The complete guide to the TigerLight

js

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THE TIGERLIGHT GOLD SYSTEM RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHT

Well, it may seem strange that I am only now posting a comprehensive thread on the TigerLight after all these many months of involvement with the flashlight, and mods to it, and with the company itself, but, often we must put off doing the most important and difficult things until later, when we have the perspective, maturity, and experience to do them justice. Such is the case here.

Doing justice to a cost-no-object, ultra-high end light is actually easier than doing justice to a light like the TigerLight, just as it is actually easier in some ways to design a cost-no-object item, than to design one which attempts to hit the highest value for the money mark, while still attaining sufficiently outstanding performance. But this is exactly what the TigerLight is! It is a flashlight and weapons system which, as a flashlight can compete and hold its own with any other production light in its size-class, regardless of cost, and which as a weapons system for law enforcement officers, is completely in a class of its' own. Let me repeat: the TigerLight is one of the very best 2D/3D sized flashlights offered at a price which places it head and shoulders above all other lights in its class for performance per dollar. In addition, the TigerLight is unrivaled in a number of design categories.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and start at the beginning. I intend this thread to be a comprehensive guide to and discussion of the TigerLight. A "Missing Manual" for the TigerLight, as it were. There will be complete discussions of the construction, design, features, strengths, weaknesses, fixes for common and uncommon problems that are known to occur, pictures, links to other threads, discussion of TL mods, and much more. I will be adding to this thread as I finish all of these various sections. For now, however, let's start with a discussion of the basic design of the TigerLight.

BASIC DESIGN

The cutaway view of a TL OC which appears below goes a long way towards showing the design and features of this remarkable light:

tl_cutaway.jpg


And yes, I really did take a TL OC body to a bandsaw and cut it in half; this is not from the TL website or anything! In fact, this is bwaites's TL. Hehe. He thought he was going to be getting a regulated TL back for his trouble, but instead he's getting this nice bit of thanks: Thanks, Bill, for unwittingly helping me with this thread! That's his reward. Along with a bag of parts and two halves of a TL body, of course. You're a great guy, Bill! LOL!

OK. Seriously, though, note first of all that in place of a pepper spray canister, I have a plastic film container (to the right of the foam, just to the left of the nozzle at the far right). So if it looks funny, that's because it is—it is simply a place holder for something I didn't have. Next, please note that I left the charging contact bolts unscrewed enough from the switch core to protrude out from the plastic charging contact housing so that they could be seen in this picture (at bottom, below switch-core). Normally, these two bolt heads are recessed into the plastic piece to prevent accidental short-circuiting of the battery pack. And obviously, in a fully assembled not-cut-in-half light, the bezel, bezel o-ring, lens, and body o-ring would all be compacted together and screwed on at the head, thus pushing the LA down against the rubber gasket more than it is in this photo. Also, the gold ring is missing from this photo entirely, but would only be showing just its edges at top and bottom, just to the right of the head.

From even a glance at this cutaway photo, it should be obvious that the design of the TigerLight represents a radical departure from the typical cylindrical 2D/3D rechargeable light, such as the MagCharger or StreamLight SL-20X. The battery pack has been transformed from an overly long and bulky stick of 1/2D or sub-C NiCd cells into a compact, multi-stack NiMH powerhouse, and instead of the usual spring to tailcap to light body electrical connection, the connection to the battery pack is made via two mating snap harnesses: one on the pack, and one on the end of the battery pack leads coming from the switch core. Here's a closeup, with the pack pulled away from the switch-core a bit to allow for a better view:

pack_connection.jpg


These high quality gold and nickel plated connections are practically free from corrosion buildup over time, and do not need regular cleaning to maintain very low contact resistance at the connection points. The conduction path of the electrical circuit does not go through the light body, or through threads or tailcaps or coil springs. This is good for two reasons: first, it reduces resistance in the circuit as already mentioned, but, second, it reduces costs associated with chemically coating the inside of the light body to ensure good conduction over the life of the light, and concomitantly, also reduces costs associated with masking off the inside of the body tube during the anodizing process. The TigerLight is hard anodized inside and out. And since copper is a better conductor of electricity than aluminum, it allows the wiring to and from the switch core to completely take the place of a conduction path through the body of the light.

