What would get you excited about flashlights again?

PEU

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Feb 26, 2004
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Hi guys :wave:

For me it always was about customs with the best you can find at the moment, the problem is that the mass produced Chinese flashlights got to a point in quality its difficult to compete. Of course I mean quality units, not DX...

In any case, I'm still a regular here but at the M/M/M subforum, I feel surrounded by guys who share the love for flashlights but also machining. Also on the custom forge subforum as I'm more into making knives lately.


Pablo
 

Bucket

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Jul 17, 2003
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a super compact triple XP-L powered by by a Sony VTC5 drawing 6+ amps from the battery

How about a triple XP-G2 driven by a 14500 at 6.3 amps? I may be making a few of these after my Damascus project is complete. Prototype is pictured. There will be a few changes such as the brass exposed pill will be made of copper instead. Probably a little machining embellishment here and there too.
_MG_5762.jpg
 

ShineOnYouCrazyDiamond

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CT, USA
Bucket - that's pretty cool. Maybe a little flare at the end to keep it positioned in the hand.

I have to say the resurgence of the HDS production line has actually brought some new life into the hobby for me. I've always loved HDS lights but never used them much even though I've almost always had at least one. Now that I use them more I like them so much more as well.

Also - I know incan lights are pretty much dead but I'd love to see a new high power high efficiency regulated incan that can take advantage of some of the new higher power cells that weren't available 4-5 years ago. We all really stretched the AW17670 as much as we could with a FMs bi-pin adapter and a 1185 bulb. It would be cool to see a high powered light that used a host similar to the EagleTac G25C2 with a nice big reflector that could really push some lumens of the IMR18350 cells. Just dreaming. :)
 

Bucket

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Yeah, I will be putting a larger diameter on the end of the tail cap for sure.

I don't have any experience with high power incan lights. From the little I've read about them better soft start solutions are needed for the next level to come.
 
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Diesel_Bomber

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Feb 19, 2006
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A serious increase in efficiency would get my interest going again. I would get excited about a light that puts out 40 lumens for a week straight out of a 1xAA light. Not 14500, a AA that I can find at any store in the country.

Lights are tools for me, my passion lies with things that burn fuel or gun powder. I don't need 1000+ lumens in my pocket, 40 lumens is completely useable and 200 lumens is plenty bright for just about any task, and those lights are ALL OVER THE PLACE and easy to find. When I first joined up, LEDs were just becoming useable in flashlights. 40 lumens out of a single emitter was pretty decent at the time, and elicited "WOW THAT'S BRIGHT" from non-flashaholic folk. Now dollar store lights do that, and there is no particularly serious search required to find a solid reliable useable LED flashlight. After my need to find useable lights was taken care of, I stuck around CPF for the people, and eventually that faded. I recently had an unpleasant encounter with a moderator over my signature(since changed) which further drove me away.

I do miss the EV forum a bit.
 

js

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Aug 2, 2003
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The sophistication and power of our micro-processor controlled, high efficiency high output LED flashlight front ends is NOT matched by a correspondingly sophisticated and capable control surface. This is a huge problem.

Back when I was predicting that Apple would release something like the iPad, there were two posts about the MacBook Wheel, which is a satire by The Onion about how Apple has the tech world buzzing with its move to do away with the keyboard in favor of a giant wheel and button combo (like the iPod). In the video, one Apple representative says:

"At Apple our philosophy is to create products that are simple to use. And nothing's more simple than a single giant button."

Yuk yuk yuk. It's a freaking riot. As if making an interface simple makes it simple to use. Although, it actually IS simple to use--but oh so painful. The person demonstrating in the video takes forever just to navigate and accomplish things. It's funny because it's ridiculous. Because forcing all the complexity and sophistication of the input (text, file structure, file names, programs, actions, screen information, cursor location, etc.!) through this interface is ridiculous!

But this is exactly what I think of when I see all these flashlights with multiple levels and multiple modes all trying to force them through the bottleneck of a single clicky switch!

A simple interface is only appropriate for a simple function. A single level light mates well with a clicky switch or a SureFire type lock out tailcap.

A dual level flashlight mates well with a progressive twist switch like the SureFire A2/L1/L2 LOTC or with McGizmo's Piston-Drive.

But, beyond that, I think you run into trouble! My favorite single-clickie UI for a smart light is McGizmo's 3S scheme where a short off time is used for switching levels. But I still think it's a workaround for the overly simple single-clickie UI bottleneck. And we need to remove this bottleneck.

