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

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varbos
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thefreeman wrote:
To play the devil’s advocate the reason they are removing 7135s could be because they can’t source reliable ones, it seems that lately there has been more reports of 7135s failing. Because while I can see that removing seven 7135s would save them some money, removing one doesn’t do much.
Of course instead of just removing them they should design a new driver like linear+FET or buck+FET, but Lumintop doesn’t seem to have much competence in driver design.

If they want to change specs to save money (or due to component shortages) they should give it a new name/SKU

I have a major problem with a product being released to the market, getting sent to reviewers and then subsequently being downgraded without announcement. So someone comes late to the scene, reads the positive reviews and then buys it and gets a significantly worse product.

It is especially bad because the specifications were carefully developed by enthusiasts, there is nothing accidental or arbitrary about the components.

thefreeman
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yeah I agree with change of SKU. That reminds me of silent downgrades in the SSD market, which are quite common.

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In a perfect world they would use an off the shelf driver from another Lumintop light or go to the Chinese market and get one, but there aren’t any suitable FET+6 drivers, or even any linear drivers (buck) since even those are hard to come by due to shortages. Plus it would raise the cost of the light considerably which would beg the question why not buy something else worh a better driver (Emisar, etc).

varbos
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thefreeman wrote:
yeah I agree with change of SKU. That reminds me of silent downgrades in the SSD market, which are quite common.

Yes, I was thinking of this example also.

Many SSDs have been silently downgraded. Many HDDs were downgraded to SMR platters recently also, including WD Red. I know people who had major problems with a ZFS array because of this.

If they had the choice to buy SMR for cheap or pay a few bucks extra for CMR there would be no problem. But they did not have a choice, the manufacturer instead tried to trick them and in doing so caused major damage to their reputation.

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Spine Grinder wrote:
Is there any Lumintop light, FW21 maybe, still worth ordering?

The FW21 uses the exact same driver parts as the FW3A. If Lumintop can’t source those parts, it’ll affect all FW-series models. The exception is the FW3X, which uses a different driver (but it also costs at least twice as much, even though the parts cost approximately the same).

Also, I have a FW21 Neal sent me a long time ago. I assumed it was an early prototype, because when I put in the battery it was designed for, it did not turn on. The battery tube was so long, the battery couldn’t make contact at both ends at the same time. I had to add a spacer. Also, some other parts of the design were clearly not thought out, like the clip was too short for the body, the optic was too small for the host, and the head had a weirdly thick bezel to fill in the extra space. But it turns out that was not a prototype… it was the production version. They shipped it to customers like that.

It seems like something gets downgraded every few months, and it’s random which batch people receive. The older batches are, of course, less and less obtainable over time… so you’ll probably get a newer, downgraded one. It’s a gamble, and the odds are not in your favor.

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ToyKeeper wrote:

The FW21 uses the exact same driver parts as the FW3A. If Lumintop can’t source those parts, it’ll affect all FW-series models. The exception is the FW3X, which uses a different driver (but it also costs at least twice as much, even though the parts cost approximately the same).


You mean between Lume1 and the original FET+7+1 driver ? No there is a non negligible cost difference.

I talked about it here : https://www.reddit.com/r/flashlight/comments/qllgxx/would_you_pay_an_ext...

Quote:
The FWxA Lume1 is not really cost optimised :
  • expensive Coilcraft inductor while there are less costly, nearly just as good alternatives.
  • external temp sensor (provides factory calibrated temp measurement), not needed with the new attiny 1-series supported in Anduril.
  • costly Op-Amp (2.4$ for 100 pcs, while the one used in noctigon drivers as well as my drivers costs half of that, there is even an option for a 0.75$ one, which Loneoceans used in his LumeX driver).
  • charge pump gate driver for the DD NFET (in the FF lume1 drivers it was changed to a PFET, no charge pump needed).
  • 4 layers PCB.