All this would be impressive enough in terms of design savvy, but it doesn't end there. The wires which electrically connect the battery pack to the switch core are very high quality, proprietary crush-proof silicon-rubber jacketed wires which also act to securely hold the battery pack in place in the body of the light and cushion it from drops and knocks. You can see this wire bunched up between the battery pack and the switch-core in the cutaway view. So take a moment to review what this one single design feature does for the TL:

1. Shorter light-body due to a multi-stack battery.
2. Lower cost due to the lack of any need for chemical coating or masking of the inside of the light body during anodizing.
3. Better resistance to corrosion build-up. (In fact, in my experience TL's are immune to corrosion buildup over time.)
4. Better conduction path.
5. Shock isolation of battery pack.

Although in the spirit of completeness, I should have considered the rubber gasket (sometimes called the "rubber hose") together with the battery pack wire leads when talking about shock isolation. Let's consider it now. It's that dark grey / black piece located between the battery pack and the lamp assembly (LA). Here it is with some space between the LA and pack for a better overview of its position and function:

rubber_gasket.jpg


The rubber gasket serves three functions: it separates the pack from the LA, it shock isolates the pack, and it shock isolates the LA. All this from a very inexpensive piece of radiator-type rubber gasket hose. Again, this is what I call value/$ design brilliance. It was a stroke of genius on Randy Teig's part to use what is basically a piece of radiator hose in this way. Compare this approach to the SureFire Millennium series shock isolated bezel. Without question, the SF M6 bezel is a masterpiece of engineering, and does it's job of shock isolating the lamp extremely well, but, a SureFire M6 head all by itself is almost as expensive as a whole TigerLight gold system! And its' design requires that the LA have concentric coil springs to allow a flexible connection to the battery stack. Certainly not a design that considers value/$ in the least. Which, of course, is absolutely fine. There is room for both approaches and it goes without saying that both have their merits.

Going back to the cutaway view, notice that the switch-core is just to the rear of the battery pack.

switch_core_1.jpg


Electrically, this is the heart of the TigerLight. As can be seen, four wires come and go from the switch core: two for the battery pack snap connector (at left), and two for the lamp lead wires (towards bottom left). For the purposes of this close up I pulled these wires and the rubber gasket and LA out of the light body and towards the lower left of this photo. All of these wires are made from the crush-proof silicon-rubber jacketed wire I already mentioned. This not only allows the battery pack wires to get harmlessly crushed down beneath the battery pack and cushion it, but also allows the lamp leads to sneak up along the side of the battery pack and underneath and up through the rubber gasket, as can be seen in the closeup above of the rubber gasket.

Thus TigerLight has again solved a possibly thorny problem (how to allow the reflector and lamp to move independently of the rest of the light for shock isolation) with a very simple, very inexpensive, and very elegant solution. No expensive concentric coil spring LA, no expensive SI head—just a piece of rubber hose and some high quality silicon jacketed wire. Ingenius.

Inside the switch-core is a low resistance electronics grade switch with gold plated internal contacts.

switch_core_2.jpg


The switch wasn't specially designed for the TigerLight; highly figure engineering fees weren't amortized over a few thousand switches. No. This is a commercially available switch. A lot of them are used in the electronics industry. And yet, it's perfect for the TigerLight! I mean, why not use an electronics grade switch? They're good for a practically unlimited number of cycles, have low contact resistance, do not need to be cleaned, have good tactile action, and yet are very inexpensive. Thus, with this approach, TigerLight did not need to have highly paid mechanical and electrical engineers spend hundreds of hours designing a switch from scratch. TigerLight did not need to pass that cost on to the consumer. TigerLight did the smart thing yet again: low cost and high performance.

