Which lights do you NOT use, and why? What were your worst buys?

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ToyKeeper
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Which lights do you NOT use, and why? What were your worst buys?

We’ve already got a thread for what people use their lights for… but which lights do you never (or only rarely) use? Why? Which lights did you buy and not like? What lights went into your “box of shame”?

If possible, include pictures and/or links to the item.

ToyKeeper
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Generic “X2000” 3xAAA zoom light. I don’t know WTF kind of LED it had inside, but it wasn’t a Cree. It wasn’t very bright, doesn’t run a long time, and is large for what it does. Get a SK-68 instead.
(photo copied from amazon)

This was one of my first, before I even knew what a SK-68 was. It’s now in my box of stuff to give away, because at least it’s semi-okay (perhaps good for a small child) and uses standard cells. The reviews suggest I may have just gotten a bad unit though, and that it’s supposed to come with an actual Cree XR-E.

unknown00101
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http://wallbuys.com/Product/EDI-T-P14-Cree-XR-E-Q3-180-LM-3-Mode-Convex-...LED-FlashlightSilver-Grey1×18650—8172

This little guy. I got it for $4 iirc. It’s not a bad light; I like its looks, I like the compactness, I like the smooth zoom, but it just doesn’t have good output. I need to take it apart and mess with the driver or replace it. Someone has probably already done so.

Edit: yep I have one of those generic zoomies with the vertical machining lines too. I don’t like having the extension piece in order to use 18650, or its output, stock tint, or its aesthetics. An emitter swap and it’ll be an okay gift I think.

ToyKeeper
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UltraFire SK-98 (1×18650, XM-L) from Wallbuys.

Wouldn’t fit protected cells (and barely fits unprotected, even with the tailcap loose), narrow zoom was wide and not very intense, wide zoom was relatively narrow for an XM-L zoomie (decent tint though), an O-ring got sliced in half simply by zooming the light (then floated around behind the lens), lens was scratched and cloudy, pill was hollow, bad PWM, next-mode memory (IIRC), seems likely to un-solder itself if run on high for more than a few moments. Totally fails to live up to the good reputation of the original SK-68. I can’t really even give it away, since it requires Li-Ion cells.

I hear that some other types of SK-98 are decent, but I’m just not that into zoomies any more. My Ultrafire 838 (also from wallbuys) works much better.

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This may be a rather unpopular opinion here, but… I don’t use my SRK much.

I love my Skyray King. It’s an awesome light, and I’m glad I have one. I even got one of the really nice ones from CNQG. But I almost never actually use it. For distance, my XinTD C8 works better (and is significantly lighter / thinner). For up close use, I can use a 1×18650 flooder or even 1xAA flooder most of the time. My XM-L 2.8A Convoy S3 has almost the same beam pattern and is only one perceptual “step” lower on the brightness scale. And has a usable low mode for the 98% of the time I don’t want a photon grenade.

So, I have this totally sweet Skyray King and no practical use for it. About the only times I use it are:

  • To impress muggles. It looks nothing like they expect from a torch, and turning it on never fails to produce results… Results like {aim light at my hand}, {click}, “Ow!”, {viewer closes eyes and turns head away while holding hand to shield face from hotspot}, “That’s bright!”. Plus, the gold finish gives it extra bling.
  • For comedic effect. I live in a snowy place, and I have a big winter coat which looks like a wizard’s robe. Like Gandalf’s robe, only black with maroon lining. Big sleeves for hiding things in. During a blizzard, it’s fun to go outside with a fancy staff and wave my arms around like I’m casting a spell, then shout “Cone of cold!”, turning the SRK on from inside my sleeve when I say “cold”. … Fun, but I’m not a very good wizard — I only know one spell, and I can only cast it when it’s already snowing.
  • To help people find me from a distance by shining it upward. When they called this thing a “sky ray”, they weren’t kidding. Is that a light house in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  • A portable 200-watt-bulb-equivalent light source for indoor photography. Who needs lights when you can just ceiling-bounce this whenever it’s convenient? Also, it was great for checking out details of dark rooms while apartment hunting.
  • A way to demonstrate what PWM is. The slow PWM combined with a blinding-bright beam makes the effect obvious to almost anyone.

