The SF A2: bulbs and more

jellydonut

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The journey of an LED kid into the world of warm, glowy wire lamps.:poof::crazy:

I started out having seen nothing but your garden variety D-cell lights, Maglites and Minimags. The relatively rabid fanbase of the A2 made me consider adding the light to my lineup. Long story short, I ended up picking one up at the MP and I now have nine of the things in short order.:ohgeez:

Like any light, it's so boring to keep it stock.:crazy:

alljw.jpg


What comes out and what goes in
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Light and power, of course.

The first A2 I bought already came with just about everything an A2 needs. In this photo the sanded LEDs with GITD goop and LumensFactory HO-A2 lamp are visible. I added some rechargeable AW IMR 16340s to the mix so I could play around without burning away my CR123 stock. The stock LEDs are overdriven and their lifespan is shortened by doing this, but I don't really care all that much, I'll have an onion ring to replace them with soon enough anyway.:nana:

The HO-A2 lamp is, to me, a wholesale improvement over the standard MA02 lamp assembly. It seems subjectively whiter, the hotspot seems rounder. The beam is full of irregularities and such, more so than the standard A2 as the bulb is unfrosted, but to me it doesn't matter. The beam looks horrible on a white wall but I can't recall the last time I needed a beam that looked nice on a white wall. The LF bulb has great throw for such a little light. All my LED lights are P60 size or larger and aside from the extremely overpowered ones and the Hound Dog they don't throw as nicely as the little A2.

Bodywork
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The A2 fits nicely in the hand - no two ways about it. The clip might be of the bezel-up carry variety, which means I don't actually use it as a pocket clip - but it can be used for keeping the light in place in a bag or on a belt or similar. It also works as an index point when gripping the light.

One thing that had to go immediately on all my A2s is the annoying lanyard ring. If your A2 is new you can rely on the 'break-away' feature of the lanyard to allow you to pull it off using a piece of cord. If, however, like my first one it is an older A2 you might find yourself pulling the loop off and having two useless plastic c-clips stuck to your light afterwards.:ohgeez: I had no choice but to use pliers and force them off somehow. I unfortunately scratched the anodizing in the process.

The Valiant Concepts tailstander/switch protector in Delrin is an excellent addition to the A2. If you decide to go for one and you find the standard plastic ring impossible to remove.. Use acetone or nail polish remover on it. Pour a little in the interface between the tailcap aluminium and the plastic ring, let it sit a little and then unscrew it using needle nose pliers and some righteous anger at the people who glued the ring shut in the first place.:thinking:

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I hope you won't hate me for rambling so much about this light but it is a lovely piece of gear and deserves to be rambled about.:naughty:

First post kept for posterity and for making sense of the thread:
Hey guys

First time in this forum. I'm kinda intrigued by the A2 - I've gotten a recently kindled love for lights that are several lights in one.:naughty:

Before I go searching for a used A2, are there any readily available drop-in bulbs that are somewhat brighter than the stock bulb, yet retain the ability to run on CR123s and the A2's regulation? I'm a bit intimidated by the high-end incandescents and their requirement for lithium manganese rechargeables.

Given the incandescent lamp's lack of cooling needs as opposed to LED, shouldn't it be possible to put a powerful lamp in a comparatively small light like the A2? (let's not mention battery life, at least to start with:whistle:) Or is the current draw/2xCR123 the limitation? Given the huge fanbase this light has I'm surprised there aren't more crazy mods out there.:ironic:

I've been reading through the mammoth A2 threads but I can't seem to find anything but the discontinued Strion kit (which is barely brighter to boot) - anyone?
 
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jellydonut

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Hm - I like that LumensFactory option. I would have to order Strion bulbs from overseas anyway so while they might be cheap they're not readily available to me. This eliminates one of its advantages in my case.

Do you have experience with the LF bulb as well? If so how would it compare to the FM Strion conversion?
 

ASheep

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Welcome over to the incan side of things, I'm new over here too...

The main limitation with getting massive output from the A2 is the 4V supply from the regulator, plus limits on how much current the regulator wants to supply to the lamp.
That's the one problem with a regulated incan, you can't overdrive the lamp by shoving more power up the tail.

I'd rather have the middling brightness of the A2 though, as it's such a great light. I have a Lumens factory HO-A2 in mine, as I can get them locally in Australia, where strion bulbs are $16 each! :eek: For the price of the strion kit and a spare bulb, I can have 3 or 4 HO-A2 bulbs...
 

jellydonut

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Hm, and I suppose the unique nature of it means noone has made replacement regulators?

