[Review]Astrolux FT03 (Best value large thrower of 2019?)

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liquidretro
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[Review]Astrolux FT03 (Best value large thrower of 2019?)

Astrolux has a new large thrower the FT03. It features a large deep reflector and a SST-40 LED to to give it throw. It’s mated to a 26650 battery tube (but it can accept 21700’s and 18650’s (With an adapter too) and features USB-C fast recharging. Thanks to Banggood for sending this too me. They do have a pretty aggressive coupon available for this if your interested that can be found in the Youtube description or on my blog.
https://i.imgur.com/lwOr9jS.jpg

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Blog Version of this Post https://liquidretro.net/2019/06/23/astrolux-ft03-best-value-large-throwe...

Packaging
The light came in a white sturdy cardboard box with minimal info on the outside. The light was packaged in foam on the inside. The included accessories were minimal, with a lanyard, spare orings, manual, and an adapter to fit 18650 batteries. No charging cable comes with this light.



Construction
The light is made from aluminium and has smooth anodizing, in a fairly mat finish. Starting at the tail cap the light does tail stand very well, thanks to the notch cut in it’s side to allow the lanyard to go through. It has an octadecagon milled in for grip. On the inside it has dual springs inside the simple tail PCB.



The body tube is directional (Threads and anodizing are different on each) with 12 panels of knurling. It has to flats milled on each side and a grid pattern milled in too. It’s a nice feel in the hand without tearing up your skin or clothing.


Moving up to the head section we have the e-switch with LED’s under that act as a way to find the light in the dark and as a charge status indicator when charging. It has minimal heatsyncing milled in to the sides. Opposite the button is the USB-C charging port with a silicone cover that fits well and flush. It doesn’t get in my way. The bell of the light is smooth as is the top part of the head. The deep bezel piece has large shallow crenelations on it that allows a bit of light to spread when face down.


Size & Weight
I measured the length at 170mm, Maximum diameter in the head at 70mm, minimum diameter in the body at 32mm on the flats. Weight with a 26650 battery was 396.7g.

The FT03 fit’s pretty well in my hand. To me the 26650 tubes feel pretty natural and I like the length and where my fingers and thumb fit. Ergonomics are good.

A bit of comparisons with the Thrunite Catapult V6

LED/Runtime/Beam Profile
The FT03 comes with a clear domed SST-40 LED in Cool or Neutral white. Mine is a NW example. It’s surrounded by a fairly smooth reflector that is deep and helps this light throw. The reflector leaves a decent amount of space around the LED, about ¼”. The lens is glass and double anti reflective coated. It’s using the Texas Star FET driver.

The beam profile is that of a pretty typical thrower. Small hot center where 90+% of the light is focused and then a spill. I don’t see any real undesirable traits. You do notice if there is anything on the lens that’s dirty or causes distortion.

Runtime
Since this is a FET driven light, a high drain cell is recommended for most performance. That means a high drain 18650 like a Sony VTC6 or Samsung 30Q would be good choices, or for a little more runtime a 21700 sized cell. I ended up going with a Sony VTC6 (3000mAh) for my runtime tests. Turbo steps starts stepping down after about a minute, until the 5 minute mark where you see the aggressive output step down to about 30% relative output. It held this for about 140 minutes. At this point it did more pronounced steps down to almost nothing at the 175 min mark. The light at this point is still on but only in moonlight mode, I left it for another 100 minutes and stopped the test, since it was clearly in need of a recharge. With larger capacity cells I would expect the time after the initial step down to be longer.

I didn’t do a lot of formal heat testing with this light but I can tell you that even with the fairly aggressive turbo stepdowns the head section of the light gets warm to touch as does the body. Nothing dangerous but it’s definitely normal.

UI
The Astrolux FT03 is using the enthusiast developed NarsilM Firmware V1.3 along with an e-switch which is great. By default it ships in the ramping mode which is what I like, it also has a stepped mode you can switch it in to if you want. It’s highly configurable and can be a little complicated depending on what you wish to do. The good news is there are lots of guides on Youtube and various cheat sheets on BLF forums that I will try to link to as well. A couple shortcuts I find myself using is double clicking to strobe.

NarsilM 1.3 Firmware Guide http://liquidretro.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/NarsilM1.3.pdf

Recharging
This light does have USB-C for recharging, but it won’t charge batteries that are at 4v or above which is a little strange. So if you need to top up a cell after a brief use you would need to take it out and use a charger. Frustratingly the light also won’t charge from a USB-C to C cable, it requires a USB-A to USB-C cable or a microUSB to USB-C adapter. When recharging the LED’s under the E switch turn red, and then go green when charged. Maximum charge rate I saw was 1.9A so pretty close to the 2A that’s advertised. This means charging speed is pretty quick even on larger 26650 and 21700 batteries. Terminal voltage was 4.149v.


Pro

  • Fantastic value thrower especially with USB-C recharging
  • Fit’s a wide variety of Batteries, 26650, 21700, 18650 (With included adapter).
  • Good LED and I appreciate the tint choices at this price range
  • NarsilM Firmware

Con

  • Only will charge via USB-A to USB-C cables, no C-C cables allow for charging.
  • Won’t recharge cells if they are above 4.0V
  • Not a small light, but that’s to be expected with most throwers
  • Aggressive turbo step downs but this can be modified with the firmware.

Conclusion
At this price point, especially with the coupon I have here, the Astrolux FT03 is the best value thrower of 2019 that I have tested thus far. It’s using the great NarsilM firmware that’s highly user configurable, it has onboard recharging via USB-C (Even though it’s not capable of C-C charging), and is available in Neutral White or Cool white for whichever you prefer. The short of it I recommend this one if your looking for a larger thrower light.

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Edited by: liquidretro on 06/24/2019 - 08:57
mortuus
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Great review, mine arrived today, for the price i think its one of the best throwers that cost double or more…

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Overload
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Nice review, Well done!

Rusty Joe
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I’d imagine that for the 10 seconds of time that it remains in high mode, it is truly something to behold. I, of course, would never own one (or anything with a crappy FET driver). What a wasted effort in design.

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Rusty Joe:

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Paradise
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great review, thank you. Astrolux has a good one here.

liquidretro
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Thanks everyone for the nice comments.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Rusty Joe wrote:
I’d imagine that for the 10 seconds of time that it remains in high mode, it is truly something to behold. I, of course, would never own one (or anything with a crappy FET driver). What a wasted effort in design.

I programmed mine to ignore temperature and set it to single-mode max. Works great that way, and doesn’t get too hot.

Andruil has awful temperature controls, and is way to aggressive by default. I find I have to modify it, or turn it off completely, in all my Andruil lights. They work much better that way.

It’s pretty easy to reprogram it, once you’ve done it once or twice.

One of the root issues with the poor temperature controls, is the light’s internal temperature sensor isn’t calibrated. I sometimes see it more than 10C too high, so it thinks the light is way hotter than it really is.