A Classic Revisited - Dorcy 1AAA

UnknownVT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
3,672
Time to revisit a classic value for money LED flashlight.

I bought my first Dorcy 1AAA (1LED) almost as soon as I saw discussion about it on CPF. Apparently at the regular price of $5.94 - WalMart could not keep them on the shelves for long, and people were reporting them sold out .

So it was just about a week later that I bought my second one when they came back in stock.

All in all the Dorcy 1AAA was considered great value for money and had a performance in the ballpark of the highly regarded ArcAAA - the CPF favorite at the time.

In my review of my second Dorcy 1AAA I thought I had figured out a way to pick a light with a good beam while it was still in its blister pack. This turned out only to be partially true. Although it was true for the one I picked and others reported similar success - I have to admit that I have bought 4 more Dorcy 1AAA’s over time that I had to return for one issue or another.

The Dorcy 1AAA went through a new issue - which was more in a cosmetic change and a slight difference in circuit component going from a CX chip to one that’s marked AM...... But basically it remained unchanged materially.

Until recently when I heard about a change from reflector to focusing/collimating lens and a significant difference in its circuit and construction - enough that many people were saying they had better stock up on the older versions.......

I got a newer version recently - one with a focusing lens - so what are the differences?

DorcyAAA3gens.jpg


Side-by-side one can see the difference between a generation 1 and the two later generations - cosmetically the Dorcy printing on the barrel has been removed and the rubber inserts have gone from a parallel; ribbing to a diamond shaped pattern - with Dorcy embossed.

It’s not until one examines the front of the light that it is clear gen3 has the focusing lens

DorcyAAA3gensHds.jpg


There wasn’t much difference between the gen1 and gen2 - other than the obvious lottery in beam quality for a cheap flashlight. Often there were also tint variations - I’ve seen very blue beams and the more recent ones seem to tend to a warm brown. But basically a Dorcy 1AAA was not going to surprise too much.

But the gen3 lens version performs quite differently

gen3 vs. gen1 Dorcy 1AAA
beamDorcygen31.jpg
beamDorcygen31U2.jpg

As expected the new gen 3 Dorcy 1AAA with lens - gives a spot beam with very little side-spill. Compared to the older versions the spot beam is like a cartoon spot light circle - pretty well delimited - whereas the older versions using a reflector give a much wider and usable side-spill which helps light up a room.

I initially was negative about spot beams - until I tried the River Rock 1.5w 2AA (focusing lens) - I was impressed enough with its spot beam - that I went and got the similar performing River Rock 1.5w 2C as well.

In my course of using/playing with these spot beams I thought that sometimes I saw more clearly using the spot - like it was a “higher-definition” light - I thought it might have to do with the spot beam being pretty even in level, whereas we’re used to lights that are very bright in the center with fade outwards.

I’m still thinking of ways to show this phenomena - but since I have two versions of basically the same flashlight one with lens spot beam and the other with regular reflector - I attempted to show it......

First was to put two optical test targets side by side and more or less point the lights at the center. Expose for the spot and take the side-by-side comparison.

Dorcy1AAAgen31_TestChart.jpg


The reflector beam of the gen1 shows a lot more than the spot beam as expected - and I could not say with any certainty whether one was better defined than the other......

However illuminating a printed page with the two lights and exposing for the spot -

Dorcy1AAAgen31_Text.jpg


Even though the gen1 again shows more - I think the gen3’s beam may actually show a bit better definition - I think it simply comes down to the evenness of the spot beams - whereas the reflector gen1 beam is more patchy - so the results are variable within the beam - some parts may look better, others less so.......

Here are the circuits from the 3 generations -

Circuit3gens.jpg
Circuit3gens2.jpg
 

WildRice

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 30, 2003
Messages
1,135
Location
SW Michigan
Cool, I did not know about the gen3. 2 main things I can see (aside from the lens), 1, the board is shorter, and 2. if the 1 chip is still a voltage multiplier (like the ones in the earlier versions), what is the second SMD (transistor). Is there some kind of current regulation added????

