Mini review: Archon v10s diving light

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Iker
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Mini review: Archon v10s diving light

A few days have passed since I received this light and I am posting some pictures and details about it. Not an in-depth technical review, I am not an advanced light guru, but just my personal impressions on the light for my intended use. This is my first “proper” review and I apologize for possible improper English use (not my native language)

Archon is a well-known manufacturer of underwater lights. Personally I didn’t have 1st-hand experience with their products but my impression is that many of their flashlights and video lights are widely recognized as robust and well-designed. I was looking for a pocket backup light for scuba diving, which could also be used for snorkeling or as a main torch when traveling light for recreational dives.

I received this light from Banggood in an envelope containing a nice but simple carboard box

The box contains the lamp in a plastic sleeve, a thick diving wrist lanyard, 2 replacement o-rings and a leaflet with the instructions/technical info in Chinese.

The light was in perfect condition and the finish is quite good. I ordered the red version (actually a burgundy color) but the same model is available on blue and black as well. The technical description from the manufacturer is:

Emitter Brand CREE
Emitter Type: XM-L U2
Color BIN: 6500K
Material: Durable Aircraft-grade Aluminum
Mode: High(100%)>Low(30%)>SOS>Off
Battery Configurations: 1 × 18650 battery(not included)
Working Voltage: 2.8v-4.2v
Switch Type: clicky
Switch Location: body side of the flashlight
Brightness: 860lumens(max)
Impact Resistant 1.5 M
Treatment: Premium Hard-anodizing
Runtime: High: 2.5 hrs Low: 4.0 hrs, SOS: 3.0hrs
Carrying Strap: yes
Waterproof: Waterproof diving 60meters
Color: red,blue and black
Weight: 116.4g
Size: 137.7 × 29mm (length x diamter)

DESIGN

The light looks like a simple 1× 18650 tube light with side switch, although a little longer than normal models. Below, from left to right a 18650 battery, Convoy s2+, Archon v10s, Convoy M2 and Magicshine MJ-876 diving light:

In more detailed compared with similar-sized convoys:


Instead of a tailcap it has a robust fitting for the lanyard at the tail, which seems to be molded in or soldered to the tube metal. That is a primary necessity for a diving light and I like the design. Of course don’t look for tail-standing in this one.

The tube opens with a screw thread at approximately halfway the length of the tube, which separates the light in two pieces. The head is a nice smooth surface whereas the bottom half has a textured finish. This provides the flashlight an excellent grip for a metal tube of such small size (obviously rubber would be better). The colored anodization of this half may not look as nice when dirty.

The head contains a small plate recessed slightly (2-3mm) from the tube surface. In the plate there is a switch and a LED indicator of battery status (more on this later). This is a reasonable design to avoid the switch being activated accidentally by pressure against other objects (e.g., while in a gear bag pocket). This won’t prevent accidental activation by pressure from small items and points/edges, so it is probably not wise to drop the flashlight with a battery in a stuffed toolbox (this could result in accidental switching and running out of juice, but scratches to the anodized body and glass would be certain).


The middle screw is protected by two generous and well-placed O-rings. The threads are nice and square, and longer than a regular cap. The impression is that if the rings and thread are well-maintained with vaseline or silicone, water should not enter through here.


The bezel side is plain, not much protection for the glass (recessed just a few mm) is provided. Some people like to smash sea urchins with their lights and use them as a tool for assorted tasks underwater, this is obviously not the type of light for that. The bezel presses the glass and an o-ring can be observed between them. The bezel has 4 molded indents which, most likely, can be used to open it using a 4 tip spanner wrench. Without tools, this side cannot be unscrewed to access the reflector, which is a wise design in a diving light to avoid flooding of the torch through this joint. I have not tried to open it and I won’t for now, I would be worried about damaging the O-ring and ensuring a right repositioning afterwards.

There is not much to comment about the inside. At the tail half, there is a sticker showing the right orientation for the battery and a spring -negative contact. At the head, the bottom part of an unknown (to me) driver can be seen, showing only the external contact ring, a spring (positive) and an screw head (Hex):

Probably the diver and plate could be removed but this doesn’t seem to be a trivial task. Both protected and unprotected 18650 cells fit all right, however the longest (3.400 protected panasonic) were a tight fit and could cause deformation of the springs on the long term if left inside.

USER INTERFACE

The light has 3 modes accessed through successive clicks of the switch: High > low (30% output) > signal > off. To switch off from any mode, a longer press (about 2 seconds) is required. There is no memory and the light will always start on high. The feel of the button in the surface is all right, not too hard (this was a common complaint in the previous version, model v10) and not too soft (at least at the surface). I cannot dissect the light to see the mechanism but it is probably magnetic or piezo. I would have preferred a single mode (high + signal) but it is simple enough and I like it. The signal mode is not a crazy strobe flashing but a rather usable blinking (about 1s cadence).

