tunnel exploration shoulder led car battery backpack recommendation

Wurkkos

entaroadun

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Apr 10, 2016
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1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

____I would like to purchase the light in person from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
__x_This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).


2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :)

____I don't know yet
_x__Up to $25.
_x__Up to $50.
____Up to $100.
____Up to $200.
____Up to $300.
____Essentially unlimited.


3) Format:

_x__I am not sure, please help me decide.
____I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).
____I want a self-contained headlamp.
_x__I want a headlamp with an external pack/power source.
_x__I want a mounted light (typically for a bicycle or vehicle)
____I want a lantern/area light.
_x__I want a portable spotlight (it may have an external power source).
____Other ____________________________________________


4) Size:

____MICRO - Keychain size.
____TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).
_x__SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
_x__MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)
____LARGE - Big enough to need its own travel case.
____I don’t know/I don't care.


5) Emitter/Light source:

_x__LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
____I don't know.


6) Manufacturer:

_x__I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
_x__I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
_x__I am interested in assembling my own components. (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source).


7) What power source do you want to use?

____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Lithium batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D and CR123 sized cells common to most stores (often a cold weather or long storage choice).
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
____I don't know/I need more information on power sources.
_x__I want to use a car battery
7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
____I want a light that plugs directly into the wall (literally with prongs built into the light)
____I want a light that has a recharging adapter (your typical "wall wart")
____I want a light that snaps into a cradle (usually mounted on a wall)
____I want a separate/stand-alone charger (this involves removing the batteries to charge)
____I don't care


8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is not a happy experience).

____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens).
____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
____I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
_x__I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
_x__I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
_x__I want search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).

_x__SPECIAL NOTE: Burst/Turbo mode Category - There are several lights that will run at a super bright maximum for a very limited period (usually 5-10 minutes) and then will "step-down" to a lower level for thermal control. Check here if this is acceptable.


9) Flood vs Throw: Flood covers an area, Throw reaches out to a distance.

____All Flood: I am doing "arms length" tasks like reading and campsite cooking.
_x__Wide Flood: I want a defined flood area for semi-close tasks like after-dark campsite tasks or working on a car.
_x__Narrow Flood: I want a sharply defined flood area that will project some distance for tasks like trail walking.
____Wide Throw: I want a beam with a noticeable hot-center for distance throw and a significant amount of "side-spill". Good for rough trail hiking, search and rescue, and general distance work.
____Narrow Throw: I want a beam with a very tight "hot center" and minimal "side-spill". Good for distance viewing, fog, and looking through dense undergrowth.
____Turbohead: I want a far-distance projector with a sharply focused spot of light and minimal or zero side-spill. Good for extreme distance and impressing your friends.

9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check all that apply)
____Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
____Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
_x__5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
_x__30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
____150+ yards (I am searching from a helicopter)

10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum continuous output).

____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
____30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
_x__90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).




11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very accurate for flashlights.

____Not Important (A “night-stand” light).
____Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
_x__Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
____I don’t know.


12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):

____Any size switch will do.
____I need a BIG switch (I'll be using gloves or have very large hands or coordination issues).
____I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
____I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
____I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).
____I want a remote switch (usually found on high-end bicycle headlights)
_x__I don't care.
____I don’t know.
____Other, please specify____________________.


13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
_x__I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
_x__I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
____I want a programmable light.
_x__I want a selector ring.
____I want a strobe mode. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
____I want SOS mode. (blinks in ---...--- emergency pattern)
____I want a beacon mode. (Regular flashes at full power to show location.)
____I don’t care.
____I don’t know.


14)Material/Finish/Coating

____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
____Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today’s higher end flashlights).
____Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
____Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
____I don’t care.
_x__I don’t know.
____Other, please specify____________.

15) Water resistance
_x__None needed
_x__IPX4 (Splash resistant)
____IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)
____IPX8 (Submersible to greater than 1 meter for 4 hours)

16) Storage conditions
_x__In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
____Emergency kit (long standby periods)
____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)
____Other_________________________________________ ____


17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.

