[BLF Joint-Development] WildTrail BLF Tactical Flashlight

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techguyone
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tbh I’d be just as happy to lose the USB, lose the side switch, shrink it down to zebralight, perhaps S2+ size and call it a day, it’s rapidly becoming less tactical and more ‘tacticool’

KgaBombadier
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Interested

pipa
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sorry, forgot to place a vote for a tactial ring in rubber (like Armytek, Eagtac, Solarforce L2T..)

extremesquared
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How do you intend to make the side switch work when the tail switch breaks the circuit at the battery? A tube-in-tube setup will likely fail quickly if gun-mounted.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the gold standard for tactical flashlights are lights like the Surefire 6p and Elzetta. Those are downright primitive. While it’s absolutely possible to increase complexity of a tactical light, there won’t be a trivial amount of engineering required. Whereas a 1-5% failure rate in most flashlights would annoy people, failures in a tactical light cause its immediate disqualification as a tactical light.

Edit: Also on-board charging won’t work with the tail switch off unless I’m missing something.

kanton
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extremesquared wrote:
A tube-in-tube setup will likely fail quickly if gun-mounted.

Dunno. M2R is tube-in-tube and people put it on their guns and it seems to work just fine(?) – it’s even sold as a weapon kit.

I can only describe what I like in a “tactical” light. Though tactical seems to mean different things for different people.

  • UI-wise: I am a civilian. I myself like a light that when I press the rear switch, it’s full power (or at least high). Always. No matter what the sideswitch says or how often I press/release or click the tail switch. If I press the rear switch I get lots of light instantly. It doesn’t even have to stay on, just momentary on the rear switch is fine for me. It’s useful to quickly check some dark spots on my way home. It’s also useful to blind people and get away. I like an additonal independent side switch for regular use that can do different modes and the regular stuff. The light should have moon mode and modes should be switchable very easily.
    This setup can be found in the Olight M2R or Acebeam T36 to name two. I also don’t care for any other gimmicks like strobe or blinkies etc. found in e.g. Anduril. If they are not hidden, they get annoying. If they are hidden, you won’t find them without a manual anyway.
  • Sizewise.. somewhere between 8 and 11cm would be nice. Still easily usable with rear clicky but not too bulky and easily drawable from say a jacket pocket without catching.
  • Beamwise I like somewhat throwy lights that also have reasonable spill.
  • Featurewise I don’t need USB recharging. It adds a point of failure and it usually makes lights longer than they need to be anyway. I don’t want an aggressive bezel. It serves no purpose. It catches on everything. It makes you having to argue on whether or not your light is a weapon. And it’s not an effective weapon. If you can’t fight, you won’t hit anything with it anyway. And if you can you are better of using the light to distract your opponent. I know of at least two MMA channels on Youtube featuring professional fighters who tested a flashlight as a self defense tool and who pretty much came to that same conclusion.

I wish this project the best of luck even if it’s not what I am looking for in a light. ^^

JermsMalibu
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I’m in the same boat as Kanton (civilian use), and agree with everything he said about “his” type of tactical light. And I would add that I only want momentary for the rear switch as opposed to being able to “lock” the light on. …maybe a pressure switch for it with the ability to tighten it down for “locked on” (like the Foursevens Maelstrom X10 and Surefire 6P/G2/LX2); but I also presume the side switch would have the ability to reach “high” mode as well, so the rear only needs to be momentary.
Anyways, I also wish the project well, and wish you all good luck in designing and building it. Thumbs Up

Rayoui
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I like the direction this is going. I don’t think it needs to be a plain tube with one button and one mode. That already exists and doesn’t need a BLF version.

A good “tactical” light can have a tail and side switch. The M2R Pro tail button can be half or full pressed for mid or turbo modes, and can latch on or be momentary depending on whether you tap or hold it. The side switch accesses all the other modes. It’s a very good UI. Simple and requires no thinking when you need a lot of light very fast. Just mash the tail button.

I’m perfectly ok with this light being “tacticool” and not a “true tactical” light. I think it will be much more useful to most users than a single mode light.

