[Group Buy Interest Poll] Tiny EDC keychain light done right - BLF/Sofirn-style!

It’s anodized Aluminium, isn’t it?
That’s also a bit silly for a key chain light i.m.h.o.
So this light will either be trash when the battery fails or when it actually looks like trash…

I’ve had one of my M01’s on my key ring for quite a while, and it still looks good.
Yes, some minor scratches, but nothing serious.
Even the tiny TIR optic, which is not recessed, is not scratched.

But i did have a lot of flickering issues with it, because of the little e-switch triangle thingy in the head, which switches it to high mode.
I replaced it with a tiny piece of sheet metal, which basically solved the problem.
It’s still 2 modes.

Hmmm… I just tried that with my slippery M01, and it does work, albeit a bit finicky…
But i usually use 2 hands.
Knurling would have helped, but i like the stainless cylinder look.

Yes, some knurling is essential, especially for one-handed operation.

Stainless steel is nice for durability. Aluminum is nice for low weight and cost. I’m hoping for a raw or clear anodized aluminum option.

As for the durability of anodized dyes, I think rough knurling (corners, sharp edges) are what get scraped off most easily. I’ve noticed the start of this on the C01S. In contrast, Olight has much smoother surfaces which seem less prone to getting anodization scratched off.

Interestingly, the vertical/axial ridges on the i1R 2 and the fewer recessed ridges on the i3R provide just enough grip without being rough. It seems like a good optimization between grip, feel, and durability.

another keychain option… not a twisty
click pic for more pics

here is a similar less expensive option:

But still PWMfull :smiley:

10g / 12g only…quite good

I really like the drawing (though I would add a shelf, even a thin one).
I wanted to have a RovyVon for a while but then UI and price were putting me off.
Similarly with Tiki, it is not as expensive but UI is lacking and this thing feels too proprietary. And you can have either alu or white side led but not both.

BLF UI (with flashing pads :innocent: ) would make this variant a winner.

Then - magnetic detachment. It looks like it’s USB port cover - a smart move. :slight_smile:
Though I wonder, is it secure? Does it gather metallic dust?

Overall, how could Sofirn improve over Rovyvon and Nitecore?

  • UI
  • moddability
  • top notch LEDs
  • Type C
  • detachable
  • RGB aux LED (like Emisar) and RGB switch LED

Hmmm, ideally, yes, but for easy (dis)assembly i would go for the LED board resting on ledges like in the drawing.
It’s already at least as good as in the TIP and TINI like this.
It’ll be cheaper to build too, because you can put the operational intestines in the body, put the optic in and screw on the (stainless) bezel.
And actually, how are you gonna get the intestines in there when there is a shelf?
How are you gonna replace the LiPo pouch cell if necessary?

PWM, visible PWM… :person_facepalming:
What were they thinking ?
Were they thinking at all ?
I mean, really, it’s 2020 and Nitecore, who have / make / use great drivers in their lights (and even the tiny TINI has a neat little buck driver) opting for visible PWM dimming??

I think side or aux LEDs and what not are just gimmicks, personally.
I.m.o. a keychain light ideally works with a single e-switch and simple UI.
I mean, for us enthusiasts a dual e-switch UI like the TIP would be great, but 1 switch should be enough too.
Simple Sofirn / Thorfire style UI with LO - MID - HI and a hidden moon mode with a long press from OFF.
Maybe double click for HI / Turbo.
Long press (but not too long) for OFF.
(i HATE long presses to change modes).

It shouldn’t.
Unless you’re in a metal workshop every day…
With the tail cap on, the open magnetic fields are shorted by an iron strip or something.
Magents only in the light, so you can stick it on to metal surfaces.
The TIP2 has this smart feature too.
Shouldn’t cause problems (like accidental detachment) if the magnets are nice and strong and the parts fit well.

I don’t like fairy lights on my keychain (or on any flashlight for that matter).
It makes the light more complex too.
A lighted button can be handy though, but not necessary for this i.m.o.

The main improvement of the Tiki / Rovyvon would be getting rid of the visible PWM though.

My keychain light is a stainless steel Astrolux M01.
I modded the crappy mode switch (replaced the little triangular e-switch thingy with a piece of sheet metal) and they both work fine now.
But an e-switch and a better battery would be a big improvement.
TIP and especially TINI are too easily damaged for keychain use, and the shape is not ideal either.

