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Fraz Labs Mechanical Flashlights (formerly QTC Non-Battery Crush)

PattPickle

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Jan 21, 2023
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Montana
I'm hoping to help with several recent questions in this thread:

It looks like Fraz is moving toward an adjustable tail piece to shorten or extend the internal length in order to work with different battery lengths. I haven't seen it in their 18350 lights yet.

As far as LVP goes with this light - Wouldn't the LED just stop lighting when the battery voltage drops below the forward voltage of the LED? I've been wondering this for a while so I hope someone more knowledgeable than myself can clarify.

For mcpcb size Fraz uses either a 16mm single emitter or a 20mm single emitter depending on the flashlight model. Whether you use an mcpcb with a 3535 or 5050 pad depends on the optic. For example the lights with the 20mm optic works with 3535 mcpcb's or smaller. An optic change is needed to use a 5050 mcpcb. The optics are cheap and quickly available from Led Supply.

The QTC the lights ship with usually won't allow direct drive without over-tightening the head. It stops a bit short. I have some material similar to QTC that allows full direct drive but it doesn't work as well for the low output levels.

I'm going to make a video here soon showing an emitter change and how to add solder to the mcpcb. I wonder how well it would work to just add solder to the brass contact points instead of the mcpcb?

All of their lights call for a 3v emitter. A model that fits two CR123's would be fun for a 6v emitter option though...

I also wanted to mention my current favorite battery option for the 18350 size lights. The Nichia 219b is my favorite LED but most 18350 batteries are a bit high in amperage for this emitter so I ordered a couple of these:


These claim 2 amps which seems to be a nice, safe range for the 219b. Illumn has the previous generation of this battery in stock but notice it has less storage and slightly lower amperage. Brightness is just what I need with this battery and the protection circuit adds some peace of mind. QTC works really well with this battery as well.

Matt
 

jon_slider

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Joined
Mar 31, 2015
Messages
5,145
either protected or unprotected.
seems the Fraz can use both protected. (IF they fit), or unprotected (seems to be required for the 18350 models).

here is some info from the website:
"NOTE- there are certain battery lengths which shouldn't be exceeded for optimal performance. If using a 18350 battery, it must be no longer than 1.39″ long."

fwiw, 1.39" is the length of an UNprotected 18350...

the site also says:
"Letting the battery completely drain may cause damage to the battery, so make sure it never gets fully discharged."

that statement applies only to UNprotected batteries..

bottom line seems to be, that the 18350 lights cannot fit protected cells, and the 18650 lights Can use Protected...
 

jon_slider

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Joined
Mar 31, 2015
Messages
5,145
My tiny nugget I have fits a protected 18350 keeppower ok.
thanks for the real world info.. glad it works for you..

seems the Fraz site is not correct in saying the max length 18350 that works is 1.39".. also not correct that they say max 18650 length is 2.57" (that is unprotected length), since Kitrobaskin reports using Protected 18650 successfully..

the tiny nugget page says:
"NOTE- there are certain battery lengths which shouldn't be exceeded for optimal performance. If using a 18350 battery, it must be no longer than 1.39″ long. When using an 18650 battery, it must be no longer than 2.57″ long. When using a 21700 battery, it must be no longer than 2.78″ long."

protected 18350 keeppowers are between 1.5 and 1.54" long... depending on the model. Protected 18650 are 2.72" inches long.. These protected 18350 and 18650 dimensions are longer than the limit stated on the Fraz site, but Im glad protected cells work..
 
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ecmp

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Aug 15, 2016
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88
Thank you for the inputs!

Would the Lumenite 2 fit an 26650, 21700, and 18650? If yes, how does it make up for the longer 21700? Would protected cells work for all three?

What would be the degree of turn from zero to max output for a new QTC pill? For direct drive / worn out QTC pill?

Low voltage concerns still does not outweigh the Fraz design in terms of personal preference. Hoping for seller updates soon and more material / LED options.
 

