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Thread: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

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    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
    The test sample/s featured in this article were provided for technical testing and review by "Fenixlight Limited". Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.
    Supply and Delivery was fulfilled by "MyFenix.co.uk", the UK Distributor for Fenix lights
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Fenix started adding 'complete' rechargeable light kits a couple of years ago with the RC10, and more recently added the monster RC40. The UC45 is in the single 18650 size range, and has been simplified by integrating the charger circuit into the light itself needing only a standard USB charger or a USB port on a computer/laptop.



    Author's note: due to the general tendency for reviews to become ever longer, this review is presented in a different format to my previous ones, with all but a few images being animated to attempt to reduce excessive scrolling. You may need to wait for the images to load fully.

    Taking a more detailed look:

    The photos here show; the packaging, contents, warning label, custom battery, reflector detail, tail-cap contacts, mode and power switches, micro-USB charging socket, threads, bezel detail, size comparison with a standard 18650 cell, and the LED and reflector.





    The supplied holster viewed from all sides.




    The beam

    The LED is cool white is neutral white and there is a defined hotspot, but it is broad and soft edged




    Outdoors, and as a point of reference, this is a control shot of the TK41's beam.




    Then on to the UC45's beam. As you can see the UC45 has a wider spill and much more flood.




    Fenix also make a diffuser tip that fits the UC45 as it has the same size bezel as the TK22.




    Modes and User Interface:

    There are 4 steady output levels, Low, Medium, High and Turbo. The UC45's main power switch is a forward-clicky giving momentary operation.
    Once ON, press the mode switch on the side of the tail-cap to cycle through the modes. The side mode switch is a non-latching electronic click switch.
    To activate strobe, press and hold the mode switch for over 1s. This can be done with the UC45 either ON or OFF. If the UC45 was OFF, the strobe stops once you release the mode switch. If the UC45 was on, then strobe continues until the mode switch is pressed again or the main power switch turned off.


    Batteries and output:

    The only uses its custom battery pack the ARB-L1H. This is around the size of a normal 18650, but each end has both positive and negative terminals. This battery can be inserted either way round.

    The built in charging micro-USB port is accessed by unscrewing a collar which protects and waterproofs the port.


    When connected to a USB port with the cable included with the UC45, the charge indicator shows Red while charging and then changes to green when fully charged. Measuring the charging current drawn (using a USB Charge Doctor) this peaked at 0.92A, and once the charge light turns green, drops to 0A. The battery voltage measures 4.16V when charging is complete. At the edn of the runtime test the battery voltage was 3.25V




    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.

    Fenix UC45 I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
    Turbo 997 0
    High 407 0
    Medium 119 0
    Low 10 0
    Turbo – fresh off the charger – no Diffuser 1046 0
    Turbo – fresh off the charger – With AOD-M Diffuser 861 (18% loss) 0

    Measure beam range comes in at 286m.

    With the UC45 using a custom battery I decided to do two runtime graphs, one terminating at the ANSI runtime, and a second one to see how long you would still have some light for if you didn't have a second battery. The UC45 drops down from Turbo to High after 5 minutes and to keep using turbo you have to press the mode switch again. This was done repeatedly to show the full Turbo runtime.




    Extended output – in this graph, the first part is the same as in the ANSI output above, but the runtime test was left running to see when the UC45 shut off. After a total of 7 hours, I decided to terminate the test as the 5+ hours of runtime on the low output level is plenty of warning that you need to recharge.




    Wrapping-up

    The UC45 is a solidly built light, even by Fenix standards! It is a reassuring weight and feels like it would be just as at-home knocking about in a tradesman's toolbox as it would on your belt. Some of this weight comes from the built in charger and protective collar, and some from the very strong build. If you drop it, just make sure you keep your feet out of the way.

    Being able to use any USB charger socket means that you don't need to worry about a dedicated charger or separate battery charger, and could pretty much beg or borrow anyone's charger to top up the UC45. This makes it extremely suitable as a 'work' light, and runtimes on the mid and low outputs are more than enough that you won't need to top up every day.

    The beam has some throw, but there is enough flood to make this useful for all close to mid range uses. Use of the UC45 is very simple, and it is almost like a single mode light set to whichever level you want. Set the output level and then just use the main switch for ON/OFF. I tend to keep it in low or medium, and don't often touch the mode switch. I know the other modes are there is I want them, but like the simple interface.

    If you want a good 1000lm output light, but don't want to be bothered with additional batteries and chargers, the UC45 is an ideal choice as it gives you everything in one tough package and only needs a standard USB socket to charge from.





