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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Need a nice portable battery powered light for camping or emergency use.?
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ICC
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# Posted: 3 Nov 2019 21:23 - Edited by: ICC
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Rechargeable battery powered with a long run time.

I have been waiting for this light project over at the Budget Light Forum (BLF) since Feb 2016, along with about 3000 other flashlight nuts. After prototypes made and tested by the Chinese manufacturing partner, the light has started into production. I have one of the first 500. Here's a photo. It is about 7 inches high and about 2.5" in diameter at the widest part (the top).

https://images2.imgbox.com/64/1a/DdRNh2jW_o.jpg

It runs on 1 to 4, 18650 size lithium ion cells. Mine are Samsung 35E, 3500 mAh at 3.6 volts. That is 12.6 watt-hours. A lot of power in a small light. It is not made to produce thosands of blinding lumens. Rather it puts out about 800 lumens on high, with the possibilty to increase that to maybe 1100 with a simple solder mod. Run time will decrease of course. There is a built in USB-C type charger.

They are available for general sale at the following sellers. Available with or w/o cells. Some of us crazies have too many cells on hand at any point in time so I got mine w/o cells. But for those who want the light and have no li-ion 18650 button top cells they sell it with cells that are quite good 3000 mAh.

Amazon w/o cells

Amazon, with cells

eBay, with cells (could not find w/o cels listed

Aliexpress, with and w/o cells

The group buy is over and FYI the prices there were $20 less than the aliexpress.com prices listed today (69.99 or 82.99 US$)

I believe they will go in and out of stock every few days for a month or two.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 06:37
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To me no matter how you cut it its still a chinese disposal lantern, just like many many of the other electronics. There are others that take 18650 batterys for a whole lot less.

rachelsdad
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 07:06
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Not quite the same use but I do a lot of backpacking and canoe trips...2-7 days at a time.

For me weight is paramount as I have to hump everything on my back or store in a canoe or kayak.

This is my new favorite.

https://www.amazon.com/MPOWERD-Luci-Outdoor-2-0-Inflatable/dp/B07H4BBT9Z\

Of course for home emergency use ya really can't store it in your drawer.

fiftyfifty
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 07:09
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On/off button is easy to find. Good size. Versatile -standing lantern, hanging lantern or flashlight. I like it.

DaveBell
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 08:02
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ICC:
1. There are other lights like this. I take it that significant engineering and requirements specification went into it's development. Can you detail what the improvements were over the others?
2. I am interested in this. Since it takes four 18650's I could use it to recharge my single flashlight 18650's driving out to the mountains?
3. Could you please post pictures of it disassembled? How to change the bulb. Battery replacement. Etc.
4. How long does it take to recharge 1 and then 4 18650 batteries, from the USB?
Thanks.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 11:03 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: Brettny

To me no matter how you cut it its still a chinese disposal lantern, just like many many of the other electronics. There are others that take 18650 batterys for a whole lot less.


I believe it is unfair to lump everything of Chinese origin as being junk. Keeping to just flashlights that use li-ion batteries; I have seen some real crap and I have seen some very well made Chinese made flashlights. For reference, I have bought over a hundred Chinese made flashlights over the past 6 years. The quality does vary all over the map. Cheap selling price often equates with a junky light--- poor machining, threads that feel rough instead of buttery smooth, bad anodizing that is thin or missing, cheap components, etc. etc. Other lights are obvious they are well made with quality components. This LT1 lantern is definitely in the excellent category. Plus it is made to be taken apart by those who are knowledgable about such things. None of the parts are glued in place which is a common practice in cheapy lights.

I have bought many of the readily available camping lanterns and have either had their plastic parts break too readily, or had the stamped metal parts bend, etc. Most, if not all, use off-brand cheap LED's that have horrible color rendition and are too glary to the eyes. Many are also not nearly bright enough.

What I have said about there being truly cheaply made flashlights and truly great ones also applies to the lithium cells. There are cheapy ones that are actually unsafe to use. Many also blatantly lie about their capacity. There are no 18650 li-ion cells made with more than 3500 mAh capacity. But eBay and other sellers advertise and sell 18650's with 2 and 3 times the printed capacity.

