Are there still MC2 units available? Well, sort of...
Short answer: I have maybe a half-dozen, and could build more if there's demand to do that. For at least this first half-dozen and probably more, I could likely get 'em shipped in time for Christmas, if that's an issue.
Longer answer in response to an inquiry from Alan B...
Let me know if you want any...
There are still a few of these left... maybe 2 or 3, plus maybe a half-dozen prototypes of various sorts. Cost remains $55 per unit, and current shipping charges are as follows, slightly higher than before due to US Postal price increase earlier this year...
Shipping to USA uninsured costs $5.
Shipping to USA with insurance costs a total of $12.
Shipping internationally costs $29 via EMS with tracking and up to $100 insurance coverage.
A note on insurance: I cannot cover lost or damaged packages (only a one-man shop after all)... so if you're concerned about this risk, please order insurance on your package. That said, so far I've never actually had a package lost... so this is purely optional. Your call either way!
Note for international customers: I need to declare the same value for Customs that I do for insurance... please keep this in mind and tell me how much to declare as the value of your package. Up to $100 insurance coverage can be included in your shipment at no extra charge, more insurance would cost you additional, Please let me know if you wish that.
Guys, I just received a PM asking if these are still available. They are! I've got enough boards remaining to build 10 more units, then I'm more-or-less out unless getting lots of additional demand. I can perhaps mount alternate forms of 5mm or even 10mm LEDs, too, so if you've been hankering for a special version, this would be a good time to get it. Pricing for the standard MC2 is $55 per unit, and for special requests it's $60 per unit. Note that I can also build into various other formats, such as lanterns and the like.
UPDATE AS OF 12/11/06 AT 11:39am
Buildable: 12 MC2 units, 20+ boards for 4AA lanterns (SilverFox, got any photos of yours?) or other custom applications
MC2 Cost: $55 each with $5 (USA) or $10 (elsewhere) shipping for the entire order.
Lantern and custom build cost: TBD, send me PM...
Orders shipped by this SATURDAY ought to arrive before Christmas, at least here in the United States.
BTW, so far 97 MC2 units have been shipped! Thanks all!
Thought of a fun thing to do... for whoever orders the 100th MC2, I'll include in the package the prototype Milky Tester v2 unit free of charge... a bit of Milky Candle history, and still a darned useful little tester! It's designed to check suitability of a 123 cell for use in a 2x123 Milky Candle or MC2 unit. Who's gonna get it?
Those who haven't emailed with additional contact info, please do! I even put together a spiffy new email address for your enjoyment...
... milky (AT) quarryrun (dot) com
It's looking like the MC2 will cost $55 for the first unit, with a discount for each additional unit. Pricing is still unofficial, though.
Milky Tester is now built into the MC2 itself, so everybody gets one, no additional charge!
So far 53 units shipped and a number of orders yet to be filled... but in the meantime, in the interest of trying something a little fun and different...
OPEN SEASON ON MC2... An Experiment!
ANYONE who wants one RIGHT NOW, I've got 13 available... post here how many you're ordering FIRST them send Paypal here as follows... I'll get the first 13 units out immediately and build more for folks who just miss. It's IMPORTANT to post your intention here FIRST so others will have some idea of how many units remain! Something like, "I'll take 2. Cash Paypal incoming."
Off to a good start. So far 27 MC2 units have shipped... of course, that includes my own half-dozen!
Point is: we're getting there. Just in the soft-confirm list that's only 1/3 to 1/4 the total quantity, and there are literally of HUNDREDS of requests of units from folks who didn't soft-confirm!
No worries... I'll order another run of boards if necessary, and so long as the other components remain available will keep building until everybody who wants one, has one. At least that's the goal!
Have procrastinated big time on completing the instruction pamphlet. MSaxatilus (one of the first recipients of an MC2... and why not! He showed up at the Milky Labs IN PERSON to make the pickup!) graciously drafted the pamphlet and I still haven't forced myself to finish the edits and reformatting. However, I've been shipping the MC2 units so far with a "Quick Tips" cheat sheet and will post the full-blown instructions here, or at least a link to them, once available. If you've already got an MC2, keep watching this thread for updates!