    Last edited by subwoofer; 08-28-2014 at 07:25 AM.
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  2. #2
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Reserved for updates....
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    *Flashaholic* kj2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Thanks for the review

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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Looks like some parts same as the Fenix TK22.

    Thanks for the review.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by clarkhang View Post
    Looks like some parts same as the Fenix TK22.

    Thanks for the review.
    And some parts the same as the RC10. Pretty common to reuse parts between models as it keeps their costs down.
    Last edited by subwoofer; 08-12-2014 at 06:50 AM.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Thanks subwoofer for this detailed review. I just purchased the UC45 as an alternative to the Surefire Lawmen r-1 primarily due to price. I was using the UC45 last night for a few hours and wondered why the Turbo didn't seem to be as bright as when I first activated the light, hence the 5-min power drop to High you mentioned.

    I don't know if you mentioned this but the only criticism I have regarding the UC45 is that it needs more textile feedback on the light selector switch.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by Usagee View Post
    Thanks subwoofer for this detailed review. I just purchased the UC45 as an alternative to the Surefire Lawmen r-1 primarily due to price. I was using the UC45 last night for a few hours and wondered why the Turbo didn't seem to be as bright as when I first activated the light, hence the 5-min power drop to High you mentioned.

    I don't know if you mentioned this but the only criticism I have regarding the UC45 is that it needs more textile feedback on the light selector switch.
    That is a good comment about tactile feedback. It is not something that bothered me, as I tended to pick one mode and stick to it, however I can completely understand your point of view.
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    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    If you enjoyed the review, please remember to 'Like' me on Facebook
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    I was gifted one of these flashlights (after careful consideration when asking for a recommendation) and a week later was showing it off to some coworkers when it shocked one of them (while powered off), and now won't turn on. Our office has concrete floors, so we have minimal static... very bizarre, and I hope it's just a fluke/defect, and not a design flaw.

    It doesn't seem as if the head detaches on this model, so the only thing I'm able to do is test the battery voltage, which is a 4.1V. Is there anything else you can direct me to test out while I wait for fenix to get back to me?

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    Flashaholic* CelticCross74's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Very nice light but when it comes to 1000 lumen rechargeable flashlights Ill stick with my much less complicated Olight R40A Seeker which is actually even brighter

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by c4v3man View Post
    I was gifted one of these flashlights (after careful consideration when asking for a recommendation) and a week later was showing it off to some coworkers when it shocked one of them (while powered off), and now won't turn on. Our office has concrete floors, so we have minimal static... very bizarre, and I hope it's just a fluke/defect, and not a design flaw.

    It doesn't seem as if the head detaches on this model, so the only thing I'm able to do is test the battery voltage, which is a 4.1V. Is there anything else you can direct me to test out while I wait for fenix to get back to me?
    That is indeed very bizarre. Even with low static floors, if the people involved had rubber soled shoes there is a possibility of being charged with static after taking off a coat/jumper or similar.

    I can't think of anything in the UC45 that would do this.

    Was it plugged into a charger at the time, or was one person handing it to another?
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    That is indeed very bizarre. Even with low static floors, if the people involved had rubber soled shoes there is a possibility of being charged with static after taking off a coat/jumper or similar.

    I can't think of anything in the UC45 that would do this.

    Was it plugged into a charger at the time, or was one person handing it to another?
    One person handing to another, not connected to anything (charger).

    Fenix service got back to me and wanted me to bypass the tailcap by shorting the battery to the battery tube. They then sent a picture of a standard 18650 cell flashlight, which obviously does me no good since this is using their proprietary dual-polarity battery. To bypass the tailcap, should I short the battery tube to the inner or outer contact on the battery? I'm not even seeing which is positive/negative on the battery...

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by c4v3man View Post
    One person handing to another, not connected to anything (charger).

    Fenix service got back to me and wanted me to bypass the tailcap by shorting the battery to the battery tube. They then sent a picture of a standard 18650 cell flashlight, which obviously does me no good since this is using their proprietary dual-polarity battery. To bypass the tailcap, should I short the battery tube to the inner or outer contact on the battery? I'm not even seeing which is positive/negative on the battery...
    Ouch! NO do NOT try to short anything on the UC45. That dual pole battery means the normal 'bypass the tailcap' principle does not work.

