Spark SG6-NW Headlamp Review

kosPap

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Mar 1, 2007
Messages
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Naoussa Greece
submitted for consideration to the flashlight reviews forum.

This a review of a Spark SG6-NW headlamp, the 18650 Neutral White model of the Spark line.

I am sorry but beamshots will not be happening. I live in an apartment building and camping out is off for the moment cos there is still plenty of snow in our mountain…

Anyway here we start…
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The SG3 follows the headlamp design established by Zebralight and followed by other makers too. The design has met resistance by the crowd addicted to the more conventional Petzl design, but they only have to try it once. Then they are sold to it..
The big ergonomic advantage is the ability to turn the headlamp to illuminate your path and Not have it hang and bounce in front of your skull.

Selection against its Competitors

When researching my purchase I had to limit myself to the 3 major players in this design. Zerbra, Armytek, and Spark. After all I already beared the Zebralight’s H501 AA scars.

What won me over was the Spark’s ability to change from a reflector to flood pseudo-reflector attachment. This allows me to add my own DIY redfiler.

Other factors were its modability (pics are bellow), the availability of a NW tint, and some performance characteristics I will be covering later.

BTW comparison photos of the SG6 against the Armytek Wizard can be found here

web-IGP1195_zpsng79nigu.jpg~original


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Here is my DIY filter made out of shrink wrap tubing...

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web-IGP1215_zpslcxeefvw.jpg~original



EASILY moddable!

Specifications

The Spark’s website hosts only a few pics and the instruction manual, so I grabbed the specs from elsewhere.

Cree XM-L2 Neutral White LED
Premium aluminum alloy machined with hard anodized finishing
Powered by 1x 18650 or 2x CR123A battery
Working range 3.2-7.8v
Reverse Polarity Protection Circuit
Electrically conductive aluminum body provides EMI/RFI shielding
Impact resistance SCHOTT ultra clear lens with 98% transparency
IPX-8 waterproof

5 Modes operation with last mode memory:
Super 840lumens-1hr
Max 400lumens-2.5hrs
Med2 90lumens-12hrs
Med1 15lumens-120hrs
Low 0.6lumens-90days
** The headlamp will NOT power down in the Super mode**

Weight W/O Battery: 48g
Weight W/ Battery: 105g
Length: 100 mm
Width: 27 mm
Size 100mm x 27mm

Package includes:

Headlight with Rubber Holder
Pocket Clip
Headband
Velvet Pouch
Operation Manual
But NO spare O-rings

User Interface

Mode changing is done by a side button that is well recessed and protected. So I would not worry of the light turning on in a bag. After all, threads are anodized and that allows for tailcap twist off deactivation.

Mode sequence is Low (actually firefly) - Medium 1 (actually Low) – Medium 2High.
Super can be accessed in any mode with double clicking and there is no memory for it.
And as I have already stated, the headlamp will not power down on it. For me that is a bonus but you decide on it.

Mode spacing is very sensible and well practically designed.
But I do not favor the 0.6 lumen setting.
Unless your eyes are Really night-adjusted, it is TOO low for chores like reading in the tent.
Add a lumen or two and you will be royally good!

The headlamp memorizes your last mode.
But regarding this, I noticed an uncomfortable trait.
From off a sharp press will get you to the last memorized mode.
But a press and hold will FIRST jump to memory, and THEN start the cycle of modes.
Had you left it on high and now wish for the firefly, you gonna have a blast of lumens!.
Also, with a week short press you will get a blink, and then the lamp will remain off.
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Performance

My model is the Netral White one. I tried making comparison shots with flashlights in various tints, but had no luck with the pics. White wall hunting the Spark's Tint is a bit warmer than the XML2 3C.

I barely managed to measure amp draw on the headlamp. You know, the electonic swtch messes witht he process. One must have 3 hands to hold the elads on the tailcap and then press the switch. And Double press it for the Turbo mode too!

I got strange results, perhaps owning to my method of attaching magnets to te DMM lead that was ging to the battery. Current draw varied in High & Turbo considerably. I am making the hypothesis that the headlamp being regulated compensate for increased parasitic resistance when connections coudl not be held well.

Amperage Draw.
Moonlight - off range, less than 0.01A
Low - 0.03A
Medium - 0.39A
Hight - 1.08-1.39A
Turbo - 2.08-2.49A

I measured my battery at 2900mAh, so please have a look at the published runtimes and make your own guesses. :sssh:

During runtime measurement I noticed something that shows the headlamp is also temperature regulated. There were cases that I would get a small down in temperature followed by an equally small up in output. i.e. Check the diagrams in 48-52 minutes.