KITROBASKIN

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Joined
Mar 28, 2013
Messages
5,439
Location
New Mexico, USA
Slider I do not have a 350 sized Fraz Labs. Both of mine have the adjustable tail piece for different battery lengths. This is a newer feature. An adapter would easily allow 18650 to be used in the 26650 Lumenite ll. I do not have 21700 so am unable to test that size in the 26650 Lumenite.

I need to take time to post images of Fraz Labs QTC. The well used ones are more shaped by the flashlight and presumably compacted but the QTC they use is very thin to begin with.
 

PattPickle

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Jan 21, 2023
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Location
Montana
Thank you for the inputs!

Would the Lumenite 2 fit an 26650, 21700, and 18650? If yes, how does it make up for the longer 21700? Would protected cells work for all three?

What would be the degree of turn from zero to max output for a new QTC pill? For direct drive / worn out QTC pill?

Low voltage concerns still does not outweigh the Fraz design in terms of personal preference. Hoping for seller updates soon and more material / LED options.
All my experience is with the smaller "18350" Nuggets.

The amount the head turns from dim to full brightness is quite small and doesn't have any bearing on whether a protected battery will fit or not. The QTC compresses over time but it's a small amount as well.

Low voltage protection isn't a big concern in my opinion (and I'm pretty paranoid with lithium batteries). The light dims drastically when the battery gets in the 3.5-3.8 volt range. If you still want a protected battery then just use a protected 16340. They fit easily. The batteries I linked above are a sweet spot in size, output and safety. 1000 mah, 3v regulated, 2 amps and it's protected. Also, the light never gets more than slightly warm even on direct drive.

I also use CR123's in mine. Especially when letting my young nephew or family members borrow my light.

What material and led options are you hoping for?

I'll gladly set up a couple mcpcb's for people that aren't willing or comfortable using a soldering iron.

Matt
 

roostre

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May 21, 2011
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Can any forum members provide advice concerning:

1) Does the QTC last forever (~10 years to outlast me) or will it eventually need to be replaced?

2) Are there any guidelines or experiences for how long (time wise) the "like new functionality" of the QTC will last before it is adversely affected from "heavy daily frequent use", "extremely hot or cold storage temperatures", "old age", etc.?

3) Are extra QTC included with the initial light purchase or can additional spare QTC be ordered separately from Fraz Labs at any time and how much do they cost?

4) Are there any other readily available sources for QTC that would be suitable if for some reason it is not available from FRAZ Labs in the future and if so, from who?

Thanks.
 

PattPickle

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Joined
Jan 21, 2023
Messages
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Location
Montana
Can any forum members provide advice concerning:

1) Does the QTC last forever (~10 years to outlast me) or will it eventually need to be replaced?

2) Are there any guidelines or experiences for how long (time wise) the "like new functionality" of the QTC will last before it is adversely affected from "heavy daily frequent use", "extremely hot or cold storage temperatures", "old age", etc.?

3) Are extra QTC included with the initial light purchase or can additional spare QTC be ordered separately from Fraz Labs at any time and how much do they cost?

4) Are there any other readily available sources for QTC if for some reason it is not available from FRAZ Labs in the future?

Thanks.
1. Completely depends how often you use the light and how tight the head is screwed down. I use mine every day and play with them a lot and a single piece wears out after a couple months.

2. I haven't found temperature to affect the QTC at all. However keep it away from CA glue fumes. Again, the longevity of QTC depends on the usage. If you are the type that wants max lumens more often than not, then a QTC light may not be for you. You will wear out the QTC much faster. The positive of QTC is when it degrades or fails, the light becomes just on or off. I like this because I know that my light will at its worst still turn on fully. I may lose dimming but not the ability to have light.

3. Mine came with 5 extra circles of QTC. Fraz has mentioned making some available on their website eventually.

4. QTC is no longer made but can be found occasionally on ebay, etc. There are alternatives to QTC on the market. They do behave differently though. Some don't dim as well while others allow more brightness without tightening as much. One thing to be aware of is the original QTC (the stuff Fraz uses) is magnetic and the Fraz piston has a small magnet which holds the QTC in place.

