[Review] Niwalker Vostro BK-FA30S XHP35 HI 4x18650 thrower flashlight

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Lexel
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[Review] Niwalker Vostro BK-FA30S XHP35 HI 4x18650 thrower flashlight

The light was supplied by Niwalker, no compensation other than the light itself was received for this review

The website is still in progress so there are some errors and missing parts

The light might be also available in NW and other LEDs in the future

The light was supplied by Niwalker for a review, I am honest and will judge the light as it is with its pros and cons

Specification:

Product name: Niwalker Black Light Series Vostro BK-FA30S
Brand: Niwalker
Model: BK-FA30S
Emitter Type: XHP35 HI
Light temperature: 6500K
Light color: Cool white
Material: Aircraft grade aluminum, mil-spec hard anodized for maximum wear
Mode: L1 Moon, L2, L3, L4, L5, L6 Turbo
Lumens: 0.2, 25, 300, 900, 1500, 2200
Runtime: 25d, 30h, 8h, 3h, 110min
Battery Configurations: 4 × 18650 battery (not included)
Switch Type: 3 separate e-switches, tail switch for auxillry LEDs
Switch Location: Body side of the flashlight, tail of the light
Peak Beam Intensity: 650000cd
Impact Resistant 1.5m
Max Output: 2200 Lumens
Range: 1600meters
Lens: Toughened ultra-clear tempered glass lens with anti-reflective coating
Reflector: Unique smooth reflector design provides great throw beam distance and beam pattern
Waterproof: IPX-7 waterproof
Color: Black
Weight: 730g without battery
Size: 225mm x 100mm x x 60mm 50,5mm(length x head x body diameter x tube diameter)

The light is not overrated from my judgment, Lumens and throw correlate very well to my measurements

Features:

Highly efficient constant current design offers maximum output and runtime
Smart triple Multi-function clicky side switches.
Memory function to remember last output setting used (except hidden modes on main switch)
Advanced thermal protection circuit prevents overheating
Large cooper heat sink pad for superior thermal conductivity
LED indicator turns red(below 12V) to alert user to switch lower output mode and
recharge batteries in time
Tail red/blue LED for easy following.

User Interface

-Press hold the main switch for momentary activation (100% output). Do second -press hold within 3 seconds for 100% constant on.
-Double click the switch for instant strobe.
-Triple click the main switch for lock out.
-Press hold the main switch when light is on for changing outputs (0.2 lumen>25 lumen>300 lumen>900 lumen>1500lumen).
-Once you release the switch, the light comes on constant output with mode memory.
-When the light is on-double click to access hidden modes (SOS, beacon, warning flash).
-Press hold the switch for changing hidden modes.(light flashes to let user know you are in next mode). One click gets you back to the output you were in.
-You can save one different mode or output on each switch next to main switch. (Press hold the switch that you want to save – led indicator on main switch flashes means its saved.
-All three switches are able to operate independently when modes/outputs are saved.

My model got Red/Greem tail LEDs, I inserted my lights dimensions as on the website it’s still from its smaller brother with wrong listing.
There are some minor inconsistencies in the manual and on the lights box, for example 2 Lumens instead the 0.2lumens the light has in moon mode.

The parcel arrived after 3 working days shipping with DHL Express to Germany

.

Package and content:

The lights box came packed in a DHL Express plastic bag

The light comes in a package around the box of the light

Main light specs printed on the box

Box is sealed with plasic, so even if the whole parcel should get wet the light should stay dry

Size compared to MF02 box, the bigger light in smaller volume box

First impression of the thrower

Accessories spare o-ring, manual and heavy duty lanyard you can clip on the tail, I would have liked an option to clip the lanyard to the head

Manual

.

Photos of the light



.

