[Review] MASSDROP BRASS AAA POCKET FLASHLIGHT (Nichia 219/ 1x AAA)

_UPz

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MASSDROP BRASS AAA POCKET FLASHLIGHT
LED: Nichia 219 NW (CREE XP-G2 CW version available)
Battery: 1x AAA
Modes: 3 (M, L, H)
Switch: Digital, in the tailcap.
Date: January 2017.



INTRODUCTION
Massdrop, the US-based group shopping discount platform, and more specifically its EDC community has just released its first custom AAA flashlight.
This is a flashlight that many will find familiar, as it is produced by Lumintop.



The flashlight comes vacuum sealed bag, to protect the brass from contact with oxygen, thus preventing its premature corrosion.



In addition to the flashlight, we will find in the practical plastic box an alkaline AAA battery, a pair of spare o-rings and a key ring attachment.


EXTERIOR FINISH
The Massdrop Brass AAA is a small and elegant AAA flashlight machined in brass, with a polished finish very bright and homogeneous throughout all the parts that compose it.




It is made by Lumintop, and you could say that it is a Tool Ti, with the head of a normal Tool.

22_rdl_massdrop.gif
23_rdl_massdrop.gif
19_rdl_massdrop_brass_aaa.jpg

It has almost identical dimensions to a Tool Ti, and a weight similar to that of a Tool Cu.


The optics consists of a neutral tinted Nichia 219 emitter, with an OP reflector and a glass lens with AR treatment. The o-ring sealing the optics is green and glows in the dark.



One of the main aspects of the machining of this flashlight is the knurling that covers the three sections of the body. Although it does not have a very aggressive feel, it greatly improves the hand feeling and grip of the flashlight.



Inside the head, we have the driver visible which will be familiar if we have seen before a lumintop tool or worm.



The threads have an excellent finish, and come perfectly clean. The feel of threading and unscrewing is very pleasant, as is usually the case with brass.



The clip has been gold-plated to perfectly match the golden color of the brass flashlight. In addition to being reversible by having a track on the opposite side of the tube, we can simply swap the tailcap with the head as the threads are identical on both sides.



Speaking of compatible threads, if we have other lumintop tool we can make interesting combinations between them, since they are completely compatible.



The tailcap hides inside a tiny electronic switch, covered by a small titanium button. This type of digital switch was first used by Lumintop in its Tool Ti, and has the peculiarity of needing a few minutes with the battery installed inside to work properly in its first use, so don't panic if your massdrop brass AAA light is not working straight out the box!
At the edge we find a small hole for the installation of the key ring. The base of the tailcap is completely flat, so the flashlight can be placed in tailstand.



USER INTERFACE
The Massdrop Brass AAA features a common user interface with its Tool AAA sisters, simple but effective.


  • Switching on and off: To switch on, simply click on the switch on the tailcap. To turn it off, simply repeat the operation.

  • Changing modes: To switch between modes, turn the flashlight off and on (within 2 seconds) to jump to the next mode. The order of the modes in this sample is Medium – Low – High, although I think the production units will have Low – Medium – High sequence.

  • Memory: The Massdrop Brass AAA has no mode memory, and two seconds after it is turned off, it will always return back to Medium mode in the next activation.

  • Block-out: Although the type of switch is not prone to unintentional activations, the flashlight can be locked by slightly unscrewing the head of the flashlight.



(All measurements are taken following the ANSI NEMA FL1 procedure, taking as value the highest point of the reading between the second 30 and 120 after activation. More info here.)

The distribution of modes is quite good, without great differences between the specified and the measured. This neutral tint version with Nichia LED emitter is significantly less powerful than the cold tint version and CREE LED.

The modes are achieved by regulated current, without PWM traces in any of the modes.



PERFORMANCE


The performance and efficiency is quite poor, as has been seen in recent releases by lumintop. During the first minutes with an Eneloop the flashlight seems to try to maintain a regulation and we see as even the output grows slightly before falling and start a second unregulated phase in which the output is gradually decreasing. With the alkaline is much worse, and just 30 seconds after turning it on, we see a marked drop in performance.



Compared to other Lumintop flashlights, the performance is similar. Lumintop seems to have created a whole generation of very inefficient AAA flashlights.



BEAM PROFILE

The beam profile is exactly the same as that found in Tool AAA.

