AstroLux A01 AAA Nichia 219B Review - Winner winner, chicken dinner. An excellent, Neutral tint High CRI LED keychain light!

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maukka
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Yeah, it had nothing to do with the fan. I measured the purple one without a fan and its runtime to 10 % was ~50 minutes. Pay no attention to those earlier measurements, it was just the batteries running in Smile

EyeballFryer
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I got my A01 a couple days ago and I’ve been playing with it since. I don’t have a camera for taking beamshots, and I don’t have equipment for measuring light output, so all I can do is dump my thoughts and comparisons. (Pardon the text spacing. It was the best I could figure out.)

  • I haven’t found any official specs for the A01, but it’s supposed to be identical to the Manker E01, which claims a firefly/low/high of 0.14/7/102 lumens. My main question with the A01 was whether or not the low mode really is 7 lumens. I did an eyeball compared it to several other flashlights using similar low modes in my collection just to see. Here’s the list:
Lumens Flashlight
? AstroLux A01 Nichia 219B, 90 CRI
7 EagleTac D25A Clicky Nichia 219 D220, 92 CRI
12 Thrunite Ti3 Neutral White
16 Lumintop Tool Copper Reylight Nichia 219B, 91 CRI, 4500K
20 Olight i3S (cool white)
29 Rayus C01 Nichia 219, 83 CRI, 5000k
32 Lumintop Tool Aluminum (cool white)

For brightness testing, I aimed the flashlights at the walls and my apartment door and judged with my eyeballs. An eyeball test is somewhat difficult to judge lumens, because a flashlight with a smaller hotspot will appear brighter than a flashlight with a larger hotspot at the same lumens. For example, the EagleTac D25A appears to be slightly brighter than the A01, but the A01 has a wider hotspot, though both are rated at 7 lumens. To work around this, I used a variety of distances from 6 inches to 15 feet.

After conducting the brightness tests, I would conclude that my A01 is slightly brighter than the EagleTac D25A and slightly dimmer than the Thrunite Ti3, so maybe 9 or 10 lumens, which is pretty close to the Manker E01 specs.

  • Functionally speaking, the flashlight that closely compares to the AstroLux A01 is the Thrunite Ti3 Neutral White. Both have similar lumens spacing, and both have the mode order of Moonlight -> Low -> High -> Moonlight -> Low -> High -> Strobe.
Mode Spacing Flashlight
0.04/12/120 Thrunite Ti3 Neutral White
0.14/ 7/102 AstroLux A01 Nichia 219B, 90 CRI

Visually speaking, the A01’s moonlight does appear slightly brighter than the Ti3, the low and high modes are slightly less bright than the Ti3. These differences match the lumen claims of the Manker E01.

One difference is that the Ti3 has “short term memory”. If the light is turned off and back on between 2 and 10 seconds, the last mode is used. After 10 seconds, the light resets back to moonlight mode. The Manker E01 specs claim to have short term memory, but I didn’t see any evidence of short term memory on the AstroLux A01.

  • The strobe mode is ALWAYS the 7th mode in the mode cycle, regardless of how long you take to get there. For example: Moonlight -> Low -> High -> Moonlight -> Low -> High -> leave light on for 10 minutes -> Strobe. The Thrunite Ti3 has the same behavior, but the Olight i3S requires you to get to the 7th mode within a few seconds to activate strobe.
  • The first few times I tested the A01’s high mode, I noticed some flickering, as though the battery was somehow struggling to maintain the light on high. I later solved this problem by making sure the head was FULLY TIGHT. This eliminated the flickering and made the high mode even brighter than my initial high mode tests. I’m not sure if this problem is specific to my light or if it’s a design flaw.
  • The body has a flat top side and a flat bottom side. This makes the A01 slightly more roll resistant than the Thrunite Ti3 and Olight i3S in my tests. It’s not a roll stopper – once it starts rolling, it will roll. But it requires just a bit more force to start it rolling.
  • I can’t decide if the A01’s flat top and bottom body design is better, worse, or simply different than the Thrunite Ti3’s body, which is a round tube with crosshatch knurling.

On the one hand, the Ti3’s knurling means that my fingers can feel the friction when they’re wrapped around the body.

On the other hand, the A01’s flat sides means my fingers can get a better squeeze on the light without it rolling around. It reminds me of the flat sides of a handle on a screwdriver. Also, the flat sides curve into the head. You can see it near the battery orientation drawing. This curving gives a natural resting point for my thumb as well as my index finger wrapped around the underside. When I twist my wrist back and forth, I really feel like I’m gripping a mini screwdriver.