____Red filter (for preserving night vision).
____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
____“Hybrid” light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
____Pocket/belt clip
____Holster
____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
____Crenulated bezel
____Non-sparking, Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments

I'm in a tunnel exploration group at my uni, and sessions frequently last 1-2 hours. some places require crawling, some large open areas, some very long dark corridors. there are roaches that are scared of light, so a wide flood would be nice. The group has some car batteries, with recharging stations, and we're able to work w/ vacuum forming, laser cutting, milling, lathing?, and welding. we like playing w/ wood, acrylic, lexan, steel, and aluminium. would like to build a custom hard-shell backpack to hold the car battery, with a few small led strips behind a lexan/acrylic shield for rear glow, and an external plug for the forward facing flood light requested in the check list.

Would love if there was a light in the price range for requested use, any suggestions/sanity checks about the idea as a whole would also be appreciated.

Thanks!
 

eh4

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 18, 2011
Messages
2,002
Since you're fabricating anyways, make LiFePO4 or Li-Ion battery packs to either save lots of weight or carry a lot more capacity, or compromise with less weight and more capacity...
or maybe a small, wheeled battery cart.
Sounds cool and over the top.
 
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eh4

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Oct 18, 2011
Messages
2,002
Maybe this is junk, it promises a lot, search:
"Black Color SolarStorm X2 2*Cree XM-L U2 LED 4 Modes 2000 Lumen LED Bike Light Set +Waterproof 6*18650 Battery Pack"

-it's in your price range with $ left over for quality batteries and charger...

Oh, wait, that's With batteries in a sealed case. .. almost certainly junk.

If you're dead set on using "car batteries", maybe check out led off road lights, there's bound to be some waterproof light bar that's appropriate for running on battery only, no alternator.
 
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entaroadun

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Apr 10, 2016
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I'm not dead set on car batteries, but I'm looking to spend $50 total, scrap steel and wood is free, acrylic is cheap, lexan can be affordable. we have car batteries just lying around that are almost new, but if i can get a nice big pack of lithium whatever or nimh on my back for cheap, I'd definitely be interested. I'm trying to see if there's a more elegant solution than buying some 20-100w t6 led's off of aliexpress, mounting them on old cpu heatsinks, running the fan straight off the battery, and putting the led on a linear regulator/buck converter/resistor to get down to 10-11 volts from 12.
 
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Poppy

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Dec 20, 2012
Messages
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Northern New Jersey
OK... let's forget about the check off list, because most of it is irrelevant.

Are you thinking of a single light for the entire party? OR multiple lights?

I can't imaging carrying a car battery on my back, while crawling through caves/tunnels.

THere are much lighter and smaller options for not too much money.

For example, there are $15 flashlights that will do about 500 lumens with a fairly floody beam for about 2 hours on a single 3400 mah 18650 battery. Each battery is about $10

How many people are in your party?
WHY do you plan to use a car battery?
Will each person have a light?
How narrow are the passages that you need to travel, and how large are the larger rooms?
 

entaroadun

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Apr 10, 2016
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thanks for the links

there are between 4 and 6 of us at a time, and for perspective (i'm probably asking for complete overkill), the leader had a
SecurityIng® 3X CREE XM-L T6 LED 3800Lm LED Headlight Headlamp and Bicycle Light (Generic Packaging)
from amazon, and the throw wasn't enough for some of the tunnels, and it provided absolutely no local flooding. There's sometimes nails coming out of the 5 foot ceiling or hot water copper pipes running along floor, so I really want to light the room, having a long throw would be a bonus, but isn't particularly necessary.
 
