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Thread: The SF A2 - Part 2

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default The SF A2 - Part 2

    This space reserved.

    I will be doing a 2nd part to the first installment of my The SF A2 thread. So I am posting this now because the 1st part is getting up towards 250 posts, well over the 200 post suggested maximum size for a thread.

    Continued discussion should continue here, not in part 1.

    Thanks!

    And again, I will be editing this post to fill it up with lots of good SF A2 technical details--but not for some time. Still, I am going to do it eventually. Just as a teaser, I plan on posting oscilloscope pictures of the LVR in action.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  2. #2

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by js
    ... Just as a teaser, I plan on posting oscilloscope pictures of the LVR in action.
    Ray
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  3. #3
    Flashaholic* TENMMIKE's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    perfect even though im not a big A2 guy i was trying to find this thread just yesterday(the original).

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    Flashaholic Schnotts's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    I just got an A2 last week and I rather like it. Nice and small, built tough the white LED's work great. Can't go wrong with this light.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    One good topic for this continuation thread might be the "low incan" mode (snip from your concluding post on the Part 1 thread below). I think some people would assume that the regulation circuit would boost low battery voltage to the normal level for the incan bulb and then quit completely, rather than permitting the incan bulb to operate at sub-regulation voltage. Another related topic would be whether operation at that level has any operating effect on bulb life.

    Also, please note that I just edited the first post as I realized that in the discussion of exactly what is happening during the occurance of an "low incan" mode, I left out the fact that low batteries can cause this and not just extra resistance in the contacts. In fact, I see this every time my batteries get to the point where they will no longer support the incan. The incan doesn't just totally stop. Instead I push to activate it, and get a 1/3 or 1/4 power incan beam, and it has always been fixed by installing new batteries. And I left this possibility out of account in my original discussion. DUH! Too obvious or something.
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  6. #6
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    JNewell,

    The LVR is a PWM buck only regulator. It can only cut down on the DC equivalent voltage, not increase it. This is why the regulator is 99 percent efficient.

    The "dim incan" mode won't hurt the bulb in any way--and besides, it doesn't last for long anyway before the batteries no longer even turn on the regulator at all.

    As I said before, the "dim incan" mode occurs because the regulator has a turn-on voltage setpoint, and a lower turn-off voltage set-point. So in certain situations the power source and circuit path can be such that it can turn on the LVR, but not KEEP it on. In that case, you get a ON-OFF-ON-OFF, etc. modulation on top of the usual operation of the regulator.

    It's just inherent in the way the dual-mode operation is set up for the A2. Just like how the LED's are on when the incan is on. Some consider this a defect, and perhaps it is, but the fact remains that it would require a TOTAL REDESIGN of all elements of the A2 in order to "fix" this, or the "low incan" mode. These are what they are, but to my mind, they are pretty minor issues, if they are "issues" at all. I don't mind the LED's being on when the incan is on, and if I had to choose, I would choose a regulation scheme where you have some kind of warning before totally losing your high beam.

    Anyway, start to think about how a dual mode light could be implemented. Wrack your brain for all the different ways and how you would make it work, and you will see--I think--that the A2 occupies one of the optimal solutions for doing a multi-level light. The other one is, I think, a uC. But in that case, you have a more complicated user interface than the A2 switching operation.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  7. #7

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    hmm a question on the A2 LED..

    may i know if the LED mode of the A2 will be as bright as the keychain light that Lighthound ships free for every 20 dollar purchase..will it be brighter or dimmer than that ?
    Surefire G2 + Streamlight holster
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    when did the body change from the 4 flat sides to the more rounded version of the present

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by buihia
    ...if the LED mode of the A2 will be as bright as the keychain light that Lighthound ships free for every 20 dollar purchase..will it be brighter or dimmer than that ?
    One "Photon II clone" tested by FLR had an overall output of 1.2: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/reviews/amart_kph.htm, by comparison an Arc AAA-P had an overall output of 5.2: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/reviews/arc_aaa-p.htm, and the Surfire A2 LED mode (white) also had an overall output of 5.2: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/rev...urefire_a2.htm.