Cereal_killer
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kanton wrote:
. I know of at least two MMA channels on Youtube featuring professional fighters who tested a flashlight as a self defense tool and who pretty much came to that same conclusion

Im not doubting you in any way but can you link us to those videos? I’d love to watch them personally.

 RIP  SPC Joey Riley, KIA 11/24/14. Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

Lux-Perpetua
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Please correct me if I'm wrong but I think we've now come to a point where there are two groups:

 

Group 1: The "tacticool" group

These people like a dual-switch design (some with USB-port, most without USB-port). The UI should be simple but still sophisticated enough to fulfill most people's prerequisites. This light should become as compact as possible (which it is not at this point of time to be honest). Due to its design this flashlight will probably not be as robust and shockproof as the one group 2 actually favors. This might be the flashlight we should focus on inside this thread.

Group 2: The "tactical" group

These people ask for an even tougher flashlight, made as robust as possible, without any gimmicks and with a most simplified UI (2-3 modes, always start on high). This concept will probably not need a dual switch design nor would it come with internal charging. Instead the focus here should be on potted drivers, rock-solid and shockproof assembly and well-chosen raw materials (tough-grade aluminum with HA-III coating). Maybe it's worth creating a separate thread for this concept where policemen, firemen and soldiers and anyone else who's enthusiastic about it can post their suggestions.

 

However, nothing is for certain yet and I will get back to Jacky (WildTrail) to discuss which concept he wants to follow up with.

extremesquared
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You pretty much nailed it. The only issue is that the title of this post is likely to bring out more people from group 2 than group 1. I’d be interested in a group 2 light pending a review that includes abuse tests.

texas shooter
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Lux-Perpetua wrote:

Please correct me if I’m wrong but I think we’ve now come to a point where there are two groups:


 


Group 1: The “tacticool” group


These people like a dual-switch design (some with USB-port, most without USB-port). The UI should be simple but still sophisticated enough to fulfill most people’s prerequisites. This light should become as compact as possible (which it is not at this point of time to be honest). Due to its design this flashlight will probably not be as robust and shockproof as the one group 2 actually favors. This might be the flashlight we should focus on inside this thread.


Group 2: The “tactical” group


These people ask for an even tougher flashlight, made as robust as possible, without any gimmicks and with a most simplified UI (2-3 modes, always start on high). This concept will probably not need a dual switch design nor would it come with internal charging. Instead the focus here should be on potted drivers, rock-solid and shockproof assembly and well-chosen raw materials (tough-grade aluminum with HA-III coating). Maybe it’s worth creating a separate thread for this concept where policemen, firemen and soldiers and anyone else who’s enthusiastic about it can post their suggestions.


 

I carry two lights on my duty belt. It’s as you have listed here.

Group 1: The “tacticool” group. It’s a Mateminco TK01 XHP50.2 21700. I wish it didn’t have a charging port and I potted it closed. Simple UI, very long run times with a 5000 mah battery. This light gets used for everything. Search a warehouse, pop a cone on and do traffic control all night, to reading in the car, tail stand to light a room. It’s robust enough to break a car windows. It could be pressed into the “tactical” group.
Group 2: The “tactical” group. It’s a Solarforce with a potted Pflexpro dropin. 2 modes high/low. Also with a forward clicky switch for simple tail tapping. It would also be used if pistol lights didn’t exist or work. It could do the “tacticool” but not very well as it lack flexibility.

Both have spend two days at the bottom of my pool without any leaking. Both have flown across parking lots and been dropped too many times. I’m really getting hopeful that two distinct hard use lights could be developed here.

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I want USB-C with simple 2 button UI. If one button UI, it’s no different than the EC01

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Oh I remember this ‘tactical and tacticool’ debate several years ago that it resulted in a ban, IIRC, to a member here in BLF! Smile Beer

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I talked to Jacky this morning. It seems it will be best to run a poll to find out which design will be most wanted. Maybe we should vote between following versions:

 

Model A - The fullsize tacticool flashlight (most features, purged Andúril firmware or alternative firmware and updated 21700 battery format, like Klarus XT21X)

► 21700 size, USB-C port, simple but configurable UI (stepped modes + ramping)

 

Model B - The essential tacticool flashlight (ultracompact size with design reference to Streamlight Protac L1 or Utorch SF01 but with 18650 size and dual switch)

