BLF A6 -- user interface feedback

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Chicken Drumstick
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BLF A6 -- user interface feedback

Right, the A6 has been available for some time now. And I’ve been regulary using mine as an EDC.

First up I’d like to thank those involved, I know there was some final teething trouble with QC. But I think overall it was a success and a great light. Having now used mine a lot and still carrying it as an EDC, I thought I’d offer some feedback on the UI.

Overall I think the UI is pretty good. But I think it has a couple of issues.

Mode order

I find the two modes I want to use the most are Moonlight and Turbo. I find accessing turbo a pain and often end up using a mode I don’t want.

My proposal would be to have the first output level as moonlight and the next one as Turbo.

This would in effect give you:

One click = Moonlight
Double click = Turbo

This means you’ll never be blinded in the dark when you turn it on. But you can also “instantly” access turbo too.

With the current setup you have to turn it on, click …. wait….. wait…. and then get turbo. This takes too long and is annoying. Even more so if you don’t wait long enough and get low, you then have to back up twice!!

Essentially I want the mode order reversing.

Rational:

This is the important bit. Thinking about how and when you use certain modes. If you want turbo, chances are you want it there and then and really don’t want to faff about.

When you want low modes, typically you are more likely to be in less of a rush or hurry, so if moon is too low, click and hold is no bother to step up to the next level. Your mindset is more likely to accept spending more time finding the mode you want.

But when you want high output, you are typically intolerant of delays and over complexity.

If you want an output that is neither, then other modes are also easily accessible.

Number of modes

7 modes sounds great on paper. But it’s too many. And with the default UI it’s impossible to tell where you are. If you click forward through the modes to get to turbo, you really have to count carefully. One click to many and it’s moon light again…

I think 7 out put modes should be on the optional UI program. The default one should have 4 outputs. But should include Turbo and Moonlight (which currently it doesn’t).

Moonlight —> Turbo —> Medium —> Low

Quick click to advance, long click to go backwards through the modes.

As turbo has an auto stepdown, there is no need to have a high output as well.

Blinky and feature modes should be on the other more complex non default UI.

This means nobody wouldn’t be able to do anything they currently do. But it would offer a better experience overall and be more fitting for more uses.

bugsy36
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On the driver with the aTiny13 there was only so much room for the code. TK spent hours upon hours condensing the code that the A6's come with. Fast forward to the aTiny25 driver....TK's Bistro UI offers a lot of what you are mention, including mode order of L>H and H>L

Edited to add:

CD....I am not sure what is available for space on the 25 drivers but TK may be able to incorporate a Mn-H-Med-L order set in there. Again...that is a maybe and there is only so much room in there. Prior people were asking for 2 mode and I think that is there in Bistro. In case people have not seen it...here is the link to Bistro's text file.

http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~toykeeper/flashlight-firmware/trunk/view/he...

It's the simple things that we take for granted that cost us the most

Ευκαιρία λέει πιάσε με από το μέτωπο γιατί μόλις έχω περάσει δεν θα με πιάσειs

KeepingItLight
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Funny, this thing of personal preference. There is no right or wrong, but my preferences are completely the opposite of yours!

I like 7 modes. I like the current mode ordering. I never have trouble getting to turbo in a hurry.

The medium press for me is easy and natural. It sounds like it does not work as well for you.

Chicken Drumstick
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KeepingItLight wrote:

Funny, this thing of personal preference. There is no right or wrong, but my preferences are completely the opposite of yours!

I like 7 modes. I like the current mode ordering. I never have trouble getting to turbo in a hurry.

The medium press for me is easy and natural. It sounds like it does not work as well for you.


I’m certainly not wanting to make this handbags at dawn. But I suspect likes and reality aren’t always the same thing.

I bet if you logged how often you used each mode and for how long. You’d probably be amazed that you don’t infact use all 7 of them.

Liking them is fine, which is why I’d say they should still be there, just not the default. But if you don’t use them, you don’t need them there.

