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Thread: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEAMS+

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEAMS+

    Warning: far more pic heavy than usual.



    Skilhunt has sent me their latest series of lights (the DS-series), which feature a minimalist build very similar in form and function to the Olight Baton series. In this extensive review, I will examine the detailed performance of the DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500) and DS20 (1x18650, 2xCR123A/RCR).

    I will start with a description and overview of the common build, user interface and circuit functions. I will then provide detailed testing and comparison of each model relative to its respective peer groups.

    Buckle up, this is going to be a long ride …

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

    Common DS-Series Specs
    • LED: CREE XM-L2
    • Durable aluminum vacuum plating reflector, Efficiency reflection, perfect beamshot, excellent structure and temperature resistance.
    • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with 99% luminousness anti-reflective coating.
    • Rugged indestructible aluminum body with anti-scratching type III hard anodization.
    • Multi-level dissipating heat design, excellent heat dissipation. Flashlight head integrated construction, high thermal conductivity.
    • Side switch button to transferring mode user-friendly interface to adjust output.
    • Four output levels and strobe, suitable for different environment.
    • Wide input range provides more choices of batteries.
    • Automatic memory function, remember bast used setting and can be preset to specific output mode for instant access.
    • Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation.
    • Low-voltage prompts function, the light will flash when the battery is low, remind user replace the battery on time.
    • Engineered anti-slip knurling for a tightly firm grip.
    • Dual recoil absorbing springs, battery impact resistance.
    • Tail stand as a candle-light.
    • Tail hand hole design for lanyard use, to prevent accidental dropping.
    • Waterproof: IPX-8
    • Impact resistant: 1.5 Meter
    • Accessories: Clip, lanyard, magnet replace O-ring, Operator’s manual, Warranty card, Spare O-ring
    • Optional Accessories: Headband

    DS10 Specs
    • Battery: 1x16340 or 1x CR123A
    • Rated Range: 2V ~ 4.2V
    • Output and Runtime: Turbo 300 lms / 1.5 hrs, Hi 180 lms / 2.5 hrs, Med 60 lms / 7 hrs, Lo 2 lms / 140 hrs
    • Max beam distance:9 8m
    • Max peak beam intensity: 2400cd
    • Dimension: Length 76mm/2.99inch Head diameter 24mm/0.94inch Body diameter 22mm/0.86inch
    • Weight: 47g / 1.65oz (without battery)
    • MSRP: ~$43

    DS15 Specs
    • Battery: 1x14500 or 1x AA Ni-mh or Alkaline
    • Rated Range: 0.9V ~ 4.2V
    • Output and Runtime: Turbo 240 lms / 1hr 50min, Hi 140 lms / 2hr 50min, Med 50 lms / 7 hrs, Lo 2 lms / 120 hrs
    • Max beam distance: 85 m
    • Max peak beam intensity: 1800 cd
    • Dimension: Length 91mm/3.58inch, Head diameter 24mm/0.94inch, Body diameter 22mm/0.86inch
    • Weight: 51g / 1.8oz (without battery)
    • MSRP: ~$43

    DS20 Specs
    • Battery: 1x18650 , 2x CR123A or 2x 16340
    • Rated Range: 3V ~ 9V
    • Output and Runtime: Turbo 480 lms / 2 hrs, Hi 290 lms / 3.5 hrs, Med 100 lms / 12 hrs, Lo 3 lms / 240 hrs
    • Max beam distance: 123 m
    • Max peak beam intensity: 3800 cd
    • Dimension: Length 110 mm/4.33 inch, Head diameter 24 mm/0.94 inch, Body diameter 22 mm/0.86 inch
    • Weight: 55 g / 1.9 oz (without battery)
    • MSRP: ~$43



    The packaging is the same for each model. Inside the standard display packaging is the light, extra o-rings, replacement gasket for the removable tailcap magnet, reversible pocket clip, warranty card and manual. Note the manual is common for the whole series, and provides specs for each of the three models.


    From left to right: CR123A; Skilhunt DS10; Duracell NiMH AA; Skilhunt DS15; AW Protected 18650; Skilhunt DS20.

    As you can see above, the DS-series lights are quite compact. For detailed comparisons within their respective battery classes (and full measures and testing), scroll down this review. For right now, I will go over the common build and interface.

    Common Build

    For the pics below, I've used all the models interchangeably, as representative examples. You'll note that I installed the pocket clip on the DS15.















    Physically, the DS-series lights are remarkably similar to the Olight Baton lights (i.e., S10, S15 and S20) - right down to the inclusion of a removable magnet in the tailcap.