Pick virtually any category of goods and you can find similar examples. Some real good stuff and some really doubtful products.

That said, I wish that more of the stuff we buy was made here in the US. 30 years ago I went through a period when we had a choice of buying lighting fixtures to use in the new homes we were building. The suppliers at the time carried both the US made items and newly emerging Chinese lighting. We looked at them. The Chinese items were equal to the US made. they were roughly half the price. We did not buy the Chinese made lighting. But enough other people did that a lot of the US made items were no longer stocked. We said what the hell, if it is made well, meets codes and standards we'll use it too. The Chinese people have to eat too, IMO.

"nuff said, just treat that as a rant of mine if you disagree.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 11:07
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DaveBell, I'll take some more photos sometime today and post them as well as respond to your questions.

Quoting: DaveBell
2. I am interested in this. Since it takes four 18650's I could use it to recharge my single flashlight 18650's driving out to the mountains?


But I'll do this now--- this version of the LT1 does not have powerbank ability. You can charge it with a USB cord but cannot charge other devices from the LT1. That was going to cost more to develop/make. But yes, you can remove the cells and insert other 18650 li-ions to be charged via the USB.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 12:05 - Edited by: ICC
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Keep in mind that the builtin charger has a maximum output of 1.5 amps. That gets split between all the cells in the light as they are in parallel. The charge current was set low for several reasons. To make it safe to charge a single cell. To reduce the heat build-up as, for example, a lion charger putting out 4 amps puts out a lot of heat as well. As well, to keep the heating of the cells encapsulated in the aluminum sleeve to a minimum.

Tests on the prototypes showed that a 10 watt solar charger works very well with recharging the LT1. In one test the user ran the LT1 on high for over 3 hours during a power outage. The cells dropped to 3.89 volts. It took 5 hours of nice sunshine to recharge the cells.

The solar charger used was this one at Amazon

Plus on trial weekend camp use it fully recharged off the solar the next day

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 13:26 - Edited by: ICC
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rachelsdad, yes it is definitly not for a backpacker. Car or truck camping. Or emergency use at home. I am sending one to a relative in CA who has been a victim of the PG&E outages twice now. That will be ongoing for a number of years.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 13:42 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: fiftyfifty
On/off button is easy to find

The button is illuminated when the light is off to make finding in the dark easy. The drain is only a few milliamp so it will take years before endangering the cells.

It is also possible to change that to have the switch led off all the time or to have it blink.

Another nice feature of the firmware is that the switch can be locked out to ensure the light is not accidentally turned on. When locked the switch led is always off.

Lockout is done by rapidly clicking the switch 4 times with the light off. Unlock by another 4 rapid clicks. When locked pressing and holding the switch turns it on at the lowest setting.

You cannot find those tricks in any of the cheaper lanterns.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 15:48
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Quoting: fiftyfifty
Versatile -standing lantern, hanging lantern or flashlight.


Not a flashlight in the ordinary sense of sending a focused beam. Maybe I misinterpreted what was meant. But a great lantern for sure. Many good remarks on BLF from those who have received theirs before me. (USPS lost track of mine for a few days)

One critique is that the orange o-ring mounted in a groove on the head comes off too easy. I agree, but that is not a big deal. Another criticism has been the supplied owner manual is hard to follow in a few spots or is inaccurate. Yes, there is an issue with a couple details but it becomes clear what was meant after trying it out. Things like will be changed, sorted out. The user manual is online too. There were a few other nit-picking details but there is always someone who does not like something with just about anything.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 17:42 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: DaveBell
3. Could you please post pictures of it disassembled? How to change the bulb. Battery replacement. Etc.


Well, I have learned that to get a good look inside the head one must get some tools out and I am not quite ready to do that. The screw in the cap can be removed but the wires that connect from the MCPCB that is attached to the inside face of the cap are twisted tight enough to really limit the movement. In order to be able to have a look at the underside of the cap or swing it aside and out of the way the two screws that mount the driver to the head must be removed. Then the board rotated to untwist the wires that extend from the driver to the led mcpcb. Then the cap can be moved aside. Maybe I'll do that later or find some pix from someone else. For now here some shots of the head removed from the battery tube, the cells and a driver shot.