Quote:
I did a quick estimation of the BOM cost for 100 pcs with Mouser prices, price/pcs :
  • a lume1 3A buck-boost+FET, with the BOM Loneoceans provided : 11.37$
  • a cost optimised (same performance) lume1 3A BB+FET : 6.81$
  • a 6A buck+FET : 5.84$
  • a 6A buck+FET with reverse polarity protection (lume1 has no RPP) : 6.57$
  • a 6A buck+FET with RPP and high dynamic range (ultra low moonlight) : 7.19$

For the Noctigon linear+FET (no RPP, +0.1$ for RPP) I’m going to estimate 3.8~4.5$ depending on the price of the FETs (unknown) used.

Then there is 4 layer vs 2 layers PCB cost andthe lower volume production.

That said the manufacturer probably sourced cheaper capacitors, also there has been a new revision with a different Op-amp, (SC70-5 case vs SC70-6 previously, guessing a less expensive one).

BOM for FET+7+1 for 100pcs is probably around 2~2.5$

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thefreeman wrote:
ToyKeeper wrote:
FW3X … costs at least twice as much, even though the parts cost approximately the same

You mean between Lume1 and the original FET+7+1 driver ? No there is a non negligible cost difference.

Yes, comparing just the drivers by themselves, there is a large cost difference. It’s like $2 vs $12 or so. But an extra $10 is relatively small compared to the difference in price for assembled lights. Something doesn’t add up.

The FW3A was originally sold for around $30 to $35, and now is about $40 or so. The FW3X driver is sold by itself for $25, though the cost is probably only half that… or less, if Lumintop did the thing they usually do and optimized the costs. Take the FW3A price of $40-ish, plus the driver’s retail price of $25, and it adds up to about $65. But the assembled FW3X was sold for $100, though it looks like the last few are now on clearance for $80.

It’s disappointing to see the retail price jump up by $40 or $60 while the production cost increased by only $10 or $15.

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Yeah, true, that doesn’t explain the large price difference, some other small costs for the AUX board and extra assembly but that’s it, they’re taking fat margins.

Maybe Emisar will make successor at some point (although maybe unlikely since they already have the slightly bigger KR4).

Wurkkos is making a copy of the FWAA, maybe after that they’ll make a copy of the FW3/1A.

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varbos wrote:
thefreeman wrote:
yeah I agree with change of SKU. That reminds me of silent downgrades in the SSD market, which are quite common.

Yes, I was thinking of this example also.

Many SSDs have been silently downgraded. Many HDDs were downgraded to SMR platters recently also, including WD Red. I know people who had major problems with a ZFS array because of this.

If they had the choice to buy SMR for cheap or pay a few bucks extra for CMR there would be no problem. But they did not have a choice, the manufacturer instead tried to trick them and in doing so caused major damage to their reputation.

I was looking at this recently and only found posts so far from ca. 2020 about this issue for HDs. Has anything changed? For example the larger drives in WD Desktop elements hard drives (day 12TB and up), are they still all CMR? Is there an up to date list of what is what? And with the SSDs, if you can give a link to more on that I’d appreciate that too as I want to get a bigger SSD for my OS/workspace soon.

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ToyKeeper wrote:
the optic was too small for the host, and the head had a weirdly thick bezel to fill in the extra space. But it turns out that was not a prototype… it was the production version. They shipped it to customers like that.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, about how the 21700 light was a triple and then later they released a quad 18650 light which just is backwards. I really wanted a quad emitter 21700 FW21 but it never happened for some reason. Instead we get all these different FW69XXXL versions which never seemed practical for carrying like the original FW3A was. I guess the Noctigon KR4 makes up for the light I wanted never being made but it’s still something that annoys me today.

