Nitecore Explorer (EC1, EC2, EA1, EA2) Round-up Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO+

selfbuilt

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Ok, maybe it's a lame question but are Nitecore cells considered quality cells? As I have 8 of them, and they will not go into the Monsters.
I haven't tested them personally, but I presume they care about their QC. You may want to check in with the experts in the batteries subforum for more info.
 

davpet

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Nov 14, 2012
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After playing around with the ec1 using primaries, I have discovered the following: when the battery voltage reaches cc. 2.6-7 volts, I can no longer activate turbo. Well, I can, but it will have the exact same output level as high. This is only unfortunate, 'cause it takes only a few minutes on turbo to deplete the battery this much, so in order to have a fully functional light on every level, I would have to change the batteries after a few minutes of use...
Why won't it let me switch to the highest output? And even when it shows that there is still 2.9 volts in the battery, why is the red light flashing on turbo, signaling that the batteries are nearly depleted?
 

selfbuilt

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when the battery voltage reaches cc. 2.6-7 volts, I can no longer activate turbo. ... And even when it shows that there is still 2.9 volts in the battery, why is the red light flashing on turbo, signaling that the batteries are nearly depleted?
Interesting finding. I suspect the two points above are related. For multi-power lights, it can be a challenge to design a circuit that understands on-the-fly what type of cell is inserted. On some programmable lights, you actually need to manually instruct the light after a battery change, so it behaves appropriately.

In this case, I suppose it is possible that the light uses the <2.6V initial voltage as a "cut-off" point, to confirm that a partially depleted primary cell has been inserted (i.e., a protected RCR would likely have tripped around then). They may have thought Turbo mode was not appropriate on a partially depleted primary cell, as it could be seen to be driving it too hard.

The above is just speculation. What you can tell from my continuous runtime graph is that they purposefully step-down both RCR and primary CR123A on Turbo after just a few mins of runtime (and far more so for CR123A). I had originally presumed that this was likely a timed step-down, but it could also be due to battery voltage (i.e., it could predict what type of battery was inserted, based on initial voltage). If they were really concerned about Turbo mode on primary CR123A, voltage-controlled step-down would be a better way to go (i.e., the problem with a timed step-down is the user can always turn off-on again to restore Turbo).
 

davpet

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Interesting finding. I suspect the two points above are related. For multi-power lights, it can be a challenge to design a circuit that understands on-the-fly what type of cell is inserted. On some programmable lights, you actually need to manually instruct the light after a battery change, so it behaves appropriately.

In this case, I suppose it is possible that the light uses the <2.6V initial voltage as a "cut-off" point, to confirm that a partially depleted primary cell has been inserted (i.e., a protected RCR would likely have tripped around then). They may have thought Turbo mode was not appropriate on a partially depleted primary cell, as it could be seen to be driving it too hard.

The above is just speculation. What you can tell from my continuous runtime graph is that they purposefully step-down both RCR and primary CR123A on Turbo after just a few mins of runtime (and far more so for CR123A). I had originally presumed that this was likely a timed step-down, but it could also be due to battery voltage (i.e., it could predict what type of battery was inserted, based on initial voltage). If they were really concerned about Turbo mode on primary CR123A, voltage-controlled step-down would be a better way to go (i.e., the problem with a timed step-down is the user can always turn off-on again to restore Turbo).

Thanks for the info selfbuilt! So, it seems that this light has a voltage controlled step-down "mechanism".
 

member 6142

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It looks like a knock off of the Intellicharger V.2. And it was not even off of eBay! It recharges AW RCR123As very well. (Battery barely warms up) But with GP2000(sp?) NiMH batteries they become VERY hot. I am going to try a recharge on slots 1+3 or 2+4 to see if that will cool things down a bit.

That's why I kept on charging different chemistries on targeted chargers ;)
 

tam17

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My new EC2 has a 10+ lumens Low mode and obvious PWM regulation in lower power settings. Battery indicator shows 3.7V (Jetbeam 2300mAh). Can it possibly be second (downgraded, bah) driver version or some kind of production glitch?

Cheers
 

selfbuilt

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My new EC2 has a 10+ lumens Low mode and obvious PWM regulation in lower power settings. Battery indicator shows 3.7V (Jetbeam 2300mAh). Can it possibly be second (downgraded, bah) driver version or some kind of production glitch?
That's very unlikely. I did detect faint 1kHz noise (not visible on any sample), so it is probable that you have a malfunctioning unit that is showing noise flicker. Nothing you can do to fix, so I would RMA it.

