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Thread: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + more

  1. #1

    Popcorn Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + more

    Warning: pic heavy, as usual.




    The K26 is a new 1x26650 light from Skilhunt, that features in-light charging (so no stand-alone charger required).

    Let's see how it compares to other Skilhunt models – and other 26650 lights that I have tested lately.

    Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
    (note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).

    • LED: Cree XM-L2
    • Output and runtime: Lo 50lm / 50hr, Med 200lm / 12hr, Hi 400lm / 6hr, Turbo 1000lm / 2.5hr
    • Peak beam intensity: 32,500cd
    • Peak beam distance: 360m
    • Power: 1x26650 Li-ion
    • Operating range: 3V~9V
    • Weight: 305g / 10.75oz (included battery)
    • Dimensions: Length: 164mm / 6.45 in, Head diameter: 44mm / 1.73 in, Body diameter: 34mm / 1.34 in
    • Color: Black
    • Impact resistance: 1.5m
    • Waterproof IPX-6
    • Accessories: Built-in rechargeable battery (Skilhunt Protected 26650, 4500mAh), 5V USB adapter, USB cable, Operator's manual, Warranty card, Spare O-rings, 550 lanyard
    • Optional accessories: Filter, Car charger
    • MSRP: $109.90




    The K26 comes in a presentation-style plastic carrying case, similar to the ones from other makers. Included with the light (and custom 26650 cell) are spare O-rings, good quality wrist lanyard, USB charging cable, USB-AC adapter, and manual.




    From left to right: Foursevens 26650; Skilhunt K26; Foursevens MMU-X3; Lumintop SD10; Skilhunt Defier S2; Nitecore P25; Eagletac SX25L3.

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

    Skilhunt K26: Weight: 188.2g (301.9g with battery), Length: 163mm, Width (bezel): 44.1mm
    Skilhunt S2: Weight: 133.0g, Length 153.0mm, Width: 36.0mm
    Foursevens MMU-X3: Weight: 172.0g (264.2g with 26650), Length: 135.8mm, Width (bezel): 46.0mm
    Foursevens X10: Weight: 156.9g, Length: 135.5mm, Width (bezel): 46.0mm
    Lumintop SD10: Weight: 117.6g, Length: 120.3mm, Width (bezel): 40.1mm
    Olight S80: Weight 162.5g, Length: 151mm, Width (bezel): 38.7mm
    Nitecore MH25: Weight: 145.4g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
    Nitecore P25: Weight: 171.3g, Length: 160mm, Width (bezel): 40.0m
    Rofis TR31C: Weight: 180.7g, Length: 153.0mm, Width (bezel): 39.8mm









    As with other Skilhunt lights, the K26 has a well-crafted build and appearance - it looks and feels like a quality light. Anodizing is a glossy black finish, hard anodized (i.e., type III). Body labels are bright white and sharp against the black background. The K26 has knurling on the body, but it is not very aggressive. However, thanks to the cut-out large checkered pattern with ridges, overall grip is actually pretty good. The head has a few concentric ring fins - likely to help with heat dissipation, but also serve to enhance grip.

    Screw threading is standard triangular cut, but of good quality. Threads are anodized to allow for lock-out.

    The control switch is an electronic side switch in the head, with typical feel for this class. The black boot cover projects a bit, making it relatively easy to find by touch.

    There is an LED indicator near the switch. This presumably serves as a low voltage warning indicator during use. It does not indicate charging status during a charge cycle.

    Let's take a look at the battery:







    The custom 26650 used here is distinctive, with a recessed negative contact point in the tail (surround by a positive contact disk). This is what allows charging of the battery inside the light. Thoughtfully, Skilhunt has designed the tail assembly so that regular 26650 cells can be used inside the light – you just need the bundled cell if you want to take advantage of the charging feature.

    You charge the light through a barrel plug connector in the tailcap. Note that the rubber cover is a tight fit in the plug hole, and the connecting piece that surrounds the hole (and holds in in place when the plug is not inserted) can fall off fairly easily on my sample.





    The bundled USB-AC adapter reports a max 1A charge rate, should do a pretty good job of charging the 26650 is a reasonable amount of time. When charging using the AC adapter, it took about 5 hours for the charger to terminate (and the charging light on the adapter to turn green from red). The bundled 26650 cell read as ~4.19V resting voltage at termination, which is a good level in my view.

    Given the USB-AC adapter design, you have the option to charge the light by a USB port instead. There are two issues with charging the light this way. First, there is no indication of charging status, or when the charge is completed (i.e., there is no indicator LED signal, as this was present only on the AC adapter unit). Secondly - and more importantly - the integrated charger continues to pull the same high current from the USB port.

    I was surprised to discover this - when I pulled the light off my USB port after 5 hours charging, the previously depleted cell was again reading ~4.19V. Note that the maximum charge rate for USB 2.0 is 500mA, so this drastically exceeds charging spec. I have checked with Skilhunt, and they confirm the K26 draws the same >800mA max current from both the USB cable and the USB-AC adapter.

    They report that they have not experienced any issues with this charging current. Depending on your motherboard and USB ports, I suppose this higher current level may be possible - but you are risking damage to your USB ports if you try it. Based on my recommendation, Skilhunt is considering reducing the charging current on the USB-only method. In the interim, I recommend you stick with using the AC charger exclusively.

    The bezel has a stainless steel ring.




    Reflector is smooth, and fairly deep. Coupled with the XM-L2 cool white emitter (which was well centered), I would expect reasonably strong throw. Scroll down for beamshots.

    User Interface

    Turn the light on/off by pressing and holding the electronic switch for ~1 sec.

