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Thread: My Zebra can't swim...

  1. #1

    Default My Zebra can't swim...

    This was a classic desert moment: very long day at work, nice warm commute home (down to 105 F) dinner and a couple of malts put away... time for a swim! It was well after dark and I was wearing the Zebralight H30. This is not my normal swim-light, but I was only going for a quick dip. Besides I was working on my third drink, so the offices of logic and restraint were already closed. At first I was happy that the nice uniform flood beam worked great under water. Then things got rather goofy. You know what the Z-light does when you hold down the button, cycling through the 3 stages at just under 1 second intervals? Well, it does the same thing when it floods, except you don't have to hold down the button. Damn, another light that can't take 4ft of depth for 30 seconds.

    Don't get me wrong, I really like the Zebra. It is one of the most useful lights that I own. I hope that it still is when it dries out inside.

    But here is the frustrating part: with all of the LED lights that I have laying around, the only one that can go into the pool reliably time after time is a first gen Inova X5. I keep trying to upgrade, but everything from the Inova gen-2 onward has leaked. Obviously I haven't tried everything, but some well respected names have failed me in the water (including Surefire and Streamlight). It is not the o-rings, but the rubber switch cover that seems to be the problem. This is where the simple 2-cylinder concept of the original Innova proves its worth. It even starts out clamped down, so you can't turn it on in the wrong direction under water and flood the case.

    So I am still searching. Dive lights are too ponderous for casual use. Ideally it should be wearable, either as a headlamp, or on a neck cord. Flood pattern preferred, but not the annoying >180 degree pattern of the H50. Suggestions?

    gerG

    edit: fixed some crummy spelling
    Last edited by gerG; 08-23-2008 at 11:08 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I've had good success with the Fenix L2D. Make sure the tailcap ring is tight and the light should be watertight to a few meters - just don't twist the head underwater.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Couldnīt figure it out exactly by reading ... was there really water inside your H30 ??? Or was the switch activated by the water pressure maybe ???

    I guess to improve water resistance you should try some lube on every o-ring and as well on all equivalent parts in the switch/tailcap. This nyogel lube stuff works fine at least for me ... but I donīt go swimming with my lights .

    I checked my H30 after reading your post. I unscrewed the retaining ring from my H30 and took the rubber cap off ... it was bone dry beneath, so I added some lube there and at the tailcap o-ring. It should be now a bit more waterproof, but due to lack of a pool I canīt test it ...

  4. #4

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by rantanplan View Post
    due to lack of a pool I canīt test it ...
    Shower time!

    hah.. just kidding.

    gerG,
    I'm surprised to hear that the H30 leaked through the button.. I don't own one, but I've seen one and it looks pretty well tightened down..

    I think your zebra will be fine when it dries out...I hope at least.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* derfyled's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I had the exact same problem.

    The way it is built, you need to really thighten the screws around the switch and even so, I'm not sure how deep it can resist. Mine was just tested in a bucket of water and it started to act as if the switch was always on.

    IMHO, this light is more designed to be water-resistant than waterproof.
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  6. #6
    Flashaholic* LukeA's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I would think the light would have problems with moisture affecting the die encapsulant.

  7. #7

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Their website claims this:


    Waterproof




    Meets IP68 in accordance with IEC 60529
    • Dust-tight
    • Protected against continuous immersion (1meter, >30 minutes)
    looks like you went a foot too deep, LOL


    FWIW, I'm finding most of my lights these days that claim a fancy rating still spring leaks. My MM seems to do better than some of my pricier lights so if I get dunked on accident with a light or four on me I expect to have to dry them out after. They have always worked when properly dried tho
    Last edited by superflytnt; 08-23-2008 at 09:47 AM.
    I want to know how and why.................

  8. #8

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I think if you want to have a light that can be turned off and on underwater you need one designed for that. Even if the the light is independently certified as water proof to x meters, that does not mean it can be turned on and off under water.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* matrixshaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Eternalight ErgoMarine is good for well over a hundred foot depth and is floody. Not new tech as it uses 4 only 5mm LED's but has a great 3 button MCU controlled UI and floats in water with Lithium primaries.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    My zebra is dead (sniff). He led a short but useful life.

    The water intrusion was through the screws. There was some water in the switch area, but most went into the driver compartment underneath. I figured this out when I put a small tube against one of the threaded holes, blew in some dry gas, and water shot out the other 2 holes. I am really quite shocked that they used thru-holes instead of blind holes (holes that do not break through the back surface, making them a dead end). Straight threads will always form a leakage conduit if there is a pressure differential. They can be temporarily sealed with grease or sealant, but it is not a reliable configuration. Most designers will use blind holes for fasteners on any device where gas or liquid intrusion is a concern.