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eh4

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Oct 18, 2011
Messages
2,002
It's a long running series of conversations around here, color temperature/CCT and vision, and while it's indisputable that you get more "light" with cool leds, I'll continue to swear up and down that I can see better with less lumens and a warmer light. Our eyes are more sensitive to cooler (higher temperature) light, but I feel like that sensitivity results in constricted pupils and desensitized cone cells -for me at least.
If there's a lot of shades of brown to distinguish between in the spaces you're trying to illuminate, then that's another plus for warm light imo.
Consider that y'all might be blinding yourselves at times and washing out details that you need to see... nails, copper pipes, etc.
Wear a helmet, oh yeah, and take only pictures, leave only footprints. ;-)
 

AVService

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Dec 30, 2011
Messages
2,167
Don't they make Miners Headlamps just exactly for this use?
I know you want more than 1 light source also.

I have a feeling there are good choices on the market but they are just too pricey for the O.P. somehow?

I like making my own stuff as much as the next guy but…….if I am going underground and my life literally depends on my light I might be inclined to buy a known bulletproof option.
 

Stoneking

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I like making my own stuff as much as the next guy but…….if I am going underground and my life literally depends on my light I might be inclined to buy a known bulletproof option.

I completely agree. If you know you're going to run into hazardous situations and your only light source is what you bring with you, bring only a proven reliable light.
Budget shouldn't be in your vocabulary for the situation you're planning on getting into, that's just my opinion.
 

RWT1405

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Dec 2, 2007
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Don't they make Miners Headlamps just exactly for this use?
I know you want more than 1 light source also.

I have a feeling there are good choices on the market but they are just too pricey for the O.P. somehow?

I like making my own stuff as much as the next guy but…….if I am going underground and my life literally depends on my light I might be inclined to buy a known bulletproof option.


+1
 

Poppy

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Northern New Jersey
thanks for the links

there are between 4 and 6 of us at a time, and for perspective (i'm probably asking for complete overkill), the leader had a
SecurityIng® 3X CREE XM-L T6 LED 3800Lm LED Headlight Headlamp and Bicycle Light (Generic Packaging)
from amazon, and the throw wasn't enough for some of the tunnels, and it provided absolutely no local flooding. There's sometimes nails coming out of the 5 foot ceiling or hot water copper pipes running along floor, so I really want to light the room, having a long throw would be a bonus, but isn't particularly necessary.
eh4, makes a lot of good points. I hope all that he said makes sense to you.

I hope that each person in your party will have their own light/s, and that you don't intend for everyone to be dependent upon a single cheap multi led Chinese light. What happens if it fails?

That bicycle light your friend used probably had 1500 lumens, certainly not the 3800 advertised.

I think eh4 mentioned that too many floody lumens will cause your iris to constrict, due to the reflections of lights from the walls all around you, and THAT will reduce your ability to see anything beyond the range of the light. OR for that matter you won't be able to see at the calculated actual range of the light. SO... you might want to carry two or three lights.

A floody headlamp on top of a helmut! Look out for nails, and see where you are stepping.

A general use short throw light to see nicely out to 100-150 feet.

And something with a narrow beam that'll reach down long tunnels without reflecting too much along the side-walls (which will cause the iris to constrict). I am not a caver, or tunnel explorer, so I don't know what is best for that, but I suspect, that a zoomie might be the way to go for those long corridors.
 

LetThereBeLight!

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Feb 26, 2014
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636
I'd get the 200-Lumen Energizer Headlamp ($19.95, and it has variable lumens settings with dimming feature which I like to conserve the 3 Triple A batteries).

And I'd bring SIX EXTRA Triple A batteries, in case you drop a battery while switching them out (or if you found yourself staying beyond your 2-hour limit for any reason whatsoever) and they will fit comfortably in your Left pocket.

Also, I'd put a fully charged Nitecore Tube on a lanyard around my neck.

Finally, I'd put a 150-lumen NEBO flashlight in my Right pocket with some sort of lanyard or clip in the event you had to reach in to utilize it.

Remember our motto here: "Two is one and one is none."

