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Thread: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and more!

  1. #1

    Cool Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and more!

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.

    UPDATE March 13, 2013: This review has been superseded by my review of the K30-GT. Both versions are still available for sale, but there have been some general improvements over time (i.e., the common carrier now supports wider cells). See that review for more details and direct comparisons.





    The K30 is a new high-output light from Skilhunt that uses the Luminus SST-90 emitter. Let's see how it compare to other high-output lights in this class ….

    Manufacturer's Specifications:
    Note: as always, these are only what the manufacturer reports. To see my actual testing results, scroll down the review.

    • Luminus SST-90 LED
    • Output / Runtime : Turbo 1600lm/1.4hrs, High 850lm/1.8hrs, Med 430lm/4.5hrs, Low 110lm/19hrs
    • Peak Beam Intensity: 58,500 cd
    • Max Beam Distance/Throw 483m
    • Powered by 3x 18650 (not included)
    • Operating range 9v - 13v
    • Side Switch with Stand-by (blue) and Low Voltage (red) indicator
    • Waterproof standard IPX-6, Impact resistant 1.5m
    • Anti-shattering ultra clear lens, anti-scratching, anti-reflective coated lens with 99% effective transmission
    • Excellent heat dissipation ability, with copper star board
    • Advanced digital power management system
    • One touch battery level with LED
    • 6061# Aluminum
    • Stainless steel bezel and tail rings
    • Color: Black, Hard Anodized finish
    • Integrated power input socket on the tailcap
    • Four indicators on the tail for indicating the batteries condition: (1) 1 indicator on: 20% -40% power remains, (2) 2 indicators on: 40% -60% power remains, (3) 3 indicators on: 60% -80% power remains, (4) 4 indicators on: 80%+ power remains, (5) No indicators on means batteries with less than 20% power remains and need charging
    • Size Length 198.5mm, Diameter 76mm (Head) / 46mm (Body)
    • Weight 684g
    • Notes: Please do not disassemble the sealed part in the head of the flashlight by yourself. Please put the battery's anode side towards the light's head.
    • Limited Warranty From SKILHUNT: Free Repair Service. Cost of parts and shipping fee will be charged. Notify us before return or repair.
    • Package Includes (with Skilhunt Weather-proof storage packaging): Skilhunt Flashlight, AC 100-240v Charger, Spare O-Ring, 550 parachute lanyard, Operation Manual, Warranty Card
    • MSRP: ~$310


    The K30 comes in two types of packaging – a simple cardboard box with packing foam, or the plastic carry case with cut-out foam. My sample came in the cardboard box, and included the light, extra o-ring, hand-grip lanyard and manual. The AC charging cable was missing, but Skilhunt plans to send me a replacement (normally included).




    From left to right: AW Protected 18650; Skilhunt K30; Nitecore TM15; Xtar S1; Olight SR95.

    All dimensions are directly measured, and given with no batteries installed:

    Skilhunt K30: Weight: 636.0g (773g with 3x18650), Length: 199m, Width (bezel): 76.0mm
    Foursevens S18: Weight: 700g (800g with 6xCR123A), Length: 233mm, Width (bezel) 63.0mm
    Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (526g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
    Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (634g with 4x18650), Length 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
    Sunwayman T60CS: Weight: 338.9g (est 477g with 3x18650), Length: 145.0mm, Width (bezel): 60.0mm
    Thrunite TN30: Weight: 468.2g (est 620g with 3x18650), Length: 179mm, Width (bezel): 64.3mm, Width (tailcap): 49.0mm
    Xtar S1 Production: Weight: 876.0g (est. 1028g with 3x18650 protected), Length: 240mm, Width (bezel): 83.4mm





    The K30 is a substantial light, similar in overall size to the number of the multiple-18650, multiple-emitter lights. Overall styling is distinctive for Skilhunt though, with some modern-looking touches, like the stainless bezel and tail rings.

    Anodizing is a flat black, and seems in excellent shape on my sample. There is no real knurling per se, but there are a lot of ridges to help with overall grip (which I would consider decent). Body labels are fairly minimal, and bright white against the black background.

    The switch design is similar to the earlier Skilhunt lights I reviewed, and features an electronic switch under yellow button with power insignia. There are two recessed LEDs on either side of the switch (see User Interface discussion below for an explanation).




