Review: UniqueFire R5

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Don
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Review: UniqueFire R5
UniqueFire R5 Cree XPG-1AO-R4 5-Mode 330-Lumen LED Flashlight (1*18650/2*16340)
Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★★ 
 
 
Summary: Well made, feels solid, lubed threads. Bright. DO NOT USE RCR123
 
Battery: 1x1865, Theoretically 2xCR123/RCR123, but it isn't really compatible with two CR123 cells. 
Switch: Reverse clickie
Modes: 5 Modes: High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS
LED Type: Cree XP-G R4
Lens: Coated glass - my fingers agree with the DX spec
Tailstands: Yes
Price Paid: US$ 23.29

 

 
Pros:
Very nicely built body, good price. almost the latest and greatest LED. Bright, pretty good throw, good beam (Though a slightly odd hexagonal shape). Seems to have better than usual heat sinking for a P60 using device. Threads clean and lubricated. Nice thick O rings. Airtight. coated glass lens.
 
Cons:
Dropin construction, insane current draw from RCR123.
 
Build Quality: ★★★★★
 
This is unusually well built. In appearance is a straight clone of the Seraph SP6 which costs 10x as much but is made of titanium. http://www.lumensfactory.com/cart_detail.php?id=134. I wonder if whatever factory made the bodies for the Seraph made these too - the body is much, much nicer than usual though the styling really doesn't it for me.
 
The threads at head and tail end came lubed and it has two nice fat O rings at the tailcap end and one at the head end which appear to make it airtight, let alone watertight. The body gets warm so there is decent heat conduction between the LED and the body of the light - I'd guess it is a better heatsink than most P60 designs. Either that or the LED gets really, really hot. (See the section on use with RCR123 cells) The body is really well made, but those grooves in it are just crying out to be filled with some nice fat O rings. If my box has big enough ones this is happening tonight.
 
The P60 module is not nearly as nicely put together. The reflector is solid metal with a light orange peel finish. The pill screws into the reflector, but the LED is not perfectly centred on the pill. This leaves a slight hole in the middle of the hotspot but a spot of messing around with the module ought to fix that. Maybe this weekend I'll get to it. Meanwhile, since the pill is threaded into the reflector, i can adjust the focus by screwing the pill in or out a bit till i get a tighter hotspot. A drop of nail varnish will then hold it in place till I get time to gut it and sort it out properly. Don't use loctite for this, it grips far to well and you are stuffed if you want to remove it in the future.
 
Empty weight: 116.6g (4.11oz)
With 18650:  164.3g (5.8oz)
 
Battery Life: Too soon to say, tests not yet done
 
By eye, the brightness seems much the same on 18650 as RCR123. Runtime on an 18650 is likely to be a lot better. After a quick meter check this dropin isn't going to work with protected CR123s - it is pulling 2.8A from them. This is probably downright dangerous as that's 4x the capacity. It pulls 1.4A from an 18650 which is at least sane. That means with a pair of RCR123s it is pulling 4x as much power and is going to get very, very hot very fast. This will likely kill the cells and the drivers rather fast and given that the body is airtight, if the cells let go there is going to be a nasty mess. I would not care to be holding it if that happened. The voltage will be sagging like crazy, but that could be up to 24 watts it is pulling out of those poor little cells. On an 18650 it is more like 6 watts. The only 123 sized cells I'd recommend for this would be the rather expensive AW IMR16340 cells at about $7 each including shipping.
 
Do NOT use this light with normal cheap RCR123's. Trouble will ensue.
 
Having stuck it in a lightbox, there is a 10s or so period when it produces more total output than it does with an 18650 - this was not with freshly charged RCRs or 18650 but I have no inclination to try it with fully charged RCR123s. Essentially this dropin is not CR123 compatible. All the extra voltage gets you is driver and LED damaging heat. Plus maybe a minute or two of extra bright light.
 
Light Output: ★★★★
 
Quite a lot and it looks like it ought to throw Well. Throw number (Essentially the brightness of the hotspot at 1 metre) is 11,600 on RCR123 and 11,750 on 18650 (Don't read anything into this difference, the errors in measurement are probably greater than the difference), the total output measured on a lightbox is 1970 with 18650 and 2320 with RCR123 but dropping like a stone. Within 10 seconds the output was lower on the RCRs than the 18650. None of the cells were fully charged though so these are provisional numbers. It's not quite my throwiest P60 dropin, that prize is held by a 5-mode XR-E R2 dropin at 14940, but it puts out considerably less light in total (On the lightbox it gives 1361 on high, or about 67% of what this XP-G R4 dropin puts out.)
 
