3 different budget headlamps - simple reviews and teardown

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RaceR86
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3 different budget headlamps - simple reviews and teardown

Introduction:

Thanks to Kurt_Norway for sending these headlamps to me. He wanted to know how suitable these were for modding so I thought Id share some pictures and thoughts about these lights. Maybe he can post the exact links to the too. Smile

I only used the lights a little bit before I did a teardown. Which is more than 2 weeks ago, so hopefully I remember most of the important details..

Im not sure about price, but I have seen lights like these around 16$ (regular price). All lights have 3 modes, which includes strobe.. All lights have a pull zoom. All lights use 18650 batteries. The one at the left have battery in the back. Ill refer to it as the big lens light. The one in the middle have the two batteries in the back. Ill refer to it as the dual battery light. The last one have the battery at the front. Ill refer to that light as the sipik headlamp (names made up by me).


The big lens light is the brightest and best driven light. Its got quite nice wide spill light too.  Electronic switch on top of it.  Unscrew bezel in front of the lens in order to open it up. The headlamp itself is made of aluminium.  Ill rate headband comfort as ok, but its a bit tight. This is IMO the best stock light despite a very cheap feeling plastic battery holder. 

Driver does not look mod-friendly to me. But output is decent. 

It came with two chargers. Unplug wire from battery box and plug in charger. (color filters belong to the "sipik headlight")

I will always recommend users to not use chargers like these..

All head parts are aluminium. The pill design is hollow, but there an aluminium piece that is a very nice and hard press fit in it, so pill design as acceptable. zero thermal paste..

Ill rate this 5/10 as it is stock. 

As a mod host.... 4/10

I know FT sells this/similar light here for about 16$ in different colors. But this or similar light is also available with 3xAA batteries for 15$ here. 


Over to the dual battery light, or maybe I should say plastic fantastic light with too tight headstrap..  This light was just not comfortable to wear at all IMO. Too tight. Otherwise its quite mediocre as a stock light.

Electronic switch at the back.

 

Lets do a little teardown on this light.. Hollow pill, no thermal paste... And then a very effective use of aluminium and plastic materials.. not.. Seriously, this light is a joke in terms of thermal transfer... If it was rebuilt with a new pill and "aluminium holder" for the pill it could probably be quite ok in that department. But with the crappy thermal design this light would require a fair amount of work if you want to make it properly bright..

Driver circuit can probably be resistor modded, but im not feeling like doing that with the crappy thermal design in the front.  Circuit board is not a typical size either... The driver is inside the battery box..

Ill rate this light 3,5/10 as it is stock. Probably slightly higher if you have a small head or don't mind tight headstraps.

As a mod host.. 2/10. Sure it can be modded, but Im not feeling the urge to put a lot of work into the light in order to make it decent when I don't even like wearing it..

I would not recommend this headlamp over the first one... FT have similar looking light that runs on 4xAA batteries here. It might be decent.


 The "sipik headlight light" reminds me of a sipik in terms of zoom mechanism. This light have the most comfortable strap/headband. I would say my head is normal/average size, but this light is the only one that was really comfortable to have on my head. Its also the only light I could see myself using with some headwear (say in the winter). It feels well built and uses a mechanical switch on the side. Everything is aluminium. I liked this light better than the others, until I switched it on. Silly It uses an XP-E LED with a horrible tint around 7000K. Brightness is the worst/lowest of them all. Flood is quite narrow for a headlamp. I prefer max flood to be quite "floody", this isn't. You would expect some decent throw then, but its not an impressive "thrower" either. .. It kinda feels like wearing a regular sipik SK68 on the head, only with 18650 battery and slightly larger lens. Its like having a mix between an SK68 and SK98 made into a headlamp. 

This light also came with three color filters.. (chargers came with the big lens headlamp.)

Screw in pill. Which is not hollow. Zero thermal paste..

17mm driver circuit..

This is kinda my favourite light out of the three, at the same time the beam output and emitter sucks... Ill give it a 4/10 as it is stock.

As a mod host 5,5/10.

This is the light with the best and simplest mod potential... I also think this light could become quite nice if it was rebuilt with a triple XP-G2s and TIR optics.. But that would require a lot work..

