Review: Bronte RA-04

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fran82
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Review: Bronte RA-04

Bronte RA-04

Reviewer's Overall Rating: ★★★★

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Summary:

Battery: AA (also 14500 but not recommended)
Switch: Twist the head
Modes: 3
LED Type: CREE xp-g R5
Lens: Coated glass lens
Tailstands: Yes, perfectly
Price Paid: 
From:Link_Like_This
Date Ordered: May 2012

 

 

Pros:

  • Semi-regulated output (constant output). Very efficient
  • Looong runtime on high mode (+2 hours of constant light )
  • 3 modes well spaced (with AA) and memory (works perfect)
  • AA/14500 support (NOT OFFICIALLY, use at your own risk!!)
  • Well balance between flood and throw
  • Quality machining
  • Good flood/throw

Cons:

  • A bit blueish tint (only a bit)
  • Big, heavy, bulky and ugly keychain (the round thing to attach to something)
  • A bit heavy with a battery inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Features / Value: ★★★★

Some months ago, when I first saw this new family of Bronte lights, they surprised me because these lights were designed as "trying to copy" other well known lights (i.e. RA01 as trying to copy the itp A3, RA20 as trying to copy the jetbeam ba20, etc).... but in that moment there was not any information about them (I mean info about electronics, we didn´t knew if they were regulated or not, or how they perform).... So I left them unattended because of lack of info.

Today, now we can see some info about them... Finally they are not bad lights at all, but not the bests of course.

The light is packed in this cardboard box, including 2 spare orings and the user manual.

ssaa

 

 

When I purchase a flashlight, the most important thing for me, is not the anodizing, is not the quality of the threads, is not the lumens output they can deliver ....(but these aspects are very important too). The most important thing, specially when I purchase a light powered by AA or AAA batts, is the "eficiency" of the driver. I mean, I always try to get lights which are well driven, lights with very good regulation (i.e. Fenix LD20, JetBeam BA20) against cheapo lights with bad or no regulation at all (i.e. Black Cat, TrustFire F23... etc).

 

asassa

When I finally had the confirmation that these Bronte lights, powered by AA an AAA were regulated, I said "one of these lights has to be mine"... And finally pulled the trigger.

 

 

 

Design / Build Quality: ★★★☆☆

OK, the flashlight is a bit ugly. I have to admit. It doesn´t have any "fancy" design as for example the itp A2, or any similar light. It is just an aluminum tube with minimal machining on it. It seems that it is not very expensive to manufacture... I dont give more than 3 stars in design because of that. However the build quality is veery good, similar to the JetBeam BA20 I have.

Well, if you see the photos, you can check how robust it feels just by measuring the thickness of the battery tube. The AA battery doesnt rattle, but may have troubles for using some "fat" 14500 on it...

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In the tail, the holes for the keychain are in the side, so it can tailstand perfectly...

rajoy

The head, seems to be a 2 part unit, but the upper part seems to be glued....

Inside the head, the driver board doesnt seems very fancy at all.... I wonder if that "protuding" positive pole can "act" as polarity protection...

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As you see in the photo, the "keychain loop" or whatever you call it... it is big, heavy, bulky, ugly.... I will remove it and install another "thing".

Not much more to say, the threads are triangular, they are smooth (but not the smoothiests I have seen), they came lubed and also the single oring installed came lubed with vaseline. No dirty at all in none of the parts.

 tresdads

The one I have, has smooth reflector... Don´t know if all units have this smooth reflector now due to change in production or whatever...But with I first saw the light some months ago it had orange peel reflector...

As you can see in the photo, it has a perfectly centered xp-g R5 LED.

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It needs 9 full turns of the head to completely remove it or to switch it on.

In this photo, you can see it´s size compared with SkyRay S-A1 (up) and Tank007 E09 (down). The RA04 in the middle:

ssssssss

 

Is a bit fatty, measuring 22mm of width.

 

 

 

Battery Life:  ★★★★★

The manufacturer claims this runtime:

High: 2 hours of constant output (90 lumen)

Med: 4,5 hours (30 lumen)

Low: 30 hours (3 lumen)

(no info on which battery they used in the tests, I supose they used a AA Ni-Mh battery of 2500mAh).

 

Current draw measurements, using a fresh charged AA BTone Ni-Mh "2500mAh" (2300mAh in real life) are:

High: 660mA

Med: 310mA

Low: 060mA

 

When the cell is depleted, the current draw is the same.

It does not heat up nor when the battery is fully charged and nor when the battery is almost discharged.