We all need a more sophisticated and elegant control surface for our flashlights!. And the technology is already there! Has been for a long time! Remember this product?

ipod.tiff



I do. It was Christmas break and my sister and I were both at my parents and she took about 5 seconds or so showing me the basics of how to work the ipod, then just handed it off to me. I was blown away. It was incredible. Anything I intuitively thought should work in terms of controlling or changing stuff with that UI just ended up working that way. I was like "Oh, this is why people are so impressed with this thing!" It was a seriously awesome UI. It was complicated enough, but no more so. And it was intuitive and easy to use.

Adding extra buttons to a flashlight does not improve the situation much over a single clickie! Adding a rotary dial or selector ring, like HDS Rotary or Spy 007 or NiteCore SRT models is going in the right direction, I think (especially the Spy).

But what would really excite me--and what I think is absolutely necessary for the more complicated light front-ends--is something like the iPod controller, but in a single tail-end touch surface--like a laptop trackpad. Like the Apple trackpads, actually, in that pushing in will cause the whole thing to click, which is registered (or can be) as different than a touch.

So . . . imagine it. Push the rear touch button in until it clicks to wake the light up from OFF (and it's been off so there's no parasitic drain). At this point, simply touching the rear switch-pad gives you momentary on in the scheme of your choice (last level, always low, always high, --whatever).

Want to make the light brighter? Rotate your thumb or finger clockwise--just like raising the volume on the old iPods--and you get increasing brightness. Could be in jumps, could be continuous--whatever. Rotate counter-clockwise and you get decreasing brightness. For mode changes swipe straight down or up--assuming there are mode changes (like flood vs throw a la SureFire A2 or LunaSol 20).

For constant on, push in further to click.

And you could add a capacitive touch strip or surface or ring to the head or up near the head with a similar scheme. You'd need to have a more sophisticated connection of the head to body, however. Think a camera lens. Used to be there were very fine threads and you screwed your lens on. Until some company came up with something better. Then later, electrical connections were added, then more. Now, with a quarter turn you mechanically and electrically connect your lens to your camera body and get autofocus and all sorts of control over and information from the lens.

But what do we have with flashlights? Eh? Only a screw on head. But if we had something more like a camera type connection, then we could separate out the body from the electrical pathway--which is what the Piston-Drive also did and is part of why I loved it so much. Don actually made a PD light with a plastic body once, he told me! LOL! Point is that you could use electrical connectors or contacts and cabling for the circuit path and controller interface connections. And the body material could be chosen for other reasons. I'd love to see a magnesium alloy with some kind of surface coating. Again, think camera bodies. Plenty of magnesium ones out there.

The point is that we're way WAY behind in terms of the UI (and body) for flashlights. They freaking SUCK to use. They are so inelegant and so annoying. Just like Greta said at the beginning:

And see... I wish we could see the "re-birth" of simplicity. Two modes - high and low. No programming, no click five times for this or that or stand on your head while turning the head three twists to the left then two to the right, blahblahblah. KISS - keep it simple ******. On - off. One hand operation.

The feeling of "simplicity" is when the user interface is appropriate to the reality with which you are interfacing. If you need to TYPE a click wheel is a nightmare! And if you have multiple levels and multiple LED's and multiple modes, a single clicky switch isn't great either, even with the best schemes for switching. And we don't need MORE freaking switches! We need something elegant!

There's a reason why all modern smart phones are using a touch screen interface now. Why can't flashlights?

I was talking about this with SilverFox today and he pointed me to this review: Imalent EU06 which is a flashlight with an actual touchscreen! LOL! And I like that this is getting outside the box, so to speak.

But it's not appropriate for a flashlight. A touch screen is too complicated and uses too much power and is too big for a flashlight. Plus, you need an interface that you don't have to look at in order to use! If you're using a flashlight it's because you want to look at something else. So I think the right degree of sophistication is a capacitive touch surface interface--something like 9 sensors--one in the center and 8 around the outside--that would probably be about right. And this kind of thing is readily available and small and inexpensive. Or it could be a lot more sensors than that if you wanted. That's the stuff under the hood. The idea is the same. To take simple gestures and map them to appropriate functions. And if you already have your thumb on the rear activation surface, or another finger(s) at the front surface, then it's easy and simple to manipulate things with them via simple gestures.