The pads marked 6 and 7 (two sets) are what if soldered blobbed, will enable more lumens. Applying a solder drop/blob to each of thise activate two more of the 7135 regulator chips. There are 7 in total for each of the 2 channels. Only 5 are activated at the factory in order to extend battery life and reduce heat. Each 7135 can pass 350 mAh current. So 5 chips allow 1.75 amps to each set of 4 led's. The led's are in parallel and share that. The led's are not driven very hard, not nearly as hard as in a standard flashlight.

FYI, led's are more efficient at lower amps. They produce more lumens per watt when driven lightly. Generally 4 led's sharing a fixed current produce more lumens than a single led of the same type, driven with the same current. More lumens , less heat.

There are two sets of the samsung led's. Four are 5000 degree K and the other set of four are 2700 degree K. There is a ramping setup that allows mixing a certain percentage of the one with an amount of the other. A little of one and some of the other to make a total of 100%. So you can tailor the color temperature output from warm (2700K) to colder (5000 K).

You can't do that with a cheapy light either. Most of them use cheap very cold (6500 K) very bluish led's.

Note this light must be fitted with button top cells, not flat tops. That is because of the way the battery holder end screws into the head and the cells rotate. That saves money over the system used in some lights with a separate battery holder insert.
barellel and cells
barellel and cells
button tops
button tops
springs in tube
springs in tube
driver
driver


ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 17:52 - Edited by: ICC
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FWIW, the driver board was designed by a guy in Germany, the firmware by an American woman, the basic overall concept by a Canadian guy. Lots of suggestions and opinions from many other countries spread across the globe. The basic battery holder shell and head design was borrowed from a previous BLF project flashlight.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 4 Nov 2019 18:25
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More photos from the BLF site. The driver board had the screws removed and wires untwisted to allow the cap to be lifted.

FYI, the diffusing shade is secured to the head piece with screws from inside the head with the driver removed.
MCPCB loosened
MCPCB loosened
driver loosened
driver loosened
other side
other side


Brettny
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2019 08:22
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Is the body on this aluminum? That does look like nice circuits in there.

Dave there are cheap 18650 chargers that can charge via USB and if you discharge the batterys all the way and charge them back up you can get a guesstimate on the AH. But in all reality no one uses a flashlight until it puts out 50* of the original.

https://www.amazon.com/Display-Universal-Battery-Charger-VC2Plus/dp/B015E23BYK/ref=sr _1_1?keywords=18650+charger+xtar&qid=1572960131&sr=8-1

ICC
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2019 09:52
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Quoting: Brettny
Is the body on this aluminum?


Very nicely machined aluminum with HA3 anodizing. Square cut threads for the joint between the head and body tube. (square-cut engage easily and slide very smoothly when machined properly. Also more durable than typical triangular threads. Those threads are also anodized so a quarter twist "open" breaks the electrical connection between head and tube. That we call a mechanical lockout; a second way to ensure there is no accidental activation of the led's while in storage or transport.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2019 10:38
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This is the led board
1
1
2
2


Brettny
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2019 11:16
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Wow now that could be a game changer...an aluminum body. By the pics it looked like a plastic body.

ICC
Member
# Posted: 5 Nov 2019 12:43 - Edited by: ICC
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Quoting: Brettny
Wow now that could be a game changer...an aluminum body. By the pics it looked like a plastic body.


Sorry I did not state it was aluminum. I'm just so used to these project lights, and they have always been aluminum. The anodizing is so nicely done it could be mistaken as plastic in a photo with no explanation. Battery tube, head, and head cap are all aluminum. The head cap acts as a heat sink for the led's.

The diffuser is some sort of plastic, not sure what exactly. The testing of the prototypes involved some abuse and none of them had any issues with cracking or breaking. It is thick enough to take the screws that secure the diffuser to the head.

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