HMMMMM

Jeff
 

adirondackdestroyer

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 31, 2005
Messages
2,018
Unknownvt,

Even though I already own a couple Dorcy's and have modded all of them with Nichia CS, I would like to thank you for all of your write up's and especially the pics you include with them! I think that your pics are some of (if not the) most effective when it comes to actually showing what a light can do. It really gives a good idea as to how the light is going to look in person, unlike a really bright dot on a white wall.
I purchased a Q3 tonight based on the pics you included in one of your other posts.
I just thought I would let you know that your hard work isn't going unappreciated.
A+:rock:
 

Solstice

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,019
Location
Portland Oregon
Hmmm- the Gen 3 seems far less useful to me than the floody ones. I figure they did it to make the light SEEM brighter and warrant a purchase.
 

RebelXTNC

Enlightened
Joined
Feb 8, 2006
Messages
433
Location
North Carolina
I can't comment on the Dorcy itself, but after having purchased the River Rock 2xC light the other day I can say that I had exactly the same perception as UnknownVT. The focused spot does seem to give more definition. I think it's even more noticeable when the light is handheld. The focused spot is evenly illuminated enough and large enough that the object of interest is covered in a very uniform light. With a reflector beam the change from the hotspot to the corona, along with any artifacts, is constantly moving across your subject when the light is handheld. I can certainly see why some people would not be comfortable with such a defined spot, but I have found it beneficial and not a negative thing at all. If you want a light specifically for closer, floody uses it could be more of an issue, so with a keychain light I'm not sure how people will react. But I can say that you can't automatically dismiss a light with an optic without trying it yourself.
 

BlackDecker

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 11, 2005
Messages
844
Location
Okla, USA
The Wal-Mart near my office still has the Gen2 Dorcy 1aaa on the shelf, as it doesn't have the focusing lens on the front. I thought my light was more floody than the Gen 3 mentioned before.

I may have to go back there and get a few more before they run out.
 

attowatt

Enlightened
Joined
Apr 13, 2005
Messages
500
Location
New Mexico
UnknownVT,

Thanks for posting this thread,:thumbsup: it brings new light to me wanting to purchase a Gen 3. My only question, is there a chance you can do a side by side at a further distance maybe 15, 20, or 25 feet to show if there is any advantage of the Gen 3 over the other 2 at that distance? Considering that it(Gen3) is a spotlight. My hopes are that with a different LED installed in the Gen 3, it will give some throw.

Thanks
Jim
 

UnknownVT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
3,672
attowatt wrote: "is there a chance you can do a side by side at a further distance maybe 15, 20, or 25 feet to show if there is any advantage of the Gen 3 over the other 2 at that distance? Considering that it(Gen3) is a spotlight. My hopes are that with a different LED installed in the Gen 3, it will give some throw."

The Dorcy 1AAA for $5.94 at WalMart - it's cheaper for you to buy one and try it - if you don't like it WalMart has a no fuss return policy.....

But - I'm a sucker for requests - reasonable or not....:p

Using my standardized settings for my stairs "Practical" Beamshots -

ISO100 0.6sec f/2.8 daylight white balance - lens set at 28mm (equiv)
StairDorcyAAAgen3.jpg
StairDorcyAAAgen1.jpg


Not happy huh?

I optimized the exposure just to show the difference -
this is giving something like 5x the exposure
at +2 1/3 Stops more exposure than my standardized settings -

ISO100, 3.2sec, f/2.8, daylight, 28mm
StairDorcyAAAgen3opt.jpg
StairDorcyAAAgen1optX.jpg


The gen3 Dorcy 1AAA does NOT throw any better - unless you consider its spot is larger and a lot more even........

For typical indoors usage the older style reflector based ones - ie: gen1 and gen2 would give more and more useful light - as the reflector directs more light forward especially light that's emitted in directions other than forward. Whereas a lens focusses the already forward light into a spot and basically loses the any light not already going forward.

However the spot is pretty even and light is limited to more or less the spot - which can be a good thing for certain applications - like not disturbing others or not attracting attention.....

The optimized stairs shot kind of shows what it is like using the light in a darkened room - the gen1 (and gen2) Dorcy 1AAA gives quite a lot of usable light - that's the reason I've EDC the Dorcy 1AAA (gen1) more or less as soon as I tried them - I can't think of a much higher compliment.

