Dereelight C2H Review (Cree Q5, RU and RD versions): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, and more!

selfbuilt

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Reviewer's Note: The Ramp Up (RU) and Ramp Down (RD) samples of the C2H were provided by Dereelight review.

C2H-2.jpg


Manufacturer Specs:
  • Emitter: choice of Cree XR-E WC Q5, 5A Q3, or R2 emitter
  • Four-stage digital (4SD) driver, available in ramp down (RD) or ramp up (RU) sequences
  • Battery type: 1xCR123A or 1xRCR.
  • Lithium battery over-discharge protection (default). You can use unprotected RCR123; if you want to use CR123A, cut or un-solder a wire on the back of the driver, RE- solder again if you want the protection, details are in the users manual. Lock out function
  • Upgradeable components
  • Forward clicky
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Smooth and O.P. reflector (included)
  • HA III hard anodized finish, dark grey color
  • Dimensions: 82mm(Length)x 23mm(Head)
  • Bezel down clip
  • Can tail stand
  • Anti-roll design
  • Constructed of aircraft grade aluminum
  • Water resistant, splash proof or dunkable
  • Weight: 46-gram weight not include battery
  • Glass: Toughened ultra clear glass lens with double face AR coating
  • GITD switch cover, lens o-ring
  • Accessories: Gift box, Extra O-ring, Lanyard.
My C2H samples: Diameter 22mm (23mm at widest), Length 88mm, Weight 46.6g

C2H-3.jpg


The C2H is Dereelight's first attempt at a small EDC (everyday carry) light. Their approach has a number of unique aspects - e.g. keep it as small as possible, but still highly customizable and upgradeable, and maximally driven for a 1xRCR/CR123A light. :eek:oo:

You can purchase it in both ramp up (RU) and ramp down (RD) versions, with identical output levels (i.e. only the sequence is different). Both versions have a memory mode to retain the last setting used. My two samples were of the WC tint Q5 Cree emitter, but 5A Q3 and a limited number of R2 emitters are also available. Price varies depending on configuration, but is typically ~$65. Emitter pill upgrades are also available.

The lights were identical in build, so all the pics below are from the RD version.

C2H-1.jpg


The lights come in hard cardboard boxes with magnetic closing flaps. Inside, you'll find the light encased in cut-out foam with instruction manual, additional reflector (SMO and OP included, one installed in the light), extra o-rings, and wrist lanyard.

C2H-4.jpg


C2H-5.jpg


C2H-7.jpg


As you can see, the light includes a bezel-pointing clip and can tailstand. The forward clicky switch has a good feel and is easy to access (you can un-screw the retaining ring around the tailcap cover, just like the Nitecore Extreme).

User interface is press for momentary on, click for lock-on Advance modes by soft-pressing the clicky. Light uses PWM for low modes, but at such a high frequency that I can't detect it. :thumbsup:

The pill and reflectors are also easy to access and replace. :)

Note that on my RU sample, there was a small spring soldered onto the center of the contact disc in the head (not shown in the RD pics here). I don't know if this is now standard on C2H lights. Aside from this, there are no visible differences between my RU and RD samples.

Labels are quite clear and sharp, and I personally like dark grey natural HA colour. GITD rings and tailcap button are fairly bright by GITD standards.

C2H-6.jpg


Shown above is the textured (OP) reflector, but the SMO is exactly the same dimensions. Here is how their beam patterns differ (both WC Q5):

C2H-Beam4.jpg

C2H-Beam5.jpg

C2H-Beam6.jpg


As you can see, the SMO reflector throws further, but has a more traditionally ringy Cree beam. Note that the SMO produces a tightly defined hotspot, with relatively little corona (reminiscent of the Olight 2-stage reflector, IMO).

A key feature of the C2H is the low-voltage Li-ion shut-off circuit (on by default). This allows you to run non-protected RCRs in the light safely. But it prevents you from running primary CR123A (which are lower voltage to start with). If you want to run CR123A, you need to cut the circuit trace shown on the contact surface in the head (see pics below)

C2H-8.jpg

C2H-9.jpg


You don't need to be as thorough as I was above - a slight cut is all that is required. You can restore low-voltage shut-off by re-soldering the contact.

Comparisons

C2H-10.jpg

From left to right, Duracell CR123A battery, Dereelight C2H, Nitecore EX10, Lumapower Incendio V1, JetBeam Jet-II PRO, Nitecore Extreme, Novatac 120P

As you can see, the C2H is quite small for a heavily-driven light, not much bigger than the Indendio or EX10.

For beamshots, below is a comparison of the C2H with OP reflector to some other lights, all lights on AW RCR (black label) on max, ~0.5 m from a white wall.