 

So I can conclude that it has not a FULLY-REGULATED circuit, but it has a SEMI-REGULATED desing, so current draw DOES NOT increase when the battery voltage decreases.The current draw remains constant until battery voltage goes about 1,0v.

At least the outputs remains the same during all the life of the battery...

Similar desing than the itp A2/A3. Similar behaviour.

 

 

Now, with 14500, I had a big surprise.

Current draw measurements, using TrustFire 14500 "900mAh" (700mAh in real life) are:

 

High: 660mA

Med: 310mA

Low: 060mA

Yes!! The same than with AA!!! I couldn´t beleive that!!... I was not especting that with 14500.

 

 I dont know if I will dare to do a runtime test with 14500... I haven´t run it for more than 15 minutes on HIGH... Maybe in the future...

 

 

 

Light Output: ★★★★

With AA, only 3 stars because they have been a bit conservative on the output to give a good runtime (only 90 lumen). The manufacturer declares the following:

High: 90 lumen

Med: 30 lumen

Low: 3 lumen

 As you know, I dont have measuring equipment, so I have to trust my eyes to give an "estimation" of lumens....

With AA, it seems to give what the manufacturer says.

 

 

With 14500, I give it 5 full stars, because with 14500 on HIGH mode it gives more than 200 lumens...

 

Brief comparison of the output with both type of batteries (I can not measure it, so I am "guessing")

 

Low AA = 03 lumens. Low 14500 = 10 lumens

Med AA = 30 lumens. Med 14500 = 60-80 lumens

High AA = 90 lumens. High 14500 = +200 lumens

 

 

Some beamshots with AA (pending with 14500).

 

On High mode at 1 meter:

h1m

 

 On High at 3 meters:

ddddddde33

 

On Med at 3 meters:

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

On Low at 3 meters:

rrrrrrt

 

 As you can check in the photos, no signs of PWM. I dont know if it uses a very high frecuency PWM or another way to regulate the output in the different modes...

 

 

Summary: ★★★★

This flashlight can be considered as a very good option if you want good runtime with a single AA with good flood/throw capabilities.

The quality of the overall flashlight is remarkable, good machining, good threads, good finish, regulated output...

 

Remember that Brontelight designed this model to get a long running flashlight with a not eye-destroying light output (with AA).

If you want a lot of light, choose another model OR USE 14500 (not recommended). If 90 lumen for 2 hours with just an AA is enough for you, this can be a good choice for you.

 

 

 PS: sorry for the low quality photos, I have not a digital camera. However you have a lot of pics on manufacturer website, online shops, etc...

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Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:06
kreisler
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Great review, thanks!!!

te coroño con laurel y hardy antes de tiampón Crown


  

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fran82
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Great review? It is even not started....

And "te coroño con laurel y hardy antes del tampón" no lo cojo.. Undecided However, thanks......


EDIT: Ah, ahora sí lo entiendo. Y gracias por adelantado ya que estamos... Cool

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sb56637
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Thanks Fran! Just PM me when you are ready for me to send this post frontpage and sticky.

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fran82
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Ok Mr Admin. I am performing runtime tests and checking an “issue” of the regulation. Also I still havent taken the photos. I think that until this week end on early next week it will not be completed. Sorry I am a bit busy….

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sb56637
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fran82 wrote:
Ok Mr Admin. I am performing runtime tests and checking an “issue” of the regulation. Also I still havent taken the photos. I think that until this week end on early next week it will not be completed. Sorry I am a bit busy….

No no, tranquilo, take your time. I just don’t want to forget about your review when you find time to finish it. Thanks!

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sb56637
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sb56637 wrote:
fran82 wrote:
Ok Mr Admin. I am performing runtime tests and checking an “issue” of the regulation. Also I still havent taken the photos. I think that until this week end on early next week it will not be completed. Sorry I am a bit busy….

No no, tranquilo, take your time. I just don’t want to forget about your review when you find time to finish it. Thanks!

Ok, it’s Frontpage and Sticky now. Thanks very much for your time and effort on this review Fran!

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ChibiM
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DD has them now, for 13.49 if you use RETAILMENOT10OFF

Fran, do you think this is a good buy for this price? seems good to me

fran82
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If you can buy the RA04 at that price…. what are you waiting?

With 14500 it is a beast!!!!

AA = 90 lumen during +2 hours with a 2500mAh NiMh
14500 = maybe +200 lumens during unknown runtime, but the current draw on high with 14500 is about 660mA, so it should be a bit more than 1 hour, depending on 14500 capacity…

What are you waiting?