Unboxing and first impressions

The battery carrier is surprisingly light compared to other lights with brass ones

The battery tube medium weight, not build like a tank, but also not fragile

Man I love the those huge square cut threads, the battery carrier fits all 18650 battery types button or flat top, protected and unprotected

The lights anodisation has no defects and a low texture
the knurling has good grip

Battery carrier is wired 4S

Tail cap

Now assembling those parts

Now I grabbed the most important part of this light

Here it is, a nice 100mm wide head

It has 3 buttons, one was not assembled right and that has damaged the switch inside it’s not as stiff as the other one, CQ will make sure this does not happen again

Tripod mount with reduction adapter, I do not like the design that needs a special tool with 3 points to unscrew it, just 2 cut outs for screwdriver would be perfect

Now inspect the reflector, is it perfect? Almost just one tiny spot has a dent

Center mass of the light is 109mm from the head, so just 4mm from the switch center towards the battery tube
I consider this a good balance for a light with such a large head

.

Comparism and teardown:

Size compared to other common 18650 lights the Niwalker is compared to my other lights by far the biggest but not the heaviest

Beam color is cold around 6500K with a Cree XHP35 LED, the beam is very focused without artifacts

Light color is CW 6500K in medium modes, on High and Turbo it gets a bit colder

The reflector looks perfect and is free of dust particles that can be seen when the light is turned off


The visible dirt is on the lens from first testing, it came in almost perfect clean condition

The lights bezel is not glued, so it is easy to get to the LED

The light has a tail cap with two holes for the lanyard

The light stands on the tail

The lens is really big and thick, and is AR coated
the coating has the typical cheap blue color than most Chinese lights have

The head has a diameter of 100mm and 89mm visible reflector
To cover the whole outer diameter you have to go almost 3 meters away

The light has to be run with 4 18650 batteries, they dont need to be high drain
The driver is 42mm in diameter with one notch it is held with a retaining washer, on top of that is a plastic ring screwed in

The light can be physical locked out by twisting the head or tail about 1 turn
The markings on the tube can be lined up with the switches

.

The Head

The big reflector with a single LED gives a lot of throw with a pretty small hotspot and some very useful corona and spill

Size compared to a 18650 tube EDC to get a feeling how big this one is

The LED is perfectly centered, the reflector has very little texture from production,
compared to the Astrolux MF02 it looks a lot smoother

The switch board has green and red status LEDs, the green is lit when the light is running it turnes red at 3V per cell to indicate low battery charge

The switch has a decent feeling but not as good as other lights, I would like more direct feeling of the press
The Waterproofing on this light looks good is has o-rings and silicone switch covers are clamped between the body parts and the retaining rings

The head has a hot symbol and warning on the bezel, but stays relative cool, never gets hot

The shelf is thick and the big copper DTP MCPCB does a good job spreading the heat
I will make photos when I switch the LED to NW

The lens is hardened AR coated glass, the coating has no defects

.

Tube and Tail

The tail cap is anodized the inner part is machined blank again to conduct the current through the tube

The light is build for protected and unprotected batteries, unprotected flat tops fit, the springs are thick and press on the batteries with a good amount of force

The battery carrier is in 4S/1P configuration and fits protected and unprotected batteries
the light uses thick springs from a non magnetic material like phosphor bronze

I do not understand why they use wrong screw head typed on flat sunk holes or do not sink 90 degree, of course it works but it’s not the way to design things

The light is waterproof, the tail cap threads are lubed, the amount is OK, both ends have an O-ring
The threads have a huge size and square cut, this is perfect

On this side the lubricant is also on the tube better if its just in the threads and on the o-ring

The tail cap is build from more parts than expected

It contains a separate board with a MCU controlling the blink LEDs on the tail, the switch is only to activate or shut down those LEDs

I would have liked here an electronic switch like in the Acebeam K60 to lock out the light and have this switch to control the light on the tail in addition to the head switches
The tail cap is waterproof with silicone covers held by retaining rings

Tail blink LED has about 3Hz

.