► 18650 size, no USB-port, dual switch, as compact as it gets (YLP Unicorn size with dual switch design), as lightweight as it gets, simple but configurable UI (stepped modes + ramping)

 

 

Model C - the "no frills" tactical flashlight (ultra-sturdy, heavyweight, made rocksolid like Jetbeam TH20 or Surefire 6P)

► 18650 size, no USB-port, no dual switch design, tailclicky only, not as compact as Model B but more sturdy, ultra-easy UI (2 modes, 2 mode groups only: high - low, low - high)

hasddie293
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Errmm…I vote for model A. I own xt21x, btw I’m interested on how tactical works with anduril….

In search of the most ideal flashlight in town:
1. BRIGHTNESS
2. Durabillity
3. Design
4. Quality
5. Price$$$

djozz
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Yes, model A for me, but I hope that “full-size” refers to the features and not the actual size, which I like to be compact. I dislike carrying more than needed: material thickness should at every spot be optimal but not thicker than that, same for length: as long as needed for an optimal flashlight but no mm longer.
The example pictures distract me from the choices btw, i.e. that Klarus is ugly.

Anthon
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I guess it’s difficult to make a design that will please everyone

I realy love “tacticool” flashlights and this is what I’d really love in a new flashlight

-140mm max length
-34mm head
-Rear rubber cigar ring
-support for 21700 cells
-USB C charging with powerbank function
-Rear raised forward switch (no ability to tailstand, but we can make threads in the tailcap so you can put some ring that will allow the light to tailstand and hide the switch)
-Easily findable side switch
-More than 1500lm and 400m in turbo)
-Double tube design to allow both switchs to work
-Side switch to control a very simplified ramping UI (click to last used mode, long click from off for moonlight)
-Rear switch will only turn on turbo, no matter if it’s ON or OFF. Depressing again the rear switch will return to the previous mode after pressing it (off or on)
-Simple and good 3v potted driver, very reliable

That is what I really miss now in tactical lights, but I’d also love something very strong and reliable while being small (option B)

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As far as I have read und understood somewhere elso on BLF, Andúril is actually capable to work with a dual switch design. Sofirn's new SP70 update is meant to work with Andúril, i.e. tail clicky for momentary on and physical on/off while the e-switch is doing everything else. The remaining question will be: Is ToyKeeper interested in providing a "tactically purged" version of Andúril for a whole series of tactical/tacticool flashlights?

@ Djozz: It sounds like you want to have the best of both worlds (Model A + Model B) in one flashlight. That might lead us back close to the current design I have posted in the OP. It seems that covering the USB-C port effectively can make costs get out of hand. I talked about it with Sofirn as well and they told me costs would significantly increase with a "hidden" USB port.

I do agree about the rather ugly design of the XT21X. I prefer using an efficient single TIR optic to keep the head diameter as small as possible without too many trade offs with the beam profile. I don't want the head to be twice as big as the tube. If the head will be only slightly bigger than the tube we should better be aiming for reasonable lumen numbers around 1000 - 1.500lm and not just another heating rod, shouldn't we?

In some way we need to find a compromise between: size vs. sturdiness vs. thermal design vs. weight vs. extra features.

Before starting the poll I hope to make sure that all three concepts will differ enough from each other. However, my assumption is that the end will look like 33%, 33%, 33%. Big Smile In other words: It might be worthwhile to build all three models.

Lux-Perpetua
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Anthon wrote:
-Simple and good 3v potted driver, very reliable

Thank you Anthon. I will try to consider your suggestions with the next design update. Wink

Do we really need potted drivers if these have components only that are likely to resist multiple drops? It seems the inductor of boost drivers is a very sensitive component but with a usual AMC driven circuit risks of a broken driver may become rather insignificant.

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USB charging if it does at least 2A. Otherwise drop it.
Thumbs up for the good UI.

My vote goes to The essential tacticool flashlight.

