ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)

gunga

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>> Photos Posted << ArmyTek Detailed Review

ArmyTek Predator review

The Predator is the first light from Armytek Optoelectronics, Canada, an intriguing new company based in Richmond Hill, Ontario. It uses a combination of quality components sourced from USA, and Japan, but is assembled in China.

This is a remarkable and amazingly customizable light that couples solid build quality with a very versatile circuit.

The light itself is a dedicated throw light, optimized for long distance projection, but its many available levels and options provide added flexibility in use. It is, by far, the most versatile throw light I have ever tried.

The light also allows for multiple power sources, running well on rechargeable Lithium ion (hereafter referred to as Li-on) cells (both RCR123 and 18650) as well as primary lithium (CR123) cells, so there is great flexibility in power sources. The advanced circuitry is also able to provide full regulation with any of these power sources.

ArmyTek sent me a review sample of this first release. I'll do a thorough examination and see how it performs.


Specs and Information

The Predator is a multi-mode CR123/18650 cell light that can be set from 2 up to 15 modes. These modes can range from 0.1 lumens to 500 lumens. Note: all lumen numbers are based on calculation. Actual OTF (out the front) numbers should be approximately 70 – 75% of calculated numbers based on reflector and optical losses etc.

Also, 5 of the modes may be programmed to SOS, beacon, or strobe (with varying frequency). ArmyTek's user interface will be described below.


The specifications are as follows:

LED: Cree XP-G, R5 flux, Cool white tint (1C)

Runtime (provided by ArmyTek):
On Max: 1.25 hours, with full regulation, to 2 hours with stepped regulation (18650)
On Min: approx 100 days on firefly (0.1 lumen) mode.

- Max 1.5A LED drive current
- 3 types of user selectable regulation (full, semi, or stepped regulation)
- Built in battery over discharge protection (selectable) as well as thermal overheat warning using built in temperature sensor
- Up to 15 possible mode settings
- user selectable mode memory lock (can be set for either bezel position)
- Constant current design (no PWM flicker)
- Anti-roll features built into the head of the light
- Forward clicky. Tailcap lockout available.
- Double sided AR-coated lens (hardened glass
- Smooth reflector (5 degree beam)
- 6061-T6 aluminum, with 400HV hardness matte coating (similar to hard anodizing)
- Efficient thermal design allows full runtime on max output
- stainless steel head and tail bezels and removable 2-way clip (available in gold coloured titanium coating or brushed steel)
- All threads greased with Nyogel 760G (5 ml tube included).


Standard Dimensions:

Overall length: 155 mm
Body Diameter: 25.4 mm
Head Diameter: 36.5 mm
Weight: 120 gm

The included accessory kit is generous and consists of a couple extra o-rings, a very nice holster, rugged lanyard, a small tube of Nyogel 760G lubricant, and a spare tailcap boot.

The included holster is quite compact and has elastic sides coupled with a Velcro top flap. The attachment system on the back allows one to attach it to a belt, or any number of strap combinations. I'm very pleased to see such a nice holster included.

Retail price for the Predator is about $149



First Impression: Very Powerful and well made

The Predator is nicely constructed with an attractive matte black finish. The finish is advertised as having a hardness of 400 HV, similar to hard-anodizing. While the finish does have some grip to it, the light could use some knurling or detailing to aid in handling. I found the body to be a tad slippery at times. Perhaps an optional grip ring could be added to tactical operation or just to produce a more secure grip.

On my sample, the head and tailcap are protected by very distinctive looking, gold coloured stainless steel bezels (both crenulated). The gold colour is created by a durable titanium coating, though brushed steel is available for those looking for a more subdued appearance. While I am not typically a fan of gold metal accents, the colour scheme did grow on me over time. The tailcap button extends past the rear bezel, allowing for easy operation, but preventing tailstanding.

What did disappoint, however, was the matching clip. It was garish (in gold) and seemed like a very poorly designed afterthought. It was too flimsy and short to provide a secure grip on anything, and generally detracted from the nice design of the light. I removed it immediately and replaced it with a thin black o-ring to fill the gap left in the body. I am hoping ArmyTek will remedy this with a better-designed clip in the future.

