SUNWAYLED M40A Review (MC-E 4xAA): RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, and more!

selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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Reviewer's Note: The M40A was provided for review by SUNWAYLED. Please see their website or BatteryJunction.com for more info.

Warning: pic heavy, as usual :cool:

Manufacturer Specifications: (taken from the SUNWAYLED website)
  • CREE MC-E LED
  • Three modes constant output, one strobe mode
  • Output and runtime using 4*AA 2600mAH Ni-MH batteries): 500 Lumens (1 hrs)- 150 Lumens (5 hrs)- 15 Lumens (60 hrs) - Strobe mode:500 Lumens (1.5 hrs)
  • Digital Sensor Magnetic Control system, slightly twist the Rotator Ring to select from different modes
  • Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
  • Effective range of 250 meters
  • Using 4*1.5V AA(Alkaline, Ni-MH, Lithium) batteries
  • Working voltage:3.3~7V
  • Reflector of good quality maintains both great throw distance and spread
  • Dimension:144mm (length) x 57 mm (head diameter) x 40 mm (body diameter)
  • Weight:237.8g(battery excluded)
  • Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy
  • Military Specification Type III hard anodized
  • Waterproof accords with IPX-8 standard
  • Ultra-clear toughened glass lens resists scratches and impacts
  • Tail stand and can be used as a candle
  • Accessories: lanyard, O-ring
  • Estimated MSRP: ~$140
The M40A is part of a new series of lights launched by SUNWAYLED. This is the first shipping sample I have reviewed – I have previously reviewed engineering samples of the M10R, M20C and M40C. The M40A is a high-output MC-E light that runs on common AA batteries.

M40A006.jpg

M40A007.jpg

M40A002.jpg

M40A005.jpg


The light comes in a solid cardboard box with cushioned packing foam. Included inside the package were the light, wrist strap/lanyard, manual, warranty card, promotional insert, and extra o-rings. Note that no holster is included.

M40A028.jpg

M40A031.jpg

M40A034.jpg

From left to right: Duracell AA, SUNWAYLED M40A, M40C, ITP A6 Polestar, Fenix TK45.

M40A: Weight: 247.0g (no batter), Width (bezel) 57.0mm, Length: 145mm
M40C: Weight: 258.5g (no battery), Width (bezel) 57.1mm, Length 156mm

As you can see, the light bears something of a resemblance to the 2x18650 M40C reviewed previously. I will point out key differences as we go along … :whistle:

M40A019.jpg

M40A014.jpg


First of these is the styling – note the location of heatsink fins has moved, and the M40A features traditional knurling around the body/battery tube/handle. Knurling is reasonably aggressive compared to most made-in-China lights.

One comment about the anodizing – while I would consider my M40A sample to be excellent overall, but there is some mottling of the head of the light near the bezel, and a few fine concentric rings around the base of the head near the heatsink fins. While these are minor cosmetic blemishes, the earlier M40C/M20C/M10R I reviewed were all outstanding in comparison (i.e. flawless). The color has also changed slightly to more gunmetal gray appearance on my M40A sample.

The control ring is similar to the M40C, but with more pronounced detents at every level. :thumbsup: As before, there are no identifying labels on the control ring. One small note – there is a bit of small gap between the control ring and the area containing the heatsink fins. And it looks like one of the control ring magnets is visible at the top of the ring (near the heatsink fins). Not necessarily a problem per se, but not something that was visible not on the M40C.

The M40A lacks the low-battery LED warning indicator present on the M40C.

Something that hasn’t changed – high quality machinist square-cut screw threads, anodized for head lock-out. :)

M40A013.jpg

M40A023.jpg

M40A026.jpg


The light comes equipped with a MC-E emitter inside a fairly deep reflector. Shown above is a comparison to the M40C – although hard to tell in the pics, the M40A reflector is both wider and deeper than the main M40C reflector. The overall front opening width is similar on the two lights, but the M40A doesn’t have the ring of colored 5mm emitters.

M40A008.jpg


Here’s another significant change – no clicky switch. On/off and mode switching is now controlled entirely by the control ring in the head. The M40A can tailstand.

M40A016.jpg

M40A017.jpg

M40A018.jpg


This is where the light gets interesting – note the high quality 4xAA carrier. Unlike a number of competitors, the carrier is all metal. :thumbsup: It is also reversible - you can insert it either orientation into the light handle. :eek:oo: So as long as you put the batteries in correctly (well labeled inside the carrier), there’s no chance of accidentally reversing polarity. This is a creative design, and something I hope other makers pick-up.

