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Thread: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Grijon's Avatar
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    Default What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Actual experience answers only, please!

    Back in the heyday of the P60 incandescent lamp run times were 60 minutes for 60 lumens.

    What did you do when you were going on a four hour hike?

    I'd really like to hear from the folks that were actually flashlight enthusiasts before LEDs became common, please

  2. #2
    Flashaholic Bicycleflyer's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Used sparingly.

    I only switched mine on when needed. My eyes were better back then too and I really didn’t need a flashlight all that much.

    A second set of batteries were a must.

  3. #3

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    CR123A? No way. They are too expensive today and back then they were 10x more expensive per lumen. Surefire used to run full-page ads in magazines so I was aware of P60. But I had other things to do with my money

    I used lots of NiCad. AA and C and D. You'd often carry several lights. Either so you could use the smallest light appropriate for a task or as spares when batteries ran down or bulbs burned out.
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  4. #4
    Flashaholic* id30209's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Back in the days i was doing the same like the guys said but then i found AW liions.
    So i placed P90 into G2 with 2x16340 AW’s. Still have it today but with lightsaver miser for multiple output choice.
    And i’m going back to incans, again. Guess i like muscle cars more then a tuned honda civic. )

  5. #5

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Runtimes were never an issue for me back in the day.

    Bigger and more batteries + less illumination = Longer runtimes

    My old Streamlight 3C put out about 20-30 lumens. Runtimes were longer than many of my LEDs today.

    When high-output incandescent in a compact package became more popular, like my old G3, I simply didn't use it that much.

    Last edited by ChattanoogaPhil; 01-07-2019 at 09:03 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Either used sparingly as above, used until the sickly yellow faded down to the point where it waz almost uzeless, or carried a 4D Mag for runtime... 🙄😁
    "Rage, rage against the dying of the light..."

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* mattheww50's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    For really long runtimes, you just used a lot of big batteries. I have a fluorescent light that takes 8 x D size NiMh, even 10 years ago those things were about 10ah each, so you have 100 watt hours, and gives pretty long run times even on fairly large sources. The big problem I used to have was charging them. There were few chargers that could deliver more than about 750mAh, and even those had timers on them. The timer would run out at 10 hours without fully charging the cell.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* tech25's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I didn’t have a surefire back then but my friend did. I remember him using it very sparingly, when he needed longer run times he would take out a 3D maglight. On longer hikes, I would have two lights: an AA minimag with at least 2-3 sets of spare batteries and a spare bulb in addition to the one in the Tailcap. I would also have a 3D maglight with a spare set of batteries.

    while the 3D had better runtime and was more powerful, it was relegated to backup or situations where I needed more power- due to the weight and bulk of spare batteries.
    Last edited by tech25; 01-07-2019 at 02:26 PM.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* Timothybil's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by mattheww50 View Post
    For really long runtimes, you just used a lot of big batteries. I have a fluorescent light that takes 8 x D size NiMh, even 10 years ago those things were about 10ah each, so you have 100 watt hours, and gives pretty long run times even on fairly large sources. The big problem I used to have was charging them. There were few chargers that could deliver more than about 750mAh, and even those had timers on them. The timer would run out at 10 hours without fully charging the cell.
    Back in the mid 90s I had a very nice light that was a combination of a regular lantern with large reflector and a fluorescent lamp in the handle. It ran on four D cells. One time I had been working above the ceiling in my kitchen, and inadvertently left the lantern above the ceiling with the fluorescent on. I didn't realize it until a day later when I was sitting at the dining room table and noticed a glow around the turned off ceiling light in the kitchen. When I looked, I found my lantern, busily shining away. So the fluorescent side of the lantern had been on for more than 24 hours, and was still going strong.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I just used my CR123a lights for short tasks and brought spares. If I needed light for a long time I would use a 2D Maglite.