    I have all three of those lights, and the Photon II clone is not as bright as the Arc AAA-P or A2, and the beam is narrower. Keep in mind overall output is a function of both brightness and surface area of the beam at a given distance. Only a little wider beam angle at the same distance translates to a lot more surface area (area = pi * r^2), hence at the same surface brightness a lot more output.

    However unlike the FLR test, my A2 LED mode appears somewhat brighter than my Arc AAA-P, especially considering the broader beam. Not hugely so but somewhat.

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    Flashaholic* EV_007's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by buihia
    hmm a question on the A2 LED..

    may i know if the LED mode of the A2 will be as bright as the keychain light that Lighthound ships free for every 20 dollar purchase..will it be brighter or dimmer than that ?

    The freebie keychain is way brighter and whiter than the white LEDs of the A2, HOWEVER, the LED on the keychain light is overdriven and the runtime on the included batteries will be a fraction of the A2's LEDs.

    That little keychain rocks! I've given many away to friends and family.
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    Flashaholic JimmyB's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    OK, speaking of A2's, anyone notice different beam characteristics on the newer A2's? I have an older A2 with red LED's that I bought right after they came on the market. It has the typical A2 oblong, "football" shaped beam, and is a pretty good thrower.


    I just bought a round body A2 (white LED) that has a very round beam, none of the artifacts of the original, and in fact looks very much like an E2E beam (MNO3). The entire beam is very smooth all the way to the edges. It appears to be much more of a flood style although it still reaches out pretty well. Is this an anomaly or have the lights or lamps changed. I'd just swap lamps from the old to new just to test them but I don't have access to my old A2 right now.


    I actually prefer the way my new A2's beam looks/works so if it is a fluke, I'm keepin it
    JimmyB
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    Flashaholic* Blindasabat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    I have a newer round style body and I have a football beam, but mine is not that new and I don't have an old one to compare to. I do have a new spare lamp, but it's still in sealed packaging, so I never tried it. Let us know how your lamp swap works out. I may have to open my new lamp now...
    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyB
    OK, speaking of A2's, anyone notice different beam characteristics on the newer A2's? I have an older A2 with red LED's that I bought right after they came on the market. It has the typical A2 oblong, "football" shaped beam, and is a pretty good thrower.

    I just bought a round body A2 (white LED) that has a very round beam, none of the artifacts of the original, and in fact looks very much like an E2E beam (MNO3). The entire beam is very smooth all the way to the edges. It appears to be much more of a flood style although it still reaches out pretty well. Is this an anomaly or have the lights or lamps changed. I'd just swap lamps from the old to new just to test them but I don't have access to my old A2 right now.

  13. #13
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    My guess would be that it is a fluke, and actually is due to the collar on the lamp assembly itself. In other words, if you filed away some of the collar to allow the lamp to protrude into the A2 head a bit more, you might find the beam becoming more oblong.

    Or, you can always add some kind of spacer to the collar to effectively pull the lamp back a bit. I would use kapton tape for this, but whatever it is, it should be heat resistant and should stay on the collar and not fall off inside the top of the body/head area and gunk any thing up (or short it out).
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    I'm a relative newcomer to the A2 crowd as well, and i've gone through all the standard phases of A2 ownership;

    1; New-Toy-itis; "This is the COOLEST flashlight EVAR!!!!11one!"
    2; Second Thoughts; "wait a minute, what does the A2 do specifically that makes it *worth* $150-200?, my <insert flashlight #1> and <insert flashlight #2> do the same things as the A2 and are *less expensive* to boot...."
    3; Regret; "this thing was a waste of money, maybe I should *sell* it?..."
    4; Usage; "well, if I'm thinking of selling it anyway, maybe I should actually *USE* it for a bit first, see if I really want to sell it and take a loss, or just chalk it up to a learning experience..."
    5; Understanding; "I finally *GET IT*, the A2 *IS* an awesome light, it's a perfectly *balanced* illumination tool, low LED puts out just the *right* amount of light for most general use, and the high-beam has a nice balance between flood, throw, and color rendition, it may not be the brightest SureFire, or the longest running, but it's *just right* for 90% of most flashlight needs, it really is a stellar light
    and finally....
    6; Satisfaction; "Now that I have, use, and understand my A2, I have no "need" to buy any more flashlights, if I get the urge for a new light, I simply look at my A2, ask myself 'what will it do that my A2 won't?', and 90% of the time, the desire for the new light simply vanishes...."