As usually, from the back. Though I agree that one-piece body loaded from the front is easier and may very well be worth the compromise.
BTW I just noticed another thing I don’t like: the LED has better thermal connection to the cell than to the body.

I used to think that aux LEDs were a cute option for toy lights but useless for tools.
I changed my mind after I got D4SV2 which I meant to be used purely as a tool. Thanks to aux LEDs it can indicate whether it’s locked out and it can show voltage as well. It it really is super-cute I just like the way it looks. What surprised me - despite that it’s a tool I actually care about the look that the aux LEDs give.
Side light? Really I don’t yet know whether I like it, I don’t have any flashlight with it. I know for sure that non-white is useless for me but the option of a warm flood with ultra high CRI does sound tempting for tent illumination.

Well, a bit of foam tape should take care of that. Or put the battery the other way round, with the tabs to the front.
But then you run out of space for the magnets perhaps…

Yeah, a lighted switch button can be helpful.
And you’re right about a high CRI WW side emitter.
But not for a tiny keychain light i.m.o.
But since this topic is about a possible Sofirn light, maybe they have a different opinion.

I think this Tiki / Rovyvon alternative really needs its own thread.

Late to the party but here goes:

Quantity I would buy: 2 (maybe 3 if it’s $10 or less)

Emitter: My priorities would be warmth, efficiency, CRI, in that order, then max output last.
Reflector/Optics: Whatever gives a reasonable beam pattern and a happy medium beam width.
Charging: Two ideas people have already mentioned - an external charger if it’d help with making the light more compact, or a USB-C input if doing internal - could both be interesting ideas. But built in micro-usb seems more realistic.
Battery: Looks like 10180 is the only way to get something replaceable and significantly smaller than AAA. Just wish someone could make 10180s with capacity per volume more in line with 14500s & 16340s (would be ~120mAh instead of 80). Needs to be replaceable but it’s ok if doing so takes some work.

Modes & Brightness: L-M-H with something like 1, 8, 40 lumens, and turbo at 100-120lm requiring more twists rather than being in sequence with the 3 normal modes. This takes the power-law relationship of perceived brightness changes (which Noir mentioned) into account. It makes sense for possible tasks- one mode for close up reading, one for e.g. ‘around camp’/’around home’, one for walking around in less controlled environments (where you need more sense of your surroundings), and one for ‘ok what was that’. This would also give the light another clear selling point over most 10180 lights, which have just two modes: “too bright to be a moonlight mode but still too dim to walk around” and “using all the power in the 10180 in no time flat.” I think a lot of the people who are questioning the usefulness of low lumen settings and suggesting 300 lumen modes have forgotten what basic lights did for them in the days before all their lights ran off 18650s or 21700s :slight_smile:

Dimensions:As small as reasonably possible but no smaller :slight_smile:
For a light like this, which really will go on keychains, getting the tail cap and keychain attachment right matters more than usual.
I prefer gray or silver to other colors.
As Noir says, a titanium version would be optimal but design decisions about the surface of the aluminum one will need to take into account how it’ll hold up to jangling against other metal objects continually.

Tilion You’re not late to the party at all. It was supposed to get started after Chinese New Year, but of course delays are inevitable due to COVID-19.

Thanks for your sensible and relevant suggestions.

Quite. I still have a childhood incandescent flashlight which takes 2 X AA, has terrible run time, and seems to put out less light than the 3 lumen mode on the Sofirn C01S. It’s incredible to call it a flashlight today, and yet it still had its use.

Taking a look at things, it really does seem like most 10180s are a little worse than one would expect for their size, and the slightly larger battery sizes aren’t quite as uncommon as I thought.

Some people claim to be selling 100mAh 10180s, which would be a big improvement over the ~80 mAh typical- if it’s accurate. But if those aren’t really 100mAh (or they’re impractical/expensive to source), it could be worth looking at 10220s (~130mAh) or possibly even 10280s (~200mAh). The DQG Spy-X uses a 10220, and looks like a worthy competitor (except it’s hard to find and 3x the cost).

Looks like 12300s (~350mAh) are a real step up - not much over twice the volume of a 10180, and over four times the energy! More energy than typical 10440s (AAA size) despite slightly lower volume and much shorter length. Similarly both lower volume and more energy than the 14250 (half AA) used by some small lights. It’s also rated for much higher discharge current than a 10180, higher even than normal 10440s- you could get 350+lm, though a keychain light would have no good way to dissipate that much heat. The 12300 might be near the upper limit of what I’d like on a keychain, and gets a little uncomfortably close to competing with the handy availability of aaa sized batteries and lights, but it could be neat.