Besides the switch, there are also two brass cylinders in the switch core. (The charging contacts which appear on the outside of the light are actually the heads of two bolts which thread into these brass cylinders.) All connections inside the switch core are direct soldered to these brass cylinders.

switch_core_3.jpg


So, for example, the battery pack positive lead wire and one of the switch wires are both soldered together directly to the brass cylinder into which the positive charging contact bolt threads (the right-hand one in this photo). The other brass cylinder has the battery pack negative lead wire and a lamp lead wire directly soldered together onto the outside of the cylinder. And the other lamp lead wire comes directly out from the switch. That's it.

Again, this is yet another example of combining low cost with high performance. What could be lower resistance than a solder joint? And yet, what could be cheaper? The TigerLight's immunity to contact resistance buildup and degradation of performance over time is entirely due to its' design. Everything in the light is either direct soldered or is an electronics grade plated contact.

The LA is a one-piece lamp module which consists of a xenon-halogen fill tungsten filament incandescent lamp precisely focused and potted into a spun aluminum reflector with a vacuum aluminized smooth reflective coating. The lamp pins stick out the back of the potting, and the potting holds the lamp in place and in focus. The lamp lead wires coming from the switch-core connect onto the pins directly via gold plated spring push connectors. I have found these to be capable of handling almost 4 amps of current without any significant contact loss.

The head of the light-body is permanently affixed to the top of the body tube via a thread-locking and sealing compound. The bezel screws on to the head and has an o-ring which cushions and seals the lens. There is also an o-ring between or just beneath the bezel and head interface. That is to say that on some TL's this o-ring is visible between the bezel and head when everything is assembled and tightened down, and that on other TL's this o-ring gets squashed down underneath the rim of the bezel and against the head, and is not visible when everything is assembled.

On the other side of the switch core, in a TL equipped with pepper spray, you find the area which holds the pepper spray canister and the screw on nozzle, which comes in two variations, a wider cone pattern, or a narrower, tighter spray pattern.

I have never used pepper spray in my TigerLights, and so cannot comment authoritatively on this part of the TigerLight, but I can say that the pepper spray from a TigerLight canister is considerably more potent than a consumer grade pepper spray, and that from all reports the OC TL has proven itself to be a very effective LEO tool. Any questions that people may have about the pepper spray part of the TigerLight can and will be answered by Randy or Michael Teig. So feel free to post any questions or comments, and one or the other of them will answer.

Separating the two sections of an OC TL, is a metal disc with an o-ring surrounding it, which seals the one section from the other so that no water or pepper spray can get inside the main section of the light. You can see this disc and o-ring in the cutaway view just to the right of the switch-core, and just to the left of the foam. The disc is held in place by a snap-ring which is located just beneath the foam rubber which holds the pepper spray canister snugly in place. (When I was cutting Bill's TL in half, the bandsaw did not like this snap-ring at all. Not at all!) As mentioned, to the left of this disc is the switch-core, and if you remove the switch core from a TL, and look down into the light from the bezel end, you will see this disc. It is very difficult to remove, by the way, and I'm not sure why a person would want to remove it.

On an FBOP TigerLight, the area which holds the pepper spray has been chopped off and threaded to accept a tail-cap plug. The metal disc with surrounding o-ring, however, remains, presumably for water tightness, or so that the production of FBOP lights can be streamlined with OC ones.

So, that's the basic design of the TigerLight.

THE BEAM

It's what made the TigerLight famous: a tight, long-throwing beam, with good total output, decent spill light, and very good color temperature (CCT) for a production flashlight. The TL LA is putting out about 275 lumens, and depending on the generation of the lamp module, in my experience, can throw as far as the MagCharger or SureFire M6, and much farther than the SL-20X or 35X.

