Request for review: Ultrafire C3 Stainless Steel Cree Q5-WC 5-Mode

Still going, that's impressive.

The C3's have sort of bad reputation for contact problems and flickering, have you run across that?

All five of the aluminium ones have had/have issues. Most are poor contact issues solvable with some desolder braid and solder. Will test the 4 aluminium ones (and the two externally identical Aurora SH0030's but they are better made) with a 14500.Now, where did I put the 14500's?

C3 1. A bit of desolder braid in the tailcap fixed it. Working. This is the oldest of my 5 C3's in Aluminium

C3 2. Second oldest. Working - no fixes currently needed.

C3's 3-5 were bought at the same time. C3 5 is out on loan just now.

C3 3. A bit of desolder braid between head and body in this one.

C3 4. Not working. Will need to pull it apart and see what's up. Head is working. so suspect tailcap contact issues. Issue would appear to be head/body contact as putting head and body together and using a paperclip between negative of 14500 and unanodised body gives no light. Suspect body tube is too short. Some solder on the body ends will fix that.

SH0030 singlemode. Working. Threads came lubed. Was not working last week, but head was loose. tightened it. No issues now.

SH0030 5mode. Working but very, very green. It was like that from the day it arrived though. It is the only C3 bodied device that I've ever been able to make work in a 3AA configuration, there are too many contact issues with the others. The Auroras appear to be better made C3's. This is not hard.

However, all of this is a red herring. The stainless steel C3 does not have a single part that will interchange with the aluminium ones. It has never given me any trouble at all other than trying to set my hands on fire when used on high with a 14500. It is a far, far better made device than the aluminium ones. However, there seem to be cheaper and nastier ones on the go - see the bottom half of this thread at Jayki. And this thread at the DX product forum. I got mine pretty much on the day DX announced them. Mine is 93mm long, apparently the current ones may be 98mm long and not nearly as well made. Where have we heard this before?

Hmmm.... The official DX "Reviews" during the past few months have been extremely positive for the sku.26122. I did see that it seems to have gotten longer. I would really like to know about the efficiency of the new ones though, and if it comes with a new higher efficiency Cree or not. I get lost in the threads about this light, because there were older single mode versions, expensive new multi-mode versions, a cheap new-multimode version, and now a cheapened cheap new-multimode version....

Ran for 14hr 4 mins 40 secs. Usable light till about 14hr. I'll give it a few minutes to recover then try it again.

While I waited I made the runtime chart.

Battery voltage after a 20 minute rest: 1.087V

Got some moderately bright light out of it - I expected it to be dim enough to look into the LED as I lit it. Spots in front of eyes but I can see the brightness dropping off

Well my employer does buy cheap AAs. Like everyone in the public sector everywhere, the motto is, "Always remember that all of your kit was provided by the lowest bidder."

It's quite a flat curve from 4 hours on out. Looks great. I might risk buying one of these.... Seems the price is has recently been reduced by about $1?

Thanks again for running that test for me, it was very helpful.

And since it has the 4 bond wires it has to be post P4 bin.

The DX forums suggest it is now an XR-C LED in the longer ones. Not sure how much credence I place in that though. Can't remember the difference between the XR-C and XR-E emitters anyway.

Pretty sure I paid $14.69 for it. I hope the new one is as good or better. If it is less bright on high, it'll probably run longer on low as long as they are using a current-generation LED. Here's hoping.

I've had another ten minutes of light from it since I put the cell back in though there is now no difference between high and medium. Cell voltage about 0.9V. Still can't look into the LED.

You are welcome.

The vertical scale is grossly exaggerated because of the small range of values - remember we are talking about three microamps of difference. I's say it's flat between 2.5 and 1.5 microamps - about ten hours. And there are errors in there. There was really no visible difference in the light coming out of the lightbox till the output fell off a cliff. I should probably get a much larger solar cell - this one is about the size of an AA. Then find someone with a calibrated light source who can tell me if the panel's response is linear enough for this purpose. Or the meter's. My good meter is years out of calibration, very battered and needs some more fuses - which cost more than i got the meter for on ebay. Which, of course, is why it was cheap.

Still good for relative results anyway.

I used to do lab work for a living, so cynicism about precision comes naturally. Spent 4 months on a bit of work when it looked like someone was tankering really nasty liquid waste, loaded with cyanides, heavy metals and all sorts of other undesirable stuff and pumping it down residential sewers. People go to prison for those sort of tricks - can get up to 5 years for it.

