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Thread: Solar flashlight helps Africans

  1. #1

    Default Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Flashlights for a worthy cause:

    http://www.azstarnet.com/news/183839

    Brightnorm

  2. #2
    *Flashaholic* McGizmo's Avatar
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    Default SolarFlashlight where it makes sense?

    Hi guys,
    My wife just sent me a link to This Article about a guy who developed a flashlight for people who don't have access to the grid or funds for batteries.

    EDIT: if this has already been posted forgive me and my ignorance...
    Build Prices .... some mods and builds (not 4 sale) "Nature can be cruel- but we don't have to be."~ Temple Grandin

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    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    More info on this light from the manufacturer here and Craig's review as well.
    -"Must control self"-
    ....

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: SolarFlashlight where it makes sense?

    Are the AAs NiCad?

    That light sounds like a very appropriate use of the technology. I think it's important to remember that for those flashlights to work as designed (or most other self contained solar devices that charge themselves) they must be used on a regular basis -- making them suitable for their intended market. They have no choice but to use them every night.

    I'd expect Westerners to be very dissapointed with them for a number of reasons. Most of the complaints about solar lights, radios, etc, seem to revolve around the device not working after sitting idle for 6-9 months -- which won't happen to these lights in the refugee camps.
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 05-20-2007 at 04:29 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: SolarFlashlight where it makes sense?

    (Moderator note: removed inactive link due to thread merge - THANKS!)

    About 3 hours ago someone posted something similar, where sigman posted the manufacturer's URL and craigs review
    Last edited by Sigman; 05-20-2007 at 06:48 PM.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: SolarFlashlight where it makes sense?

    Thanks for the link. After reading the review and skimming the BoGo site I'm really impressed. I love the idea of being able to swap out the AA cells. I also like the fact that they used an LED array. This is the coolest solar light I've ever seen.

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    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Merged threads (thanks for the link Illum!)...same articles in the links, but the one that Don posted has more info...
    Last edited by Sigman; 05-20-2007 at 06:46 PM.
    -"Must control self"-
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    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    your welcome

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Hello Brightnorm,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    I have been thinking about checking out solar battery chargers for some time now. This gave me an opportunity to start in a way that benefits others.

    Who knows... I may find a use for the light too...

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  10. #10
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    I'm one of the testers. Just like Craig, it failed the "dunk" test (messed up the switch), but otherwise performed very well in terms of charge/discharge cycling, amount of light, portability, ease of use, etc.

    My intention was to ship it off to some people in Central America for them to do some extended "real world" testing, but the switch died before I could do that. Maybe the light can withstand use slight rain and/or even a downpour, but it won't tolerate more water. Resistance to humidity in the switch would be critical for these things to be relied upon in the humid tropics, and is something that still concerns me about the design.

    I just read Craig's review, and I don't think I could add much more, except that I will try to break the darned thing. I really want to see how impact resistant this thing is. I'm just trying to push it to the limits to see where it might fail. So far, though, there was very little I could convey to the company in terms of improvements.

    Sub, to answer your question, IIRC, they're 800mAh NiMH's. You can easily swap them for cells with greater capacity. You'd be stuck with a loooooong charging time, though.

    ...and since we're talking about simple lights and projects for developing countries, here's another one:
    http://www.worldtorch.com/

    There are some very knowledgeable CPF'ers behind that one, BTW.

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    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Wouldn't it be better to use NiCd batteries in these lights? They will certainly be over-discharged regularly. The first person to get one will probably fall asleep with it turned on. Much of that will kill a NiMH in a hurry.

    Geoff

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Turtle
    Wouldn't it be better to use NiCd batteries in these lights?...
    My thought, too.

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Sorry Sub_Umbra. Looking back over the posts I see you already pointed out the potential battery problem. Didn't intend to echo your thoughts.

    Geoff

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Turtle
    Sorry Sub_Umbra. Looking back over the posts I see you already pointed out the potential battery problem. Didn't intend to echo your thoughts.