    One interesting difference given the compact size of the lights – all DS-series models open at both the head and the tail. Despite this, the lights are all quite petite for their respective classes. Lights come with black anodizing (gloss finish) and bright white labels. There is knurling over the body tubes, but of fairly mild aggressiveness. With the raised checkered pattern and protruding switch covers, I would say overall grip is pretty good.

    The removable clip helps further with grip. It holds onto the light fairly securely – I actually scratched the anodizing trying to get it off my DS15 sample above. Note that the clip allows for both bezel up and bezel down carry.

    There is a low voltage warning indicator on the head. This flashes red when the cells are nearly exhausted.

    The DS10 and DS20 models came with a spring in the head, so flat-top cells will work fine. The DS15 does not, but this is hardly surprising, as all AA class cells have button tops. Note that even 14505 primary lithium cells work find in this light.

    Screw threads are anodized at both the tail and head regions for lock-out. Note that there are not a lot of threads at either location, but enough to do the job.

    Lights can tailstand, and there is a split-ring/lanyard attachment hole on the side of the tail cap. More interesting, the tailcap incorporates a removable magnet that is strong enough for the lights to stand horizontally off any vertical metal surface. Similar to the Olight Baton lights, the main difference here is that the tailcap springs are screwed in place over the magnet (i.e., they were spring loaded on the Baton lights). Swapping out the magnet and replacing the supplied rubber gasket is thus very simple, as long as you have a small Phillips head screwdriver handy.

    Again like the Baton lights, the DS-series light use an electronic switch located near the head. The button cover is quite raised, making it easy to find by touch (and serves as an effective anti-roll device). User interface is similar to other Skilhunt lights (see below).




    The DS-series lights all have a flat stainless steel bezel. Reflectors are fairly smooth, and smooth finish. Centering of the emitters was excellent on all three of my samples.

    Scroll down for specific beamshot comparisons for each model.

    Common User Interface

    Turn the lights on a single click of the eelectronic switch (i.e., rapid press release). Turn the lights off by a sustained press-hold of the 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 to turn off, and a simple click to change modes. On most lights, it is the other way around.

    You can lock out the lights by a turn of the tailcap or head.

    Note that there is a quick pre-flash on my DS10 and DS15 samples when first connecting a battery.

    Video:

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



    Video was 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.

    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

    The DS-series lights are all current-controlled – there no indication of pulse width modulation on any mode.

    For more information on strobe, please see the individual overviews below, for each sample.

    Standby Drain

    As the switches are electronic in a nature, a standby current drain is always present when a battery is installed and the head/tailcap fully connected. However, standby currents were miniscule on all my samples, with multi-year (or decade) time periods before cells would be drained (i.e., not a concern). Please see the specific reviews below for measurements, for each model.

    Note that you can always lock out the lights by a quick turn of the head or tailcap, relative to the body. This will also prevent accidental activation.

    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 Charts:

    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).

    --------------

    Individual Comparisons

    --------------

    DS10



    From left to right: CR123A; Skilhunt DS10; Olight S10 (201); Eagletac D25C; Jetbeam RRT-01; Nitecore EC1.

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

    Skilhunt DS10: Weight: 47.0g, Length: 76.1mm, Width (bezel): 24.0mm
    Olight S10 (2013, XM-L2): Weight: 40.5g, Length: 70.8mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
    ArmyTek C1 XM-L: Weight: 43.0g, Length: 80.2mm , With (bezel): 23.1mm
    Lumintop ED11: Weight: 44.1g, Length: 83.7, Width (bezel): 21.8mm
    Foursevens QTLC: Weight 36.4g, Length 84.1mm, Width (bezel) 22.1mm
    Sunwayman C10R: Weight: 57.3g, Length: 76.2mm (no lanyard plug), 82.3mm (with plug), Width (bezel): 25.6mm, Width (head at widest part): 28.6mm
    Eagletac D25C Clicky: Weight: 30g, Length: 76.0mm, Width (bezel): 20.0mm
    Jetbeam PC10: Weight: 50.5g, Length: 93.6mm, Width (bezel): 22.6mm

    DS10 Strobe:


    Although the DS10 has a fairly typical strobe frequency of 9.7 Hz, the on-pulse of each cycle is longer than typical (i.e., normally a 50:50 on/off cycle). It is doesn't make much of a difference visually, though.

    DS10 Med Noise RCR:


    As with many current controlled lights, there is circuit noise detectable on some modes on some DS-series lights. In the case of the DS10, there is high frequency 4.5 kHz noise only on the Med mode (for both RCR and CR123A). Rest assured it is not visible – the light is flicker-free in all modes.

