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Thread: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Niteye are making their own mark on the flashlight scene, and have designed a range utilising an interesting rotary magnetic / button combination tail-switch. The focus of this review is one of this new range of Military Series lights, the MSC20 model.





    Initial Impressions:

    The two previous Niteye samples I’ve reviewed (Eye 30 and Eye 10) have set a high standard for Niteye, and the MSC20 stands up to this.

    Fit, and finish are excellent, and the switch operates very smoothly, both in rotary action and the button.

    The tail-switch control ring / button is quite different, and the concept grows on you very quickly.

    So straight out of the box this light impresses, but where this light really stands out for me is when you first see the beam. One of the best I’ve used, and equal to the excellent beam of the Eye 10.

    Very quickly I really like this light.





    What is in the box:

    In what appears to be a standard Niteye / Jetbeam cardboard box (as the sample Jetbeam DDA10 arrived in a similar box)



    Inside the light is protected by a foam rubber liner.



    It is shipped with two spare o-rings, and instructions, and nothing else. (I wish it had a holster as this is a great compact carry light, but no holster is included)





    Taking a closer look and looking inside:

    The MSC20 is supplied with a pocket clip already attached.



    The writing is laser etched into the anodised surface.



    Now the distinctive feature of this light, the control ring / button switch. The centre of the tail switch is a click button (more on this in the UI section)



    The control ring is finished to a very high standard with scallops to provide grip.



    The button incorporates a clear window section through which a battery indicator light can be seen.



    The MSC20 uses an XM-L U2 LED in a textured OP reflector.



    Both the head and tail unscrew from the battery tube. Bottom left, the physical reverse polarity protection can be seen. The positive terminal is surrounded by a cup shaped secondary terminal which requires a button top cell to properly make contact. You cannot use flat top cells due to this feature. Surrounding this is a circular gold plated contact for the battery tube to touch. The tail-cap on the right shows the negative contact spring, and the contact ring for the battery tube.



    The threads are cleanly cut, and fully anodised. Finish is excellent.



    For scale the MSC20 is next to two CR123 primaries.





    Modes and User Interface:

    The MSC20’s dual control tail-cap allows you to switch the light on and off in two ways.

    Firstly there is the rotary control ring. This has four positions in all, Strobe, OFF, Low/custom and High.

    Starting from OFF, turn it one click anti-clockwise (when looking at the end of the switch) and you get the strobe.

    Starting from OFF, turn it one click clockwise (when looking at the end of the switch) and you get the low/custom mode, and then one more click to get High.

    Now the button comes into play. In any output mode a press (and let go) will switch the light off, and press again to switch it back on to the mode selected by the control ring.

    Rotating the control ring overrides this button switch.

    As well as allowing you to directly switch any output mode on and off, in the Low/Custom output mode, pressing and holding the button in will adjust the custom output level setting. This will ramp up to the maximum, and you release the button at any point to choose that level. Pressing and holding again will ramp down to the minimum, even if you were not at a high level.

    So for the custom output selection, the first press-and-hold of the button ramps up, and the second ramps down, third up etc.

    The custom output level is memorised, but resets to the minimum output when the battery is changed.

    The last feature to mention is the light behind the button switch. When the battery voltage is good, whenever the control ring is returned to the off position it shows a green light. When the battery voltage is low this will show as red.

    Unfortunately, when the battery is getting low, the red light does not come on unless you switch the MSC20 off, so this feature does not give you a low battery warning when the light is on.



    Batteries and output:

    The MSC20 can run on 2xCR123/RCR123 or 1x 18650, but as mentioned previously you must use button top cells (flat tops will not work).

    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.

    Testing has been carried out with Xtar 3100mAh cells and CR123

    Niteye MSC20 using Xtar 3100mAh I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency (Hz)
    High 412 See comment
    Lowest Custom Setting 7 See comment
    Highest Custom Setting 328 See comment
    High on CR123 407 0

    Strobe is a 12.5Hz

    All output modes exhibit PWM however this is only really visible on the oscilloscope. On the oscilloscope however, the PWM frequency appears to be a mixture of multiple interfering frequencies (which is perhaps why it is not really visible to the eye) and it is not possible to get a clear frequency reading.

