Review: Lumintop/TLF/BLF FW3A

14 posts / 0 new
Last post
Narmattaru
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: 12/19/2016 - 13:47
Posts: 353
Location: Russia
Review: Lumintop/TLF/BLF FW3A

I think that many BLF members are aware of the release of this little forum product. and list on “i`m gonna buy it” is really long.

Neal from Nealgadget offered it to me for review. You can buy FW3A from him, there is a 20% discount code NDFW3A

and you also can add some luxury to this flashlight with glowing gasket, check it here

2019_06_upd
Neal added SST20 4000K 90CRI and FW3C copper body to store as options
the same code RUFW3A

What is FW3A? For those who still do not know – this is an extremely compact 1×18650 flashlight. F is of “Fritz15”, a guy from TLF, who stands beside this flashlight.

specs
Emitter: Three LEDs on a copper DTP MCPCB e.g.
Cree XP-L HI 3D(NW 5000K) and Cree XP-L HI 7A(WW 3300K) LED
Cree XP-L HI 1A(CW 6500K)
Optic: Standard TIR Carclo 10511 (matte)
Lens: Glass with anti-reflective coating
Flux: ~2800 lm (XP-L Hi)
Intensity: ~12 500 cd ANSI throw ~223 m (XP-L Hi)
Firmware: The FW3A uses free software called Anduril,
distributed under the terms of the GPL v3. Code is available from
http://tiny.cc/TKAnduril
User interfaces: [1] By default the FW3A is set to use SMOOTH RAMPING.
Instant access to TURBO mode is also provided.
[2] A more conventional STEPPED RAMPING UI is available if you
like discrete modes level. You can choose how many steps you want.
[3] MOMENTARY mode is useful for signaling purposes or rapidly/briefly
lighting up targets. To exit this mode, physically disconnect power
[4] MUGGLE mode uses a reduced output.
[5] It has an electronic LOCKOUT for safety, but acts also as momentary
low light.Other functions: Battery check, sunset, beacon,
tactical strobe, party strobe, bike flasher, candlelight, lightning storm
Battery: One flat-top or button-top 18650 cell. An unprotected cell is recommended.
Max. length 66 mm. Cell is not included.
Driver: FET+7+1 driver. Low parasitic drain while OFF
Body: Aluminum with hard-coat anodizing
Switch: Electronic tail switch
Ingress rating: Equivalent to IPX7
Weight: Approximately 53 g without cells
Size: 25.5 mm O head x 92.5 mm length._

I borrowed that data below from this nice (as usuallu) review of the Maukka. The review is extremely detailed, but I still tried to highlight something of the overlooked, in particular, some runtime charts and give idea of performance by offering you lots of photos in lots of modes.

PACKAGE AND APPEARANCE

Lumintop again, as for some other BLF flashlights, produced this one. So package is kept in Lumintop modest style. Nevertheless, package is accurate and doesnt leave impression of something cheap, no feeling of noname basement factory product.

So, the flashlight is packed in a beige cardboard box, which is still wearing a “cover”.

Inside there is a complete set in white foam rubber: the flashlight itself, large sheet of manual, o-rings. Optionally, you can order another 30Q battery.


The appearance of a flashlight matches the package. It is quite modest, I would say austere. But at the same time, looking at the flashlight, you immediately understand that this is not some kind of noname odd thing. For me, this appearance leaves a clear feeling of limited forum release. So , i believe that process of design was guided mainly by the functionality, and the appearance does not play such an important role.

But, of course, the FW3A cannot be called an ugly flashlight. It is not beautiful, but not ugly. I think you understand the difference.


Here it is, from all sides.

 
Perhaps the most important characteristic of the exterior of a flashlight is its size. It would be very appropriate to compare it with DQG 18650 tiny, but alas … Anyway, the flashlight is extremely compact. For almost 5 years, to this point, my pocket flashlight has been XTAR WK 31, 14500 powered – really not impressive by modern standards of brightness. So, the FW3A, being a 18650 flashlight, is entirely comparable in size with it! For complete clarity, here’s a comparison with well-known all standards.

