FW3A, a TLF/BLF EDC flashlight - SST-20 available, coupon codes public

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ljtyk
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I ordered FW3A off of Amazon with battery on Sept 1st 2021 and it was the old driver.

lordlupulin
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Is it possible to build the 1+7+FET driver diy? Oshpark? I accidentally tore the positive pad off of my old FW3A driver while trying to fix a bad connection. No-one seems to carry the driver by itself, Lumintop hasnt responded to my requests. I know there is the Lume1 driver but I liked the original.

trakcon
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This is truly disappointing. Thanks for the heads up.

lumenzilla
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Thanks for the information. It’s a disappointing move by the manufacturer.

cabfrank
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Disappointing is too kind of a way to put it.

uselessuser
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lordlupulin wrote:
Is it possible to build the 1+7+FET driver diy? Oshpark? I accidentally tore the positive pad off of my old FW3A driver while trying to fix a bad connection. No-one seems to carry the driver by itself, Lumintop hasnt responded to my requests. I know there is the Lume1 driver but I liked the original.

I think the design is on Oshpark, but Lumintop on their Aliexpress store were happy to sell me a driver. Now with this new info I’m somewhat worried what will be in the mail tomorrow.
Neal is also selling the driver alone, just text him personally via Facebook. I should mention that he sent me a wrong driver when I ordered an FWAA one (with a side switch… not sure what he was thinking) and ignored my complaints, but that’s part of the Neal experience I guess. I had better luck with ordering parts from him previously.

mortuus
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Why even sell the light at this point if its been altered so much from the beginning ? they should have just sold the light during group buy and then close it for good.. keep the same quality and not just nerf it in secret over the coming months and later…..

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xevious
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mortuus wrote:
Why even sell the light at this point if its been altered so much from the beginning ? they should have just sold the light during group buy and then close it for good.. keep the same quality and not just nerf it in secret over the coming months and later…..
I think they had ambitions of selling more of this flashlight outside of the small pool of flashlight enthusiasts, hobbyists, and technologists. And as such, they looked for ways to trim production costs any way they could. This was inherently a bad idea. This is not a flashlight for mass consumption. It heats up too fast. If you aren’t mindful of the circuit contact weakness (inner tube), you can end up with unpredictable behavior or malfunction—even with “muggle” mode. They probably didn’t put their best people on the project of redoing the driver board, in order to save money. Now they’ve got a lemon that will tarnish the brand name for those who buy it. In the end, their ambitions have backfired. You would think that high visibility cases of this kind of practice would be a deterrent (e.g. cutting costs in production of children’s toothpaste that allowed toxic substances to be introduced, making children sick).
Firelight2
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mortuus wrote:
Why even sell the light at this point if its been altered so much from the beginning ? they should have just sold the light during group buy and then close it for good.. keep the same quality and not just nerf it in secret over the coming months and later…..

The revised FW3A offends us on this forum for the obvious compromises they made to quality. And because this started as a project from a BLF’er and was made with assistance from a BLF team … and now Lumintop is cheapening that effort.

However, the average consumer who doesn’t browse this forum would still consider this a pretty good light even in its latest cheapest incarnation. (assuming the average consumer can get past the finicky operation and assembly).

  • It’s small for an 18650 light.
  • It’s a triple, so is very bright.
  • It has a powerful UI.

Most won’t notice that the driver is no longer quite as efficient. Also, even a FET+1 is not horrible. That’s what the Emisar D4 and D4v2 use.

Even the flashaholics on this forum would probably be pretty impressed with the FW3A if it were released today in the current FET+1 configuration (and if there had been no prior version to compare to). For what it does, it is still superior to many other lights on the market.

Personally, I think the biggest problem with the FW3A is not actually Lumintop’s fault. Rather it was a poor design decision from the very first prototype:

  • The inner contact ring and outer tube rely on anodizing to insulate themselves from each other. This was a rather poor choice. Not so much because the anodizing can wear off, but rather because this means the inner ring is so close to the outer tube… and same for their contacts on the driver and switch pcbs.
  • Because those contacts are so close together, there is no leeway. If anything is even the smallest bit out of position, the light malfunctions.
  • The FW3A isn’t the first light to use an inner contact ring for connection. But it may be the first light that chose to use anodizing rather than something else for insulation.
  • Other lights have solved this problem in ways that are much more reliable and cause no malfunctions. For example: the classic Liteflux LF2XT also used an inner contact tube and electronic tailcap switch. But instead of anodizing to keep them apart it uses a separate plastic separator tube. This ensures the inner tube is always perfectly positioned in a way that anodizing and o-rings in the FW3A cannot.

wle
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as far as inner tube insulation, i just put a ring of electrical tape at each end of the signal tube
it;s been working since day 1

"You never have the wind with you - it's either against you, or you're having a good day."
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Firelight2
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wle wrote:
as far as inner tube insulation, i just put a ring of electrical tape at each end of the signal tube it;s been working since day 1

Mine have worked for the most part since Day 1 using just the stock parts.