There are basically four generations of TL LA. Gen 1 and 2 LA's have no lip at the rim of the reflector. Gen 3 and 4 both do have lips. The Gen 1 was more of a flood beam, with less throw. The Gen 2 was a tight thrower on average, but the consistency from module to module was not as good as the latest Gen 4 modules. The Gen 3 was somewhere between the Gen 2 and Gen 1 in terms of tightness, but was also much less consistent from module to module. The latest generation, the Gen 4 is both tightly focused and very consistent from lamp module to lamp module due to a different potting/focusing specification method. Please click the Gen 4 link for a full discussion of this latest TL LA, beam shots, comparisons, and miscellaneous information.

THE BATTERY PACK

The TigerLight battery pack is a six cell pack in an electrical series configuration, made from 4/5 A NiMH cells, for a total nominal voltage of 7.2 volts, and a nominal capacity of either 1.8 AH (standard pack) or 2.15 AH (premium pack). Physically the pack is three stacks of two cells in a triangular configuration, with two end caps, and 9 volt style snap connectors riveted into the top end cap. Please click the premium pack link for discharge graphs and a whole lot more discussion.

THE CHARGING SYSTEM

There are three different chargers for the TigerLight. By far the most common is the standard stock slow charger, which consists of the black plastic cradle, a wallwart (i.e. an AC to DC plug transformer), and an auto adaptor cable which plugs into the cigarette lighter of an automobile to allow charging of the light in a vehicle. The wallwart or auto adaptor cable plugs into its power source, then the cradle in turn plugs into it. The slow charger uses a very straightforward, but very reliable, LM317T current regulator to provide a constant 185 mA of current to the battery pack. When charging the red LED will light up. This charger is not a smart charger, and the LED will not change indication, nor will charging terminate, when the pack becomes fully charged. Full charge of a pack takes about 10-12 hours.

Next, there is what TigerLight calls the "International fast charger". This system consists of a cradle which looks exactly like the slow charger cradle except that it has a three position, larger plug instead of a two position one, and a black box which goes between the cradle and the wall outlet. To use, you plug the cord into the wall, the rectangular box into the cord, and the cradle into the box. Please note that all charging indications appear on the black rectangular box. The red LED on the cradle will not light. In this system, the cradle is used only to connect to the charging contacts of the light, and the electronics inside it are by-passed. The auto-adaptor cable, however, will plug into this cradle with the three-position connector, and in that case, the electronics will function allowing charging of a light in a vehicle. The international fast charger will not work from a cigarette lighter. There is one exception to this, however. TigerLight recently started selling an IFC that can be powered from the cigarette lighter, but there aren't many of them around, and I don't know much about them. Full charge of a pack takes about 2 hours, and happens in three stages: fast charge, top-up charge, and trickle charge.

Finally, the new fast charger, which will become known simply as the "fast charger" has all of the electronics inside the cradle. The cradle appears identical to a standard slow charger cradle except that the LED is not a red LED, but rather a RED/GREEN dual color LED, which appears a light pink when not powered. The fast charger comes with a universal switch mode plug supply which will work from any of the AC mains voltages world wide provided a plug adaptor is used to physically allow the USA plugs to mate with whatever outlet receptacle is available. The fast charger also comes with the auto-adaptor cable, and can be powered from a vehicles 12 volt-DC source. In fact, the fast charger will accept any DC voltage from 12 volts to 28 volts so long as the source can provide at least 1.1 amps of current. Thus, for example, it can be powered from the 24 volt Hummer vehicle power. The circuit inside is a switch-mode circuit with a fast charge controller IC, and uses a zero delta-V detection scheme specifically for NiMH chemistry cells to prevent overheating of the cells. When end of charge is detected, the LED changes from red to green, and the circuit switches to low trickle current to maintain the battery at full charge until use. At this point in time, however, the fast charger is not available for sale yet, but we hope it will be soon.

*****

MUCH MORE TO COME, BUT WANTED TO POST THIS MUCH FOR NOW. I will be adding more pictures and links discussion to what is already above (especially the chargers), and will also be adding a great deal more information. My excuse for posting this unfinished is that it is already fairly worth-while for those interested in the TL, and that it will encourage me to work harder and more frequently on this project.

Thanks, everyone!
 