The SG6 has battery protection and will make a slow blink just before shutting off when battery is low. This happens in 2.8 Volts.

On Use

edit 03/03/15: I have tried fitment of the longer 18700 batteries, like the generic protected Panasonic NCR18650 in transparent heatshrink. They will NOT fit...It is not advisable to try to force the tailcap to screw all the way down.

Headlamps of the kind are a bit heavy but the vertical strap does help a lot with weight distribution. It can also be adjusted on ist front and its back end for better fitment.
The silicone backing on the Spark is generous in its surface and distributes the weight well.
Marks on your forehead will be only on the side, if you adjust weight distribution properly.
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Grip of the silicone holder is quite strong. And the switch is accessible even though recessed and protected. Tailcap threads are anodized off course, so you can lockout the hadlamp.
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But I would like to comment on the elastic headband material. Both the Spark AND the Zebra and Armytek ones are rather thin and verge on being flimsy. Though I have never heard else complaining, for the headlamp quality and prestige of the category and make I would trust these firms to differentiate from the Chinese norm.
My Petzl Taktika’s headband beats the big 3 hands down, and I do not wish this thing to happen.
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Just one more thing to nag about, the headlamp will not tailstand securely. Have a look at the tailcap pic, its raised flat surface is rather small. The headband will unbalance the headlamp.
web-IGP1193_zpsckmzb0ys.jpg~original


Runtime Measurements

Purpose of my tests was to observe the light regulation and temperature variation. Crosschecking published data on a good and responsible company’s product will give yuo approximate figures, cos measured performance will be more influenced by your battery than the manufacturer’s test procedure.

I started by measuring light output in the Turbo/Super mode. But I stoped at the 14 minute mark 'cos the headlamp got too hot for me at 55 degrees C. After all it was a brand new toy then so I would not risk cooking it off.
SG6-Temperature_zps5zrxcjlt.jpg~original


I also did a runtime test in high. (battery was a Panasonic NCR18650A measured ar about 2900mAh). Here is the chart of the light output:
SG6-Runtime-Lumens_zpszbkwzbdu.jpg~original


And here is a table of the temperature variation.
SG6-Runtime-Temperature_zpsf1uugzen.jpg~original


In more detail here is a table of the reading during the first and last minutes of the testing.
SG6-Runtime-FirstampLast_zpsyojypsd0.jpg~original


BeamSlices

I took beamslices of both the headlamp’s beam patterns and also of a XM-L P60 module for comparison.

SG6-Flood_zpslb3y6ykc.jpg~original
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P60-XM-L_zps3ybeo4jk.jpg~original


More Pics


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that is all folks…
 
Last edited:

markr6

Flashaholic
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
9,257
Re: Spark SG3 Headlamp Review

Thanks for the review. I like the 2xCR123 option, spot/flood lenses and mode spacing looks nice.

Why are these not more popular? I don't hear about them often. I think the Zebralights have a longer runtime on high, but I would still think these would be more popular given some of the advantages.

p.s. I think you mean SG6, not SG3, right?
 

kj2

Flashaholic
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
8,054
Location
The Netherlands
Re: Spark SG3 Headlamp Review

Thanks for the review. Like the design of Spark lights/headlamps. Option for spot or flood is great. Wish they are available at more stores.
 

kosPap

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
2,894
Location
Naoussa Greece
Re: Spark SG3 Headlamp Review

markr6 , thanks for the heads up.
Yes, it is the SG6-NW, i corrected it.

I also added the amp draw results, and added my impression of the actual Tint. It is a bit warmer than the 3C.

Regarding slaes, I think it is of luck of promotion by the company itself.
 

RoccoOnFire

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
37
Re: Spark SG3 Headlamp Review

I love my Spark headlamps! I have 2 st6 models, one in CW and the other is NW. They are sturdy and reliable and i can run them on high until the battery is dead and you can barely feel them get warm. I was thinking of getting my dad an sd6 model so he wont smack the lens into everything when he works in cramped spaces, like he does when he uses my st6 model. After seeing this one though, I may opt for this model instead of the sd6.

Thanks for the review! It was very well timed:thumbsup:
 

kosPap

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Joined
Mar 1, 2007
Messages
2,894
Location
Naoussa Greece
Re: Spark SG3 Headlamp Review

notice: I have tried fitment of the longer 18700 batteries, liek the generic Panasonic protected in transparent heatshrink.
they will NOT fit...

I started EDC-ing the Spark, by installing the included clip.
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it Si crooked in a heads up installation cos Spark did not design it like this.. But the clip is strong enough still..
 
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