    I would not be worried about rain or splashes because there is no pressure differential to drive the leak...unless there is a temperature change. As the light heats up gasses will escape out the retaining screw threads. As it cools down, the opposite happens and it will pull gasses (or liquids) back in.


    gerG

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* LukeA's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by gerG View Post
    I am really quite shocked that they used thru-holes instead of blind holes (holes that do not break through the back surface, making them a dead end). Straight threads will always form a leakage conduit if there is a pressure differential. They can be temporarily sealed with grease or sealant, but it is not a reliable configuration. Most designers will use blind holes for fasteners on any device where gas or liquid intrusion is a concern
    But tapping blind holes is a three-step process. Through holes only require one step. (I'm sure you know this)

  12. #12

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeA View Post
    But tapping blind holes is a three-step process. Through holes only require one step. (I'm sure you know this)
    S'truth!

    You don't suppose that the manufacturing guys got together with the accounting guys and beat up the design guy, do you? I can't imagine that would ever happen

    A fair compromise/fix would be to seal the hole with a drop of epoxy on the back side after drilling.

    gerG

  13. #13

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Oops, the plot thickens.

    I was mistaken. The holes are blind drilled/tapped into the body. However, there is a disc that is trapped between the body and the button cover. Still an intrusion path, but more complicated than my initial description. Now I am really curious what is under there.


    gerG

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* LED-holic's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Next time just place the light in a water tight zip-lock bag and it should help.

    FWIW I don't think it is all that important for a headlamp to be water proof. Water resistant, yes.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by LED-holic View Post
    Next time just place the light in a water tight zip-lock bag and it should help.

    FWIW I don't think it is all that important for a headlamp to be water proof. Water resistant, yes.


    I agree but if they call it waterproof then it should be. If they state 3' deep for 30minutes then it should take a 30 sec dunk in the pool IMO. I put my lights in bags when I go rafting or canoing (mainly for spare cells) but if they say it's XXXXX then it should be XXXXX, whatever that may be. Especially with a good quality torch.
    I want to know how and why.................

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* LED-holic's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by superflytnt View Post
    I agree but if they call it waterproof then it should be. If they state 3' deep for 30minutes then it should take a 30 sec dunk in the pool IMO. I put my lights in bags when I go rafting or canoing (mainly for spare cells) but if they say it's XXXXX then it should be XXXXX, whatever that may be. Especially with a good quality torch.
    I agree. But I'm always skeptical of waterproof ratings from any electronic devices, no matter how well rated... I always will add my own additional water proofing, like a ziploc bag, etc...

    You can never trust something unless it's been torture tested under water and proven to be invulnerable to leakage.
    Mini split rings for attaching lanyard trick. D10 DIY diffuser trick.

  17. #17

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by LED-holic View Post
    I agree. But I'm always skeptical of waterproof ratings from any electronic devices, no matter how well rated... I always will add my own additional water proofing, like a ziploc bag, etc...

    You can never trust something unless it's been torture tested under water and proven to be invulnerable to leakage.


    100% agree. I use the stat's, runtimes etc. that are posted here on CPF as a starting off point for research but I do all of that over again myself when I get a new torch. I don't trust many people other than myself when it comes to that kind of thing.... Not to mention that there are individual differences between units which is why I'd be calling zebralight for a replacement if I were the OP>
    I want to know how and why.................

  18. #18

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I had a very wise cave diving instructor once tell me "...anything you take under water can and will flood at some point in time".

    As for the plastic bag, not very practical for a headlamp. Of course I could just put a bag over my head...

    gerG

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    pics

    I've always wondered whats on the inside of the zebralight.

    I own a H50, not a H30

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* LukeA's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by gerG View Post
    I had a very wise cave diving instructor once tell me "...anything you take under water can and will flood at some point in time".

    As for the plastic bag, not very practical for a headlamp. Of course I could just put a bag over my head...

    gerG
    Well, that would help keep it dry.

  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* Illum's Avatar
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    Smile Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeA View Post
    Well, that would help keep it dry.
    if you have the vacuum heat plastic bags they will work alot better.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* WadeF's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    This comes up from time to time. It is rated for 1 meter, for 30 minutes right? It says nothing about swimming, diving, etc, which adds additional pressure and will likely cause leaking. Were you diving? Were you swimming with it on? All of this will increase the pressure. The Zebralight was not designed for that.