Summary: ★★★★
 

 Worth the money if you like the body. Probably not worth it if you don't. The dropin is not that great. If it decides to stop raining tonight I'll do beamshots.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:22
Don
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You get 1/10 of a second bright flash then the protection kicks in. Which is a good indication of why CR123s in this light are a bad idea. Will do lightbox numbers with a fully charged pair, then revert to using it with 18650s.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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Cool, i would like to know what the runtime is on an 18650.  Does the light have mode memory, and how does the switch feel.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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I've not yet done formal runtimes but it will run for over an hour on a DX "2500mAh" 18650. I left it tail standing as a room light beside my desk and forgot it was the lighting for about an hour. It was pretty warm, but not too hot to hold after that. But don't run it for that long unattended. See below.

 

The switch is a reverse clickie, firm and positive. It is easy to switch modes, though perhaps as a result of the baking, it appears to be a single mode at the moment. Pulled the dropin out and it'd appear I've burned the driver from the smell coming from it, it smells distressingly of defunct components. The light is airtight so didn't smell it till I opened it up to take a look at the dropin. Looks like some driver ordering is indicated this weekend.

 

Basic verdict, the body is excellent, the dropin isn't.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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Oh man......guess im going to have to wait for that review when the drop-in comes in.  So what do you have in mind to replace that sucky drop-in.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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I'll probably just get a new driver and swap it in. Probably something that makes it 18650 only. That is likely to be a more efficient driver since it has a narrower range of voltages to deal with. Not sure of the current spec for the XP-G LEDs but probably of the order of an amp or so. The DX spec says 1,000mA to the LED so if I get a 2.7-4.2V 1A driver that will fit in the dropin, a spot of soldering and tidying up can be done at the same time. The actual reflector and pill are pretty nice - it is a solid metal reflector that screws onto the pill which is pretty nice even if the soldering was clearly done by a blind person with a stick - just like my soldering in fact....

 

Till I do, I have a nice bright single mode light. The peak lux reading appears to be the same for throw at a pretty good figure  >11,000lux at 1 metre. Not many of my lights can beat that. Actually if it works well as a single mode I'm not too bothered about missing two flashing modes I'll never use and if I need less light there are the various small and tiny lights that are almost always on my person.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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Why is it that on the site its says that you can use cr123's and rcr's but the input voltage is maxed out at 4.2volts.....i dont get it.  With that specs it seems to me that using two rcr's at 3.7volts each will overdrive the led.

 

 

Battery Configurations: 1 x 18650 / 2 x 16340 rechargeable batteries
Voltage Input: 2.6~4.2V, 4.2V max

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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Which explains the fried driver.... It had been run for about 25 minutes on high with RCR123s.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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I would send DX an email.......for a person that doesnt take a look at the input voltage they will more then likely use two rcr's and burn the driver out.....more misleading if you know what i mean.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

sb56637
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Very nice!  You made the frontpage with this one.  Hope to see some runtime info when you get around to it.  Thanks!

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Don
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I'm pretty sure they said up to 8.4V for the 5 mode when I ordered it. I usually check that once I've received the light before i test it. It now says up to 4.2V and it appears they mean it. I now have a single mode that will run for over an hour on an 18650 at the same brightness as before on high - it is probably now a direct drive device. The PC I use for runtimes isn't reliable just now, it keeps shutting itself down - time to clean some heatsinks and replace some fans I think. I didn't get current measurements on the other modes before the driver died, but as a single mode, it pulls around 1.5A from an 18650 so 90-100 minutes on high. The spec still says 2xRCR are OK unless you look below and see that it also says max input voltage 4.2V. I fear i didn't read far enough.

 

I see we got another spammer as I typed this.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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4 new ones this morning

 

Make that 5

 

6

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

KelG
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Can we request Mr Admin to remove spam from this forum?

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sb56637
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Well... We'll need to implement some other system here against spam.  Let me think about it for a little while, and sorry for the unpleasant experience.

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Don
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No mode memory, always comes on in high - certainly after it's been left for a few seconds. This may not be accurate as my memory may be wrong though - it is pretty common for 5-mode drivers to work that way.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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The test range is rather more reflective than usual and it is kinda cold out there. Apparently we are getting snow on and off for up to two weeks. This is pretty unusual for here, while I'm way north of Moscow, the weather is kept in check by the seas all around us.

 

As you can see by the doggy footprints, Fizz likes it for a bit - gets herself coated in snow then tries to climb into my lap.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

sb56637
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Beautiful snow... You would miss it if you moved elsewhere, the weather is quite boring when it doesn't snow.

