Please Help Me Understand & Enjoy My Flashlights

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CRC
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Please Help Me Understand & Enjoy My Flashlights

Im thinking of starting a thread where I ask all my dumb newb questions in one place instead of all over different threads.

“The There Are No Stupid Questions Thread” is just so massive now and I have to weed through a lot to find my stuff when I want to revisit it.

And then I realize half of my questions arent actually in there. Theyre all over the place.

Maybe this is bad idea? Let me know.

Edited title from “Please Help Me (A Newb) Understand & Enjoy Flashlights.”

Edited by: CRC on 10/09/2021 - 20:10
jeff51
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I think the General Info forum is the best place. If the questions are of a general nature.
For detail on drivers and such the Mods or No stupid questions is the place to go.
But you are right, the No stupid questions is kind of vast…

Ask away, there is a great deal of knowledge here.
Along with some err… “Characters”
All of which makes the BLF an interesting place.
All the Best,
Jeff

BTY is CRC – Cyclic Redundancy Check? Party

CRC
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jeff51 wrote:
BTY is CRC – Cyclic Redundancy Check? Party

Ha, raccoon city asked me the same question. Nope lol

Forsythe P. Jones
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Best advice I can give is: keep your hand on your wallet, it’s going to be a rough ride.

Correllux
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You just started it…..ask away!

Objectively speaking, it seems to me that your perspective is kinda coming from fear, and from your other threads/comments at least part of that seems rooted in stories or info that were maybe slightly exaggerated and/or from situations that don’t apply universally, especially to the most common lights/designs that we use today. To be sure, knowing and learning is good, and also to be sure, lithium does pack more punch than alkalines and such, but really things are generally quite safe these days. Some basics help you keep it that way (like not putting cells in backwards, simple stuff mostly).

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There are lots of knowledgeable folks here, of all levels and expertise, so you will definitely get an answer to a question. We’re waiting for your questions though, so ask away! As was said, you can always search the forum for answers, or message someone.

CRC
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Correllux wrote:
You just started it…..ask away!

Objectively speaking, it seems to me that your perspective is kinda coming from fear, and from your other threads/comments at least part of that seems rooted in stories or info that were maybe slightly exaggerated and/or from situations that don’t apply universally, especially to the most common lights/designs that we use today. To be sure, knowing and learning is good, and also to be sure, lithium does pack more punch than alkalines and such, but really things are generally quite safe these days. Some basics help you keep it that way (like not putting cells in backwards, simple stuff mostly).

Forsythe P. Jones wrote:
Best advice I can give is: keep your hand on your wallet, it’s going to be a rough ride.

You’re right, a big part of my fear is safety issues, but more so my biggest fear is wasting money I barely have.

My situation right now is very tight, and to buy anything I want means sacrificing things I need.

Im fine with that when I decide to do so, so long as I get what Im after.

I just cant afford to not have my sacrifice pay off.

I cant afford to damage anything, or get an expensive cell that wont actually work for the application I bought it for.
(To get a single 18650 from a reputable source delivered to me here in Canada will cost like, $30CAD…)

Sirstinky wrote:
There are lots of knowledgeable folks here, of all levels and expertise, so you will definitely get an answer to a question. We’re waiting for your questions though, so ask away! As was said, you can always search the forum for answers, or message someone.
Boaz wrote:

Use the search too it can answer lots of already asked questions .. you can also PM about anyone who sounds like they know what they are talking about .

Thanks, I do use the search feature all the time.

I wasnt quite sure about directly messaging people though.

Maybe its my social anxiety (or as ToyKeeper put it the other day. Mitch) but I felt/feel uncomfortable putting someone on the spot like that.

Maybe that person doesnt like or is annoyed by CRC on the BLF? Or people like CRC/newbs.

At least in a thread, people who want to take the time to help me can, and those who dont, dont have to.

And then I also dont have to deal with the anxiety and overthinking that would come with not getting a response from whoever I PM’d.

Mitch runs my life.

Forsythe P. Jones
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I believe there are some reasonable 18650 suppliers in Canada. If not, shipping from the US is not that expensive.

If you’re really financially strapped, though, it’s probably best to not take up a new money-burning hobby. If you want a flashlight for some practical requirement, that’s fine, just say what the requirement is and someone can probably help you (maybe even send you some old lights), but that’s a bit different from being into flashlights as recreation/education for their own sake.

People here tend to rationalize being into flashlights but really it’s not much different than being into drinking fancy beer. You do it because you like it, not because it’s somehow worthwhile. The hobby doesn’t have to be super expensive, but you should only do it with income that is really disposable. If that’s difficult for you right now, I’d say postpone any significant flashlight purchases til better times. Flashlights are a purely non-practical outlay once you have 5 of 10 of them and are still buying more

That said, if you do buy some lights, get the best ones you can afford, rather than the cheapest in a category or making the big mistake of seeking “bang for buck”. If you buy the cheap one first, you’ll still want the good one, so you may as well skip the first step.

