FWAA clip & other quality issues

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nocturne
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FWAA clip & other quality issues

First of all, I think the FWAA is the model nearly everyone has desired for at least a few years, if not longer, and I am mostly satisfied with it, yet I have found I can't carry it out due to just a couple problems, though I am using it at home because it is so fun. Also, I am aware of the other FWAA threads, but none specifically address these concerns as a thread topic.

 

The clip, though certainly more attractive than on its larger FWxx siblings, is a disappointment. The edge of the clip around its seat is wider than the diameter of the light. Perhaps this lip is intentional to give more grip when held like a syringe, but I find it painful. That is my biggest gripe, that it seems like this clip was not designed for this light but just pulled off the shelf.

Though I prefer a single-purpose pocket clip, I would not care about the reversible clip if it were deep-carry. I also doubt I would care about the material if it were stiffer. This clip feels like it is going to fatigue and snap at its base under normal daily use within a year or two (and given how popular the light is, I think we're going to find out soon enough). I suppose it would be asking for too much for a Ti clip on Ti models, and maybe a brass clip on the Cu models. Perhaps we'll see after-market clips that solve these issues. Come on group buy.

 

 

I am satisfied with the driver quality on the larger FWxx lights, which are not the best we've seen, but certainly not the worst either. For mass-produced flashlights, they're as good as one could expect and satisfactory. The driver and tail assembly on the FWAA I have seen (only two I have seen, but I'll be honest, I ordered 2 more) appear to me dirty and sloppy. These are the dirtiest and sloppiest Lumintop drivers I have ever seen, though I am judging this only by the appearance of the contact boards and visible components. Though these parts of the AA Tool appear similarly cheap, at least they're clean-looking. At least with the Lumintop products I am familiar with, the quality of the AAA Tool (and AAA Maratac) I'd say were of the best (apparent) quality (again, only speaking to Lumntop lights, and only judging the visible parts). Also, it is truly silly that this driver is apparently designed to melt itself and/or explode with factory settings. I think this is perhaps the most dangerous mass-produced flashlight ever. Do not gift this flashlight to any but an experienced flashaholic.

 

 

I prefer warmer emitters, so I've only ordered the FWAA 3000K versions. Not all Nichia emitters are the same. I would not be surprised if others have made the same mistakes as I have assuming all 219B or 219C were of the same excellence as the fabled sw45k and sw40k. With 219C emitters, the tint-quality is hit or miss. I have a few 219C 4000K lights, and the tints all suck yellowy except for a lucky FW3A that has an excellent tap-dead-neutral tint. I bought up a bunch of Nichia 219B emitters in sw30k and sw35k intended for a lot of swaps, assuming tints were as good as the sw45k, but the first swap I had made in sw30k was not as expected (thus, along with the hit or miss 219C tints, this served to lower my tint expectations for FWAA 3000K). It was the Noctigon KR4 w/ E21A in 3500K tint that has ruined me. Since that KR4 arrived almost a year ago, I have been twice shy ordering more custom work with Nichia 219b because I have doubts the sw35k tint could remotely be as excellent as the E21A 3500K. Short of the luck of the tint lottery, I no longer believe tints of any of Nichia's x19x emitters are worthy of mention compared to E21A tints. But I also don't see it rational to try to shoehorn E21A emitters into a FWAA unless there existed an appropriate optic, which I doubt exists. With my tint expectations preemptively lowered for FWAA, I expected a less-than-ideal tint, but what I did not expect is the temperature/tint to be somewhat painful at 3000K, which it slightly is, and which is absent in the custom work I had with the sw30k.

So without comparing side-by-side with anything else, the tint of the FWAA 219c 3000K is livable, I just have to keep the intensity low with tired middle-of-the-night or early-morning eyes. Yet I can blast the E21A 3500K under any circumstances without stinging my eyes.

