Let me preface this by saying the fast majority of my flashlight collection are Convoys. I love the lights Simon makes and I appreciate his work tremendously. This post is not to bash on Convoy, but to offer constructive criticism because I love the brand so much and want it to succeed and grow. I posted this over on Reddit several months ago but another user recently pushed me to post it here too, and then send it on to Simon.
On the mechanical switch firmwares: Almost all of Convoy’s tailswitch lights are available with the “12 Mode Group” firmware that’s heavily based on Biscotti, and/or the “4-Mode” firmware that’s very simple. The 12-Group UI is good, but I find it lacking in a few areas and I think the 4-Mode UI can be made obsolete. I wanted to share and discuss some ideas for how I think these firmwares can be improved tremendously without any negative effects.
The biggest gripe I have with Biscotti is the lack of shortcuts. I think it would be great to have a quick double-tap function that can jump to 100% or to tactical strobe, and can be enabled or disabled. Right now the firmware’s main menu only has 2 sections: mode group configuration and mode memory configuration. I think it would be good to have a 3rd section for shortcut configuration. In this menu, a single tap should disable the shortcut. A double tap should enable/change the double-tap shortcut to 100%. A triple tap should enable/change the double-tap shortcut to tactical strobe. It should come with the shortcut disabled by default for ease of use, just like how Convoy’s 4-Mode firmware doesn’t have blinkies.
Move blinky modes
Right now there are several duplicate mode groups who’s only difference is the presence or absence of blinky modes. The duplicate mode groups should be removed and the a blinky modes toggle should be added as a 4th option in the programming menu. A single tap in this menu should toggle blinkies on/off, just how the 2nd programming option toggles mode memory on/off. They should come disabled by default for ease of use, and if they’re enabled they should just be added to the end of whatever mode group you’re currently using.
Add more mode groups & discontinue the 4 mode driver
Assuming blinkies are moved to a programming menu like I suggested in #3, that opens up room for more mode groups. With room for more mode groups, I think it makes sense to add the 4 mode group found in the 4 mode firmware and make it the default mode group. With mode memory enabled, shortcuts disabled, and blinkies disabled, and the 4 mode group set all by default, there’s no need for a separate 4 mode firmware anymore. I think the 4 mode firmware should be discontinued.
This will simplify buying options, eliminating questions for Simon and existing enthusiasts. It won’t make the light’s any harder to use for muggles either, because the stock configuration will be virtually identical to the existing 4 mode firmware. It will also retain (and add to) the customization possibilities found in the current 12 group firmware for enthusiasts. Finally, it will allow muggles who become enthusiasts to customize their lights down the line, rather than locking them into the 4-mode firmware they purchased with the light.
Adjust thermal regulation
Based on my independent testing of nearly a dozen different Convoy models, and based on reading reviews, I think that Convoy lights will not go below 35% current when thermal throttling. That is a huge problem because that still may be too much heat and cause temperatures to exceed safe levels. This lower limit should be eliminated to allow lights to thermal throttle as needed to keep temperature in check.
Change battery check
Currently, battery check is one of the blinky modes that appears at the end of a few mode groups. It uses 1-5 blinks to indicate battery charge level. Battery check should be removed from the blinky mode group and integrated as its own mode that’s always accessible through 10 quick taps of the switch. That’s out-of-the-way enough that no one will find it by accident, but it’s always accessible without having to enable strobe and the other blinky modes.
Add mode reversing & eliminate duplicate mode groups
Currently the 12-Group firmware includes a few mode groups that are duplicates, except that one is reversed. The duplicate groups should be eliminated and a mode-order-toggle should be added to the programming menu. This would eliminate some clutter in the mode group section while simultaneously allowing for more group possibilities.
On Convoy’s E-switch UI
Fix the issues or switch to Anduril 2
The E-switch UI used on Simon’s electronic side switch lights leaves a bit to be desired.
- Turbo is always memorized. It should not be memorized when accessed via shortcut.
- There is no way to go from Turbo back to the mode you were using. 2C should do that.
- The only ways to get out of moonlight are off and Turbo. Hold from moonlight should go to low.
- Holds take way too long (a full second). They should around 1/3 of a second.
- Low is too close to Moon and too far from Medium. Low should be brighter.
- Stepped ramp speed is too slow at 1 mode per second. It should be doubled or tripled to 2-3 modes per second.
- Smooth ramping is too slow overall, taking 5 seconds to ramp from end to end. The speed should be doubled so that it takes ~2.5 seconds from end to end.
- Smooth ramping is linear so the low end feels too fast and the high end feels too slow. It should be logarithmic instead so that it appears linear to the human eye.
At a minimum, those issues need to be fixed.
Lots of enthusiasts (including me, in a previous version of this post) have expressed a desire to have Convoy lights running the Anduril 2 user interface. While Anduril is fun for enthusiasts, it’s nothing but a headache for the average joe, even in the simple UI. It would be nice if Simon were to switch to using Anduril-compatible MCU’s, but it should not be the stock firmware on his e-switch lights.
On some minor hardware improvements
Lower the lowest mode
This is a hardware issue and not a firmware issue, so it’s harder to implement I think. I wanted to mention it nonetheless. On every Convoy light I’ve tried so far, the lowest mode has been very bright, like in the tens of lumens range. I would be delighted to see real moonlight modes (less than 1 lumen) in Convoy’s higher-powered models.
Add forward clickies as an official option in the store
Right now, Simon will usually install a forward clicky switch in most lights if you ask nicely, but I’d love to be able to just spec a light with a forward clicky on the product page.
Use ATTiny 1616 microcontrollers
Using these popular microcontrollers would allow enthusiasts to easily reflash whatever firmware they like onto a Convoy light, as well as perform easy firmware updates if features are added. This should absolutely be done on e-switch lights, but might it be possible to do on mechanical switch lights too? ATTiny 1616 specifically does not require thermal calibration (a big headache for other Anduril lights) and only needs 3 pins for programming, so adding a stadard 3-in flashing pad layout would be great. Selling a flashing adapter in the Convoy store would be even better.
What do you think about these changes? Are there any other changes you’d like to see? I’ll make sure to send this post to Simon soon.