    As it uses an electronic switch, there is parasitic drain. Interestingly while measuring this, it appears that all control circuitry is in the tail, as when I put the ammeter from battery tube to the battery’s negative terminal, the LED came on brightly.

    When I worked out how to get the measurement via the tailcap, the parasitic drain was an excellent 71 uA giving nearly 5 years to exhaust the 3100mAh test cell.

    The following output trace shows a dip in output followed by a rise (which I suspect is due to the driver circuit slightly over compensating for battery voltage drop) after which a gradual decline in output. Nearly 2 hours after switching on high, the output has dropped to about 270lm and the low battery warning flashes start. Initially these drop to 150lm and back to >200lm and as the battery become more depleted, the flash drops to 0lm then back to around 200lm. As the battery gets even lower the time between flashes increases. The runtime trace was taken up to the point the batteries protection circuit cut off the power.





    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.



    Starting with the 5m range grid, the MSC20’s beam profile. The small OP reflector diffusing the light into a broad even spill.



    Zooming out to the 50m grid and here, the MSC20 has limited extended range as it has very good spill beam.





    The beam

    The indoor beamshot shows the lovely wide even spill with soft broad hotspot.



    Outdoors really shows off the MSC20’s even beam.



    For ranges up to 30m, this is the perfect beam. It works really well indoors, especially using the custom output setting, but is easily powerful enough for outdoors use as well.




    What it is really like to use…

    This new combination switch is very intuitive to use, though I frequently find I forget that I have switched the light off using the button, and end up getting maximum output rather than the custom/low setting when I rotate the ring to switch it on (because this then turns it to the maximum output setting as it was already on the low setting).

    The rotary control allows you to use the MSC20 one-handed, much like a small twisty light. If you wrap your little finger around the control ring, you can then rotate the light (as if twisting the head) easily between thumb and index finger, and switch it between modes. This seemed the most natural way to use it to me.

    The button is nearly too stiff to use a cigar grip, instead a tactical grip is better to give the strength to use the button.

    The combination switch provides flexible switching options and a variety of grip positions while still retaining control.

    It feels like an EDC light, I want to carry it, so Niteye, please consider including a holster as this is the only thing missing from this excellent light.

    I may have mentioned it before, but the beam is so easy on the eye, and so easy to use. The hotspot is very soft and the spill nice and bright. At close ranges and indoors, you do not ‘hunt’ around with the light if you are looking for something, just point it and let your eyes move to find what you are looking for.

    Fantastic beam, excellent build quality, and a well-executed combination control ring/button switch, makes this a lovely light to use.


    Test sample provided by Niteye for review.
    Tactical Reviews by Subwoofer
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    reserved...
    Tactical Reviews by Subwoofer
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Good review as always. I bought one before Christmas last year. Fantastic light. Loved it the moment i was shown the light by the dealer. Bought it the following night and hijacked by my wife few days later. I bought the kit version which came with the K-1 tactical pen with an xtra refill. K-1 is a very nice pen but i have no chance to actually use it because it was also hijacked by my wife.

    So i bought myself a eagletac d25lc2 for EDC (no control ring but still as good if not better) and took the chance to buy the mx25l2-t. thats a canon. Conclusion is I'M broke.

  4. #4
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    I'm itching to get my hands on the msa 10 / 20 of these (the AA version), but I can't seem to find a UK dealer / supplier....

    I bought the Nitecore D11 V2 as I really like the ramping feature, although I can't help but find the UI irritating sometimes. At least it's been reliable so far!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    So,

    As usual, when something new comes out, we in the UK seem to get it last. For the life of me I could not find a UK dealer with these. I found an Austrian site with them in stock and only 4-5 days to the UK, so ordered a MSA 10 tonight. I'll let you guys know what it's like when it arrives.......

