FW3A Turns On and Becomes Stuck When Tail and Head Tightened

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brightish
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FW3A Turns On and Becomes Stuck When Tail and Head Tightened

Hello,

I’ve had the FW3A for about a month now, and have really enjoyed it. Gotten to know the UI pretty well.
However, I am experiencing a strange behavior that just seemed to start happening. I had just taken the battery off the charger, and inserted it into the flashlight. When I tightened down both tail and head caps, my light turned on, ran through my set power steps, and then got stuck on my highest step. Pressing the tailswitch once this occurred did nothing – I had to unscrew the flashlight to turn it off. This is repeatable, and I have been able to make this happen again and again. Sometimes it will go from high to low. If I get the perfect balance of tightness on both caps, the light seems to function normally. But if either cap is too tight or too loose, the flashlight either does not work, or does the aforementioned cycle on and get stuck procedure.

I am using the same Samsung 30Q I have been using for a month now.

What is going on here? More importantly, what should I do about this?

Here is a video of this issue.

Apologies about the sirens in the background.

Thanks for reading.

Edited by: brightish on 12/02/2019 - 14:40
hank
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Read through this:

FW3A Troubleshooting / FAQ

Did you remove the tailcap? (Don’t!)

Followups to the Troubleshooting thread will be easier for others to find later.

brightish
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hank wrote:
Read through this:

FW3A Troubleshooting / FAQ

Did you remove the tailcap? (Don’t!)

Followups to the Troubleshooting thread will be easier for others to find later.

Thanks, I’ll read through that and crosspost in it once a solution is found.

Regarding the tailcap – I removed it when I first got it, and ensured nothing fell out. In the newer revisions of this light, I believe there are no loose parts in the tailcap, making the “do not remove the tailcap” warning not as important as in previous iterations where it was possible to lose small parts.

However, the flashlight behaved completely normally for about a month now, meaning my initial tailcap removal was not the cause of this issue.
I did loosen the tailcap about a quarter turn today before inserting the battery, then tightened it down (which, coincidentally, is what the troubleshooting thread says to do). I’m guessing this has something to do with it.

WalkIntoTheLight
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brightish wrote:
I did loosen the tailcap about a quarter turn today before inserting the battery, then tightened it down (which, coincidentally, is what the troubleshooting thread says to do). I’m guessing this has something to do with it.

Yup.

Remove the head. Then tighten the tailcap. Then insert a battery and tighten the head.

brightish
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
brightish wrote:
I did loosen the tailcap about a quarter turn today before inserting the battery, then tightened it down (which, coincidentally, is what the troubleshooting thread says to do). I’m guessing this has something to do with it.

Yup.

Remove the head. Then tighten the tailcap. Then insert a battery and tighten the head.

Yep, no dice. Issue still occurs.
The driver retaining ring is also tight.
Any other ideas?

mihlit
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“subscribed” as I have the same issue from day one with my stonewashed titanium fw3a, second one (regular gray alum) works fine. I still did not have time to investigate what is causing it. Nothing obvious, I tried different orders of tightening tail/head with no success.

Perception
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I wish I had a constructive comment. Mine did the same thing. It was intermittently yet repeatably doing what you describe. I thought I had it fixed by tightening it down as directed, and I set it on my counter. I came back in 15 minutes or so, and the light was on max and so hot that I got second degree burns on my fingers where I tried to grab it. I immediately dropped it, and I had to grab it with tongs and dunk it in water until it cooled enough to unscrew as the power button did nothing. It was so hot it actually melted one of the LED’s off of the driver.

I loved the light, but this is a dangerous flaw and I haven’t seen a solution. My tail was cranked down tight, but still displayed the problem. Here is a video I made, you can see as soon as I tighten the head the light immediately ramps up, but it gets washed out.

The issue was not present when the light was brand new, and didn’t start happening until I owned the light about a month.