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Jensen wrote:

I mentioned this in an earlier post, about how the 21700 light was a triple and then later they released a quad 18650 light which just is backwards. I really wanted a quad emitter 21700 FW21 but it never happened for some reason. Instead we get all these different FW69XXXL versions which never seemed practical for carrying like the original FW3A was. I guess the Noctigon KR4 makes up for the light I wanted never being made but it’s still something that annoys me today.

With the FW3A they had a hit on their hands, but Lumintop did not know why it was a hit. (because it was designed by enthusiasts)

So they tried to capitalize on the popularity with all these dumb variations, but without an understanding of why FW3A was popular, most variations missed their mark. They milked it way too much. Then all the spec downgrades and dumb writing on the bezel etc.

It is an interesting lesson for any other flashlight manufacturers who are paying attention.

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ToyKeeper wrote:
Spine Grinder wrote:
Is there any Lumintop light, FW21 maybe, still worth ordering?

The FW21 uses the exact same driver parts as the FW3A. If Lumintop can’t source those parts, it’ll affect all FW-series models. The exception is the FW3X, which uses a different driver (but it also costs at least twice as much, even though the parts cost approximately the same).

Also, I have a FW21 Neal sent me a long time ago. I assumed it was an early prototype, because when I put in the battery it was designed for, it did not turn on. The battery tube was so long, the battery couldn’t make contact at both ends at the same time. I had to add a spacer. Also, some other parts of the design were clearly not thought out, like the clip was too short for the body, the optic was too small for the host, and the head had a weirdly thick bezel to fill in the extra space. But it turns out that was not a prototype… it was the production version. They shipped it to customers like that.

It seems like something gets downgraded every few months, and it’s random which batch people receive. The older batches are, of course, less and less obtainable over time… so you’ll probably get a newer, downgraded one. It’s a gamble, and the odds are not in your favor.

Wow, thank you for the personal reply! I was just kind of “old man shaking fist mumbling” because I was so excited when this project started. I don’t remember some of those details about shipping customers sub par product, but I feel better now for giving Noctigon my money instead. And Sofirn, lot’s of Sofirn…

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Spine Grinder wrote:
And Sofirn, lot’s of Sofirn…

I think you mean… CSTZATZIKIBOCCI Big Smile

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varbos wrote:
With the FW3A they had a hit on their hands, but Lumintop did not know why it was a hit. (because it was designed by enthusiasts)

So they tried to capitalize on the popularity with all these dumb variations, but without an understanding of why FW3A was popular, most variations missed their mark. They milked it way too much. Then all the spec downgrades and dumb writing on the bezel etc.

It is an interesting lesson for any other flashlight manufacturers who are paying attention.

My impression was always that Neal was the driving force behind the endless FW variations rather than Lumintop themselves. The FW3A was a surprise hit, and he spent years riding the hype train with all all the new colours and models before the shine wore off. Add in Lumintop cheaping out on components or just not caring about quality at all (see the FW1A reflector fiasco) and the entire thing is completely removed from its roots as an enthusiast light developed by the community. Neal was also the reason the FW3A originally took so long to be released too.

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thefreeman wrote:
Yeah, true, that doesn’t explain the large price difference, some other small costs for the AUX board and extra assembly but that’s it, they’re taking fat margins.

Maybe Emisar will make successor at some point (although maybe unlikely since they already have the slightly bigger KR4).

Wurkkos is making a copy of the FWAA, maybe after that they’ll make a copy of the FW3/1A.

Awesome! Gooooooo Wurkkos! I think Sofirn/Wurkkos, Wuben, and maybe even Mateminco can capitalize on Lumintops woes. I’d give them my money. I have been really impressed with Wubens stuff and Sofirn is Sofirn (or Wurkkos).

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thefreeman wrote:
Yeah, true, that doesn’t explain the large price difference, some other small costs for the AUX board and extra assembly but that’s it, they’re taking fat margins.

Maybe Emisar will make successor at some point (although maybe unlikely since they already have the slightly bigger KR4).

Wurkkos is making a copy of the FWAA, maybe after that they’ll make a copy of the FW3/1A.