BTW, thanks for all the continued support, folks.
The build has begun. I've actually shipped some MC2 units to a few folks with whom I'd had trade obligations or other special circumstances. There are also a few "early adopters" who received units so I could get some constructive feedback. (Thanks folks!) And they didn't even have the benefit of an instruction sheet, as that wasn't completed yet!
At this point, anyone who's received units, feel free to post about them! As for everyone else, no worries. I'll keep building until everyone gets what they wanted... in fact, that's well underway...
For the time being I'll be emailing and/or PMing folks when their units are ready, so warm up the Paypals please! If that gets out of hand, I'll do as mentioned before and let The Product Wizard handle the order taking and shipping. (Thanks Steve!) Incidentally, ProdWiz is a very cool online storefront... plus they've got a REAL storefront in south NJ... handle flashlights, knives, and Lord knows what else... AWESOME website (try the product closeup... way cool)... great folks! Darned cool logo, too...
The Product Wizard
Meanwhile, a slightly different flavor of MC2 will be available in the near future from Tek-tite. I'm really not sure of pricing, packaging, or similar details, but their version of the MC2 will be a 3AAA, weatherproof model suitable for outdoor use... campsite, tent light, hurricane light, bugout bag... even as a low-powered, long-running flashlight. Here's a photo of a prototype (no it's not the blown-out Surefire body)...
Finally, here's a little snippet describing some operating features... the full-blown instruction sheet will be posted here when completed...
Unscrew the BOTTOM to install or remove batteries... screw bottom back into place all the way to turn on, or back off just a bit and press inward on the metal washer at bottom for momentary on... a quick press on then off will make the MC2 switch to the next-lower mode next time you turn on the unit, and when at the lowest output, the next such mode change will return to max output... the levels (in order) are HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW, and AMBER. The MC2 will automatically switch to amber when your cells cannot keep the current mode in regulation any longer... sometimes you'll see the unit going back and forth for a short while if the voltage is right at the borderline... when the cells are REALLY depleted, the amber LED will begin pulsating gently, letting you know it's time to look for some more cells! Also, you can unscrew the nylon spacer inside the tailcap to make the spring reach farther into the tube... do this to run with a single 123 cell.
Thanks folks! Please hang in there... yours is coming, and soon!
Guess what Milky's having for breakfast?
To All... Next Week? Maybe? Seriously!
The last of the white 5mm LEDs are streaming toward George as we speak. With luck he will receive them by this coming Monday. That means it's also possible that he just might have a big ol' package making its way back to me by the end of next week! Then the FOLLOWING Monday, with luck, I'd be in a position to do final assembly... and all of you who have been so unbelievably, Saintly patient, would at last be able to plunk down your money and get your MC2s! So while I cannot guarantee an exact availability date, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that at this point we're talking in terms of weeks or even days, not months! Yippee!!
According to photographic evidence, looks like the MC2 boards have arrived at sensei George's house, heh heh...
They exist! They exist!
Who else hasn't updated their contact info with me yet? Getting closer folks!
The white and amber LEDs for the first 100 MC2 units have been ordered. Still need more housings but have at least 52 in my possession right now. Need some smaller hardware... bolts, washers, springs, nylon spacers... no biggie! Meanwhile I've been focusing on testing the 2xCR2 configuration and things seem to be working as expected. Moving along!
The MC2 boards have been ordered!
A typical test run...
1. Installed a pair of 123 cells that tested at 0% on a ZTS battery tester.
2. Run at medium output for something like 8 days, 24 hours a day... finally this morning, noticed that the white LED had shutdown (note that no dimming occurs in the MC2, the white LED simply turns itself off when battery output can no longer sustain the chosen output level) and the amber LED was lit continuous. I could have allowed it to keep running this way for a while longer but chose instead to open the light and test the cells.
3. One cell did not light the amber LED at all. The other cell throbbed the amber LED (throbbing meaning the LED wasn't on continuous, but rather pulsating slowly).