    Geoff
    Not to worry. I'm content to just not be alone. Actually, your post was more lucid than my thoughts were.

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    My lights arrived.

    Very interesting design. I set them out in the sun for a day and got around 4 hours of light from them before shutting them off. They were dimming down and I had not equalized nor formed the batteries yet, so I just shut them off.

    Pulled the batteries to do a forming charge and to check the capacity. My units came with NiCd cells, but they are printed with a message that states that they should be replaced with NiCd or NiMh cells.

    My batteries are labeled as 800 mAh, and they are testing out to a little better than 900 mAh.

    I went to show a friend the light and noticed a fog on the inside of the lens. The light had been sitting on the dash of my car in full sun. I opened up the head and let the moisture out. A few more hours in the sun did not see any re-occurrence of the moisture.

    Using Craigs "blow" test, I blew on the switch and air came out around the edges of the battery cover. I could press on the cover and slow the air down, but it appears that this light should not be submerged.

    I plan to leave mine out in the rain to see how well it does. My gut feel is that rain should not be an issue, if the light is laying with the solar panel up.

    I like the "glow in the dark" gasket at the head, but the battery compartment cover is very hard to open up. The screw comes out easily, but the cover is a tight fit. I had to take a knife to work it out.

    I get around 84 lux on fully charged batteries and it dims down from there. It actually started out at around 90 lux, but it dropped off rather quickly and settled down at around 84 lux.

    The beam is very useful. It is similar to my 5 LED High output Peak Kilimanjaro, but the BoGo light has a lot more spill and the hot spot is a bit bigger. There are a few artifacts in the spill of the BoGo, but when reading with the light I don't notice them.

    I hung the light up in a room, read a few chapters in a book, and did some sorting. There was ample light, so it seems to meet its light output objectives.

    I like the concept, and the price is dirt cheap. The only issue is the lack of being water proof. Any ideas on how to improve this?

    I called Mark Bent to discuss this. His wife informed me that he is in France until Thursday. I invited them to visit CPF and will have a discussion with Mark when he gets back. His wife told me that he is working on improving the light. They have several thousand lights in the field. Exxon Mobile was responsible for getting around 20000 lights distributed, and others have jumped in as well.

    I think this is a worthwhile project and we should offer any technical help we can in order to improve the light.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  16. #16

    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    Using Craigs "blow" test, I blew on the switch and air came out around the edges of the battery cover. I could press on the cover and slow the air down, but it appears that this light should not be submerged.
    Isn't Craig's test actually the "dreadful suction" test? Though whether a light blows or sucks is of little consequence, only that it does

    Sounds like a really nice piece: hours of runtime with no cranking, floats, forward clickie(!). Perhaps an o-ring + rubber boot like one from a 6V lantern or Kroll glued to the body could help with the waterproofness?

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    I like the concept, and the price is dirt cheap. The only issue is the lack of being water proof. Any ideas on how to improve this?
    Ideally, you'd want a waterproof switch assembly, but from what I heard from the manufacturer, that would raise the cost beyond what is financially feasible for the project.

    A simpler idea would be to make a groove on the switch plunger and place an o-ring there. That way, the o-ring would seal the space between the outer cylinder and the actual switch plunger. A couple of potential caviats I see with that approach:

    - switch action may be stiffer, unless the o-ring is well lubed, but
    - it'll need regular maintenance as the lube wears off

    Another option would be to make a rubber switch cover. This would require a modification in the flashlight molds, etc.

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Hello Bfg,

    You are correct... It was a suck test.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Hello greenLED,

    I will have to take mine apart to see if there is a possible simple solution.

    Zip Loc bags come immediately to mind...

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  20. #20
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    I will have to take mine apart to see if there is a possible simple solution.
    Hi, SilverFox,
    Is your switch still working? Mine gave up the ghost and I couldn't get it to work again, even after major surgery. I was surprised at how quickly the switch parts corroded. Maybe coating them/encapsulating them would add an extra layer of waterproofing?