I'm now waiting for someone to ask for the pampas grass "Practical" Beamshots? pt.2 (outdoors) ........:ohgeez: :huh:
 

Brighteyez

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
3,963
Location
San Jose, CA
Thanks for posting those shots Vincent. You just saved me a trip to Wal*Mart :). Then I realized that I had replaced the 1AAA with the 1AA, which in turn was replaced by a 2AAA River Rock. ... probably best not to look back :).

But thanks again!

 

UnknownVT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
3,672
Brighteyez wrote: "You just saved me a trip to Wal*Mart :). Then I realized that I had replaced the 1AAA with the 1AA, which in turn was replaced by a 2AAA River Rock. ... probably best not to look back :)."

heh-heh - soemtimes it's well worth looking back - I do realize everyone has a different take - and that's what makes the world go round - YMMV as they always say....

But human physiology is not that different - unless one has very different or defective eyes.

It is amazing how much one can see with how LITTLE light.

I've re-confirmed this for myself recently playing around with the Rigel SkyLite Mini Red/White - continuously variable brightness - I can easily navigate round a cluttered room with the Rigel SkyLite Mini on its dimmest white setting - and that is lower than the eternaLight 3 ergo on its dimmest white - and even lower than my deliberately dim 20 for $20 white LED (salvaged) on a single 2016 (ie: only 3 volts) - so the Dorcy 1AAA is like Daylight compared to that.

I mostly use the Dorcy 1AAA EDC for helping others see or find things (acting like a human lamp stand :huh: ) -
I find it too bright for my own personal handheld reading - when I'm in a dark environment -
I prefer to use my other EDC - the Photon 2 Yellow to less disturb my semi-dark conditioned eyes.

The gen1 Dorcy 1AAA EDC is what I used for my Dorcy 1AAA Outdoors experience - and this was out in the countryside with no street or other lighting.......
I really don't think I have any special eyesight - as others in that thread show......

I have lots of other lights that I could easily EDC if I really wanted to - including the real pocket rockets of the Nuwai Q3 on 3.6V RCR123 or the even brighter LightHound V3 3watt on 3.6V RCR123 -
but I don't....
as brighter is NOT always better.

Like I said the Dorcy 1AAA is a classic giving the right amount of useful light for most of my EDC tasks - I will stay with it until I find something better - but it probably will not just be brighter.......
 

NeonLights

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 18, 2003
Messages
1,493
Location
Ohio
I happened by a local WalMart tonight and looked at some of the Dorcy 1AAA LED lights they had hanging up. From what I could tell, about 2/3 of them were the gen2 style and the rest were gen3. I may have to pick up a couple of the gen2's before they disappear.

-Keith
 

Brighteyez

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
3,963
Location
San Jose, CA
Oh yeah ... LED_Experimenter sold me the light and put the bug in my ear about the 3.6V RCR123, but it was your pictures that cinched it. Now if that charger and batteries will just get here ... :)

UnknownVT said:
Nuwai Q3 on 3.6V RCR123
 

geepondy

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 15, 2001
Messages
4,893
Location
Massachusetts
Thanks for the heads up. Glad I have my Dorcy 1 AAA "classic". Although I found it a bit bulky to carry on the keychain, I used it a lot at work for close up inspection. Now I tend to use the River Rock 1AAA as it's brighter although bluer.
 

Krit

Enlightened
Joined
Dec 4, 2003
Messages
751
Location
Thailand
I make some mod to my EDC dorcy 1AAA by change LED to Nichia U bin. It's very bright for my EDC use.
I just know that my dorcy is 2 nd generation.
SANY2713.jpg

SANY2714.jpg
 

UnknownVT

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Dec 27, 2002
Messages
3,672
Over a week ago when I bought my gen3 Dorcy 1AAA (lensed version) there were "plenty" - gen2 & 3 (prob about 6-8) at my local WalMart.

On Tuesday (Feb/21) I was in the same WalMart and they were all gone.

This particular WalMart doesn't keep that many Dorcy 1AAA in stock and they seem to move slowly but steadily - I said "plenty" because 6-8 of them was fairly unusual - BUT to see them all gone in about a week is very unusual (at least since the early days)

Is this just a local run on them -
or have others noticed this?
 
Top