Driver and Battery

The driver is gold plated

The driver has a thick spring from a magnetic metal like steel covered with a contact plate

The driver is build very cheap and simple, 1 buck chip with an inductor and 3 0.24Ohm resistors in parallel

The light has visible PWM in output, falling water drops make almost a straight line, but tiny interruptions can be seen, a bigger output cap could fix this
the PWM frequency seems to be close to 50kHz, but practical this does not affect the light in a negative way at this high frequency

The light has some mass to absorb heat and the big head spreads the heat away from the LED
The surface has no fins to keep the weight low, the amount is enough to deal with the generated heat well

The mode spacing is good, the moonlight has with 0.2 Lumens a good level to read maps in the dark without damaging night vision

The side switch status LED shows the battery level, turning red when the battery voltage gets too low

The switch cover has a sort of Z-shape to collect the light from the LEDs, but I got the feeling it will rotate in assembly

There is one thing I do not like, the driver is not clamped by the retaining ring it has little play and is only pushed against the shelf by little force of the driver spring against the carrier, this can be fixed adding 3 solder blobs on the ground ring (a picture in modding section)

.

Measurements

First the most important
It has 685kcd @1m

I measured 6850lux at 10m with my cheap lux meter

The light reaches full output even with drained battery a test with 3.7V showed same brightness as with full cells brightness

Relative output:

measured between the modes
I did multiple this value with the rated 2200Lumens

Moon
0.0037% 0.09 Lumens

L1
1.01% 23,8 Lumens

M
11.62% 260 Lumens

H1
34.55% 960 Lumens

H2
79.42% 1750 Lumens

Turbo
100% 2200 Lumens

LED currents:

Moon
like 2mA, the measurement on this amount is very inaccurate

L1
about 17mA

M 206mA

H1 0.94A

H2 1.7A

Turbo 2.42A

Driver space

back inner 25mm outer 38mm and 3.2mm high, silimar but smaller compared to TN42 size

Driver cavity
14mm deep and 2.5mm thick ground ring sitting on the cavity rim

.

Modding:

I added 3 solder blobs to the drivers ground ring, as it has some play when the retaining ring is screwed down all the way

I will swap in a NW XHP35 E2-3C in this light, the bezel is not glued so it’s very easy to get to the LED

To open the switches I had to make a tool as the notches are not symmetrical

punched the tail one in wood

got 3 scres in it

Update:
I noticed today that the light sometimes flicker in Turbo after a few seconds then a few seconds later it stops again

I looked now again close on the driver and its used parts

The driver uses a pretty bad MOSFET compared to new Infineon and Vishay types
and the driver has no Output capacitor to smooth the PWM from the Buck regulator

So I did 3 improvements replacing 2 parts that could cause the flicker

- first remove the old MOSFET and solder one of the best available ones there

- second remove the Diode and put in a 10A SMD type

- third add a 4.7uF 07R capacitor parallel to the main LED

Playing more with the light I notice at some points a whining sound from the driver, I am pretty sure the unshielded inductor is causing it
So I switched out the Inductor with a 10uF shielded one
just in case I added another 4.7uF cap on the input in case the used inductor was smaller value

.

Beam shots

left 20m, 38m, 190, right 225m

Control shots

all lights always on Turbo

modded Klarus G35 XPL HI 285kcd

Astrolux MF02 modded with XHP35 E2-3C 540kcd

Niwalker BK-FA30S

.

User Interface

The light has 6 modes and UI is a bit strange I do not like how some things are done
The main switch UI seems to be copied from Olight

Main switch operation
short press turns it on with last memorized mode
double press from off goes to strobe
long press from Off gets to momentary Turbo, if clicked within 3 seconds after released it the light gets to constant turbo
unfortunately this is the only option to get to Turbo if you have not stored it to another button
and the bad thing is if you got turbo this way the next click or long click does not change modes it simply shuts the light down

long press and hold presses starts to cycle through modes release to lock mode
double click from on goes to blink modes, press and hold switches through other modes
SOS—>Beacon—>Warning flash
short press goes to last stored mode

Any mode including strobes can be stored to the 2 side buttons by a long press
I wish the aux buttons would have momentary like the main button

Also the UI listed on the website does not match with my sample, also if you do the double click too fast then the light does not recognize it, the range of timing here needs to be better. If you have not stored Turbo to a side button you have to turn the light off to get to it.