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chops728
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Could be because of the Button Top cell you’re using —- a couple of mine won’t work at all with button tops —— it appears the cell is too long and pushing the button when you tighten up the head all the way—try a Flat Top cell

mihlit
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I can “fix” this issue when I remove the clip, tighten the tail first with standard force, not extra tight, then tighten the head same way. It works this way, but I want to investigate it more, as I don’t trust this not to turn on accidentally and burn something.

In my case it’s not metal shavings.

HenrysCat
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Same here, only had it for a week now, I removed the tail cap to get rid of the clip and it all went wrong, after a few tries unscrewing the top and tail cap it started working normally, seems very odd you are told not to remove the tail cap, mine came with this (which I admit I did not look at until yesterday) Smile

https://i.imgrpost.com/imgr/2019/12/02/FW3A.jpg

brightish
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Well, looks like I’ve got an FW3A for sale now. Condition is as described in OP – just pay shipping.
Very disappointing.
Edit: sold

atobe
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What led choice is it and where are you located?

ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ

brightish
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Cree XPL HI 3D NW, and Eastern US
Edit: sold

Firelight2
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Perception wrote:
I wish I had a constructive comment. Mine did the same thing. It was intermittently yet repeatably doing what you describe. I thought I had it fixed by tightening it down as directed, and I set it on my counter. I came back in 15 minutes or so, and the light was on max and so hot that I got second degree burns on my fingers where I tried to grab it. I immediately dropped it, and I had to grab it with tongs and dunk it in water until it cooled enough to unscrew as the power button did nothing. It was so hot it actually melted one of the LED’s off of the driver.
The issue was not present when the light was brand new, and didn’t start happening until I owned the light about a month.

My polished Titanium FW3T did this after I swapped in a different optic.

The problem: When I screwed in the new optic fully there was significant pressure on the star. Either the solder job on the star was defective or the heat on turbo got so hot it melted the solder under the star. This caused solder under one of the LEDs to bridge the negative pad and the ground pad.

The result: The driver was bypassed completely. Screwing in the light enough to make a battery connection caused it to turn on at max turbo. And because the light was in direct drive and bypassing the driver, there was no thermal rampdown protection.

The solution: I removed the star and reflowed all the LEDS, double-checking for excess solder under each one. Then I reinstalled the star with fresh thermal grease underneath. This completely fixed the problem and the light now works fine.

My FW3T Ti-Cu also has a defective connection around the inner tube. It works fine using a flat top 18650 such as the VTC5. But if I try putting in an older and slightly longer button top 35A, the light ramps up as soon as it is plugged in. It’s not bypassing the driver, but it’s clear that the switch connection is bridging to ground where it shouldn’t. Could probably fix with kapton tape around the bottom of the inner tube.

hank
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Quote:
I don’t trust this not to turn on accidentally and burn something.

Yeh, I’m imagining storing it in a bucket of water when I’m not carrying it. It gave me bad dreams.

WalkIntoTheLight
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hank wrote:
Quote:
I don’t trust this not to turn on accidentally and burn something.

Yeh, I’m imagining storing it in a bucket of water when I’m not carrying it. It gave me bad dreams.

I keep mine on top of a bucket of ice in the freezer. Easy to grab when I need it, but when it melts down it safely encases itself in ice within a few minutes. Only takes a few hours to fetch when that happens. Very practical!

Perception
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Firelight2 wrote:
Perception wrote:
I wish I had a constructive comment. Mine did the same thing. It was intermittently yet repeatably doing what you describe. I thought I had it fixed by tightening it down as directed, and I set it on my counter. I came back in 15 minutes or so, and the light was on max and so hot that I got second degree burns on my fingers where I tried to grab it. I immediately dropped it, and I had to grab it with tongs and dunk it in water until it cooled enough to unscrew as the power button did nothing. It was so hot it actually melted one of the LED’s off of the driver.
The issue was not present when the light was brand new, and didn’t start happening until I owned the light about a month.