    The battery handle includes a metal battery carrier, which houses 3x18650. Note that I found the clearance rather snug on my sample – thicker high-capacity 18650s in the carrier may have trouble fitting into the handle (i.e., not all of my 2600mAh or 3100mAh cells would fit). The carrier has slightly raised positive contacts, so flat-top cells can be easily used.

    There are series of contact points in the tail and head, each with its own spring underneath. The battery carrier can fit and work in either orientation. Screw threads are anodized for lock-out, but because of the tension in the contact springs, you will need to twist the head about a full turn to lock-out the light.





    The base of the light has a series of blue LEDs that read out the charge status of the cells in the carrier (see User Interface for an explanation). There is also a charging port for the supplied AC cable, under a clear rubber cover. I will update this review with charging times once Skilhunt sends an AC cable for the light. In the center of the tail is the power display toggle switch (see User Interface discussion below).

    The light can tailstand.




    The K30 has a relatively large head and reflector, with a stainless steel bezel ring held in place by small recessed hex screws. The SST-90 emitter was well centered on my sample. Note the distorted reflections at the base of the emitter in the second pic just reflect some of the die elements around the LED. There is no damage to the reflector – it is perfectly smooth, as the first picture illustrates.

    Scroll down for beam pic comparisons.

    User Interface

    When you first connect the head to the handle/battery tube, a blue LED on the right of the switch will begin flashing once every two seconds. This is to indicate that the light is in Standby mode, and can be activated by a button press. You can turn this indicator off by a quick click from Off (i.e., a press and release of the switch).

    To actually turn the light on, you need to press and hold the electronic switch for more than one second. The light comes on in its last memorized level.

    To change the mode level when On, do a quick click of the switch. The light will cycle through its output modes in the following order: Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in repeating sequence upon clicking of the switch. Note the manual incorrectly lists the modes in the reverse order.

    To access the Strobe modes, double-click the switch from On. Single click to return to the constant output modes. Note that the memory mode will retain Strobe if that is the mode you turn the light off in.

    Press and hold the switch for more than one second to turn the light off.

    The other LED on the right side of the switch is a red LED that lights up when the batteries are nearly drained. According to the manual, the red LED will come on once the batteries drop below 10V (i.e., below 3.3V per 18650 cell, which are in series).

    On the base of the light, there is a power display switch that lights up the four blue LED indicators on the tail. All four indicators lit up means the batteries are at >80% power remaining. Three indicators mean 60-80% power remains. Two indicators mean 40-60% power remains. One indicator means 20-40% power remains. No indicators mean <20% power remains.

    Note that the power indicator lights will activate when you first connect the head to the body/battery tube handle.

    Video

    For information on the light, including the build and user interface, please see my new video overview:



    As always, videos were recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.

    PWM/Strobe

    There is no sign of PWM on any level – either the light is current-controlled, or the frequency is too high for me to detect with my setup. Note that this is a departure for Skilhunt – most of their previous lights used visible PWM.

    There was some high frequency noise detectable on the Lo, Med, and Hi (but not Turbo) modes:




    This high frequency noise was around ~20 kHz at each level. Rest assured, this is not visible by eye – the light is flicker-free at all levels.



    The K30 has a fairly typical strobe mode, of 9.9 Hz on my sample.

    Standby Drain

    Due to the electronic switch, the K30 will always be drawing a small current when the body/carrier is connected to the head. I measured this current as 970uA - although it would periodically spike every two seconds to 2.2mA for a fraction of a second, when the standby flash occurred.

    Going with an approximate "average" current of ~1.3 mA, and assuming 2600mAh capacity batteries (in series), that would give you just over 83 days before fully charged batteries would be completely drained. If you turned off the standby indicator, that would extend your battery life by another month or so.

    As a result, I recommend you store the light the head fully locked out when not in use. Note that this requires a full turn of the head from the body (due to the springs in the connector).

    Beamshots:

    And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on their respective max rechargeable battery sources, 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.













    The K30 is probably closest in overall beam pattern to the other single-emitter high-output lights, like the Olight SR95 or Thrunite TN31. Note however that the SR95 has a larger reflector for more focused throw – and the TN31 uses the smaller XM-L emitter (and thus can throw well for it reflector size). The K30 can't compete with these lights for direct throw, but it does throw further than most multi-emitter lights, like the Nitecore TM15 (see my Output Summary Tables later in this review for direct measures).

