REVIEW: Nightwatch NI40 Stalker [26650, dedomed 3V XHP50.2, beefy C8], with SST70 mod

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Skylight
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REVIEW: Nightwatch NI40 Stalker [26650, dedomed 3V XHP50.2, beefy C8], with SST70 mod

This is my review of the Nightwatch NI40 Stalker with a dedomed 3V XHP50.2 led. I purchased this flashlight at the Nightwatch Taobao Store with Taobao agent Superbuy. I wanted to share my thoughts on this flashlight as it is special in many ways.

Introduction

The Nightwatch NI40 caught my interest because it has a dedomed 3V XHP50.2. There are no other flashlights offering a factory dedomed led as the process is difficult, has to be done manually and can easily go wrong. For more throw but less lumens you can order the Nightwatch NI40 with a dedomed SST40. The Osram S2WP is a quad die led (four 2mm² white flat dies) which gives the same lumen as the XHP50.2 but more throw. Available are also the SST40 and XHP50.2 untouched with dome. The two dedomed variants are almost neutral white while all others are cold white. If this are not the right choices for you, just order the flashlight as a host and put in your favourite led.

Purchase links (non-affiliate)

Nealsgadgets: https://www.nealsgadgets.com/collections/nightwatch/products/nightwatch-...

Kaidomain: http://kaidomain.com/Nightwatch-NI40-Stalker

My recommendation is to purchase the NI40 at Nealsgadgets as the Taobao system is a bit difficult and the NI40 is sold out there already. The Nightwatch NI40 is a special flashlight and as such not available to purchase on Banggood or Aliexpress.

Edit: Banggood: https://www.banggood.com/NIGHTWATCH-NI40-STALKER-XHP50_2-CW

https://www.banggood.com/NIGHTWATCH-NI40-STALKER-SST40-CW

First impressions

As far as I can judge Nightwatch has done a good job with dedoming. BLF’s modders would call this led ‘sliced and diced’ as the dome of the led has been cut off with a razor blade and the excessive phosphor around the led die has been removed, reducing the yellow corona and giving a clean beam. It is important to have skilful people doing this because cutting the dome too low or not cleanly will burn the led and removing too much phosphor at the edges will lead to blue in the beam.

The flashlight itself is special as well. It is like a beefed up C8 with 26650 battery, bigger reflector and deep cooling fins. The anodization is matte black, the threads are square cut and greased. Don’t point the flashlight anywhere near you when you turn it on because it will literally FLASH you. Turbo is always the first mode and there is no mode memory so be prepared that with a full battery it will feel like a L6 on full blast. Despite being relatively big it the XHP50 heats the flashlight up fast. It is nice that they include a spare 50mm coated glass lens as this size might be difficult to get in case it breaks.

What is included

- Nightwatch NI40 Stalker
- thin lanyard and thick lanyard
- two spare o-rings for tube, one spare o-ring for lens
- spare AR-coated lens

Specifications

These are the specs, mostly copied from Nealsgadgets. Refer to the purchase link above for the table with the comparison of the lumen and throw of the different versions

- LED: CREE XHP50.2 Dedomed 3800lm, Luminus SST40 CW 2400lm, Luminus SST40 NW Dedomed 2000lm
- Max output: 3800lm
- Color temperature: 5000 – 5500K
- Battery: 26650
- Stainless steel bezel, AR-coated glass lens, black Type III hard-coat anodizing
- Switch: 20mm,10A reverse switch
- Waterproofness: IP68, underwater 2 meters
- Weight: 254g without battery
- Dimensions: 53 mm head x 153mm length
- Reverse polarity protection, temperature control (50°C step down), low voltage protection
- Modes: Turbo – High – Med – Low, triple click for strobe

Dimensions

Length: 153,7mm
Head diameter: 53,0mm
Head height: 70,3mm
Battery tube length: 70,9mm
Battery tube ID: 27,1mm
Battery tube OD: 32,0mm
Diameter at threads: 30,8mm
Tailcap diameter: 35,8mm
Tailcap height: 32,0mm
Reflector diameter: 47,8mm
Reflector height: 36,0mm
Reflector inner diameter: 44,9mm
Glass lens diameter: 49,7mm
Glass lens thickness: 2,0mm
Driver retaining ring: 22,6mm
Depth driver cavity: 12,0mm
Switch PCB: 19,9mm
Switch retaining ring: 21,8mm
Spring wire diameter tail: 1,50mm
Spring wire diameter head: 1,20mm

User interface

The flashlight has an easy and straightforward user interface. There are four modes and with a triple click you can have strobe as well. The Nightwatch NI40 has no mode memory and will always turn on on Turbo. From Turbo you can cycle with a half press on the reverse clicky switch through High, Medium and Low. There is no true moonlight as the low mode is still rather bright and medium still heats up the flashlight. So the modes are all on the higher side while the lower end of the brightness scale is not covered well.

Appearance

Front view

Rear view

Different side perspectives


The three parts of the flashlight: head, battery tube and tailcap

The back of the driver with a thick 1.2mm spring and 8 AMC7135 (crappy sailboats, not the raptor claws)

Another fat spring in the tailcap

Here is a close look at the square cut, anodized threads with quite a bit of grease

Led and reflector seen from the front

The cooling fins are not like the ordinary ones. There are many deep fins, a part of them has a knurling on them and they have an anti-rolling function as well.

