Review: Small Sun ZY-A629

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Tecmo
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Review: Small Sun ZY-A629

SMALL SUN ZY-A629 Review

Small Sun has been turning out some impressive and low-priced budget lights recently. Is the A629 another worthy performer? Oh yeah!

The A629 really hits on a few things. First is the biggest gripe from most people when buying a budget light: the modes. This light has four well-spaced normal modes, then a hidden SOS and strobe. Almost as big of a surprise as the great mode spacing is the side mounted electronic switch on the tailcap.

SUMMARY:

Battery: 18650
Switch: Forward momentary + side tail switch
Modes: 6 low, med, high, turbo, SOS, strobe (specs say 4)
LED Type: XR-E
Lens: Glass
Tailstands: Yes
Price Paid: $12.00
From: dx.com
Mode Memory Yes (specs say no)
Reflector Smooth
Strap Included Yes (specs say no)
Dimensions 14.2 cm x 3.4 cm x 3.4 cm
Weight 104g (specs say 105)

Pros:
Great modes
Hidden SOS/Strobe
P60 sized
Tailstands
Momentary activation
Throws for size
Cigar ring suits the light
PWM seems high enough
Great price

Cons:
PWM on lower 3 modes
No clip
Changing modes with side switch hard in some grips
XR-E emitter
Ringy beam (can it be saved?)

The A629 is a P60 sized light. Here it is next to an Xtar 2600 battery, my smallest 18650 (UF-2100), the A629, a P60 sized light (UF 504B), and my biggest 18650 light (TF X9).

In fact, the reflector is exactly the same as a P60 reflector.

The emitter is an XR-E of unknown bin. They say Q5, but it cranks out 311 lumens on turbo so who knows…

The light tailstands well. I also laid the cigar ring down and the tail fits in it to aid in tailstanding, but really it does very well on it’s own. Plus getting the stupid cigar ring off requires taking off an o-ring…

The light from the bottom up:

The head

The body, lettering is pretty sharp and a little small.

And the tail, tailswitch and sideswitch. You can also see the recessed tailcap and the cutouts that allow for tailstanding while still giving you a way to get at the switch easily.

Now the insides… Inside the tail

Inside the head

Head threads

Tail threads, oring and cigar grip

Reflector sitting in head with lens off

And here’s all the parts I am currently willing to disassemble….

I’m not sure how to do a beamshot but here’s the problem with the light….

The build of this light is on par with a $12 light. Not the smoothest machining but the anno is well applied. The threads are not square, but are deeper than most. The tailcap is not annodized. I believe this is because of the side switch. The cigar grip is a hard plastic and is well placed for the job. The thing I don’t like about it is that it sticks to the tailcap when removing it, and if it comes off too far it pulls up the oring. It could easily rip it. This loose ring also rotates when tightening the tailcap, making getting it in the exact placement you want it pretty hard. I prefer clips, but this light was made for momentary, so I can see the need.

The light is activated by clicking the tailcap switch. You can also soft-press to momentarily activate the light in the current mode until you release the switch. Once the light is on, you can change modes by pressing the switch on the side of the tailcap. The light starts in low; then cycles through medium, high, and turbo. The low is a useable and battery-saving 12 lumens. The medium more than doubles that at 31 lumens. High mode is sufficient for most tasks at 82 lumens. When you really need to see far away or just need a lot of light turbo will open up the direct drive door, blasting out over 300 lumens by my calculations. This amp draw upwards of 1.8a might not be good for the led, but it sure pumps out the light!

The side switch also gives options that were unknown from DX’s description. Pressing the side switch with the light off activates SOS blinking. There is no way to keep the SOS on without holding in the button. It is a fast blinking true SOS. While in SOS, pressing and holding the tailcap switch will put the light into strobe. Alternatively, when the light is on, you can hold down the side switch and activate strobe. Once the strobe has been activated it becomes the memorized setting and the light will start in strobe the next time it is turned on. To deactivate the strobe, simply press the side switch while it is strobing and it will go back into low. Further cycling of modes goes back to L,M,H,T and no strobe. So strobe is truely hidden, but still useful if you need it. I love it! Except…

The only drawback I can see to this method, is finding a way to comfortably press the side switch. The overhand grip can be done without too much fuss.

But the few other options you have are uncomfortable, or require major moving of the light in your hand.

On the other hand, it does the same thing that fancy head twist lights (Eagletac, Armytek, etc.) can accomplish with just a press instead of a twist. Those lights often take both hands, and so might this light. However the advantages of having your light in the mode you want – and it won’t change despite repeated momentary presses – outweight the inconvenience for me.

The beam might be bright and throwy for an XP-E, but it’s also very ringy (see pic earlier in the review.


