Cr123 vs AA flashlights

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I think you would be correct in suggesting CR123 batteries dominate the Serious Tactical use market at this time.

Im enjoying considering flashlight applications from your perspective. None of my lights are single mode, and none are CR123 :)
You have vastly more practical use for lights as tools, my application is definitely more like a toy.

I think most people that are hard users of lights gravitate towards those kinds of lights but there are some surprising exceptions. Earlier this week I was at a handgun class and during a break the instructor was showing off his EDC/carry light. Bear in mind he's a retired cop and carried it in a form fitted plastic belt scabbard. He was telling me his light had a strobe and proceeded to demonstrate it...well, he tried to. He couldn't get the intricate time of button pushes down! It wound up taking him a number of tries over a ten or fifteen second period to get the strobe to work! Since he was the one scoring my exam and qualification I didn't press him on the issue but I certainly wonder what tactical use such a strobe serves! It the bad guy supposed to patiently lower his gun and wait for the guy to figure out how his light works? :devil:

You make some great points, though. I hadn't realized that AA's had closed the gap so much with regards to power output. Maybe the future is moving towards lights that can operate on a wider range of cells and batteries. I for one am intrigued by rechargeable batteries but have been put off by the risk of the PCB cutting out just when I need my light to work. So far I've dabbled in Eneloops but that's it. I will probably have to play around with some of the high cap batteries like the 18650's. There really is no comparison power-wise! I recall seeing an Elzetta Bravo bored out to use an 18650 (or something close in size) and the performance was remarkable!
 

bykfixer

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If he was scoring your exam Rob.... why didn't you do the brown nose and show him how? lol.

I like Streamlights idea in some lights where 1 click with a hold to change settings, or 2 quickies (and I do mean quick) to get strobe.

I also like that there are some lights that can use aa or 123's.
 

roger-roger

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Been using an Insight Tech ST1 Procyon on my G19 for quite a while now, although there are still my Streamlight and Surefire on the back burners. In this application I'd be quite pissed to put up with a length increase from CR123 to AA.


 
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bykfixer

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Been using an Insight Tech ST1 Procyon on my G19 for quite a while now, although there are still my Streamlight and Surefire on the back burners. In this application I'd be quite pissed to put up with a length increase from CR123 to AA.



Roger that...

But my gosh how things have changed.
 

stateoftheart

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Originally Posted by jon_slider
There are some very expensive CR123 lights available, that are very durable, such as HDS and Malkoff, but, they use PWM. I wont buy lights with PWM any more.
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Didn't realize HDS lights used PWM?

I'm a fan of 3.0-3.7V batteries because of their high output abilities.
 

Imon

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Originally Posted by jon_slider
There are some very expensive CR123 lights available, that are very durable, such as HDS and Malkoff, but, they use PWM. I wont buy lights with PWM any more.
-------------------------------------

Didn't realize HDS lights used PWM?

I'm a fan of 3.0-3.7V batteries because of their high output abilities.

HDS lights don't use PWM - they're current controlled.
Also, I think hysteria over PWM has become a bit overblown on CPF. It may just be me but I don't remember it being this bad when I first joined.

It really depends on the light for me. Zebralight uses PWM on their lights but it's at a frequency much higher than can be detected by the human eye. Unless I'm staring intensely at most lights now that use PWM I can't tell.
I get the feeling that a lot of people if they know a light has a PWM controller they prime themselves to be disappointed by it. It's like when you tell someone a cheap wine is really an expensive one they think it tastes better than if they knew it was a cheap wine. It's largely about expectations.
 

FNG

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Like Rob and others have said, I like CR123 lights for their output/size ratio. The lights that I like have 1 or two settings (see sig) and are used in short bursts so runtime isn't that important since I usually have spares kept close by. A CR123 in something like the Quark QTL will give me months of usable light before needing to be replaced. And much much longer for non primary lights. I also keep spare lithium AAs around too (everyone should, especially members on this site) so I really don't understand the availability argument.

But my gosh how things have changed.
zpsavdj60qw.jpg

On a serious note, things have changed quite a bit from the 80s when British SAS were sticking/taping huge Maglites to their MP5s during Operation Nimrod.

http://www.specialforcesnews.com/2015/08/british-sas-1980-embassy-siege/

tumblr_n04e02faid1skaxu8o1_1280.jpg
 

reppans

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HDS does not use PWM, nor do modern Zebralights AFAIK (my SC52 does not) - although an early H51w taught me all about slloowww PWM, and that was like dropping a tab of acid ;).

My issue with PWM is that, after that ZL, I learned how to easily see it with the naked eye, and now can't stop seeing it. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. Still, one of my favorite lights uses it, but is of a high enough frequency that I can't see it. I find the MDC rather slow. PWM doesn't give me epileptic fits or anything, it's just an unnatural visual effect that makes me do double-takes... annoying when you can't avoid seeing it.

... so I really don't understand the availability argument.