 

 

How do the Lords of BLF feel about the FWAA clip, driver and tints? TIA

Edited by: nocturne on 08/21/2021 - 08:41
Correllux
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You're going to have to qualify that statement about the drivers being "designed to melt and/or explode"...at any setting, whether factory-fresh or after the user has toyed with Anduril2 themselves.  Maybe I missed something besides people not locking the lights out for pocket carry and the couple of "sticky switch" issues.  Calling it a dangerous light is kind of a stretch, imho, let alone the most dangerous ever...there are plenty that can melt/burn when improperly used or not respected enough to give them some caution in use/carry/storage.

This is an enthusiast light, so you take all of that as it comes, or don't buy it/gift it, right?  The firmware capabilities, the inherent lumen output and resulting heat/heat dissipation, etc. 

It think getting many of these China manufactures to even be willing to adopt enthusiast features has been quite an accomplishment in itself but lately it's like everyone is poo'ing on them for doing so.  I don't understand all of that because generally it's what we wanted and asked for (with the exceptions of dumbing them down later or making design changes like in the FW3A and cousins).  As for emitter tints....SAME thing and for the most part it's a wonderful change in direction for those who have listened and incorporated choices or just substitutes.  They may not choose the best bins and such, and there can be many reasons for that, but hey, it's not cold-blue to pad marketing claims.  Some are willing to hunt down and charge us accordingly for those better bins or models and some hope the ones they pick are acceptable enough....the masses don't care and aren't tint or temp snobs, but they'll end up with something nicer than what they are used to, so that's good.  It's always been on us to swap emitters ourselves if we really want to for whatever reason...that hasn't changed.  Gotta remember that wanting the low temp colors and also having tint awareness/demands kinda puts you in the very small minority in the big picture (i.e. outside of enthusiast forums, in the eyes of manufacturers, or what the general public expects/wants). 

As for the dirty lights...I only have a sample size of three on the FWAA but yeah, they look pretty bad.  Flux spatter is one thing but there are also the issues with solder balls and mcpcb shorts when the led wires weren't done correctly.  As a data point, though, I have seen a number of Lumintop lights with similar issues (mostly the Tool AA), but not quite as bad.  I've wondered if this is a change in Lumintop's direction or if it was just because it was a BLF-special, but it may be more likely that in the rush to produce as many of these as they could for launch date - and being that the date was not very long after the return to work from Chinese New Year - it was simply the result of having newer less-skilled workers assembling these lights for us.  I'm sure you know that many manufacturing jobs have great employee turnover after the big holiday and are left to hire and train new workers every year hoping they get up to speed quickly.  Pandemic may have exacerbated some of this, too.  Reasons, not excuses, but personally if they can keep the price low as they generally have been doing, I'm willing to clean up and correct where necessary...not hard to do, usually.  Can't expect a muggle/collector/hobbyist to do this or be aware of these things, though (generally).  It is what it is and perhaps those issues will disappear in future batches.

Brass clip would be a horrible idea unless the light is just a shelf queen.  Could easily get a nice brassy-goldy finish on decent spring steel, however.  For your too-wide captive ring on this clip, a little careful work with the tool(s) of your choice could reduce the diameter and break the edges a little if you don't mind the time.  Bit small for easy layout but careful approach with trial-and-error checks for fit will do it.  Very little meat to work with on this ring but it looks like there's enough there to work with and probably not induce failure as long as you don't oops and remove too much material.  If it were me I'd probably do it by hand on the bench grinder and finish with needle files, but small dremel-type 1/4" and 1/2" sanding drums in a drill press or mounted dremel tool would be a little slower/safer...would take more time but if your file skills are up to snuff it's totally doable that way as well but a finer cut than what is typically available in most cheap files/in most stores would be much preferred.  I don't think Lumintop would be so receptive to altering the clip, nor the design of the flashlight body/cap to fix this.

mattlward
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I don’t know, but I really would like to see a single purpose deep carry clip on this light.

Dangerous… not really and if you think it is, maybe you should not use hot rod hobbiest lights.

EDC rotation:
FW1A, LH351D 4000k (second favorite)
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (favorite light!)
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k

Plasmatoast
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My only complaint with my fwaa cu, it came with a lanyard.

But the light doesn’t have a lanyard hole.