And imagine only having to grab the head of your light to make it turn on! Let go and it turns off. (assuming it was in momentary mode and ready and waiting).

Because, once again, I think it's important that after a certain amount of time of inactivity, the touch uC would turn off and thus stop the parasitic drain.

Anyway, this is all just one vision of how it could be implemented. There are many others. And it's easy to imagine a bluetooth connectivity (mentioned earlier) with an app on your smartphone so that people could customize the heck out of the implementation to their liking. But however it is implemented, we simply desperately need a better, more sophisticated (but still elegant) UI.

That's what I want to see. That and more truly High CRI emitters, like the Nichia 119 and 083. I see all these lights all using the same Cree emitters, and I'm like, yeah whatever. I feel the same way about them (to a degree) that I used to feel about the 5 mm Nichia white LED's back after the Luxeon Stars had come out. People at work who knew I was into flashlight would show me all their lights that they picked up for super cheap at the dollar store or at Home Depot or wherever, and they were always using multiple 5mm Nichias, sometimes in a beehive type configuration. And that was fine. And I never rained on their parade. I was always positive and excited for them. But at the same time, I was always glad of my Arc LSH with the Luxeon Star.

And that's how I feel now after having lived with the High CRI Haiku and the SunDrop. Those beams really freaking excite me! Nothing against the Cree's at all, though! It's just personal preference. I value high CRI over output. It's why I carried the SF A2 for so long and why I was into incans. But now LED's have surpassed incans in terms even of color rendering. Or they rival them, anyway, at least. And with greater efficiency and way greater longevity.

It's exciting. And I don't see very many high CRI LED lights. I mean, some say they are (with like an 80 CRI) but that's really nothing special. 90-95 CRI on the other hand combined with 4000+ K CCT? Now that gets me excited! LOL!

YMMV. Just my personal preferences.
 
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Hooked on Fenix

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Dec 13, 2007
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I had an interesting thought I'd like to see on the market. How about a USB headlight. Not a headlight that recharges an internal battery with USB from another USB battery pack, but one without the internal battery pack. Just a headband with the l.e.d.s on the headlight with a decently long U.S.B. cord. You could hook it directly into your favorite USB battery pack without the power losses of charging one set of batteries with another. Have the light run at 1 amp at 5 volts to the l.e.d. max. so any standard battery pack would work. That's 5 watts of power. With modern emitters, you can easily get 600 lumens out of that. Add infinitely variable brightness at the l.e.d. head to throttle the power and you're set. I could see something like this easy to sell for $30 and blow the competition away. No need for a regulation circuit since it's a feature of the battery pack. No cost to build a battery case or battery pack as it's sold separately. This brings down the trail weight of the light significantly and gives multiple uses for the battery pack. Makes solar charging while backpacking work better. Come on manufacturers, I've got an 11 Amp U.S.B. battery pack waiting to reach it's full potential. Get to work.:grin2:
 

Diesel_Bomber

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Feb 19, 2006
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I would buy that USB headlamp if it was waterproof and the cord was long enough to run to my pocket or belt. Count me in!
 

bdi-innovation

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Nov 28, 2013
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Does this excite anyone!

I would like to get some feedback on my little invention if I'm allowed to post this private link to a demo.
http://youtu.be/6S4tf6uxm84
who says a Flashlight needs a mechanical switch!

so as Henry Ford supposedly quoted
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
 

idleprocess

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Feb 29, 2004
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dfw.tx.us
Does this excite anyone!

I would like to get some feedback on my little invention if I'm allowed to post this private link to a demo.
http://youtu.be/6S4tf6uxm84
who says a Flashlight needs a mechanical switch!
A tilt switch-triggered relay (I had a novelty LED-illuminated bouncing ball some years back that used a similar principle) ... or in newer sekzier terms, an accelerometer that triggers with a specific motion (my smartphone activates the camera from rest with two flicks of the wrist)?

You may find some critics here.
 

flashy bazook

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Jan 7, 2007
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I've been here since 2007 but have been away for the past year plus. But is it because I was "bored"? No!

A better word is "satisfied"!

After going through the early phases with the LED revolution and making plenty of mistakes along the way--getting several el-cheapo flashlights, then trying to find the one-flashlight-to-rule-them-all--I wised up and set up a system to manage non-fixed lighting light needs.

I also went the way of the custom flashlights.

This was a costly approach, but basically fulfilled all my needs.

