Performance Review: NITECORE TUBE USB rechargeable Keychain light

subwoofer

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Why a 'Performance Review'?:
I'm not always able to conduct a full review, but have run the technical tests on a particular light. A 'Performance Review' is intended to provide an outlet for this information and a placeholder for further updates and discussion. No Pros and Cons are included as these performance reviews contain only experimentally measured output figures.

As a 'Performance Review', this thread contains the measured output and runtime data.

TUBE%20trio.jpg




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Author's Statement for Transparency and Disclosure
The test sample/s featured in this article have been provided for technical testing and review by the manufacturer. Test samples are retained by the reviewer following publication of the completed review for the purposes of long term testing and product comparisons.

All output figures and test results published in this review are the sole work of the reviewer, and are carried out independently and without bias. Test results are reported as found, with no embellishments or alteration. Though best endeavours are made to maintain the accuracy of test equipment, the accuracy of these results is not guaranteed and is subject to the test equipment functioning correctly.
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A couple of details:

I've been EDCing three TUBEs for a couple of months now and find the guilt free almost weightless lumens incredibly useful. In everyday urban scenarios, these give a useful backup light that almost unnoticeable to carry.

TUBE%20EDC.jpg


It must be noted that the colour you choose can have quite an impact on their effectiveness in use (also depending on what you want). As you can see here, with a black and clear TUBE on maximum, the clear body lights up like a lantern, and can be distracting. If you want a mini lantern though, it is excellent.

TUBEs%20black%20and%20clear%20on%20maxiumum.jpg




Modes and User Interface:

The TUBE has quick access to the lowest and highest outputs, and a variable output as well.

From OFF, a single click gives you low. Another click within a second gives maximum output. So you can simply double click to get maximum.

Pressing and holding the button enters the ramping output allowing you to select the level you want. This is not memorised and is lost as soon as you switch it off.



Batteries and output:

The NITECORE TUBE uses a built in lipo cell of a capacity around 100mAh.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

NITECORE TUBEI.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
Maximum510
LowLess than 2lm71.4
Variable50-23000

Having an electronic switch the TUBE will have drain. With only a tiny 100mAh cell, this could prove a problem unless very low.

The only way to measure this is to take it apart and unsolder the cell. Initially, when measuring the drain, the cell had been disconnected, and the TUBE had not been turned on then off. The drain in this situation was 320uA. At this rate the cell would be fully discharged in 13 days.

Knowing this is not the case in reality, like other NITECORE lights where the initial drain on connecting the battery if significantly higher than once the light has been turned on then off again, this needed another approach. With the multi-meter on uA it could be damaged by switching the light on and off, so I needed a way of connecting the circuit, then short-circuiting out the meter but then maintaining the connection to allow the drain to then be measured. This was done by soldering additional wires and using crocodile clip probes which could be touched together to short out the meter as needed.

Once done, as you can see here the drain drops to negligible. The meter's lowest measurement is 0.1uA, and the current is less than this. From time to time it did show 0.1uA, but was generally lower.

This makes a huge difference. It means that the 100mAh cell would take 114 years to discharge. Safely negligible!

TUBE%20Drain%20test.jpg



While hooked up like this it gave the opportunity to test the running current. On low this was 2.53mA

TUBE%20low%20current%20test.jpg



And on Maximum it was 0.145A. Though as the cell drains this will drop, it does fit well with the hour long runtime.

TUBE%20high%20current%20test.jpg



Running on Maximum, this is the output graph for a freshly charged TUBE.

NITECORE%20TUBE%20runtime.jpg



If time permits further information and beam shots will be added to this Performance Review in post 2.


If you enjoyed the review, please remember to 'Like' me on Facebook

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G. Scott H.

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It means that the 100mAh cell would take 114 years to discharge. Safely negligible!

So if I lose one of my Tubes amongst the couch cushions and don't find it for 114 years, the cell will be drained? Totally unacceptable! I'm returning my Tubes asap! :mad::twothumbs

Many thanks for the info thus far. I look forward to updates, as you have time for them. These really are great little lights.
 

Phlogiston

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Thanks for crunching all this data out for us - access to this kind of technical information is one of my favourite things about CPF. I do have a couple of small questions, though:

NITECORE TUBEI.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
Maximum510
LowLess than 2lm71.4
Variable50-23000
PWM at 71.4 Hz in Low mode seems to be a very low frequency?

The only way to measure this is to take it apart and unsolder the cell. Initially, when measuring the drain, the cell had been disconnected, and the TUBE had not been turned on then off. The drain in this situation was 320mA. At this rate the cell would be fully discharged in 13 days.

Should "320mA" be "320uA"?
 

subwoofer

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Thanks for crunching all this data out for us - access to this kind of technical information is one of my favourite things about CPF. I do have a couple of small questions, though:


PWM at 71.4 Hz in Low mode seems to be a very low frequency?

71.4Hz is indeed very low, but is only for the very lowest output mode. it is flickery with movement, but not unusable.

Should "320mA" be "320uA"?

Thank you for spotting that, typo corrected to make it 320uA. Proof reading your own copy is not ideal and the odd thing slips through.
 

Str8stroke

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Nice review.
I am glad you pointed out the "lantern effect", as I call it. I got a black one and a pink one. Pink on glows too. The wife put the pink one on the zipper for diaper bag duty. She loves it. No weight at all! As she put it, "I can find the zipper and stuff in the bag and it doesn't look like a flashlight, it so cute"
 

yoyoman

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Thank you for putting all this data together. Interesting and helpful. The lantern effect of the clear model seems useful - I may have to pick up another one.
 

blah9

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Thank you for this review! I agree, it is awesome to have people dig in and measure this type of stuff! :)
 

ven

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Thank you for your in deth information and testing:twothumbs i like the way you positioned the 3 to resemble your avatar:)
 

Hugger

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Thank you for putting all this data together. Interesting and helpful. The lantern effect of the clear model seems useful - I may have to pick up another one.


Yes thank you for the most thorough review.

I didn't consider the case color when buying my first a few days ago... so looking forward to it arriving...we shall see how I like the green glow...Green Lantern style maybe

thanks for the review
 

selfbuilt

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Interesting standby current measures. Thanks for taking the time to do the detailed disassembly and testing. :thumbsup:
 

subwoofer

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i like the way you positioned the 3 to resemble your avatar:)

;)

Interesting standby current measures. Thanks for taking the time to do the detailed disassembly and testing. :thumbsup:

Knowing this level of information never used to bother me, but now I'm so used to testing lights, I find I just CAN'T leave one untested! Even if it was not one that was sent to me to review, I now need to know all the details.

I suspect you are the same.

The vast difference in drain after the light has been switched on and off again is a characteristic I've only ever seen in NITECORE lights. Obviously in the case of the TUBE, the user will never be swapping out the cell so this will never come up. It does make taking the measurements more challenging.
 
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KITROBASKIN

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Last night we got some lightly interspersed, yet large flake snow. I immediately pulled out the Tube to gaze skyward and could not see any PWM distraction. My wife carries the other Tube on her keyring, and is not flashlight savvy. She is OK with the user interface. It puts out much more light than the ReX and the earlier Photons. It is a room filler. And it is no problem to use a thumb to obscure direct light from the emitter while in use. It will stay on my keys, and a Match Box Instruments HF Nichia will be on my belt loop.
 
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