    For outdoor beamshots, these are 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). Please ignore the red-tint in the lower-right corner these shots (I was wearing a brighter-than-usual red headlamp during this excursion ). Zoomed-in pics of the hotspots are also included.

    First, how the smaller 3x18650 K30 compares to the more heavily-driven 6x18650-equivalent Olight SR95:





    Obviously, the K30 can't compete with the much larger SR95 for throw – but it is certainly no slouch in that department. Here's how the K30 compares to a couple of multi-emitter lights that have a bit more output, but with similar throw – the Thrunite TN30 and Nitecore TM15:





    As you can see, the K30 has a more defined hotspot than the multi-emitter lights above.

    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 devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox 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.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).



    As you might expect, the K30 has similar overall output to the Foursevens S18 (now called the MMU-HD) or the original Olight SR90, which are both SST-90-based lights. But throw is intermediate between these two, due to the intermediate size reflector.

    As for output, I've only shown the min and max lumens in the table above, but I would estimate ~400 lumens on Med and ~850 lumens on Hi. All told, Skilhunt's ANSI FL-1 output and beam intensity and distance measures seem very accurate in my testing.

    Output/Runtime Comparison:

    Note: All my 18650 runtimes are done using AW protected 2200mAh.



    For the max mode runtime, I've included results with 3100mAh cells (based on the Panasonic NCR-18650A core), as well as my standard AW 18650 2200mAh cells.

    Runtime is pretty much what you would expect for a SST-90 based emitter. Note the timed step-down in output after 5 mins runtime on max.



    Efficiency on Med and Hi modes seems a bit lower than others in the SST-90 class (although I don't have much data on this group to compare). As expected, overall efficiency is typically a bit less than the 3x18650, 3xXM-L lights (i.e., each of those emitters is run at a more efficient lower level for comparable overall output).

    Keep in mind my results are based on 2200mAh 18650 cells. Taking that into account, the published ANSI FL-1 runtime specs from Skilhunt seem pretty accurate at these levels as well.

    Potential Issues

    Due to the electronic control switch, the light has a stand-by current when waiting to receive a button press. Skilhunt thoughtfully includes a standby indicator (which can be switched off). This current drain is fairly low (a little over ~1mA), but you would still expect fully charged cells to be drained within 3-4 months at this rate. You can break this current by loosening the head from the body a full turn.

    The battery carrier is a fairly snug fit inside the handle, and not all my 2600mAh or 3100mAh cells would fit. Particularly wide cells may be an issue.

    I have not been able to assess the charger yet (waiting on an appropriate AC cord from Skilhunt).

    Note that I detected no sign of PWM or inductor whine on my K30, two aspects that I noted on earlier Skilhunt lights.

    Grip is ok, but could be enhanced with some actual knurling.

    Preliminary Observations

    This is the "third generation" of lights I've reviewed from Skilhunt - starting with the inaugural Defier X1 and X3, and followed by the DT20. While all have been well-built lights with a good range of accessories, I am happy to report continued progress in the circuit design over time.

    Let's start with build - the K30 is a physically impressive light, and feels solid in the hand. Grip could be improved with some actual knurling, but otherwise I find the design and ergonomics good. The battery carrier seems solid and well-made (although wider 18650 cells may be a tight fit inside the light). Skilhunt has always had a flair for distinctive looking designs, and the K30 continues in that tradition (although perhaps a bit toned down from some of the additions to earlier models). The recessed screws on the stainless steel bezel and tailcap rings are a distinctive touch.

    Skilhunt has remained with their trademark electronic switch with yellow button cover, but continues to tweak the interface. As with the DT20, you have to remember to press and hold the switch to turn on/off (with a click to change modes). But the user interface is fairly intuitive beyond that. I like the little touches - like the blue standby indicator light that can be toggled on or off, and the battery power indicator on the base. The standby current - while low - is still sufficiently high to drain yours cells within a few months, so I recommend storing the light lock-out at the head when not in use.

    One thing I am very glad to see is the absence of visible PWM on the lower outputs modes now. Frankly, the low levels on the X1 & X3 felt like a last minute addition to the line, and the DT20 still had visible PWM (although improved over the earlier models). I am happy to report no sign of flicker on the K30 at any level - and they include a good range of levels here, down to ~100 lumens. Earlier Skilhunt lights also seemed particularly affected by inductor whine - but I notice no hint of it on my K30 sample. The efficiency of the lower levels is ok (considering the SST-90 emitter), but this is something that could still stand some improvement. Skilhunt's ANSI FL-1 output and beam specs seem consistently accurate in my testing.