Time to take up electrical engineering then....:whistle:

I really want something that can fully replace my M60/M61 modules and preferably go beyond them in brightness, maybe the A2 isn't the ticket. I've been using the M60 in various situations and it's definitely not TOO bright at 200lms or whatever its rated at.
 

jkilo

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Like you, I love the dual-nature of the a2, but as was pointed out, it's 4v regulator is the primary limitation. The strion kit is about a 30% boost in overall brightness, but the difference is the beam pattern, a nice increase in throw with a beautiful, artifact-free spill. Better than factory!

I'm not all that impressed with the LF lamps. On par with the strions overall output, but the distribution of lumens isn't as pretty, (I.e. Less central throw beam, more flood, and a strange halo at the periphery of the spill.)

The frosted HO-A2 provides a nicer beam, at the expense of yet more throw. Neither is going to blow you away compared to the factory lamp, but you cant expect too much from this small/runtime-geared setup. I'm going with an FM d26 in a 9P, with a secondary LED, to try and create a "big brother" to the A2. It's just not feasible in the A2.

Hope this saves you a lot of searching, good luck! BTW, the A2 is a MUST have anyway!
 

nfetterly

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Heads up - Koala has an "Onion-ring" that replaces the LEDs in the A2 - he sells a variety of LEDs as well. You can also dial up or dial down the light from the LEDs.

The FYI is really that the onion rings works with FiveMega Strion kit. While I did not read all of the responses I cannot remember reading of it working with the LF lamp.
 

ASheep

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

The FYI is really that the onion rings works with FiveMega Strion kit. While I did not read all of the responses I cannot remember reading of it working with the LF lamp.

I can confirm that Koala's onion ring works well with the Lumens Factory lamp, its a great upgrade to a great light.
Once I get some IMR cells, My A2 will be near perfect! My only problem with the A2 is the rate at which it eats primary 123 cells... A set of IMR cells for every day use will make it my favourite light once again :thumbsup:
 

AvroArrow

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

This thread has some good pictures showing the differences between all of the above mentioned aftermarket bulbs. I have all of the above mentioned bulbs and usually run it with the Strion kit. Since you are in Europe, it may be cheaper to buy the LF bulbs instead of the Strion kit. Even here in Canada which is just north of the US, replacement Strion bulbs are relatively expensive at about $15USD each. I lucked out an managed to buy a bunch for cheap in somebody's group buy from the US. I'm just missing the Koala onion ring kit, which I'm on the waiting list for. I've also got AW's IMRs so I can run it on rechargeables, albeit with reduced runtime (less than the 50mins you get from CR123s).

BTW, if you are looking for an incan to replace your 200+lm Malkoff M60/61, the A2 is not what you should be looking for. If I recall, the stock SF bulb has been measured in the neighborhood of 70-80 lumens out the front, higher than the stated 50 lumens. These aftermarket bulbs probably push it above 100 lumens, but I don't know how much above 100. 120 or 130 max, maybe? That's just a guess.

But the point of the A2 is... ummm... I think you should read js' .... essay on what the A2 is. It's not the brightest, nor the longest running, nor the farthest throwing, nor the smallest. It's something unique, one of the relatively few regulated incans that are readily available. And if I had known AW's IMRs would fit and that koala would really manage to put the onion rings into production, I would have kept my 2nd A2 instead of selling it.
 

NE450No2

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

The A2 is my favorite handheld light. I use it a lot. I never leave the house without it. Mine had been to several USA states, including a sub zero trip to Alaska.

It has been to Canada, South Africa 4 times, Zimbabwe 3 times and Botswana once.

I use it EVERY night here at my place.

If I could have only one handheld light it would be my A2 with the white led's.

I use and recommend the Lumens Factory HO A2 bulb.

It makes the A2 even better.
 

jellydonut

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

This thread has some good pictures showing the differences between all of the above mentioned aftermarket bulbs. I have all of the above mentioned bulbs and usually run it with the Strion kit. Since you are in Europe, it may be cheaper to buy the LF bulbs instead of the Strion kit. Even here in Canada which is just north of the US, replacement Strion bulbs are relatively expensive at about $15USD each. I lucked out an managed to buy a bunch for cheap in somebody's group buy from the US. I'm just missing the Koala onion ring kit, which I'm on the waiting list for. I've also got AW's IMRs so I can run it on rechargeables, albeit with reduced runtime (less than the 50mins you get from CR123s).

BTW, if you are looking for an incan to replace your 200+lm Malkoff M60/61, the A2 is not what you should be looking for. If I recall, the stock SF bulb has been measured in the neighborhood of 70-80 lumens out the front, higher than the stated 50 lumens. These aftermarket bulbs probably push it above 100 lumens, but I don't know how much above 100. 120 or 130 max, maybe? That's just a guess.

But the point of the A2 is... ummm... I think you should read js' .... essay on what the A2 is. It's not the brightest, nor the longest running, nor the farthest throwing, nor the smallest. It's something unique, one of the relatively few regulated incans that are readily available. And if I had known AW's IMRs would fit and that koala would really manage to put the onion rings into production, I would have kept my 2nd A2 instead of selling it.
I've read it, and it still seems a bit diffuse. To top it off it's from 2006, things have happened since then haven't they?