Chargers: 1xBasen BD01 5/5, 1x Gyrfalcon All-88 4/5, LiitoKala: 3x100 3/5, 2x202 3/5, 1x402 3/5., MiBoxer C4-12 3/5.
Flashlights: DQG Tiny III 26650 5/5, FiTorch MR35 3/5, Haikelite SC26 HD 3/5, Lumintop Tool AA/AAA 4/5, Nitecore LA10, Sofirn C01 BLF 3200k/5600k 2/5, Zebralight H600Fc 3/5.
Powerbanks: EasyAcc 26800 mAh 3/5, Xtar PB2 4/5, Xtar PB2S 5/5
Waiting for: (DQG Tiny) 21700 EDCs.

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Model A +21700 for me without USB for more compact and better water resistance, Andúril with forward tail SW ,lighted E-SW.

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If it’s aimed to be a tactical flashlight, I think the internal charging feature should be removed to decrease the complexity of the product. More features = more point of failures.

Also would like to see FW3A style clip to assure the steadiness of the clip.

Just my two cents.

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lumenzilla wrote:
If it's aimed to be a tactical flashlight, I think the internal charging feature should be removed to decrease the complexity of the product. More features = more point of failures. Also would like to see FW3A style clip to assure the steadiness of the clip. Just my two cents.

 

Okay, I will try to draw a concept with rubber cigar ring and full circle ring clip mount like FW3A uses. Is bidirectional really important? Maybe it's useful to have another groove close to the head section to use the unidirectional clip in the reverse direction?

 

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Regarding the preferences of Sofirn:

I have some history in negotiating designs with Sofirn, and despite them being one of the more innovative flashlight companies, they have a very strong preference for what technology they already have in-house. You can not blame them because developing new things is high risk for a small company. But a very important part is that Sofirn does not have a real clue what features are valuable and which are unimportant, they are afraid to develop stuff that may not sell. Unlike Emisar that has a flashoholic overseeing the designs (Hank), and I expect Nightwatch to get feedback from Neal, Sofirn does not have an inhouse flashlight fanatic that sees the value of design decisions.

But they did build the lantern which has many completely new concepts for Sofirn. This has worked because the long-term determination of DBSAR and a huge interest list convinced them to do so. Now that they have acquired the new technology they will use it elsewhere, so afterwards they do see the advantage of development.

Now about the hidden USB port: I bugged them about that before for use in a “grandma light” (18650, both USB-C-charging and a magnetic ring UI), and I got the same message: difficult and expensive. What they do not know is that if they manage to design it in a proper way (robust, elegant and convenient), they have a winner in house: very useful and flashoholics will love it.
(same goes for magnetic ring control of small flashlights, they use it on their diving lights but it needs to be made smaller for use on EDC’s, infinite variable is not even needed to make it very popular. Sofirn is very hesitant to go that way)

So my advice is not to always listen to what Sofirn thinks is feasable, if as a flashoholic you (and BLF) are sure that a feature is a very good idea, keep convincing them that it is the right thing to do; they will not have the knowledge to judge how important the design features are, you will have to point that out for them: which feature is an unimportant wish, which one is desirable but negotiable, and which features are essential no matter what. And maybe they need time and a long interest list to be pushed over the edge.

If Sofirn gets their way too much, a compromise flashlight will result (the SP70) that is in between pretty nice and meh. But if they get constant feedback and redirection by someone or a skilled team that knows what they are doing, you get very good new products.

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Does Acrbeam use a dual_tube design in the L16 and L30 or another method? What about Klarus for their lights that can work from off with tail or side switch?

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Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts about Sofirn and the often long and sometimes even tedious way to convince flashlight manufacturers. Regardless of any specific brand I will not give up convincing them to invest some extra efforts in driver development, well-chosen emitters and comprehensible and sophisticated user interfaces and not only following the war on lumens. Sofirn and WildTrail are two of those brands who strive to become better by listening to our suggestions but as you said, it sometimes takes more than a just a good advice to guide them into the right direction.

