Streamlight Night Com UV Review

subwoofer

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Streamlight Night Com UV Review

Next up in my series of Streamlight reviews is the, Night Com UV.

14NightComUV-.jpg


The Night Com was originally released with a Xenon bulb and red or green supplementary LEDs. Now updated, the Night Com comes in two versions, the Night Com LED with the Streamlight C4 led (which mainly seem to be Cree XR-Es) and three supplementary red LEDs, and the version on test, the Night Com UV which has six UV LEDs three of which are 365nm and three 390nm UV as well as the main beam C4 LED.

The combination of a main white beam along with 365nm UV (ideal for forensic and counterfeit detection) and 390nm UV (for HVAC and engine leak detection) gives the Night Com UV wide appeal.



Initial Impressions:

At first glance, you may think this is just a typical black aluminium light, but the Night Com UV has some unique features making it stand out.

When picking it up the Night Com UV, it has a solid feeling body and a rotary dial mode-switch in the head. Behind the polycarbonate lens is a textured reflector with the six UV LEDs evenly spaced around the edge.

The light is well finished and both the mode switch and tail-cap switch function smoothly and crisply.



What is in the box:

The Night Com UV comes in the blister-pack type of packaging.

01NightComUVpackaging-.jpg
02NightComUV2packaging-.jpg


It is simply supplied with an instruction manual and two CR123 batteries.

03NightComUV-.jpg




Taking a closer look and looking inside:


Looking directly into the lens of the Night Com UV you can see the unusual reflector design which accommodates the six UV LEDs with the remainder of the textured reflector shaping the beam of the C4 emitter.

The focal point is set on the UV LEDs and then on the C4 LED (or as can be seen, the Cree XR-E)

06NightComUVLEDs-.jpg
07NightComUVLED-.jpg


The UV LEDs, being integrated in the reflector, results in an interesting spill pattern (more on this later)

13NightComUVbeam-.jpg


As well as the forward clicky tail-cap switch, the Night Com UV has a mode selection dial on the head.

04NightComUVdial-.jpg


The lanyard fixing point is a steel ring held in place by the tail-cap.

05NightComUVlanyard-.jpg


The tail-cap has standard threads, a single o-ring and shows the steel lanyard ring.

11NightComUVtail-.jpg


Looking down into the battery tube shows the positive contact.

12NightComUVpositive-.jpg




Modes and User Interface:

As you can see from the previous photos, the Night Com UV has mode selection dial, and a forward-clicky tail-cap switch.

There are four modes that can be selected by rotating the dial, Safety (or OFF), High LED, Low LED and UV LED.

It is possible to entirely operate the light using the mode dial, as the Night Com UV can change modes while the tail-cap switch is on. The ‘Safety’ mode is a lockout position to prevent batteries draining unintentionally.

In normal use, the mode is pre-selected by rotating the dial, then the forward-clicky switch can be used momentarily or fully pressed to latch on.

That is all there is to it, so it is nice and simple, giving you a selectable fixed output mode with no flashing modes or multi-presses of a switch to access another mode.



Batteries and output:

Streamlight specify only CR123As can be used.

When querying this with their technical department, and asking if RCR123s could be used, they were incredibly helpful and tested a Night Com at various input voltages. I was told that at 8V, the Night Com started to smoke, so I’d say that rules out using 2 x RCR123!

However, as well as using the recommended 2 x CR123As, what I did do was to try using a single RCR123 with a spacer.

10NightComUVpower-.jpg


The spacer pictured is simply a bit of wooden dowel with a hole drilled through the centre and a piece of aluminium welding rod pushed into this.

Bear in mind that devices operating on 2 x CR123A typically function down to 2V input voltage, so the single RCR123 should happily power the Night Com UV.

In an attempt to ensure that sufficient current would be supplied I tested this method using an AW IMR RCR123 as these are known for low internal resistance and ability to deliver high current.

The result was that when running on the single RCR123, the output was slightly lower on both white light outputs. This lower output was not noticeable to the eye, but instead was only revealed by the output testing. Using this single AW IMR RCR123, the Night Com UV worked perfectly, so if you want a rechargeable option, there is one.

All further testing was carried out using the CR123As.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. The sensor is a photo-diode restricted to visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not register). This was chosen as our eyes can only use the visible wavelengths of light so this is generally the only useful output. The integrating sphere was calibrated using 12 different reference sources and taking an average of the factor used to convert the measured voltage output to Lumens. Output figures are quoted as ANSI lumens where the measurement is made 30s after turning on the specified output level. Initial figures when first switching on are always higher, but all quoted measurements are ANSI.

02integratingsphere2.jpg


Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and 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.

Sidewinder – Night Com UVI.S. measured ANSI output LumensPWM frequency (Hz)
2 x CR123A White - High161N/A
2 x CR123A White - Low35N/A
1 x RCR123 IMR White - High146N/A
1 x RCR123 IMR White - Low30N/A

Output is regulated but declines slightly over about 3 hours reducing roughly 10% from initial output. After this output rapidly drops, but continues to provide light for a further hour. You get a reasonable warning that your batteries are low, so should not be left in the dark.

