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Thread: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

  1. #1

    Default BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    I just received my order of two FW3As. Here's a picture of an FW3A (right) next to my modded Emisar D4 (left):


    The FW3A is a compact single 18650 EDC light. This was a project made by Lumintop with assistance from members of BLF and TLF. It uses a standard 20mm Carclo triple-TIR optic and 20mm triple star. It has an e-switch driver with Toykeeper's Anduril firmware and a tailcap electronic switch.

    Compared to other small triples on the market, the most unusual feature is the tailcap e-switch with metal switch button. The contact for the eswitch is a narrow tube that sits inside the battery compartment. This is the same method of e-switch contact as used by Liteflux in their classic LF2XT, except that the insulation for the inner tube is anodizing instead of the LF2XT's separate plastic tube.

    The FW3A uses a 3-channel linear driver Fet+8+1 driver. This is simiilar to but a bit more efficient than the Emisar D4's 2-channel Fet+1 driver. I have not way to measure the peak output, but since my version has a FET and 3x XPL HI 3D, I expect around 3000 lumens max is about right.

    The exterior of the light is clean with no heatsink fins. Because of this, I expect runtime at max turbo to be quite short.


    My initial impressions
    :

    * Looks beautiful and feels great in the hand. Though as expected it does not feel as secure in the hand as my white D4. This is because the D4 has slightly gritty grippier anodizing and a side switch.

    * Very clean looking design with no logos. The bare switch looks great.

    * Length: 92 mm. Same length as my white aluminum Emisar D4, but slightly thinner at the head and body tube. Tailcap is about the same thickness as a D4 tailcap. The short length puts this in the "ultracompact" category of 18650 light.

    * Weight including battery is 98g compared to 112g for my white Emisar D4 (NOTE: my D4 is modded to include a metal switchboot and a Lexel lighted bezel board so might be slightly different from stock weight).

    * Tailcap e-switch has a nice positive click.

    * No glue. Tailcap and front bezel can both be unscrewed by hand. No tools needed. I haven't completely removed it yet, but it looks like changing the emitter does not require removal of a pill or driver. Instead you just unscrew the top portion of the bezel, remove the optic and have direct access to the star.

    * Tint appears to indeed be 5000K. I'll likely fix that tonight on one of them via an emitter swap.

    * Dark Grey anodizing looks well done. Looks like the anodizing on a grey Emisar D4. I don't expect that the anodizing is as durable or as thick as that on a Zebralight, but on the other hand this light cost less than half the cost of a comparable sized Zebralight.

    * I have not tried to remove the clip. Previously I used to always remove clips, but now I sometimes keep them on to serve as antiroll devices. Given that the tailcap is not glued I expect clip remove would be easy.

    * The clip is not deep carry, but it has adequate spring tension and the body tube is nicely contoured around it. It is fairly easy to insert this clip into the pocket of a pair of pants.

    * The clip touches the body tube just before the head. The head does NOT grind against the clip when changing the battery.

    * Since this light uses a standard Carclo triple TIR optic, I suspect Lexel could make a nice aux bezel board for it. However, TK mentioned that there isn't an available pin to control it so it might have to be wired in the "always on" configuration.

    Kudos to the development team. Nice to see this project come together.
    Last edited by Fireclaw18; 05-01-2019 at 05:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* lion504's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Good review. Thanks for posting. Hope to get mine soon. You didnít comment on the firmware. Do you like The ramping? This is probably the feature Iím most looking fwd to. Are you going to use this for EDC? Any chance it will replace anything in your rotation/collection? Thanks again for sharing!
    Last edited by lion504; 05-01-2019 at 05:24 PM.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Ramping is the same as any other light with Anduril in it.

    Anduril is currently my favorite e-switch firmware. I reflashed a couple of my Emisar D4 lights with it.

    The firmware is quite powerful and has a lot of options. But to summarize the most commonly used features:
    - 1 click from off - last used ramped mode. Light will not remember double-click shortcut to high or turbo.
    - 1 click from on - off
    - click and hold from off - start at moonlight and ramp up rapidly to high. Ramp time is about 2 seconds to cycle the full range.
    - Ramp has something like 150 steps and appears totally smooth. There is a very brief blink in the middle of the ramp. This lets the user know that they have hit the top of the regulated modes (8x7135) and are entering unregulated modes (FET).
    - Click and hold from on - Ramp up. Repeat to ramp down.
    - Double-click from off - High
    - Double-click from on - Turbo
    - Double-click from Turbo - last used non-turbo mode.
    - 4 Clicks from off - electronic lockout. Another 4 clicks to unlock.
    - the firmware has a lot of special hidden modes including various blinkies and strobes, lightning mode, candle mode, timeout mode, battery voltage checker, temperature sensor reading, etc.
    - the firmware is quite customizable. You can manually program the temperature sensor. You can also change the cap for ramping. If you want to get rid of high and have the ramp (and double-click) go all the way to max turbo it is relatively easy to set that. However, personally, I like having high and turbo be different. On my D4 having the light ramp all the way to turbo was a bad thing. Light turned on in pocket when button accidentally held down by my pocket stuffing = hole burnt through pocket. With Anduril you can set the ramp so it caps at a safe level for your pocket making lockout much less necessary.
    Last edited by Fireclaw18; 05-01-2019 at 05:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* lion504's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Sorry, should have clarified I donít have any experience with Anduril. Thanks for tutorial.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. It's great to see this project come together so well after all the wait and uncertainty.