I am interested which Wurkkos is a FWAA copy, is it released?

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Spine Grinder wrote:
thefreeman wrote:
Yeah, true, that doesn’t explain the large price difference, some other small costs for the AUX board and extra assembly but that’s it, they’re taking fat margins.

Maybe Emisar will make successor at some point (although maybe unlikely since they already have the slightly bigger KR4).

Wurkkos is making a copy of the FWAA, maybe after that they’ll make a copy of the FW3/1A.

I am interested which Wurkkos is a FWAA copy, is it released?


Not released yet: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/81233
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SammysHP wrote:
Spine Grinder wrote:
thefreeman wrote:
Yeah, true, that doesn’t explain the large price difference, some other small costs for the AUX board and extra assembly but that’s it, they’re taking fat margins.

Maybe Emisar will make successor at some point (although maybe unlikely since they already have the slightly bigger KR4).

Wurkkos is making a copy of the FWAA, maybe after that they’ll make a copy of the FW3/1A.

I am interested which Wurkkos is a FWAA copy, is it released?


Not released yet: https://budgetlightforum.com/node/81233

Thank you. I am not yet caught up on all the new lights, the Manker E05 is looking pretty good. Every time I find a light that is reviewed it is now discontinued/replaced, making finding proven lights difficult.

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stephenk wrote:
varbos wrote:
I wonder if they degraded everything, including the Titanium and Copper/Brass versions. I would be super pissed if I spent 100 bucks on a Ti version and got the degraded driver and crappy optic.

Lumintop are shooting themselves in the foot because I have no confidence to buy ANY Lumintop product. If they want to change the specs of product for the worse they need to use a new SKU and product name so everyone knows it is different.


Have to agree, downgrading existing products makes me extremely reluctant to buy any of their new products. If only there was a good FW1A alternative (i.e. Anduril, Tail Switch, Head Diameter

I could not agree more… I want one more old FW1A. I have a newer one and an original one.

The KR4 has become the almost perfect replacement for the FW3A, but the head is larger diameter and the light is a little longer. I EDC an old unmarked copper FW3A and have a spare on the shelf along with 5 aluminum 3A’s but only one old 1A.

EDC rotation:
KR4, SST-20 FA3 4000k (favorite!)
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (second favorite)
FW1A, LH351D 3500k (third favorite)
FW1A, XP-L Hi 3A
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k
Emisar D4V2, brass E21A 3500k (night light of choice)

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mattlward wrote:
stephenk wrote:
varbos wrote:
I wonder if they degraded everything, including the Titanium and Copper/Brass versions. I would be super pissed if I spent 100 bucks on a Ti version and got the degraded driver and crappy optic.

Lumintop are shooting themselves in the foot because I have no confidence to buy ANY Lumintop product. If they want to change the specs of product for the worse they need to use a new SKU and product name so everyone knows it is different.


Have to agree, downgrading existing products makes me extremely reluctant to buy any of their new products. If only there was a good FW1A alternative (i.e. Anduril, Tail Switch, Head Diameter

I could not agree more… I want one more old FW1A. I have a newer one and an original one.

The KR4 has become the almost perfect replacement for the FW3A, but the head is larger diameter and the light is a little longer. I EDC an old unmarked copper FW3A and have a spare on the shelf along with 5 aluminum 3A’s but only one old 1A.

@boo5sted has offered a nice 1A, PM him.

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Spine Grinder wrote:
mattlward wrote:
stephenk wrote:
varbos wrote:
I wonder if they degraded everything, including the Titanium and Copper/Brass versions. I would be super pissed if I spent 100 bucks on a Ti version and got the degraded driver and crappy optic.

Lumintop are shooting themselves in the foot because I have no confidence to buy ANY Lumintop product. If they want to change the specs of product for the worse they need to use a new SKU and product name so everyone knows it is different.