    Basically to make a long post longer , the A2 is a rare light, it's something you need to spend *time* with actually *using*, not White Wall Hunting, actually *using* it, if you try to evaluate the A2 on a short-term basis, you'll likely not "get" it, and come away unsatisfied, give it at least 3 weeks to a month of actual *use* before passing judgement on it, it's meant to be a "balanced" light, it's not blisteringly bright like a P61 equipped SF, it's not an ultra-long runner (although the LED's *ARE* pretty darned efficient), and the beam pattern isn't the flawless SF beam pattern so beloved of WWH'ers, it *is* what it *is*, the *perfect*, balanced EDC for those that actually *use* their lights as tools

    Now that i've spent a good amount of time maligning and generally badmouthing the A2, but in a good way , let me cover it's *good* points, and there are many;

    It's the perfect length for EDC, it fits my hand perfectly, the body disappears into my palm, the tail-cap sticks out far enough for comfortable use of the momentary/twisty one-handed, the bezel sticks out far enough from my hand to give an unobstructed beam, by comparison, when holding my G2 and 6P, the bezel of the light is partially hidden by my hand, the knurling on the A2 has the right balance of grippability without being too aggressive, the 6P's knurling is a little smoother, and the G2's checkering is smoother still

    The incan is remarkably efficient, i've been using the light pretty much constantly for the past few weeks incan burn-times typically range from momentary to 10-15 minutes at a stretch, i've lost count of the amount of time i've used the LED low-beam, and after all of that, the incan beam is just as bright and white as the day I took it out of the packaging, the batteries ZTS at 60% even after a bunch of heavy use, the regulation circuit, documented so admirably in JS's A2 "‹berthread" does a remarkable job of keeping the incan beam bright and white throughout the battery life, I was skeptical, to say the least, of all the vaunted performance numbers of the regulated incan, but they're true, the regulated incan works, is reliable, and is a brilliant bit of engineering

    The low-beam LED's on paper are *laughable*, 3 lumens, an artifacty yellow/blue beam, typical of Nichia 5MM's, it's no WWH winner (although the incan beam does throw a kinda' cool "Biohazard"-y beam pattern), but you know what?, in *real life* use, it doesn't matter, the 3 lumen LED beam is in the form of a wide, soft flood with a slightly brighter hotspot, but it clearly leans more towards the floody side than throw, that 3 lumen flood does incredibly well with dark adapted eyes, and is quite usable rooting around in dark computer cases as well, the wide flood is far more usable than you'd think, and the color balance of the Nichias aren't too bad for general use either, and of course, being LED's efficiency is a given, i've been able to take batteries that ZTS at 0% and get usable light out of them with the A2's LED beam

    This is my first SureFire with Hard Anodizing, and it's holding up remarkably well, yes there are tiny spots on the "points" of the knurling that are starting to get silvery, but that's expected as HA doesn't adhere well to "edges", it's going to happen with use, and it's less than 1% of the light in total, the other 99% of the light looks as good as the day it came out of the packaging, I even like the slight color mismatch on the bezel ring, bezel and body of the light, gives it a more functional, more stark, "military" look

    This is also the first SureFire I don't feel comfortable letting the Unenlightened use, yes part of it is the fact it's a $200 flashlight and I don't think my cow-orkers would treat it with the respect due an expensive tool, but the other part is the fact that it's just such a cool light, and I know for a fact that my cow-orkers wouldn't truly be able to appreciate [Gollum] The Precioussss [/Gollum] the way I would, that's okay, I have a P61'ed 6P and G&P 3W LED'ed G2 that I can hand out as loaners, that is when I don't have my MagLed 3AA on me

    If you're willing to give the A2 a chance, not just a quick test, give it an actual *chance*, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* Atomic_Chicken's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Greetings!

    JS - I just read through the entire 8-page original thread you started, as well as this one. I just wanted to say "Well Done" to you... thanks for such an informative article and for starting such a great set of replies.

    I personally don't think the A2 is for everyone - but I'm quite certain that it is for me!

    P.S. Love your avatar!