Beamshots

I’ve recently moved, and haven’t had a chance to set up a proper beamshot closet yet, but here’s a quick comparison to the M40C, about ~1 meter from a white ceiling (both lights on Hi).

M40A036.jpg

M40A037.jpg

M40A038.jpg

M40A039.jpg


The deeper-cut bezel ring introduces the slight peripheral edging effect you see above, but this is not noticeable at regular distances. Overall spillbeam widths are similar, but the M40A has a more focused hotspot than the M40C (consistent with the deeper reflector).

UPDATE SEPT 19, 2010: I've added some additional lights to my 100-Yard Outdoor Beamshot Round-up, including the M40A. Check out that round-up thread for more details. Here is an animated GIFs of the relevant comparison to the M40C:

M40C-M40A.gif


Scroll down for some throw and output numbers.

User Interface

On/off and mode switching is controlled entirely by the magnetic control ring in the head (i.e. there is no clicky on-off switch). As such, there needs to be a “standby” mode on the ring (i.e. where no light is produced, but a standby current is being drawn so the electronic circuit knows when you are switching modes).

The five control ring levels on the M40A are Standy - Lo – Med – Hi – Strobe, arranged clockwise if you have the light in hand pointed away from you. Like the M40C, the total traverse of the ring is ~1/2 the circumference of the light, and you can switch back and forth with ease one-handed. As mentioned previously, the detents feel more pronounced on my M40A than my M40C, increasing your confidence here of not accidentally switching modes.

As an aside, there is occasionally a brief flash of the emitter when the battery carrier makes contact upon tightening of the head – but only in standby mode. A similar flash was noted on my JetBeam RRT-2 Raptor, but in that case was present on all modes and all the time.

Thanks to the anodized threads, you can lock-out the light by a simple quarter-turn loosening of the head. This is very useful if storing the light for a period of time, or to prevent accidental activation. There are plenty of screw threads, so no risk of the head falling off by this slight loosening.

Standby/Parasitic Current

The parasitic drain of standby modes is always a concern, so I measured it on my sample: 96.5uA. Given the 4xAA batteries are in series, for 2000mAh Eneloops, that would translate into 2.4 years before fully charged batteries would be drained.

Not really a problem, but good to have the easy head lock-out anyway. :)

No PWM

I could detect no signs of PWM flicker by eye or with my sound-card oscilloscope setup. I believe the M40A is current-controlled on Lo/Med. :thumbsup:

Strobe

M40A-Strobe.gif


Strobe was measured at a “tactical” (and nauseating :green:) 15.7 Hz.

Testing Method: All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, a la Quickbeam's flashlight reviews method. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan.

Throw values are the square-root of lux measurements taken at 5 meters from the lens, using a light meter, and then extrapolated back to estimate values for 1 meter. This is my standard way to present throw on these types of high output lights. The beams don't really have a chance to fully converge until typically several meters out.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

HiOutput-Summary-4.gif


As previously mentioned, the M40A out-throws the higher-output M40C. Overall, I would say throw and output of the M40A are quite typical for this class of light.

Output/Runtime Comparison

M40A-Runtimes-1.gif


Although the outputs and runtimes are a bit less, the overall pattern of the M40A is remarkably similar to the 2x18650 M40C. Both lights have excellent flat regulation on Med and Hi (Lo not tested, but I expect the same there). :twothumbs

Despite the differing battery sources, both lights go into a continuous flashing/strobing mode once the batteries fall out of regulation. On the M40C, you get some advance warning from the LED warning light. On the M40A, you instead get a few warning flashes of the main emitter a couple of minutes before dropping out of regulation. These flashes rapidly increase in frequency until they become continuous strobing as the output drops.

Like the M40C, you can switch to a lower output mode to temporarily restore constant light. But typically, there isn’t much battery life left at this point, and the low-battery flashing will begin again soon.

UPDATE: Just added the L91 lithium (Energizer e2) runtime on Hi. An impressive run - nearly 2 hours, well regulated. :thumbsup:
How does the M40A stack up to the competition?

M40A-HiEne.gif

M40A-MedEne.gif

M40A-LoEne.gif


The closest comparables are really the other AA-powered lights: the ITP A6 and the Fenix TK45.

On Hi, the M40A does remarkably well in one sense – comparable in output to the ITP A6, the M40A manages to squeeze almost as much regulated runtime on 4xAA Eneloops as the A6 does on 6xAA. :eek:oo: Of course, the difference is what happens after the lights fall out of regulation – the A6 has a slowly decreasing output that continues for quite some time, while the M40A drops quickly into low-output strobing. And as expected, the much larger 8xAA Fenix TK45 remains the output and runtime champ on Hi.