I suspect the flat sided design was intended to make two handed twist operation a little bit more effortless, like a screwdriver. Whether this works any better than the Ti3, I can’t tell. Right now, I’m calling the A01’s body design as something “different”.

  • I like that the instructions for how to turn the light on/off as well as the battery orientation are written on the flashlight itself. That means fewer questions from people who are not regular flashlight users.
  • How can you say no to a $10 Nichia, high CRI light? It’s currently the cheapest way to introduce someone to the awesomeness of neutral white tint and high CRI compared to the cool white of most flashlights today.
maukka
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EyeballFryer wrote:
* The first few times I tested the A01’s high mode, I noticed some flickering, as though the battery was somehow struggling to maintain the light on high. I later solved this problem by making sure the head was FULLY TIGHT. This eliminated the flickering and made the high mode even brighter than my initial high mode tests. I’m not sure if this problem is specific to my light or if it’s a design flaw.

One of my A01’s is quite finicky too. Depending on the tightness the lowest mode either flickers a bit or sometimes changes to medium when i touch the head part. The foam ring inside the head is not perfectly centered either. I have a feeling the foam will get shattered to pieces after some time.

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  Off what EyeballFryer and maukka are reporting, it seems the battery internal contacts could get improved. What we have here is a combination of both relatively high input current and low voltage, which means that just a small variation in the contacts’ resistance can exert a lot variance at the driver’s input voltage. We’re dealing with sub-Ω input impedances here and, although I’m no engineer, I’m pretty certain just a small cell rattling can have a significant impact in the feeding voltage the driver senses.

Cheers

P.S.: brad told me to @#$% somewhat less here. No worries. Smile

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zeroair
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Wrathbringer27 wrote:
I have 2 AAA lights at the moment, Eagletac D25aaa…

The UI on the d25aaa and this A01 are almost the same, too. Only difference being that the d25aaa adds a bunch of strobe variations. But this seems to have a reflector, and the d25aaa has a TIR.

Hobo
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I received mine today. The LED wasn’t centered correctly and the reflector had a burr. So I decided to do my first mod/repair/whatever. After watching mhanlen1s tutorial video I was able to reflow the LED and position it correctly.

Now I’m satisfied with this light Smile

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piasca
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Looks like a good like, its in the wish list.

mikeyx
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Hobo wrote:
I received mine today. The LED wasn’t centered correctly and the reflector had a burr. So I decided to do my first mod/repair/whatever. After watching mhanlen1s tutorial video I was able to reflow the LED and position it correctly.

Now I’m satisfied with this light Smile

Do you have a link to the mhanlen’s video ?

Thanks,
Mike

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dealgrabber2002
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Just received mine today. LED is off center. It also flickers a bit on high. I took the spring out and stretch it a bit, works fine now, no flickering.

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Received mine today from Banggood, (took only 3 weeks to arrive!) it instantly became one of my favorite new stock single-AAA EDC lights. Great tint with the 219, no PWM, excellent run times on a Alkaline or NiMH, compact, great spaced modes, OP reflector, quality and finish is top notch. Smile

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finges
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I have problem with mine. I got it today and everything works fine only problem is the first mode is flickering a little bit. On mid and high I can see no flickering only at low. It looks a little bit like a candle style led, a random kind of changes in brightness.

ImA4Wheelr
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Mine arrived today. Doesn’t work. Appears to be a weak tail spring because I can get it to work if I bypass the battery tube and push the cell down hard enough for the button top to contact the driver. Should be easy to fix. Like the looks of the light and the mode separation.

Robert Barr
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A pair of these, in black!

ReManG
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ImA4Wheelr wrote:
Mine arrived today. Doesn’t work. Appears to be a weak tail spring because I can get it to work if I bypass the battery tube and push the cell down hard enough for the button top to contact the driver. Should be easy to fix. Like the looks of the light and the mode separation.

If you take the pill out, you can shave the foam doughnut down a bit, it is pretty stiff EVA foam. I did not have any that were stronger than the spring, but I can see that may be an issue. The other thing would be if you pulled the spring out and put a small bit of foam or other squishy material under the spring to make it stronger…

Took this junky pic of the emitter on the pill (cleaned with alcohol prior to putting it back in…lol) and it is a 219B-V1….