The parts are well matched and the finish is very well done with no noticeable flaws. All lettering is clear and crisp, as well as being suitably subdued (no garish advertising). The threads are not square cut, but overall they were well machined and rugged. Both ends of the battery tube are sealed with double silicon o-rings, but I removed one at the head to ease in mode selection (using bezel twists).

The head of the light has minor detailing to provide anti-roll characteristics and some ridging for cosmetics and to aid in grip. The stainless steel bezel can be removed, allowing access to the reflector, lense and LED.

The tailcap has some detailing for cosmetics and to somewhat improve grip, but it too could use some knurling. The crenulated rear bezel has a small lanyard hole. Perhaps are larger hole would allow the use of more rugged lanyards. Removing this bezel allows access to the switch for cleaning and replacement. The clicky responds firmly with a loud click.



Battery availability and compatibility

The Predator is compatible with standard CR123 cells, as well as 18650 cells of all types (the lower voltage liFePO4 chemistry or standard Lithium Ion) as well as rechargeable RCR123 cells (sometimes called 16340s).

The battery compartment has ample room so even 2900 mAh 18650 cells can be used. I was able to use flat top cells as well. I did not notice any battery rattle when using standard CR123 cells.



User interface: extreme flexibility, ease of use

The Predator uses a UI that utilizes bezel position to choose between two sets of modes and bezel twists to cycle through the modes within each set. The number, intensity, and type of mode can all be programmed, and the light uses a forward clicky, allowing for tactical operation.

Out of the box, this light is set for the default military mode.

Military mode has the following levels set for bezel tightened position: 500 lumens, 7 lumens, 100 lumens.
The following levels are available on bezel loosened position: strobe, and firefly (0.1 lumens).

Mode switching is via bezel twists. When in bezel tightened position, loosen the bezel and tighten again (within 1 second) to change levels within this set.

If you leave the bezel loosened for more than 1 second, you will go into bezel loosened mode. If the bezel is then tightened and loosened again (within 1 second) this changes levels within this set. It is all very intuitive and easy to figure out.

Memory mode is on by default, as is battery type CR123 x2 (i.e. no low voltage protection), and full, flat regulation. This provides max, steady output, but sacrifices overall runtime somewhat.

Out of the box, this light is already quite functional, and one can easily just use as-is, but there are many other features available since the light is fully programmable. Programming is somewhat fiddly, and you will need to consult the instructions to find all the features, but it is well worth the effort.

The bezel tightened position can be set from 1 level up to 10 levels of light. The levels can each be programmed from 7 to 500 lumens (sadly no firefly mode). Note, these are calculated LED lumens; out the front lumens should be around 5 to 350 lumens (based on around 70% efficiency, this number is approximate).

The bezel loosened position can be set from 1 level up to 5 levels. Each level can be set to one of the following options:


- firefly (0.1 lumens)
- standard levels (7 - 500 LED lumens)
- strobe, with adjustable frequency of 1 to 50Hz
- SOS
- Beacon (1 flash every 7 seconds)


So as you can see, you can set up the flashlight to be a simple 1 to 2 mode light, or a rather busy 15 level light. It is very flexible.



Other options: Battery protection, regulation, memory, factory resets


In addition to a programmable interface, the Predator offers many other functions and features.
One can set the voltage supply to turn on over-discharge protection. The options are:


- 2x CR123, no protection
- 18650, protection at 2.8V
- 2x RCR123, protection at 5.6V
- 18650 LiFePO4, protection at 2.5V

When over-discharge protection is activated, the light begins to blink rapidly to indicate a low battery. Note that the same warning signal is used to indicate a high temperature warning for the LED. Hopefully this will be changed in the future to prevent confusion.


Next, you can set the regulation style. The options are:

- Full, flat regulation, for max, steady output.
- Semi-regulation, for long life, with a steadily diminishing output.
- Step regulation, similar to semi-regulation, with more consistent levels and even longer runtime.

And finally one can even set mode memory on and off for both bezel tightened or bezel loosened states. This can be useful if you prefer the light to start at a specific level at all times (i.e. start on low first for night vision preservation, or high first for tactical operation) or if you prefer to retain last mode used.

If the programming goes awry, or one just wants to simply use the light without any customization, there are two available factory default positions.