On Medium, you can see the effects of the lower number of batteries on the M40A. Although impressively regulated, it can’t match the runtime of the 6xAA ITP A6 or the 8xAA Fenix TK45. Still, this performance is impressive from just 4xAA cells.

Potential Issues

Like the M40C, there is no slow drop-off in output once the batteries fall out of regulation – the main light starts flashing with increasing frequency over a couple of minutes, and then drops to low output strobing.

There is a parasitic standby current, although this is minimal in my testing (i.e. 96.5uA – or ~2.4 years). The light can also be easily and reliably locked-out with a simple twist of the head if you are concerned.

Preliminary Observations

As expected – based on my earlier testing of the other SUNWAYLED lights - the M40A is a well-made and impressive light.

Like the other early releases, build quality and attention to detail are excellent. The only minor point is that the anodizing has a few minor blemishes on my M40A sample – but not enough to detract from the overall appearance of the light. As mentioned earlier, the other samples I tested were all outstanding, while this one is merely excellent. ;)

I’m particularly impressed with their 4xAA battery carrier – solid metal construction, clear labels, and reversible polarity (i.e. fits in either way). This is the best AA carrier I’ve seen so far. Probably the only thing extra I would have liked to see is a clicky switch option like the M40C.

The beam is similar to the M40C (i.e. nice wide spillbeam), but with a more defined hostpot with greater throw. The centre-beam “donut” effect is of course present on all MC-E lights, but it is less noticeable on the M40A than most lights I’ve tested in this class. Definitely a good job on the reflector as well.

Personally, I quite like the overall size and styling of the light. It fits comfortably in the hand, and is reasonably compact for the output. The control ring is similar to the M40C, but with more noticeable detents on my M40A sample. The standby current is negligible, and the light is easily locked-out by a simple head twist. Spacing of output levels is good IMO.

As with the M40C, the regulation and output/runtime profile is very good, consistent with a current-controlled light. :thumbsup: The only drawback for me is at the end of the run – I don’t see the point for the constant flashing when the batteries fall out of regulation. A low-voltage warning flash feature is fine, but why loose constant output at this stage? :thinking: I would think the low output is enough of a signal that it's time to change the batteries - I recommend SUNWAYLED remove this "feature."

In terms of performance, one thing I would like to highlight – the M40A actually exceeds the manufacturer’s specs (a pleasant change for me :rolleyes:). I find their emitter lumen estimates for each level to be very believable, and runtime on Sanyo Eneloops (2000mAh) matched or exceeded their specs for 2600mAh NiMH. :party:

As with the other SUNWAYLED offerings, this is a well made light that shows considerable design and manufacturing expertise. I suspect the design, feature set, and performance will find favor with many here – especially as it based on commonly available AA batteries (and in a convenient 4x configuration).
 
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Colorblinded

Colorblinded

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You noticed the same thing in your review that I did with mine. The little magnet that is visible. At least that settles that it isn't just mine but it's peculiar that the M40A is the only one that exhibits this so far.

Good to have confirmation of my runtime suspicions. It seemed like it was doing better than their rated specs when using eneloops.
 
G

Geoffrey

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I have read both of your reviews now, great work guys.

I have been watching this light for a while and after reading the reviews I think I will add it to my growing inventory of lights.

Thanks to both of you.
 
Colorblinded

Colorblinded

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oops. falshlight? :hahaha:


well it appears the light is very good, making up for the sloppy packaging.


and great review, selfbuilt (as usual!)
:crackup:I never noticed that, I didn't look at the packaging for long. There are some quirks I had noticed in the reviews of the other lights before I got mine... the packaging could use a little tidying up and error checking to match the quality of the light within... but fortunately it doesn't actually reflect on the quality of the lights.
 
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swxb12

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The lack of blue/red leds and tail switch are a plus for me. Keeps the design more simple.

This looks like a solid choice for those looking for a monster AA light, but find the 8xAA requirement of the Fenix to be a little overwhelming.

I wonder if there are any 3rd party holsters that can fit this light.
 
D

driven

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Nice review as usual. I just ordered one of these yesterday and am really looking forward to getting it. It will be my first "falshlight".
 
Q

qtaco

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Great review mate.

I'm amazed at the perfect regulation on max on alkaline (not that I'd run it that way), but it is a sign the circuit is gentle on the batteries. It also shows there is further headroom to increase the output on 4xAA NiMH with an appropriate emitter down the road.

I think this is an impressive light, and shows that 4xAA is a great platform to build a light around: good size and output on easily available batteries.
 
don.gwapo

don.gwapo

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Great review as always selfbuilt. :twothumbs.