Hope this helps. QTC is an interesting material and people either hate or love it. I understand both sides of the argument. I strongly dislike most electronics and love the fact that my lights don't have a circuit board or other fragile electronics. I regularly carry a Peak El Capitan and wouldn't swap it for a single flashlight on the market. It just works perfectly for me. I like the Fraz lights just as much but they are a bit big for EDC.

I also like to think of QTC as rarely if ever needing repairs, more like the occasional "tuning". Fresh, tight o-rings and a sparingly applied, thick lube help tremendously.
 
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speckacuda

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Sep 12, 2019
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Arkansas
I can print a bunch of the sleeves and tools out if you need me to.

You are too kind! I need to redesign it so it takes less filament, the one I printed could hold up a person! My plan is to add a few 3d prints to the site this next week (a gauge for optimal battery height for tubes with adjustable caps, a few battery sleeves, the tailcap removal tool in a less-filament format, I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting...). If anyone has any issues with the models, please let me know and I'll get them patched up.

...dedomed 5700K 519a....

I've never dedomed an emitter on purpose, but I am dying to know how this looks - does anyone have a photo of a 519a in a Fraz light?

The ability to easily change emitters is a unique feature, and a major selling point IMHO.

As a flashlight fanatic, I certainly hope to add one of these to my collection.

If you like that, just wait for the next model - being prototyped now!!

Hank's do not have drop in emitter. Great choice for really dialing in features found in most all lights plus more. Perfect for EDC with wide emitter choice, small form factor, and extensive configurability.

Fraz's would be for passing on from one generation to the next. Upgradeable. SHTF worthy add on.

That last sentence is what we're going for, but from a simple/durable angle. We aren't the prettiest at the beauty contest, but we work well under pressure. Also, unlike other manufactures, there are only two of us doing everything, and we do it all on a CNC three-axis mill and a CNC benchtop lathe - this limits what I call our "fancy it up" ability for the time being. Currently, there are three brass versions in the wild - the QT Gold 18650, the QT Gold 18350, and the Gold Nugget 18350. That last model weighed half a pound (yes, 8oz) without a battery, so carrying a version other than aluminum is a bit of a workout. There are plans for other exotic material in the future, but for right now we are doing the best we can with what we've got (but more QT Golds should be in the next drop).

As far as LVP goes with this light - Wouldn't the LED just stop lighting when the battery voltage drops below the forward voltage of the LED? I've been wondering this for a while so I hope someone more knowledgeable than myself can clarify.

... I wonder how well it would work to just add solder to the brass contact points instead of the mcpcb?

Yes, I've ran the battery totally out of juice more times that I can count - the light will get dimmer and dimmer, then just fade out. We use a variety of unprotected, beat to death batteries that we've torture tested lights with over the years and we've never had one discharge past 2.2ish volts, if this helps?

Second sentence is important, because y'all are on to a key feature of the model we're currently prototyping...

Can't help wondering if the contact points that connect to the board could be replaced so no need for solder?

Stay tuned for the next model, my friend - Fraz is all over it.

seems the Fraz site is not correct in saying the max length 18350 that works is 1.39".. also not correct that they say max 18350 length is 2.57" (that is unprotected length), since Kitrobaskin reports using Protected 18650 successfully..

Yes, you're correct that it's incorrect - we change things like this in the design as we make them, and I am really bad at remembering to update the site. Also a reason why some models will accept longer batteries and some won't, it just depends on when they were made.

Thank you for the inputs!

Would the Lumenite 2 fit an 26650, 21700, and 18650? If yes, how does it make up for the longer 21700? Would protected cells work for all three?

What would be the degree of turn from zero to max output for a new QTC pill? For direct drive / worn out QTC pill?

Low voltage concerns still does not outweigh the Fraz design in terms of personal preference. Hoping for seller updates soon and more material / LED options.

Yes, the Lumenite 2 will work with all three battery types. As previously stated (with photos, post #1423), just twist the tailcap out to accommodate the different lengths. Ideally, the battery should stick up above the battery tube lip a bit, maybe 1/8" taller total. This helps maintain constant contact with the spring and the positive contact pad. The distance the head can be turned can be measured by the wear mark where the piston interacts with the battery tube, and they will vary between models and when those models were machined. See above concerning low voltage.

