Single 18650 flashlight/USB power options

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zak.wilson
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Single 18650 flashlight/USB power options

I want a combination flashlight and USB power bank that:

  • Runs on removable 18650s
  • Outputs a decent amount of current over USB (at least an Amp)
  • Outputs a decent amount of light on high (at least 500lm)
  • Has a medium to floody beam for general-purpose use
  • Has medium and low modes, or better yet, an infinite dimmer
  • Doesn’t require that pieces be detached to access charging functionality
  • Doesn’t require a tool to change the battery
  • A pocket clip would be nice
  • Isn’t giant
  • Isn’t expensive; $50 might be ok, but $100 isn’t unless it makes my breakfast

I have one of these. It’s absolutely not 350lm, the beam is super throwy, the flashlight head must be detached to access the USB ports and removing the battery requires a screwdriver or coin.

The Powertac E8 comes closest. It’s $50, compact, US-made and looks to be of good quality. A review posted to BLF shows it testing at nearly 400lm as opposed to the advertised 340. It looks pretty throwy; I think it might be better as a general-purpose light with an XM-L. PWM isn’t my favorite thing ever. There’s no pocket clip. I haven’t seen a test of the USB current output.

Other things I’ve found so far that aren’t quite what I want include:

  • The Pop Lite Z3 and rebranded versions, which comes close, but uses an old LED with low output and efficiency.
  • This StreamLED monstrosity that probably puts out plenty of light, but requires proprietary adapters for USB and doesn’t fit in a pocket
  • This Ultrafire, which looks pretty good, but kind of big
  • The soda can shaped Zuwit, which runs on 3 18650s; I’d prefer single-cell and smaller
  • This Ozark Trail (Walmart private label) light looks OK, though it’s a little bulky
  • This NEBO Redline. I love the mode switch ring being at the back (Nitecore should copy this), but it’s dim and expensive.
  • The Trustfire TR-A10 can run on 18650 or 26650. It’s not quite as pocketable as I’d prefer, but there are 26650s out there with an honest 5000+ mAh, and that counts for something.
  • The Goread Y73 seems similar to the above, but has a medium mode as well as high/low and is zoomable. I’m not a fan of the zoom feature, as it seems likely to wear out, and I’d prefer a standard reflector for this use case.
  • The Powertac E7 has everything I asked for, but I don’t think I can justify paying $125 for it right now.
  • The Powertac Hero is similar to the above, but 26650 and a little more expensive.
  • Edit: the Roche F6 has an optional USB head that screws on in place of the flashlight head. This violates my one-piece constraint, which I’m quite firm about as a requirement, but might be a nice option for someone who doesn’t care about that. Thanks to Cereal Killer for the mention.

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Edited by: zak.wilson on 11/02/2014 - 13:42
southland
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zak.wilson
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That’s a good price, and I like the battery indicator. It doesn’t meet my size requirements, but as cheap as it is, I might just buy one to try out and/or give as a gift.

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Cereal_killer
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Roche F6 has a USB head. Also has an open source driver for it for completely customizable modes (if you program AVR)

Just an FYI, the NEBO is a total POS, DO NOT waist your money!

 RIP  SPC Joey Riley, KIA 11/24/14. Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

Richwouldnt
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http://www.aliexpress.com/item/2014-New-Version-Waterproof-Aluminum-Allo...LED-5-Modes-Dual-USB-Flashlight/2024701477.html

Not very compact but if you need the extra power this one takes three 18650 batteries. Supposed to be a BLF member review of it published shortly per a post I have seen.

Rich Wood
Reno, NV

zak.wilson
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Thanks for the info about the Roche. I’ve seen it before, but forget to put in on the reject list: I don’t want to have to swap parts to access light or charging functionality.

I’ve seen a non-USB NEBO in a retail store. It’s a POS, and it’s expensive. I do like the rotary mode switch positioned at the tail though. Everybody else who uses something like that puts it on the head while having a forward clicky tailcap switch. The ergonomics of using the power switch and the selector from the same grip aren’t great when they’re at opposite ends of the light.

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Cereal_killer
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zak.wilson wrote:
Thanks for the info about the Roche. I’ve seen it before, but forget to put in on the reject list: I don’t want to have to swap parts to access light or charging functionality.

