Sofirn SF14 should come with a warning

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hatman
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Sofirn SF14 should come with a warning

The Sofirn SF14 should come with a warning — do NOT use with Eneloop AAs.

It flickers madly and will drive you crazy until you turn it off.
It does this with all of my Eneloops on high.

It seems to work fine on low and medium with Eneloops. And also works fine with 14500s.
But it does not like Eneloops on high.

I have never seen a light that uses AAs and 14500s that won’t tolerate Eneloops.

The Sofirn SF14 is new out of the box and purchased from Sofirn on Amazon.
The Eneloops are full charged and in good condition.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Assuming you’re not talking about PWM, then it sounds like your light has a bad driver. Return it or exchange it, if possible. Or make sure everything in it is tightened well.

sesgum
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
Assuming you’re not talking about PWM, then it sounds like your light has a bad driver. Return it or exchange it, if possible. Or make sure everything in it is tightened well.

That is not normal. Try to have it replaced. Mine works perfectly with eneloops.

klrman
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I have a 21 LED UV light that works fine with Alkalines but flckers like crazy with fully charged Eneloops.  I have several electronic items that won't tolerate the lower voltage of Eneloops unfortunately.  Eneloops are great from many things but really bad for others.

DavidEF
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klrman wrote:

I have a 21 LED UV light that works fine with Alkalines but flckers like crazy with fully charged Eneloops.  I have several electronic items that won’t tolerate the lower voltage of Eneloops unfortunately.  Eneloops are great from many things but really bad for others.


Yeah, it’s probably the lower voltage. Unfortunately, even though NiMH has been around for decades now, we still have to deal with products that are Alkaline-only and can’t handle a slightly lower voltage. Facepalm

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
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DavidEF
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I just looked at a few of the reviews on Amazon. One of them said it flickers for about 10 seconds on high when using NiMH then it stops. How long did you leave yours on (flickering) before turning it off? I’m wondering if yours is the same as that reviewer or worse.

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
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ActiveAl
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sesgum wrote:
Mine works perfectly with eneloops.

+1

According to this thread, Sofirn is rolling out a new version of the SF14 "with DTP MCPCB board, better anodized shell, and more reasonable construction and more stable performance." It is available for purchase on Amazon right now. Maybe this update addresses the anomaly. 

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Nooner
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I just received a SF14 this week from Sofirn’s official store on aliexpress.

Mine also has the flickering on ‘high’ while using a NIMH. In my case the cells are Ikea LADDA 2450. I don’t think my flickering is as bad as what the OP described. Sometimes it is brief and then stabilizes again.

I’ve haven’t had issues using alkaline AAs. I even put an old alkaline that showed 1.25v on my DMM. No flickering. I thought that was strange considering my NIMHs had higher voltage than that.

14500s are fine.

I really like the light. Even with the NIMH problem. It might just be my new EDC (with 14500)

WalkIntoTheLight
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Nooner wrote:
I just received a SF14 this week from Sofirn’s official store on aliexpress.

Mine also has the flickering on ‘high’ while using a NIMH. In my case the cells are Ikea LADDA 2450. I don’t think my flickering is as bad as what the OP described. Sometimes it is brief and then stabilizes again.

Okay, it’s starting to sound like a design problem.

Quote:
I’ve haven’t had issues using alkaline AAs. I even put an old alkaline that showed 1.25v on my DMM. No flickering. I thought that was strange considering my NIMHs had higher voltage than that.

Perhaps it isn’t as bright on alkalines (due to huge voltage sag), and so it won’t flicker. Flicker might just be a problem when it’s trying to maintain max output (which it should be able to on NiMH, due to lower voltage sag). In any case, this sounds like a problem with the driver they chose to use in the light. Poor tolerances? Poor QC?

Nooner
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You are correct. I did perceive it to be dimmer while using The AA alkalines.

Nooner
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Also.

I’ve been in correspondence with Sofirn through their Aliexpress store. They have been helpful in discussing a way to remedy the issue.

They have also added a listing specifically for the SF14V2 (mine is the V1 apparently). Physically it looks the same. The differences that I can spot are that V2 is printed next to the logo and the anodization seems to have a glossier sheen.

hatman
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Mine arrived just Wednesday…. the flickering doesn’t stop — it is not usable on high.

I do NOT see a V2 anywhere….. disappointing that Sofirn would send out an older version AFTER they have produced a new one to deal with this serious defect.

WalkIntoTheLight
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hatman wrote:
Mine arrived just Wednesday…. the flickering doesn’t stop — it is not usable on high.