Have to agree, downgrading existing products makes me extremely reluctant to buy any of their new products. If only there was a good FW1A alternative (i.e. Anduril, Tail Switch, Head Diameter

I could not agree more… I want one more old FW1A. I have a newer one and an original one.

The KR4 has become the almost perfect replacement for the FW3A, but the head is larger diameter and the light is a little longer. I EDC an old unmarked copper FW3A and have a spare on the shelf along with 5 aluminum 3A’s but only one old 1A.

@boo5sted has offered a nice 1A, PM him.

I approve this message lol.

"America has three cities, New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland."- Tennessee Williams

 

 

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swhs wrote:
varbos wrote:
thefreeman wrote:
yeah I agree with change of SKU. That reminds me of silent downgrades in the SSD market, which are quite common.

Yes, I was thinking of this example also.

Many SSDs have been silently downgraded. Many HDDs were downgraded to SMR platters recently also, including WD Red. I know people who had major problems with a ZFS array because of this.

If they had the choice to buy SMR for cheap or pay a few bucks extra for CMR there would be no problem. But they did not have a choice, the manufacturer instead tried to trick them and in doing so caused major damage to their reputation.

I was looking at this recently and only found posts so far from ca. 2020 about this issue for HDs. Has anything changed? For example the larger drives in WD Desktop elements hard drives (day 12TB and up), are they still all CMR? Is there an up to date list of what is what? And with the SSDs, if you can give a link to more on that I’d appreciate that too as I want to get a bigger SSD for my OS/workspace soon.

Toshiba and Seagate tell you what their drives are. Sometimes it’s easy to find for WD as with their black line. WD also has info for their blue drives in the data specs section but not all of them are listed. Maybe they’re no longer making them some of the CMR blue drives? If you go here you can also find info for their red drives.

Cache size is a good indicator since SMR requires a larger cache (256MB or more).

I feel bad for people who bought SMR drives without knowing what they are, and now think that there’s something wrong with their computer because it’s running like crap.

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SIGShooter wrote:

I feel bad for people who bought SMR drives without knowing what they are, and now thing that there's something wrong with their computer because it's running like crap.

I do too, and I'm one of them.

I have a bunch of SMR drives, and two of them have died on me so far.

I have backups of everything, so I didn't lose any data, but I have two less drives.

I'll never get an SMR drive again, and I will get more reliable brands in the future.

hard_drive_failure

https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-drive-stats-for-2021/

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varbos wrote:
With the FW3A they had a hit on their hands, but Lumintop did not know why it was a hit.

It’s important for a company to “get” their customers, to truly understand and treat them as peers in a community instead of just resources to extract profit from like a gold mine. But this project was a case of the opposite… not really “getting” it at all.

stephenk wrote:
I could not agree more… I want one more old FW1A.

Yeah. I have enough FW3As to last a lifetime, but only one FW1A. I didn’t know it was going to get nerfed so much, so I didn’t get another one while they were still good. And it has been a very practical light for general-purpose outdoor use.

I’ve mostly switched to KR4 for daily use, because aside from the extra size/weight, it’s basically a much better FW3A. And a KR1-18350 for thrower purposes, because it shines so far in such a compact host. But between the ~4cd/lm KR4 and the ~120 cd/lm KR1, there’s something missing.

Bob_McBob wrote:
The FW3A was a surprise hit …

It may have surprised Lumintop, but it seems like people here knew it would be a hit. Although it had some unresolved issues (button too soft, finicky inner tube, overall quality), it was pretty much guaranteed to be popular because of the overall design.

… and as I hinted a moment ago, there’s another “obvious surprise hit” design waiting to be made. Hank really should make a Noctigon SC64 or S20/S10, basically. A thin, lightweight 1×18650 / 1×18350 light with a single nice LED, a side switch, a head-mounted deep-carry one-way clip, well-regulated driver with good low modes, roughly 8 to 20 cd/lm depending on LED type, and of course, easily reflashable.