    Did you go for the expedited shipping? I did free shipping and mine says it is still in Guongzhou.
    Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again...
    I liked neutral tints before they were cool.

  6. #6

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Yup I went for expedited shipping. And I was one of the early preorders. Ordered as soon as my code came in on BLF last week. Neal had 200 units in stock and I lucked out and got my shipment from them. Over 1000 orders came in so most will get them from when he restocks on May 8.

    Expedited shipping to California was amazingly fast. Placed the order on Friday and it arrived via DHL from China today Wednesday. That's pretty much the fastest I've ever received anything from China.

  7. #7

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Now available...Where?

  8. #8

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Duck View Post
    Now available...Where?
    Nealsgadgets is currently the only vendor. A quick Google search should give you the link. The FW3A is in the Lumintop section.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* thermal guy's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    This looks good.
    If i had one day left to live i would want to be at my workplace.Because every day is like a frickin eternity.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Yeah, I ordered one in the 7A tint. I only have one other light with a 7A tint, and I like the very warm light from it. Probably too warm for EDC, but my plan is to use it as a nightlight. I just have to find a diffuser for it.

    I put my name on the list long ago. To be honest, I have mostly given up on ever seeing this light get done. I think it was 2 years in development. Good to see it did get finished.

  11. #11

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Thanks for the info! Very cool! Any chance a pic of it with a ZL SC64?

  12. #12

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    I placed my order last week, hopefully I get it by the end of May.
    It is a very sleek looking light and it is fun carrying these little powerhouses.

  13. #13

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Tixx View Post
    Thanks for the info! Very cool! Any chance a pic of it with a ZL SC64?
    These pictures are not mine. They are from user Noir on BLF.
    Quote Originally Posted by Noir
    The FW3A has arrived :THUMBS-UP:
    A few size comparisons:



    Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again...
    I liked neutral tints before they were cool.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* Tejasandre's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Dan View Post
    These pictures are not mine. They are from user Noir on BLF.
    Oh wow. I had imagined it smaller that the rrt-01.

  15. #15

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Thank for the review. I may have to check into this light.

    Is the 3D option on nealsgadgets the same 3D as in my BLF A6 with 3D? I really like the tint on my A6 with 3D.
    Last edited by LightObsession; 05-04-2019 at 09:39 AM. Reason: Added tint question.

  16. #16

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Tejasandre View Post
    Oh wow. I had imagined it smaller that the rrt-01.
    The FW3A is very small for an 18650 light, but it's not smaller than an RRT-01. At just 81mm long, the RRT-01 is much shorter than ANY 18650 light, including the current shortest (DQG Tiny 18650).

    On the other hand, the FW3A is powered by an 18650, while the RRT-01 uses a much lower capacity 18350.

    They're also quite similar in weight. Checking on a postal scale, I weighed both lights with battery installed:

    97 grams - FW3A with 3000 mAh Samsung 30Q installed
    98 grams - 2019 edition RRT-01 with 1100 mAh Aspire 18350 installed.

    The FW3A as a FET driven triple is also much brighter, with output peaking at 3300 lumens, compared to around 800 lumens for the RRT-01.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Tejasandre's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    I thought about the battery after I posted. Hope mine doesnít take too long.

  18. #18

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Sold out on Neal's? Not showing up in Lumentop section.

    FOUND IT: They have a BLF section now. Ordered one each Cree XP-L HI 3D(NW 5000K) and Cree XP-L HI 7A(WW 3300K).
    Last edited by JimIslander; 05-04-2019 at 03:51 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireclaw18 View Post
    The FW3A is very small for an 18650 light, but it's not smaller than an RRT-01
    nor lighter, nor buttonless, nor stepless rotary ;-)

    97 grams - FW3A with 3000 mAh Samsung 30Q installed
    74 grams - Original RRT-01 with 1100 mAh Aspire 18350 installed.

    both is better.. LOL

  20. #20

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    My free shipping FW3A arrived in the US today. Hopefully it will reach me soon.
    Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again...
    I liked neutral tints before they were cool.

  21. #21

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Fireclaw18 View Post
    The FW3A is very small for an 18650 light, but it's not smaller than an RRT-01. At just 81mm long, the RRT-01 is much shorter than ANY 18650 light, including the current shortest (DQG Tiny 18650).

    On the other hand, the FW3A is powered by an 18650, while the RRT-01 uses a much lower capacity 18350.

    They're also quite similar in weight. Checking on a postal scale, I weighed both lights with battery installed:

    97 grams - FW3A with 3000 mAh Samsung 30Q installed
    98 grams - 2019 edition RRT-01 with 1100 mAh Aspire 18350 installed.

    The FW3A as a FET driven triple is also much brighter, with output peaking at 3300 lumens, compared to around 800 lumens for the RRT-01.
    WtaH?