Concerning this very project:

I told Jacky to please avoid using FET drivers with a tactical/tacticool flashlight like the one we're talking about here. FET is nice for posing high lumen numbers with ugly-tintshift emitters like XHP50.2 3V 5.000K (3B). Instead, I would like him to use a boost driver with a 6V SST-70 but that might increase both efforts and costs for development at least by factor 2. So, this option has been ruled out, at least for this project. That's why we have to stick with 3V emitters. In a tactical flashlight I expect something more reliable than FET, something with constant output, preferably with the option to use 2x CR123A for emergencies or the always imminent zombie apocalypse. If I was lost deep down in a cavern and my life was at stake, I wouldn't want to rely on something that comes with unstable output und unpredictable runtimes. I don't know how much extra efforts it will take to use a suitable buck driver that will work both with 1x 18650 and 2x CR123A. It cannot be that difficult as Sofirn can also offer a cheap flashlight with a good buck driver, see SP31 V2.0. I also like the UI the SP31 V2.0 uses even though I still see lots of room for improvement.

Still, it's totally uncertain where we will end up with the driver as Jacky is still looking for semi-professional / professional support in driver development. Maybe we don't have to reinvent the wheel and can use something that is tried and tested.

UI-wise there's the question if we need Andúril (preferably stripped to the essential functions incl. thermal calibration/configuration). If the answer is yes, it will take additional time and testing including the involvement of ToyKeeper. Eventually, it could be worth it as this has some potential for selling a whole new generation of (tactical) dual switch flashlights, regardless of any specific brand. I try to think ahead both for BLF joint-collaborations and the future of flashlights and their manufacturers. If the answer is no, we could do a shortcut and use something proven which should be easy to implement.

Last but not least, there's the decision about the emitter. Osram's White Flats seem to be out of the question (too much throw, too coldwhite) and require very exact focussing (see Fireflies E01 issue with Osram LED). If we aim for about 1.400 - 2.000lm there are several options:

 

3535:

SST-20: cheapest option but highest risk of tintshifts between green (low current) and blue (high current), small die size could result in a too small hot spot

XP-L HI / HD: might be a safe option to use

XP-L2: most efficient in terms of lumens but looks awful in a reflector but might be useful underneath a TIR lens that eliminates the "rainbow-effect" of a flip-chip design

LH351D: probably less efficient and with a high risk of green tintshift, HighCRI version will not reach the target lumen range

 

5050:

XM-L3: not yet available, pending further testing

SST-40: might be a safe option to use and works fine with a CC driver, 4.800K tint was reported to look well on beamshots

XHP50.2 3V: only available in 6.500K and 5.000K while the latter one is subject to heavy tintshifts in green and yellow

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Regarding the “FW3A style clip”, the FW3A has the worst clip (for me) of any I’ve used. No matter what, it would not stay securely in my pocket, so I will never EDC that light. I’m guessing it’s the fault of the taper, but I’m not 100% sure. Regardless, please no taper.

-joel

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I would only be interested if it had usb-c and 21700.

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Lux-P wrote:
 In a tactical flashlight I expect something more reliable than FET, something with constant output, preferably with the option to use 2x CR123A for emergencies or the always imminent zombie apocalypse. If I was lost deep down in a cavern and my life was at stake, I wouldn’t want to rely on something that comes with instable output und unpredictable runtimes.

I think you confuse a few things here.
In my experience lineair FET drivers of the BLF-A6 type are extremely reliable: they are simple, I had never heard one fail (except some that were sloppily produced), and only having small shallow components they are extreme impact-resistent. The output is not instable, it is a very predictable slow decline in output warning you in advance of battery depletion. Give me a light with lineair FET driver any day in that cave Smile . The most reliable tactical lights even do not have any regulation, just one or two current limiting resistors, so again a steady decline of output but ultra-simple/reliable.

For an emergency I rather carry an extra 18650, and CR123 cells are only abundant in the US, and after the zombies here in Europe you are more likely to run into a 18650 battery pack than into a stash of CR123’s.

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djozz wrote:
I think you confuse a few things here.

...or I was just using the wrong words to express what I really meant to say. Facepalm I'm afraid I need to take some more English lessons. Party Instead of "reliability" I meant "sustainability" or "permanence" of the flashlight's output. I agree that FET driven lights are very reliable with regard to possible failure.

djozz wrote:
[...] The output is not instable, it is a very predictable slow decline in output warning you in advance of battery depletion. [...]

This is exactly the situation I don't want to face when being lost in a cave. I want to have a steady output as long as possible. Silly

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