My polished Titanium FW3T did this after I swapped in a different optic.

The problem: When I screwed in the new optic fully there was significant pressure on the star. Either the solder job on the star was defective or the heat on turbo got so hot it melted the solder under the star. This caused solder under one of the LEDs to bridge the negative pad and the ground pad.

The result: The driver was bypassed completely. Screwing in the light enough to make a battery connection caused it to turn on at max turbo. And because the light was in direct drive and bypassing the driver, there was no thermal rampdown protection.

The solution: I removed the star and reflowed all the LEDS, double-checking for excess solder under each one. Then I reinstalled the star with fresh thermal grease underneath. This completely fixed the problem and the light now works fine.

My FW3T Ti-Cu also has a defective connection around the inner tube. It works fine using a flat top 18650 such as the VTC5. But if I try putting in an older and slightly longer button top 35A, the light ramps up as soon as it is plugged in. It’s not bypassing the driver, but it’s clear that the switch connection is bridging to ground where it shouldn’t. Could probably fix with kapton tape around the bottom of the inner tube.

Hmm, this may be exactly what happened because the temp sensor was calibrated and set to 45, and it obviously did nothing. Any tutorials out there on reflowing leds? Might as well try on this light as otherwise it’s a $50 paper weight.

Muto
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These things are junk.
Dangerous junk.

Any flashlight that you have to loosen the head, then the tail then remove the battery to charge it and repeat the process and then the flashlight still gets stuck on high when it feels like it with no way to get it to shut off other than burning yourself to unscrew both ends is just nuts.
TOTAL FAIL

Any USA dealer that sells these things are really asking for a good winnable lawsuit against them.

Tell me of one other electrical item that you have bought in the last 10 years that has this many serious and dangerous faults?
I know of none other than those hoverboard things and they got run out of the marketplace real quick.
Never bought any of those.

After the Apocalypse there will be only 2 things left alive, Cockroaches and Keith Richards
..

Big Sky Country
..

No matter where you go, there you are.

chops728
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Definitely not a Light for the Novice User

RobertB
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brightish wrote:
WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
brightish wrote:
I did loosen the tailcap about a quarter turn today before inserting the battery, then tightened it down (which, coincidentally, is what the troubleshooting thread says to do). I’m guessing this has something to do with it.

Yup.

Remove the head. Then tighten the tailcap. Then insert a battery and tighten the head.

Yep, no dice. Issue still occurs.
The driver retaining ring is also tight.
Any other ideas?

I don’t know if the battery is the problem or not, but it looks like you have a fake Samsung 30Q in the video. 30Q’s have a 3 post positive end, looks like yours is 4 posts. Did you buy that battery from an Aliexpress store? If so, almost all of them are selling fake 30Q’s.

This is an authentic 30Q. Notice the 3 prong positive cap

And yours looks like 4 prong, thus a fake 30Q

mattlward
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Muto wrote:
These things are junk.
Dangerous junk.

Any flashlight that you have to loosen the head, then the tail then remove the battery to charge it and repeat the process and then the flashlight still gets stuck on high when it feels like it with no way to get it to shut off other than burning yourself to unscrew both ends is just nuts.
TOTAL FAIL

Any USA dealer that sells these things are really asking for a good winnable lawsuit against them.

Tell me of one other electrical item that you have bought in the last 10 years that has this many serious and dangerous faults?
I know of none other than those hoverboard things and they got run out of the marketplace real quick.
Never bought any of those.

Muto, I would not go that far. I have been daily carrying one since they came out and have not had the issue described above. One thing to note, the instructions tell you not to take off the tailcap… only remove the head to change the cell. Tolerances are not made for button top cells, they tend to squish down the driver spring and they also tend to put way to much pressure on the circuit boards. If used as instructed, they are great lights. I am not blowing smoke… 4 FW3A’s and 2 FW1A’s and would like one more FW1A. These have become my EDC of choice, but I would not hand them to just anyone. But, then again I would not hand most of my hotrods to just anyone.