There are also holes in the cooling fins to further increase the surface and air circulation.

Curious thing here: When I removed the bezel, the o-ring was like melted onto the glass. You can see the white residue of the o-ring on the glass where I peeled it of. Not sure if the high output and heat of the XHP50.2 can cause this?!

I’m reluctant to tell you that there will be no moonlight shoots of the led this time. The low mode is still to bright to look at the led directly as I like to do with a true moonlight or a very low mode.

Comparison pictures

Flashlights with the C8 form factor (from left to right): Nightwatch NI40 Stalker, Manta Ray C8.2, Sofirn C8F, Convoy C8+

All four C8 sized flashlights from the front: NI40 Stalker with dedomed XHP50.2, MantaRay C8.2 (equivalent to Nightwatch NI01L) with XHP70.2, Convoy C8+ with XPL HD, Sofirn C8F with XPL2

A few different 26650 flashlights (from left to right): Nightwatch NI40 Stalker, MantaRay C8.2, Haikelite SC04, CPF Italia Cometa 2016 (Jaxman Z1 clone), Haikelite SC26, Emisar D4S, 26650 battery

Famous flashlights (from left to right): Nightwatch NI40 Stalker, Fireflies E07, Emisar D4S, Emisar D4

Soda can flashlights (from left to right): Nightwatch NI40 Stalker, BLF Q8, Haikelite Q30

Side to side comparison of the Convoy C8+ with the NI40 Stalker

I would like to show you a little side by side comparison of the NI40 Stalker and the Convoy C8+. The NI40 has similar proportions but it seems like an enlarged and beefed up version of the C8+. Personally, I was astonished by how small the C8+ looked when I held it next to the NI40 Stalker. So, these are the two flashlights and their different parts compared.

Nightwatch NI40 left, Convoy C8+ with SS bezel right

The reflectors

The battery tubes

Flashlight heads

Heads and reflectors from above and frontally

The tailcaps

Bezel, glass and o-ring

Comparison with the MantaRay C8.2 (equivalent to Nightwatch IRA NI01L)

I chose to compare the Nightwatch NI40 also to the MantaRay C8.2 which apart from the name seems to be identical to the Nightwatch NI01L. There are a few versions of this flashlight around with different names. You can see that the design of the NI40 derived from the NI01L. They both have deep cooling fins, 26650 battery tube, big tailcap, SS bezel and the cuts in the fins of the C8.2 were converted to holes on the NI40. The NI40 is aesthetically nicer, though. The SS bezel is crenelated, the cooling fins serve as anti-rolling, the knurling on the battery tube is made better and the head is slightly bigger. The reflector is better for throw and the direct driven XHP50 has the same output as the XHP70 with a boost driver while being smaller and thus able to throw further.

Beamshots

Whitewall beam comparison (from left to right): Nightwatch NI40, Convoy C8+ with XPL V6 5000K, Convoy L6 with XHP70.2 4000K All flashlights on turbo, about 30cm from the wall, the white balance is set to 5000K.

Whitewall beam comparison: Nightwatch NI40, Emisar D4S 219C, Emisar D4 XPG2

Whitewall beam comparison: Nightwatch NI40, Sofirn SP31 V2.0 with XPL HI 5300K, Convoy S2+ with Luxeon V 4000K

Tint comparison on a white wall: left Nightwatch NI40 with dd XHP50.2 5200K, middle Fireflies E07 with 6500K SST20, right Astrolux S43S with Nichia 219C 5000K; The S43S has some very rosy 219C leds which makes it almost pink next to the other two. The NI40 has a hint of yellow and green but warmer color than the SST20 6500K.

Outdoor beamshot of the Nightwatch NI40 Stalker on Turbo (3.2s, F7.1, ISO400) The big tree in the background is about 150m away.

Comparison of the Nightwatch NI40 (first pic) with the Convoy L6 4000K XHP70.2 resistor mod (second) and the Emisar D4S 219C (third)


Teardown and internals

Here is a quick teardown with some pictures of the internals. I suggest you not to try a teardown unless you know what you are doing and want to mod something. For detailed measurements see ‚Dimensions‘.