On CPF there is a “recommend me a light” checklist, that at least will identify some questions you should ask yourself: https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/flashlight-recommendation-chec...

If you post your answers here, people here can make suggestions. CPF itself is also not dead yet, in case you want to ask there too.

Fwiw, Sofirn has a Canadian shipping depot: https://sofirnlight.myshoplaza.com/collections/ship-from-canada
I’m not crazy about any of the lights on that page, but you could do worse.

wle
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some lights come with cells
that might make it cheaper
i would say convoy s2+ is a great option, it is a good light, $15 usd, you can learn from that what your real requirements are..

"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.   
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CRC
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wle wrote:
some lights come with cells that might make it cheaper i would say convoy s2+ is a great option, it is a good light, $15 usd, you can learn from that what your real requirements are..

Being that I dont have a charger, would I be able to just use the onboard charging of another flashlight to charge the cell that comes with a Convoy?
I would assume so?

Camaro
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https://18650canada.ca/product/samsung-30q-inr-18650/

I’ve bought some from there. Legit cells, free shipping and was quick for me. Save you a bit of coin….. Also found out that a good cell does make a difference in a light.

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Camaro wrote:
https://18650canada.ca/product/samsung-30q-inr-18650/

I’ve bought some from there. Legit cells, free shipping and was quick for me. Save you a bit of coin….. Also found out that a good cell does make a difference in a light.

Hey thanks for the link! Smile Easy peasy now for ordering batteries and good prices too. Thumbs Up

Correllux
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CRC wrote:
Being that I dont have a charger, would I be able to just use the onboard charging of another flashlight to charge the cell that comes with a Convoy? I would assume so?

Yeah, that’d be fine. At some point you’ll want a “real” charger, and I’ll keep harping on you about getting a cheap multimeter until you get one. Smile But run what you have for now that’s perfectly fine.

Thought of something else….while you’re learning the basics of cells and whatnot. Owning those Olights with their unique/proprietary designs can really throw you off track a little. Most lights are more basic and have used similar designs for many years now. Either is fine, but generally people that tinker or might want to try to repair their own lights if they fail tend to appreciate the more traditional designs that are easier to access or mod. So you hear a lot of people talking on those terms or making suggestions, but in your head you’ve got the Olight programming to also understand (or overcome). Sorta…maybe. Once the terms and parts feel comfortable and you grasp more of it you’ll see that the safety concerns are much more minor than what you’ve been worrying about.

The plus side to all this normal traditional light design is that you can save money, have tinkering fun, and not need to worry about finding “special” batteries or charging cords and stuff. So if you want to own only a few batteries, you can move those from light to light to light and not really have to think about it, and use the same charger for those normal cells without having to think about brand or size (because we have the gift of pretty-smart chargers these days…and that’s awesome).

wle
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CRC wrote:
wle wrote:
some lights come with cells that might make it cheaper i would say convoy s2+ is a great option, it is a good light, $15 usd, you can learn from that what your real requirements are..

Being that I dont have a charger, would I be able to just use the onboard charging of another flashlight to charge the cell that comes with a Convoy?
I would assume so?

yes
and 18650 means charging is fairly infrequent [they seem to store at least 2 weeks worth of my typicals usage]

"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.
       ,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸

jeff51
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Correllux wrote:
CRC wrote:
Being that I dont have a charger, would I be able to just use the onboard charging of another flashlight to charge the cell that comes with a Convoy?
I would assume so?
Yeah, that’d be fine. At some point you’ll want a “real” charger, and I’ll keep harping on you about getting a cheap multimeter until you get one. Smile But run what you have for now that’s perfectly fine.

Yes to the charging in another light. As long as there is nothing “special” about the battery arrangement.
If this is going to become a hobby, Correllux recommendation of a cheap meter and “real” charger to evaluate batteries is to be heeded.

If money is truly tight, the Convoy line is hard to ignore.

All the Best,
Jeff

wle
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you can also get single cell chargers for like $2
they may be slow, 200-500ma, and no fancy metering
just a red/green LED – maybe

wle

"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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CRC
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I actually just ordered an XTAR VC4L.

wle
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CRC wrote:
I actually just ordered an XTAR VC4L.

—oh – that should be all the charger you ever need..

wle

"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.
       ,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¸

CRC
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With the XTAR VC4L, would I still need a multimeter?

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Keep in mind, asking a question like “what’s the best light out there that I should get?” or “teach me everything about flashlights” isn’t likely to get much of a response. They’re way too vague. Analysis paralysis, and all that.