    It's also not as big as a 26650 light...because..different batteries.. ???

  22. #22
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by justanotherguy View Post
    WtaH?

    It's also not as big as a 26650 light...because..different batteries.. ???
    🤔 Iím as confused as you are haha
    hunter, fisherman, flashlight enthusiast

  23. #23

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by jon_slider View Post
    nor lighter, nor buttonless, nor stepless rotary ;-)

    97 grams - FW3A with 3000 mAh Samsung 30Q installed
    74 grams - Original RRT-01 with 1100 mAh Aspire 18350 installed.

    both is better.. LOL
    Well yeah... the original RRT-01 is much lighter weight than the 2019 version RRT-01. The 2019 version has a wider head and a brass pill. The older version is all aluminum. Even the titanium TCR-01 weighs less than the 2019 edition RRT-01. Personally, I think the old RRT-01 is better than the new one. But only after modding (reflector replacement to get rid of the rings, emitter swap to something newer, resistor mod for more amps).

    As far as small 18650 lights go, the FW3A is exceptional: it boasts light weight, small size, nice metal button tail-cap e-switch, great UI, very high peak output.

    Sure the UI isn't as good as a rotary ring RRT-01, but the FW3A does have an exceptionally good e-switch UI. And for a slight penalty in length and weight you get 4x the max output and 3x the battery capacity. And unlike the RRT-01, the FW3A has a temp sensor and low voltage protection built-in to the driver.

    FW3A is also much cheaper than an RRT-01. So is a good choice for those on more of a budget.

    That said:
    I really like my RRT-01s (I have both versions modded), and my TCR-01. They are great lights with the best available UI. But when I'm reaching for an edc light sometimes I just want more power. And for those times an FW3A is a good choice. It's like a lightweight version of a tailcap switch Emisar D4, with lower max output and more protection against accidental pocket activation.
    Last edited by Fireclaw18; 05-04-2019 at 07:58 PM.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Iím still confused as to why you are comparing specs of an 18350 light to an 18650 light. Of course the 18350 will be smaller. And of course the 18650 will be higher capacity
    hunter, fisherman, flashlight enthusiast

  25. #25

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigburly912 View Post
    Iím still confused as to why you are comparing specs of an 18350 light to an 18650 light. Of course the 18350 will be smaller. And of course the 18650 will be higher capacity
    I believe the discussion was prompted by this post:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tejasandre View Post
    Oh wow. I had imagined it smaller that the rrt-01.
    Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again...
    I liked neutral tints before they were cool.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* Tejasandre's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Yeah. That was me. :blush:

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* lion504's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigburly912 View Post
    Iím still confused as to why you are comparing specs of an 18350 light to an 18650 light. Of course the 18350 will be smaller. And of course the 18650 will be higher capacity
    I think the basis of the comparison is something like 'technically unique options for EDC.' In the case of the RRT, you have the magnetic control ring UI. With the FW3A, you have the smallest 18650 light with a special firmware and e-switch.

    My opinion is that all multivariate comparisons are imperfect. In this case, one has an 18350 and the other a 18650. So the runtime, weight, and length variables aren't exactly similar. But I see this same fundamental inconsistency in any comparison of lights that use two different drivers, and/or two different LEDs, and/or two different UIs, and/or two different materials (ie Ti or Al). Taken to the extreme, this means that any review would either have to (worst case) avoid any comparison at all (because the variables are not exactly the same) or (best case) compare two lights that are almost exactly the same save a single variable - for example, comparing the HDS Executive High Noon vs the HDS Executive 3 o'clock. I think the art of writing a good review is rationalizing these different variables together towards some type of conclusion/recommendation.

    Bottom line, I think fireclaw did a good job on his review. And I'm really looking forward to receiving mine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Dan View Post
    My free shipping FW3A arrived in the US today. Hopefully it will reach me soon.
    How are you tracking this? The tracking number I received links to some express shipping page, but doesn't show any shipping information.
    Last edited by lion504; 05-05-2019 at 08:23 AM.
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  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by lion504 View Post
    How are you tracking this? The tracking number I received links to some express shipping page, but doesn't show any shipping information.
    If you chose the free shipping option like I did, you'll see a tracking number that's also a link. Copy the number and open the link, which takes you to Flyt Express. Click on "Package", paste the tracking number, click "Submit". A summary of Flyt Express's activity will load, including another actual tracking number after a few days - take this tracking ID and load it into the package tracker of your choice - 17 Track, Package Radar, etc.

    Of course, right now Flyt Express's website is moving along at a glacial pace.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* lion504's Avatar
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    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Thanks! I didn't notice that "package" link. Unfortunately mine is stuck in Guangzhou
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  30. #30

    Default Re: BLF/TLF FW3A - now available

    Quote Originally Posted by lion504 View Post
    Thanks! I didn't notice that "package" link. Unfortunately mine is stuck in Guangzhou
    Mine chilled there for about 5 days before making it to the US.
    Hello darkness my old friend,
    I've come to talk with you again...
    I liked neutral tints before they were cool.

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