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Don
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But not so pretty when it takes 20 minutes to get out of my street (As it did this morning) and most of an hour to get to work which is less than 3km away. My car hates snow even more than I do. Boring weather is good. I lived on the edge of the Kalahari Desert from '84-'86. The daily weather forecasts used to amuse me. "Cold" was below 35C (95F) - "Hot" started at 40C (104F) and in October it did hit 50C with 100% humidity. But the cold season from June-Aug/Sep was great. The rest of the year, not so good. But predictable is a very good thing when it comes to weather. Even when it does mean 50C and 100% humidity. You knew to stay in bed those days.

 

When I looked out the window this morning to see the white stuff, all I wanted to do was go back to bed and pul the dog over my head. I tried but a 47kg dog does not make a good scarf:bigsmile:

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

Don
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In between customers yesterday, took it apart and took some poor pictures. Sadly my colleague who owns a much better camera wan't in then.

Here's the dropin with its cockeyed spring that can't be persuaded to be straight. Note the exquisite soldering. I could do better while blind drunk with a stick. And I'm a messy solderer.

 

The reflector is nice. Solid metal and screws into the pill. Light Orange-Peel (LOP) finish.

 

Body - When screwed together, it is airtight. the body is very high quality.

 

It has a constriction at the throat so that batteries can't fall out of the front. This is a very good thing and is almost unique in P60 host bodies.

 

With an 18650. the perspective here is really messed up. This pic makes it look about the length of 9 18650's. It isn't - it is about 5mm longer than two 18650s

 

Head and tailcap

 

The parts.

 

Beamshots when the white stuff goes away.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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I would not mind getting this light at all if the specs were right and the dropin performed as it should.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

Don
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As long as you run it at 4.2V it ought to be fine. 8.4V it can't cope with. And the body is one of the best. Personally, I'm not keen on the styling, but it is very, very well made. I suspect the Seraph comes out of the same factory. One of Nailbender's dropins will work just fine. Irather fncy his 2xXP-G R5 and it isn't that expensive.

 

No idea if it's Surefire compatible as I'm not crazy enough to spend that sort of money on parts. It quite probably is. Certainly any P60 dropin will work. Will probably keep the (now single mode) dropin in it as it is still pretty bright - just single mode.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

alfreddajero
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Well let us know how the new dropin works out....might just get it for the body.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

KelG
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sb56637 wrote:

Well... We'll need to implement some other system here against spam.  Let me think about it for a little while, and sorry for the unpleasant experience.

Thanks, I see the spam is gone.....

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Don
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But manual removal is going to be a pain for our administrator. I'd be willing to help since I seem to be awake at different times. The folkd.com spam seems to appear mostly 7-11am UK time.

 

The numbers from my light tests are always to be found here.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0ApkFM37n_QnRdDU5MDNzOURjYllmZHI...

sb56637
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I just blocked a HUGE range of IP addresses, which is obviously just a stop-gap.  I'm still researching best-practice methods for Spam abuse and management.  And many thanks to all who have offered to help remove it, I would be happy to have you guys help once I get the infrastructure in place.  I sincerely appreciate your efforts to help with this site.  Meanwhile sorry for the hassles...

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alfreddajero
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Its all good man......just put a thread up asking for qualifications on being a mod.....give them the power to remove and delete.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

sb56637
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alfreddajero wrote:

Its all good man......just put a thread up asking for qualifications on being a mod.....give them the power to remove and delete.

 

Hey, thanks again for offering, I'll probably take you up on the offer, I'd trust you guys with admin password!  It just irritates me that ANYONE should have to manually delete this junk.  I'm looking for a way to try to reduce the actual amount of spam posts that appear.  Meanwhile I'll go through deleting the rubbish morning and evening.

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alfreddajero
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Hey it would help you and the forum out.....and its just a suggestion.  And please dont think that im suggesting myself......because i rather enjoy being part of this forum as a member.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

sb56637
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alfreddajero wrote:

Hey it would help you and the forum out.....and its just a suggestion.  And please dont think that im suggesting myself......because i rather enjoy being part of this forum as a member.

 

You're absolutely right, it would be a huge help.  I'll try to get around to doing it soon.  But if I can find a way to actually reduce the spam posts that would be great, I'd prefer to see you guys enjoying yourselves posting sweet beamshots rather than deleting pharmaceutical links.

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Yes i do know what you mean......thats the admins job....lmao.

With Darkness, there will always be Light.

 

 

sb56637
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I don't even have a decent camera to post those amazing shots that you guys are posting.  The least I can do is zap some spam.

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