The UV output was not measurable with the equipment I have as the sphere’s sensor only responds to visible light, so UV does not register.



In The Lab

In an attempt to quantify the actual beam profile I developed the following test. There are probably many flaws in my method, but it is simple and easy to carry out and seems to provide a good enough comparison.

The method used was to support the light 1m off the floor and 1m from a wall, with a tape measure on the wall. The zero of the scale is placed in the centre of the hotspot and a lux meter is then positioned at points along the scale, with the measurements recorded. Beam shots are often taken with the light shining on a flat white wall, so this method is simply measuring the actual intensity across the beam on a flat surface, not the spherical light emission.

The results are then plotted on a graph.

For the best throw you want to see a sharp peak with less of the distracting spill. For the best flood light the trace should be pretty flat.


The Night Com UV beam profile is shown here compared to the other Streamlight lights I have on review. It has sharp peak which drops very smoothly as you move out into the spill area, giving it a reasonable throw but also a good amount of spill light.


StreamlightBeamProfiles.jpg


Taking this a little further, I calculated an approximate factor to apply to the lux measurements, as each measurement gets further from the centre of the beam, it corresponds to a larger area onto which the light is falling. It seems to me that this should also be taken into consideration, so I applied these area corrections and came up with this odd looking graph.

The key quantity here is the area under the graph line. This should correspond to the total light output.


Of all the Streamlight lights on test, the Night Com UV has the brightest outer spill areas.

StreamlightAreaadjustedBeamProfiles.jpg




The beam

As shown in the previous section, the Night Com UV has a mix of some throw and useful spill.

The beamshot is exposed to give an impression of the beam’s brightness to the naked eye.

17NightComUVbeam-.jpg


You can see obvious shaping of the spill due to the incorporated UV LEDs in the main reflector. Despite this, the beam is perfectly usable.

You can easily forgive the less than perfect beam, for the fact that this is a multi-function light and gives you a real UV output. Until you shine the UV onto a fluorescing material, when on UV mode, the Night Com UV appears to have virtually no light output, with the 390nm LEDs providing just a bit of visible coloured light.

The UV beam itself is difficult to photograph as it is mostly invisible, but appears typical for an array of six 5mm LEDs.

Here with the Night Com UV close to a piece of white paper, three of the UV LEDs are causing the paper to fluoresce and the others are lighting the bank notes security hologram.

16NightComUV20note-.jpg


As the range increases the light from all six LEDs merges smoothly (as far as I can tell).



What it is really like to use…

20NightComUV3beach-.jpg


The forward-clicky tail switch only requires a soft press to operate and the full click is easy compared to many lights which need a very firm press to latch the switch. Having the Safety mode means you can easily lock out the Night Com UV to prevent accidental operation of this switch, but still benefit from a switch that operates easily.

The mode selection dial has a raised portion to indicate which mode is selected which doubles as a grip which you can use to rotate the dial with your thumb. This has a slightly stiff feel when trying to do this with one hand, but can be done.

The main beam is perfectly serviceable even with the shaping of the outer spill (though I have seen some crenelated bezels producing similar effects) but for me, where the Night Com UV really comes into its own is the fact that it has true UV LEDs. UV that is not flooded with visible blue light.

In the testing I made a direct comparison to a cheap UV flashlight while checking the security features of some bank notes.

First up is the cheap UV light which floods the view with visible blue light. There is some true UV as you can just about make out the security mark.

09CheapUVnote-.jpg


However, compare this to the Night Com UV’s view of the same note and the bi-colour feature shines out clearly showing the massive difference true UV output gives!

08NightComUVnote-.jpg


A similar feature in another bank note was not visible with the cheap UV light, but was with the Night Com UV.

15NightComUVnote-.jpg



In the Night Com UV you have a light that gives you a reasonable white beam combined with a good true UV light source. Multifunction devices are never a master of either, but the Night Com UV is good at both, and the UV is significantly better than most non-specialist UV lights.

The mode selection dial works well and the Safety mode means there is no need to unscrew the tail-cap to lock out the light. Altogether solid and functional.


Test sample provided for review by Streamlight.

I’ll update post 2 of this thread once I have some more comments to add....
 

subwoofer

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reserved...

Update 5/11/2012 - 17670s have just arrived and they fit and function perfectly.
 
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Dr. Strangelove

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Thanks Sub, great review!

I'm currently using a SolarForce UV drop-in in a SolarForce host. I think it works in the 390 nm range IIRC. I just ordered the Night Com, I'll compare them and see which one I like the best. I don't expect the UV in the Night Com to have the same range as the SolarForce, but I usually don't need more than about 6 feet anyway. The fact that it covers a wider UV band and has white light capability means that it can function as a back-up light as well. I'll report back when I get it.
 

subwoofer

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Is the battery large enough to take a 17670 rechargeable battery?