As for “I never have trouble getting to turbo in a hurry.” — this simply ins’t true. It is 100% impossible to get to it in a hurry, as it is either 1 click + click and wait wait wait. Or it’s 7 clicks aways. Both take a similar amount of time to achieve, neither is fast, that’s just a fact, not an opinion.

I’m perfectly capable of accessing Turbo with the current setup… and it’s not enough of an issue to proclaim it the end of the world. But that doesn’t mean it works the best it can. It could be improved upon, but like most things you often need to try i.e. “test” something out first before being able to make such a decision.

Chicken Drumstick
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bugsy36 wrote:

On the driver with the aTiny13 there was only so much room for the code. TK spent hours upon hours condensing the code that the A6’s come with.


I do appreciate the effort that went into it. And was thinking along the lines of the limited space when posting this.

bugsy36 wrote:
Fast forward to the aTiny25 driver….TK’s Bistro UI offers a lot of what you are mention, including mode order of L>H and H>L

Edited to add:

CD….I am not sure what is available for space on the 25 drivers but TK may be able to incorporate a Mn-H-Med-L order set in there. Again…that is a maybe and there is only so much room in there. Prior people were asking for 2 mode and I think that is there in Bistro. In case people have not seen it…here is the link to Bistro’s text file.

http://bazaar.launchpad.net/~toykeeper/flashlight-firmware/trunk/view/he...


It’d be great to see how this goes. Just thought I’d offer some feedback in the hopes it’ll help future projects.

I’m a ‘tester’ by trade, so like to look at how something works and where it could work better.

Smile

mhanlen
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While I love a double click to turbo, I don’t own and I haven’t encountered a single clicky that has implemented a turbo shortcut this way. I’ve only seen it done on eswitch lights. I think the UI is about as good as you can get on a clicky.

I just installed this driver on a forward clicky light and boy is the programming mode hard to access with this type of switch. Took me about 5-10 minutes to activate mode memory.

djozz
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My perfect UI is: moon->100%7135->100%FET, no memory. It is all I use in practice, everything else is ballast. But that UI is too simple for a BLF special project Sad

WarHawk-AVG
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The A6 goes from L>H either 7 mode or 4 mode, then a longer than .5sec hold will reverse direction…mine comes on first click in moon (or low in 4 group mode), long hold and WHAMMO full bore brightness

Have you seen the UI “flowchart”?
It really is the absolute BEST utilitarian flashlight user interface I have ever seen

I can’t find the official location…so I will show you the copy I keep for reference

Lazy-R-us
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Chicken Drumstick wrote:

I bet if you logged how often you used each mode and for how long. You’d probably be amazed that you don’t infact use all 7 of them.

Liking them is fine, which is why I’d say they should still be there, just not the default. But if you don’t use them, you don’t need them there.

As for “I never have trouble getting to turbo in a hurry.” — this simply ins’t true. It is 100% impossible to get to it in a hurry, as it is either 1 click + click and wait wait wait. Or it’s 7 clicks aways. Both take a similar amount of time to achieve, neither is fast, that’s just a fact, not an opinion.

I’m perfectly capable of accessing Turbo with the current setup… and it’s not enough of an issue to proclaim it the end of the world. But that doesn’t mean it works the best it can. It could be improved upon, but like most things you often need to try i.e. “test” something out first before being able to make such a decision.

I have to disagree. From Off, turbo is a click and a half away. Or three full clicks (not as fast but if you miss the half click, you are on your way). As for not using all 7 modes, I will grant that they get less use than Moon and Turbo for me, but I find it invaluable to be able to slowly increase the light output to what is needed for a situation. Evening walks with my neighbors and a dog see the use of nearly all of the middle modes. Moon mode is used any night I need to move a sleepy child out of my bed into their own when I go to bed.

I will grant that keeping track of which middle mode I’m in can be difficult, and stepping up, up, up, whups where did the light go? CAN happen, but I don’t see a good way to indicate that with the system available.