    The other new addition here is the built-in battery charger port. I am still waiting on a charging cable from Skilhunt, and will update this review once it arrives.

    But what about the beam? The K30 has a reasonably large reflector, which translates into pretty good throw for an SST-90-based light (i.e. not as great as the Olight SR90/95 series, but it throws further than the Foursevens S18). In comparison to the 3xXM-L lights, the K30 has a throwier (and prettier) beam than other lights of this size. I am waiting to see how the K30GT compares.

    All told, the K30 is a nice addition to Skilhunt family. Design aesthetics are always going to be a matter of personal choice, but there is no denying that Skilhunt continues to push the envelope in that regard. The design and interface of the K30 seems well thought-out, and improvement over earlier Skilhunt circuits. They have also done a nice job on the beam, given the dimensions of the light and use of the SST-90 emitter.

    UPDATE March 13, 2013: This review has been superseded by my review of the K30-GT. Both versions are still available for sale, but there have been some general improvements over time (i.e., the common carrier now supports wider cells). See that review for more details and direct comparisons.


    ----

    K30 provided by Skilhunt for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-13-2013 at 07:08 AM.
    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: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    A little disappointing that some of the newer, larger capacity cells might not fit the battery carrier. Nice review - thanks.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    Quote Originally Posted by Dubois View Post
    A little disappointing that some of the newer, larger capacity cells might not fit the battery carrier. Nice review - thanks.
    For the record, my Xtar 3100mAh cells wouldn't fit, but my 4GREER 3100mAh cells did (barely). Both use the NCR18650A core. Also, my 4GREER 2400mAh cells wouldn't fit.

    It all comes down to width - my 4GREER 3100mAh cells never exceed 18.5mm at any point along their length. But my Xtar 3100mAh and and 4GREER 2400mAh both had samples reached up to ~18.65mm.

    For comparison, the standard protected 2200mAh AW cells I used in my testing typically never exceed 18.3mm.

    UPDATE March 13, 2013: The K30 carrier has been revised to accept wider cells, as described in my review of the K30-GT. See that review for more details and direct comparisons.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-13-2013 at 07:10 AM.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* djans1397's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    Awesome and very informative review as always! I just bought a TN31 and am curious as to how it compares to this? Any comparisons available?

    thanks,
    Dan

  5. #5

    Default Re: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    K30 is brighter but TN31 outthrows it easily. Just look at the numbers: 1600 vs 1100lm and 61 vs. 113 klux/1m (K30 vs. TN31).

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* ma_sha1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    Nice light, surprised that little interest, I think the SBT-90 version should bet a bit more throw, 58K is not going to cut it at this day of age.
    Also would prefer plain black bottom, it's too busy looking at the bottom already. Battery indicator very cool!
    My Mods.. http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...5&postcount=78
    Hobby only, I don't do custom mods as a service, thanks for understanding.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Skilhunt K30 (SST-90, 3x18650) Review: OUTDOOR BEAMSHOTS, RUNTIMES, VIDEO and mor

    Quote Originally Posted by djans1397 View Post
    Awesome and very informative review as always! I just bought a TN31 and am curious as to how it compares to this? Any comparisons available?
    Quote Originally Posted by phantom23 View Post
    K30 is brighter but TN31 outthrows it easily. Just look at the numbers: 1600 vs 1100lm and 61 vs. 113 klux/1m (K30 vs. TN31).
    Yes, the table captures it fairly well. Given the TN31 is in another class in terms of throw, I didn't take it along for the external beamshots on that outing.

    Quote Originally Posted by ma_sha1 View Post
    Nice light, surprised that little interest, I think the SBT-90 version should bet a bit more throw, 58K is not going to cut it at this day of age.
    Yes, I expect the SBT-90 "GT" version to indeed have greater throw. The throw on the regular K30 is what I would have expected - the SST-90 is a very large die, and you need a big reflector to throw a beam far. The regular K30 is the expected intermediate between the Foursevens S18 and Olight SR90.

    I don't have an ETA on the K30-GT yet, but it shouldn't take me long to complete that review once it comes in.

    UPDATE March 13, 2013: My review of the K30-GT is now complete. See that review for more details and direct comparisons.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 03-13-2013 at 07:11 AM.
    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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