    I forgot to add that I also frequently used a Coleman white glass lantern for area lighting when camping.
    Last edited by Tachead; 01-07-2019 at 02:30 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    When surefires first came out cr123's were expensive and hard to find, I remember having to buy them at camera shops for well over $10 each (I don't remember the exact price, but it was a big deal when surefire started selling them at more reasonable prices). As a result CR123 lights tended to get used sparingly.

    For good run time and a decent output big batteries, lots of D cells or 6V lanterns were the way to go. Some of the smaller AA and even AAA lights, like the Mini Mags, gave decent run times but were not all that bright, even for back in the day.

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* thermal guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    That’s the main reason I bought a A2 when they first came out. When the main beam ran out of juice you still had plenty to run the leds.
    If i had one day left to live i would want to be at my workplace.Because every day is like a frickin eternity.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Carried a 3D Maglite.

    But if you recall some 20 years ago things were not as brightly lit in the incan era. Unless you lived in Vegas or a big city, chances are you could see stars way better than now.
    So a flashlight wasn't required as much back then since the moon provided a good amount of light outdoors.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    My light back then was an Energizer Arc White incan/CCFL light 4AA. Prior to that I had a 6D Fluorescent lantern/light and used 2D flashlights and later I had pelican 2AAA for pocketable lighting but when they kept going through bulbs I switched to UK2AAA lights and then LEDs came out. Fluorescent was my favorite lighting as it would stay white longer giving you more light for the price of your batteries.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I had a unlimited supply of aa's from work. Those yellow Underwater Kinetics flashlights were what they gave us. In a power plant they got broken frequently but had decent brightness.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* Modernflame's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Great thread!

    In the early 2000's, I had both a Surefire addiction and a night shift security job. Seriously, I just budgeted for batteries. My favorite lights were the C3 Centurion and the M6 Guardian. Hogs, the both of them, although the latter was twice as fat as the former.

    When I knew I'd be burning filament for extended periods, I'd step down to my E2e.

    Always had those three lights with me, along with a spares carrier, of course.
    Last edited by Modernflame; 01-07-2019 at 08:09 PM.
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  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Grijon's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Thank you, everyone!!

    This is exactly what I was hoping for in starting this thread, I'm so glad y'all have shared these stories.

    We flashaholics have it ridiculously good in 2019, and it is so fun the learn about the hobby from times past.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Honestly, back in the early 80's. Me and my Army buddies would go out for off duty recreational hikes at night with no lights, and we got along just fine. I think many of you all would be surprised as to how much you can see without a flashlight.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic* Timothybil's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by markdeerhunter View Post
    I had a unlimited supply of aa's from work. Those yellow Underwater Kinetics flashlights were what they gave us. In a power plant they got broken frequently but had decent brightness.
    Where I was working at the time the customer had a battery box where their staff would drop used AAs when they swapped them out for new ones. Once a month or so I would take my trusty battery tester and swipe the box for an hour or so, and see how many of the cells still had a good amount of power in them. They stayed at my desk when I took the box back. Got a lot of free cells that way.
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I can echo lot of the above replies, we used sparingly or went bigger. Mostly we handled low runtime the same way most non-flashaholics do even now. You dont care about or need high power unless for a specific task. Most of the world is still not aware of what a 'lumen' is after all, they base their choice on what sits at convenient height on a shelf at walmart. For specific tasks in the day sure you went bigger, in hunting groups I remember one member would be lugging a vehicle battery in a backpack to power a handheld spotlight. or similar to now rigged up work lights for static tasks. But for most casual tasks, the cheapo plastic 10 lumens incan worked fine. To be honest it still would for the majority of tasks discussed on the forums, aka 'walking casually at night ". You dont need 1000 lumens, 500 lumens or even 100 lumens to walk a dog or check a thermostat. Darkness is just dark after all, its not a toxic substance.
    Last edited by mickb; 01-08-2019 at 12:32 AM.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    In LE we usually used a Magcharger and only took it out of the charger when we got out of the car. It was standard to keep a supply of fresh D cell batteries available too.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Another person who used lights sparingly or carried bigger lights. With no lithium primary AA/AAA or LEDs, D cell or 6V lights were used quite a bit.

