[Mini-Review] SP36S. Sofirn makes us a deal I can’t refuse

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jeff51
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[Mini-Review] SP36S. Sofirn makes us a deal I can’t refuse

I just couldn’t pass up the Sofirn SP36S deal on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Powerful-Flashlight-Rechargeable-Brightest-Batter...

50 Bucks for a “Dumbed down” SP36 along with 3× 3000mAh 18650s. Samsung High CRI LEDs.
USB-C Charging. Such a deal!

When I ordered this it shipped from China. I thought it was coming 2 day Prime.
Oh Well. Patience is a virtue (which I apparently don’t have). It arrived in the standard bubble wrap envelope.

The box inside is just that – An unmarked plain brown box. Sort of like those other items for personal use.

Inside I found the light, 3× 18650 button-top cells, extra O-rings, USB-C charging cord, a make nice card, and instructions.

The Kit

The instructions cover the various options. Sofirn included a contact card that also states the obvious – remove the insulating disk from the batteries.

The Instructions

Batteries
The light ships with 3 button top 18650 cells that are Sofirn branded on the wrapper. The cells have a disk stuck to the bottom to prevent discharge. Two of the cells were sitting at 4.09v and the third at 3.94v.

I put the cells into the LiitoKala and set up for a charge-discharge test. I went by to check on things after a while and saw that one of the cells had somehow dropped out of the test and was doing a normal charge. Hummm.
I restarted it and the next time I checked it – it was doing the same thing.
The other cells had finished the test, so I put the bad actor into a different slot running by itself.
This time everything went as expected. This cell gave the highest mAh of the 3. All three tested higher than 3000mAh.

Cell 1 3045mAh, 37mOhms
Cell 2 3129mAh, 33mOHms
Cell 3 3158mAh, 30mOHms

The first two cells ended up at 4.17V after 24 hours. That 3rd cell was at 4.07. Hummm.
Before putting the cells in the light I equalized the 3 in parallel just to make sure nobody was going to get overheated.
If the third cell continues to act oddly, I’ll try contacting someone at Sofirn. They seem to have a good presence here.

Down the tube we see the expected Springs. Button Tops Loaded and ready to Go

The Head has nice thick brass contacts.
There will be no rubbing this off like some cheap soda pop can lights.

The UI
There are basically 2 flavors, Stepped and Ramping. The default is stepped.

In Step mode a click turns the light on. The next press steps the brightness up. Another press before too long will step it back down again.

Double click for turbo. Click to return to last mode.
Triple click gets to strobe and then a long press gets SOS.

Not in the instructions, but a press and hold from off gets to the “moonlight” which is still pretty bright – just like the ramp setting.

The light has memory so it returns to the last used brightness (unless you use the press and hold to get to moonlight).

In Step mode a long press (half second) is needed to turn off the light.
This makes me crazy. So on to Ramping I went.

This feels like the normal SP36. Click to turn on. Press and hold to ramp up or down. Double click for turbo.
A single click from the ramp zone turns the light off.
A single click from turbo drops it to the last used ramp setting.
A single click from there turns it off.

I like to set the ramp to something lower. Then I can press and hold for “moonlight”.
A single click turns it off.
A single click from off gets me to the last ramp setting.
Then a double click jumps it to turbo.
The next click gets me back to last ramp.
The next click turns it off.
Easy to learn, easy to execute, what’s not to like.

Lockout – 4 clicks from off – 4 more to exit lockout.

Both versions have USB-C charge ports

What’s missing from the BLF version?
All the entertainment blinkies are missing in action. After I played with them on the BLF for a while I never turned them on again.
Sunset mode – I like this idea, but it needs to be easily set for brightness and time to off.
Muggle mode – I like this feature on the BLF. Not just for muggles – it keeps the light well behaved.
Battery Voltage – Another nice feature only found on the BLF.
Switch Illumination – Lets the BLF version double as a night light and makes it easy to locate in the dark. It also can indicate if the driver is in regulated or unregulated mode.

The SP36S version
Battery Indicator. The Switch lights for 5 seconds after the light is turned on.
Green – Indicates sufficient charge.
Red – Batteries are low.
Blinking Red – Batteries Critical, Charge ASAP.