    Best wishes,
    Bawko
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    You its pretty funny to me that the A2, which is a comparitively old flashlight for this community, is still one of the "cool" useful lights that folks tend to eventually come to. That fact is, it is one of the best most balanced lighting tools I have ever seen. If you are simply looking for the coolest toy or brightest toy or best beam on a wall the A2 is not for you. If you are looking for one of the best lighting "tools" to be used as a "tool" then the A2 is hard to beat.

    Chris
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  17. #17

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Dangit, now I'm thinking I need to get an A2 again. I really miss mine and wish hadn't have sold it.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* leukos's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Still waiting on Part 2, js.
    Light is sweet and pleasing to the eyes....

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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    A2 was a great light...a few years ago

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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    A2 was a great light...a few years ago
    What lighting needs today can the A2 not do vs. a few years ago? Personally I still don't think there is a light on the market that can match the A2s versatility and usefullness. I am predominently a LED kind of guy but a good incan. is still a better tool for several purposes and the A2 just does everything so well.
    A Government is most likely to be made up of a group of individuals who are likely not governed themselves.

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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by FASTCAR
    A2 was a great light...a few years ago
    Unfortunately, the same can be said about many, if not most lights introduced in the last few years...as well as those being introduced now...
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    my a2 had a beam i called the fuzzy potato. mine came with a case and two lamps so i frosted one of the lamps with a diamond sharpener and the beam was much better. someone posted that if you put the lamp in a certain way the beam will round out. it took me about 6 tries and it worked. its so nice now i'm afraid to mess with it.

  23. #23
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Quote Originally Posted by arnold ziffle
    my a2 had a beam i called the fuzzy potato. mine came with a case and two lamps so i frosted one of the lamps with a diamond sharpener and the beam was much better. someone posted that if you put the lamp in a certain way the beam will round out. it took me about 6 tries and it worked. its so nice now i'm afraid to mess with it.
    I never got there...when you replace the MA02 the bulb rotates when you twist the bezel...after 5 times I quit. do you replace the bezel when the lights facing up or down?

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* Atomic_Chicken's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Greetings!

    I think all you A2 guys who are trying to rotate the bulb to get a perfectly round beam are missing the point...

    If you use the light as-is, with the oval beam, you can orient the light by rotating so that it covers more horizontal area than a normal beam... allowing you to see more peripheral area. In otherwords, use the oval shape to its advantage, letting you see more to the left and right of you than you would if you achieved your "perfect round" beam.

    This is one thing about the A2 I really like... actually, I can't think of much that I DON'T like!

    Best wishes,
    Bawko
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  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Atomic Chicken,

    Thanks! I appreciate the kind words! My avatar, BTW, is a pic of Kate Beckinsale from one of the Underworld movies. She rocks!

    Leukos,

    Yeah. I know. It's high time for the first post in Part 2 to get filled in with good stuff. But, alas, it will be a while longer before I form up my notes into a presentable post. Sorry!

    Everyone,

    Personally, I've never had to rotate my MA02! Everytime I've installed a new one or just unscrewed and rescrewed on the head for some reason, the beam has come back almost exactly the same.

    In any case, there are two points to consider here:

    1. The oval beam is oval by design! If the beam were round, the throw would be less.

    2. If you can manage to find an orientation where you get a round beam, I suspect that that means that you are optimizing the loss from the LEDs/holes such that you are losing throw. Or trading throw for aesthetics.

    You can do this, of course, but it was not the intention of the design.

    As for frosting the lamp to get a "much better" beam, it all depends on what you mean by "better". If by "better" you mean "looks pretty on a white wall", well then yes, by all means, frost and rotate and add some vasoline to the lens. Or maybe some scotch tape! Yeah. There ya go. With lots of fussing and futsing you can get your A2 a bit closer to the beam of an E2e or an LED light!

    Or--and HERE's an idea!--you could just buy an E2e or an LED light in the first place!.

    FASTCAR,

    So, you come into this thread and post--what?--some jerky comment like "The A2 was a great light...a few years ago"? What gives? Let me ask you, DID YOU EVEN READ PART 1 OF THIS? Or are you just tossing out a knee jerk comment like that to improve your image (or post count)?

    Comments like this always annoy me. I suppose what people mean when they say things like that is that there are much better lights for the money available today, than there were a couple years ago. And that, by comparison, the A2 has fallen behind and is no longer a good value for the money. It's old technology.