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Kiessling

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js, I will make this a sticky until we add a "threads of interest" master sticky in the incan forum and include it there.
:thumbsup:
bernie
 

bwaites

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Ouch!!!

The price of knowledge on CPF sometimes comes at great cost! I hope that all of you Tigerlight aficianados can appreciate how my heart hurts to see my TL in pieces!

But I am sure of one thing, js will make it better than it was, just like the Six Million Dollar man! (And that REALLY dates me!!)

Nicely done Jim, and I look forward to future installments!

Bill
 

carrot

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Thanks, js, for another in-depth write-up about an underappreciated light. I've been playing with the idea of ordering one for awhile now...
 

wquiles

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Fantastic post Jim - well done ;)

To add to your description, I would like to offer these beamshots of the TL in action. The battery pack used here was already "tired", so a new TigerLight would look even more impresive compared to the M6 :D

All shots with Canon Rebel XT, 18-55mm kit lens (on full wide angle), on full manual mode, on a tripod.

First against the side of a house to compare the quality of the beamshot: 9V-HP on an M2 bezel with TB 2x18650 custom tube:
IMG_5796.JPG


TL:
IMG_5797.JPG


M6-LOLA:
IMG_5798.JPG


M6-HOLA:
IMG_5828.JPG



Then against some trees, to compare trow and sidebeam:
9V-HP on an M2 bezel with TB 2x18650 custom tube:
IMG_5799.JPG


TL:
IMG_5800.JPG


M6-LOLA:
IMG_5801.JPG


M6-HOLA:
IMG_5830.JPG



and finally, pointed at the trees, but from further back so that pavement can capture the brightness of the sidebeam better:
9V-HP on an M2 bezel with TB 2x18650 custom tube:
IMG_5802.JPG


TL:
IMG_5803.JPG


M6-LOLA:
IMG_5804.JPG


M6-HOLA:
IMG_5832.JPG



Will
 

SilverFox

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Hello Jim,

Wow, so that's what the inside of a TigerLight looks like. I have has so much fun playing and using mine, I have never found the time to cut one in half... :)

Excellent information.

Bill, I feel your pain...

Tom
 

bwaites

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As they say on Mythbusters, "do NOT try this at home, remember WE are trained professionals!"

If you have to ask for instructions, we ain't giving them!:)

Bill
 

js

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Just for the record, Bill sent me that particular TL body because it had someones name laser engraved on it (not Bill's name), so I swapped him for one without engraving and destroyed the one WITH engraving. LOL! I know there might be a slight loss of mystique now, but just thought I should make it clear! Bill didn't unwittingly sacrifice his OC TL for this thread.

A lot more (like 2 to 3 times more) info will be showing up in this thread. I've been fairly busy lately with another issue, and so haven't gotten any more written or pictured for this thread. But it is on its' way . . .
 

js

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I wanted to bump this thread to the top again, and also say that I haven't forgetten it, and will be adding a lot more information to it in the near future. In particular, I really think there needs to be a start-up guide for those new to the TL, so they can avoid common mistakes, like pinching the lower bezel o-ring between bezel and head when reassembling their light! Or how to deal with a flaky connection to the charging cradle, and what sort of charging routine is best, and whether or not to leave the light on the charger all the time (short answer: DON'T). And so on. I will add some or all of these things next week sometime, and/or the week following that (first week of October, IIRC).
 

djblank87

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Thanks Jim for the gut shot of the TL. I can't wait to get my Tiger11 upgrade, thanks again for all of your help with my TL :twothumbs.
 

PhillyRube

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I've had my Tigerlight for 4 years now, upgraded to the Gen 4 bulb and battery pack. Lights great, and the OC works well, too. (only used once).

Only problem I have with the light is the rubber seal over the switch, that keep falling out. I bought a few from Tigerlight for about .20 each, except they wanted 11.98 to ship them. I finally talked the company into shipping them for free except he talked me into buying the small Tigerlight that uses CR123 batteries. This too is a nice product. Never did figure out how to keep the rubber seal on the switch, and that is the only bad thing I can say about the light. If you work in the wet or on a boat I would stay away from this light.
 

danwing

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the small Tigerlight that uses CR123 batteries. This too is a nice product.