    Standby current (after the brief pre-flash) was ~25uA on a CR123A. I couldn't get a stable reading on RCR, which fluctuated from ~10~50uA (but average out around ~25uA as well. That would translate into over ~4 years for RCR, and over ~6.5 years on CR123A, using standard capacity estimates. Either way, again not a concern.

    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.

    1xCR123A













    1xRCR



























    --------------


    DS15



    From left to right: Duracell NiMH AA; Sklihunt DS15; L3 Illumination L10; Zebralight SC52; Nitecore EA1; Fenix LD12.

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

    Skilhunt DS15: Weight: 52.0g, Length: 92.1mm, Width (bezel): 24.0mm
    Olight S15 1xAA: Weight: 46.4g, Length: 87.0mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
    Nitecore MT1A: Weight: 54.6g, Length: 104.6mm, Width (bezel): 22.7mm
    Nitecore SENS AA: Weight: 26.1g, Length: 82.7mm, Width (bezel): 19.8mm
    Lumintop ED15: Weight: 59.7g, Length: 100.2, Width (bezel): 21.9mm
    Zebralight SC52: Weight 39.5g, Length 79.0mm, Width (bezel): 22.6mm, Width (max) 25.4mm
    Rofis ER12: Wright: 35.5g, Length: 96.2mm, Width (bezel): 18.6mm
    Xeno E03:: Weight: 48.1g, Length 96.7mm, Width (bezel): 21.5mm

    DS15 Strobe:


    Although the DS10 has a fairly typical strobe frequency of 9.6 Hz, the on-pulse of each cycle is longer than typical (i.e., normally a 50:50 on/off cycle). It is doesn't make much of a difference visually, though.

    DS15 Turbo Noise 14500:


    DS15 Med Noise NiMH/14500:


    As with many current controlled lights, there is circuit noise detectable on some modes on some DS-series lights. In the case of the DS15, there was a consistent high frequency 6 kHz noise on the Med mode (for both 14500 and NiMH AA). There was also a variable frequency noise on the Turbo level, but only on 14500. Rest assured these are not visible – the light is flicker-free in use for all modes.

    Standby current (after the brief pre-flash) on NiMH AA was 20uA, with periodic jumps up to 49uA (roughly every 10 secs). For 14500 Li-ion, I got a stable 5uA. That would translate into about 10-15 years to drain typical standard capacity NiMH or 14500. Certainly not a concern.

    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.

    1xAA Sanyo Eneloop NiMH













    1x14500 (AW Protected 14500) Li-ion




























    --------------

    DS20




    From left to right: AW Protected 18650 2200mAh; Skilhunt DS20; Eagletac D25LC2; Olight S20 (2013), Zebralight SC600-II, Nitecore EC2.

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

    Skilhunt DS20: Weight: 53.8g, Length: 110.0mm, Width (bezel): 24.0mm
    Olight S20 (2013, XM-L2): Weight: 52.4g, Length: 106.5mm, Width (bezel): 23.1mm
    Eagletac D25LC2: Weight: 50.0g, Length: 116.3mm, Width (bezel): 22.5mm
    Foursevens Quark Q123-2 X (Regular tailcap): Weight: 44.6g, Length: 112.7mm, Width (bezel) 22.0mm
    Jetbeam PC20: Weight: 60.0g, Length: 127.5mm, Width (bezel): 22.6mm
    Skilhunt K11: Weight: 120.5g, Length: 129.6mm , Width (bezel): 34.1mm
    Sunwayman C20C: Weight 57.6g, Length: 104.8mm. Width (bezel): 25.6mm
    Thrunite TN10: Weight: 154.7g, Length: 145.5mm, Width (bezel): 35.1mm
    Zebralight SC600: Weight 87.2g, Length: 107.8mm, Width (bezel) 29.7mm

    DS20 Strobe:


    Although the DS20 has a fairly typical strobe frequency of 9.6 Hz, the on-pulse of each cycle is longer than typical (i.e., normally a 50:50 on/off cycle). It is doesn't make much of a difference visually, though.

    There was no circuit noise observed on the DS20, at any level.

    Standby current was ~23uA on an 18650. That would translate into over 15 years for a standard 3100mAh capacity 18650 would be depleted (i.e., below the cell-discharge level of Li-ions). Again, not a concern.

    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.





























    --------------

    General Observations

    Output and Beam Pattern

    Overall output is generally very consistent with the Skilhunt specs – on all models, on all batteries. The main exception was the Lo mode on the DS10, which was more like moonlight on my sample (on both CR123A and RCR).

