on the back of the box. Strangely for a Streamlight, although most of these are correct, one is quite a long way off (according to my testing).





    Modes and User Interface:

    The Waypoint’s interface is very simple. It has a single reverse clicky switch on the pistol grip, and a mode changing selector on the side of the grip.

    The pistol grip has a switch positioned as if it were a trigger. This is the master on-off switch and has not effect on output mode.



    On the left hand side of the pistol grip is the mode changing switch. To change mode you rotate the lever between high, low and strobe.





    Batteries and output:

    The Waypoint is a dual power light and can run on 4 C-cell batteries or a 12V source. For the runtime testing I have used four AA Eneloops, and for output measurements, the Waypoint was run on the Eneloops and a 12V source (actually a 13.8V bench power supply which more accurately represents a car power socket when the engine is running).

    To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

    Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

    Streamlight Waypoint I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    High 13.8V DC-in 245 192000
    Low 13.8V DC-in 22 400
    High Eneloop 247 192000
    Low Eneloop 22 400

    The Strobe runs at 6.8Hz.

    Note that the output from AA Eneloops is actually greater than when using the 12V adaptor, so the Eneloops provide very good performance.

    With a freshly charged set of AA Eneloops the following output curve was achieved on high.



    The output is well regulated and remains at a consistent output level until the batteries are almost fully depleted. When the batteries get very low the output falls sharply but the output then just continues to dim gradually. Strangely just before the output falls, there is a jump back to the maximum output, but I suspect this is a feature of the Eneloops, and alkaline cells would probably not exhibit this behaviour.



    In The Lab

    NEW for Winter 2012 ANSI standards include maximum beam range. This is the distance at which the intensity of light from an emitter falls to 0.25lux (roughly the same as the lux from a full moon). This standard refers only to the peak beam range (a one dimensional quantity), so I am expanding on this and applying the same methodology across the entire width of the beam. From this data it is possible to plot a two-dimensional ‘beam range profile’ diagram which represents the shape of the illuminated area.

    In order to accurately capture this information a test rig was constructed which allows a lux meter to be positioned 1m from the lens and a series of readings to be taken at various angles out from the centre line of the beam. As the rig defines a quadrant of a circle with a radius of 1m, all the readings are taken 1m from the lens, so measuring the true spherical light intensity. The rig was designed to minimise its influence on the readings with baffles added to shield the lux meter from possible reflections off the support members.

    The distance of 1m was chosen as at this distance 1lux = 1 candela and the maximum beam range is then calculated as the SQRT(Candela/0.25) for each angle of emission.

    In this plot, the calculated ANSI beam ranges are plotted as if viewed from above (for some lights there may also be a side view produced) using a CAD package to give the precise 'shape' of the beam.


    As these are the first few ‘Beam Range Profiles’ I have published there are no direct comparisons to reference lights as I still need to profile these.

    Starting with the 5m range grid you get an idea of the narrow local beam shape and strength with the spot punching through into the distance.



    Then zooming out to the 50m range grid showing the extent of the beam’s range. The Waypoint is an extreme thrower and this shows as the beam range profile looks very thin and long. The beam range reaches 386m, which deviates from the Streamlight specification on the box which states a beam range of 678m. Considering that the actual output was measured at 247lm which is more than the Streamlight specification of 210lm, the measured peak intensity of 37,200 is quite a lot less than the Streamlight specification of 115,000.





    The beam

    The indoor beamshot shows the narrow spill and intense spot



    Moving to the outdoor beamshot, the intense spot creates an easily visible narrow beam of light, which can be used to point (and even as a ‘star pointer’) direction clearly. The very centre of the area lit by the beam is washed out in the photo due to the intense thrower beam profile.





    What it is really like to use…

    With the dual power options, the Waypoint seems to be an ideal light to keep in the car. If the batteries are flat, you can simply run it off the lighter socket.

    The pistol grip design works just as well with your hand sticking out of a car window as with you standing. The built in stand can be used for providing light while changing a car wheel and the intense spot allows you to look deep into an engine bay even in bright sunlight.

    That said, although well partnered with a vehicle, the Waypoint works well for checking out a trail at night, or for searching tasks. The intense beam works really well for star pointing without the dangers of a green laser.

    What it is not well suited to is use indoors as the tiny bright spot is not good at close range, but this design is intended to give you the greatest possible range, so you can’t have it all.

    The trigger switch is easy and natural to use (if only it was a forward clicky) and mode selection easy and stable via the selector lever.

    The ergonomics are excellent, and it feels right to simply put the Waypoint down onto its bezel, the pick it back up again when you need it.

    In real use, I’ve tried, but not ever wanted to use the low mode, and the strobe is a slightly strange strobe in that the flashes vary in intensity so it seems quite flaky. So far I’ve been sticking to single mode use of this light and enjoying the excellent throw.

    Although the ‘headline’ maximum output figure of 247lm is not that much, you have to take this into context with the beam profile. Our eyes adjust to the local light levels, so a light with much higher output than this reduces the eye’s sensitivity due to the higher levels of scattering near the user. The Waypoint however concentrates the light into a very narrow beam which projects well into the distance while minimising the close range light levels and allowing the eyes to become more sensitive and ‘see’ further.



    Test sample provided by Streamlight for review.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Streamlight Waypoint Review (4xC / 12V)

    reserved...
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  3. #3
    Flashaholic* tobrien's Avatar
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    Default Re: Streamlight Waypoint Review (4xC / 12V)

    nice review man! it looks that this light really packs a punch despite the outdated (IMO) emitter. thank you
    aka Edgar Allan Bro, Brosama Bin Liftin, Walter Crunkite, Bro Namath, Teddy Brosevelt, and the Tomahawk Crunkmissile.
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