It is unfortunate that Tigerlight's only apparent information about their CR123 light is the press release on their site; I am unable to find any more information about their new CR123 light on their website, on their online store, or here on CPF.

Does anyone have a pointer to information about Tigerlight's CR123 light that their CEO says is "COOL, COOL, COOL!!!"?
 

Bullzeyebill

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PhillyRube I am sure that js will address your issue, and maybe help come up with a solution. My switch cover is off right now, and I found it a few days ago. I think that the lip is not wide enough to seat the cover. Not sure though. Maybe some epoxy?

Bill
 

js

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I've had my Tigerlight for 4 years now, upgraded to the Gen 4 bulb and battery pack. Lights great, and the OC works well, too. (only used once).

Only problem I have with the light is the rubber seal over the switch, that keep falling out. I bought a few from Tigerlight for about .20 each, except they wanted 11.98 to ship them. I finally talked the company into shipping them for free except he talked me into buying the small Tigerlight that uses CR123 batteries. This too is a nice product. Never did figure out how to keep the rubber seal on the switch, and that is the only bad thing I can say about the light. If you work in the wet or on a boat I would stay away from this light.

PhillyRube,

Hmmm. Interesting. I haven't had this problem with the switch covers. One thing you could try is using a MagLite switch cover instead. It's a little bit stiffer and while this will change the feel (for the worse in my opinion), it should stay installed and not pop loose.

Everyone,

PhillyRube is not talking about the consumer TigerLight that has not yet been released! He is talking about the two CR123 light similar to a SF G2 that TL sells (or used to sell--not sure if they still do).

The consumer TL uses a single 123, and it will not release for at least another month. And rest assured that I will be getting one of the first ones and doing up a CPF thread on it as fast as possible.
 

Kremer

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Are many people still running Tigers? It's still my go-to hotwire.

When my father in law accidentally left it on last month for most of a day and killed the battery (1 cell shorted, and pack dropped to 2.4v under load, yipes!), I used that opportunity to upgrade a little. I was able to find a 2500mAh 6AA triangular pack and soldered on a beefy 9v connector. With a little wrangling of the wires it fits nicely down in the light and isn't too tight on the rubber hose shock damper. It runs my gen2 LA at least as long as the stock pack, (a little over an hour) and is noticibly brighter toward the end of the run compared to the stock pack.

I also picked up a nice little nimh .9/1.8A switchable Tenergy charger and T'd it into the cradle contacts. There are now two connectors coming out of the cradle, one for the stock charger, and one for the fast charger. I did find that one if not both of the wires in the cradle connecting to the charging contacts were not soldered/crimped, one pulled right out of the contact, the other I did not try to test for strength. I also found that one of the contacts had no E-clip retaining it, strange. One nice thing about the charger is it goes into a C/60 trickle once it's done so just like with the new TL chargers I should be able to leave the light cradled up for a long time with no worry.

I think the 375Lu gen4 LA might nicely round out my TL, as it already has a UCL lens.

~Dougk
 
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Bullzeyebill

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Good idea using Nimh's. I think best would be eneloops for the Gen 4 LA, and you could let it sit for a few months and know that it is going to light up fairly bright. I am not sure that any high capacity nimh will work well with the 375 lumen LA, and the eneloops will probably drop too much voltage. The 375 requires high discharge batteries, and the premium battery pack using 4/5A's provides that. It would be interesting to know if a good high discharge A pack (longer than 4/5A) would have a lower self discharge.

Bill
 

Kremer

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Good idea using Nimh's. I think best would be eneloops for the Gen 4 LA, and you could let it sit for a few months and know that it is going to light up fairly bright.
Bill

Yes, if/when this full size AA pack dies I think I'll try to solder up some Eneloop's or whatever is current, we already know they are fully capable of a high rate discharge.
 
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