    There are four main output levels controlled by a click (rapid press release) of the electronic switch. Mode sequence is Lo > Med > Hi > Turbo, in a repeating loop. The light has mode memory, and retains the last level set when you turn it off/on.

    Double-click the switch to jump to Strobe. You can exit at any time by a single touch of the switch. As such, there is no mode memory for strobe – you exit as soon as you press the switch.

    Note that this interface is different from most lights, in that you need a sustained press for on/off, and a simple click to change modes here. On most lights, it is the other way around.

    Video:

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



    As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.

    PWM/Strobe

    As with other recent Skilhunt lights, the K26 is current-controlled on all levels. I can detect no sign of PWM – neither by eye, nor on my sound card oscilloscope.

    There is some circuit noise present on some levels, but this was not visible in the beam:



    Note that circuit noise is common on many current-controlled lights. It does not affect performance, nor is it detectable visually. As per my usual review policy, I simply report on all circuit features that I can detect – it doesn't mean they are significant in use. Rest assured, the K26 is flicker-free in use, at all levels.



    The strobe is a fairly typical fast "tactical" strobe, of 9.7Hz frequency.

    Standby Drain:

    Due to the electronic nature of the switch in the head, there is a necessary standby drain when connected to the battery. Unfortunately, my DMM is on the fritz at the moment, and I am waiting on a replacement to do the standby drain draws. I will update the review when I have more details.

    Beamshots:

    For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on an AW protected 18650 battery. Lights are 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 K26 has a slightly narrow spillbeam than most lights, due to the relative deep reflector. As expected, it is well focused for throw, with a small hotspot. Note that there are some faint concentric rings in the beam on my sample. This can occur with very "throwy" lights with smooth reflectors.

    Scroll down to my testing results for more information.

    Testing Method:

    All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. 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).

    Since I haven't tested too many 26650 lights, I will start with a comparison of the K26 to the 1x18650 class, followed by the 1x26650 class.





    Peak intensity throw is very much in keeping with the Skilhunt specs – and are what I would have expected, given the size of the reflector.

    Max overall output is in keeping with single Li-ion source. Let's see how all the output levels do:



    Overall, my lumen estimates are reasonably close to Skilhunt's specs. Note that the product page for this light mentions that it will automatically step down to 700 lumens after 3 minutes of Turbo mode, to prevent overheating.

    Personally, I would have preferred a lower lo mode.

    Output/Runtime Graphs:



    As you can see, there is indeed a step-down on Turbo after about 3 mins runtime. The reduced output level is still higher than the defined Hi mode (as also shown in my Summary table above).

    The light maintains flat regulation for as long as it can at all levels, until the battery is nearly exhausted.

    Let's see how it compares to other 1x26650 lights that I have tested. Note that for the analysis below, I am typically using the stock 26650 cell provided by the manufacturer. For the SD10 run, I am using the Foursevens 26550 from the X10.




    Max output is consistent a heavily-driven single XM-L/XM-L2 emitter. Overall output runtime efficiency is also consistent with other good current-controlled lights in this class.

    Let's see how it looks relative to the 1x18650 class:





    Again, good max output and runtime in comparison to this class.

    Potential Issues

    The light is larger than most 26650 lights.

    Light lacks a true Lo mode.

    Max charging rate is >800mA when run on the USB-only cable as well as with the AC-USB adapter. This significantly exceeds the maximum charging spec of USB 2.0, which is 500mA max. As such, you risk damaging your USB ports/motherboard if you attempt this. Time for full charge was relatively fast, at ~5 hours.

    Consistent with its throw-focused smooth reflector, there were some beam ring artifacts on my sample.

    No holster is included

    Preliminary Observations

    Build-wise, I have always found Skilhunt lights to be of high quality – and the K26 is no exception. With the extra capacity of the 26650 cell (included), and built-in charger, this could be a good general purpose "throw" light for many.

    Although substantial, the light has good balance and hand feel. It is straightforward to use, once you get used to a press-hold for on/off and a click to change modes (i.e., this is the opposite of most makers). It is little quirks like that, and lack of a true Lo mode, that give me some pause before recommending the light more generally. Personally, I like a light that you can hand to anyone and they can figure out how to use it immediately.

    But there is no denying this is a quality product, with careful attention to detail. I like the design of the internal tail area, which allows for standard 26650 cells to be used in the light (you need to use the custom cell for in-light charging, however). The charge time on AC power was excellent at 5 hours, but I recommend Skilhunt reduce the charge rate on the USB-direct method. In any case, I always recommend using a bundled AC adapter when available (i.e., you wouldn't want to risk your computer's USB ports).

    Performance-wise, the K26 is an efficient light with flat stabilization (regulation) at all levels. You can expect very good runtimes, thanks to the high capacity 26650 cell.

    Beam pattern is definitely on the throwy side, thanks to the large and deep reflector.

    All told, the K26 is a nice light with a serviceable interface. If you are looking for a long lasting rechargeable light – with good throw – this would definitely be a contender.

    ----

    K26 was provided by Skilhunt for this review.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* Ryp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Thanks for the review!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Great review. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo


  5. #5

    Default Re: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Thanks for another informative review. Glad to see Skilhunt was thoughtful allowing standard 26650 batteries to be used. Having to buy OEM batteries has always been an issue for me.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Skilhunt K26 (XM-L2, 1x26650, in-light charging) Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS + mo

    Quote Originally Posted by gkbain View Post
    Glad to see Skilhunt was thoughtful allowing standard 26650 batteries to be used. Having to buy OEM batteries has always been an issue for me.
    Yes, it is always tricky to maintain broad compatibility when developing an in-light charging system. But the raised center contact in the tail was an elegant solution in this case.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. Latest flashlight review: Thrunite TN42.
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

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