    Sometimes people think water proof means they can hold their flashlight up against their shower head. What they don't realize is the pressure of the water coming out of the shower head is usually much greater than the water pressure the light is rated for.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by zipplet View Post
    I've had good success with the Fenix L2D. Make sure the tailcap ring is tight and the light should be watertight to a few meters - just don't twist the head underwater.
    The Fenix L2D is way too expensive to take it swimming with you in my opinion.

    Plus, there is chlorine in the water.

    Take a cheaper Fenix like a 2 AA model or 1 AAA model flashlight with you instead.

    The Fenix L2S, or the Fenix L2T, or the Fenix L2P, or the Fenix E01.
    Last edited by LED Flashlights.; 08-24-2008 at 01:29 AM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by WadeF View Post
    This comes up from time to time. It is rated for 1 meter, for 30 minutes right? It says nothing about swimming, diving, etc, which adds additional pressure and will likely cause leaking. Were you diving? Were you swimming with it on? All of this will increase the pressure. The Zebralight was not designed for that.

    Sometimes people think water proof means they can hold their flashlight up against their shower head. What they don't realize is the pressure of the water coming out of the shower head is usually much greater than the water pressure the light is rated for.
    I tested my Fenix L2S right in the shower.


  25. #25

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Double post.

    Sorry.
    Last edited by LED Flashlights.; 08-24-2008 at 01:45 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Any led with fancy regulators will burn out underwater if any water reaches the circuit. If you want something foolproof, get one of those cheapo multi led lights like from DX. They only use resistors for current regulation. Batteries are waterproof. So even if fully waterlogged they'll still work. Simpler is better when it comes to harsh conditions. I know for a fact that my 128 led flashlight works underwater, even when fully waterlogged it still works, it also has a nice floody light output.

  27. #27

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I am pretty sure that I won't be taking anything with a rubber switch cover in the pool again.

    fwiw, I had the light on my forehead running on low. I walked down the pool steps and quietly submerged, and did an underwater glide to the other end of the pool (roughly 30 ft). Max pool depth is 5 ft at the floor, but I didn't scrape my face, so I would guess my max depth at 4 ft. Since the bottom shallows up both directions from center to a min of 3 ft, my average depth was less than 4 feet. After a breath of air at the far end I turned around for the return lap. That is when the light went into disco mode. I surfaced before I shut it off...except that it would not shut off. Clicking the switch did nothing to stop the light show. I had to dry it off and pull the battery.

    I did remove quite a bit of water (mostly from under the switch board) and let it dry over night. No luck, though. I will contact the seller and see what they suggest. Much as I love taking macro shots, I will have to hold off on the autopsy. I did check voltage at the switch, and it drops continuously from the time I put in a battery. Bad sign, that.

    No matter what happens, I still think the Zebra is a very useful light. I would recommend it for a lot of uses, but obviously I would advise against submerging one in water.


    gerG

  28. #28

    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    I've gone swimming with my Fenix L2D, and it didn't do too bad. I was in a shallow pool ~5' at the deepest part, but after a couple hours of being in my back pocket it still worked just fine. I opened it up when I got out and found a bit of water in the battery compartment, but it dried out easily with no residual effects.

    I took my NovaTac for a swim in a deeper pool when I was in Mexico last month. I keep the o-rings lubed, and the light was screwed together well. It did very well, I dove down to ~9' several times, and was swimming for a little over an hour. I turned it on and off, re-programmed it, and set it on the bottom for a while pointing up (which looked really cool). After swimming I disassembled it and found no trace of water beyond the o-rings. The inside was completely dry, which I found impressive for a non-dive light.

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* WadeF's Avatar
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    Quote Originally Posted by gerG View Post
    but obviously I would advise against submerging one in water.
    I think you mean swimming with one underwater. Swimming along puts a lot more pressure on the light than simply lowering it and letting it rest in 3-4 foot deep water. As soon as you start swimming with it, the forces increase. I can't say to what degree, but maybe it's equal to 10, 20, 30 feet of water?
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: My Zebra can't swim...

    What about twisty lights? Would the H50 do better? Would a Ra Twisty light work well? I would think the Ra Twisty light would be fine. A McGizmo PD might also work.

    Edit- What about the Nautilus and Aeon lights?


    Rob
    Last edited by fleegs; 08-25-2008 at 04:29 AM.

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