I do NOT see a V2 anywhere….. disappointing that Sofirn would send out an older version AFTER they have produced a new one to deal with this serious defect.

Yeah, they should list the old version as supporting 14500 only, or stop selling it altogether.

Anthon
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I had the same issue, received a replacement light but it does the same

turbo flickers a lot at start, however, it only happens when the cell is fully charged, and if you wait 10 seconds it stops doint it

hatman
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Anthon, any idea which version your replacement was?

KeepingItLight
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I wonder whether using an Eneloop Pro would help. I think the Pros can source more current than regular Eneloops.

maba
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In two SF14 I had the same problem, it’s funny..

Anthon
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KeepingItLight wrote:

I wonder whether using an Eneloop Pro would help. I think the Pros can source more current than regular Eneloops.

Eneloop pro doesn’t solve the problem

Anthon
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hatman wrote:
Anthon, any idea which version your replacement was?

First version, it was many moths ago
DavidEF
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Anthon wrote:
hatman wrote:
Anthon, any idea which version your replacement was?

First version, it was many moths ago

A moth in front of your light could certainly cause some flicker. Crazy

Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.
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vt2nv
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Yep. Maybe it thinks there is an alkaline in there. LOBAT trip at 1.2V would be appropriate for an alkaline cell. I have this light and I have also tried it with an eneloop, and the same thing happened with me. I refuse to use an alkaline battery again. Alkaline cells are the most expensive way to have portable power. I stuck an 14500 in it, and it works just fine.

You can’t really blame the manufacturer. The light works well with a duracell AA, which is that battery that they intend to be used. Not everyone will put an eneloop in there. Even fewer people would put a 14500 Li-ion in it.

Cheers

hatman
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vt2nv wrote:

You can’t really blame the manufacturer. The light works well with a duracell AA, which is that battery that they intend to be used. Not everyone will put an eneloop in there. Even fewer people would put a 14500 Li-ion in it.

Cheers

Sorry, that’s just wrong.

WalkIntoTheLight
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hatman wrote:
vt2nv wrote:

You can’t really blame the manufacturer. The light works well with a duracell AA, which is that battery that they intend to be used. Not everyone will put an eneloop in there. Even fewer people would put a 14500 Li-ion in it.

Cheers

Sorry, that’s just wrong.

Unfortunately, it’s probably correct. The vast majority of people have never used rechargeable batteries of any kind in their flashlights.

I’m not sure what the demographics of Sofirn buyers are, but they’re probably not all flashaholics.

That said, there’s no excuse for not designing devices to accept NiMH batteries. For at least half the capacity, a NiMH cell will be running with a voltage higher than an alkaline. If a device won’t work with NiMH, then it will be giving up half the capacity of an alkaline too. Running your devices only with full alkalines is even more expensive.

eas
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KeepingItLight wrote:

I wonder whether using an Eneloop Pro would help. I think the Pros can source more current than regular Eneloops.

Nope, not really, though they can source it for longer:

I just checked my SF14, purchased a few months back. Before I put in a battery, I checked the retaining ring for the switch PCB to see if it was loose and needed to tighten it to be sure of good contact. Then I put in a (not recently) charged 2400mAh Amazon Basics LSD NiMh and switched it on. No problems. Nice steady output.

I left it running, pointed up on my desk. After ~5 minutes, I noticed it was flickering sporadically. Switched off and on again, more sporadic flickering.

Now I’ve gone and tightened the driver retaining ring too. After a a minute, a bout of flickering.

I have a few ideas. I have a Utorch UT01 that I power with the same type of cell. From specs and observations, they both seem to have similar levels of output. I’ve noticed that the UT01 won’t reach its highest mode and/or will flicker sometimes. Tightening the tailcap solves the problem. So, one thought is that part of the problem is resistance and resulting voltage drop at relatively high currents. I note that the UT01 has double tailsprings springs, while the SF14 only has a single tailspring.

This doesn’t necessarily explain why the flickering seems to come and go though, unless the v1 lights also have active thermal regulation, beyond just stepping down on a timer, and end up reducing their current draw to manage temperature.

Too many streetlights, not enough flashlights.

eas
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Some added evidence that supports the hypothesis that thermal throttling may be responsible for the flickering ending once it starts.

Shortly after switching on and going up to turbo/high, my IR thermometer reads a temp of ~70°c from the emitter. The temp drops somewhat once the flickering starts, which isn’t surprising. However, when the flickering abates a minute or so later, the emitter temp stablizes at ~65°c. This is not a result of the driver dropping down a full level, it’s still in turbo/high. If I do a quick press, the light wraps around to low mode.