Aside from a few rare special cases like the above, this light pretty much just sits on my desk looking pretty. I can’t say it was a bad buy (since I’ve enjoyed it), but it’s not a very practical light for me.

Dimbo The Blinky
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I’m embarrassed at myself over this, but the worst torches I’ve bought were the most expensive. I stupidly used some “found money” to buy SWMBO and myself some Fenix L1T’s. They were never “bright”, compared to the incans I used at the time, but they were handy and trendy and too expensive not to use.

They’re still hardly “bright” — I’d rank them as “dim” when new and “disgustingly dim” today, even with the latest LSD batteries — and my @$$ still stings from the huge price, and I still dislike Fenix for fooling me once. All they offer now is a clean “WHITE” color OTF (no lurid Cree colors), which is only useful very close-up.

For what I paid for one of them, I could buy 4 Trustfire F20s (apples-to-apples), any of which would be 3x as bright and easier to carry.

OTOH, we also never use the pair of Fenix P1’s I bought at the same time; but that’s because they’re stashed away in our bugout bags… They do make a decent light (quantity and quality) OTF, but the high-priced batteries and twisty switches make them not feasible for EDC. We’re banking on the alleged “shelf life” of primary Lithiums, if the you-know-what ever hits the fan…

Oh, before I forget!!! All those battery-hogging incandescent flashlights I used to carry!!!! I’m not sure I could tell you where any of those are anymore!

Anyone else?

“There is no darkness but ignorance.”

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Ultrafire HD2011 from Wallbuys.

Not a bad light, really. 1×18650 cigar-like pocket rocket tube light. But the Convoy S series is soooo much better. I pretty much only use the HD2011 when I need a mule and don’t care about tint. The front part can come off, leaving a bare emitter with nothing ahead of it to block any light, so it’s nice if you want a 180-degree raw emitter beam.

Otherwise, it has rather slow PWM, the low modes don’t go anywhere near low enough, its beam is about a 7500K tint with low CRI, and though it has good mode memory it also requires cycling around (through blinky modes) to get back to high.

I got this one just a couple weeks before the first Convoy lights started to show up at stores… bad timing on my part.

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Toykeeper;

I have a zoomy very similar to yours which was DOA. I really like the body style (mine can take 18650 as well as AAA) but I never got to enjoy it. At least I only paid about $5 for it shipped.

I plan on modifying it. I am thinking a 4 mode driver and 4C or 5B tint XM-L2. Both of which will cost way more than the light itself. Wink

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From top to bottom:

Maglite Solitaire: I used to carry one of these before I knew anything about flashlights. The output is just… terrible, even by incan standards.

Ultrafire C3: One of my first forays into LED flashlights. It constantly flickers (I tested the switch, it works fine), and sucks up about 2A on high while still being dimmer than an olight i3.

Eagletac D25A2 clicky: My very first “premium” light. It has two mode groups that can be selected by twisting the head; tighten the head and you’ll get turbo and strobe, loosen the head and you’ll get L/M/H and some hidden blinkys. The only problem is, if you accidentally bump the head while in group 2, the light will cycle to the next mode, which is VERY irritating if you’re working in a cramped, confined space and end up blinding yourself.

Shadow GF1: Doesn’t accept protected 18650 cells, and requires a button top because of it’s mechanical polarity protection. On top of that, the side switch is way too easy to activate, and the light doesn’t have electronic lockout |(
IMG_2172

gitira6
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http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41OUe90CNbL.jpg

not bright, super flimsy, flicker Ostart zoomy

ToyKeeper
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gitira6, I have one which looks exactly like that.