What’s it look like?
Just like the Sofirn BLF SP36. This has been well covered in other threads and my beam shots suck. So take a look at the other reviews to see what others think.

This Porridge is Just Right
My first 18650 light was the original Thor Fire BLF Q8. I couldn’t pass up the discount price. It’s a great light, but it’s just too large and heavy for my needs.

The SP36 is like a Goldilocks package sitting in between the big pop can lights and the single cell EDC lights. It’s not too heavy. It handles well. It has more and longer output than the EDC lights.
It’s what I reach for most often when I need a light that’s not in my pocket.

Play Misty for Me
One thing I notice in the BLF version was some sort of foggy deposit on the inside of the glass. I can clearly see it when the light on. Looks like something outgassed and put a film on the inside.
On the SP36S version this film is even heavier.

Here is a shot of the BLF and the 36S

I wish there were an easy way to pop out the lens and clean it.
Reading the efforts of (more skilled and brave) members… It would take celestial intervention to get inside as far as my skill level is concerned. So I’ll just live with it.
Looking at the two beams, I think the 36S might be just a hair softer because of the film.

The Samsung LEDs have no green to them that I can see. I’ve been looking at a lot of 70.2 lights lately and I’m all greened out. A very pleasant color to use.
Compared to my D4 with 219Cs it looks cooler. The original Thor Fire Q8 looks warmer to me also.

Which to Choose?
The BLF version can be had without batteries for the same price as this kit with batteries.
If you have cells at home and like the extra features of the BLF – you can’t go wrong.

The 36S kit is a great of a way to jump into a quality flashlight for anybody. It would make a heck of a gift to give to someone who you want to start on the path of flash-aholism.
I hope Sofirn keeps this going through the X-mass season.
This is one of the best deals around – a great light at a great price.
All the Best,
Jeff

Yokiamy
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Removing the lens does not require any skills, just remove the bezel.

I had the same problem, after cleaning i still have a spot on the glass

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fluke
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What is the max amp draw for those 3000mah 18650's?

I thought 30Q's were best.

amishbill
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I am considering getting an S to swap with the original (non-BLF) SP36 I gave my dad.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

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Yokiamy wrote:
Removing the lens does not require any skills, just remove the bezel.

I had the same problem, after cleaning i still have a spot on the glass

Yokiaimy,
I assume that’s the smooth part in front of the heatsink/switch.
I twisted about as hard as I could.
Nothing moved for me.
Did you find any glue inside?

jeff51
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fluke wrote:

What is the max amp draw for those 3000mah 18650’s?


I thought 30Q’s were best.

Fluke
I can’t find a draw rating listed anywhere for the Sofirn cells.
Even if they are relatively wimpy and can only put out say 3.5 amps each. The 3 in parallel would be capable of 10.5 amps.
I suspect Sofirn wouldn’t ship batteries with a light that could not support it well.

The Sofirn cells tested better than the mAh rating which I find encouraging. I’ve had no name light with batteries that test worse than laptop pulls from XP era laptops.

The 30Qs are indeed excellent batteries.
A standard 30Q won’t work in the SP36. The battery contacts require a button top cell.
To use flat top cell a solder blob will need to be added. Or a button top extension added by a reseller.

Magnet spacers are not safe as the cell tops drag against the brass ring when the tube is screwed in.

In these type of lights I like to use Sanyo GA cells. The GAs have a flat top that protrudes slightly and make good contact with the ring. The Sayno GA is a 3400mAh cell.

I also forgot to mention that the threads and O-ring were well lubed out of the box.
All the Best,
Jeff

amishbill
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jeff51 wrote:
fluke wrote:

What is the max amp draw for those 3000mah 18650’s?


I thought 30Q’s were best.

Fluke

A standard 30Q won’t work in the SP36. The battery contacts require a button top cell.
….
Magnet spacers are not safe as the cell tops drag against the brass ring when the tube is screwed in.

In these type of lights I like to use Sanyo GA cells. The GAs have a flat top that protrudes slightly and make good contact with the ring. The Sayno GA is a 3400mAh cell.

I also forgot to mention that the threads and O-ring were well lubed out of the box.
All the Best,
Jeff


If you’re going to be hotrodding a light, I’d look at the 30Q. If you’re going to run it stock, I like the no-additional-parts-needed aspect of the GAs too.