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ChibiM
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Hi Fran, thanks for explaining!
But when I look at your measurements, it only draws 660mA on High, so that would be at around 3 hours on a standard Eneloop!? with 90Lumen of output.. I don`t think that`s bad at all.
3×660=1980 (standard eneloops are around 2000mAh)

fran82
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I tested with a 2500mAh (2300mAh in real life) Ni Mh and I got bored………

After about 2hours and a half I stopped the test because the output was the same than when I started the test……..

And then discharged the battery with the Imax to 0,9 volt @600mA discharge rate.

It had about 400mAh of charge still available …..

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ChibiM
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So we can probably conclude that it will run for about 2.5-3 hours on a standard eneloop on High!

fran82
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yes, you will have the highest output it can deliver (90 lumen) during 2- 2,5 hours.

Also with 14500, it should have about 200 lumens (more or less) during more than 1 hour, without stressing the battery (only 660mA current draw)

Not bad.

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kreisler
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fran, with eneloops is the ra04 brighter or the e09?

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fran82
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hmmmm………….

I need to test again to compare…. but I would say (if my memory is OK) that the tank E09 is brighter

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fran82
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kreisler wrote:

fran, with eneloops is the ra04 brighter or the e09?

I have checked again with fully charged NiMh´s.

Is extremely difficult to say, the problem begins with the differences in the LED and the size of the reflector (xpg r5 VS xpe R2 and deep and wide VS shallow and not wide)

Difficult to say, but without measuring equipment the E09 is slightly brighter……

However……… this comparison……….. diferent LED´s, different reflectors………… very difficult

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kreisler
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fran82 wrote:
Difficult to say, but without measuring equipment the E09 is slightly brighter...... However......... this comparison........... diferent LED´s, different reflectors............ very difficult

Hi fran, thanks for your efforts!

My method of comparing OTF lumens is by illuminating a long room, or by doing a white wall bounce (not white ceiling bounce!).

Am glad that you like the Bronte!!

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fran82
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hmmmm…. I should do a ceiling bounce
.
However I was comparing them by just pointing them to a white wall in a long room. The conclusion I said in the above post was using that method, not the ceiling bounce………..

But, even with the ceiling bounce method… without equipment………. I think it will be difficult to say……..

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Philipp
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Thanks a lot for the review! Smile
For myself, I dont find it ugly at all! I really like the conservative design instead of all the fins and tactical features on other lights.
I only got one question left: Are you sure it has no visible PWM? I ask this because other bronte’s (like this one) seem to have it, and I feel quite sensible to PWM
Thanks in advance!

fran82
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OK. So about the desing… it is more your personal “liking”. Some people will like it, some will not.

About the PWM. I can not notice any PWM at all, even pointing it at a running fan. No matter on which mode.

Beer

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Great review, thanks!!!

Love :ghost:

Good presentation skills.Ability to work well with others
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Information update for anyone interested:

The sample I got recently from dx, shows PWM on Mid and Low Mode.
I measured it to be around 900 Hz what is rather high, some people will not notice it in usage, but sensitive people will.

fran82
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Thanks for the info!

It seems they changed the circuitry. My unit has no PWM on any mode… Can you “tell” the lumens it gives without measuring equipment, as I use to do (more or less)?

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agent80
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fran, I am buying this flashlight to use a 14500. What is the runtime I can expect on high? Can I run it continuously for atleast 45 minutes on high with a 14500? or would it get too hot and burn?

fran82
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agent80, sorry bcos I can not answer your question… why?

it seems that Bronte changed the driver board of this ra04 some time ago….

The unit I have, is one of the firsts batches, and seems to be current controlled (no pwm visible).

Now it seems that they use pwm…. so now I dont know much about the new board….

The earlier units (such as the mine) had a current draw on high mode of about 660mA (both with AA and 14500), so with a 14500 you could easily get more than 1 our rumtime on high giving more than 220 lumens…..

but, now…… with the new drivers, I dont know.

Let´s see if someone who has the newes version can answer that…

sorry, mate Silly

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agent80
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Well, I’ve been looking for a twisty that supports a 14500. Maybe you can recommend something. Needs to support memory too.

fran82
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this is a good one…. except for that I dont know nothing about the new drivers…

how much do you want to spend on it?

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agent80
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Between $30 to $40. Can’t seem to find any twisty’s that support a 14500

fran82
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have you checked if the oem nitecore ezaa is still available to purchase at intoutdoor? it is also a good one….

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agent80
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Doesn’t seem available anymore.

fran82
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ok, let´s see if I can find a good one for you….. let me check on the stores…. if I find a good one, i will tell you

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