Military default (as mentioned above)
Bezel tightened: 500, 7, 100 lumens
Bezel loosened: strobe, firefly (0.1 lumens)
with flat regulation (for max output)

or

Outdoor default
Bezel tightened: 350, 65 lumens
Bezel loosened: strobe, 7 lumens, firefly (0.1 lumens)
with stepped regulation (for long runtimes)

As you can see his light is very versatile. I think it would be useful to add a voltage measuring circuit so one can check battery condition, perhaps this can be added on the next revision?



Level Selection: Many available, but could use more low modes

The Predator seems ideal, offering a range of output levels from 0.1 to 500 lumens. Unfortunately, there is a gap where no levels are available between firefly (0.1 lumens) and 7 lumens. Hopefully future models will provide access to these levels as they can be useful in providing night-vision preservation and long battery life. Sometimes, 0.1 lumens is just too dim, while 7 lumens will be blinding.

Nonetheless, the level selection is quite practical for the intended application, and is user selectable. As is, it is already more flexible than the majority of existing throw lights.

The maximum level (500 lumens, based on 1.5A LED current) is very impressive, providing massive throw, with a very bright and useful spill beam.
Current regulation is used for dimming the light, so naturally there is no PWM flickering in any mode. This is impressive for such a wide range of output.



Size, ergonomics

The Predator is a medium sized 18650 light that fits well in the hand, and is reasonably balanced.

The ergonomics are quite good, but not ideal. The body is coated in a thick, matte coating (believed to be hard anodizing). The coating does provide some friction, but I would prefer some degree of knurling and/or an optional tactical/grip ring to enhance the feel of this light. As it is, I find the light a tad slippery at times.

The head of the light has some faceting and ridged detailing that provides grip, aids in heat dissipation, and acts as a mild anti-roll feature. The light is stable on flat surfaces, but will still roll down a mild slope.

The tailcap switch is very firm, with a solid (and somewhat loud) clicky action. The clicky is easily accessible. Initially I found the switch overly firm, but is seems to have softened in use.



Beam, tint quality

The Predator uses the Cree XP-G LED (R5 flux, 1C tint) for max output and a smooth beam. My sample has a cool white emitter. The tint is a pure white with a mildly warm corona. While the output is stark and impressive, it is too cold for my tastes (of course my tastes are for warmer/neutral tints and are purely subjective).

Note that the tint becomes progressively warmer on lower levels, due to the expected tint shift when under-driving LEDs. The tint remained acceptable throughout the range, never becoming green etc.

The Predator uses a smooth, deep reflector that provides an intense, tight spot, with a fairly narrow, bright spill. This is a very useful outdoor beam pattern, providing extended reach, along with a useful spill for navigating the woods. The light far out throws my other thrower lights (Lumapower D-mini Vx) and also provides a brighter, more useful spill.

The beam was smooth, with a very distinct corona, and no beam issues (rings, donuts) were found. This beam is ideal for medium to long range use but, as expected, is not well suited for any close range use.

The emitter was fairly well centered.



Upgradability, other Notes

For those who like to tinker, the Predator lens retaining ring is not glued, so there is access to the LED, though I have not tried to access the driver. There is a plastic centering device that has to be removed to access the LED itself. I will investigate this further at a later date. I am hoping that ArmyTek plans a neutral tint run at some point as I find that tint much more pleasant and easy on the eyes.

They are also promising a modding manual for those so inclined.

The tailcap switch module is held in place by the rear crenulated bezel. The body threads are anodized allowing for tailcap lockout when slightly unscrewed. This will prevent accidental activation.



Summary

ArmyTek has made an excellent entry into the mid-sized thrower market with the Predator light. One can achieve a blinding 500 lumens (calculated LED lumens, expected over 350 lumens OTF) while still retaining an amazing longer-running "firefly" mode (0.1 lumens).

The Predator distinguishes itself by its amazing flexibility in many facets of the circuit design.

It can be set up as a simple 2 mode light, or programmed up to a maximum 15 modes. It can provide full regulation for max steady output, alternatively stepped or semi-regulation can be used for longer and more predictable runtimes. One can turn the memory mode on and off, or choose the sequence of the modes (starting on high, starting on low etc).