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Andyman
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Hi, thanks for the review! Just got my (first one, few more pending in group buy) today, and I have to say I’m not impressed at all. Tint is great, of course, and most of it feels great in my hand. But the emitter is noticeably off center, there are a few tiny imperfections in the reflector, and the machining around the lanyard hole left painfully sharp edges. I could either fix or forgive those things, especially on a $9 light.
However, the twisty switch on mine is extremely finicky. It skips modes, repeats modes, jumps to strobe inconsistently, doesn’t turn on consistently with the amount of twist, and tightening it all the way reliably turns it off . Huh? I’m no stranger to small twisty lights: among others, I own an old Fenix EO1, an ITP EOS A3, I’ve EDC’d a Fenix LD15 for many years, and never had problems like these before.
I assume most of this behavior in the AO1 is due to problems with the foam donut in the head and/or the spring in the tail. The foam isn’t visibly overlapping the contact ring around the circumference of the driver, so I don’t think it’s blocking electrical contact from the body. Foam seems glued down anyway, so I’m not sure how that’d be adjustable. I know loose tail springs can cause problems, but I don’t see how it’d explain the fact that it turns off when I tighten the head all the way. Anyone else seeing similar (mis)behavior? Any suggestions? If I need to stretch the tail spring, how do I reach down the tube and grip it?
I was hoping to gift this, but don’t want to if it’s going to be this flaky.

One other interesting note – it has a noticeably warmer tint than my Nichia 219-equipped L3 L10, and it appears only a hair less bright than the L10. Not a complaint, just a point of reference in case it’s helpful.

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Re: Finnicky Switch

Andy,

Intermittent contact might be caused by anodization. Try sanding or filing the edge.
http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/887091#comment-887091

See also:
http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/887813#comment-887813

Rule 1-1 as it applies to life, take it as it comes.

ReManG
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Andyman,

That switching sounds terrible… Another member had the foam donut (reverse current protection) so stiff the light would not come on. Two ways to fix it I see are to back the pill out and shave the donut down about 1/3 to 1/2 as tall to ease contact, or pull the spring in the tail and drop in a stiff chunk of foam to beef up the spring push…

Speculation, if you tighten the head all the way, and the light goes off, the foam donut is pushing the + off the driver because it is stronger than the tailspring…

A good clean and light sanding of the head would be in order too, but off all of this is too big of a deal, just get a hold of Banggood and see if you can get them to fix or replace it.

The comparisons are cool, I do not have this other lights you do, so thanks for this comparisons…

The group buy should address the tail attachment point issues, but the included split ring works…

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Andyman
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1dash1 and ReManG, thanks for the tips!

I got a few pictures: first, the off-center emitter – worst I’ve seen.

WRT anodization at the edge, I didn’t see anything other than grease at the edge (see pic below), but I cleaned and filed it on a fine diamond file anyway (sorry, no “after” picture). After filing it looks a lot nicer, but doesn’t work any better. Ah, well, I appreciate the suggestion, and it’s a good thing to watch for in the future!

WRT the donut, I don’t have tools at work to remove the pill, but I might work on that tonight. It doesn’t really seem like a too-stiff or too-thick donut is the problem, though, since the light comes on easily, and (usually) changes modes way too easily, sometimes accidentally cycling through 2 or 3 modes with one twist. If the donut were too stiff, I can see the light not coming on at all, or only coming on with a very firm tightening. Mine still goes off with a firm tightening. That’s the only consistent thing about this light. scratch_one-s_head (<— Edit – that’s supposed to be a confused smiley, not random bold text…)

Very glad to hear the group buy ones will have an updated tail attachment point! Smile Assuming my switching issues are a rare defect, that’s my only other real gripe with the light. Sure, aluminum would be easy to sand or file, but then there’d be a bare/un-anodized spot on a brand new light. Maybe inevitable on a user light, but I prefer my anodizing to wear off gradually, as a result of pocket carry and many adventures! Hoping I just got a dud, because this should be a really nice light!

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Wow, that is off center! I did that with one I had removed the pill and I put it back in. The insulator/spacer for the LED is flat on one side, and an inverted cone on the other. The inverted cone side goes toward the reflector, it has to be flat on the MCPCB or it seems to cock over easily. I fixed I by backing it off and tapping until centered and re tightening. It took two or three attempts.

I still think the foam donut is too firm… Perhaps a few dozen squish downs with the back of a marker or something will work. The donut is just a reverse polarity protection, so it would work without it, or shaved down… Otherwise there may be something wrong with the driver…

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ImA4Wheelr
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ReManG wrote:

ImA4Wheelr wrote:
Mine arrived today. Doesn't work. Appears to be a weak tail spring because I can get it to work if I bypass the battery tube and push the cell down hard enough for the button top to contact the driver. Should be easy to fix. Like the looks of the light and the mode separation.