As far as battery versatility and availability is concerned, I could care less around home. We've had a number of week-long power outages and My home is well stocked with primaries, rechargeables, solar panels (as most CPF members are), and an RV generator. But I'm an ultra-light commuter/traveler type (air travel, backpacking, train commuting, EDC, etc) and prefer not lugging around many spare batts. The few times I was worried about lighting (eg, backpacking partner's light failure, and trapped in NYC during 2003 Northeast Blackout, both away from home) we had enough flashlights, and enough batteries, just not the right type of batteries for the remaining flashlights (or perhaps just lacking good battery-MacGyver skills). So now my EDC/travel lights (the only important ones) run many/any batteries, and in a real pinch, I like the option to cannibalize the powerful cell from my flashlight to recharge my smartphone, and then run the light from any lesser scavenged or bought cell.
 
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eraursls1984

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HDS does not use PWM, nor do modern Zebralights AFAIK (my SC52 does not) - although an early H51w taught me all about slloowww PWM, and that was like dropping a tab of acid ;).
Im pretty sure current Zebralights do use a form of PWM, they just don't go from max to zero. I also think PWM has been blown out of proportion. Sure, some lights have a bad case, but most lights with PWM now have such a high frequency and/or some other trick to mitigate the effects of noticeable PWM.
 

KeepingItLight

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When I asked selfbuilt about the ripple that maukka measured in the output of his ZebraLight SC5Fc, selfbuilt indicated that he did not think it was due to PWM. Note at the bottom of the following oscilloscope shot that the signal varies between a max of 5.28V and a min of 4.88V.

TSHoFqZ.png

Oscilloscope screenshot at H2 ("81 lm").

That pattern is definitely not consistent with PWM. I have seen many oscillating signals like that over the years (on current-controlled lights). They are rarely intense enough to be detectable visually (except perhaps when shining on a fan or running water). Sometimes they are, which people mistakenly put down to PWM. I am unclear as to source of them, but it does seem to be intrinsic to many circuit designs.

In the case of my SC5, I didn't detect any on my oscilloscope with my sample. The above may simply be variability between lights, or differing sensitivity thresholds among oscilloscopes. As always though, it comes down to whether or not it is visually detectable. These sorts of signals do not appear to affect efficiency.

Even maukka asked whether this sort of modulation should be called PWM.

Because the output never drops to zero like in a traditional PWM, it is very difficult if not impossible to see with the naked eye. I cannot see it even if I wave the light itself or my hand in front of it like a madman.

Does someone know if this sort of low amplitude modulation is actually even called pulse width modulation or is it something else altogether?

Using the numbers above, the average signal = (5.28 – 4.88) / 2 = 5.08. The amplitude of the ripple is therefore only 0.2, or about 3.9%. If that is PWM, it is not very effective. I doubt it lowers the output very much from max.

That said, it is worth noting that the driver in the BLF A6 does have a PWM that appears like a ripple. The driver blends output from a FET and a single 7135 chip. The latter, I believe, uses PWM that ranges from 0% to 100%, but, at least in most modes, its amplitude is small compared to the larger FET output it is blended with.
 
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CuriousOne

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A lot of manufacturers recommend adding a capacitor parallel to led - this reduces voltage spikes and provides longer lifespan of the led. If we fed such led with PWM, output will look like the scheme shown above.
 

KeepingItLight

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A lot of manufacturers recommend adding a capacitor parallel to led - this reduces voltage spikes and provides longer lifespan of the led. If we fed such led with PWM, output will look like the scheme shown above.


Yeah, but wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the PWM? With a capacitor providing current when the driver stops, the LED won't have a chance to turn off, or at least will be off for a shorter period. And that, of course, is what we see above. The signal never cuts off.

Can you get a proper Low mode out of such a scheme?
 

reppans

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Since we are splitting hairs, I think this old photo (a time exposure sweep) is a pretty good visual representation of the progression from "oscillation noise" to true PWM. L to R: SC52, Quark AA, D25A and MDC AA. I swept them all together, and fast as I can possibly swing my arms. Focus on the very bottom of the beam swipes.

14308084037_135e533055_c.jpg


IMHO: the SC52 and Quark show oscillation noise, and are undetectable with the naked eye (which I consider myself pretty good at), and an HDS will look similar, but this is not PWM. By my definition, the D25A crosses the line of true PWM (on ~3 modes) but I really need to concentrate to see this one (and it's one of my favorite lights, own a half dozen).... it is the fastest PWM frequency I've seen/photographed. The MDC AA is kinda slow, and it see it annoyingly frequently.

But if you don't know how or what to look for, my advice is - do not learn!
 

jon_slider

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Since we are splitting hairs, I think this old photo (a time exposure sweep) is a pretty good visual representation of the progression from "oscillation noise" to true PWM. L to R: SC52, Quark AA, D25A and MDC AA. I swept them all together, and fast as I can possibly swing my arms. Focus on the very bottom of the beam swipes.

14308084037_135e533055_c.jpg


IMHO: the SC52 and Quark show oscillation noise, and are undetectable with the naked eye (which I consider myself pretty good at), and an HDS will look similar, but this is not PWM. By my definition, the D25A crosses the line of true PWM (on ~3 modes) but I really need to concentrate to see this one (and it's one of my favorite lights, own a half dozen).... it is the fastest PWM frequency I've seen/photographed. The MDC AA is kinda slow, and it see it annoyingly frequently.