 


Last words:

I may have been a bit harsh on the ratings and such considering the low price on these lights.  A normal non-flashoholic would probably be quite happy with these for the price. But having owned a bunch of lights im starting to get quite picky. Most budget lights can be fairly easily improved. These three headlamps would not transform into something great without using a decent amount of money and time on them. Even then, it could be questioned how great they would be for the price and effort put into them.

For someone who only uses a headlamp a few minutes a few times a year. I would just buy a flashlight headband and put a sipik or something in it if you want a flood/zoom light instead of buying any of the lights above.

This headband is great value and I sometimes use it with a sipik since they are a nice match.

The more expensive Nitecore HB02 headband is better in general and can fit various sizes of normal lights.

For someone who uses a headlamp often. My advice would be to buy a better headlamp from Fenix, Nitecore, Zebralight... etc than to buy anyone of the headlamps above..

BLF LED database – collaboration spreadsheet and latest news about where to buy LEDs
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19342

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:28
jacktheclipper
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Thanks for sharing  , RaceR86 .

What I do

 

garrybunk
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I have that 2nd one in 4AA version.  Never tore it apart, but it will run on high just fine without burning anything up (though my pill could be different).  I do like it, mainly due to the 4AA setup. 

The 3rd one I have as well, but bought only as a mod host.  See this thread from post#37 down concerning making it a great cheap flooder.  I haven't got around to doing the mod myself (story of my life).

I've always been curious about the headlamps like the 1st one.  Wondered if they would make great wide flooders.  Would be cool to see some comparable beamshots from each one.

-Garry

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

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RaceR86
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I just noticed that the second light is reviewed here by djozz. But its got a different pill/head design that is far better. That is the issue with some of these budget lights... Lack of consistency in parts. Im not worried about the emitter, its just not suitable for increasing the current to a level I would desire... Silly There could be differences in headband and other things too. I would prefer the AA versions of these lights too..

The 3rd one is not the same light as the one you are linking too. But there are some similarities...

Im not even sure Ill bother assembling the "sipik headlamp". Im tempted to try and rebuild it into a triple XP-G2 with TIR at some point. If not, driver and emitter swap would be easy. Im certainly not putting it together with the stock emitter and driver..

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RaceR86 wrote:
The 3rd one is not the same light as the one you are linking too. But there are some similarities...

Are you sure?  It's not the Dongrui that the thread is about, but the Ebay Q5 headlamp in post #37.  Your pic looks identical to mine.

-Garry

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Racer
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Thanks for the review! I just bought my first headlamp, a Nitecore HC50 and it’s impressive. I thought that an 18650-based headlamp might be too clunky, but it’s perfect.

RaceR86
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garrybunk wrote:

RaceR86 wrote:
The 3rd one is not the same light as the one you are linking too. But there are some similarities...

Are you sure?  It's not the Dongrui that the thread is about, but the Ebay Q5 headlamp in post #37.  Your pic looks identical to mine.

-Garry

Oh sorry. I did not click on the link in post #37. Yeah, its the same light..

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djozz
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Thanks for the review RaceR. I am still planning on buying one of the cheap headlights and build it into something great, but also found that none of them have the basics that are good enough to be a suitable start for such a mod. I like the form factor of the last best, I don't want batteries on the back of my head.

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Nice summary/comparison.  I have the big lens light, but rigged for 3AA.  I do find myself grabbing quite a bit when just working around in the yard and shed.  Nice big even light in flood.  It's a little frustrating when using for doing close up work like using a drill press.  I lights up everything nearby and makes focusing on the piece harder for some reason.  I tend to use reflector or multi-5mm LED headlights for that specific kind of work.  I think this big lens light zooms well too, but I could be wrong as I haven't used that feature more than a couple times.

Like the look of the sipik-type light. 

RaceR86
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djozz wrote:

I am still planning on buying one of the cheap headlights and build it into something great, but also found that none of them have the basics that are good enough to be a suitable start for such a mod. I like the form factor of the last best, I don't want batteries on the back of my head.

Yeah, I think that is the main issue with most of the cheap budget headlamps... Many are just not that great as a host...

I have tried this headlamp:

I was not able to do a full teardown, but it was an interesting and bright light.. Although a bit large..

I have been thinking about making a super lightweight and bright headlamp that have battery/batteries, switch and driver in the pocket and only LEDs and stuff on the head....

BLF LED database – collaboration spreadsheet and latest news about where to buy LEDs
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19342

Bort
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Where does one buy the third light?