I think that if someone did not think about it before, now he will understand what this means, in the matter of the stated brightness. I mean what this ration brightness\size leads to…

Well, now more detailed.

The flashlight is controlled by the tail button, of course not the usual simple one, like in Convoy. The round mid sized metal button lies in a small recess, it does not bulge out. It is quite convenient, with a perceptible click.


It is really easy to disassemble it.




Technically, you can also remove the clip. But! Here is an important point. It is recommended (there is even a special paper with a reminder) not to twist the tailcap, but to unscrew the head. All for maximum contact. Although, it is possible to twist the taicap relatively easily, due to tenacious knurling

Thought the body itself is smooth, but for it`s clip and small dimensions the grip is quite reliable.


The spring in the tail is thick enough. It is bordered with a slip ring for an additional sleeve (the fact of the presence of which surprised me here, I am used to seeing such in tactical flashlights)

The threads on the tail are small, excellent lubricated. Machinizing, although is not a masterpiece of complexity, but is neat.

And, mentioned above, this inner sleeve to pass signal from button.

In general, the whole flashlight is divided into three parts.

Like tailcap, the head can be twisted easily enough again due to grippy knurling.
.

Threads here are larger than at tail, and the lubricant is graphite.

Due to its compact size, it is worthwhile to reasonably approach the strength of the head twisting. I would not risk and would not use protected button top batteries, so as not to push the driver into the head, it can crack.

By the way, my copy of the flashlight differs in the color of the driver from the one that came to the review to Maukka.

The wide bezel twists without problems, exposing insides. There is some kind of carclo optics. I have never dealt with it, so I will not even try to determine which one it is, I will limit myself here to photographs and measurements. If you know – pls write in comments.

By the way, currently only XPL-Hi is available.

Appearance of this tripple looks, of course, attractive.



and still. you can make it look even better , installing glowing gasket. check it here

And finally – a full X-ray of the insides. Supposedly, everything inside should look like at this pic. Although, judging by what I see, there are still differences: pic shows contact plate, while, in reality, there is a spring at head.

UI

the same Sauron’s enemy – flexible Anduril.
UI, given the fact that it is carried out with one button – very flexible. In principle, if you are interested in this model, then I will not tell you anything new about UI…

I liked that here switching between these two types of modes is very simple, in three clicks, like having some light in lock-in mode,

full manual is here

PEFRORMANCE

Suppose, there should be other LEDs available, i got trio of XPL-HI 5500K.

CT suits me, on the whole. I- understand that the refusal of 4000k NW here is conscious, due to lower energy efficiency.- The flashlight, as is, already gets rapidly heated as hell , and with a NW the thermal cutoff threshold would be at quite high temperatures to compensate this. Although maybe I’m wrong (i was, see comment of Toykeeper).

Here is my boring beamshot, Maukka has everything in the review as detailed as possible. Is that I will give a comparison with S2 + 4×7135 XM-L2 6500K so that you can evaluate in which mode (I mean stepped ramp with default settings) FW3A corresponds to it. I noticed that there is no turbo here, but it was to late to reshoot pics, there were too many rainy days last weeks to wait for next clear evening. anyway, 7\7 mode (ceiling in ramping mode) is really close to it.

No visible PWM shimmering

Voltage cutoff is somewhere 2.9v. in general, the flashlight, approaching this level, works in a VERY dim mode. So you can discharge to zero only if you forget to turn off the flashlight or intentionally do it when you need some light more.

And here is the interesting. Heating and thermoregulation. The flashlight, I repeat, is comparable in size to the AA \ 14500 flashlight. And the output of them differs dramatically. So it’s clear how much can generate FW3A … And it does generate. Anduril allows you to calibrate the temperature sensor (in my case it was configured correctly) and set the thermoregulation threshold above the default level of 45 degrees. So, it seems like a 45 degrees is too low, right?