However, I did occasionally have issues with some of them where I needed to reseat the tube, or adjust the retainer rings at each end to prevent the inner tube shorting.

None of that would have been necessary had the center tube been kept further from the edges via a plastic separator tube.

Flashlights aren’t all that complex. They really should just work out-of-the-box. It should not be necessary to apply electrical tape or otherwise disassemble a new light just to get it to work properly when brand new.

wle
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Right but now I like it just fine. Best light ever for me. Would not have bothered, otherwise.

"You never have the wind with you - it's either against you, or you're having a good day."
    Daniel Behrman, "The Man Who Loved Bicycles".
It never gets easy, you just go faster.   
-Greg Lemond.
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ToyKeeper
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I like most of the FW3A / FW1A lights I have… but it’s unfortunate that I can’t recommend them to new buyers. Getting a good one was a gamble to begin with, due to inconsistent quality, and it seems like the odds have only gotten worse over time.

So I’ve been recommending the Noctigon KR4 instead. It’s similar, but has higher and more consistent quality, a nicer driver, more LED types, more features, a more robust build, a nicer clip, and is much easier to update.

Melez
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This makes me sad to hear they’re goofing around with it. I like mine, though I wish the XP-L HI 5D was available in the first round.

I ended up getting an FWAA before I heard about the additional messing around. It’s a nice form factor but… the optic/Emitters I’d probably change for something that’s not 1.5cd/lm. I’d want sw45ks and a clear optic so I could use it without toasting my hand.

At one point I recommended the FW3A, but with all the shenanigans that keep happening, I’m steering people towards the KR4 as well. I just got one with 219Bs and the 9A CC driver (super nice) and Hank really got it right.

cabfrank
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The good, original ones, despite not being perfect, are my favorite flashlights. Between those and the FW4A (especially the vn version), I can honestly say I’ve reached my flashlight apex, which is something I thought impossible. I have some very nice BLF editions, great modded triples, etc, and would trade them for the good FW3s and 4s, and be done with it. That, along with the ungratefullness of a company that didn’t do its own r&d, is why I find this particularly disturbing.

Firelight2
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Despite their problems I still quite like the FW3 series lights. Some of my favorites:

  • FW3A with 18500 tube – a bit smaller than the original FW3A, while still having good battery capacity.
  • FW4X with 18500 tube – yes the FW4X has a really crappy UI. Much worse than Anduril. On the other hand, the FW4X has variable tint, high output, and unlike the IF25 is small enough to be pocketable. It’s also cheaper than other variable tint options like the PS14.
  • FW3Ti – looks better in Titanium.
  • FWAA Ti-Cu – decent output, tiny size, looks classy. Definitely feels better in the pocket than a wider FW3 size light. Much floodier than I’d prefer though. I’d rather have a Carclo 10507 beam pattern.

One thing I don’t like about the aluminum FW3A and FWAA is they look and feel a bit cheap. No fancy anodizing or complex fluting or knurling on the tube.

uselessuser
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uselessuser wrote:
Lumintop on their Aliexpress store were happy to sell me a driver. Now with this new info I’m somewhat worried what will be in the mail tomorrow.

The drivers arrived and they appear to be the original ones.
xevious
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ToyKeeper wrote:
I like most of the FW3A / FW1A lights I have… but it’s unfortunate that I can’t recommend them to new buyers. Getting a good one was a gamble to begin with, due to inconsistent quality, and it seems like the odds have only gotten worse over time.

So I’ve been recommending the Noctigon KR4 instead. It’s similar, but has higher and more consistent quality, a nicer driver, more LED types, more features, a more robust build, a nicer clip, and is much easier to update.

I agree, the Noctigon KR4 is a terrific light… and if I didn’t have the FW3A I’d have bought it. What’s your opinion of the Fireflies flashlights using Anduril?
cabfrank wrote:
The good, original ones, despite not being perfect, are my favorite flashlights. Between those and the FW4A (especially the vn version), I can honestly say I’ve reached my flashlight apex, which is something I thought impossible. I have some very nice BLF editions, great modded triples, etc, and would trade them for the good FW3s and 4s, and be done with it. That, along with the ungratefulness of a company that didn’t do its own r&d, is why I find this particularly disturbing.
I thought I’d reached my apex as well, with just the desire for one really good budget long range thrower (now so many choices appearing)… then Fireflies drew me in with a phenomenal mule. The PL47mu is such a beautiful, useful tool. The opportunity for macro lens photography with attractive lighting is enormous, especially when using a pair of them. Then there’s the NOV-mu with 21 E21A emitters…
ToyKeeper
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xevious wrote:
What’s your opinion of the Fireflies flashlights using Anduril?

I haven’t tried any of the recent ones. It looks like they use a nice LoneOceans driver now, but I haven’t really followed the progress. I should probably get one though, so I can at least make sure stuff works while I’m merging and updating code.

trakcon
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ToyKeeper wrote:
xevious wrote:
What’s your opinion of the Fireflies flashlights using Anduril?