Another interesting aspect of this light is the pill. It has an exact p60 reflector. The end of the spring into the battery tube even sticks out at the same height a p60 spring would. You can put a P60 pill in the A629, and you can put the A629 pill into a P60 host, but neither option works very well. The P60 pill doesn’t even light up except for a flash when first contacted, or a faint strobe when pushing the side switch. The pill from the A629 just operates in direct drive when powered by a normal clicky. There may be no way to get these two kinds of pills to work with each other’s lights. There is the potential for A629 drop-in pills, much the same way Eagletac’s T20C2 light has many different pills made for it. Of course, when the entire light is $12, I suppose you might as well buy another version host and all if they ever come out with something like this in xp-g2 or xm-l flavor. I for one can’t wait!

Here are my officially unofficial specs:

Low: 12 lm
Med: 31 lm
High: 82 lm
Turbo 311 lm
Lux @ 1m on turbo: 11780

I highly approve of this light! I’m dying for one in XM-L flavor, I might pay upwards of $15 for such a light! Wink

Thanks for reading! Hope you have seen the light Wink

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:20
ILIKEFLASHLIGHTS
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Looks like a nice light.

apt323
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Nice review thanks for the information!

Kinda reminds me of the TK21

how2
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How many amps does this light pull on high and turbo?

Is the pill solid or hollow?

Tecmo
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how2 wrote:

How many amps does this light pull on high and turbo?

Is the pill solid or hollow?

Battery was at 4.07v and drew 1.6-1.8a depending on how hard I compressed the spring. Not sure how to check other currents, as they are controlled by the switch. Can’t tell about the pill either, but I know some more knowledgeable than I are going to report on such matters when they receive the light.

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Nice that it uses p60 reflectors, I assume that they are fairly abundant, so can possibly order an op one, or another smooth one to sputter.

Small sun really are cranking out some real nice lights at stupidly acceptable prices. 8)

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Review is done for now. If anyone recieves the light and provides some good pill, driver, or switch info I will try to add it.

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I got mine, and only real complaint is the super-thin tailcap rubber, and elec switch is bit hard to press. A 16mm replacement is a really tight fit. This mean I took part the tail and it’s pretty safe to do so. I don’t think it can be used to get strobeless modes on another 1-mode light, since I tied it with a 3 mode generic and it just strobes (threads are same size, but diff pitch to P60’s).

Unfortunately I’m not going to investigate much further, at least on this one, since I sort of screwed up the electronic switch cover by trying to modify it (to ease pressure to activate), and it might not take another disassembly. Still curious how it works, but not curious enough to ruin it; yet.

Tint is bod standard CW, modes spacing is OK, but the two med level are too close, and would’ve been better with a low low instead.

4/5 stars. Only cheapie out there with electronic mode switch and hidden strobes. Get it.

Reading this makes you smarter: http://lesswrong.com/

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The driver seems to be sitting under the tail cap. Maybe you can try a single mode P60 drop in in this light. It may appear to have modes instantly.

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Doesn’t work like how we wish it would. Implies some kind of signaling between elec switch in tail and head.

Reading this makes you smarter: http://lesswrong.com/

Tecmo
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It works like the TN11S or Bronte X20 I guess. I’m not clear on how these types of switches work.

About the mode spacing, yeah I’d prefer 2-30-120-300 myself, but 10-30-80-300 is pretty good for a $12 p60 size thrower.

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Thanks very much! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

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I want one now. Great review! FYI, this one is at Manafont, too.

Tecmo
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I’m on the lookout for an xml version

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Sorry to resurrect this thread, but I finally got around to swapping the reflector to an orange peel one.

It helped smooth out the beam. There is still a hollow area around the spot at close range if you really look for it. The pwm shows up in the shot. It uses pwm on all levels, probably why my TN11s did not work with the A629 tailcap in the TN11S review.

Comparison shot of the smooth reflector.

Lux went from 11780cd to 8120cd. A pretty hefty drop but still decent throw with a much cleaner beam. I’m a throw man, so I guess I’ll keep the rings.

Tecmo
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Ok, forget rings, I want to give this light some real throw! I dedeomed an xpg2 and put it in place of the xre. It got 22kcd before my bad soldering job shorted it.

Now I fixed it and it is getting barely over 20kcd. I now notice the reflector was partially slightly smoked. I’m not removing it right now though! Here are the old and new lumen numbers:

Old output: Low – 12 Medium – 31 High – 82 Turbo – 311 Lux – 11780

New output:
Low – 18
Medium – 47
High – 118
Turbo – 404
Lux – 22300 before smoked 20200 after Sad

Over 400 lumens and 20kcd otf with a p60 reflector, not too shabby Smile

These numbers should be the same with any xpg2 dedome in a p60 light.

For the dedome I simply stuck a blade in the base away from the wire sides and pulled up until the base started separating. Once about 1/3 of it was off I just lifted that part and applied pressure forward and it slowly peeled off. It just takes patience.