I've turned the house upside down looking for my rarely used 17670s and they were nowhere to be found. The CR123s are not a tight fit in the tube, so it may be ok, but I'd want to try one before confirming one way or the other.

I'll add some 17670s to my next battery order, but it may be some time before I can give you an answer.

As I said in the review, you can run this on a single RCR123 with a spacer. I've been using it like this regularly for some time now.
 

JetskiMark

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Nice review subwoofer, thank you.

Have you tried an 18650 to see if it would fit? If not, I wonder if the battery tube can unscrew from the switch tube and be bored? I would appreciate it if you could measure the inside diameter of the battery tube.

Thank you in advance.
 

subwoofer

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Nice review subwoofer, thank you.

Have you tried an 18650 to see if it would fit? If not, I wonder if the battery tube can unscrew from the switch tube and be bored? I would appreciate it if you could measure the inside diameter of the battery tube.

Thank you in advance.

18650 does not fit, not even an unprotected cell.

There are two dimensions that are important here as if you look at the tailcap in this photo, it has a recess that holds the end of the battery

10NightComUVpower-.jpg


The internal diameter of this small tube is 17.16mm

The main battery tube is 17.30mm internally.

So in neither case does an 18650 fit.

I've tried unscrewing the battery tube, but so far it has not complied, however there is another important observation which is that even if it did come out, the head of the light has another section of battery tube which does not unscrew as it is part of the head. This leaves about 1cm of tube which you would need to fully disassemble the head to be able to bore this out.
 

JetskiMark

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I appreciate you taking the time to measure and explain why an 18650 will not work.

I'm glad a 17670 will work though. If I decide to get this light, that is what I will run.

Thank you again.
 

subwoofer

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I am trying to ask if it is safe to use 17670

Can you think of a good reason I would post to say it is OK to use 17670 in this light, if doing so would be dangerous? If it were dangerous I would not say it could be used (or would mention a warning).

Obviously all the normal li-ion safety considerations are there, just as they are in any light using li-ion cells.

Consider that any light 2xCR123 light will have a working voltage range from 6V-2V(or less) as a single CR123 starts at 3V and can still provide power down to 1V or less. So with Li-ion sitting at 4.2V to 2.5V (with NNP) this is nicely within the working range. The only safety considerations are for normal li-ion use. The cells I've tested with are protected and still fit fine. If you had to use an unprotected cell then you would have to be more careful.
 

N8N

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Hi, sorry to bring this thread back from the dead, but I am considering purchasing this light and the very Surefire-esque lack of support for RCR123s is disappointing. You say it "runs very well" on a single RCR123A - this is good news, as I have several of those, and I wouldn't be averse to purchasing a couple 17670s for more runtime. Can you tell at what voltage it drops out of regulation, and about how long does that take? I'm primarily interested in the UV function, but since it has a flashlight built in, if I like it it could easily become my default "working on car" and "working on HVAC" light, and then I wouldn't have to carry another light.

I'd just have pulled the trigger if it were specifically listed to run on either one or two Li-Ions or used a standard size alkaline so I could run it on Eneloops.
 

subwoofer

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Hi, sorry to bring this thread back from the dead, but I am considering purchasing this light and the very Surefire-esque lack of support for RCR123s is disappointing. You say it "runs very well" on a single RCR123A - this is good news, as I have several of those, and I wouldn't be averse to purchasing a couple 17670s for more runtime. Can you tell at what voltage it drops out of regulation, and about how long does that take? I'm primarily interested in the UV function, but since it has a flashlight built in, if I like it it could easily become my default "working on car" and "working on HVAC" light, and then I wouldn't have to carry another light.

I'd just have pulled the trigger if it were specifically listed to run on either one or two Li-Ions or used a standard size alkaline so I could run it on Eneloops.

No problems in reviving this thread. I use this light regularly. For me the UV function is the main feature, but the simplicity of the light is excellent for setting the output and lending it as well.

Due to time constraints, I can't test voltage/regulation for this light, but would not worry too much about that. A 2xCR123 light will run right down to 2V which will take a protected 17670 down to the protection circuit kicking in.
 
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N8N

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When you run a single Li-Ion low do you notice the light dimming, or does it stay reasonably constant?

Sent from my XT897 using Tapatalk 4
 

subwoofer

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When you run a single Li-Ion low do you notice the light dimming, or does it stay reasonably constant?

Sent from my XT897 using Tapatalk 4

Pretty consistent, but not great runtime (as far as I remember). That is why I now use 17670s which are the way to go.
 

jonwkng

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Thanks, subwoofer for the great review. I was initially put off by the official recommendation to use primaries. Looking to getting an off-the-shelf flashlight for curing Norland for tritium vial installation and the 365nm LEDs on the NightCom UV fit the bill. Now, the 17670 option looks like what I'll be using. Thanks for the upate regarding 17670 usage.
 
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