I may try doubling up the tail spring later tonight.

Too many streetlights, not enough flashlights.

MascaratumB
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This kind of issue with eneloops has been reported some months ago. Ex: http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1211359#comment-1211359

Also, and this is a mere indication, the user manual (at least the one I have) comes with indications for 14500 batteries and AA alkalines (sometimes it is mentioned “AA battery – 1.2V or 1.5V (nominal voltage)” ). Ni-MH are not explicitly mentioned in the user manual specs.

This is what it is and doesn’t necessarily interfere with the discussion above!

REVIEWS : Amutorch S3 /  AM S3 vs Neal 219c  /  Amutorch AM30 / Nitefox UT20 / Sofirn SF14 & SP10A / Sofirn SP32A / Sofirn SP10B / Odepro KL52 / Acebeam H20 / SS AAA / Wuben TO10R / BlitzWolf BW-ET1 / Odepro B018 / DQG Slim Ti / XTAR PB2 Charger / Nitefox ES10K / Nitefox K3 / Amutorch AX1 / Amutorch VG10 / Olight M2R Warrior   

Mods and tricks: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7     Convoy S2+ TIR Lenses: XML2 / XPL-HI     Others: Convoy S2+ Mini (Biscotti 3 & 1*7135)     Sofirn K6 Discussion: 1 / 2 / 3    Triple TIR & XP-G2                   MY GIVEAWAY (FW3A) = ACTIVE

DB Custom said: "Hide your billfold, cut up your credit cards... you're a perfect candidate for full blown flashaholism and will soon need dedicated flashlight cabinets. [...] Have fun! Modding is next... :P" 

 

hatman
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Exactly — the maker/seller specifically mentions 14500s.
No indication that Eneloops should not be used.

RobertB
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eas wrote:
Some added evidence that supports the hypothesis that thermal throttling may be responsible for the flickering ending once it starts.

Shortly after switching on and going up to turbo/high, my IR thermometer reads a temp of ~70°c from the emitter. The temp drops somewhat once the flickering starts, which isn’t surprising. However, when the flickering abates a minute or so later, the emitter temp stablizes at ~65°c. This is not a result of the driver dropping down a full level, it’s still in turbo/high. If I do a quick press, the light wraps around to low mode.

I may try doubling up the tail spring later tonight.

Maybe lack of thermal paste?

MascaratumB
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hatman wrote:
Exactly — the maker/seller specifically mentions 14500s. No indication that Eneloops should not be used.

Well, the same goes for they don’t indicate that the use of Ni-MH cells is “recommended” or considered Wink

An example: Lumintop Tool AA explicitly mentions the use of 14500 Li-Ion, AA Alkalines and Ni-MH cells. Nitefox ES10K (AA) mentions AA Alkaline or Ni-MH cells. Manker E11 mentions 5 different types of batteries that can be used.

The Sofirn SF14 and SP10A/B only mention 14500 batteries and AA alkalines!!

EDIT: As I mentioned above, the only reference that may lead to an inference about the Ni-MH cells is the “nominal voltage” of 1.2V!

REVIEWS : Amutorch S3 /  AM S3 vs Neal 219c  /  Amutorch AM30 / Nitefox UT20 / Sofirn SF14 & SP10A / Sofirn SP32A / Sofirn SP10B / Odepro KL52 / Acebeam H20 / SS AAA / Wuben TO10R / BlitzWolf BW-ET1 / Odepro B018 / DQG Slim Ti / XTAR PB2 Charger / Nitefox ES10K / Nitefox K3 / Amutorch AX1 / Amutorch VG10 / Olight M2R Warrior   

Mods and tricks: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7     Convoy S2+ TIR Lenses: XML2 / XPL-HI     Others: Convoy S2+ Mini (Biscotti 3 & 1*7135)     Sofirn K6 Discussion: 1 / 2 / 3    Triple TIR & XP-G2                   MY GIVEAWAY (FW3A) = ACTIVE

DB Custom said: "Hide your billfold, cut up your credit cards... you're a perfect candidate for full blown flashaholism and will soon need dedicated flashlight cabinets. [...] Have fun! Modding is next... :P" 

 

g_damian
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Here is a video with mentioned issue with current measurement:

hatman
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If someone makes a light and recommends AAs and 14500s and fails to say — but don’t use Eneloops because the light will malfunction and who knows what will happen — then that is a problem.

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