It is rare, but I have seen other current controlled lights have flicker issues at lower levels on occasion, on some samples.
 

tam17

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That's very unlikely. I did detect faint 1kHz noise (not visible on any sample), so it is probable that you have a malfunctioning unit that is showing noise flicker. Nothing you can do to fix, so I would RMA it.

It is rare, but I have seen other current controlled lights have flicker issues at lower levels on occasion, on some samples.

Thanks, Selfbuilt. This flicker is visible only when the movement is involved, but it surely resembles pure PWM. As I previously said, the "Micro" mode (low low) is 10+ lumens, so specified runtime is out of question. IIRC there are other members who reported out-of-spec Low mode. I think I'll contact my distributor.

Cheers
 

Kokopelli

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I'd really like to hear your opinions on this new light. I hope I can hold myself until then :)
 

awyeah

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To those worried about accidental activation: I just got my EC1 yesterday. Loaded it with a SureFire CR123A primary.

The girlfriend and I went out and I had her put it in her purse. We went into target for about 20-30 minutes, and when we got back to the car, we found that it was on in her purse - on high!

Holy moly it was hot to the touch. Not hot enough to burn skin, but hot enough that I couldn't hold it continuously.

For good measure, I got out of the car, took off the tail cap and removed the battery until it all cooled down.

Everything seems to be working fine, no apparent damage was done.

Anyway - just a reminder to be careful with our bright lights in enclosed spaces!

Going forward, I will be more careful with this light and make sure to use the lockout feature (or loosen the tail cap).
 

Patriot

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I feel as though I really lucked out going with the EC2. I wasn't aware of the water resistance issues and had the thing sitting in my fish tank over night for a video review. Fortunately no water ingress. :sweat:

To my mind, the heating of the light during red LED mode is inexcusable! It sounds as if the circuit is failing! Here again however, I feel like I dodged a bullet as there hasn't been any heating issues with mine or any other EC2's. I've been using it continuously like a night light.

I was so happy with my EC2 that I almost ordered a EA1. I'm so glad that I didn't after scanning through this thread!

It seems as if this light has great potential across the whole model line but right now, Nitecore needs to get every model squared away. :shakehead
 

phantom23

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@Patriot, EC2 and EA2 don'a have any heating issues, they have different circuits.
 

selfbuilt

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To my mind, the heating of the light during red LED mode is inexcusable! It sounds as if the circuit is failing! Here again however, I feel like I dodged a bullet as there hasn't been any heating issues with mine or any other EC2's. I've been using it continuously like a night light.
I was so happy with my EC2 that I almost ordered a EA1. I'm so glad that I didn't after scanning through this thread!
@Patriot, EC2 and EA2 don'a have any heating issues, they have different circuits.
Well, the EC2 certainly seems to be free of this issue - and the EA2 does pretty well. It is mainly the EC1 and EA1 that show low efficiency (and concomitant heat build-up) on continuous red.

Here is a quote of the update I did in the main thread back in July:

UPDATE JULY 9, 2012: Issue with continuous red LED operation

There have been reports of some Explorer lights heating up quickly on continuous red LED use (with concomitant short runtimes). I have measured surface temperature on all my samples using a thermal probe attached to the body right next to the red LED. Basically, this probe was taped in the middle of the "Nitecore" label beside the red LED. I have sorted the table below by the increase in temperature over background room temp.

Explorer-temps-3.gif


Consistent with these measures, the EC1 samples (and to a lesser extent the EA1 samples) felt subjectively quite warm to the touch by 1 hour into the run. The whole body felt warm, suggesting a significant power draw off the battery (i.e., it is not just the LED that is heating up).

As you can see in the runtime results in the table, heat was indeed indicative of a high current drain (you can't escape thermodynamics :rolleyes:). There is a clear inverse correlation - lights with low runtimes (indicating high power drain) got warm quickly. Of course, battery capacity has a role here, but there is definitely a very wide swing in power efficiencies among my samples.

Anyway you look at it, <3 hours runtime on the EC1s is disappointing. My EC2 seems to have the best performance - negligible heat, and >8 days runtime.

What I don't know is whether these findings are specific to the models in question (i.e., are the EC1 and EA1 always that much worse than the EA2 or EC2?). Or is it simply highly variable across all models? Unfortunately, I have no definitive way to answer this, given that I only have one or two of each. I would be curious to hear other people's experience with runtimes on continuous red.
 

Patriot

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I saw your updates Selfbuilt and appreciate you reposting them on this page. It's all very helpful along with awyeah's recent thread that I also saw.

Thanks for all the great information guys! :)
 
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