I haven’t tried any of the recent ones. It looks like they use a nice LoneOceans driver now, but I haven’t really followed the progress. I should probably get one though, so I can at least make sure stuff works while I’m merging and updating code.

Speaking of code, what build target should we use for the FWAA?

ToyKeeper
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trakcon wrote:
Speaking of code, what build target should we use for the FWAA?

I don’t have one, but the internet tells me it uses product ID 0312, fw3a-219.

I assume this was chosen because the hardware was removed for a 3rd power channel, and the 219 firmware leaves channels 1+2 on at the turbo level. In other words, it’s broken, but it’s arguably less broken on this hardware than the main FW3A build.

Personally, if I was going to flash stock firmware onto a light it wasn’t designed for, I’d probably use the nofet version… because at least it’s designed to use 2 power channels instead of 3. But then, if I was going to make FWAA firmware, I would give it its own build target and calibrate it properly, instead of using firmware designed for a different purpose.

Not particularly happy about Lumintop using FW3A-specific code on so many other lights it was never intended for. It really should be tweaked for each hardware model for best results. Otherwise it ends up with a bunch of things which aren’t quite right, like the bouncy regulation zeroair measured:

johnhanks
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Any website or shop?

Innovations change our lives. New things to me, not ads to me.

trakcon
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ToyKeeper wrote:
trakcon wrote:
Speaking of code, what build target should we use for the FWAA?

I don’t have one, but the internet tells me it uses product ID 0312, fw3a-219.

I assume this was chosen because the hardware was removed for a 3rd power channel, and the 219 firmware leaves channels 1+2 on at the turbo level. In other words, it’s broken, but it’s arguably less broken on this hardware than the main FW3A build.

Personally, if I was going to flash stock firmware onto a light it wasn’t designed for, I’d probably use the nofet version… because at least it’s designed to use 2 power channels instead of 3. But then, if I was going to make FWAA firmware, I would give it its own build target and calibrate it properly, instead of using firmware designed for a different purpose.

Not particularly happy about Lumintop using FW3A-specific code on so many other lights it was never intended for. It really should be tweaked for each hardware model for best results. Otherwise it ends up with a bunch of things which aren’t quite right, like the bouncy regulation zeroair measured:

Thanks, TK.

fogofwar
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@Toykeeper

I live in China and I bought the FW3A directly from the Lumintop flagship Taobao store about a month ago. FYI, my driver is the red FET+1 version with firmware 2021-01-25-0322 (blf-gt-mini according to your website).

Scallywag
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Even by the time the first purple run happened, the reputation of FW3A was declining so fast that someone bought my original group buy version for more than I paid for it.

I’m kind of sad I didn’t get an early FW1A. I meant to, but by the time I got around to it the reflectors were changed.

At over 50 in my collection though, I’m sure I’ll find something else to carry.

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I still have 2 of the FW3A XP-L HI 3D versions from original run – BNIB !
I did just pull them out and fondle the “perfect” switch buttons … ahh the good ole buttons.

I’ve had nothing but problems with an Illumn purchased Cu FW3A button(s).
Got 2 replacement buttons – light is STILL unreliable… with replacement switches also being from that then-current batch.

I just refuse to cannibalize a perfect virgin OG light to swap out the switch.

I DID swap buttons with my original user FW3A into the Cu … TADA ! So I know it’s the button and not the assembly or the driver in the Cu that is the problem.
Cu back in the gun safe – good button back in my user.

These FW3As that run flawlessly are a joy to use.

*Funny thing is … the button on my FWAA-Copper-SST20 4000K, which was purchased in July 2021 .. is PERFECT and feels exactly as the OG buttons.
uselessuser
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All this talk about buttons… I never quite dared to ask what exactly the big issue is. I’ve got a large number of FWxx lights and they all have the same mushy button. But the ones that self-activated could be fixed by aligning the button PCB or tightening the driver’s retaining ring, or both with a lot of fiddling. The button itself, meaning the thing you press and the pieces directly under it, was never the issue.
Should I try to find out if all of my lights have the crap buttons that everyone is complaining about? Do I even want to know, or should I just live in doubt but fairly happy with them?

stephenk
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So are the strobe mode waveforms likely to be better or worse in the latest version of the FW1A?

thefreeman
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stephenk wrote:
So are the strobe mode waveforms likely to be better or worse in the latest version of the FW1A?

No change, it’s a PWM driver, no limitations to fast strobe.

xevious
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ToyKeeper wrote:
xevious wrote:
What’s your opinion of the Fireflies flashlights using Anduril?
I haven’t tried any of the recent ones. It looks like they use a nice LoneOceans driver now, but I haven’t really followed the progress. I should probably get one though, so I can at least make sure stuff works while I’m merging and updating code.
Sorry I missed replying sooner. Thanks for your response. They seem to be very well put together. Very nice quality machining too. I’ve written to Jack inquiring about Anduril update intentions, but haven’t heard a word as yet.

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