    Max initial output is reasonable for each model above, although lower than most other recent lights in these classes. Note as well that the DS20 (but not the DS10 or DS15) steps down on Turbo after a few mins.

    The overall beam pattern is as expected for lights of this size. Thanks to the smooth reflectors, they have a slightly more defined hotspot than the equivalent Olight Baton lights.

    The DS-series lights are current-controlled on all levels, with no signs of flicker.

    Regulation and Runtime

    The DS-series lights are all fully flat-regulated on all battery types, across all models. The DS20 (but not the DS10 or DS15) shows step-down on Turbo after a few mins runtime, on all batteries.

    Overall output/runtime efficiency was very good to excellent on all models and all battery types. This is consistent with good quality current-controlled circuits.

    Potential Issues

    All the DS-series lights use an electronic switch, and therefore require a small stand-by current when fully connected. However, the standby drain was completely negligible on all models, on all batteries – with multi-year (or decades) before batteries would be drained.

    Accidental activation is always a potential concern with electronic switches. However, you can physically lock out the lights at either the tailcap or head.

    There is a brief pre-flash when first connecting a battery on my DS10 and DS15 samples.

    Preliminary Observations

    As previously observed in my earlier reviews, Skilhunt makes quality lights. Their models always show good attention to detail, with thoughtful build features and elements. Earlier models were quite distinctive in external styling, but more recent models (including the DS-series) have a more mainstream look.

    In this case, I'm impressed that they were able to keep these lights so small while still allowing access to both the head and tailcap. I'm also glad to say they have moved to more efficient current-controlled circuits as well.

    I have previously opined that overall build design and quality are very reminiscent of Olight. That certainly holds true here, as the feature set and performance of these lights is nearly identical to the Olight Baton series – right down to the removable tailcap magnets.

    That said, Skilhunt does go about the equivalent feature set in a slightly different way (e.g., how the magnet is removed, where the low-voltage sensor is located, etc.). User interface is also fairly "classic" for Skilhunt, which is a bit different from other makers (e.g. you need to press-hold for off, and click to change modes). Also, max output is typically a bit lower than the Olight Batons (at least on higher voltage sources). The DS-series lights also lack a true "moonlight" mode (although my DS10 seem to have one instead of the defined Lo mode).

    Output/runtime performance is typically excellent on the DS-series lights, with very flat stabilization. I like the presence of the unobtrusive low-voltage indicator on every model.

    The Skilhunt DS-series line is certainly another strong choice to consider in the "subcompact" class of clicky lights. Minimalist but functional, the DS-series lights have a number of nice touches, and generally excellent performance.

    ----

    DS10, DS15 and DS20 supplied by Skilhunt for review.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 06-30-2014 at 11:51 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
    Flashaholic* Ryp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Thanks for the review!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Thanks for the review. I own the Olight S10 & S20 both L2 versions. As SB stated they sure do remind you of the Olight Baton series, a lot. Even the clip on the DS10 looks like the clip on the S10. Just wish my S10 had the low voltage indicator like the DS10.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Thanks for another thorough review.
    I'm wondering if the DS15 can fit 18500 cell since the DS15 (AA) is the same width as the DS20 (18650)?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Quote Originally Posted by THE_dAY View Post
    I'm wondering if the DS15 can fit 18500 cell since the DS15 (AA) is the same width as the DS20 (18650)?
    No, the lights are only the same size at the head. At the tails/body, the DS10 and DS15 are 22.0mm, while the DS20 is 24.0mm.
    Full list of all my reviews: flashlightreviews.ca. Latest hobby: whiskyanalysis.com. New: Selfbuilt's Summer Sale!
    Gratefully accepting donations to my battery fund.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Thanks for another fine review Selfbuilt.

    I have the first generation Baton S10 and absolutely love it. However, my protected 16340s are nearly 2mm too long and I don't want any unprotected, nor do I want to use primaries. I fudged an insert for the tailcap to make contact but the O-ring is no longer covered so no waterproofing.

    Just wondering if you have any idea of the maximum length of cell the DS10 wil accommodate?

    (Unless you addressed this in the video I am about to watch.)

  7. #7
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt View Post
    No, the lights are only the same size at the head. At the tails/body, the DS10 and DS15 are 22.0mm, while the DS20 is 24.0mm.
    Thank you sir, I missed that part.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Skilhunt DS10 (1xCR123A/RCR), DS15 (1xAA/14500), DS20 (1x18650) XM-L2 Review: BEA

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevtrain View Post
    Just wondering if you have any idea of the maximum length of cell the DS10 wil accommodate)
    Hmmm, haven't tried too many cells, but my AW protected RCR were fine (but then again, the same was true for my S10s).
    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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