CR2-25.jpg

CR4-25.jpg


CR2-100.jpg

CR4-100.jpg


CR2-800.jpg

CR4-800.jpg


Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlightreviews.com method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for the extended run Lo/Min modes which are done without cooling. Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 1 meter from the lens, using a light meter.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

C2H-Summary.gif


As you can see, the C2H is definitely one of the bright single cell EDC lights on RCR, at least initially. Scroll down to the runtimes for a more thorough output analysis. Throw is quite good for the size.

Output/Runtime Comparison:

For these comparisons, I've labelled the lights output levels from lowest output to max output in order (i.e. L1 is lowest, L4 is highest). I've noticed on the forums that most people refer to these levels as Lo-Med-Hi-Burst.

C2H-MaxCR.gif

C2H-MedRCR.gif

C2H-LoRCR.gif


C2H-MaxPrim.gif

C2H-HiPrim.gif

C2H-MedPrim.gif

C2H-LoPrim.gif


Observations
  • Max output on RCR is initially higher than any of my other 1xRCR lights, but quickly drops to a regulated level that is more consistent with a number of lights.
  • Max output on primary CR123A (after cutting the low-voltage circuit) was lower than RCR.
  • As you can see, output/runtime efficiency of my C2H samples are clearly lower than other lights in this class, especially on Med-Hi settings. :shrug:
  • There was no significant difference in output between the RU and RD versions.
Potential Issues

The main issue with these C2H lights is their relatively low output/runtime efficiency. I don't know what the problem is exactly, but runtimes certainly aren't competitive with other 1xCR123A/RCR lights, especially on Med-Hi settings. :thinking:

Performance was the same for the ramp-up and ramp-down versions - and is consistent with Dereelight's own published specs - so I believe this is typical performance for the circuit.

I notice that my C2Hs heat up more quickly than other lights run at comparable output levels. Of course, that would be consistent with the lower efficiency - all that battery capacity has to be going somewhere, and it may be used up as extra generated heat (as always, my runtimes are all done on a cooling fan - I noticed the lights warming up more quickly when handling during other tests).

I also noticed some warm-tint shifting on L4 ("Burst") compared to L1-3 (Lo-Med-Hi), which seemed to be more pronounced on primary CR123A.

Finally, my RD version had a noticeable flicker on max on primary CR123A. Not sure of the cause, but the replacement RU version Alan sent worked perfectly.

General Observations

The Dereelight C2H is designed to be one of the brightest and smallest multi-stage single-cell CR123A/RCR lights, with built-in flexibility and upgradeability. Up to a point, it succeeds on many of its promises.

Let's start with the key point for many: output. Yes, it is the brightest light on 1xRCR in my collection at the moment ;) - but only for the first 30 secs or so. After that, it drops down to a regulated level that is comparable to a number of highly-driven lights. Also, the C2H seems to be designed for best performance on RCR - on primary CR123A, max output is somewhat less. And of course, the major issue here is output/runtime efficiency (see Potential Issues above).

Build-wise, it is probably the most compact heavily-driven light I've come across. :kiss: I'm impressed with how much they've managed to jam into such a small package and still maintain such flexibility. Included OP and SMO reflectors are a particularly nice touch. :thumbsup: Although the need to cut the circuit trace to disable the low-voltage sensor may seem a bit odd, this is actually a good way to easily serve two large battery markets simultaneously.

Readers of my reviews will know that I was a fan of the original tiny EDC - the Lumapower Incendio. I believe the C2H has many of the build characteristics needed to please those who were disappointed by the Incendio (i.e. its hard-to-access clicky, non-accessible pill and switch, ramp-down only, lower output, type II anodizing, etc). The build of the C2H is excellent in my view. :) Of course, the Incendio still has some potential advantages (i.e. excellent output/runtime efficiency, wide and smooth beam), but that is relative to what matters to you in an EDC.

Given the strong design elements of the C2H, I would urge Dereelight to resolve the runtime efficiency issue of the circuit. Although this may not matter so much if you plan to frequently re-charge your RCRs, it is the one blemish on an otherwise strong offering.

P.S.: As an aside, I would like to commend Dereelight for making so many pill/emitter combos available for the C2H - both as a new purchase and as upgrades. The warm 5A tints are becoming particularly popular around here, and are a great option. Dereelight was also very responsive in providing a RU version based on CPF user feedback - which I personally think makes the most sense for an EDC. Well done.
 
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WadeF

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Great review! Can you test the C2H with a IMR16340? I left my protection circuit intact and run IMR16340 since my C2H was drawing around 1.4A from the AWR123.

It would be interesting to see if the IMR16340's have less voltage sag and maintain better regulation.