I got it from ebay a while back though, and had been feeling too lazy to find a pic for this thread… so I’m using the one you found. Smile

The narrow zoom is okay-ish for a XM-L zoomie, which is to say… not so great. A SK-68 throws better. The wide mode is okay too, but not great. The tint is terrible (~8000K?) and it has next-mode memory and bad PWM and the zoom mechanism sticks and although the gold bezel looks kind of nice, it’s generally just a bit bleh all around. It’s currently in my give-away box since it can at least accept 3xAAA, so maybe one of my muggle friends can use it. It’s still fairly nice compared to the junk they sell in retail stores around here.

One thing I can say for these cheap zoomies though… they sure do make it easy to take pictures of the emitter. I pulled out my gold-bezel light to take a look, ended up holding it up to my eye while zoomed, and decided to try it with my camera (ELPH 110 HS). Here was the result:

Chloe
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Tank007 TK-703 (above). I don’t like the throwy beam profile, and the intermittent tailcap connection persists >.< (I was hoping to breathe new life into it with an IMR 10440). I prefer my E09s.

18sixfifty
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Fenix E01 Got it from Wallbuys on a second kill deal and it was like $5 not worth $2 if you ask me. Horrible purple beam. The beam isn’t even round and it’s terribly dim even for a little light. Absolute junk.

http://wallbuys.com/Product/Fenix-E01-13-LumensMini-Keychain-LEDFlashlight-Black-1XAAA—5365

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

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Well… that would include all the “cool whites” I’ve bought over the years – many of which I’ve given away already.
Everything just looks so flat and insipid compared to the warmer tints.

My worst (because of the $95 price) buy has to be my SC600 (that’s the one on the right Silly )

The problem with the switch/not being able to select the needed mode means that it’s never used.
In fact I’d be willing to give it away if someone would just pay the postage.

Lights out! That's when things get interesting...

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BanglaBob wrote:
Well… that would include all the “cool whites” I’ve bought over the years – many of which I’ve given away already.
Everything just looks so flat and insipid compared to the warmer tints.

My worst (because of the $95 price) buy has to be my SC600 (that’s the one on the right Silly )

The problem with the switch/not being able to select the needed mode means that it’s never used.
In fact I’d be willing to give it away if someone would just pay the postage.


That’s a very generous offer. Are the original SC600 heads glued? I’d be happy to swap the emitter to a warmer tint if that’s a concern for you.
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BanglaBob wrote:
Everything just looks so flat and insipid compared to the warmer tints.

I totally agree with you. To me, most of the cool tints are very unattractive !

18sixfifty
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Default Username wrote:
BanglaBob wrote:
Well… that would include all the “cool whites” I’ve bought over the years – many of which I’ve given away already.
Everything just looks so flat and insipid compared to the warmer tints.

My worst (because of the $95 price) buy has to be my SC600 (that’s the one on the right Silly )

The problem with the switch/not being able to select the needed mode means that it’s never used.
In fact I’d be willing to give it away if someone would just pay the postage.


That’s a very generous offer. Are the original SC600 heads glued? I’d be happy to swap the emitter to a warmer tint if that’s a concern for you.

PM sent.

I’m a junky, I mod lights so I can sell lights so I can buy more light to mod so I can sell lights to buy more lights to mod.

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post deleted due to above ahead post. Thanks.

RIX TUX
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I really liked my sf fury, bored it myself for 18650’s but after I got a zl I realized how ugly the tint/beam was on the sf. I didnt realize how green and not round the beam is. But the sf looks and feels good.

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17 people line up with stamps in their hands.

High postal rates are

 

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TerraLux Lightstar 100. Beam’s too narrow, and the tint was terrible. Gave it away to a co-worker…

"Better to have it and not need it; than to need it and not have it." and, "I have more than I need, but not as many as I want."

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18sixfifty wrote:

PM sent.

My apologies if it appears I’ve hijicked this thread (it wasn’t my intention).