“What light should I get?”, well, whaddya gonna DO wittit? Searching a huge field for critters is one thing, carrying a keychain light to plunk a key into a hole is another. And one thing that flat out pisses me off is getting shot down at each suggestion.

What about light X?

Too big.

Light Y?

Too small.

Light Z?

Don’t want a sideswitch.

ad nauseam, like, wtaf??, to the point you wanna tell the asker to go f himself. Why wrack your brain coming up with suggestions when the SOB is just gonna find something to DQ the suggestion whose initial question was too vague to begin with?

And someone once asked publicly where to get XYZ, and I suggested something and even looked up and provided a link on Amazon. And I got back a snotty “Duuh, I’m not even in the USA”, like I’m supposed to just know that, and the person’s location field was either blank or had some cutesy text instead of an actual location.

And while people are generally helpful, no one really likes to spoon-feed. If someone wants to be taught “LED Emitters 101”, all the different types of LEDs, color, tint, CRI, etc., uhhh, no. There are plenty of articles already written about that. But if there’s a question about something specific, like, “Okay, I see the same LED described as ‘3V’, ‘6V’, etc., so what does that mean?”, that’s at least specific enough to warrant an answer.

Places like ‘flashlightwiki’, ‘battery university’, etc., are out there, and lots of info can keep you busy for quite a while. Digest all you can, and lot of people will be more than happy to fill in the gaps.

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Correllux
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Good charger…you’re set.

A multimeter will let you check a lot of things. In this case, simple voltage checks, but with that you can assure yourself that the charged cell coming out of the Xtar or out of a built-in light charger is where it should be (previously you were wondering about that). You can also check cells that have been sitting unused on the shelf for awhile to see if they have self-discharged to any degree that points to degraded life. And if you want to try to get a reasonable estimation of total mAh capacity of your cells, you can drain them down to something close to the factory specs (usually 2.5v, depends)…check with the multimeter to see where the voltage is, drain a little more if need be, and when you’re at that low voltage, charge them back up at a low rate until they’re full……see what the charger tells you for how many mAh it put in.

You don’t need all of that, but it does help you learn and understand and to keep tabs on battery health (more important if you buy cheap cells or get cheap cells with lights you buy…laptop pulls…cells that you’ve used a ton for a few years, etc). The charger you bought will serve you really well, though…good choice. One tip, since this is new to you…two tips….try not to let the spring-loaded charging bar contact thingys snap back (either with no load, or smacking onto the bottom of a cell where it might dent it), and when you go to insert or remove cells, pull the cell back enough to get good clearance and tilt it in/out carefully (so that you don’t tear the wrap, mostly). Other than that, sit back and enjoy the light show. Smile

wle
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DMMs are like $5 at harbor freight

"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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Don't buy a $5  harbor freight meter ..Such garbage .It's as bad as buying a flashlight from them .. best to sharpen up a rusty screw driver and fall on it .. 

       καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν

                            

       Dc-fix diffuser film  >…  http://budgetlightforum.com/node/42208

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Boaz wrote:

Don’t buy a $5  harbor freight meter ..Such garbage .It’s as bad as buying a flashlight from them .. best to sharpen up a rusty screw driver and fall on it .. 


But it’s perfectly fine as long as you’re not measuring mains voltage.
CRC
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Is it ok for a cell to charge to 4.3v?

I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…

I thought this xtar was supposed to charge things care free?

I Just received the xtar charger and a sofirn sc31 pro with included cell .

I decided to use the xtar to charge the sofirn cell. .

After the cell reached 4.2v on the xtar display. It just kept charging. it doesn’t display beyond 4.2 so I just have to guess what it might actually be at. I decided to take it off cause I was concerned that it was going beyond the 4.2v.

I put the cell back in the Sofirn sc31pro and checked the voltage with the light and it flashed 4.3v.

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The Sofirn sc31pro has Anduril correct? Keep in mind that its voltage reading may not be perfect. Also this is the kind of a situation where having a DMM would be handy. So you can have another way to double-check the voltage of your batteries.

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Yeah, I would not trust the readout on the Anduril firmware. Consider the voltage check on the sofirn (or any Anduril light) as just a close-enough guideline to help you know how much time you have left (or, say, if you’re a guy that only wants to run his cells down to 3.5 volts before charging, then it helps for that scenario).

The SC31 Pro comes with original Anduril and the voltage check cannot be calibrated. In Anduril 2 they added that calibration feature and you can change it in .05 increments…but of course for that you would want the truth-telling accuracy of a multimeter so you know what the voltage of the cell actually is before telling the light what it should say. This isn’t critical, though…that’s not the light’s job really.