    I still think the shock was a normal static shock, but can't see how it could have damaged the light. Did it get dropped due to the shock being felt?
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    No, the light was never dropped once I received it in it's box (I have no idea if the shipping company dropped it). The light was working, I was demonstrating the modes. turned it off, and handed it to a coworker. At that time, a shock was felt, and the light no longer turns on.

    Dealing with Fenix support is like pulling teeth. Since they only employ a service representative (I refrain from using the term technician) during local business hours, I have to wait 12+ hours for answers to simple questions, like "your picture and instructions for the product you support are in no way applicable to my product, which I clearly identified. Please advise on how to properly test with MY flashlight".

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    __________________________________________________ _______________
    From: service [mailto:service@fenixlight.com]
    Sent: Thursday, November 6, 2014 10:01 PM
    To: Matthew
    Subject: RE: UC45 dead
    Hi Matthew,

    You only need to contact battery pole and the rim of thread. Please tell me the flashlight serial number.

    Best regards.

    Linda Yao
    Fenixlight Limited
    8/F, 2nd Building,
    DongFangMing Industrial Center
    33rd District, Bao'an,ShenZhen 518133 China
    0086-400 886 6093
    www.fenixlight.com
    www.facebook.com/fenixproducts



    From: Matthew
    Sent: Friday, November 07, 2014 12:13 AM
    To: service
    Subject: RE: UC45 dead
    The UC45 uses your proprietary double-sided battery. Should I short the case to the center contact, or the outside contact on the battery?

    From: service [mailto:service@fenixlight.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 11:57 PM
    To: Matthew
    Subject: RE: UC45 dead

    Hi Matthew,

    Sorry to to hear that UC45 encounters this problem.

    Please test the UC45 as attached picture, it proves the tail cap is defective if UC45 is lighted up.

    Please provide the serial number around head of light, it is composed of 11 letters and numbers.

    Best regards.

    Linda Yao

    From: Matthew
    Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2014 2:06 AM
    To: Service@fenixlight.com
    Subject: UC45 dead
    I handed my new UC45 to a coworker and it shocked him briefly, and now it won’t turn on. The battery cell tests out at 4.1V so the battery seems fine, however the light won’t turn on. Is there something for me to test, a reset procedure, or how to I proceed to get my faulty unit replaced?
    __________________________________________________ _______________
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I realize that many people use Fenix flashlights without problems, and that my case is a fluke, but I simply can't trust this light, and I can't be reassured by the support department that it will be handled in a reasonable timeframe given their apparent lack of knowledge on this series. I've looked forward to getting a Fenix for quite a few years, but at this point will look at another manufacturer with US based support and a longer warranty (apparently a battery, emitter, pwm/regulator and switch are not as "established" or bulletproof as I anticipated). Hopefully I will encounter better luck in the future.

    Thanks Subwoofer for your replies and assistance.
    Last edited by c4v3man; 11-07-2014 at 09:30 AM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Ouch! NO do NOT try to short anything on the UC45. That dual pole battery means the normal 'bypass the tailcap' principle does not work.

    I still think the shock was a normal static shock, but can't see how it could have damaged the light. Did it get dropped due to the shock being felt?
    And to clarify the shock was a normal (albeit rare in our environment) static shock. It's not like the feeling of touching an energized capacitor or anything painful.

    The question I have is regarding the tailcap bypass principle not working. My understanding is that the dual contacts of the battery (which appears to be only on one side [the charger/head] on competing in-light rechargeable cells) are only for use during the charge operation, and that the tail-side only uses one pole for activation/regulation. If this is not the case, I'm curious as to how the switch on the tailcap activates the light? How does the switch on the tail work if not by conducting one of the poles to the regulation circuit or emitter? Please excuse my ignorance, just going off what I have seen off other rechargeable lights.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Is the bezel removable on the UC45 to make a bit more air travel/TSA friendly?

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* subwoofer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by mckrobx View Post
    Is the bezel removable on the UC45 to make a bit more air travel/TSA friendly?
    Well, yes and no. You could remove it to then grind off the crenelations, but you would need to put the ring back on to keep the glass in place.
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  18. #18

    Default Re: Fenix UC45 USB Rechargeable - 'Compact Review' (ARB-L1H custom battery)

    Quote Originally Posted by subwoofer View Post
    Well, yes and no. You could remove it to then grind off the crenelations, but you would need to put the ring back on to keep the glass in place.
    Ok thanks for the info... that's unfortunate as I love everything about this light except the bezel! If I had access to a mill I'd likely mill it flat, not sure if I could grind it freehand and keep it looking decent.

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