If you take the pill out, you can shave the foam doughnut down a bit, it is pretty stiff EVA foam. I did not have any that were stronger than the spring, but I can see that may be an issue. The other thing would be if you pulled the spring out and put a small bit of foam or other squishy material under the spring to make it stronger...

Good suggestions. I was also thinking of just pre compressing the foam a bit to break it in. I forgot to mention, I really like the tint on these lights.

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Got mine in today. No problems with mine. My first neutral tint. It’s different but not sure tint is going to be that important to me.

ReManG
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The neutral tints will grow on you…. Use it side by side with a CW tint light of about the same power… it is one more part of the addiction here…

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arow55
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ReManG wrote:
The neutral tints will grow on you…. Use it side by side with a CW tint light of about the same power… it is one more part of the addiction here…

The tint is great. I guess I was comparing it to output of other lights. The claim is 102 lumens on high. Comparing it to my other lights seems about as bright as an 70 or 80. Will have to run down a full battery and time it. If I get the runtime of a 70 that would be great. Heard neutral is less bright. Don’t know if that means the runtime of a 102 lumen and brightness of a 70?
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arow55 wrote:
Will have to run down a full battery and time it. If I get the runtime of a 70 that would be great. Heard neutral is less bright. Don’t know if that means the runtime of a 102 lumen and brightness of a 70?

High CRI LEDs are usually less efficient than low-CRI LEDs (such as standard cool white). The Nichia 219 is a high CRI LED, and also neutral white. This requires a different phosphor mix on the LED to achieve a more balanced spectrum of light, and that allows you to see colours much better.

There’s also less glare and reflection from humidity from warmer tints.

Generally, you can see better using a high CRI neutral white light, than you can with a low-CRI cool white light, at the same intensity of light. So, the lower efficiency is somewhat made up for the fact you don’t have to use it as brightly.

If you want to impress your friends, get a high-output cool-white Cree LED. If you want to see better, get a high CRI neutral white LED.

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Arow55,

The visual brightness is what you perceive, the technical brightness is the measured lumen. There are issues measuring brightness that give me a “that’s it?” feeling with the warmer tints when comparing the light to the output numbers on paper… The thing is, they may not appear as bright, but they do not have as much glare and are easier on my eyes than the CW versions, I just like the light better. My throwers are all CW, just because of the absolute amount of lumen they put out, but lights like the A01 are just nicer with a warmer/neutral tint… I had thought about swapping out an XPL V6 3D into one to just see the difference… I just don’t have one of this sitting around, and then I have to build another light for the 219B… Lol

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arow55
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
arow55 wrote:
Will have to run down a full battery and time it. If I get the runtime of a 70 that would be great. Heard neutral is less bright. Don’t know if that means the runtime of a 102 lumen and brightness of a 70?

High CRI LEDs are usually less efficient than low-CRI LEDs (such as standard cool white). The Nichia 219 is a high CRI LED, and also neutral white. This requires a different phosphor mix on the LED to achieve a more balanced spectrum of light, and that allows you to see colours much better.

There’s also less glare and reflection from humidity from warmer tints.

Generally, you can see better using a high CRI neutral white light, than you can with a low-CRI cool white light, at the same intensity of light. So, the lower efficiency is somewhat made up for the fact you don’t have to use it as brightly.

If you want to impress your friends, get a high-output cool-white Cree LED. If you want to see better, get a high CRI neutral white LED.


Well the less glare from humidity should come in real useful in the summertime here in Mississippi. Also might help with the dust as I live on a gravel road and when it’s dry the cars can stir up a lot of dust.
Andyman
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ReMan and ImA,
I finally got around to playing with this a little more. Shaved the donut (reduced thickness by about half), and while I didn’t think this was possible, it got even weirder. Now it’s a 1-mode light! Really – it doesn’t cycle through modes any more. It actually turns on a little more easily, and at least it’s consistent – the twisty does feel more “normal” and less finicky. But where did the modes go? It still turns off when I tighten the head all the way, but I have to tighten pretty hard for this to happen now – it doesn’t turn off with a normal finger-pressure tightening, only when I grip it harder and actually try.
Overall I have to say it’s improved, but I was hoping for a light with modes…
Is there someone here who represents BangGood that I can PM to hopefully get a replacement? Or would I be better off emailing their general CS contact?
Thanks!
Andy

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Is it just me, or is this just poor quality control? I know the price is great, but this seems like sloppy workmanship.
When I carry a light, I like to feel confident it will work when I need it.

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Zeet! Welcome to BLF!

People around here seem to like finicky lights. It gives them a reason to take them apart and put them back together. So much more satisfying than boring lights that just work right out of the box.

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