I did the most painstaking analytical work I've ever done. Spent ages doing the statistics to check error boundaries. Checked the calibration of everything I could.

Got the cleanest error bars I've ever seen.

I'd have been ecstatic with 5% which is pretty good going for manual "wet" chemistry. I'd have been able to do enough handwaving to get away with 10%.

I got errors of under 1%. Didn't believe them. Got the boss who had a PhD in this stuff to go through all of it from the raw data. He got the same numbers. He watched me do a lot of the work all over again. He did some of it. We took each others' numbers and crunched them.

Still got the most precise work either of us had ever seen.

Right, somebody's going to jail over this. At which point all new sets of samples have to be taken - 3 of each in front of witnesses. You run one set of analyses yourself, you give one set to the accused and keep one set for independent analysis if the court tells you to.

27 hours straight spent throwing a bucket on a rope into sewage pipes did not count as one of my better days. Especially as this was the second time I'd had to do it.

The boss beat me about 300:0 at chess.

Took 4 sets of samples as neither of us really believed my results. Sent one set to a sister lab that had better gear for metals analysis (It was cadmium we were most worried about.)

I still got beautiful results - the sister lab gave us back random numbers. Turned out that the most expensive machine in our place, which had been calibrated a month earlier had a major problem. Like me, the guys who'd done the calibration had done them in a strict sequence.

The results from the spectrophotometer had nothing to do with the amount of cadmium in the sample and everything to do with how long the £$%£^&% thing had been running.

Precision is a very elusive thing sometimes.

Nowadays I'm not about to spend way more than the price of my house on gear for doing this stuff - just point out possible sources of error and try to keep it consistent. My test gear consists of a cardboard box painted white internally with a port for a lightmeter and a solar cell glued inside it. The solar cell cost about $2. A lightmeter that cost under $50, a data-logging meter that cost about $50 and a couple of other cheap meters.

Certainly not lab-grade kit. The cardboard box does have a diffuser (A piece of a plastic milk carton) and an internal baffle (White painted cardboard) so that light can't get directly from the torch to the solar cell, it has to bounce around a bit first, thus evening it out.

Running it on an NiMH - will do alkaline too.

Seems to fit here as it's basically a better made Ultrafire C3 aluminium

Great! Thanks.

So do you plan on getting is a nice light for the price. I have the SS version and if you leave the light on you can fry an egg on that sucker. It was a single mode though. Nice run graph on an alkie.....that sucker would probably do more on a L91.

With a Q5 in mine, it is OK on NiMH or alkaline but is a hand burner on a 14500. My hands are pretty heat resistant (all the lab work helped there) and I couldn't hand hold it for 5 minutes on high. And that was with a lot of heat reducing shouting

There are at least 3 versions of this light - DX still sell the P4 variant at a rather high price and there seem to be two versions of this one available.

Not all that great I fear, will charge up an NiMH and try it again, Jayki got 101 minutes with regulation. If there's any regulation in there, it is far from evident.

The above was done on an Eneloop 2000mAh that I assumed to be fully charged.

These manufacturers could greatly increase the perceived value of their products if they were more precise with the nomenclature. Don is right about the C3 SS versions on DX:

And searching for any "C3".... Good grief!

Yeah mines a P4......pretty bright for me at the time. Wonder why the p4 would cost more then the Q5 5 mode version......makes one wonder.

These guys seem to have worse issues than the C3's. Singlemode will not now switch on. Usual C3 tricks to no avail. Head is going to have to come apart and the driver get ripped out.

The 5 mode - well the runtime graph has to be seen to be believed. Running on 3 NiMH just now - drops from anywhere between 30ish and 0.1 microamps. Flickers like crazy - I've never seen an output like it. Sounds like either rome cleanup of threads and faces, or driver issues.

Can't really recomend either of the SH0030's now.

The light

The head

The other side of the head

More pics to follow when I take them.


What regulation? This was less than a third of the charge out of three Eneloops but there seemed little point in continuing.

And how on earth can light output be a NEGATIVE number? See 3hr 20 min. Every time I went past it, I'd give the light a smack to bring the output up till I got bored with that.

You know, from the comments on aluminum C3 lights and their lookalikes, I think we have a new contender. The SmallSun ZY-C41 that I reviewed here was not what I wanted because it was only a single mode. (There are multi-mode versions out there floating around.) But I imagine that anyone who wanted a nice, reliable, single mode Cree 1xAA light would be very happy with the ZY-C41. It's a bit of a sleeper, but it's worth considering.