It wouldn’t be a hot rod like most of what he makes, and it may seem kind of mundane… but it’s an obvious gap in his product line, it’s a huge sweet spot for flashlight design, and it’s something nobody has really nailed yet. I suspect that, if he made what people keep asking for, even if it meant going outside his chonky-light comfort zone, he might end up with something even more popular.

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I got myself an FW3A because I was fascinated by the design, and the (ultimate) shape. But when I got it, it felt a bit like: “oh no, not another BLF A6-like lemon”. After reading some of the horror stories of other members I took the light apart. Got rid of the alu debris in the light, cleaned every part spotless, removed a minute bit from the inner tube, and put everything very careful back in place. After screwing the tailcap very tight the inner and the outer tube looked from above like two perfect concentric circles. And the switch was clicking as if it was meant for a jet fighter. Then screwed on the front assembly: NOT too tight.
It is working like a charm ever since And has never let me down. So when there was a poll for a colored version I was seriously struggling with the well known questions. Do I need it: oh no. Do I want the pink TK version: ehhhh @#$% nnnnno. Now I’m glad I only bought the first one ( XP-L for $36) and not the pretty looking colored version.

You are a flashaholic if you are forced to come out of the closet, to make room for more flashlights.

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Henk4U2 wrote:
I got myself an FW3A because I was fascinated by the design, and the (ultimate) shape. But when I got it, it felt a bit like: “oh no, not another BLF A6-like lemon”. After reading some of the horror stories of other members I took the light apart. Got rid of the alu debris in the light, cleaned every part spotless, removed a minute bit from the inner tube, and put everything very careful back in place. After screwing the tailcap very tight the inner and the outer tube looked from above like two perfect concentric circles. And the switch was clicking as if it was meant for a jet fighter. Then screwed on the front assembly: NOT too tight. It is working like a charm ever since And has never let me down. So when there was a poll for a colored version I was seriously struggling with the well known questions. Do I need it: oh no. Do I want the pink TK version: ehhhh @#$% nnnnno. Now I’m glad I only bought the first one ( XP-L for $36) and not the pretty looking colored version.

Man, I am right there with you… all of the minor steps on the original design lights and they are really perfect. I EDC an FW3A from my assortment every day, and love the first run. I have small’ish hands and they really do fit them like a glove. Once we understood what the pre-flight checks were and the minor things that needed to be done to they… they work like a charm. I have a slightly modified FW that runs on all of mine and always will be on them. My complaint, I have 3 18350 tubes and not a single one of them will work with any of my original run lights. As near as I can tell, the diameter of the end contact surfaces is slightly off and they are just never going to work. I am really bummed about that and would love to use them. I have one original FW1A, and I love it to death! Have a shave LH351D in it. I also have one of the 1A’s with the thick MCPCB’s and questionable reflectors. It works, but the MCPCB delaminated after the 3rd led change while I was looking for a good led / reflector combo. I did get ahold of a new reflector and did go back to the XP-L hi in that one. I did not get multiple FW1A’s early on because when I wanted to EDC a single I would carry a Zebra. Finally sold the Zebra, because I just did not like the FW. Really wish I had one more original FW1A. I do not and likely will not have any of the later variants, either due to the different drivers or general overall quality.

If you took time to understand the original, it really was an awesome product. The complexities and tech in the light really did make it an enthusiasts light, but in my opinion a darn good one.

EDC rotation:
KR4, SST-20 FA3 4000k (favorite!)
FW3A, Nichia 4000k sw40 r9080 (second favorite)
FW1A, LH351D 3500k (third favorite)
FW1A, XP-L Hi 3A
FW3A, LH351D 3500k
FW3A, SST20 FD2 4000k
FW3A, Cree XP-L Hi 5A3
Emisar D4V2, SST20 4000k
Emisar D4V2, brass E21A 3500k (night light of choice)

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