Single AA camping bulb lantern

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DoubleA
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Single AA camping bulb lantern

This is a mini review of this single AA camping lantern that is in the shape of an ordinary light bulb. Bought this from Aliexpress for 4$ (way overpriced). There were other sellers with the same product at lower rates but they did not have free shipping, so their total price was higher than this seller, so I bought from him.

Product link —> Portable Bulb Lantern (the camping site illumination photos in the advertisement are bogus and this lantern is not that bright in outdoors)
There seems to a similar variant of this lantern that runs of 3xAAA and a metal tail cap —> Soft Light Outdoor Hanging Bulb
Banggood has multiple color options. Green color comes without Strobe —>1W Portable Hanging LED


Basically it works like a joule thief (maybe it is) working with a single AA cell, Alkaline, Zinc Carbon or NiMh. It has 3 modes and gives out somewhere around 20-25 lumens on High mode, half of that on Low mode and it also has a Strobe mode. Why does a lantern even need a strobe? a beacon blinkie would have been more practical.
Build is entirely of plastic, and that too in glossy finish. Button feels like rubber but maybe it’s not. Button is translucent like an emerald. The product is not water proof or water resistant by any standards. The product is extremely light weight without the battery.


Size comparison with a Philips B22 40W milky incandescent bulb. Almost the same size.


Can tail stand. Can head stand. The diffuser dome is not completely hemi-spherical, on the top there is a small dimple inwards like a concave, this can allow it to head stand.
Size comparison with a AA. The tail section has a foldable plastic half-ring so you can attach it to a carabiner. However that mecahnism feels flimsy and may not last very long. Hinges for the folding half ring are also plastic.


The Tail section has to be unscrewed inorder to gain acces to the battery bay. There is a metal ring all around the rim of the tail which makes contact with the spring in the removable tail cap. Battery positive goes head in while the negative makes contact with the spring in the tail. I have not checked reverse polarity but that would most likely kill this light.
The bulb also has fins on it’s body that looks like the heat fins of old LED bulbs, however these are plastic and are there just for aesthetic appearance to make it look more like a real light bulb.
The threads are also plastic and not that great but it does fit perfectly once closed.


Here is the light in action. On the left the scene is illuminated by a T8 flourascent tube and the on the right by the lantern’s emitter. Both have poor CRI since the colored pattern looks really vivid in daylight. The LED used in the lantern has a really visible blue tint, above 6000K I think. On Low mode the PWM flicker is visible but only to camera.

As you can see not only the diffuser but the entire lantern body glows since there is no light seal before the LED section and also due to the lantern body being transmissive. The tail however is opaque.

About the diffuser dome. It is glossy and very cheap finish. Unlike the diffusers of LED light bulbs, this one doesn’t diffuse the light very well as you can see it’s more transparent than translucent. The single SMD LED emitter is clearly visible when lit. Very annoying to look at. The functionality however is not compromised that much. When hanging down the lantern evenly lights up the room without any spots or artifacts.
The dimple I was talking about on the dome is clearly visible in this shot.

Teardown.
I tried really hard to open the diffuser dome but it didn’t come off. Maybe there is some white gunk they usually use to seal the diffuser dome to place? So I borrowed this internal shot from a russian guy who reviewed this light on Aliexpress. This image credit goes to him, but I don’t know his name since Ali hides names.

Looking at the internals, there is an inductor so maybe it’s a boost converter? There is also a 8 pin IC. Is it an MCU? or is it a 555 timer? who knows. The single SMD LED looks rectangluar. Maybe it’s a 5630/5730? or a 3014?
From this picture we can see why the lantern body glows. The PCB is just a small square and does not seal the body beneath it allowing light to reflect back into the bottom and glow.

Some thoughts.
It’s a cool little lantern that looks like a light bulb
Works on a single AA battery
Brightness is satisfactory
PWM flicker on Low mode visible to camera
Strobe is a complete gimmick
Doesn’t produce any heat, partly due to the plastic body and low power consumption.

This light does have a bad parasitic drain problem. In one month time it drained a half charged Eneloop. So I wouldn’t recommend leaving the batteries inside if not using for a long time, Especially if they’re primary cells. I have not checked whether the power is regulated or not and whether the brightness stays consistent or not.

I will update the post with measured current draw and estimated runtimes.

Update:
measured current draw and estimated runtime

Battery voltage @ 1.21V ~2500mAh

High – 290mA – 0.35W – 8 Hrs
Low – 100mA – 0.12W – 25 Hrs
Strobe- 150mA – 0.18W – 16 Hrs

Quiescent current = ~820µA Shocked almost a mA

and on the first day he said "Let there be light"...

Edited by: DoubleA on 11/20/2017 - 22:38
agent80
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Would this be the same as a flashlight with a diffuser?

Lexel
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flashlight has usually a optic or reflector focusing the light more in one direction than a bare LED, even with a diffusor you see a difference in the directional brightness diagram

DavidEF
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Any plans of modding it? You could put a nice little regulated driver in there and a 14500. Or, you can get a better boost driver for cheap from Mountain Electronics and others, so at least you wouldn’t have such a bad parasitic drain. While you’re at it, you can change the LED to something better. Even if you’re not going for high lumens, a nice CREE or Nichia LED will have better efficiency resulting in longer cell life. A high CRI warm white Nichia would even give a glow comparable to the incandescent bulb that lantern resembles.

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DoubleA
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I would love to mod this. Lot’s of internal space available so it’s fairly easy to mod. I will definitely change the LED since I hate the tint. Also would like to get rid of the Strobe.
But First I must be able open the diffuser dome somehow without destroying the lantern.

agent80 wrote:
Would this be the same as a flashlight with a diffuser?

Unlikely, the shape of the product wouldn’t allow this to be ergonomic if used as a flashlight. If you really want a camping lantern that looks like a bulb but can also be used as a flashlight then I recommend you see this thread.

and on the first day he said "Let there be light"...

Lightbringer
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That’s part of the problem. Doodads like that are so easy to mod, but by the time you waste swapping emitters, drivers, taking apart the innards, etc., you start asking yourself… “is it worth it??”. For a cheapie “lantern” like that, honestly, no. Might just be simpler to make your own out of a discarded pill-bottle or something.

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DavidEF
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Lightbringer wrote:
That’s part of the problem. Doodads like that are so easy to mod, but by the time you waste swapping emitters, drivers, taking apart the innards, etc., you start asking yourself… “is it worth it??”. For a cheapie “lantern” like that, honestly, no. Might just be simpler to make your own out of a discarded pill-bottle or something.

…except that this ‘bulb’ shaped object will look cooler than a pill bottle. Just my opinion. Innocent

The Cycle of Goodness: “No one prospers without rendering benefit to others”
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DoubleA
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Lightbringer wrote:
“is it worth it??”.

In a sense you are correct… But the cool white emitter has to go, no matter what.

and on the first day he said "Let there be light"...

DoubleA
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I was looking around in the internet and I found that Kikkerland is also selling them in a Military Brown and Green colors although at a higher price.

Amazon link

Also UST has a Grey+Orange version of this with an additional amber LED called Tent Bulb LED 1.0. Looks matte finish to me.
UST tent bulb 1.0

They also have a coin cell variant called tent bulb 0.5.

Again these are just rebranded products with slight modifications sold at a higher price.

and on the first day he said "Let there be light"...