A.gif
B.gif

C.gif
D.gif


The Nichia emitter tint is very nice, with a really good neutral tone.



Very similar to that found in the Tool AAA Copper Nichia, and (thanks god) far from the green of my old Tool AAA aluminum.



More details in the Tool AAA Copper review.



PERSONAL CONCLUSION

This type of EDC flashlights on not so common metals are becoming increasingly popular within the community for daily use flashlights. Not very long ago it was hard to find a keychain/EDC flashlight that was not made of anodized aluminum or steel, but little by little copper, titanium and, why not, brass flashlights are making their way into the already saturated AAA flashlight market.



The brass, as a copper alloy, has an high density and therefore a weight significantly greater than the one would be obtained with light metals such as aluminum, but on the other hand offer excellent thermal conductivity, which makes it able to dissipate much better the temperature generated by the LED, and therefore reduce the stress on the emitter.



DQG AAA Ti II · EOSLAMP SP11-S · MARATAC AAA Rev3 · OLIGHT A3T · Olight i3S CU · Klarus MiX6 Ti · Lumintop Worm Cu · Massdrop Brass AAA

Negative aspects: The poor performance is undoubtedly the aspect with more room for improvement of this flashlight. I do not know if it is due to being a pre-production sample, my own bad luck or an error when specifying the modes/runtime by the engineering team of Lumintop, but the truth is that all models of this brand that have gone through my hands in recent times share this unattractive feature.

Positive aspects:
The mechanical finish of the flashlight is excellent. The detail of bathing the golden clip to match the brass tone of the body of the lantern has surprised me very pleasantly. The design, although inherited from Lumintop's Tool AAA, is really good, and I personally always feel attracted to those lanterns in which the knurling is a predominant part of its external appearance. As always, the fact of offering two tints is something to be valued very positively.




Review sample provided by Massdrop for analysis, test & review. Thanks!


 

kreisl

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I think i like the Tool Ti best!

Thanks for the great review UPz as always :huh:
 

LightObsession

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Good review. It's a beautiful light.

Too bad for me that they kept the MLH mode sequence. I much prefer LMH. Heck, I'd even prefer MHL. I don't like dropping from M to L on my way to H.
 

Timothybil

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Good review. It's a beautiful light.

Too bad for me that they kept the MLH mode sequence. I much prefer LMH. Heck, I'd even prefer MHL. I don't like dropping from M to L on my way to H.
On the other hand, I kinda like the MLH sequence. I find that I use the medium mode much more than either the low or the high, and it is nice to have it come on first, since there is no memory to keep it there.

I don't remember who it was by, but there was a review of the Tool Ti not too long ago, and it showed that the electronic switch of the Ti had a measurable impact on output and run time compared to the Al and Cu versions. While I would like to have my Tools have the ability to tail stand, I am not willing to put up the the parasitic drain and reduced output that variation brings along.

I saw the Massdrop announcement today, and was seriously considering joining in on the drop, but now that I know it is a variant of the Ti version and not the Al or Cu, I will not be. So thanks for bringing that to my attention.
 

Newguy2012

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LMH is what Massdrop will be doing. Only the Pre-Production sample is MLH.

@UPz
The issue with the Ti is it overheat on high. I was wondering if the result would different if you put in cold water or something. Is the high brightness time better if you let it cool down after 4mins. I think realistically you want to burst the high and not run it continuously.
 
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jon_slider

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there was a review of the Tool Ti not too long ago, and it showed that the electronic switch of the Ti had a measurable impact on output and run time compared to the Al and Cu versions.

actually, it was not the switch here is the link #1
maukka said:
Some interesting findings were made especially in the highest mode. The Ti seems very inefficient compared to the Copper. The problem lies in the driver or the titanium body, since the copper version works well with the electronic tailcap from the Ti.

IF the issue is related to the body being Titanium, and the fact that Ti conducts electricity very poorly, then the Brass might be similar because it also has poor conductivity, but not as bad as Ti

There may also be differences in the drivers in maukkas CuTool and UPzs. You can see UPzs Worm is regulated, but not his CuTool, and not the Brass. maukkas CuTool IS regulated.