And the option to configure the side buttons to a momentary mode change then automatically turn back to last memorized mode

I have also found some inconsistencies in the UI

for example if I switch the light on with an auxiliary button then click the main switch the light turns off
while I turn the light on with main button switch to aux buttons then main switch gets me back to memorized modes

Another odd thing is this
I have a medium mode memorized for main switch
I turn on the light with Turbo on auxiliary button and turn it off with the same auxiliary or the main button,
then the light comes on in moon the next time I switch it on with main switch
after this I turn the light on with a blinky mode on the other auxiliary
now I switch it off with that button or main button
and now switching on the main switch recognizes again the stored medium mode

Next thing
I switch the light on with blink mode on aux1 or switch it on with main button then switch to aux1
then switch to turbo on the 2. aux button
if I click now the main switch I do not get the memorized light level instead I get again the blinky mode of aux1 button

If the light is switched on with momentary Turbo then hold for Turbo it is not possible to change modes with main button
instead the light shuts down whith a long press

.

Conclusion
The light is an impressive thrower, but has some minor things in the UI that can be optimized and improved.
At least the 2 auxiliary buttons compensate the UI as you can go to 2 saved modes directly by clicking those switches

Positive:

- mechanical well made
- solid but lightweight head, DTP MCPCB on thick shelf
- very well machined reflector
- 3 buttons make a good and intuitive control of this light possible and it can be customized as you wish what the 2 outer buttons have for modes
- AR coated glass lens
- good hotspot and massive throw
- even with drained batteries the light has full output
- proper LVP and low battery warnings
- low resistance copper alloy springs for carrier

Neutral:
- the UI could be better
- the tail cap has a red/green warning light for people behind you, this could be improved to have an electronic switch that also controls the light using a FET to connect and disconnect the head
- the driver has little play in the head, it makes contact by the spring force, but the retaining ring tightening all the way down would be nicer

Negative:
- UI has some bugs and my light did flicker sometimes in Turbo mode

Edited by: Lexel on 01/04/2018 - 22:18
Lexel
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reserved for updates

Center mass of the light is 109mm from the head, so just 4mm from the switch center towards the battery tube
I consider this a good balance for a light with such a large head

Relative output:

measured between the modes
I did multiple this value with the rated 2200Lumens

Moon
0.0037% 0.09 Lumens

L1
1.01% 23,8 Lumens

M
11.62% 260 Lumens

H1
34.55% 960 Lumens

H2
79.42% 1750 Lumens

Turbo
100% 2200 Lumens

The light reaches full output even with drained battery a test with 3.7V showed same brightness as with full cells brightness

.

I noticed today that the light sometimes flicker in Turbo after a few seconds then a few seconds later it stops again

I looked now again close on the driver and its used parts

The driver uses a pretty bad MOSFET compared to new Infineon and Vishay types
and the driver has no Output capacitor to smooth the PWM from the Buck regulator

So I did 3 improvements replacing 2 parts that could cause the flicker investing 2€ of parts

- first remove the old MOSFET and solder one of the best available ones there

- second remove the Diode and put in a 10A SMD type

- third add a 4.7uF 07R capacitor parallel to the main LED

I have also found some inconsistencies in the UI

for example if I switch the light on with an auxiliary button then click the main switch the light turns off
while I turn the light on with main button switch to aux buttons then main switch gets me back to memorized modes

Another odd thing is this
I have a medium mode memorized for main switch
I turn on the light with Turbo on auxiliary button and turn it off with the same auxiliary or the main button,
then the light comes on in moon the next time I switch it on with main switch
after this I turn the light on with a blinky mode on the other auxiliary
now I switch it off with that button or main button
and now switching on the main switch recognizes again the stored medium mode

Next thing
I switch the light on with blink mode on aux1 or switch it on with main button then switch to aux1
then switch to turbo on the 2. aux button
if I click now the main switch I do not get the memorized light level instead I get again the blinky mode of aux1 button

If the light is switched on with momentary Turbo then hold for Turbo it is not possible to change modes with main button
instead the light shuts down whith a long press

.