    One other alternative I used for camping and walking the woods at night was a kerosene lantern. The output of a kerosene lantern was modest at best but even a small font lantern would run most or all of the night on low and a little light goes a long way in a dark woods.Maybe not as great an alternative here in Colorado these days but in the woods of Ohio where I spent my youth they worked just fine.
    I respectfully reserve the right to purchase yet another light......

  23. #23

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I also remember my father buying the 6V lanterns using the large square spring topped batteries and coleman lanterns. I still have my dual fuel unleaded coleman lantern but now that we have battery lanterns that can match the output of it.
    I kept the coleman around as the best lanterns for a long time were dual tube fluorescent lanterns using 8D cells (rayovac).
    They had older fluorescent lanterns that use 1-2 6V lantern batteries also. My dad decided to use the 4D to 6V lantern battery adapters when he found people kept leaving the lanterns on and I still have one in my garage with batteries in it that are about 20 years old that still puts out light. My coleman lantern sits in storage still I should probably consider selling it but for $2 you can buy a gallon of gas and run it for a long long time and not have to bother with batteries at all plus in the winter it can be a source of heat in an outage.
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  24. #24

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Mini Mags and many batteries.

  25. #25

    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    One of my favorite lights was a 2AA silver Eveready clicky penlight with a #222 bulb. The only problem with it was short runtime about 2 hours off new alkalines. It was expensive to feed vs the C and D cell incans I had. I even had a 1AA with a #122 bulb but the runtime of it was worse you were lucky to get an hour from it at rather dim output better than a solitaire though. I had a 2AA minimag clone that was nice till it got ruined by alkaleaks. I didn't start using rechargeable batteries till I got some Rayovac RAM (rechargeable alkaline) batteries but after about 2 dozen recharges of them the runtime was way too short to be useful.

    The first white 5mm LED light even though cheap junk was a wonder in that it could use batteries my incans would not longer work with and run for hours and hours. I was instantly sold as the output of a 5mm LED mimicked the pattern of the #222 bulbs with weird bluish color but saved me a ton of money on batteries when I was rather poor. I went from rationing use of incans to playing with LED lights.
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  26. #26
    Flashaholic* Paul6ppca's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    3D mag. Eventually converted to mag 1185.
    Fit some reason I put it up for sale.
    Mistake.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* xevious's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grijon View Post
    Thank you, everyone!!

    This is exactly what I was hoping for in starting this thread, I'm so glad y'all have shared these stories.

    We flashaholics have it ridiculously good in 2019, and it is so fun the learn about the hobby from times past.
    I absolutely agree. We had a rough period for quite a while, where lighting was just painfully anemic and expensive. Knowing what once was makes it so much easier to appreciate what we have today. It's astounding how far LED technology has come and I'm really curious as to where it's going to go.

    I'm really eager for the next battery breakthrough. Already there are prototype solid state Lithium Ion batteries, very safe, and eventually more efficient. Imagine 1,000 lumens for 1,000 minutes on a single charge.
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  28. #28
    Flashaholic* fivemega's Avatar
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grijon View Post

    Back in the heyday of the P60 incandescent lamp run times were 60 minutes for 60 lumens.

    What did you do when you were going on a four hour hike?
    1- More brightness.
    2- Longer run time.
    3- Small flashlight size.

    Pick two only. You can't have all three.
    Let's say you want to keep brightness same (Incand. genuine P60) but more run time. Say 2.5 hours. In this case, you go with bigger flashlight size.
    This is possible to use P60 on
    this body powered by 2S/2P primary CR123A. I do have this and use it.
    You can also get about 4 hours if you have a tri bored body for 2S/3P primary CR123A. (total of 6 cells).
    Your another option is to use 2P protected 18650 (3500mAh) with 3.6 volt lamp module and run time of about 4 hours.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I got a MN02 LA for my Defender and had and a spares carrier with a MN03!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: What did you do for runtime before LEDs?

    I'm carrying a C2 in my jacket pocket!

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