Low voltage protection isn't a big concern in my opinion (and I'm pretty paranoid with lithium batteries). The light dims drastically when the battery gets in the 3.5-3.8 volt range. If you still want a protected battery then just use a protected 16340. They fit easily. The batteries I linked above are a sweet spot in size, output and safety. 1000 mah, 3v regulated, 2 amps and it's protected. Also, the light never gets more than slightly warm even on direct drive.

I'll gladly set up a couple mcpcb's for people that aren't willing or comfortable using a soldering iron.

You're correct about the voltage, and thank you for offering to solder emitters! If y'all can't get in touch with PattPickle, feel free to send them to me and I can get them back ready to install as well.

Just wanted to pop in and answer a few questions, leave a few teasers, and tell you all how much we appreciate you!! No photos of the new model yet, we are making changes faster than a toll troll (lame joke, but you get the idea). I can say that instead of going along with the big and beefy trend of the Lumenite II, we are going back to tiny town - details soon!!
 

roostre

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May 21, 2011
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... I also like to think of QTC as rarely if ever needing repairs ...

Thanks for relating your experiences and addressing my concerns.

The electronic-free QTC technology is intriguing and the durability Fraz Lab lights have against damage from extreme drops is most impressive.

I am still concerned about obtaining replacement QTC in the future (depending on how many lights I purchase), but are looking forward to owning and swapping various LEDs into at least one of these lights, but will probably need at least two which would allow simultaneous comparisons.
 
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KITROBASKIN

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Mar 28, 2013
Messages
5,439
Location
New Mexico, USA
Flipping the QTC has been mentioned. It's what some of us do. Not torquing it down trying to make the flashlight brighter seems wise. thermal guy removes the QTC.

That ZeroAir review has information pertaining to an earlier variation. It is interesting to read there about the level of brightness increasing without adjustment. I have seen it but not taken a hard measurement.

For years the excitement coming from the little lab in Arkansas does not disappoint! So much fun looking forward.
 

ecmp

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Aug 15, 2016
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88
This is becoming more interesting! Thank you for all the inputs!

For the adjustable tail cap Lumenite 2 version that allows for different sized batteries:

- Shorter batteries will result to a depressed gap in the tail cap. ie., 26650 vs 21700. Will there be a thicker tail cap available to fill the difference?

- What is the purpose of drilled holes around the bezel?

- Is E21A emitter an option?

- Will there be copper Lumenite 2's before 2024?
 

speckacuda

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Joined
Sep 12, 2019
Messages
96
Location
Arkansas
This is becoming more interesting! Thank you for all the inputs!

For the adjustable tail cap Lumenite 2 version that allows for different sized batteries:

- Shorter batteries will result to a depressed gap in the tail cap. ie., 26650 vs 21700. Will there be a thicker tail cap available to fill the difference?

- What is the purpose of drilled holes around the bezel?

- Is E21A emitter an option?

- Will there be copper Lumenite 2's before 2024?

There's a spring in the bottom of the tailcap that keeps the battery in contact with the positive contact pad. This is why it's really imperative that extremely long batteries aren't used in some models, because they'll compress too much and can be damaged / crushed. Ideally, on the Lumenite II, the tailcap should be adjusted to the point that whatever length battery you're using is sticking up around 1/8" above the lip of the tube. I'll try to add MS Paint illustrations to the site soon, descriptions aren't my strong point 😁

I'd like to say something cool here about the drilled holes on the retaining ring, but they're so anyone can use wire pliers to unscrew it and change out the LED or optic - we got you, fam!!

Not at this time.

Every day is a new adventure, my friend. I'm just trying to figure out the next two days!
 

ecmp

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Joined
Aug 15, 2016
Messages
88
Thank you!

Is there a ball park figure on the weight of a Lumenite 2 in brass without batteries? The size won't be a comfortable carry anyway. But perfect for a bedside light when things go bump, and to bump things in the night.

What would be the best way to snag whatever comes out of your shop?
 
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