Thorfire CL01 hand crank lantern, review and disassembling

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Werner
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Thorfire CL01 hand crank lantern, review and disassembling

Some time ago Thorfire searched for national reviewers in some countries and because they are one of the better Chinese flashlight makers I decided to do a review. They have some interesting lanterns, one powered by 3xAA, one with a solar panel and one with a handcrank build in.
I choosed the one with the handcrank, the CL01 Lantern.

It’s a small “puck” which can be used as a spotlight through the lens or if extended its a lantern.
That’s how the light looks next to the Y charging cable

Extended to lantern mode

The thing which made it interesting for me was the hand crank because it was something different…

The light operation is easy as I like it, press the electronic switch once and you go to low, press another time and it goes to high next press turns it off. No blinkymodes, not even hidden. When charged a red status led lights up and it even came with a big sheet(not sure which format 210mmX285mm) of English manual with all specs and operating instructions. Brightness is around 100lm on high and maybe 30lm(hard to measure for me) useful to find a path in flashlight mode and bright enough to read something in a tent/table or similiar.
It has something to hang it up on the bottom and the hand crank is also working like you imagine it.
The only thing which is not directly intuitive is that the manual says that you have to open the rubber-chargingsocket-protectionplug(remind that for the next play of hangman;)) before extending the lamp to a lantern. That is to let air flow in/out more easyly. I tried it some dozen times without doing that (I guess most people don’t read manuals…) and it also worked, the air can also flow through some small gaps all around the lamp..

——-
runtime and current
I measured current through the led and got around 0.33A on high and 0.07A on low.
With decreasing batteryvoltage the current decreased too.
Here the results from a fully charged battery:
High
Runtime Current
0 minutes 0.32A
12 minutes 0.27A
31 minutes 0.25A
51 minutes 0.22A
60 minutes 0.13A
88 minutes 0.025A

low
Runtime Current
0 minutes 68mA
52 minutes 64mA
72 minutes 62 mA
123 minutes 59mA
146 minutes 58mA
210 minutes 56mA
290 minutes 50mA
333 minutes 4mA
360minutes 2mA
So on low it is fairly constant for about 5 hours

It doesn’t switch off after this measurements, in both modes it will run, in a kind of moon mode with 2mA, for some additional hours…

charging
The lantern has a DC plug input covered with a small piece of rubber for protection and a LED charging indicator.
The charging cable has 3 ends: USB A male, USB A female and a DC male. It can be used to charge the lantern with any USB charger, charging current is around 0.3A(not really CC it’s decreasing continuously) and the charged capacity was always around 290mAh.
Also the USB female can be connected to a USB device to charge it with the cranking, you can’t charge the phone with the inbuilt battery.
The charging current is around 0.3A-0.4A depending on charging status and how fast you crank for the internal battery or the external USB device
The cranking feature gives you theoretically an “eternal” runtime but it gets hard after some minutes, especially if the battery is empty and the charging current is high if it is almost full the cranking gets easier(of course the laws of physics are ubiquitous…)
I tried to charge my phone and it worked and 350mA sounds not to bad…but you have to crank all the time so to charge 1Ah in your phone you would have to crank continuously 3h. So in an emergency it could be a nice feature, but for everyday use it can’t be used. On a camping trip, to give kids something useful to do it might work well.

internals
Of course I was curious to see the innards of the lamp. Everything on this lamp could be accessed very easyly through screws, nothing was glued or clipped and I could easyly screw everything back together without any additional glue or whatever. Even the rubber feet which sit in the screw holes could be reused. I have looked into a lot of devices and normally I have to at least glue some screws back in because the threads are only made for one time use. So I rate the build quality as very good.

There is a brushless generator and some gears in the bottom to charge the light. Also we have a PCB with all electronics on it and that small green thing which looks like a electrolytic capacitor is the Lithium rechargeable battery.

PCB bottom. You can clearly see that the three cables from the generator go over a rectifier to the charging circuit.
LED+ is connected to battery+ over a 1 Ohm resistor(R3), Led- is switched over a fet.

The used battery is a 300mAh huahui hcc1330, in a ecap housing. The size is like the type number says 30mmX13mm. It’s held in place with some double sided foam tape. This type of battery seems to be used in some ecigarettes due to high current discharge capabilities, but I never had seen one before. The manufacturer rates the cell as good for 500 cycles when charged with 1C, that’s also what Thorfire advertised.

When ordering I hoped switching to a bigger battery would be possible but there is no space for a 18650, a 16340 might fit with a bit dremeling…the cranking mechanism is using to much room.

The led is a generic type 1W Led the star is screwed on a piece of aluminium as heatsink. The colour temperature is more on the cool side of neutral. It has a hole in the housing and heatsink to let air in/out of the lantern.

After opening it anyway I simply swapped the LED to a nichia119, which I really like for these small current lanterns, because of the neutral white tint and good cri, I bridged the 1ohm resistor to get some mA more(now around 0.4A). I thought about upgrading the fet and even driver but the battery is so small that it makes no sense.

—-
For my taste the lantern is a compromise: because of the cranking, it has just a small battery(space is limited) and because of the small battery you have small LED currents to maintain some useful runtimes…of course you would get veeeeerrrrrry looooong runtimes with a additional USB power bank or with always cranking it up. If this thing would have a aluminium case and a nice LED driven with 1A maybe powered by a 2.5-3Ah battery I would Say that is a very nice lantern…but as it is, it’s more a toy compared to real flashlights, which always can be used with a diffuser as a lantern…
Of course ten years ago 100lm would have been amazing and so it will work today also good, but I wouldn’t recommend it for BLflers which are used to another level of lightning…

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:41
dealgrabber2002
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When u have time, can you take a pic of the lantern in high and low in a dark room. I want to see will it suit my needs.

Thx for the review

MRsDNF
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Thanks for the review Werner. Would there be any chance you could take a picture of the light in your hand to give us an idea of the size of it?

 

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                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

vēer
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Thanks for review, always been interested in hand crank lights, pitty most of them are crap.

Plastic gears, that sucks, they will fail after couple of uses, I believe, so its not reliable for TEOTWAWKI :D!

Werner
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The brightness on low is comparable to a bright candle or a gaslighter adjusted to +.
I wandered around inside the house a lot and it is a useful light but I ended always in high mode because I simply like it brighter. Sadly the runtime on high is only 1h that is why I plugged in a power bank and let it run some hours in high.
I am really worse in making pictures so I won’t make a picture of the light(I tried but it didn’t worked)
—-
A good hint I will add a size section to the review tomorrow…totally forgot that
—-
Same here, I always overestimate handcrank lights…I think they are often more in the toys category.
I have already ordered a generator banggood had in their deals….will try if it is possible to make something more powerful with hand cranking in the next months:)
Maybe a cranking charger would be the best bet so that you don’t have to carry around a heavy generator when you just use the light…
I also ordered this

vēer
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I had similar light, like the piggy one, it was “push” light and it failed – gears broke instantly :D!