At the risk of ticking off all the “Blinky modes suck” people, I did want the strobe more accessible the other night when an oblivious driver took a right on red into the crosswalk we were in. Since I was in a middle mode, and holding the light ‘thumb on the front bezel’ all I could do was snarl and angrily point the light at her face. Until TK figures out a way to interface telepathically, I’m pretty happy with this UI.

Lazy-R-us

juaquin
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The source code is public and the tools you need to flash the microcontroller are less than $15.

Here is the section you can modify to change the modes:
// Mode group 1
#define NUM_MODES1 7
// PWM levels for the big circuit (FET or Nx7135)
#define MODESNx1 0,0,0,7,56,137,255
// PWM levels for the small circuit (1×7135)
#define MODES1×1 3,20,110,255,255,255,0

Modify NUM_MODES1 to whatever you want and remove the corresponding values from the other two lines. You can also change the order around if you want to go Moonlight->Turbo->whatever.

I haven’t tested it, but something like this should work for what you’re asking (moon->turbo->medium->low):
#define NUM_MODES1 4
#define MODESNx1 0,255,56,0
#define MODES1×1 3,0,255,110

I might be missing some small other modification to make this work, but that’s the gist. That’s the beauty of open-source software, you’re free to make it whatever you think is best.

bugsy36
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CD...you knew you would start a debate. LaughingTongue OutInnocent

I apologize that I did not put it in my post above (like I thought I did) BUT TK does listen to suggestions. It would be worth you dropping her a line. If she can incorporate something she just may.

It's the simple things that we take for granted that cost us the most

Ευκαιρία λέει πιάσε με από το μέτωπο γιατί μόλις έχω περάσει δεν θα με πιάσειs

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Ah, he was making a request, not a “I don’t like” post

Sorry for the miscommunication and confusion

Chicken Drumstick
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WarHawk-AVG wrote:
The A6 goes from L>H either 7 mode or 4 mode, then a longer than .5sec hold will reverse direction…mine comes on first click in moon (or low in 4 group mode), long hold and WHAMMO full bore brightness

Yes those two things are the ‘exact’ things I don’t like and suggesting improvement on.

The 4 mode group should have moon. It doesn’t need High, because turbo auto steps down. As it doesn’t have moon it makes it redundant IMO.

And it’s the “wait” to get to turbo that makes it a PITA. You turn it on, you wait and then get Turbo. If turbo was availble after a 2nd quick click (currently you’ll get low on the 7 mode group). It would solve the problem. You could then in effect access Moon or Turbo instantly from off.

It’s about intended use. If I want Low, then I’m unlikely to be in a hurry, might be sleepy or simply no rush. So I’d happily click for Moon, then click and wait for Low.

But when I want turbo, I want instantly. And it’s ever so easy when in a hurry to click, click wait, but not wait long enough and end up low anyhow.

WarHawk-AVG wrote:

Have you seen the UI “flowchart”?

Yes, it’s very difficult to read Wink

WarHawk-AVG wrote:

It really is the absolute BEST utilitarian flashlight user interface I have ever seen

It’s close and considering it isn’t an electronic switch. But hence my feedback, I feel confident if people used what I proposed, they’d actually prefer it.
fixed it
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Chicken Drumstick wrote:
And it’s the “wait” to get to turbo that makes it a PITA. You turn it on, you wait and then get Turbo. If turbo was availble after a 2nd quick click (currently you’ll get low on the 7 mode group). It would solve the problem. You could then in effect access Moon or Turbo instantly from off.

It’s about intended use. If I want Low, then I’m unlikely to be in a hurry, might be sleepy or simply no rush. So I’d happily click for Moon, then click and wait for Low.


I would tend to agree that the whole thing is a bit complicated. It has a “look what I can do” feel to it with too many options. I don’t have my light yet so I can’t say for sure if I’ll dislike it that much but after some thought, here’s how I would do it:

From OFF: Turn on in moonlight. Stay there for maybe 0.5s, during which a short press would jump to high. Then start a slow (3-4 seconds) ramp up to high. A short press would stop the ramp and use the current level.

From high: a short press would jump to turbo.

From turbo: a long press would jump back to high.

