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Thread: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

  1. #1
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    Default Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    I just got a Streamlight Sidewinder and while I like it a lot, like many I found the colored LED's to be wanting. The red and green LED's weren't too bad for artifacts, but the blue LED was mostly just a bright blue ring. It kind of reminded me of the movie "The Ring".

    Looking to smooth out the colored LED's I first tried putting some translucent Scotch tape over them. This actually works great.

    Wanting something a little less "hillbilly" looking I remembered I had some LED diffuser covers graciously given to me by nekomane. Here is his thread on them:

    http://candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=94691

    He got them at a store in Tokyo. I don't know where you might get them online.

    Taking apart the Sidewinder is pretty easy, but there are some things to look out for. With the LED's facing up first unscrew the cover and set that aside.

    Now take off the clear plastic lens cover with it's gasket and set that aside. Some have said this clear cover is glass, but I am certain it is plastic. It does have an awesome hard coat though and is incredibly clear. I could see where some would think it is glass. Streamlight says it is plastic. I was thinking it was glass when I put the Scotch tape on it and scratched it off with my fingernail. I must have put four or more pieces of tape on and scratched them off and I can't see any evidence that the clear cover was ever touched. Normally I detest plastic lenses, but this one is incredibly tough.

    With the clear cover off the main LED lens will just fall out. This lens is not hard coated. Don't even look at this lens funny or it will scratch. Handle it as little as possible and use rubber gloves or better yet catch it with lens cleaning tissue to avoid fingerprints (ask me how I know all this now ). Even with the slight scratches (from nothing but wiping with toilet paper) and fingerprints I got on mine the beam is still beautiful. Here is a picture with the diffusers already in:



    With the Fraen lens out put a finger inside the Fraen lens hole and gently lift out the colored LED lens cover. I didn't try with nekomane's diffusers, but you might not have to lift the cover out, just try and slip the diffusers on the LED's through the cover. I took the cover off, slipped the diffusers on, and then put the cover back on. The red LED must have been bigger than the others. I had to cut one of the diffusers back and leave just a cap to get it to work witht the red LED.

    Here is a pic with the LED cover off:



    If you look closely you can see how the LED selector works. When you rotate the selector you are rotating a sleeve with a small cutout. There are four pairs of sensors inside and outside the sleeve. When the cutout in the sleeve aligns with a pair of sensors that activates that LED with no contacts to wear out. Ingenious if you ask me.

    Put everything back together in reverse. Be extra careful putting the screws back in to keep from stripping the plastic. If you even think you have bottomed out, stop turning. I'm fairly sure I stripped one of the holes, but everything seems to still be holding together well. I think the plastic is pretty resilient. If the plastic were hard and brittle the stripped hole probably wouldn't still hold the screw in.

    I used a can of compressed air to blow dust away.

    These diffusers work well, but no doubt you lose what little throw you have and some light. The green and blue LED's still put out some good light. The red LED is very faint and becomes even more so with the diffuser. With the diffusers the LED's should be great for map reading and close in work. The lights were brighter and still adequately diffused using just the Scotch tape.

    I hope this helps someone. If anyone has other ideas feel free to add.
    Last edited by Germ; 12-05-2007 at 03:58 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    Now that I've had this light for a couple of days I'm really liking it.

    I read reviews on the light and handled it in stores. Because of the reviews I bought an Energizer Hard Case Professional light. That light was OK, but I just didn't like the beam. The deep set lens and reflector seemed cheap and made for an artifacty beam with the sides cut off. Granted, the beam was much brighter than the Sidewinder, I just didn't like it. The red and green LED's had artifacts too. I expected them to be better from what people were saying about the Hard Case Tactical. The form factor of the Hard Case didn't allow me to use it for what I wanted. I wanted to clip the light to my belt to free my hands when walking. The length of the light made it hit my upper thigh and made the beam bob too much. The clip seemed very stiff and didn't have much room to go around a leather belt. The swivel head seemed kind of loose. I took that flashlight back for a refund.

    I figured I'd give the Sidewinder a try and I'm glad I did. I like the beam of the white LED, it is nice, white, and smooth. Color rendition is pretty good, the red bricks on my house look red. It is not terribly bright, but I don't think that is the point of the light. The light has enough light for most tasks and has a very long runtime on 2 AA batteries. I think this would make a great camping light or for when you don't want to disturb others or lose your night vision.

    I'm not sure what I'll use the colored LED's for, but I like having them there. The red and green LED's seem to have no more artifacts than the Hard Case Professional or my red Photon Freedom. The blue LED seemed to be just a bright blue ring. If possible, Streamlight should really upgrade the colored LED's.

    I like the looks of the Sidewinder. To me it has a Spartan, military look to it. The light feels very solid. The swivel head feels solid and tight. The light doesn't seem cheap. The hard coated plastic lens cover will fool you into thinking it is glass.