Playing more with the light I notice at some points a whining sound from the driver, I am pretty sure the unshielded inductor is causing it
So I switched out the Inductor with a 10uF shielded one
just in case I added another 4.7uF cap on the input in case the used inductor was smaller value

on to do list

- Pictures from Inside the head

- modding to NW XHP35 E2-3C

maybe a short video showing the UI

maybe add video or gif of tail cap LEDs

- destruction test with a tank Evil just kidding

DENGOH
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Thanks for the great review. It has a lot of info. Those beamshots sure show that its tint is quite cool.
I wonder what is the standby current. Do you have measurement for that?

cool i'll see you when you get there

n1e103
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At 225m the BK-FA0S hotspot it not as tight as modded MF02 given its larger reflector, what gives?

The battery tube threads for the head and tail cap is only* 2-3* turns and it is not anodized (cannot lockout)? Is it adequate?

Box
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Thanks for the review and tear down Lexel!
At first I thought I wouldn’t like all the extra buttons but now I agree with you they are a nice feature.

Niwalker didn’t make the S42 did they?
Maybe you were talking about the MF02 there?

Genius of you to bash the tail cap onto a piece of wood.

tatasal
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@ Lexel: can you please check if its battery-carrier is different from this? :

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/52099

sparkyDK
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Please update when prize is confirmed.

My flashlight needs are fulfilled now, but after other investments in 2018 i might need a better thrower in 2019, then again there will probably be more alternatives by then Cool

Lexel
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One think people in German forum surprised the light is 70g lighter that the Astrolux MF02,
so carrying it is easier

the main difference makes the battery carrier which is about 75g heavier on the MF01 so both lights are almost balanced at the same point

Lexel
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I noticed today that the light sometimes flicker in Turbo after a few seconds then a few seconds later it stops again

I looked now again close on the driver and its used parts

The driver uses a pretty bad MOSFET compared to new Infineon and Vishay types
and the driver has no Output capacitor to smooth the PWM from the Buck regulator

So I did 3 improvements replacing 2 parts that could cause the flicker investing 2€ of parts

- first remove the old MOSFET and solder one of the best available ones there

- second remove the Diode and put in a 10A SMD type

- third add a 4.7uF 07R capacitor parallel to the main LED

I have also found some inconsistencies in the UI

for example if I switch the light on with an auxiliary button then click the main switch the light turns off
while I turn the light on with main button switch to aux buttons then main switch gets me back to memorized modes

Another odd thing is this
I have a medium mode memorized for main switch
I turn on the light with Turbo on auxiliary button and turn it off with the same auxiliary or the main button,
then the light comes on in moon the next time I switch it on with main switch
after this I turn the light on with a blinky mode on the other auxiliary
now I switch it off with that button or main button
and now switching on the main switch recognizes again the stored medium mode

Next thing
I switch the light on with blink mode on aux1 or switch it on with main button then switch to aux1
then switch to turbo on the 2. aux button
if I click now the main switch I do not get the memorized light level instead I get again the blinky mode of aux1 button

ChibiM
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You`re brave!

MRsDNF
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Nice review Lexel. Are you updating with one of your own drivers?

My current and or voltage measurements are only relevent to anything that I measure.

Budget light hobby proudly sponsored by my Mastercard and unknowingly paid for by a hard working wife. 

djozz said "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Lexel
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n1e103 wrote:
At 225m the BK-FA0S hotspot it not as tight as modded MF02 given its larger reflector, what gives?

The battery tube threads for the head and tail cap is only 3-5 turns and it is not anodized (cannot lockout)? Is it adequate?

The modded MF02 does roughly 15-20% more Lumens and is driven a bit harder, so the hotspot is overall bigger with more light in it,
but still the Niwalker has a higher peak intensity in the smaller hotspot
The light can be locked out by a full turn, then the carrier does not touch the tail boards ground ring

tatasal wrote:
@ Lexel: can you please check if its battery-carrier is different from this? :

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/52099

there are no solder bridges or stuff on the boards of the carrier, the traces are fully covered with solder mask
no risk of a short here
also the Carrier is wired 4S, so reversing a battery wont do a short