As far as heating up quickly, are your other lights with similar output as small as the C2H? :)
 
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DM51

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Thanks once again for a very comprehensive and useful review. Let's hope Dereelight address the efficiency issue - it is the first thing that strikes a reader on looking at the graphs.

Aside from that, this little light has a lot of appeal, and some interesting thinking has gone into it, with the various different versions available. That's certainly a novel way of adapting a light from primary to rechargeable cell and back again!

Moving to the Reviews section.
 

FlashCrazy

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Awesome review, Selfbuilt! :twothumbs Very thorough, and I love the super-clear pic showing the "wire" trace that needs to be cut if one wants to disable the low-voltage protection feature. I agree with your review 100%. :) Perhaps Dereelight will boost the efficiency on the lower output levels, but as it stands it does it's job quite well of being a remarkably small EDC powerhouse!
 

xpea

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Very nice little but powerful baby ! I like it a lot :twothumbs

For the efficiency thing, I'm sure Dereelight will come soon with a new pill... and I will buy one :naughty:
 

frosty

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Great review! Can you test the C2H with a IMR16340? I left my protection circuit intact and run IMR16340 since my C2H was drawing around 1.4A from the AWR123.

It would be interesting to see if the IMR16340's have less voltage sag and maintain better regulation.

As far as heating up quickly, are your other lights with similar output as small as the C2H? :)

With such high drive limits, many lights are on the edge of what a battery can supply, even with RCR's. It looks as though the new IMR's could remedy the issue, but we'll have to see.

Great review as always.:twothumbs
 

Federal LG

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Great review Eric. Congratulations! But I still prefer Fenix PD20...

This is my first post in 2009, so I want to wish you all a happy new year, with a lot of health, money, harmony and a lot of good brand new flashlights!

Thank you all for be here... you guys make this site a good place to be!

Cheers!

LG - Brasil
 

selfbuilt

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Thanks everyone - and a Happy New Year right back to you all! :)

With such high drive limits, many lights are on the edge of what a battery can supply, even with RCR's. It looks as though the new IMR's could remedy the issue, but we'll have to see.
Great review! Can you test the C2H with a IMR16340? I ... As far as heating up quickly, are your other lights with similar output as small as the C2H? :)
Unfortunately, I haven't picked up any AW IMRs yet - although I've been meaning to. This could be a really good light for them.

And good point about the heat vs output Wade. ;) I first noticed the extra heat while comparing to more substantial lights with similar output (i.e. Jet-II, Eagletac P10C). So to be fair, I tried running the C2H on a partially depleted RCR and comparing it to my Fenix P2D on max (i.e. similar output levels, roughly same size and mass), and the C2H again got warmer faster.

Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing (i.e. the C2H could be more efficient at transferring heat away from the emitter and to the body). But when coupled with the lower runtime efficiency, I figure that battery energy has to be going somewhere. Incidentally, I noticed the RCRs were hotter coming out of the C2H as well (although again, that could simply be transfer back to the batteries).

Hard to know in the end ... but I know body warm-up is an issue for some, so I thought I'd put the observation in the review for what it's worth. :)

Let's hope Dereelight address the efficiency issue - it is the first thing that strikes a reader on looking at the graphs.
For the efficiency thing, I'm sure Dereelight will come soon with a new pill... and I will buy one :naughty:
Yeah, I agree - the efficiency is the first thing that popped out at me when I graphed the results. :faint: But Dereelight has been quite responsive to user feedback in the past, so I wouldn't be surprised if they came out with a revised pill soon.

Very thorough, and I love the super-clear pic showing the "wire" trace that needs to be cut if one wants to disable the low-voltage protection feature.
Thanks ... this was one case where I figured a picture was worth a thousand words. ;)
 

grinsekatz

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Oops, he did it again! :grin2:
Thanks for this great and helpful review Selfbuilt! :thumbsup:
It makes it much easier to decide which flashlight someone should buy.
Also it shows excellent that maximum brightness arrogates it's charges.
These little flashlights are a little bit like dragsters. :cool:
I always enjoy to impress people with my JetBeam Jet-II IBS :nana:, but normally use a NovaTac or Ra.
I'm looking forward to your LiteFlux review. :)

Alex
 

McLux

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I like the trick for enable/disable the low battery warning. I would like to see a similar thing for disabling strobe/SOS modes in other flashlights.
 

EngrPaul

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I totally agree with EVERYTHING in this review :twothumbs

Please note this is currently the only light in it's class to offer a neutral white emitter. :naughty:

I also had concerns about the high heat coming out of the C2H, and not only on the highest mode.

I did some power consumption measurements on mine after cutting the wire. Sometimes, the power was very high. Please see them below.