The tail button has got to be the best of all my lights.

nocturne
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Plasmatoast wrote:
My only complaint with my fwaa cu, it came with a lanyard. But the light doesn’t have a lanyard hole.

That is the worst. What the heck can you do about that!? Nothing. It’s just going to sit there.



Gentlemen, I do appreciate the varying viewpoints in your responses. But regarding what I wrote,

nocturne wrote:
I think this is perhaps the most dangerous mass-produced flashlight ever. Do not gift this flashlight to any but an experienced flashaholic.
the second statement qualifies the first. This light is only safe for the experienced flashlight enthusiast, because one can not necessarily trust a non-flashaholic to drop a hot metal tube surrounding a li-ion cell in thermal runaway and run away before their hand burns or explodes.


Correllux wrote:
getting many of these China manufactures to even be willing to adopt enthusiast features has been quite an accomplishment in itself
Fair point, at least regarding the hot rod features. But the emitter is paramount, and the driver is also. That is the business of the light.

Imagine it is another vehicle altogether, a hot rod, if you’re into such things. The body is of excellent aerodynamic design. The trim and finish is phenomenal. The doors open as though they weigh nothing, and close vacuum-tight with a satisfying and subdued thump. Sitting at the wheel feels like that of a sci fi spaceship cockpit. It turns heads. It evokes envy. It goes really fast in at least in one direction. But imagine the wheels are a little bit crooked and they can’t be aligned. The suspension is too lose and, for whatever reason, can’t be corrected. Cornering is abysmal. Imagine that the engine produces a pain-inducing whine that only you can hear. Everything else, and it’s a long list, is perfect. You just say nothing because it is almost perfect?


What I think is the designers nailed all the hard problems, and failed on the easy ones. How hard is it to find decent emitters? How hard is it to chose a driver-design without PWM? They would not need to reinvent the wheel, fantastic driver-designs are out there. Host design is really hard to get so right, but they nailed it. Choosing the better components and driver-design is far less difficult.


Correllux wrote:
For your too-wide captive ring on this clip, a little careful work with the tool(s) of your choice could reduce the diameter and break the edges a little if you don’t mind the time. Bit small for easy layout but careful approach with trial-and-error checks for fit will do it. Very little meat to work with on this ring but it looks like there’s enough there to work with and probably not induce failure as long as you don’t oops and remove too much material. If it were me I’d probably do it by hand on the bench grinder and finish with needle files, but small dremel-type 1/4” and 1/2” sanding drums in a drill press or mounted dremel tool would be a little slower/safer…would take more time but if your file skills are up to snuff it’s totally doable that way as well but a finer cut than what is typically available in most cheap files/in most stores would be much preferred.

I’ve gotten by in my work for decades with just a small Phillips head. On rare occasion I have used pliers. My hands are not so steady, such skill and coordination with little things eludes me, and I do not own shop tools. But this is an excellent idea, and I thank you for suggesting it, because it is possible I will come across someone with such skills and equipment, and then I can put your plan into action. It will be a great day.

pinkpanda3310
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nocturne wrote:
You just say nothing because it is almost perfect?

Lol, so you’re main complaint is it’s almost perfect…?

  

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Agree on the clip. Only major complaint. There is a single emitter version on the way that is exciting, but w/o a good clip, that won’t see much use either.

Quad e21a is an emitter configuration that I’ve thought about for this light as well. 2000-6500K in the 9080 spec offers something for everyone.

carsknivesbeer
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It’s a simple swap, even for a novice like me. 219b is the best FWAA, but the SST was pretty good. The 3000k good too with a little Zircon but your best bet for a swap sounds like a SST20 2700k JA3 bin which IMHO is better than the E21A 2700k and the 219 3000k.

4 clicks is almost universal lockout now and is ritual with all of my lights and works very well.

The great thing about Anduril 2 is that you can make it do what you want and set all of the parameters you don’t like on this light.

Haukkeli
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I haven’t seen anybody using this plastic cigargrip thingy in the groove of the tailcap. Why is that? It’s easy to snap on place and you still can use pocket clip both ways.

