Nitecore Tube and V54 TubeVN (5mm, rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO+

selfbuilt

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Absolutely love these, got one on every car key my extended family own, way better than the cheap tat they used to have and should last.
:welcome:

Nicely done (as usual) I've been measuring these lights as well, but in my samples the PWM is very different at 71.4Hz and don't change frequency. I wonder if they have updated the driver or if they have used different drivers in different batches.
Thanks subwoofer. Are you sure it's PWM at that frequency (as opposed to some sort of regular low-level signal noise)? True PWM at that frequency would produce a horrific flicker at all sub-max levels. I've actually seen that a couple of times in the early days of multi-mode lights, and it wasn't pretty. But a low intensity signal at that frequency could well be invisible in actual use.
 

subwoofer

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Thanks subwoofer. Are you sure it's PWM at that frequency (as opposed to some sort of regular low-level signal noise)? True PWM at that frequency would produce a horrific flicker at all sub-max levels. I've actually seen that a couple of times in the early days of multi-mode lights, and it wasn't pretty. But a low intensity signal at that frequency could well be invisible in actual use.

Absolutely sure, and the flicker at low levels is bad (not noticeable if nothing is moving, but clear as day with any movement). Just slowly waving the TUBE about gives a nice dotted line and on the oscilloscope the pulse width just got wider as the brightness increased.

The Photon freedom micro also has this very slow PWM, and until I saw your results thought this was just a similar example.
 

selfbuilt

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The Photon freedom micro also has this very slow PWM, and until I saw your results thought this was just a similar example.
Yeah, the Photon freedom was an example of a bad flicker with low PWM. Although I never tested it with an oscilloscope, an earlier DMM method in use around here at the time gave it 185Hz.

This is very surprising that the Tube should change so drastically and with such a downgrade (i.e. >3kHz down to <100 Hz). :thinking: The 3kHz is visually undetectable on my samples.
 

subwoofer

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I've updated my original post here as I've uncovered a mistake. DOH!

Anyhow, this type of collaboration is why CPF is so awesome!
 

selfbuilt

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I've updated my original post here as I've uncovered a mistake. DOH!
Anyhow, this type of collaboration is why CPF is so awesome!
No worries. I've certainly made plenty of boo-boos myself over the years, which I've only discovered once someone pointed them out here. :grin2:

Glad to hear this was a mistake, as I would have been disappointed to learn they had done that to the driver.
 

Robocop

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Nice review Selfbuilt and thank you for the time. I have been away for a while however a year or so back 45 lumens from a 5mm was simply unheard of. Especially 45 lumens with no crazy angry blue color shift from over driving. This little light is simply interesting and I believe a great performer for the cost. I am now wondering how this 5mm LED would perform in other hosts.

I may be off a little as it was many years past however do remember a very nice 5mm led that if I remember correct we all called the MJ-LED. I bought several and I think they came from the old Sandwich Shoppe that was popular back then. They had a similar die size and could be overdriven a little more for good results. I believe they may have been (just guessing here) maybe 20 lumens but not close to this tubes output. Does anyone else remember those old 5MM LEDs and do you think this tube may be using something similar?

Can you say what kind of power this tubes circuit supplies at the high setting? Also do you feel this output is due to the circuit or is it simply a much more efficient 5mm LED? I really would like to try a few of these 5mm LEDs in some other hosts or even a few Joule Thief projects.

None the less I am enjoying the tubes I have and your review has made me order a few more. I do plan to scrap one just to play with the LED on some other mods. I also plan to have Vinh54 work his magic on a few. I have been catching up around here and while doing so have seen many very excellent mods from Vinh....thanks again for the detailed review.
 

Robocop

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I did a little searching on the MJ-LED I was asking about and it seems there is very little to be found. I did see where there was 2 versions in the MJLED and also an improved version the SMJLED (super MJ LED) I read they were a quad die 5mm and could handle about 100mAh power for maybe 20 lumens. They were pretty stable with no color shift.

I have a few in some mods floating around and remember they do look much like the 5mm used in the tube light. Even though I barely remember the details I do know that nothing I have in 5mm comes close to this Tube. I believe Lambda offered some PR bulb Type kits and many members were using some cut down versions in mini mag mods. Maybe this tube 5mm is some type of similar set up with multiple dies. Have not taken mine apart yet to investigate.
 

selfbuilt

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I did see where there was 2 versions in the MJLED and also an improved version the SMJLED (super MJ LED) I read they were a quad die 5mm and could handle about 100mAh power for maybe 20 lumens. They were pretty stable with no color shift.... I believe Lambda offered some PR bulb Type kits and many members were using some cut down versions in mini mag mods.
Now that's a blast from the past ... I was just about to point out how the MJ-LED migrated to the SMJ-LED, and how useful these were in the PR bulb design for multi-cell Mag lights. In the early days of my career here, one of the first things I did was mount a couple of those Lambda PRs in old 2C mag clones that I had. Like many, I moved on once luxeon drop-ins became available (and Mag started selling these themselves). But those early SMJs were nice quality (still a touch blue, though). I never tested the lumen output, but my subjective impression is that they were probably in the ~20 lumens range, at typical drive levels.