In fact, in the same 7th mode (there are seven of them by default in stepped ramp), it heats up until you can harldy hold it with your bare hand! Yes, and the 6th mode is not really pleasant enough, but at least you can keep it.

So, It is necessary to adequately evaluate the maximum brightness (both ceiling and turbo), Because it warms the body so quickly that the stepdown happens quickly and it becomes painful to hold.

Usually, I use a 14,500 flashlight in a mode no more than 300 lum – that is enough for me for most of common situations. And due to the same dimensions, I perceive the FW3A as the same 14500 flashlight good with a stock of additional runtime, not the additional brightness . On the same 300-500 lum this flashlight will be both stabilized and long-playing. If you need something brighter, I would look at some other larger flashlight which can sustain brighter modes.


I am quite satisfied with the spacing of modes. 7 levels of brightness here cover almost all usual needs.

Oh yeah, here (bravo!) FET + 7+1! I somehow got used to the fact that all these narsil or-andurili are bad in terms of the minimum threshold for full stabilization, the brightness there is far from a flat line on the graph. That`s why i`d pick simpler UI with flat runtime to flexible ui with its zigzags slow descending.

FW3A is so much better in matter of stabilization! Here is my measurements. Everyhting is cool, i dont only understand how 7th mode works almost as long as 6th mode. I measured each of them like 3 times (actually i did like 25 tests, overall)- the result is the same. Used 30Q.

In general, in real use, I would not rise above 5-6 mode. Believe, that` is enough.

Maukka, having the ability to more accurately measure the output of the flashlight, draw attention to the maximum brightness, which may difffer due to a lot of factors. Since turbo works for a really short time (due to heating drops it down), this can be neglected.

Well, here are my outdoor pics. What can I say, there is a stunning turbo brightness, but de facto it’s for 5 seconds, just quickly look around.
though in some situation even 5 sec of turbo will seriously help you out.

In fact, i consider something suitable for use to be around 400-500 lumens. And this is quite good, this brightness quite, quite suits me. For the walk around light that is enough.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

If you understand exactly what you are buying, then there will be no surprises and you will like the flashlight. For me, the fast threshold for triggering the stepdown was not a (unpleasant) surprise like the small size of the flashlight (pleasant). Somehow alive last one turned out to be less than expected.

With such modest size , real useful brightness of FW3A more than suited me. As well as thought of and flexible UI.

I would not use ramping mode since it will be difficult for me to pick the brightness where the flashlight will not be excessively hot (if you didnt set ceiling at lower level). In the case of the default stepped ramp, this problem does not exist, and I know that there is mostly no need to climb above 5-6 modes.

So , If you need an extremely compact 18650 flashlight, then here it is. Bright, convenient and useful. I seriously think that FW3a will replace my WK41, because being the same compact it has significantly longer runtime at the same 300-400 lumens level + i have decent celing\turbo here for urgent needs.

Edited by: Narmattaru on 06/13/2019 - 06:00
Boro
Offline
Last seen: 3 hours 10 min ago
Joined: 02/03/2012 - 15:52
Posts: 622
Very nice review, thank you !
Henk4U2
Henk4U2's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 11 min ago
Joined: 02/13/2014 - 17:52
Posts: 2682
Location: The heart of the Netherlands (GMT+1)

This sums it all up in quite some detail. Very nice review of a very nice light.
A light that is not conceived and slapped together in one rainy afternoon.
A light that I start admiring more and more whilst using it more and more.

IMHO it has one weak side: the size makes it vulnerable for deviations in manufacturing tolerances.
For the rest: it is perfect as it is. Don’t change it a bit (eh…. maybe an SS bezel?).

Does anybody know a way to add this gem to the standard equipment of the Avengers?
This could very well be the only flashlight that does not compromise Scarlett Johansson’s outfit.

You are a flashaholic if you are forced to come out of the closet, to make room for more flashlights.

M3CSL
M3CSL's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 days 11 hours ago
Joined: 05/02/2019 - 05:34
Posts: 220

Thanks for the review. It is good to read reviews even though many are reviewing the same product, the views are always individual and varying slightly.