    But, again, it all depends on your needs and priorities. I've said it again and again. I've said it till I was blue in the face. And, evidently, I will have to continue to say it: the A2 is an easy mark. It's easy to "prove" or show how it's a lousy flashlight for the money. How one of the latest and greatest Cree lights or K2 lights is such a better light. The problem with all of these "proofs", though, is that the fact is that for a certain class of users, for a certain class of uses, the A2 remains unrivaled. It is still the very best light for my EDC uses. Period. There is no other that is better at any price.

    Obviously, that's just me, and for others, the A2 is a bad choice. No question. I have never championed the A2 as the sort of light that everyone should have, that is so overwhelmingly great that it blows everything else away. No. It's not that light. Nothing about it is going to WOW! you or blow you away--not if you're like most people.

    (As a side note, though, for me the A2 was love at first sight. I knew it was going to be perfect for me. But, I was fairly mature as a flashaholic at that point, and had already gone through a number of lights in search of what I needed. So I could recognize the greatness of the A2 at that point, whereas I'm not sure that would have been the case if it had been my starting point.)

    What is the greatness of the A2? Versatility and utility. The quality and utility of the light from the incandescent part of the A2 is unrivaled in a light of its size. It's not the prettiest beam, or the most pleasing light to look at, but when it comes to looking at THINGS (and not the light itself), the light from the A2 incan is awesome.

    The A2 is a tool. And as a tool it is outstanding. It's not a "amaze your friends and family" kind of light. It's not the light you shine up on your ceiling and get all dreamy over. It's not the light that sits on your shelf as King or Queen. (Although it may be the one that sits in a drawer!)

    No. For certain people (like myself) the A2 is the trusty, every day carry, work horse light that sees the most use of all.

    I love my A2. If I could keep only one light out of all the lights I own, it would be the A2, hands down, in a second. It's a really great light, now, two years ago, or ten years hence.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* Atomic_Chicken's Avatar
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    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Greetings!

    Quote Originally Posted by js
    Atomic Chicken,

    Thanks! I appreciate the kind words! My avatar, BTW, is a pic of Kate Beckinsale from one of the Underworld movies. She rocks!
    Yes... that's why I like it! I think Kate is the sexiest woman alive... and her vampiness in those movies just made it ALL the better!

    You have great taste in flashlights AND women... and I look forward to your continuing posts regarding the A2.

    Best wishes,
    Bawko
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  27. #27
    Flashaholic ScooterBug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    south carolina
    Posts
    244

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    i agree intirely. my A2 would be the LAST too go. i also am waiting for future post about KATE!!! her and an A2 would be hard too beat.
    "Never underestimate the love of a man for his dog"

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* LA OZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Posts
    836

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    js, because of your great review, you have assist surefire sell of A2 by a few folds. I hope they appreciate your time.

  29. #29
    *Flashaholic* js's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    5,791

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    Atomic Chicken,

    TinderBox (UK) is also in the Kate Beckinsale fanclub and has a Kate Beckinsale avatar, and a link in his sigline to a full size version of the avatar picture. THAT'S also a nice avatar picture.

    For a long time I had an avatar picture of one of my ring-potted lamps, which is probably the modding acheivement I am most proud of, but after a couple years of looking at it, and after a somewhat protracted, but radical change in philosophical and religious outlook, and after seeing Underworld, I decided I wanted a FUN avatar! One that I like to look at time and time again. If it's tacky or mid-life crisesy of me, so be it. I don't care.

    As for a future Kate post, well, this is it I guess. There are some pretty fun interviews with her available on the web. She's really a kick! I was going to post a large Kate picture here, but, eh, no need to add all that extra bandwith for dialup users. It's for a good cause, to be sure, but a rather off topic one, though. Plus, I don't have any pics of Kate holding an A2! LOL!
    Last edited by js; 03-08-2007 at 11:55 PM.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  30. #30
    Flashaholic
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    sacramento ca
    Posts
    127

    Default Re: The SF A2 - Part 2

    illum the nation i think i got lucky on the sixth try. my original beam was really bad to where when you used it outside there were large dark spots where things could be missed. my beam was at least three times as wide as it was high.

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