P.S.: Welcome back!
 

dabotsonline

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The relative efficiency of the Tube emitter (and/or capacity of its rechargeable cell) doesn't match XP-G2/AAA-class lights though, as indicated by the reduced runtime/output of the Tubes. Still, this is a phenomenal result for a 5mm-class emitter. :thumbsup:

The other concern I have is that the end is exposed - is it at risk of breaking off?
 

ScottJD

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The other concern I have is that the end is exposed - is it at risk of breaking off?

I had one in the keychain for a couple months now getting tossed around in the ignition, in and out of my pocket and haven't had an issue or see any wear on the body to be concerned about. They seem pretty tough.
 

radiopej

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Thanks for the review. Yeah, the light coming out the sides can either be good or bad. Sucks when it blinds you and you're using it as a flashlight, but you can cover it with your hand. Great if you use it on low as a marker.that way people can find you.

The PWM on low is horrible. I never really noticed PWM on a light unless I was moving it. With this one you can "feel" it just looking at the emitter on low.

I like it, but it just feels like I'll break it even though I probably won't. Not a bad little key chain light though.
 

Timothybil

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I was one of the first to get a Tube on the pre-sale. I have been carrying it ever since on my keyring with a half dozen keys, in the same pocket with my Microstream, pen, and whatever else. So far, no problems. Between the shoulders on either side and the fact that the LED is half embedded in the body, I think smashing is about the only way one could damage the LED.
 

TooManyGizmos

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~

I'm going to buy some Plasti Dip and try painting it around the sides of the LED ,
leaving just the tip exposed . Maybe that will prevent the side glare , I hope . Not sure if it will stay on for long , but worth a try .

~
 

ScottJD

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You can try and let me know, I own some plasti dip I just bought for another project. Just a caution, when I first got mine boosted I put little strips of electrical tape on the top and bottom across the led.
It worked, but it got hot, so I removed them. Maybe the choice of leaving the top and bottom of the led exposed was to let off heat?
But this may not affect you if you run it for short times only I guess.
 

jon_slider

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Re: Nitecore Tube and V54 TubeVN (5mm, rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS,...

1B229384-1502-4D6B-8B66-322DBB30E3DD_zpss3sxvmo5.jpg

wow the warm looks terribly dim!
Do you have the Lumen values for those two photo series? (forgive if I missed it)
 

moldyoldy

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Re: Nitecore Tube and V54 TubeVN (5mm, rechargeable) review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS,...

One oddity with these 'Tube' lights seems to be a susceptibility to static electricity. That is based on a couple dozen of these 'Tube' lights passing thru my hands. eg: zap'd either from sliding out of a car seat, or a deep-carpet rug (apt style). In all cases, the result is full brightness w/o control until the battery runs down which takes less than about 1/2 hour from full charge. A simple recharge and all is fully functional again. Winter in Wisconsin has faded to Spring and no static electricity problems have been observed.

I did have one Tube copy where the driver was leaky. I first noticed it only at night - a very dim glow. However if I ran it on high output for maybe 5 min, the brightness in an 'off' condition was exceeding a half-brightness of the first level until the driver cooled down. No solution for this. faulty component. No other problem noticed with that 'Tube' copy.

Otherwise, The 'Tube' has received rave comments from all that I gave one to. The first reaction is how bright the high level is. The second reaction is the clicky operation - no requirement to press and hold, etc. The simple two levels were appreciated.
 
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recDNA

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Why did Vinh stop building these? Did they become undependable?
 

more_vampires

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You'd have to ask Vinh and he's off on a trip until Monday. I suspect it had something to do with "too much work." They were moving like crazy. I think he wanted to get back to monster builds.

Anyway, I've had zero issues whatsoever with my TubeVN. It lives EDC on my keyring. I rarely use low because of the annoying PWM. My solution is to press and hold for instant max. That's the only mode I use with it.

To those who don't like the side spill, a little heat-shrink tubing would fix that. My housing is translucent, doesn't bother me at all.
 
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