Looking forward for the beamshots.

Looks like i'm getting $140 bucks poorer after reading your review. But that would be fine coz I just received the eneloop power pack from bj so I can used it for this light. :broke:.
 
skyfire

skyfire

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thanks for another great review!

been wondering about this light as it looks very interesting.
 
Essexman

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Great review, thanks. I've got one of these on it's way to me soon on a pass around here in the UK. I can't wait now!

I'm very impressed by the regulation. I'd love to know more about the technical side to this torch, like the current to the LED at each level, how they have the MCE wired to run on 4AA etc?

I hope other manufacturers are looking at the battery holder, it looks very well made, much better than some others I could mention.

cheers
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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You noticed the same thing in your review that I did with mine. The little magnet that is visible. At least that settles that it isn't just mine but it's peculiar that the M40A is the only one that exhibits this so far.
Yes, I noticed it right out of the box - it jumped out at me only because the M40C has no such gap (so of course, got out my trusty EDC to look further. :p).

But as you noted in your excellent review, it doesn't seem to cause a problem.

Oh, and BTW, you can let Burgess know that a compass will get thrown off by the control ring magnet - but you have to be within about an inch or so for it to happen. ;)

oops. falshlight? :hahaha:
well it appears the light is very good, making up for the sloppy packaging.
Yes, I noticed that too (not immediately, but when preparing the pics for posting). I'm sure Sunway will work to correct it for future batches. :whistle:

I'm very impressed by the regulation. I'd love to know more about the technical side to this torch, like the current to the LED at each level, how they have the MCE wired to run on 4AA etc?
Don't know about current to the LED, but I believe Fenix runs their TK40 as two pairs of 4xAA in series (so likely something similar here).

BTW, in terms of OTF lumens, I think people can be reasonably assured ~400 OTF. Based on how my lightbox reports values compare to those with integrating spheres (for light models we have in common), that sounds reasonable.
 
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D

driven

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What would be the pros and cons of running this with Lithium primaries? I picked up quite a few from Loews and was wondering what the run time and usage would be for this light. Alkalines are clearly not optimal from your charts as I infer they can't handle the draw.

For rechargeable Lithium, the 3.7 voltage would fry the light, correct?

For primary lithium I think the voltage is fine and within range, and I would have a lighter weight light, but what would the general effect be on run time and output?

Non withstanding the cost issue versus Enloops, would using lithium primaries be a bad idea?
 
selfbuilt

selfbuilt

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For rechargeable Lithium, the 3.7 voltage would fry the light, correct?
For primary lithium I think the voltage is fine and within range, and I would have a lighter weight light, but what would the general effect be on run time and output?
Correct, 3.7V Li-ion would fry the circuit. But L91 lithium (i.e. Energizer e2 lithium) should be fine. In fact, Sunway's specs specifically allow these.

Runtime should be a lot longer on L91 than alkaline, with similar output. I would have tested these before, but my supply is running low and they are rather expensive. :sweat:

Ah, what the heck. I've just started a run on L91 on Hi .... I'll post the results later this evening. :wave:
 
AardvarkSagus

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Excellent review as always selfbuilt. Between you and Colorblinded, I am really feeling the love for this light.
 
Burgess

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. . . . you can let Burgess know that a compass will get thrown off by the control ring magnet -
but you have to be within about an inch or so for it to happen. ;)


Thank you, Selfbuilt ! ! !

:goodjob::thanks:

_
 
candle lamp

candle lamp

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Very nice review, Selfbuilt :)

Did you ever see that the light wink on when metal or magnet is very near it? And I heard other flahlight show the pre-flash with the max. brightness when turning the magnetic control ring to turn on the light. How about M40A?
Thank you.
 
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selfbuilt

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For primary lithium I think the voltage is fine and within range, and I would have a lighter weight light, but what would the general effect be on run time and output?
Jus updated the main review with the Hi mode L91 run:

M40A-Runtimes-1.gif


Very nice regulation and runtime on primary lithium - basically 4x longer than alkaline, or 2x longer than Eneloops (on Hi).

And no, I don't plan to do the Med mode ... out of batteries. :broke: ;)

Did you ever see that the light wink on when metal or magnet is very near it? And I heard other flahlight show the pre-flash with the max. brightness when turning the magnetic control ring to turn on the light. How about M40A?
Hmmm, haven't noticed it any other time. It only seems to occur in standby mode when first making contact with the battery carrier (and not every time either). On the Jetbeam RRT-2 you could see it every mode when pressing the switch - the circuit here seems to be different.
 
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