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This light is a direct clone of the Jetbeam PC25…. Who knew!? I visited Going Gear during a trip to Atlanta and there it was (along with 50 lights on a table they were unpacking from a show in Indiana. Got to play with a TM26 SR90 and other goodies!).

The only difference is the PC25 has an xml with an OP reflector. Four modes and strobe, but the SOS wasn’t present. Here is a review of it with pics.

http://lightreviewers.com/2011/11/jetbeam-pc25-review.html?m=1
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I've just come across this light again.  Surprised there isn't much hoo-haa over this light.  Modes, dual switches with momentary on, standard P60 reflector all sound pretty good (I do wish low was a tad lower though).  Seems like a nice mod candidate.  Anyone tried an XM-L in one?  For $11.33 at Manafont it's worth trying out.  I'm thinking XM-L with an OP reflector. 

-Garry

My Bike Lights Thread, Optics (TIR) Comparison Beamshots, Diffusion Techniques

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Tecmo
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garrybunk wrote:

I’ve just come across this light again.  Surprised there isn’t much hoo-haa over this light.  Modes, dual switches with momentary on, standard P60 reflector all sound pretty good (I do wish low was a tad lower though).  Seems like a nice mod candidate.  Anyone tried an XM-L in one?  For $11.33 at Manafont it’s worth trying out.  I’m thinking XM-L with an OP reflector. 

-Garry

Yeah if I can mod it anybody can Smile I went for throw, but an XML would work great too, that’s what is in the Jetbeam. Swap an xml star and take off the smooth reflector and stick an OP on there and you’re set. Actually the low mode is a lot lower than most lights, it just doesn’t have a moonlight. 12 lumens is pretty good though. I really love this light, I don’t see any reason not to get one for $11 it’s a steal!

If anyone new to modding wants to mod it, you might want to read the thread of my screwups.

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19394

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I received mine today!  Nice light, but I agree on the quality being on par with the $12 spent.  The battery tube is quite thin.  I haven't had a chance to fire it up yet (I'm at work - I know, no excuse) and my parts order from FastTech hasn't arrived yet.  One thing I don't understand:

Tecmo wrote:
The cigar grip is a hard plastic and is well placed for the job. The thing I don’t like about it is that it sticks to the tailcap when removing it, and if it comes off too far it pulls up the oring. It could easily rip it. This loose ring also rotates when tightening the tailcap, making getting it in the exact placement you want it pretty hard.

Tecmo, what did you mean by this from the review?  Your cigar grip sticks to the tailcal when removing the tailcap?  Mine stays put and in fact I couldn't get it off (it just spins in place).  There seems to be a missing o-ring at the end of the tailcap threads, but there is an o-ring at the bottom end of the cigar ring which is I guess what is keeping mine from sliding off.  (Perhaps there is only supposed to be one o-ring and mine got pushed up to the cigar ring - but this seems nice since it keeps the cigar ring in place, so maybe I'll add a second for the tail cap.)

I'm now wondering if I should go XP-G2 instead of XM-L.  I'm looking for a mostly floody light with good runtime.  Wondering if this light would suit for cycling use too.

-Garry

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My cigar grip kind of sticks to the tailcap and rotates up with it. It’s just an annoyance nothing major.

Since the Jetbeam pc25 is xml it should work pretty well. Just get a OP p60 reflector to swap out with the smooth one.

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Ok, I had a chance to fire this up last night.  I really like the dual switches allowing momentary on and separate switch for mode changes.  The light basically has instant "mode memory" since it uses the separate switch.  Modes work exactly as described here in the review.  Oh, and I was able to pull the cigar grip off but then it wouldn't go back on the same way it had been on for me (with the o-ring holding it in place).  Might have to remove the o-ring, put on the cigar grip, and then place the o-ring up against it with a second o-ring at the top of the threads. 

My only complaints (in stock form):  the power switch is a little gushy/squishy and could use a little work to make it stiffer, and the low and medium modes are way too close together (I can just barely detect a change in brightness). Oh and it came with a coated glass lens (fingerprint coated that is). 

Can't wait to get an XM-L & OP reflector in this baby. 

-Garry

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Glad I saw this thread. Rediscovering this light too. Remember the modes & switches looked promising…. never came back to it….

Been wanting a JETbeam, and I am not much of a modder, so I might spring for the PC25. Comes with: XM-L, OP, better build, and better modes. UI is 99% perfect. If they gave it a twisty head for instant access to turbo from any mode it would be 100%. That’s probably as good as I will find.

I like copper

Tecmo
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Ah might as well try the $11-12 light too Wink

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Yeah…. who am I kiddin? haha

I like copper

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Finally got mine modded!  Posted my mod in a new thread.

-Garry

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I’ve decided I have to have this little light.

To those who have modded it, how does the beam profile change with XP-G2 R5?