The charger shouldn’t have overcharged it to the point of rising voltage. When the battery is full, the charger will not completely shut off but the charging current drops WAY low so it’s like a very slight trickle charge. Not enough to increase voltage or capacity any meaningful amount.

Ok, so don’t let this feel too techy, but here’s a testing measurement graph from HKJ’s review of this charger that might help you understand what’s happening. It’s showing several things but what we want to look at is the red line and the red scale on the left margin…this is voltage as the cell started on the charger (left) and then completed its charging (right). But bottom line is that the charger is likely accurately-correct while the feedback from the firmware in the flashlight is not…but without a multimeter you just need to have some faith. Smile

Looking at the red voltage line, you can see that when he first puts the battery in, it’s reading just under 3.5 volts. And it charges and charges and the voltage rises gradually and it keeps on charging and then somewhere around 2-1/2 hours it reaches the point of about 4.15 volts. And then the red voltage line starts to get flat instead of continually rising. This marks the almost-end of the charging process. After all that running it’s time for a cooldown lap. What happens now is that the charging current starts to diminish rapidly…a good charger like this one will taper down so that the voltage does reach that nice 4.2 volt top off (or really close) but the current is low and gets lower and lower. This gives the cell time to cool off a little and take that last final bit of energy for a good complete charge.

This brings us to the darker green line (ignore the bright neon green) and the green scale on the right margin. This is the charging current that is going in to the cell throughout the charging process. It starts way up top, pretty much on the 1,000mA line…which is 1 amp. He selected the 1 amp charging rate for this test. The current stays constant, like filling up a pool with a hose. Now, right around that same 2-1/2 hour mark you see the green line cross the red voltage line….and then poof….the bottom falls out and the green line plummets to the bottom quickly. That’s the charger saying, hey, we’re about done here, taper off so we can go home boys. Takes a little time for the current to drop all the way down to that minimal trickle charge level (HKJ stated that it was 70mA). But at this point there’s basically almost nothing going in to the cell.

That said, since it doesn’t totally shut off (many chargers don’t) it’s wise to remove the cells from the charger not too long after they have finished their charge cycle. You won’t hurt anything or risk overcharging them if you forget and leave them on overnight or something, but it’s just best practice to stay attentive and pull them out when finished. There are some poorly designed chargers that might actually hurt the battery or worse if they exhibit bad termination characteristics, but this is not one of them. It’s doing a great job.

I guess this is like filling that pool with a hose but then right as it’s almost full you reduce the amount of water so that you can juussst fill the pool without making it overflow. I think onboard charging circuits inside of flashlights mostly do the same thing, less sophisticated, and it seems that they vary a bit as far as when they decide that they’re “full”…but not in a disadvantageous way or a dangerous one…just not as accurate as a good dedicated charger.

(I can’t seem to get the direct link to the pic to show in this post….so a link and then just a link to the review and you can look at the first graph that you come to)

http://lygte-info.dk/review/Review%20Charger%20Xtar%20VC4%20UK.html

HKJ Xtar VC4 graph

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CRC wrote:

You’re right, a big part of my fear is safety issues, but more so my biggest fear is wasting money I barely have.

My situation right now is very tight, and to buy anything I want means sacrificing things I need.

I hear you. I’ve just spent the kids’ next week lunch money Smile

Kidding, kind of, but I’m brand new to flashlights and only joined this forum a couple of days ago. I now have three flashlights on the way. One was an AAA multi chemistry impulse buy before I came across here and the other two affordable-ish Convoy T3 and S2+ based on recommendations from here. I have a ton of AA, AAA, and 18650s around the house.

The S2+ I got in 2700K and 3×7135 becasuse I do not care about brightness and was more interested in an “old school vibe”. However I’m not sure of my decision but it seems to be something I can mod in the future after I learn more.

Have you come across a good, comprehensive but not too intimidating, reference on drivers? Been trying to read up / watch videos / on LED theory and practice, current limiting, voltage regulation but it’s all over the place and quite overwhelming.

B

CRC
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I am so confused and overwhelmed…
This is all way beyond anything I have the ability to ever comprehend.
I have to to take a break or im going to lose my mind.

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Don’t worry, it’ll turn up somewhere.

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CRC wrote:
With the XTAR VC4L, would I still need a multimeter?

It would be a good idea if you are going to be having multiple batteries around.
For example, you could check the accuracy of your new charger.
Or at what voltage your light cuts out for low voltage protection (if it has that feature).
This stuff ain’t rocket science (or I wouldn’t be playing with it). It’s only a hobby (keep repeating that as you buy more and more lights).
Keep reading and asking questions. The worst that can happen is getting a snooty answer.
All the Best,
Jeff
Take peak at Big Clive and a look at cheap DIMMs

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