But if you don't know how or what to look for, my advice is - do not learn!

Your photos of pulsed lighting are second to none! I really appreciate your posts.

I first became aware of PWM when seeing interference bands in some iPhone photos from a Prometheus Beta Copper. I then learned that my pre Oct 2015, Maratacs did the same thing, and that its PWM was at 200hz. (both were made by Lumintop, who now no longer uses a PWM driver in the Maratacs, Tools, and Worms. The Betas still have it because they are old stock)

As Ive begun to keep track of pulsed lights Ive started to wonder if we can catalog their speeds.

Malkoff told me the PWM he uses is 310hz, I would be curious to know the speeds of the others in the pictures.

Ive started to believe that pulses (aka oscillation, noise, circuit noise) is a more accurate term than PWM for lights like Zebra, Eagle, and HDS, since they dont drop to full zero power between pulses.

speaking of circuit noise, of the 4 lights shown above, none of which I own, do any of them make an audio noise. For example, I have seen reports of HDS lights making a whining noise on low. How about the zebras, eagles and 3 mode Malkoffs, do they whine?
 
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Lynx_Arc

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speaking of circuit noise, of the 4 lights shown above, none of which I own, do any of them make an audio noise. For example, I have seen reports of HDS lights making a whining noise on low. How about the zebras, eagles and 3 mode Malkoffs, do they whine?
Most likely they hum or whine for the same reason transformers make noise as boost or buck circuit lights have a transformer in them converting DC to AC then running it through a coil (transformer) to boost or buck the voltage then changing it back to DC.
 

reppans

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Your photos of pulsed lighting are second to none! I really appreciate your posts.

Malkoff told me the PWM he uses is 310hz, I would be curious to know the speeds of the others in the pictures.

speaking of circuit noise, of the 4 lights shown above, none of which I own, do any of them make an audio noise. For example, I have seen reports of HDS lights making a whining noise on low. How about the zebras, eagles and 3 mode Malkoffs, do they whine?

Thanks! Appreciate that.

I don't know my hz, can't help you there. In theory, you can count dots between the D25A and MDC in the pix for a given length and extrapolate.

As a general rule I previously noticed that 1xAA boost drivers tend to have inducer whine while buck drivers with Li-ions are silent, but also whine is quite sample specific - I have multiple copies of some lights. Just checking a few lights with the a batt inside: a D25A and MDC AA with Eneloop whined 1or2 modes, SC52 and V11R with Eneloop was quiet, and a Quark and HDS with Li-ions were quiet. It should be noted that this "whine" is like hearing test stuff... can only hear it when I stuff the light into my ear canal. Also, I think the 2 whiners matching my PWM lights is coincidental - I know some of my Quarks will whine on 1xEneloops, and I consider them current regulated.
 
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jon_slider

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… ZebraLight SC5Fc, … signal varies between a max of 5.28V and a min of 4.88V.
great info, thanks!
My guess is the blurriness of the the Zebra and Quark traces are because the LED is not cycling completely OFF. The voltage is cycling up and down in a range that never drops to zero

In theory, you can count dots… I think the 2 whiners matching my PWM lights is coincidental - I know some of my Quarks will whine on 1xEneloops, and I consider them current regulated.

thanks for the food for thought
my first impressions on your comments, and I did count dots, that was a good idea! :)

the whiners are 2 PWM lights on Eneloop(MDC and Eagle), and 1 pulsed light (quark) on Eneloop. All 3 whine through boost circuits
the non whiners are Pulsed lights using buck circuits with LiIon power
the quark will whine or not depending on what you feed it and whether it is bucking or boosting :)

dot count results
MDC 310hz, whiner on Eneloop, obvious PWM for someone skilled in detection
Quark 465hz, silent on LiIon, whiner on Eneloop. Pulses barely detectable, even for someone skilled in detection
HDS ?hz, silent on LiIon
D25a 930hz, whiner on Eneloop, PWM is detectable but not easily, for someone highly skilled in detection
Zebra 930hz or slightly more. Almost completely undetectable as PWM in actual use. Crossing the 1000+hz barrier seems to be mostly undetectable. Also Zebra uses relatively small voltage drops, far above Zero as in traditional PWM.


The distinct dots of the Eagle and MDC seem to demonstrate true PWM with an OFF cycle.
the trace of your quark looks pulsed, and the whine tends to support the possible interpretation that the voltage fluctuations are present, but I agree that the Quark is not true PWM, as the blurr between the dots suggests voltage is never dropping to Zero. Same case as the Zebra, though the Quark pulse rate is at least half as fast as the Zebra.

thank you for the in depth PWM tangent, to come around to the original topic
is there any advantage to CR123 having more non pulsed or NoPWM options in the marketplace, than AA lights? Im relatively new, and am just forming an impression that CR123 lights are more likely to use PWM than AA lights, but Im not sure that is true.
 
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