Beside the switch there is a LED which changes color according to the battery status: Above 70% Blue; 70%-40% Green; 40%-10% Red; 10%-5% Blinking red; Below 5% the flashlight turns OFF.



According to the manufacturer, the light has an operating range from 4.2 to 2.8V. I run some tests to check the accuracy and consistency of the indicator on the critical steps: the blinking red and the killing of the light. According to my simple measurements, the blinking red starts at 3.2V and the driver cuts the power off at 2.9V. These measurements were taken with a simple voltmeter and without load on the battery: just removing the bat and checking. When a discharged bat is reinserted, the red blinking/cutting off is almost immediate. Note: 4.35V batts work OK despite the 4.2V limit stated.

With these tests in mind, it seems pretty safe to use unprotected batteries and maximum autonomy will be obtained with 3.400 mAh batteries which can be drained to 2.8V without stress. Also, it seems safe to carry the light with the battery inserted and ready to dive, since worst case scenario of an accidental switching on will be a drained battery and not an over-discharged ticking bomb. This notwithstanding, the recessed position of the switch allows to protect it very easily with any kind of shell, or even with a piece of plastic/cardboard held by an elastic band over the head/switch plate. However, as always, the flashlight will be better empty for storage and traveling (particularly if left on a car/boat under strong sun for extended periods)

LIGHT PERFORMANCE

The flashlight has an XM-L-U2 at 6,500 K, which should be OK for diving since warm tints are of no much benefit underwater. An XM-L2 emitter would be more adequate and should be included in future revisions updates of the torch. This notwithstanding, high mode gives 860 Lumens (manufacture-rated) and my guess is that it is reasonably close to that. Below, beam compared to a convoy s2+ with XM-L2-T6 4C @ 2.8A

Still have to study the beam outdoors and underwater. On the close range, it seems rather floody as expected in a tube light with such a narrow head. Not as much as the convoy s2+ though. Should be good for lighting caves and holes particularly in clear water.

The flashlight head gets warm to the hand pretty fast on high, but not uncomfortable to hold for 10-15 mins, in part because the temperature does not rise as much at the tail griping part. It should not have thermal issues underwater and it could be driven harder without doubt. The manufacturers probably have considered an extended autonomy and regular use out of the water as important factors on the design of the flashlight and its driver current. They describe it as having 2.5h of autonomy on high. If that were right a 1.6-1.8 A current on high could be guesstimated.

UNDERWATER TESTS

I will add some info when I have the chance to run diving tests. So far, I have just run a small waterproofness test in a 500L seawater tank (about 60 cm depth). After staying there overnight, there was no any sign of moisture inside.

OPINION

Underwater performance tests pending, this flashlight seems a very good option as a backup light for nocturnal dives, and as a single light for recreational scuba diving (photo focusing, exploring caves and holes, identifying fauna). The fact that it can be operated with a single hand also makes it usable for underwater hunters looking for a very compact light, although in this case if might lack throw and power for exploring caves from afar, if compared to beefier and more expensive torches.

Pros:

- Nice robust design on the body, good manufacture, a single central thread to worry about and maintain to avoid flooding
- Good UI for the intended use (would be better single mode)
- Accurate indicator of battery status through colored LEDs
- Safe cutoff preventing over-discharge of battery with previous red blinking warnings.
- Can be used out of the water not getting too hot

Cons:

- XM-L2 LED would be better
- Could be driven harder for maximum intensity
- Modding possibilities seem limited
- May be too floody/ lack throw on muddy waters (but this should be used only as backup under these conditions)

Overall, at a little over 30 $, currently this is probably one of the the best deals on a compact 1-LED, 1×-18650 underwater light.

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:34
ChibiM
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Thanks for the review.

How many diving lights do you own? or have you used?

I think its fun to have at least 1 "real" dive light, for playing under water..
(im not a diver)

Iker
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ChibiM wrote:

How many diving lights do you own? or have you used?

I think its fun to have at least 1 “real” dive light, for playing under water..
(im not a diver)

Hi, currently I only own a Magicshine MJ-876 which is my primary and an old scubapro 8xAA with halogen bulb. I bought this to substitute the scubapro, pretty much as an EDC (every dive carry) light. I only use the magicshine in nocturnal dives or caves.

I am a marine biologist and over the years I have used several loaned lights of different kinds, but owned just a few.

Iker
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A little update: I have found that the flashlight body (the V10, older model) has been sold for some time under the brand “Mako spearguns”, but listed as a a 2x CR123 primaries model with 680 Lumens (probably a different emitter). A speargun mounting bracket and a wrist holder can be found as accessories

I found a video on youtube testing this light mounted on a spear gun. The video is with the “Mako” old model, Archon V10s should be more powerful. It can give some idea on the usability of the light underwater though.

blueb8llz
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Thanks for this review. An good job being your first one at that also.
And that video helped with some confidence that it can go 50ft.
My intended depth

Emma
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that light is similar to my div12,I like the color!fantastic,and I also like mydiv12.

Running like a man!