4. Selected another 123 cell from my "dead" cells bin and tested... this one is also throbbing amber.
5. Installed the 2x123 throbbing amber cells in the MC2 and restarted at medium output. All is well.
6. Tested the 123 cell that wouldn't light the amber LED... voltage is 0.88V. For a 123 cell, that's pretty darned low!
7. Checked flash amps on the cell... it actually managed 0.05A flash amps, which for the MC2 is on the high side. Still, not much oomph remaining in this little guy!
8. Disposed of this clearly depleted cell feeling no guilt.
Last night I tweaked the firmware some more and replaced the white LED on my proto with a Jeled 50cd 5mm, quite possibly the brightest and most efficient single-die 5mm LED that's commonly available right now. Testing is ongoing... I will say this: it certainly adds some teeth to the medium output!
New folks, I need to know of your interest! Please PM or email with your contact info (email at least) and shipping address.
Folks who joined the MC2 bandwagon long ago... due to my own foolishness I have no email addresses or any other contact info for many of you. Could you guys PM or email me your whatever info you wish to share... email addy and shipping address at least, more at your discretion?
No worries, I have NO plans to share my list! No privavy concerns or weird spammers here.
Took a quick-n-dirty video of the MC2 low battery indicator in action... thought folks might like to see it. It works! (hee hee.) Please do cut me some slack here, folks, as this is my first-ever attempt at uploading a video clip...
MC2 Low Battery Indicator
(click on image to play the 16 second video)
Looks like I've got a distribution outlet lined up for the MC2... you'll be able to place orders there, use credit cards, choose your preferred means of shipping (both UPS and US Postal), whatever... in fact, might even have TWO distributors lined up!
No worries, it won't affect the price of the MC2 other than the same credit card fee and shipping costs you would have incurred anyway... but it DOES free me up to do less packing of boxes, and more building of MC2 units!
More specifics to come.
Pair of MC2 Protos Continue Their Test Runs.
Got two prototypes in the other day and have been putting 'em through the paces since. There are a few minor wrinkles to iron out, but actually I'm impressed by how functional the proto boards are right off the bat. Even had someone offer to buy one on the spot when I showed him! I assume that's a good thing.
One design change: it's looking like the red backup LED will instead be amber... that's contingent on my ability to source a particularly nice amber LED for which I've seen some impressive specs. On a more minor note, the backup LED will be user-selectable as a fourth "brightness" level, in addition to its existing function as a fallback when the white LED fails due to insufficient juice in the cells.
On the battery test function, it actually gives FOUR levels of feedback! (1) Fresh cell... (2) depleted but good for 2x123 configuration... (3) heavily depleted, probably good for a few more hours on 2x123... and (4) dead as a doornail.
At the suggestion of fellow CPFer flashlight, I'm copying this post from far below... please followup if you haven't already done so, we're selling out this run day by day!
Those who haven't emailed with additional contact info, please do! I even put together a spiffy new email address for your enjoyment...
milky (AT) quarryrun (dot) com
Thanks all! This is as exciting for me as it is for everyone else.
Folks, it's been heartening to have the support of so many in the CPF family.
And now I have some good news!
The MC2 is closer than you think... AT LAST! And it's going digital!
I'll save some details for later as the first prototype of the board is still being assembled... but as a preview, I will offer up some tidbits from the new featureset...
* Housing will be same as for the original Milky Candle, but NO switch on top... the top will house only LEDs (note the "s" on the end of that word) and likely be potted. This will help make the MC2 more weatherproof, though still not truly waterproof.
* Runs 2x123 but 40-50% longer runtimes than the original!
* Level selection done digitally via the switch at bottom end of the light... this is also the switch that turns the MC2 on and off.
* Will probably auto-ratchet the output down to lower levels as the cells grow too weak to maintain the higher level in regulation... we're still working on this.
* Will light a RED LED when cells grow too weak to continue driving the white LED... and keep running the red LED at high brightness for as long as possible... this ought to give plenty of warning to CHANGE YOUR CELLS!
* Capable of running 1x123 using the red LED... battery chamber will most likely autoadapt for 1x123 or 2x123... still working on this, too!
* Milky Tester is now BUILT-INTO THE MC2 ITSELF
* White LED will probably be a 10mm, for longer throw in the event you need to use the MC2 for more traditional flashlight applications! No worries... the 10mm is nice and bright, and can easily light an average-size room via bounce-off-the-ceiling ambient light. Proven for one full year at Castle Milkystein, by the three little milklets!