The PCB and led with bezel and reflector removed

The 25mm copper MCPCB

A close look at the dedomed XHP50.2


Big Omten 250V 1.5A switch on the 20mm switch PCB

All parts of the tailcap with 16mm button

The driver with FET, eight AMC7135 and a strange MCU


Conclusions

On overall it can be said that the Nightwatch NI40 is a high-end flashlight with a budget price. You get almost the same output as bigger and more expensive flashlight in a more pocketable format. Of course, with the XHP50 drawing 18 A from a single 26650 on Turbo the runtime and sustainable output are limited. The handling of the NI40 is good with the smooth square cut and well lubed threads with optional lockout, a sturdy matte black anodising and an ergonomic format. The throw from the big reflector is amazing. The negative aspect on this flashlight is the driver where many things could be improved. The flashlight has no mode memory and will always start on Turbo which is an extremely limiting factor for the practical use. At night in a building or outdoors the bright blast at start-up will ruin your night vision and disturb all others around you. The modes are not spaced evenly, as a result the second and third mode will still make the flashlight hot. It may be possible to hold it for long on medium but the whole body gets noticeably warm and I doubt the battery will last for long. The lowest mode produces little if any heat, but it is quite bright. Improving the driver with even modes in low to high order, optional mode memory and maybe double click to Turbo and long click to reverse modes would make the NI40 much more practical and usable. The XHP50 has a clean white beam without too much yellow but for my personal preference it could be slightly warmer and less green. As far as the name is concerned, I would want something with a less negative connotation than ‘Stalker’. The Nightwatch NI40 with dedomed XHP50.2 3V is a flashlight for showing off or for who needs to light up a target as bright as possible for a short time, so more for giggles than for severe practical use.

What I like

- Really bright beam that throws rather far and has a wow-effect at turn on
- Deeply cut cooling fins with anti-roll function
- Square cut threads with enough grease, screw nice and smoothly
- Dedomed XHP50 3V stock, sliced and diced cleanly to remove beam artefacts
- Matte black anodising, also on the threads to allow lockout
- Bigger reflector than a C8+, good for throw
- Thick springs which can handle the current without bypassing
- Brightness is similar to BLF Q8 or Convoy L6 with smaller body

What could be improved

- The mode order with Turbo first is a no-go in a flashlight of this brightness
- The XHP50 is a bit greenish and on the cold side
- The driver has no mode memory, the modes are not spaced evenly and there is no real low.

Many thanks to everyone for reading! If you have any questions or need further information please feel free to ask and comment below.

PS.: I’m planning on dedoming a new SST70 and use it together with a XHP70 boost driver in the NI40. If it works out well, I may add the mod below later.

Edit: SST70 mod added to post below

Edited by: Skylight on 12/27/2019 - 13:50
Skylight
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Nightwatch NI40 modded with SST70 6500K dedomed and XHP70 boost driver

Recently I have swapped the dedomed 3V XHP50.2 in my Nightwatch NI40 for a dedomed SST70 6500K. As the SST70 is a 6V led, I had to use a XHP70 boost driver. The boost driver is from MantaRay, has four modes and delivers 5A. In comparison to the dedomed XHP50.2, the shaved SST70 has a smaller hotspot with more throw, produces less heat on turbo and is maybe slightly less bright.

I shaved the SST70 6500K close to the phosphor with a razor blade to get more throw and more neutral white light color. It is a bit above 5000K, maybe around 5500K and has some green in the beam. Below some fotos:

Close look at the shaved SST70

If you shine a light from the side at the led you can see that the bonding wires on the phosphor are soldered to a shiny dark green pad.

Some whitewall beamshot comparisons (all at 5000K, 30cm from wall, flashlights from left to right):

Nightwatch NI40 SST70 shaved ~5500K, Sofirn SP31 V2.0 5300K, Wildtrail BLF D80V2 SST40 5000K

Nightwatch NI40 SST70 shaved ~5500K, Astrolux FT03 SST40 5000K, Convoy C8+ SST40 5000K

Nightwatch NI40 SST70 shaved ~5500K, Sofirn C8F XPL HD 5200K, Emisar D4S Nichia 219C 5000K

Nightwatch NI40 SST70 shaved ~5500K, Sofirn SP70 XHP70.2 5000K, Convoy L6 XHP70.2 4000K and resistor mod

Outdoor beamshots

Comparison of the dedomed XHP50.2 and the dedomed SST70 in the Nightwatch NI40 (3.2s, F7.1, ISO 400, different seasons as you see, tree at 150m). The different sizes make a comparison quite difficult. I may add a different beamshot later. The XHP50.2 has a bigger hotspot while the SST70 is more concentrated.

The tower you can see in the following pictures is at 700m distance.

Control

Nightwatch NI40 with dedomed SST70

Astrolux FT03 with SST40 5000K

Astrolux MF02 with XHP35 HI 4000K

As you can see the Nightwatch NI40 with the dedomed SST70 led has a bit less throw than the Astrolux FT03 SST40 but it is pretty comparable. The throw is decent for the smaller reflector. With the XHP50.2 the NI40 barely reached the tower at 700m. I don’t have comparison fotos at 700m as the XHP50.2 is no longer in the NI40. Maybe the difference would be more noticeable if I would mod the driver to deliver 6A current.

Glenn7
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New sst70 as in the round led? And if so can you provide a link?
Thanks.

Skylight
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I bought the new Luminus SST70 on Taobao. It is still in the chinese warehouse and this mod will have to wait until next year. The Taobao link is:

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=600044881463&spm=1101.1101.N.N.940fb8c

Glenn7
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Thanks, and btw nice review Thumbs Up

Yokiamy
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Nice review!

  BLF

Skylight
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As promised I have added the SST70 mod.

JaredM
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Outdoor shots? Comparison to XHP50.2DD?

Skylight
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JaredM wrote:
Outdoor shots? Comparison to XHP50.2DD?

I have added the outdoor beamshots now.