BOO5TED
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Haukkeli wrote:
I haven’t seen anybody using this plastic cigargrip thingy in the groove of the tailcap. Why is that? It’s easy to snap on place and you still can use pocket clip both ways. !https://abload.de/img/img_20210826_1633482rnjvz.jpg!

Because some find it ugly.

"America has three cities, New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland."- Tennessee Williams

 

 

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My Copper FWAA did not come with a plastic thingy, and I would not want it because Im a minimalist and a purist. I avoid attaching extra things to my lights, such as lanyards… or plastic tactical grip stuff.. Im avoiding adding non essential bulk to my pockets.

to make cigar grip secure, I flip the body:

I do not trust the pocket clip in my back pocket, its ok in my front pocket. I really like the pocket clip for Glamping.. its super Styling clipped to a hat brim. Makes me look Dashing and DeBoner…

I really like that the captive ring edges are rounded, however, I do not like that the captive ring is not tight enough to prevent rotation.

overall, the clip is pathetic, I would much rather have a screw on clip, and a real lanyard hole on the tailcap. But then, say goodbye to Glamping with a FWAA Cap

The ridiculous excuse for a lanyard hole, on the end of the clip, holds the light upside down…
.
How the heck am I gonna dress to impress, with my FWAA dangling on the wrong side?

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Plasmatoast wrote:
My only complaint with my fwaa cu, it came with a lanyard. But the light doesn’t have a lanyard hole.

The tail button has got to be the best of all my lights.

but the clip u can attach lanyard ?

...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

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jon_slider wrote:

The ridiculous excuse for a lanyard hole, on the end of the clip, holds the light upside down…

How the heck am I gonna dress to impress, with my FWAA dangling on the wrong side?

Thanks for your great photos, Jon! I agree that the current pocket clip’s lanyard hole is in an awkward position. I hope Lumintop will one day offer a captured deep-carry clip with the hole in a better position!

jon_slider
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hatclip report
last night I went to a hotsprings and decided to test my Copper FWAA as a hatlamp.

I clipped the light to the bill of a baseball cap. The clip held securely, but that application was NOT fun
the heavy copper light kept sinking the bill of my cap to cover my eyes. I had to constantly reposition the hat, tighten the back strap, and nothing helped.

I do not recommend using a copper fwaa on a hat brim. I ended up using the light handheld on the walk back to the car.

Correllux
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I think was I was getting at was "baby with the bath water." 

"They" have listened to us persuade and encourage and whine, and then they actually started DOING these things we ask for.  The FWxx is a bit different because they didn't design it of course, but the main point being is that several manufacturers have been willing to trust us and dive in, even when sales are no doubt relatively small in their big picture.  So it's a very positive step and they have continued to take steps over the last few years and by gosh now we are seeing some fantastic off-the-shelf lights that we were just dreaming about not so long ago.  So in your eyes they nailed an aspect or two but fell short on others?  Fine.  Maybe next time.  And/or maybe there are reasons that aren't disclosed or fully understood. 

Emitter choice...from the little I know, it's not just as easy as picking your favorite from the catalog or white sheets and getting what you want.  Or maybe there were particular restraints on availability for one reason or another.  Take Simon for example...he's had to work pretty hard to make contacts and get the nicer bins of emitters that we ask for and that took time...and still he has troubles sometimes getting them at all or keeping them available for us. 

Driver....well, there's the real magic of any light, and this one was designed some time ago and then it took time to implement the firmware and get everything tidied up as a cohesive package.  I'm no expert on drivers but "without pwm" can be easy, but maybe not with features or qualities that we want.  Apparently some drivers use pwm in other forms than what I'm sure you're referring to, so I guess it'd be important to specify what and why, and then see if some engineer will whip one up for a company and if expected sales make that worthwhile to do financially (either in design and proto time or in component cost, etc).  I don't know how much it matters in this particular driver, but y'know cramming so much into such a tiny space is no easy feat, either, combined with the goal of cutting excess length in the light, too. 

