Penlites - do they still have a purpose?

Lowglow

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Back in the early days of handheld lights the Penlite or penlight was a popular item. They stayed in production into the present day - as LED form. I was taking a look at them again, but I am left undecided.

Here's one from the 1930's - looks like a proper fountain pen.
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The pocket clip is also the momentary switch.
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And the bulb is deeply recessed so as to avoid damage.
20240317_124949.jpg

The incandescent Penlites take 2AA batteries usually and all of them are not that bright, just 'enough' and better than nothing. You can walk using them at a pinch. More light than an AAA Solitaire. Here's what it looks like along a dark footpath.
20240311_191223.jpg

It's certainly not something I'd choose based on light output, yet the design and idea seems a good one. So I was wondering. Does anyone still have a good use for an incandescent Penlite? If so what do you use it for - and what model is it?
 

letschat7

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I sometimes use a Streamlight Stylus which is a 3xAAAA LED penlight. The thinner it is and when you can hold them as a pen the better they are. For the 2xAA format there are just too many better choices for less money. I see the NOS penlights on Egay all the time but for $25-110 plus ship I can do better.

The newer penlights don't seem so interesting being outsourced and with usb rechargling I'd rather have an older style light.
 

Dr. Jones

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Very nice review, Lowglow! I feel that penlights don't get the love they deserve, which is a shame as they're usually the one light you can be sure of having on you at nearly all times; a 2,000-lumen LED light is nice, but of little use if tucked away at home when you're in need of it. That is the beauty of a penlight; dim though it may be, it is at hand, and you will be able to see something that would be otherwise invisible. Unless one has experienced absolute darkness, such as out in the remote countryside on a cloudy, moonless night, or perhaps deep inside a pyramid's chambers, one usually cannot fathom the value of even the most modest illumination under such circumstances.

That Eveready penlight you have there is a real beauty! Looks to be in mint condition, a real keeper. Below is a well-worn AA penlight that I've had for a couple of decades now, along with a spare I'd procured at the time, made by or for Duracell (note the copper-colored switch on top!) in the late 1990s if memory serves, it's been a constant companion and has served me well over the years. It seems like I've had recourse to it weekly over that time for one thing or another.
 

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Dr. Jones

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Disposable incandescent penlights are still widely used in the medical field for checking pupillary response. In this case, the relatively low brightness is an advantage, and there is no need for the additional lifetime you get from an LED.
My physician once informed me that he and other medicos preferred the incandescent variety as it also renders color better, which is important when examining tissue, such as throats and ears.
 

snakebite

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My stylus has nimh aaaa and a hi cri 5000k led.
The leds i have seem to have internal ballasting for parallel use in photographic light panels.so its now dd.
My grandfathers burgess from late 30's has a k222 and eneloops.
Sometimes a led with boost converter
 

Dr. Jones

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This is an actual penlight: the Night Writer illuminated pen.

I obtained this pen back around 1992 or thereabouts; as I recall it was primarily designed for the police market, specifically for writing reports in a cruiser with the interior lights off, and was also favored by pilots who wished to maintain their night vision while writing in a darkened cockpit. Since astronomy has been one of my interests for aeons, this came in very handy for maintaining dark adaptation while making notes at the telescope (at least before that bane of an out-of-control civilization, light pollution, utterly wrecked the night sky).

The body is black plastic, and holds two AAA batteries. The tiny projection visible on top of the main body in the photo is the switch; when the cap is removed and then placed on the back of the body, it presses the projection down, which in turn depresses a copper strip that makes contact with the side of a #222 bulb, completing the circuit, and the bulb glows through a transparent ruby-colored plastic case, illuminating the pen tip and paper below. The pen insert is from a standard Bic ballpoint pen, cut down to size. Spare inserts were sold by Night Writer at one time; they're easy enough to make oneself, although a bit messy. They last quite a while considering their slim ink supply.

I love the simplicity of items like this compared to more modern iterations of the product; not much of anything to go wrong, very basic and utilitarian while maintaining beautiful lines and wonderful function. Complexity, although at times necessary, should be foregone as much as is practical, in my estimation.
 

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