CH2_Current.png


CH2_Power.png


While they are fixing the pill efficiency, it would be nice if they also rounded these two corners :kiss:

IMG_2414.jpg
 

selfbuilt

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I also had concerns about the high heat coming out of the C2H, and not only on the highest mode.

I did some power consumption measurements on mine after cutting the wire. Sometimes, the power was very high. Please see them below.
Wow, thanks for the analysis Paul.

Interesting that the power consumption would vary so much with voltage on Burst mode. Do you have similar data for other lights to compare to? Obviously, a power supply situation is different from battery chemistry, but I wonder how other heavily-driven lights compare in your setup?

Oh, and good point about rounding those two edges. :) They are a bit sharp, but still better than some lights (i.e. new Fenix LDx0 head :poke:).
 

EngrPaul

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My first effort was to read tailcap voltage and current off a real cell, and I got around 7.8 watts! :duh2: For real?!?!?!

The numbers changed so quickly due to high consumption, that I decided to get out a regulated hp power supply and get some stable readings.

Each sample measurement was only 5 seconds with a break to change power supply voltage, I never let the light get warm during these measurements.

I'll try getting some measurements off my Nitecore Extreme later using the same setup. :popcorn:
 

adirondackdestroyer

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Another great review Selfbuilt!

This one looks like it could win the award for the most inefficient flashlight ever. That medium/high runtime graph is laughable. I don't understand how a manufacturer could even come out with something that performs like this and expect it to sell well after a review like this is posted.
They seriously need to fix this problem and fix it fast.
 

EngrPaul

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I'm half tempted to convert it to direct drive and get 50 minutes of efficient RCR running. :devil:

When Dereelight make the changes to the C2H, I'd rather have a reverse clicky for convenient mode changing. With a forward clicky, it takes click, push push push, click to change modes. :crazy:

I also had to put a washer under the rubber button so it doesn't take a big dive to turn it on. This helps relieve some of the pain of the sharp edge. Still tailstands appropriately.

The reflector also needs more robust A/R coating. Mine started flaking off, so I finished the job with a wooden toothpick. It came off like glased sugar from a donut. :mecry:

On the plus side, this light out-throws my extreme handily, even with the 5A Q3 emitter. The smooth reflector is my favorite for sure!
 
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EngrPaul

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Here's a running change Dereelight did for the better. They now put a spiral compression spring at the (+) terminal.

This provides protection from mode changing when the light is bumped (battery inertia would otherwise cause the (+) terminal to disconnect briefly).

IMG_2732.jpg
 

coors

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Thanks for all the work on this review, selfbuilt! I just received one of these earlier this week, w/ 5A-Q3 emitter, but my batteries are all cheap, old and ready to be tossed (grey Ultrafire protected). I did manage a 17:40 runtime on 100%, but the next time (with same battery) it fell to 16:10 and then to nearly 15:00 for the next. So, the heavy draw seems to definately be having an adverse effect on these cheap cells. I've been thinking about getting some of the AW IMR16340s, since I like to run this light on high often. Anyone here have any experience with the IMR16340 cells in this light? Is this a good choice for this light?
Also, I read on another site's forum, where someone put an 8deg optic in their C2H. I'm thinking about trying this modification, too...but I'm concerned about the heat that is put out at the emitter. Could the plastic holder for the optic be melted by the heat generated through long 100% use?:candle:
 

EngrPaul

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Wow, thanks for the analysis Paul.

Interesting that the power consumption would vary so much with voltage on Burst mode. Do you have similar data for other lights to compare to? Obviously, a power supply situation is different from battery chemistry, but I wonder how other heavily-driven lights compare in your setup?

Nitecore Extreme Cree Q5

Current:

nc_current.png


Power:

nc_power.png
 

coors

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Re: Having problem with my C2H

I've been having a problem for the past several days with my C2H in that when I put it in the "L1" (lowest) setting it runs for 5 seconds and then shuts off. The other modes (L2, L3, L4) all work fine. The light does this with both freshly charged rcr123 cells and primary cr123 cells. It has caused me to clean all contact surfaces of batteries, pill and switch...but nothing helps. Any suggestions as to things I might be overlooking?:candle:
 

selfbuilt

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Re: Having problem with my C2H

I've been having a problem for the past several days with my C2H in that when I put it in the "L1" (lowest) setting it runs for 5 seconds and then shuts off. The other modes (L2, L3, L4) all work fine. The light does this with both freshly charged rcr123 cells and primary cr123 cells. It has caused me to clean all contact surfaces of batteries, pill and switch...but nothing helps. Any suggestions as to things I might be overlooking?:candle:
Hmm, beats me. :thinking: If cleaning the contacts didn't help, I'd suggest contacting your dealer or Alan and dereelight to see if they have any suggestions. I haven't seen that on either of mine.
 
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