Four BLF’ers have pm’ed me asking about postage rates but 18sixfifty is the first one.
So I’ll let him have first crack at it. I will also respond to the others who pm’ed me.
Cheers Smile

Lights out! That's when things get interesting...

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Chloe wrote:
Tank007 TK-703 (above). I don’t like the throwy beam profile, and the intermittent tailcap connection persists >.< (I was hoping to breathe new life into it with an IMR 10440). I prefer my E09s.

I have the TK-703. There’s two things you need to do to fix the flickering issue. First is ensure the pill contacts the bottom of the main body. I do this with a twisted circular piece of bare copper wire. It basically makes a sort of “crush” washer between the pill ground and flashlight ground.

The next part is a little harder. You have to pop the switch out and take it completely apart. Clean all the metal parts really well and also clean the plastic parts with alcohol. Then reassemble them and this ought to get the flickering out.

Me personally I went a step further I soldered the spring into the metal contact cup and soldered that to the battery negative contact strap so that the only non-soldered point of contact was the switch cup to the flashlight body contact.

Mine hasn’t flickered for years and has actually been my favorite ultra portable light.

If you’re not up to it you can PM me and I have several modded switches I made specifically to fix some friends lights that flickered. I can always send you one of them.

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Supposedly it is possible to emitter swap the SC600. The original SC600 (not the Mark II version), uses a rectangular-shaped star. If you can managed to desolder the star you can pull it out and emitter swap or even swap a new star in. The star is screwed in, and there may be solder on one of the screws in addition to the solder on the leadwires.

The problem: The SC600 has fantastic heatsinking. Supposedly, the SC600 is quite hard to do an emitter swap because the heatsinking sucks the life out of most soldering irons making it impossible to desolder the leadwires and screw. You’re probably going to need a VERY powerful and expensive soldering iron or a soldering gun to have any chance at emitter swapping the SC600.

The SC600 Mark II is probably MUCH harder to emitter swap. To make the light shorter than the previous version, my guess is they switched to an integrated board with both the driver and LED on the same board like they did with the SC52. So there’s probably no conventional star. Cooking the board to remove the LED runs the risk that the other components will fall off destroying the driver.

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Fenix PD20
I was a good light for it’s time, fenix quality but with fenix price.
I think that back then I wanted a compact light that was powerful and CR123A battery would help me. But I was wrong, I couldn’t find quality rechargable CR123A.
If it was a cheap light, I wouldn’t care but it’s a fenix.

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Firelight2 wrote:
Supposedly it is possible to emitter swap the SC600. The original SC600 (not the Mark II version), uses a rectangular-shaped star. If you can managed to desolder the star you can pull it out and emitter swap or even swap a new star in. The star is screwed in, and there may be solder on one of the screws in addition to the solder on the leadwires. +The problem+: The SC600 has fantastic heatsinking. Supposedly, the SC600 is quite hard to do an emitter swap because the heatsinking sucks the life out of most soldering irons making it impossible to desolder the leadwires and screw. You're probably going to need a VERY powerful and expensive soldering iron or a soldering gun to have any chance at emitter swapping the SC600. The SC600 Mark II is probably MUCH harder to emitter swap. To make the light shorter than the previous version, my guess is they switched to an integrated board with both the driver and LED on the same board like they did with the SC52. So there's probably no conventional star. Cooking the board to remove the LED runs the risk that the other components will fall off destroying the driver.
 

 

some series are easier to swap, but be carefull not to apply too much heat or the switch will melt...

 

 

 

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Mr_Krabs wrote:
The next part is a little harder. You have to pop the switch out and take it completely apart. Clean all the metal parts really well and also clean the plastic parts with alcohol. Then reassemble them and this ought to get the flickering out.

How did you get your switch out? Mine has two tiny screws on the inside, but I’m afraid of stripping threads. A small square foil spacer at tailcap end used to work with eneloops.