I don’t know how the cost on these would compare if you were ordering in quantity.

I guess I’ll say It’s worth saying a bit about why I think runtime is worth taking this seriously when other people seemed focused on max output. If I really anticipate using a flashlight, I’ll bring something bigger. If I only need light for a moment, cell phone lights these days are ~50lm, floody, and fairly workable, but chewing through phone battery and holding the phone awkwardly get old when it’s more than momentary. So though it may be fun to use a keychain light in a variety of circumstances, the bother of carrying it is largely justified by emergencies - ‘I didn’t think I’d be out in the dark’ or ‘two is one.’ And in those circumstances one doesn’t want to be stuck worrying about whether the light will run out after 30 minutes.

Nice research. I agree that runtime is a higher and more useful priority than peak (unregulated…) brightness.

Canister type batteries, especially in small sizes, have the disadvantage of the weight and space constraints of the steel canister. It seems the pack style offers more advantages with more energy capacity and density for a given space and weight.

Having said that, overall physical size is still one of the highest priorities. I would rather have a 30 minute light that is unnoticed on my keychain than a 1hr light that I keep perceiving in my pocket. One “hack” for longer runtime is to choose brightness modes that are useful but not too high.

The Olight i1R (2) is a good benchmark to try to beat. Going just a bit larger opens up interesting options such as Rovyvon and Nitecore TIKI, but I’m not sure I’m willing to accept the size penalty, and also the price penalty.

I wonder if a pack style battery could be made to fit in an i1R type form factor with USB charging. It seems challenging.

While pack style batteries are more efficient per volume, it’s much less help than one might think. Dimensions, not just volume, determine the effective profile of the flashlight in your pocket, and a thin but wide rectangular object will be more obtrusive than its volume suggests - sometimes almost the same effective profile as the circumscribing cylinder would have. See Nitecore’s TINI which has low volume but not much advantage re profile on a keychain. And while ‘buy it for life’ may be less of a thing if you’re aiming for a extra low price point, it still seems like having the possibility (even with tools and some care) of replacing the battery, rather than viewing the light as disposable, is a boon.

Looking one more time, I think common 10180 lights may be pushing their batteries harder than manufacturers’ recommended max continuous discharge currents, which would be part of why output drops rapidly. I think the 10220 sounds like a good compromise. It only increases the length of the flashlight by 4mm, which is 1/8 the size of the smallest lights or 1/11th the length of the i1R. But it gives anywhere from 1.25x to 1.6x the capacity and, according to one manufacturer, twice the rated discharge current. Again I think the Spy-X is a good comparison.

Note that the TIKI’s docs say its pack battery is 130mAh, which is the same as the nominal capacity of many 10220s, but it has a 2mm wider diameter (15) and is 21mm longer (62!) than the DQG Spy-X.

Good points. Using pack style batteries efficiently requires a different internal layout. The TINI’s capacity for the length, or equivalently length for the capacity, is a bit disappointing.

Regardless of battery type, having it replaceable is important to me, even if some user effort is required. This to me is one of the biggest weaknesses of the i1R (2), the other being emitter CCT.

If a 10220 can be made to fit in a light that is at most around 45mm long overall, that would be quite an achievement. It will be interesting to see what engineers come up with.

The DQG Spy-X doesn’t seem like a direct comparison, because from what I can tell, it does not have a built-in USB charger, and that is a component (essential IMO) that adds to the dimensions.

I use tiny lights a lot. But not on a keychain, I always have one on my neck.
For this kind of use, flat lights tend to work very well, they just lay flat against the skin.

BTW, Lipo cells are NOT irreplaceable. Typically they are soldered to the driver which makes swapping harder but not impossible. And soldered connections are not the only option.

Came across some old data; for perspective, here’s what incandescents the non-turbo modes I suggested for a 10220 light might compare to in runtime and brightness:

1 lm: like a Maglite Solitaire with ~15x the runtime and half the weight&size
8 lm: better than a 2AA Mini-Mag, 1/9 the weight
40 lm: as bright a 3D Maglite, and a bit better time to 50% (~75m v 1h). Of course it then drops swiftly off in the next 15m while the Mag tails off gradually for another 9h, but it’s 1/70th as heavy

And of course the beam quality would be vastly better.

I’m quoting Tilion as this post matches my points.

I would be in for 2 or maybe three is the price is under 10$.