From any regular setting (while not ramping up or down):
- A long press would start a slow ramp down to moonlight. Again, a short press would stop it.
- A short press would start the ramp up to high. Same to stop.
- Multiple short press to access strobe, battery check, etc and eventually cycle back to constant light. The strobes would work at whatever brightness setting was in use, not just maximum.

And that’s it. No config.

The key thing is that it has consistent behavior without having to remember which mode you’re currently in. You turn it on in moonlight fairly easily (on + long press). Same for high (on + short press) or turbo (on + two short press). If you absolutely need one of the intermediate settings, you can probably wait a few seconds. You can hand it over to someone who knows nothing about operating the light and they will simply think it has a fancy progressive on. And you can now have as many light levels as the hardware will allow without making the interface any more complicated.

Thoughts? I wish I could find some free time to write that firmware, it sounds fun Smile

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Chicken Drumstick wrote:
And it’s the “wait” to get to turbo that makes it a PITA. You turn it on, you wait and then get Turbo. If turbo was availble after a 2nd quick click (currently you’ll get low on the 7 mode group). It would solve the problem. You could then in effect access Moon or Turbo instantly from off.
There’s mode memory. It’s enabled by the second set of blinks in the config menu. With mode memory enabled, when you turn off in turbo (or moon), the next time you turn on it’ll be in turbo (or moon). There’s no “wait” for turbo (or moon).
chenko
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I’m liking the UI more and more with use, even if sometimes I also think 7 modes are too many.

For the fastest access to turbo mode, I suggest to fully click to moon, then fully click to off, and fully click again (not too hasty) for turbo. This gives me turbo in a matter of 1 second or so, which I find acceptable for a flashlight that is not intended for tactical use.

If you ask me the firmware / driver that comes closest to perfection as far as modes setup goes is the GuppyDrv (rev 1 or 2 depending on taste), but this BLF custom from ToyKeeper’s genius mind is pretty awesome really.

Chicken Drumstick
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BLightSam wrote:
Chicken Drumstick wrote:
And it’s the “wait” to get to turbo that makes it a PITA. You turn it on, you wait and then get Turbo. If turbo was availble after a 2nd quick click (currently you’ll get low on the 7 mode group). It would solve the problem. You could then in effect access Moon or Turbo instantly from off.
There’s mode memory. It’s enabled by the second set of blinks in the config menu. With mode memory enabled, when you turn off in turbo (or moon), the next time you turn on it’ll be in turbo (or moon). There’s no “wait” for turbo (or moon).

I don’t mind memory on some lights. But it’s usually a compromise solution for a poor UI tbh.

What I want from a light and I suspect many others would too, is the ability to fairly instantly get to Moon OR Turbo from off and know which one you’ll be getting.

For any other use, i.e. any other mode. Chances are you want something very specific for a specific reason, so will happily take a little more time navigating to it.

Rather horridly, I find I end up rapidly clicking 4 times or so to get to a decent output, as it’s quicker and easier and less prone to mistake than trying to get turbo.

But I’d never want a 4-5amp EDC torch to accidently start up in Turbo when wanting Moon.

JasonJ
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Chicken Drumstick wrote:

I don’t mind memory on some lights. But it’s usually a compromise solution for a poor UI tbh.

What I want from a light and I suspect many others would too, is the ability to fairly instantly get to Moon OR Turbo from off and know which one you’ll be getting.

For any other use, i.e. any other mode. Chances are you want something very specific for a specific reason, so will happily take a little more time navigating to it.

Rather horridly, I find I end up rapidly clicking 4 times or so to get to a decent output, as it’s quicker and easier and less prone to mistake than trying to get turbo.

But I’d never want a 4-5amp EDC torch to accidently start up in Turbo when wanting Moon.

I don’t have a BLF A6, however I agree 100% completely with this. Having a light start off in Moon is valuable to me, and more commonly used than not. The ability to instantly go to Turbo from off, or from Moon mode is also high on the list. It is my thinking exactly that anything in between, you are wanting it for a reason and can take a couple seconds to cycle through to it.