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I think the light that was my worst buy is my Lenslight Mini.

The Lenslight Mini is an expensive 1xCR123 zoomlight. It uses an XPG R5 neutral tint. The light has 2 brightness settings on CR123 (200 lumen high, 20 lumen low). When run on higher voltage li-ion, the low setting disappears and it effectively becomes one mode.

Why I regret buying it:
1. It’s huge – The light is as big and heavy as an SC600, but far less bright. It’s well built.. there’s a lot of aluminum in it. But it doesn’t seem very practical and is far too big for EDC pocket carry.
2. It doesn’t tailstand.
3. The protruding button can easily accidentally come on in the pocket and doesn’t lockout.
4. For an expensive zoomlight it doesn’t throw as far as the much smaller and cheaper Sipik 68, and cycling the zoom is a 2-handed operation.
5. The pocket clip is the worst I’ve ever seen. It’s made of Delrin plastic, has sharp edges and protrudes enormously, making the flashlight much bigger. Also because of the way the clip is shaped, unclipping the light from anything is a 2-handed operation.
6. The light came with too much lube in the zoom mechanism. Every time the light is cycled into spot mode it deposits a layer of grease into the revealed portion of the body … which is unfortunately right where you hand naturally goes so you get it on your hand. Wiping it off the light doesn’t help, because the next time the light is cycled a fresh layer of grease is deposited.
7. It doesn’t focus very well. Unlike my Sipik 68s, my Lenslight does not produce a sharp image of the die.
8. It was ridiculously expensive… over $160.

Other lights I regret buying (but none as much as the Lenslight):

  • no-name generic 1xAA/14500 zoomies *(I have a few lights like this): In flood position, the lens sits much too far above the LED. This means that flood mode is barely wider than spot mode. … so if you’re looking at something up close its like shining a light through a toilet paper tube and is basically useless. NOTE: in most cases, this problem can be alleviated by grinding away the outside of the body below the bezel to allow the bezel to retract further into the body. This results in a much wider flood mode.
  • 1xAA inova spotlight*: This is an old LED light I have. Not sure when I got it, but might be 10 or even 15 years old. It looks well built with AR coating on the lens. I haven’t opened it up, but I suspect there’s just a 5mm LED in there behind a fancy lens. It projects a perfect circle in the distance. The circle itself is a dim white with purple edges. There’s no spill at all. It’s too dim to function as a distance spotlight and the complete lack of spill makes it usless for up close.
  • Dorcy 1xAAA zoomie*: Chrome colored screw in zoomie. The old LED used is very dim making the light rather useless. Flood mode is ok, but when cycling into zoom mode there are major problems. The zoom is cycled by simply unscrewing the head. Due to the chrome color inside the bezel, each screw thread manifests as a ring around the spot. By the time you cycle fully into spot mode there are probably 20 rings, making this tiny light a competitor for ringiest beam ever. Second, there aren’t enough threads and there’s no stop preventing the bezel from coming all the way off. If you want to cycle until you see an image of the die, you have to unscrew the bezel completely and basically hold it loose in your hand in front of the rest of the light.
  • Sunwayman V11a XPG*: Expensive $90 magnetic ring AA light with cool white XPG. Dropped the head from 3’ onto a wooden floor while changing the battery. It landed bezel down. No external damage to the head… not even a scratch. But a surface mount device on the driver popped off and it never worked again.
  • Jetbeam BK135a*: Cool-looking 1xAA light with camo body, with a nice programmable driver. Driver overheated and died after just 5 minutes of use. Sent it away for warranty repair. Received it back 2 months later, but instead of the nice limited edition programmable driver, Jetbeam replaced the driver with a crappy non-programmable one from their production version of the light. Lame!
ToyKeeper
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The original CMG Infinity.

I got this around 2000 or so. Despite its namesake and manufacturer claims that it would last forever, it worked for about a day and then refused to turn on no matter what I did. Some part of the electronics inside apparently died and, despite the “lifetime” warranty, no repair or replacement was ever offered when I contacted the company about it.