Playing more with the light I notice at some points a whining sound from the driver, I am pretty sure the unshielded inductor is causing it
So I switched out the Inductor with a 10uF shielded one
just in case I added another 4.7uF cap on the input in case the used inductor was smaller value

Sirius9
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Awesome review Cool

 

Agro
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Lexel wrote:
- destruction test with a tank Evil just kidding

So we’ll have to put up with yet another boring destruction with a hammer? Come on Lexel, don’t disappoint us like that….
sparkyDK
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Make a sabot and launch it from a Leopard 2 tank, that should ensure high speed impact testing, and spectacular slow motion footage, cuz i want to see the sabot peel away to reveal the flashlight Big Smile

And i am sure the bundeswehr would be helpful

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wonderful

☆☆☆ Go more healthily and see further outdoors with Odepro ☆☆☆

 

Narmattaru
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viele danke

comparing with TN42 and MK35 would be interesting )

good news, everyone!

Lexel
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Narmattaru wrote:
viele danke

comparing with TN42 and MK35 would be interesting )

Mauuka has one review light as well and he also owns a TN42, so he can compare

ryansoh3
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Great review!

Disappointed in the driver quality. Sad

BLF ≠ B-grade Flashlight Forum

 

Lexel
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Yeah the Astrolux MF02 driver is more sophisticated with better parts

I hope they change driver for production run

The last light I had with flickering output was a Klarus XT11GT which died after a few weeks with electronic crisp smell

Lexel
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made a NarsilM design for it

Niwalker BK-FA30S

added 3 pads for the auxillary switches,
one providing 5V for the Turbo switch
one sets multiples the current by 10 or goes to Turbo
the other divides the current by 10

GozonM
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Nice driver! Will you make it? I would like one! Smile

Lexel
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I have ordered 3 prototype boards from Oshpark

I got yesterday the MF02 ones that have a little design error but nothing dramatically, same on the Niwalker Prototype

I got here the TN42 driver that fits the Niwalker light, but they do not support the auxillary switches

I need to test them but I am pretty sure they will work, so I got 2 boards left

GozonM
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Big Smile One of the two to me. PM sent…
Lexel
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I changed the LED to one of my XHP35-E2-3C

the throw did almost not increase so I assume they use a CW E2 or very good D4 flux bin

the bezel is not glued, not sure if this will be on production lights as well, as they wrote on my suggestion to thermal epoxy the head and middle piece together that in Production it will be glued on that spot

The reflector is deep

nice square cur threads on bezel

Thermal paste is an uniform thin layer with little air pockets, that pattern comes from removing the board and prooves thats a thin layer

Back of the MCPCB is perfectly flat

Also the heads shelf is pretty flat with a good surface finish looks roughter than it is

reflowing NW LED


using thermal epoxy to bond head and middle for better heat transfer

Agro
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What epoxy improves your thermal transfer over that of a good paste?

Lexel
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I see light on the end of the tunnel, of course not so good that actual BL frmwares are single switch, but I can use em to momentary stup up or step down current manipulating the MCU output channels

GozonM
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Location: Hungary, Budapest

The my Niwalker is on the way… I hope this will be perfect with the your driver! Big Smile

Lexel
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I had today the opportunity to compare the NW GT driver modded Niwalker with a CW GT driver modded Thrunite TN42

all pictures 50m from target

a bit overexposed on the first shot

reduced ISO on camera for control shot

zoomed iout both lights

TN42 CW

GozonM
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Location: Hungary, Budapest

I’ve received the this flashlight today. Big Smile
I like the handling of 3 programmable buttons and the lamp brightness!
I compared this with the TN42.
My lux meter is not accurate, but it’s good for comparison.
I measured lux from 9.2 meters:
Not moded TN42: 612100cd
Not moded BK-FA30S: 559150cd
I can’t see this difference with my eye, and the usability with 3 buttons is very good!

ARsee
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Quote:
Features:
Tail red/blue LED for easy following.

UI
My model got Red/Greem tail LEDs, I inserted my lights dimensions as on the website it’s still from its smaller brother with wrong listing.

What are the annoying red/green LEDs on the battery tube for?
Not necessarily a question!!

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