Coming back to check what's been happening, and if my system needs any kind of updating, I find (so far) basically not much has changed and that my system is still A-OK.

We have one more generation of LEDs, e.g., the XML has become the XML2 with a bit more output at max levels, with the batteries still more or less where they were before. So not much improvement.

Given that for max-lumen I still have a 3xXPG light that gives out 1,100 lumens for 75 minutes in my battery configuration, and in a very manageable physical size, I don't feel I need the latest LED emitter. In other words, I can just jump over a generation of emitters (kind of like computers where you find you can just jump over several generations of CPUs these days).

In fact, as I see the latest offerings from the usual suspects (mostly Asian factories), they seem to have gone the way of max-lumen plus multi-battery setups, like 3x or 4x18650's. Well, this is not an improvement over my setups really, as the flashlights are physically bigger, heavier, and more complicated. Oh, and to manage their costs often the material is inferior (lots of plastic, whereas my flashlights are HA-III alum or even titanium).

Some manufacturers are going the way of multi-emitters, sometimes 2 "white" LEDs, or 1 main "white" LED plus a few weak-output color (RBG) LEDs. Not a very nice design, if you ask me. If you need a certain color, in a weak output, just use a color filter, or a specialized adequate-power color LED emitter to actually get useful output out of it.

OK, so what about the future? Here it is harder to make constructive suggestions.

Probably flashlights for specialized needs--caving, diving, etc.--can be improved in various ways, and for those folks that have those needs, there will be a continuing market.

The programmability I feel will always be something of an esoteric niche, as most folks can be fine with a few output steps. Personally I even appreciate single-output flashlights because I have several so I can just choose the one best suited for the job. Maybe even 2 or 3 output levels are sufficient for many general uses. So you have the "main" output best suited for your needs, and a useful lower output level in case you need a lot of runtime for some reason.

Rechargeability is interesting, but I feel that the USB-port is not a good solution because it reduces the integrity of the flashlight (e.g., water resistance). Perhaps the newly coming out technologies where recharging can be done wirelessly will be interesting for flashlights as well. These technologies are coming out of the computer world, Intel has a specification out already. So that could be an area where people can find new excitement in.

One area that I think is underserved, is high-efficiency high-throw flashlights. It is still quite hard to find flashlights with emitters with narrow optics that can have high runtimes and long throw. A standardized size that can match diffusers can get out of the "fear" that you can't see what's happening near your physical location very well with such flashlights. Basically the flashlights with high throw tend to be big-lumen monsters with multi-rechargeable batteries, which is hugely inefficient. So here there is much room for improvement.

But overall, is it so bad to be satisfied? Let's recall the era before LEDs, where the standard flashlights (e.g., Maglite) were around unchanged for decades. The LEDs changed the picture for a while, but as their limits, plus those of batteries, are reached, we could have an era where not much change is evident or necessary.

Is this such a horrible situation? Maybe not!
 
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cland72

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Nov 23, 2009
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3,271
I would love for Surefire to produce a light with the following features:
Selectable driver (similar to Streamlight) with several sets of pre-programmed levels
E series body and tailcap with KX2C sized head
17670 compatible
HA finish
TIR lens
500 lumens on high
sub lumen "moonlight" mode available

Think about it - you could program it for any situation you wanted, with any number of modes you wished.

Going to a shooting class or participating in a SWAT raid? Program it for single mode, or perhaps high mode with strobe available on the second click.
Going camping? Program a high, medium, and low mode.
Going into the wilderness? Maybe you want high, low, and SOS modes.
Going to bed for the night? Program it with moon mode to come on first, then 500 lumens second.
 
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NonSenCe

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Dec 23, 2008
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below polar circle.. in country which used to make
me getting excited again demands few things..
1st. have more money to spend.
2nd. to be dark outside (every year when winter comes i get small bug to buy more lights.. like this year too)
3rd. finding a flashlight with something you really want/need/desire with right price. ie. finding The One.
4th. significant advancement on technology. more for less. improved versatility, ui, output, smaller size.
 

guthrie

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Dec 21, 2014
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I just did get excited about torches again, because I found that you can get some nice neutral whites and high CRI LEDs cheaply enough now, as well as the efficiency and drivers have improved, so instead of needing 2x 18650 to get 500 lumens you can get it with one or 2x CR123's. Or even a bunch of AA's. That all together makes me a bit excited, so I went and bought a new torch.
 
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