(…and as Jeff said, NO MAGNETS in lights with rotary contacts!)

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

Yokiamy
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jeff51 wrote:
Yokiamy wrote:
Removing the lens does not require any skills, just remove the bezel.

I had the same problem, after cleaning i still have a spot on the glass

Yokiamy,
I assume that’s the smooth part in front of the heatsink/switch.
I twisted about as hard as I could.
Nothing moved for me.
Did you find any glue inside?

Hi Jeff

The head should not be glued, it might be hard because of the rubber O ring below the bezel, just apply more force.

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WTS BLF GT

 

jeff51
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Yokiamy wrote:

Hi Jeff

The head should not be glued, it might be hard because of the rubber O ring below the bezel, just apply more force.

Hi Yokiamy,
Could you post a picture of the SP36 with the bezel removed?
Maybe that would give me a better idea of what I need to do to get it off.
Thanks, All the Best,
Jeff

vietnamreviews
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This is how I removed the Lumintop GT mini hoping it would be helpful to you.

jeff51
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vietnamreviews wrote:
This is how I removed the Lumintop GT mini hoping it would be helpful to you.

Thanks for the informative video.

What soldering iron is that?
It looks interesting and slim to fit in tight spots.
All the Best,
Jeff

Yokiamy
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Hi Jeff

Check THIS link

It might be that this review is already posted on BLF in English (i believe this is Russian or so) but the pictures will give an idea

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amishbill
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I can spin the bezel off an SP36 and post some pics – but I’ll have to wait till tonight to do it.
basically, the top half to three quarters of an inch of the head spins down onto the lower portion of the head. The one I took apart required a rather good grip. You might want to try a rubber strap wrench or one of those jar lid opening grip pads to help.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

jeff51
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amishbill
Thanks for the offer. No need to grab some shots.
Yokiami’s post pointed me to a sight that has the light broken down.
Thank you Yokiami.

I must say that Russian review is the first I’ve ever see with X-Rays as part of the review!

Thanks for the help both of you.
All the Best,
Jeff

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FYI – Once you get the bezel off, don’t get feisty with the reflector. It’s screwed into the body from inside the driver cavity.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

jeff51
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amishbill wrote:
FYI – Once you get the bezel off, don’t get feisty with the reflector. It’s screwed into the body from inside the driver cavity.

Good to know!
All the Best,
Jeff

d_t_a
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Quote:
One thing I notice in the BLF version was some sort of foggy deposit on the inside of the glass. I can clearly see it when the light on. Looks like something outgassed and put a film on the inside. On the SP36S version this film is even heavier.

That’s also one thing I often notice on several Sofirn flashlights (I’ve had quite a number of Sofirn flashlights now).

Many times, the glass arrives with a misty glass lens (inside). I would need to take off the bezel and then the lens and clean with a cloth for glass. Afterwards it’s clearer. In a few Sofirn lights, the reflector is also ‘slightly misty’ — those I don’t think I would be able to clean up though since reflectors are very sensitive. I’m not very sure but maybe Sofirn’s stockroom has high humidity which causes the inside to have those ‘mist’ / humidity?

~~~~~~

Someone was asking what batteries are the Sofirn 3000mAh 18650s. In another thread here, someone unwrapped the Sofirn wrapper and found that they use the DLG ‘3200mAh’ 18650 internally. These are China-made 18650s that seem to be acceptably good. I’ve purchased a few DLG 18650s (supposedly ‘3200mAh’ rating) and they test around 3050-3100mAh usually, when I test in the MC3000. I’m not very sure of their discharge rating, but some sources indicate a 10A rating (using AC IR test of YR1030 resistance meter, I’m measuring from around 28-30mOhms AC 1khz IR)

vietnamreviews
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jeff51 wrote:
vietnamreviews wrote:
This is how I removed the Lumintop GT mini hoping it would be helpful to you.

Thanks for the informative video.

What soldering iron is that?
It looks interesting and slim to fit in tight spots.
All the Best,
Jeff


This is my soldering iron. It is not really good for this job. You must have a lot of experience to be able to use it.
LemonLime
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Picked up one for the wife, she really like the USB-C port. Claims her flashlight recharges just like my phone!