I'd anticipate colleagues could bring in either inferior lights (or ones with already weakened batteries in them) or lights that get dropped and break (or lost in the dark). Unless you are all on the same page, plan on illuminating everyone's way out if things in the previous sentence come true.

Don't forget as well:
- 24-hours worth of water and food per person;
- notify others where you will be and when you will be back to notify them of your return
so they can send others in after you if they do not hear from you if something should happen.

In short, if each of you is over-illuminated so to speak and over-equipped, then there's less likely to be panic if something out of the ordinary or unexpected happens.

Let us know how you all did!

- LetThereBeLight!
 

Kudzu

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Jul 28, 2015
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This sounds like a lot of fun. But please be safe.

In addition to the excellent suggestions above, I'll add the following. (And forgive me if you already have this covered, but it's as much for other people as it is for you, OP.)

Someone should have a good first aid kit, equipped to treat a major wound. Consider getting some QuikClot in case (God forbid) someone gets a puncture wound. Ideally two of you should have at least basic first aid training.

Tunnel and sewer is probably the most dangerous aspect of urban exploration. Make sure you check the weather forecast, because tunnels flood. Consider the possibility - a very real and very dangerous possibility - of toxic gas buildup or low-oxygen environments. There's a reason utility workers carry gas detectors, because it can hit you with no warning.

Following on LetThere's post, don't assume your companions will have what they need, no matter how smart or experienced they may seem. I was recently on an off-road desert trek with three seemingly competent people, and when the truck wouldn't start after our first stop, I discovered I was the only person who'd brought any tools. At all.

For lighting, I'd take a helmet-mounted light as my main light, with 3 times as many spare cells as the planned length of my trek, all sealed in plastic. I'd carry two handheld lights as backups, each one with twice as many spare cells as my planned duration, again in plastic. Money aside, I'd probably take three Zebralights. On a budget, I'd buy three Convoy lights, pot them myself, and take a Fenix PD35 or Surefire G2x for an I-know-it-will-work backup.

And some chemical lightsticks.

Have fun!
 
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entaroadun

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Apr 10, 2016
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Thanks for all the advice guys. we do have people knowing where we're going, we put in an order for helmets, current equipment is long sleeves/jeans/closed shoes mandatory, n95 respirators, work gloves, few leathermans, the aforementioned chinese bright light, the rest of us using $5 chinese AA handhelds or costco AAA flashlights, phones, and water bottles. I was hoping to make an oasis of muted light in addition to having a better thrower. Also, found out that a member has some drones, and runs them off of 8000mah 11.1v lipo's. so goodbye car battery, I'll just wire 3 of them in parallel or sequentially (whichever is safer, if sequential, thinking a 3p4t selector switch w/ large knob and an alarm on each battery {not sure if sequential is right word, mainly just only connect 1 at a time}).

Glowsticks and liquid bandaids / first aid kit seem like a good idea, and I'll try to bring extra water in a backpack. not gonna bother with food, worst case, we'd dehydrate before we starve, we eat before we leave.

Also got 20x 10w 12v led's on their way, plan on mounting those in handheld pvc torches w/ stock intel coolers, 2000mah 11.1v lipos, and a flush xt60 to take a 16ga sheathed xt60 cable back to battery backpack for tethered use (on/off/on rocker for choosing internal battery or tethered). debating putting another xt60 m/f pair halfway down the cable to act as a breakaway,

would like to keep the disposable battery flashlights as the backups.
 

eaglemax

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Joined
May 5, 2014
Messages
51
Don't they make Miners Headlamps just exactly for this use?
I know you want more than 1 light source also.

I have a feeling there are good choices on the market but they are just too pricey for the O.P. somehow?

I like making my own stuff as much as the next guy but…….if I am going underground and my life literally depends on my light I might be inclined to buy a known bulletproof option.

+1 from me also,headlamps make more sense to me.
 
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