The light also provides flexibility in power sources; allowing one to use rechargeable cells (RCR123, 18650) or primary CR132s, while still offering battery over-discharge protection if needed.

Overall construction is very good, with well-machined parts that are nicely finished in a durable, and grippy, matte black anodizing. The light is protected by distinctive crenulated stainless steel bezels (front and rear) that are available in a nice, subtle brushed silver, or a striking gold coloured titanium coating. While the light is well made, it would be greatly improved by some knurling or other features to improve handling, as well as, a properly designed clip. The current clip is rather impractical.

Based on all the qualities of the Predator, I look forward to what ArmyTek has in store for future models. They seem responsive to reviewer comments so refinements may be seen on later models. I've never seen this level of flexibility in a throw light and I am hoping they extend their line to smaller, EDC (Every Day Carry) lights.
 
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gunga

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Here's the ample ArmyTek kit, consisting of a nice holster, lanyard, spare o-rings, switch boot, a small tube of Nyogel.

P1222033.jpg


The predator has a nice matte finish that provides some grip, but lacks knurling.

P1222039.jpg


The predator is a medium sized light that fits well in the hand.

P1222038.jpg



The overhand grip is best for this light.

P1222036.jpg


Lettering is clean and crisp, with striking gold coloured titanium coated stainless steel bezels.

P1222073.jpg


Not too much advertising, the logoing is quite appropriate.

P1222067.jpg


The clip, really needs a re-design. It's too short and flimsy to do much.

P1222048.jpg



The rear bezel provides protection and and a lanyard hole.

P1222040.jpg


The rear (forward) clicky is very firm and crisp.

P1222041.jpg


One unexpected surprise: The light can tailstand when on! I had disassembled the light first, so perhaps tightening up switch a bit provides this benefit.




There is a bit of wobble but it is fairly stable.

P1222056.jpg


I was able to remove the bezel and o-ring, but the lense is surrounded by a rubber gasket. I was unable to remove it (so far).

P1222061.jpg


Here is the gasket. It provides additional waterproofness and shock protection.

P1222060.jpg


The positive contact is raised, allowing the use of flat top batteries (I am using AW 2600s). A spring for shock protection would be a nice touch for later

models.
P1222059.jpg



Here is the circuit board in the head. It was well potted, I have not tried to disassemble it.

P1222058.jpg


I removed one of the head o-rings to allow easier mode activation and programming.

P1222057.jpg


The body is roomy, allowing one to use large protected batteries (this is an AW 2600, but 2900s should fit)

.
P1222054.jpg


The body has solid threading (but not square threading) and double o-rings.

P1222049.jpg



The negative contact is covered to prevent battery damage

.
P1222051.jpg





Removing the rear bezel exposes the retaining ring.

P1222053.jpg


Disassembling the switch reveals that an aluminum spacer is used to add length to the tailcap switch. Removing the spacer and using a shorter boot (to be provided with production versions) allows very solid tailstanding

.
P1222052.jpg



Here's a headshot. The red reflection is from the centreing device around the LED
.
P1222042.jpg



The LED is well centred
.
P1222043.jpg



The beamshot reveals a smooth beam but does not show the intense hotspot

.
P1222046.jpg


-1EV to better show the hotspot detail.

\
P1222045.jpg


-2EV for more hotspot detail

P1222047.jpg


In comparison with a couple throwers (Lumapower D-mini VX, Incendio V3+ with GT upgrade Kit) and the common Minimag and AA battery

P1222062.jpg


A closer comparison with a couple throwers (D-mini VX, Incendio V3+ with GT upgrade Kit)

P1222072.jpg


Here's the business end showing the deep ArmyTek reflector.

P1222063.jpg


The holster is a nice piece with a velcro flap and elastic sides.

P1222034.jpg


It also has a variety of methods to secure it to a belt, straps, etc.

P1222035.jpg
 
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gunga

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Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by gunga on 01-17-2011 04:31 PM GMTReserved

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by sl33pyriceboi on 01-18-2011 02:23 PM GMTno picture??!?!? hehe

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by jasonck08 on 01-18-2011 03:05 PM GMTSorry, but I can't read areview this long without pictures. Will check back later. :)

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by sl33pyriceboi on 01-18-2011 04:05 PM GMThahaha i think a lot of us have a short attention span w.o pictures.