    I had my doubts about the LED selector, but it works pretty well. I like that the selector works without any contacts to wear out.

    I like the size of the light. It tailstands very solidly and should be very useful for setting down and lighting things. Clipped to my belt the light is short enough where it doesn't bob when I walk. Due to the flat shape of the light it lays flat to your body and doesn't sway from side to side either like the Hard Case Professional would. The clip has room for a large leather belt and is easy to use.

    By the way, the tethered tailcap goes on both ways.

    Versatility is the best thing about this light. I'd put this light at the top of my list for a camping or blackout light.

    Here is a link to spoonrobot's review with pics and beamshots:

    http://forum.multitool.org/index.php/topic,2203.0.html

    Edited to add:

    I took the neighbor's dogs for an evening walk with the Sidewinder clipped to my belt shining about 6 feet in front of me. The light works great this way, freeing my hands to control the mongrels, lighting the way, and making us visible to passing cars .

    I'd say the white light is good for indoors and for fairly short distances outdoors. On full bright the white light is a little brighter than my Fenix P1D CE Q5 on low, about the same, but with a narrower beam than my two year old Fenix L0P, maybe similar to an unmodified MagLite 2D incan. 10 years ago we'd have considered this a fairly bright light. For outdoors you would probably want a brighter second light for distance.

    12/08/07 - I tested the Sidewinder against a Dorcy Super 1 watt and a Fenix L1P (both about 2 years old) and the Sidewinder gives them a run for their money. Here is a review of the Dorcy: http://www.flashlightreviews.com/rev...cy_super1w.htm.
    Last edited by Germ; 12-08-2007 at 07:33 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    Interesting review.

    Do the diffusers take the ringy/blotchy beams of the 5MM LEDs and make them perfect little hotspots or do they make them just less ringy/blotchy.

    I haven't had too much of an issue with the poor beam quality of the 5MM LEDs but I am curious how much of an improvement there is.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    Glad the diffusers are being put to good use.
    Thanks for the detailed writeup

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    spoon, these diffusers REALLY diffuse the light, there really is no hotspot any more. The green and blue LED's will still light up a room for dark adapted eyes. The dim red LED might light up a closet.

    Where I think diffusing would work best would be for map reading as the diffusers create a nice, broad, even beam. The artifacts in the Sidewinder's LED's look like they would be annoying for map reading.

    I might not have bothered with the diffusers if it weren't for the ringy blue beam.

    The translucent Scotch tape did a really good job of diffusing the light. Try taking a piece of translucent tape and wrapping it over the screwed down cover (not touching the clear cover). That should give you an idea if you like the tape or not. nekomane's diffusers might diffuse like 2 or more strips of the translucent tape.

    Now that I think about it, I think a small piece of diffusing material placed over the clear lens cover and held down by the screwed down cover would work well and not involve going past loosening the screwed down cover. I feel a little bad for deflowering my light, but I always have to see how things work

    Does anyone know of a good, non-adhesive, diffusing film that could be used?
    Last edited by Germ; 12-04-2007 at 07:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic mbirds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    I know this thread is old, but can anyone say whether the Sidewinder uses PWM for the lower levels? Thanks.

  7. #7
    Enlightened axd's Avatar
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    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    The SL SW is also my favorite for many years now, but I was wondering if there is a way to invert the ramp mode to ramp-up; see also this post.
    Last edited by axd; 01-29-2017 at 10:02 AM. Reason: typo
    SL SW | H50-Q5 | Petzl e+LITE | LF2XT/Sapph/3H | H501W,R | beta (H3O) | Photons | ACR FA-11 | Ficklampa 3 | Energizer NIght Strike | Olight O'pen | more
    betalight owners, have a look here

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Diffusing the SL Sidewinder and review

    Quote Originally Posted by mbirds View Post
    I know this thread is old, but can anyone say whether the Sidewinder uses PWM for the lower levels? Thanks.
    Quote Originally Posted by axd View Post
    The SL SW is also my favorite for many years now, but I was wondering if there is a way to invert the ramp mode to ramp-up; see also this post.
    AFAIK the Sidewinder doesn't use PWM but there is an audible whine on my Sidewinder Rescue on high. This seems to occur frequently in current control lights. Check Subwoofer's review in the reviews section for more info.

    I don't know if you can change the ramp mode but both the Rescue and Compact II that I have start low then ramp-up. If you really like the Sidewinder it may be worth it for you to invest in one of the ramp-up military/rescue models. You lose one of the colored LEDs for IR but it is worth it IMO. Not sure what is available to you in Europe. I don't understand why Streamlight has the Sportsman and Aviation models start on high either as starting on low seems more logical for this type of light.
    Last edited by ZMZ67; 01-31-2017 at 01:41 PM.
    I respectfully reserve the right to purchase yet another light......

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