Cost.  I suppose most of us bought this light around $32 give or take, and they still made profits on that, including the middleman.  Seems like trends have shifted around here lately where more people are willing to spend a bit more money for a good light, but implementing some of these "small" changes sometimes adds a more significant cost to the project than we might expect...and we're thinking retail end price, of course, where the manufacturers are thinking about things differently.  Would this same light with a few improvements be worth $50 on a coupon to the average enthusiast?  If the non-discounted price rose above $60, would that kill sales?  To us or to the mass market?  It probably would, especially for a small form factor light like this, even as nice and packed with good things as it is. 

I dunno.  I think this one and several other project lights that have come to fruition have overall been a great thing and I'm glad - even with the usual shortcomings or occasional faults - that they're available and manufacturers have been so enthusiastic about doing them.  I mean how many other industries do you see that happen in (excluding kickstarter junk...)?  If the as-delivered light isn't your cup of tea, just pass on it and buy something else....or mod it or pay someone to mod it for you...and send friendly emails directly to the manufacturers to let them know what you'd rather see in the light options. 

Lanyard holes.....I thought overall people thought lanyards weren't a great feature and most of them never get out of their packaging bags or put on the lights.  Personally I don't use them but did once upon a time in caving...and if I were working up high I'd for sure tether them somehow just as you would with other tools.  Not much extra meat on this host or the other FWxx before it - that was by design.  So where to put a hole with enough metal to keep it sound?  I use the plastic widget on mine, so the clip is off and in a box, but if I wanted clip and lanyard together I'd just drill one or two small holes in the other end of the clip, finish them smoothly and call it done.  For the larger FWxx light (or the original anyway) they do have that little lanyard ring...nothing for the AA yet but it also wouldn't be too hard to make one...still gives that lip to snag or wear cloth, though.  What else can you do except not buy the light if it's an issue for how you like to use your lights, right? 

Agro
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Has anyone measured parasitic drain of FWAA?
I had FWAA forgoten in a backpack that I didn’t use for several months.
Now I took it out…my Vapcell H10 sits at 1.1V.

supreme
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jon_slider wrote:
hatclip report
last night I went to a hotsprings and decided to test my Copper FWAA as a hatlamp.

I clipped the light to the bill of a baseball cap. The clip held securely, but that application was NOT fun
the heavy copper light kept sinking the bill of my cap to cover my eyes. I had to constantly reposition the hat, tighten the back strap, and nothing helped.

I do not recommend using a copper fwaa on a hat brim. I ended up using the light handheld on the walk back to the car.

Does the clip feel sturdy enough for a 1-2 hour hike clipped to a hat? I’m planning on buying the original over the tool aa to use clipped onto a hat

jon_slider
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> Does the clip feel sturdy enough for a 1-2 hour hike clipped to a hat?

yes, the clip will hold to the brim of the hat..

but the FWAA has a very floody beam. I only like the beam for close range, it is too wide to see beyond 10 yards. imo it is a waste of battery to use a floody FWAA when walking the trail.

Gaz14500lite
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I’m kinda new to this forum but have plenty of lights. I finally joined because I’d landed and FWAA. I’ve read this thread with interest and I tend to agree with the viewpoint that for the money we should be pretty appreciative that manufacturers are offering enthusiast lights. I read with genuine admiration about emitter swaps and reflowing, so it surprises me that those who want lanyards (something I prefer) can’t solve the issue to their satisfaction.
Me? I use a thick armytec lanyard on my ZL SC53 and just tuck it under the clip. Works fine, never moves..
And I genuinely think the FWAA is immense, no complaints at all, I wouldn’t give it to someone who has no experience but for fun factor, it’s right up there.
Lumintop is fast becoming my favorite manufacturer and I find myself with more of them than Zebralights… who’d have thought it?

thefreeman
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Agro wrote:
Has anyone measured parasitic drain of FWAA? I had FWAA forgoten in a backpack that I didn’t use for several months. Now I took it out…my Vapcell H10 sits at 1.1V.

40-33uA at 4.2-2.8V, unless there is a leak in the tailcap.

lumenzilla
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I dislike the clip so I just removed it from my flashlight.