Get your orders ready, folks!
If you haven't yet joined the wait list, now is the time!
If your info has changed, please update it so I know how to contact you! PM me if you prefer to keep details private. An email address in addition to your CPF ID would be most helpful!
Looking to do a build of 200 MC2's... right now 172 units are on the wait list! I can increase my board order if necessary... but if you want to be part of the MC2 build, please make sure you join! Posting interest in this thread will suffice so long as you let me know how many units you'd like.
Target price still being set... looks to be around $50. Please know that I'm doing all I can to keep pricing as low as possible while NOT sacrificing quality... and believe me, I'm certainly not making all that much from the assembly!
Gotta do it though... I want a few for myself!
Subscribe to this thread for more details.
Original Info Post
What's an MC2?
The MC2 is the next generation Milky Candle, a long-running electronic candle whose concept took shape after our family experienced at least THREE electrical power outages during a one month period!
This initial post will be updated with new information from time to time... no more wading through the entire thread to understand what it's all about!
Time for the MC2! Will it look like this? MAYBE!
Although working prototypes of the MC2 already exist, the design is still in flux, mainly due to a combination of my own ongoing improvements until the thing intuitively "feels" right; plus some well-timed discoveries of better components, all mixed with a big dose of life events... new baby, new job, etc.
The MC2 will be a fairly radical departure from the original Milky Candle, improving on its predecessor in a number of ways. It will incorporate a brighter, more efficient LED, possibly 10mm in diameter instead of the more standard 5mm ones; pushbutton brightness adjustment; better weatherproofing; and a new circuit that substantially improves runtimes. On this latter point, the original Milky Candle was capable of running on 2x123 cells in "nightlight mode" (its lowest output level) for 1000 hours, while the MC2 should be able to operate at the same level of brightness for 1500 hours, a 50% improvement.
The brightness standard for the MC2 is that it provide the minimum necessary level of illumination to navigate an average size room without tripping on toys, stepping on things, bumping into the furniture, etc. Since the MC2 will have multiple brightness levels, the highest output will probably exceed this threshold, while the lowest (a.k.a. nightlight mode) will illuminate perhaps a 6 foot radius around the unit once one's eyes have become dark-adapted.
Side Effects... Good Ones!
Since the MC2 is particularly miserly with energy consumption, it offers the side effect of running with 123 cells too deeply discharged to use in anything else. In fact, the MC2 can run in regulation even at its highest output level using a pair of 123 cells that don't work at all in the SureFire Hurricane Lamp, itself a long-running emergency outage light! With the MC2, folks can feel good about not wasting energy when they finally toss their 123 cells in the trash; and users of other 123 cell lights will have an ongoing stream of "free" 123 cells to feed the MC2.
What's a Milky Tester?
Along the way I also built a prototype version of the Milky Tester. The idea was to have a tester that could indicate whether 123 cells pulled from other flashlights would be able to drive the MC2 for a reasonable amount of time. In testing I found that most of the times that the MC2 went out, only one of the cells was truly dead, while the other could continue to be used. I wanted a simple way of determining which cell was which.
The first Milky Tester.
The initial design was simplistic, but the intent is to extend the tester's functionality to spot-check 123 cells for their suitability in high-powered lights such as the SureFire tactical incandescents; MC2 running at highest output; or MC2 running in nightlight mode. In all cases, a successful test indicates that the cell should be able of delivering at least moderate output time at the tested level.
One final note for now: the MC2 and Milky Tester may or may not end up looking like the units in the photos above... so consider those sneak peeks, but not necessarily reflective of the finished products!
The Wait List.
Feel free to state your interest below, as well over 100 CPFers already have! (Yikes!) I've been maintaining a wait list based on the posts, and the MC2 (plus Milky Testers, for that matter) will be distributed in priority order based on the list... the folks at the top of the list will receive the first production units, and so on, until the supply is exhausted. Expect the MC2 to cost $40, although one of the project's goals is to drive the price lower than that. Still, better to estimate a little high and be pleasantly surprised later!
MC2: Because A Photon Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.