EDC rotation:
FW1A, LH351D 4000k (second favorite)
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (favorite light!)
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k
S2+, XM-L2 T6 4C

Muto
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Mattward

Points well taken.
My big problem is you have to loosen tailcap in order to mechanically lock it out as the head threads are bare metal.
So right there it invites problems with the tailcap not being seated as it may like to be. That is bad design IMHO.
I do not trust this flashlight if it is not mech locked out and I’ll be damned if I going to remove the head every time to remove the battery in order to lock it out.
If they don’t want the tailcap to be removed then maybe it should have some decent but not undoable thread locker from the factory.

Have not had a problem with battery fit, am using genuine Samsung 30Q, I know the rules when it comes to battery length of what a flashlight wants or needs.
Mine is the newer one that the tailcap does not fall apart, but again I do not remove it, just barely loosen it after loosening head to lock out.

The thing has gone full throttle after working fine three times on me but then will work great for a good amount of use and lull you into false sense of security.
Got no problem with hot rods, just prefer better build quality, shouldn’t have to read through hundreds of known issues to try and figure out what is going on with a vetted flashlight available to regular masses.

Thanks
Keith

After the Apocalypse there will be only 2 things left alive, Cockroaches and Keith Richards
..

Big Sky Country
..

No matter where you go, there you are.

Muto
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There are currently 1168 posts in the FW3A Troubleshooting / FAQ thread here;
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/66960?page=37#new

Does that not seem excessive for a “great lights” ?
Just saying.

After the Apocalypse there will be only 2 things left alive, Cockroaches and Keith Richards
..

Big Sky Country
..

No matter where you go, there you are.

mattlward
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I use the electronic lockout, in fact one of our members has a FW patch that places the light in lockout with x number of minutes. I do use the patch and love it. It is a unique design and not for everyone. I also really like the D4v2 and would love to see the side switch design in a compact single. That could win me over.

EDC rotation:
FW1A, LH351D 4000k (second favorite)
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (favorite light!)
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k
S2+, XM-L2 T6 4C

Blackbeard
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mine did the same, wouldn’t shut off, or wouldn’t turn on, last time I really cranked both ends super tight and hasn’t happened since, but it is probably the one light I wouldn’t put in my pocket or rely upon without a backup if i’m in the dark somewhere.

middle age man
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I have had the same issue with my FW3A. I resolved it by loosening the retaining ring in the tailcap slightly. It works normally now.

hank
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Dagnabbit.

So what’s the precautionary approach to this light?

Take the head and tail off, remove the innards, and blow everything out with canned air, or go over it with a small brush and vacuum, to eliminate any metal dust or fragments that might be floating around loose in there?

Inspect the threads and metal edges for any metal “feathering” bits that could break off later on?

Wipe the threads off with a coarse cloth to snag any loose bits?

Dab a bit of Nyogel or other conductive lube on the threads?

How much of that is overkill, and what else might be appropriate to consider doing?

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chops728 wrote:
Definitely not a Light for the Novice User

Well said.

aeon
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I have the same problem with one of mine. It is from the initial Nichia run. I’ve written to Neal about it – the driver is too much off center and must be shorting through the retaining ring. Neal acknowledged the problem and offered a replacement part.
Nothing happened since then. More than three months later I get no response from him and no replacement. My Nichia version FW3A is used as a peperweight. Meanwhile every second week a new praised version pops out. It’s a very frustrating experience.
Obviously the flashlight suffers because of hastly production, and because of the big interest the Nealsgadgets store does not have time to spare for warranty issues. A pleasure for the customer. Cash

id30209
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Mine did as well...so i asked Victor Zhou on FB for help since he’s Lumintop sales menager (or similar) and i got 2 drivers for 10$, shipping included. 

Now my FW3C works again, as it should

WTB Titanium 4sevens Quarks & Jetbeam TCR1

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