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

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Bort wrote:
Where does one buy the third light?

Search Ebay for "CREE Q5 300LM LED 3 Mode Zoomable Headlight".  Don't mix it up with the "other" wrong light which has a black body.  Sells for $9.00 and up, some ship from the US too.

EDIT - there used to be some from US sellers.  None in that link I just provided though.  User millerman bought one from a US Seller and modded it as in the link I provided.  Yo, speakup millerman, it's Miller time!

-Garry

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

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garrybunk wrote:

Bort wrote:
Where does one buy the third light?

Search Ebay for “CREE Q5 300LM LED 3 Mode Zoomable Headlight“.  Don’t mix it up with the “other” wrong light which has a black body.  Sells for $9.00 and up, some ship from the US too.

EDIT – there used to be some from US sellers.  None in that link I just provided though.  User millerman bought one from a US Seller and modded it as in the link I provided.  Yo, speakup millerman, it’s Miller time!

-Garry


i prefer to avoid fleabay but i had put in a fasttech product request for that type of light but with a bike mount on the bottom, but i think they forgot about getting it
thats a great price though, under $10!

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

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Bort wrote:
i prefer to avoid fleabay but i had put in a fasttech product request for that type of light but with a bike mount on the bottom. . .

Like this oneOr this one? Or this one?

-Garry

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

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NOTE: Now hosting my photos from my Google account. Post up if you can’t see them. Older photos hosted on Photobucket or Flickr may disappear (PM me if you want access to them).
Bort
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garrybunk wrote:

Bort wrote:
i prefer to avoid fleabay but i had put in a fasttech product request for that type of light but with a bike mount on the bottom. . .

Like this oneOr this one? Or this one?

-Garry


Bort is obviously very blind, he spent over an hour searching for those on fasttech unless they have been posted since his request (that will be his story, so keep it straight people)

The Journal of Alternative Facts TM

"It is critical that there is a credible academic source for the growing and important discipline of alternative facts. This field of study will just keep winning, and we knew that all the best people would want to be on board. There is a real risk in the world today that people might be getting their information about science from actual scientists"

 

 

 

blueb8llz
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i have the dual battery one, and i thought its pretty damn bright for a headlamp.
its brighter than a 18650 sipik zoomie. heatsinking is ok too. doesnt get hot or warm fast.
maybe i have a good one or your standards are just higher than mine.

but after reading your review, temps me to buy that big lens headlamp.

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Thanks for a great review! :) :)

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RaceR86 wrote:

djozz wrote:

I am still planning on buying one of the cheap headlights and build it into something great, but also found that none of them have the basics that are good enough to be a suitable start for such a mod. I like the form factor of the last best, I don’t want batteries on the back of my head.

Yeah, I think that is the main issue with most of the cheap budget headlamps… Many are just not that great as a host…

I have tried this headlamp:

I was not able to do a full teardown, but it was an interesting and bright light.. Although a bit large..

I have been thinking about making a super lightweight and bright headlamp that have battery/batteries, switch and driver in the pocket and only LEDs and stuff on the head….


Yeah I bought no2 and one of these too.. just added a resistor on it to give it just a little bump in output but not too much.
There’s no point making these headlamp as bright as regular flashlight.
it’s just annoying to the eyes if you’re not using baseball cap.
but it is just nice to use this as a flood light if you’re working outside in the dark such as setting up tent , BBQ at night Smile

but since I got Nitecore HC50.. I never use these lights anymore.. they’re just sitting pretty in the trunk of my car for emergency uses only Big Smile
but still, for regular ordinary people whose not into flashlight.. these headlamp output is a big deal compare o something they normally buy from Home Depot

The only way to do a great work is to love what you do.

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blueb8llz wrote:
i have the dual battery one, and i thought its pretty damn bright for a headlamp. its brighter than a 18650 sipik zoomie. heatsinking is ok too. doesnt get hot or warm fast. maybe i have a good one or your standards are just higher than mine. but after reading your review, temps me to buy that big lens headlamp.

Yours might be brighter.. The sipik SK98 I used to have was around 2 amp on high. This dual battery headlamp  was around 1,2A based on a quick measurement with a single cell. The stock Sipik SK98 I had would have been brighter...

