Requirements for caving lights

O

Ocelot

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PeLu said:
Yes, you are perfectly right for your circumstances.

In India, for example, carbide is easy to get, but electricity was unrelyable (but is good now). So the people using carbide had an easier life sometimes.

Interesting you mention India...

When I went on an expedition there in 2003, and I didn't bring a carbide light, I was told that I "would regret it". Everyone else used carbide canister lights. Mine was a homemade LED light using 4 Luxeon I LEDs in a series/parallel fashion with redundant current regulators & switches, so that I could use one of two pairs of LEDs or all 4 at once.

We ended up in a different area due to local unrest, and the caves were smaller and there was a bit of crawling & squeezing in sections. While everyone elses carbide tubes were getting caught on projections, or their lights flaming out due to the canister not being upright all the time, I had no problems... And I could crank the brightness up & down quickly when the cave got bigger/smaller.

In addition, I was able to sleep in during mornings instead of having to break the large carbide rocks (and hammers!) into smaller pieces... Afterwards, everyone stated that they wouldn't be bringing carbide lights in the future.

Just another perspective... From a former, reformed carbide user. And yes, I also cave in cold alpine caves and I do miss the warmth occasionally (but just occasionally).

Scott
 
N

nc987

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speaking of caving? Has anyone here been to the bat caves in Alger, in Washington state?

Any other washington state cavers here?
 
JonSidneyB

JonSidneyB

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I will be in Washington State for a caving convention.


I just noticed what town you are in. Thats the site of the NSS convention and where CPF member SilverFox lives.
 
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PeLu

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Ocelot said:
When I went on an expedition there in 2003, and I didn't bring a carbide light, I was told that I "would regret it".
Not by me .-)
I did not want to express that carbide lights are better in any respect (which they are clearly not), more that there are several caving conditions where thebetter illumination is worth the trouble.

BTW, this year I changed the numerous carbide lights we have to lend to locals and other people to LED lights .-)

Carbide lights are not very good for beginners or non-cavers. Sometimes frustrating.
(and they also can perform well in crawls when set up correctly).
 
D

dbedit

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Robocop- Brother, Mammoth is big an well worth the visit. But there are also good caves closer to Birmingham. There are more caves in AL than in any other state. Just up the street from you in Warrior, AL is "Banger" or "Bangor" Cave it was an old "speak easy" during prohabition and is a very cool fun little cave that you just need a little gear to explore. It is very small dry cave about 30minto explore all of it, not exactly a real senic type cave but fun and interesting none the less. to see where the stage for the preformers was the bar and the brothel in the back where the individual rooms were. This is a very flat safe cave for a start.
 
Robocop

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Dbedit thanks for the information and I never thought to start with my own state...who would have thought that Alabama had so many caves.

I remember hearing of some caves however it was long past and I just never thought about checking here. I do know of a place called Crystal Caverns and have even camped there as a teenager (long ago)

It is only about 10 miles from me now however I believe it has been condemned. Seems like it was only about 3/4 of a mile deep however very dark and very cool to visit. The funny part is that back then I was not into lights and I think I only took a plastic 2 dollar light with me....man how times change as now it would most likely take me an hour just to choose one of my many lights to take.
 
Robocop

Robocop

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Thanks for the links Jon....I have just found many places in my state. I was amazed at the amount of cool places right in my back yard. I am now looking at Valhalla....Bangor....and Fern caves all located in Alabama. I read on line that Alabama has over 3,000 caves.

Maybe I can find a use for some of my many hobby lights after all. I have several of the Ultra-G models left over that would be perfect for an extra carry light. Interesting read here I must say and maybe I have found a new hobby as well.
 
Lunarmodule

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I'm sorry to intrude and take a little detour here with the flow of things, but could someone explain to me what carbide lights are, and how they work. I know nothing about spelunking but admire those that explore caves. Claustrophobia does me in, I cant partake.

I very recently obtained a Stenlight and am thoroughly impressed with its capabilities and incredible analog design. The regulation is superb, and the details of its construction and circuit design result in a light which has no equal that I know of. I was considering the possibility of changing optics thats why I jumped in here as I noticed that topic being presently discussed.

I'm a bit confused about the mention of using reflectors with the Stenlight. How is this accomplished?

I really am eager to hear about carbide lights. I'm going to try Google-ing and see what turns up. A new (to me) type of light.... intersting to say the least.
 
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David_Campen

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"carbide" means calcium carbide. Calcium carbide reacts with water to produce acetylene, a combustible gas, which is then burnt to produce illumination.
 
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arkcaver

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Heres a quick primer on carbide lamps. If you want to learn more go to http://www.caves.org/member/mfraley/

Calcium carbide is a dry, rock-like chemical that reacts with water to produce acetelyne gas. This gas is then piped thru a small tip to produce a gas jet, which is burned to produce light. The 1st carbide lamps were made around 1900, and they became poplular (at least in the US) in the 1920s. They were used for bike lamps, car headlamps, miners hand-carried lamps, and cap lamps.

Belt generator style carbide lamps are newer. A larger tubular generator is usually worn around the waist (hence the name belt generator) and a long tube connects the generator to the headpiece. These are usually vertical flame lamps, as opposed to the horizontal flame of a cap light. Because of the vertical flame the common nicknames for these style lamps are "ceiling smoker" and "ceiling burner".

The only two companies that I know of that are currently making carbide lamps are Petzl and J. K. Dey & Sons. J.K. Dey & Sons out of India makes a traditional cap headlamp, several hand-held carbide lights, and a belt generator. Petzl makes a belt generator and a matching headpiece.


autolite_2.jpg


The top part of the lamp is the water resevior. The bottom screws off and contains the carbide. A lever on the top of the lamp controls the rate of water dripping into the carbide. Pretty simple design, and very durable. The lamp I use regularly was made in 1928.
 
wquiles

wquiles

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arkcaver said:
Pretty simple design, and very durable. The lamp I use regularly was made in 1928.
:wow:

That is pretty awesome!. That is what I call durable :rock:

Will
 
JonSidneyB

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Lunarmodule,

The use of reflectors in the Stenlights will be an aftermarket additions. McGizmo is working on that for me.
 
Robocop

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I really do like looking at the old style lights....It is amazing how far things have progressed over the years.

I am still curious as to why anyone would choose the carbide over Luxeon for caving. I read the link provided by Arkcaver and it was a very helpful link however it pointed out several problems. It said carbide was classified as a hazardous material and was sometimes very hard to find and very costly to buy and ship when it was found.

Now considering that what makes the carbide lamps so desireable by many to this day. Does it have a very long runtime or is it very durable or does it have some other quality that makes it such a wanted item by some people. I also thought about the areas where it is used and that is mostly underground. Is it not a bad idea to use a flame underground due to fire hazards from gases or maybe a cave in where oxygen would be first priority....just saying that a flame burns oxygen and if stuck underground for a long time a light that consumed no oxygen would seem to be a better choice.

I like the light and the old style looks however can not find anything as to why it is still in use to this day. So what are the best qualities of the carbide and do any of the negatives I wrote above apply.?
 
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wasBlinded

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The carbide lamp provides a nice floody light at a warm color temperature. Runtimes of the self-contained ones are around 2 hours I think, though I suppose it could be stretched.

People also like them for the warmth they can provide.

Disadvantages include sometimes finicky operation and the need to dig the used stuff out of the generator and pack it out. Plus, you don't want to use it when on a rope. :eek:
 

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