I think we need to dig deeper and look at the images of the drivers, to see if there are differences. But the bottom line from UPzs efforts, is the Brass is NOT regulated, and seems to have shorter run time than UPzs Copper Worm.

bear in mind the issue is with High mode specifically, and I dont use High mode much. I mostly use Medium. I like MLH for that reason (especially when gifting to non flashoholics). But LMH is very popular with flashaholics, which is fine, so long as youre OK with 3 clicks of the switch to get to medium. :)

weight comparison
copper 100%
aluminum 30%
brass 95%
titanium 51%


electrical conductivity
copper 100%
aluminum 61%
brass 28%
titanium 3% (Ti data from here)


thermal conductivity
copper 100%
aluminum 53%
brass 29%
titanium 6%
 
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LightObsession

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Interesting comparisons, jon_slider.

It looks like copper is best for an efficient light with longer runtime at higher light outputs.

I do much prefer the weight of aluminum.
 

easilyled

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Thanks for the review and great pictures.
Do you happen to know which Nichia 219 is in the light - (A or B or C)?
 

Sir Lightalot

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The tailcap hides inside a tiny electronic switch, covered by a small titanium button. This type of digital switch was first used by Lumintop in its Tool Ti,

I think it was first used (in 1xAAA format) by the famous Liteflux LF2XT back in '09.

LF2XT-5.jpg


But I'm glad some company is bringing it back. Twisties are hard to use at this size.

I'm wondering how it works in this case though. Liteflux used an inner-battery-tube to create a return-path for the switch without breaking battery contact. But this doesn't seem to have one. I'm guessing its an always-closed switch and pressing it opens the circuit momentarily. That would explain why it needs to charge for a few minutes too.
 

jon_slider

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Check out the Massdrop marketing blitz:
2079 users have requested this product.

Community Reviews


"I mean, this absolutely is, in my opinion, one the best sub-$50 AAA flashlight one can buy today! Heck, it's one of the best sub-$75 or even sub-$100 AAA flashlight one can buy today!" - Bobraz (Massdrop community member)
"The brass, as a copper alloy, has an high density and therefore a weight significantly greater than the one would be obtained with light metals such as aluminum, but on the other hand offer excellent thermal conductivity..." - UPz (Candle Power Forums contributor)
"A solidly built and great looking AAA light that combines uncommon material with familiar looks, performance and reliability. " - will34 (Budget Light Forum contributor)
"Feels very compact and well built , and the light's material , Brass , helps a lot in the "quality" feeling . It has a shiny look , which of course will develop a nice patina over time ." - giorgoskok (Budget Light Forum contributor)
"Overall the fit , feel , and finish of these lights is exceptional , especially to be such a small little light, The best build quality little EDC I have had the pleasure of owning to date." - robo819 (The Flashlight Forum contributor)
"Massdrop commissioned it from Lumintop to appeal to their EDC community and as such, I do believe it'll be a hit. From the gold plated clip to the titanium button in the tail, a lot of thought has gone into this one." - DB Custom (Budget Light Forum contributor)
"...I was sent an early sample and was already impressed by the overall design. Brass flashlight AND a tailswitch? As a collector of Surefire and various solid metal lights, this is my ideal combination." - Cyphre (Massdrop community member)

and the news:
"$25 + free domestic shipping
DB Custom suggested we have them start in low, cycle to medium, then high. ...Lumintop will be programming the production units as such. "

There you have it, a $25 ReyLight Brass Tool (LMH modes)

FWIW, I believe this Brass Tool head will lego to Maratacs, creating a Nichia "drop in" option for the Maratac body. This Lego should also create a Maratac Clicky option.

If youve ever wished your Maratac could be High CRI, or your Tool could tailstand.. nows your chance :)
 
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phosphor22

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As I read about the materials (brass!) and features (LMH, no PWM and clicky tailswitch!) and LED (warm -- I am hoping around 4000K --- Nichia 219!) all together in an AAA package for that price I knew that :D I'm in...
 

jon_slider

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I wonder if they will keep the Nichia version Low at 3 lumens or change it to 1 Lumen like the ReyLights

Prediction: There will be a Copper Tool with Electronic switch after the brass ones sell out.
 
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Tana

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Why couldn't they use this design on Ti version? I hope they do revision on it and make it exactly like this brass version looks like - with removable head (which can be used as twisty and clicky)...
 
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