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by NightCacher on 01-18-2011 04:09 PM GMTSounds nice, but not sure and have a few concerns, grip, clip could be better. Waiting for a few pictures.

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by gunga on 01-23-2011 10:20 PM GMTOkay! The Photos are posted!And, the light tailstands!

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Machete God on 01-25-2011 09:13 AM GMTThanks for the in-depthreview and picture, gunga! Much appreciated!Suggestion: maybe break up the review itself with some pictures, some of us have short attention spans and expect pictures when reading through a review :whistle:

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by gunga on 01-25-2011 10:16 AM GMTHe he he... Okay, good suggestion. I'll do that for future reviews. Thanks for the input!

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Monocrom on 01-29-2011 03:00 AM GMTThe gold accents aren't really my thing. But that's a good-looking light.

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by HKJ on 01-29-2011 03:03 AM GMT
Monocrom said:
The gold accents aren't really my thing. But that's a good-looking light.
You can also get it without gold:https://www.candlepowerforums.com/t...fo.dk/pic/ArmyTek/Predator/DSC_6243.jpg[/img]

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Monocrom on 01-29-2011 03:04 AM GMTNice!Thanks for the pic. :)

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Machete God on 01-29-2011 06:37 AM GMTThanks for side-by-side picture, HKJ.I thought the gold accents were gaudy at first glance, but after a while I grew to like it. The black sets off the gold nicely, and it's different from all the other black and silver lights out there :thumbsup:

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Burgess on 02-07-2011 08:13 PM GMTGood Job, Gunga ! :thumbsup:_

Re: ArmyTek Detailed Review (Photos to follow)Written by Ymerej on 02-18-2011 03:37 AM GMTNicereview Gunga!..Contributed to my purchase a lot :)
 

gunga

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Okay, after a long absence, the review has been fixed after the great crash!

Also,I will try to post some details on modding this to neutral tint. A modders manual was never provided, so I will provide details of the mod. It was a bit messy, but ultimately successful.
 
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skyfire

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great pics!
well worth the wait heheh
great review too, extremely detailed. and great insight on alot of the little things, with pics!
did i mention thanks for the great pics?!

im still waiting for the high CRI version. im really liking the attention to detail that went into the design.
and the gold accents are a really nice touch!
 

gunga

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Glad you like it. I was taking some minor down time but wanted to bring my reviews back. Now need to post on the predator neutral mod!
 

MunkyNutz

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Wow... thanks for the detailed review. Looks like I know what I need to save up for...:grin2:
 

CheepSteal

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Hey, dude, just wondering how you took off that crenulated bezel? Armytek is very kindly providing me with the new black bezels but I need to remove the silver stock ones I have. I cannot seem to get a good grip on the bezel to remove it.
Great review by the way, helped me make the decision to buy the Predator.
Cheers, mate!
 

gunga

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Glad you like the review! I used a nice, sticky mousepad! The firm rubbery foam ones. Some people also use the bottom of a tennis shoe etc. Basically a firm piece of sticky rubber to grip the teeth of the bezel.

Cool, black bezels? Are they coated steel? I got my bead blasted steel ones. Love em, though the gold was quite interesting too. Striking and different.
 

CheepSteal

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Thanks for the info, will try that!
I believe Armytek is offering titanium coated black bezels similar to the finish on the gold ones. It is an option for the new generation of Predators. I asked if Armytek would be supplying the bezels separately as spare parts and he very generously sent me the black bezels and clip. Just waiting for the mail now!
 

CheepSteal

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gunga, here is a picture of the black bezels in case you were wondering how they looked. Thanks for the tip on the bezel, I would never have been able to change that front end. I also ended up sanding my bead blasted bezels to make it a shiny stainless finish; quite a handsome look for the Predator.
Photo15-06-1151251PM.jpg
 

dudu84

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Hi Gunga,
Does the retaining ring at the switch have normal threads? I tried to unscrew it but it didn't budge :/, perhaps I need better tool. IIRC, PD31's retaining ring has reverse threads
 

trialt

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any idea how their high cri version compares to the high cri light from HDS ? does anyone own both ?
 
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