When it worked, though, it was basically a 5mm LED mule which put out about a lumen of ~10000k blueish light in a 120-degree beam with no hotspot. It could do this for about 40 hours per AA cell, though I suspect that time was measured until its output fell below 1%. It was a one-mode twisty battery crusher, off or on. Physically built like a tank, but apparently the internals weren’t so robust. Also, no tail-standing and the clip simply wrapped around the smooth round body so it was never very secure.

The modern equivalent, the popular 1xAA tube light, is a popular and useful class of products. But this one was never very good, even when it was new. For reference, it could produce up to 5 lux at 1 meter, or about 0.6 lumens, which means that, on a fresh battery, it would look slightly brighter than a ZL SC52’s 0.34lm moon mode. (calculated based on selfbuilt’s lumen/lux measurements and “dansdata”‘s measurements)

Update: After looking into it a bit, I found that this was apparently a very common problem (despite the manufacturer’s claim that they had never heard of anything like it), and Dan from dansdata (the most famous light reviewer back in ~2000) published a workaround for it way back in 2002:

dansdata wrote:

Unscrew the head and place it LED down on a solid, non-marring surface (like a 2×4). Take a flat-bladed screwdriver and place it on the edge of the bottom of the head and give it a whack with a hammer, just enough to dent in the edge. Do this in several points around the head. This will make solid contact between the outer edge of the PCB and the aluminum head of the light.


I just tried this, and it’s now working again for the first time in like 13 or 14 years. Maybe if I sanded off the massive lanyard ring, it could at least make an okay candle. It sure is a blue beam though… it makes my cheap ~7500K lights look warm.

It’s too bad I didn’t know about this easy fix 13 years ago when a portable blue lumen would have actually been useful.

ToyKeeper
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Firelight2 wrote:
I think the light that was my worst buy is my Lenslight Mini.

Ouch, that sounds pretty terrible. A $160 downgrade from a SK-68?

Firelight2 wrote:
(d) Sunwayman V11a XPG: Expensive $90 magnetic ring AA light with cool white XPG. Dropped the head from 3’ onto a wooden floor while changing the battery. It landed bezel down. No external damage to the head… not even a scratch. But a surface mount device on the driver popped off and it never worked again.

Also ouch. I’m glad my RRT01 didn’t react like that when it ran into concrete. It was clipped to the outside of my purse when the purse fell off a table onto concrete. The RRT01 hit first, with the weight of the entire purse behind it. The result is a bit of body damage visible from a few meters away:

The RRT01 was not a bad buy though. It’s one of my nicest lights, even if it’s a bit wide or stubby for my taste and has short-ish runtimes. Smile
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Location: Krautland, home of beer and pretzels

NiTech TriColor, allegedly made for the British army (also came with a NATO item number; if such a thing does even exist).

Nice and sturdy ABS construction, intersting internal colour filter selector, and came with the most primitive, yet ingenous switch ever. The only problem, besides the anaemic Mini-M@glite incan bulb, is that it’s not working at all due to a broken ground strap. Promised myself to mod it one day, wedge in a slug of solid copper, an XP-G2 powered at three-plus amps, and find out when ABS will actually melt.

While the NiTech 2AA torch does actually score some points after all (the body is very well made, and oi! – it’s a combat torch for Her Majesty’s Armed Forces… allegedly, at least), I absolutely disliked the TrueUtility TRUELITE 0.5W keyring light. I’ve got two of those; one still in its original packaging; but it would be far too embarrassing to give it away. I’d rather donate a box of matches; not only they’d be brighter, but more reliable as well. The other one I keep amonst my collection as a reminder that sometimes, a nice design will come with absolutely horrible craftsmanship. It’s best use would be to take up space in a dustbin, and it even manages to fail this simple task… that tiny, miserable waste of aluminium!

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