Moon and Turbo are going to be the two most common modes anyhow, I would presume. Why not have them be the easiest modes to get to?

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WarHawk-AVG wrote:
The A6 goes from L>H either 7 mode or 4 mode, then a longer than .5sec hold will reverse direction…mine comes on first click in moon (or low in 4 group mode), long hold and WHAMMO full bore brightness

Have you seen the UI “flowchart”?
It really is the absolute BEST utilitarian flashlight user interface I have ever seen

I can’t find the official location…so I will show you the copy I keep for reference


It seems that it is easy for you,but I,can’t find the correct mode and UI.
I am to use the light for self defense mainly,so I want the Turbo mode to be first,then the strobe one,and then,something else,no special interest for this.
Is it possible to have this please?
SawMaster
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First to again thank those who developed the BLF A6. It is an awesome light. But I too yearn for fewer modes now.

I think for me the ideal is between 3 and 5 modes based on what I’m doing with the light. And some lights and things need one mode (usually WFO). 7 is nice but I find myself skipping #2 and #5. Most used is #3 with turbo next, and moon following way way back there. The 4 mode group does nothing for me. I seem to need a little light, an average amount of light, or all the light I can get.

I’m not griping, I can live with it as-is. It will probably be my first programming mod someday.

Phil

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SawMaster wrote:
First to again thank those who developed the BLF A6. It is an awesome light. But I too yearn for fewer modes now.

I think for me the ideal is between 3 and 5 modes based on what I’m doing with the light. And some lights and things need one mode (usually WFO). 7 is nice but I find myself skipping #2 and #5. Most used is #3 with turbo next, and moon following way way back there. The 4 mode group does nothing for me. I seem to need a little light, an average amount of light, or all the light I can get.

I’m not griping, I can live with it as-is. It will probably be my first programming mod someday.

Phil


I found now the following 3 modes only situation.
When I turn it on,it is at the moon light mode.With the following click,it goes to turbo,and the following click, sends it to strobe.Perfect for me now.
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I now have,moon-turbo-strobe.And I like it very much.If I had turbo,or strobe first,I would like it better.

hatman
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chenko wrote:
For the fastest access to turbo mode, I suggest to fully click to moon, then fully click to off, and fully click again (not too hasty) for turbo. This gives me turbo in a matter of 1 second or so, which I find acceptable for a flashlight that is not intended for tactical use.

That’s what I’ve been using ….but I don’t consider it fast or reliable …..Is there any way to go right to turbo?

Rusty Joe
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I got into mode group 2, but how do I activate mode memory?

SawMaster
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Light on- about 15X quick taps on the switch. Light will blink twice (mode groups) then go out returning shortly with another double-blink. Click between the blinks to toggle from where you are now to the opposite selection.

Study the diagram WarHawk-AVG gave in post #8 and it will become clear. That diagram was what brought me to understand how the A6 functions; reading the paragraphs of words explaining it just left me glassy-eyed.

It’s complicated in total but really all you have to remember is 3 things: 15X quick-taps and you get mode group and then memory .

Phil

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Rusty Joe wrote:
I got into mode group 2, but how do I activate mode memory?

Wait for the third blink in settings menu and click

Rusty Joe
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I don’t understand diagrams very well at all.

So wait for those first two clicks and then wait longer and there will be two more, and then click?

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Rusty Joe wrote:
I got into mode group 2, but how do I activate mode memory?
After turning on, do 15+ short taps. You will go into so called configuration mode.

After 15+ taps, light goes off and then there will be two sets of two blinks. The first set of two blinks toggles 7/4 -mode, and the second set of two blinks toggles memory mode on/off. You toggle a setting by turning off BETWEEN the two blinks.

To toggle mode memory, after 15+ taps, light goes off, blink, blink, and then blink. You now turn off — before the second blink. You have now set/toggled mode memory.

Now to turn on in Turbo, turn off the light. Turn on the light and go to Turbo. Turn off light and then turn on. You should now get Turbo.

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Got it! Much grass, much grass!!!