I like this light.

Convoy S2+ 219b triple, Astrolux FT02, Maglite 3D, Solarforce L2t

ToyKeeper
ToyKeeper's picture
Offline
Last seen: 29 min 4 sec ago
Joined: 01/12/2013 - 14:40
Posts: 9646
Location: (469219) 2016 HO3

Just a few minor corrections…

Quote:
in other models there was access to the turbo from mode set, and here it is only from ramping mode.

There is no “mode set”. It has a smooth ramp and a stepped ramp. Both styles provide access to turbo, using a double click while the light is on.

Quote:
I understand that the refusal of 4000k NW here is conscious, due to lower energy efficiency.

This is false. 4000K was not refused, it just is not in stock yet. It was delayed because the plan is to use SST-20 4000K 95CRI, and those have been difficult to get.

Quote:
FET + 7!

FET+7+1

Quote:
I would not use ramping mode since it will be difficult to pick the brightness where the flashlight will not be excessively hot

There is a reference blink in the smooth ramp, every time it passes the edge of a power channel. When it goes from 1×7135 to 8×7135, there is a blink. When it goes from 8×7135 to FET, there is a blink. This helps give the user an idea where they are on the ramp. The entire bottom half of the ramp should run cold enough that no thermal regulation is needed.

Quote:



For what it’s worth, the light is designed for a cigar grip. It works in the two other styles shown here, but those are not what it was built for.

Narmattaru
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: 12/19/2016 - 13:47
Posts: 353
Location: Russia

well, that is not a minor , definetely. -)

just checked flashlight. really, i missed that facts that you noticed. will fix it in review.

thanx.

gregor
gregor's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 hours 1 min ago
Joined: 01/09/2015 - 16:35
Posts: 563
Location: Slovenia

Very nice.
Thank you

Narmattaru
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: 12/19/2016 - 13:47
Posts: 353
Location: Russia

Neal added SST20 4000K 90CRI and FW3C copper body to store as options
the same code RUFW3A

AnhTran
Offline
Last seen: 15 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 05/13/2017 - 23:56
Posts: 177
Location: Australia

Tempted to get this, but i already have a few D4. What is the advantage of this light over the D4?

Narmattaru
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 15 hours ago
Joined: 12/19/2016 - 13:47
Posts: 353
Location: Russia

as i decided not to buy D4, i cannot give you answer

acab
acab's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 days 9 hours ago
Joined: 05/29/2019 - 16:30
Posts: 163

I think the eswitch in the tail makes this light unique. It is not something you see very often and if you prefer tail switches without losing all the functionality of an e-switch, this would be a great light.

pennzy
pennzy's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 hours 49 min ago
Joined: 12/10/2017 - 19:45
Posts: 1288
Location: United States , Pa.

It is really a toss up. I alternate between the two. Now that the D4 is offered Anduril , it comes down to the switch.

wle
wle's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 days 11 hours ago
Joined: 01/07/2015 - 13:49
Posts: 1208
Location: atlanta ga
AnhTran wrote:
Tempted to get this, but i already have a few D4. What is the advantage of this light over the D4?

i think fw3a is smaller
plus andruil
prettier
doesn;t have that square 4-led head, the head is nicely round

maybe it is cheaper?

made by lumintop, who makes the d4?

wle

ChibiM
ChibiM's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 21 hours ago
Joined: 05/09/2011 - 10:25
Posts: 6067
Location: Holland/Japan

Interestingly enough I can't get the same runtime as you got. 

Last time I wasted about 4 hours of waiting for the runtime test to finish.I waited till after midnight, couldnt stay awake any longer,  so I stopped it and went to bed. 

Now giving it a second shot, and I'm already at 7 hours (started in Max output, not Turbo) and it dropped to about 20% quickly, and now is still running... But today I want to go to bed on time :D..  LOL. 

Man.. when is this thing going to run out of juice! I'm at 400 minutes now.

edit: I'm at about 450 minutes and it finally starts to drop...pff. that is more than 7 hours of waiting...