If your headlamp is driven at around 1,2A I would not consider that "pretty damn bright". And if its driven at 2 amp or harder, it should get hot or warm fast, if the heatsinking is decent. A bright light that does not get warm quick is a bad thing..

There are many small reasons why I have given low ratings that I have not gone in detail on too. Just to add some info on the dual batttery light on top of some of the mentioned stuff.

No attempts at even making it waterproof (around the button as an example). Put the battery-box in water and it would get wet inside quite soon.

Does not fit the longest green NCR18650 (slightly shorter keeppower does fit).

Broken threads on one of the screw holes.

Zoom mechanism was pretty bad (due to the stock O-ring). Even when it was improved its quite crappy.

UI where you have to cycle through strobe every time in order to turn it off.

Quite bulky for such a small lens light.

Mediocre output.

The headstrap that should have been less tight/more flexible..

The horrible heatsinking and lack of thermal paste...

Not sure if it was broken, or should look broken, but if you look at the first picture of the light you can see a spring inside it due to some plastic that looks broken... ??

....

BLF LED database – collaboration spreadsheet and latest news about where to buy LEDs
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19342

RaceR86
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The sipik headlamp seems to be fairly popular. Kinda... Maybe I should reconsider the mod rating. Ive actually been enjoying the light. Its a keeper.

The other two lights were donated to some people that just needed some headlamps. I did not bother modding them.

BLF LED database – collaboration spreadsheet and latest news about where to buy LEDs
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/19342

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I just gave away my “Sipik”, or something of that stile, to a night runner. I ordered an other from the same place, which is http://www.ebay.com/itm/121161815800 . It was only $10 with shipping, but I am not sure about the quality. Where have others been getting them?

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

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Review was informative

hank
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I just got the “Sipik” type from ebay seller digitalzone88 ($9)
The listing has changed a bit so I won’t link; there are a lot of variations out there, as noted above.

Mentioned: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/36403#comment-695911

This light’s battery tube is symmetrical — the one I got has the button on the left side, unlike all the pictures.

It seems sturdy enough; I agree it’s awfully blue-white and needs modding, which will be easy to do.

EDIT — oops.
That didn’t last long.

The center contact spring broke right off — it looks like a bad cold-solder connection failed where the spring was just sitting on the edge of a board in the middle of the light.

Yellow thing is the board the spring was soldered to; raggedy gray thing is where the bottom of the spring was before it fell off.
Nothing on the spring itself but a little green corrosion.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/wossname/16151107562/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wossname/16151957175/

Anyone taken one of these apart?
EDIT, got $5 refund on $9, good enough I guess if I can get the thing apart to make a better positive contact.

Has anyone successfully unscrewed the battery tube (it’s in 2 halves, screwed into the center part; somehow one is the positive and one is the negative side, so there’s an insulation layer in there somewhere — and looking straight down into where the spring fell off, there’s an insulating board.

I need to get that board out, and make it support a better-anchored positive spring, and get it all back together.

EDIT, and with a little DeOxIt Gold to clean up the conductive plating on the insulating board, and a little creative spring-bending to make at least somewhat better contact, and reassembly with an insulating gasket dropped over the spring to at least discourage it from waving across the tiny gap to the metal case, it works. Replaced the emitter with a neutral one with better color and it’s a decent headlight. Still a little worried about that spring short-circuiting, may try to slip more insulation into the thing in various places.

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I got my new one from the Ebay store I linked above. The only problem is next mode memory that didn’t go away with a pencil mark on the capacitor.
As with the first one, I increased flood. I took one fin, about a millimeter, off the back of the bezel ring, which also reduced the throw. And another mm. off the back of the sliding head, which increased the flood without affecting the throw. The pill now nearly touches the lens, but the LED is set back in the pill, so the flood is still not maximum for the lens. The anodizing is not good for files, but mine was already dull from filing the coatings off stars to get copper disks. I might put a new driver to fix the NMM and an old XM-L in it.

Flashlight designers should look at lighthouses and pottery.
这些谁设计的手电筒应该看灯塔,以及在陶器。

hank
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and after taking it apart and making a better connection for resoldering the spring, it’s become the first-grabbed headlight at our house
(much preferred over several generations of old 5mm-LED headlamps we’ve had around)

Hmmm, you’re making me want another one to start grinding pieces off.

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Great post, I know it’s a year since you wrote it but I’m trying to find a decent headlamp. Great seeing what the common cheap ones are made with.