  21. #21

    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    I ordered one of these lights thanks to this thread. It's supposed arrive any day. If I am happy with it I will be giving them out to all members of the family for Christmas. Thanks pointing this light out. Seems like a cool light and great concept.
    www.EDCdepot.com Please use the coupon code CPF to receive your 5% discount on all purchases. If we carry it, so should you. FREE Spy Capsule with every order.

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    Silver Moderator
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Hello greenLED,

    Mine are working fine.

    Its raining today, so I think I will set one out in the rain to see how well it handles it.

    I wonder if the corrosion on your switch occurred prior to assembly... ?

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  23. #23
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    I wonder if the corrosion on your switch occurred prior to assembly... ?
    It is quite possible, seeing how fast the switch broke after the inmersion test. I don't remember it malfunctioning or flickering before the test, though.

    Oh, and I've been doing some "impact" testing. So far no cracks have developed on the case or any other parts after a couple hundred drops from 2 feet height. I'm doing this on a carpet first to simulate falls on dirt, but for the next stage I'll be dropping it onto concrete. Unfortunately I won't be able to determine if the drops have a negative impact on the electronics, the solar panel, etc. since the light is already broken. At least we'll get an idea of the physical impact resistance of the casing (which I suspect is high).
    Last edited by greenLED; 06-06-2007 at 12:11 PM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Suggesting that the switch parts be in moderately heavy silver plate and slathered with a dollop of high-viscosity silicone grease.

    That'd do it forever.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    ...
    I think this is a worthwhile project and we should offer any technical help we can in order to improve the light.

    Tom
    Better keep us in check, Tom. Before you know it, we'll be trying to turn it into a light that's too expensive for it's intended purpose!
    Ray
    Good people need to be there for each other. It's the only way to stay sane in a sometimes insane world.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Hello Ray,

    You do have a point there...

    All right, perhaps I need to establish some guidelines... NO Ti!!!

    In all seriousness, I am hoping that Mark will stop by and we may be able to come up with something practical to help improve this light.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  27. #27
    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Quote Originally Posted by SilverFox View Post
    In all seriousness, I am hoping that Mark will stop by and we may be able to come up with something practical to help improve this light.
    I sent him an e-mail with a link to this thread yesterday.

    I'll try to do the concrete drop tests over the weekend.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    Interesting...

    I took one of my lights apart and there is a gasket that run all along the edge of the light, except for the hook part. This gasket runs both over and under the switch.

    My switch is sealed, and everything is hot melt glued in, so I am not going to go further on that. However...

    While taking it apart, I had one screw that would not come out. It is just down from the switch. The post that the screw goes into is broken. Interesting, I just checked my other light it that one also has a broken post in the same place.

    This allows the case to flex slightly rendering the light no longer sealed.

    Sucking, and blowing, on just the switch allows some air to flow, but it is not very much. It may be OK for rain splash, and a quick dunk, if everything else was sealed up.

    It looks like the broken post is an assembly issue. They probably put that screw in first and tighten it too much. It breaks when the screws on the other side are installed.

    The solar panel gives me around 3.5 volts under cloud cover light coming in through the window.

    The solar panel appears to be hot melt glued to the plastic body.

    My first thought is that if the switch had a rubber cover things would be OK. If a little moisture got into the body, you may end up with some corrosion, but the light should still work.

    It looks like the switch is the weak link.

    Of course, salt water would be a different set of problems.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    I just got off the phone with Mark.

    He has been able to get some money for R&D. On the top of his list is to figure out a way to improve the switches water resistance and better ways to seal the light.

    He did mention that in Africa, the people are taking care of their lights and there are no problems with them getting water inside, however he does recognize the need for improvements.

    Tom
    Behind every Great man there's always a woman rolling her eyes...

    Most batteries don't die - they are tortured to near death, then murdered...

  30. #30

    Default Re: Solar flashlight helps Africans

    That's all good news!
    Ray
    Good people need to be there for each other. It's the only way to stay sane in a sometimes insane world.

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