I’ve seen a non-USB NEBO in a retail store. It’s a POS, and it’s expensive. I do like the rotary mode switch positioned at the tail though. Everybody else who uses something like that puts it on the head while having a forward clicky tailcap switch. The ergonomics of using the power switch and the selector from the same grip aren’t great when they’re at opposite ends of the light.

I actually find my nitecore SRT-7 extremely easy to use the tail click and mag ring at the same time. I hold the mag ring with my little finger then rotate the whole light instead of trying to hold the light and rotate the ring, works very well. Also my 2 V11R’s are my favorite lights, I’ve replaced the factory thick grease with much thinner grease so the ring is easier to manipulate one handed, I use th same technique described above on them as well without issue.
Have you actually tried any of them? I recommend getting one and carrying it a while before you decide you don’t like them, they’re really not hard to use in reality.

Why not carry a dedicated battery bank? I find that a much better solution but then again, I require all my lights be totally water resistant, don’t think many (if any) lights with USB output’s are.

 RIP  SPC Joey Riley, KIA 11/24/14. Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

zak.wilson
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My SRT-5 is my go-to light for almost everything. I can use it the way you describe, but it feels a little awkward and I think it would be vastly better if the ring was near the tail. It still beats clicking through modes, and I have a very strong preference for being able to feel what setting it’s on before I turn it on.

I currently carry a dedicated battery bank (that happens to have a crappy detachable flashlight head). I often find myself handing it to other people to use as a flashlight, and I’d like one that’s a better flashlight. I also want to spread the love of higher-end flashlights to friends and family. Most people could benefit from carrying a decent, all-purpose flashlight, but don’t know it until they try it. They’ll carry it if it also charges their phone, and built-in charging they only need one new thing (no additional charger).

The Powertac E8 claims to be IPX4 rated, but says it’s for indoor use only. I’m a little confused, as IPX4 means it should be able to handle rainfall and splashes.

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zak.wilson
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I’m thinking about building my own by picking flashlight components from the popular DIY bits and using the charging electronics of the Miller ML-102 that seems to be popular here. I’d give the charging board its own switch to eliminate its parasitic drain under normal use.

Of course, the body would need to be custom. Fortunately, I have some carbon fiber and epoxy. Unfortunately for this project, I’ll be out of the country for a couple months starting next week and don’t have room to pack a bunch of composite-molding supplies, so I don’t think this is going to happen before next year.

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mongo.geek
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zak.wilson wrote:

  • This Ultrafire, which looks pretty good, but kind of big

I honestly don’t think this one is too big. It looks about right for what it does.

I have ordered one of these and it should be coming in this week.

TrustFire N8 CREE XM-L2 T6 3-Mode 800LM White Flashlight w/ USB Output Interface – Black

Of course, there are also reviews of this light on BLF as well.

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/29160

zak.wilson
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The Trustfire N8 is a lot bigger than the Powertac E8, mostly due to the size of its head. I’m sure the larger reflector has its merits, but that won’t fit comfortably in my pocket.

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mongo.geek
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Quote:
The Trustfire N8 is a lot bigger than the Powertac E8

A lot bigger? No, and if you’re comparing the E8 to the Trustfire, then the Powertac is gonna look like a cheap minimag in terms of brightness.

I think we can all agree, that what you want in your original post isn’t currently available. If you can do without 1 or possibly 2 of those requirements, then there are several possibilities to chose from. And with the price of lights from China, you can afford to buy 2 or 3 and test drive them.

Good luck and if you find what you’re looking for, be sure to post it here, we all might want to get one.

zak.wilson
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The difference in size is pocketable versus not pocketable, at least for my pockets and comfort preferences. I don’t think the difference in apparent brightness is as big as you claim, though I would like more output than the E8 has. Trustfire is known to overstate the capabilities of its products, while Powertac has been seen to do the opposite.

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mongo.geek
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Sounds like you’ve already sold yourself on the E8. Go ahead and get it, especially if those Lumen stats are true for every E8. It’s pretty close to what you want. Free shipping and a lifetime warranty is hard to beat.

Richie086
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Wow, the PowerTac E7 and Hero are wonderful. I can’t believe the cost of them. If they weren’t so expensive, I’d purchase the Hero version for the larger 26650 capacity. But either would be great.

Richie