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    subwoofer,
    Thanks for the review.
    Based in part on yoru review, I just ordered one, and we are discussing it as a possibility for another member in another thread.
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...-Long-Run-Time

    His big concern for the light is whether or not it can easily be accidentally activated while carried in his pocket.
    What do you think?

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    subwoofer,
    Thanks for the review.
    Based in part on yoru review, I just ordered one, and we are discussing it as a possibility for another member in another thread.
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...-Long-Run-Time

    His big concern for the light is whether or not it can easily be accidentally activated while carried in his pocket.
    What do you think?
    Based on the fact that the magnetic control ring is the master control (even if you switch it off with the button, turning the ring will change mode), it might get turned on accidentally (but this is unlikely), however if this does become a problem, you can lock out the tail-cap easily enough. I don't think any light is 100% pocket-proof as far as accidental activation goes, and it depends what else is knocking around in there.
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  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Thanks for the response

  9. #9

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    mine got turned on accidentally for few times in the pocket and i only noticed it when i felt the warmness in my pocket

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    My MSC20 came in the mail today, and I haven't had a chance to run a battery through it yet, or to play with it outside in the dark. So far I like it. It is nicely built, and I think that it will be a great, around the house, light. It's beam is very similar to my Thrunite 2C, which I also like.

    I see that they advertise "Constant Current circuit, constant brightness" but looking at your graph above it is only constant for the first 30 minutes or so, and the brightness continues to drop. I am missing something?

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    I see that they advertise "Constant Current circuit, constant brightness" but looking at your graph above it is only constant for the first 30 minutes or so, and the brightness continues to drop. I am missing something?
    Yes, in that the output graph in the review is at maximum output. the reason the output drops is that the cell cannot keep up the maximum output after 30 minutes. If you set a lower output level it would maintain this for much longer.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    I like this light, but the pocket turn ons are holding me back from getting one. Curious to hear what kind of run times the lower settings (say, around 150lm) are getting too.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    DrScum,
    As mentioned above, (perhaps it got lost in all the details, I know that I missed it at first) you can lock out the light from turning on by twisting OUT the tail cap.
    I just took it outside in the dark. It does a really nice job at about 200 feet, not so well at 300 feet. Overall, so far, it is a great light as a handy little tool for tasks at 200-250 feet or less. Its not overdriven, so it gets good run-times on high.

    I'm thinking that XML-U2's get 7-10 hours at 10-30%. Ofcourse, I might be off a bit, but at that output I don't think that there will be much variance in run-time from one light to another.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Good review,thanks

  15. #15

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Great review! Too bad that there aren't three modes for lighting.
    I got nothing else to say...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Yes - and soon one of this will be mine...

    before i studied lot's of reviews and now i just ordered my first "real" LED flashlight.

    Finally i decided for the MSC20 because of the simple UI of this EDC.
    I searched for a powerful and small EDC with easy UI with support for 18650.

    I will give more detailled information when light arrived.

    br

  17. #17

    Default Re: Niteye MSC20 Review (1x 18650 or 2x CR123/RCR123)

    Now my MSC arrived and i am very happy so far.

    I don't want to repeat what is already written x-times in other reviews but i want to tell my personal experience.


    18650 protected battery
    After unboxing i tried to put in my 18650 Enerpower protected 2600mAh battery (button top).
    It's very tight - nearly too tight.
    I removed the label from the battery and it fit's that it could be released by shaking the tube.
    With label on it - the battery stuck in the tube. - But overall: It fit's.

    Switch / UI
    I thought that there is double switch - rotary and tail switch but if you use the rotary switch
    from off to on - it always turns on. You can only use the tail switch to stop light immediately
    and return in selected light mode. Kind of useless with only 2 modes in one direction.
    But to prevent light from switching on you can turn the battery closure just 1-2 mm.

    General
    I really like this small light with impressive power and very nice touch.

    Greetz

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