I guess I'll end up buying one out of curiosity at some point but I don't think I'm going to jump on one now without actually trying it beforehand.

In the mean time my Polarion has shown me what a proper non-LED beam should look like - I can only assume a high-powered, overdriven incandescent lamp will make a similarly colored beam.
 

ASheep

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Jellydonut, the A2 isn't a WOW incan, it's not the brightest or the longest running light, the hotspot is a bit of an odd oval shape, and it chews batteries like there's no tomorrow (compared to an LED). But for the time that you are using it, it is a truly excellent light. The 80 lumen output is more than enough for most situations, it throws well for a light of its size, and there's just that feeling of quality that you get with Surefires.
My advice is to watch the marketplace and wait until one shows up at a good price, occasionally one shows up for around $80, for that price it's a brilliant light. You won't regret it, I know I don't.
Cheers,
ASheep
 

Monocrom

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

With the newer A2L being out, it is indeed possible to get a good deal on used but good condition A2 models, off of the MarketPlace. I did, awhile back. :twothumbs
 

jellydonut

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Man, look what you've done guys. I've relieved poor Hammer_Train of his A2-RD now, complete with an unfrosted LF bulb, sanded 5mm LED's and even GITD.. um, stuff, behind the LEDs.

This is gonna be pretty cool - only incandescent lights I've ever experienced are Maglites and ****-yellow unregulated Pelicans.:thumbsdow
 

ASheep

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Man, look what you've done guys. I've relieved poor Hammer_Train of his A2-RD now, complete with an unfrosted LF bulb, sanded 5mm LED's and even GITD.. um, stuff, behind the LEDs.

This is gonna be pretty cool - only incandescent lights I've ever experienced are Maglites and ****-yellow unregulated Pelicans.:thumbsdow

Haha, that looked like a good deal, especially the shooter tailstanding cap and an unfrosted bulb! The unfrostys are getting very rare these days. They have a slightly more artifact-y beam, but throw better than the frosted bulbs. Red LEDs are pretty much the best, as much as I liked the whites in my stock LED ring, I now have amber LEDs in one of Koala's onion rings, to give me a really nice flood low.
I'm sure you'll love your A2!
 

J_Roc

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

I had an A2 for a while but sold it years ago Recently I found myself missing it, so I started looking around and was able to grab one from the MP that had the FM Strion kit and LF-HO-A2. I have to say, the Strion kit rocks, huge improvement over the stock A2 lamp!
 

yowzer

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

I just got a 5Mega Strion kit for my A2 and took it camping over the weekend... incredible light. It worked as well as some LED lights with much higher lumens ratings. Now for the Koala Onion Ring to get warm white LEDs in it instead of the stock bluish-white ones....
 

jellydonut

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Re: Drop-in bulb for SF A2

Got my A2 now - not an impressive amount of brightness but it should be a very useful light. I suppose it's a mark of maturity when we stop worrying so much about brightness. :laughing:

Paradoxically the beam is more white than my warm SST-90 which looks seriously yellow in comparison.:candle:

It just needs to get dark so I can test it properly outdoors. Lucky it's fall now so there's lots of color outside too!

Current, temporary, configuration:

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The U2 clip doesn't really fit - it is snug but that's only because of the paracord. The ideal here would be a big, fat o-ring that could really cinch down on the U2 clip and also fill the gap left by the lanyard ring. I don't particularly like lanyards anyway.:nana:

There is a problem though.. Watertight integrity at the head. The small plastic retainer is not snug against the o-ring of the head alone, it needs the original A2 clip. What is needed here is a small piece of metal exactly the same shape as the original clip's mounting part to make the light watertight against.

So.. anyone got an original A2 clip to sell me that I can cut to pieces?:naughty:
 
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Monocrom

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You could just buy the clip for the LX2 / A2L model and use that for bezel-down carry.
 

jellydonut

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I could.. If anyone would sell it. The Surefire retailers here don't carry it, Surefire retailers overseas won't ship international.

Although.. I went to check my SF retailers, and one of them has a CLOSE-OUT SALE ON INCANDESCENT A2s! They wanted like €30 for each A2. So I bought two.:fail:

edit - I've just gone for an evening walk with my new (..to me) A2. I think I 'get it'. The low mode is useful for watching your step, the main beam has enough light and a surprising amount of throw for such a small, low-lumen light. I know it seems ridiculous comparing this little incan to a Polarion but that's what the beam reminds me of. It's white without being LED-white, and throw-oriented while still having some spill. A micro-Polarion, I guess. With secondary LEDs to boot.

Now to go search for onion rings..
 
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