Review: FLEXcandles Asgard

World's First Bluetooth Enabled Programmable Flashlight: Gimmick or Game Changer?

In a clever and highly successful product debut effort, FastTech sponsored a campaign for BLF members to nominate their favorite reviewer to evaluate a soon-to-be-released new torch. The top three vote-getters were to be sent a "release candidate" review version of the new FLEXcandles Asgard flashlight and your humble scribe came in third place. Foy won't hide his pleasure or surprise at being included among such respected nominees, along with a very real obligation to those that voted for me and to the truth. I'll also admit feeling some intimidation, considering the tech-savvy crowd I now found myself in. Foy proceeds on the belief he was selected for a reason, not pretending to know what that might be.

Foyapproved

Bottom line: JohnnyMac, _the_ and Jasmine might be surprised at the above because in the long, ongoing PM we shared during development, in a defensive moment of frustration I flatly stated the Asgard would not be Foyapproved. With all of my concerns remaining, my feelings have softened a bit. I think FastTech selected a flashlight with the wrong level of quality to showcase their exciting new idea. The light I first received looked and felt like it was assembled by an uncaring intern. Due diligence and attention to detail were lacking, both with software and hardware. Besides its innovating electronics, the Asgard is merely a copy of the bottom feeder Small Sun ZY-T08, which itself is a copy of the original UltraFire UF-T60, one of the finest quality flashlights I've ever seen. The wireless connectivity is hella fun to play with for while but when the new wears off and I get the modes I like, I'm left with a mediocre quality, rebranded ZY-T08/UltraFire wannabe with decent throw and double-cell run time. I'm still not convinced this new technology is a turning point with hand held illumination but I do feel that now, finally, the Asgard is probably worth its $59 asking price.

What I like:

- any mode I want, as many as I want, any time I want

- wireless connectivity

- Bluetooth/wireless stability and reliability

- program stability

- super low non-PWM

- XM-L2 emitter

- large, screw-in pill

- glass lens (thick)

- best quality plastic reflector I've ever seen

- digital serial number

What I do not like:

- machine work/fit and finish

- press-fit driver

- bare steel, unfinished tail cap "bling"

- water resistant?

- GITD boot

FLEXcandles Asgard Bluetooth/Programmable XM-L2 Flashlight

$59.00 FastTech http://www.fasttech.com/products/1/10004469/1342000-flex-asgard-1052-lumen-programmable-cree-xm-l2-led

received: 5-18-13

Cree XM-L2/T6/1C emitter

plastic SMO reflector

uncoated glass lens (3.1mm thick)

designed for 2 x 18650 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries (side by side)

Bluetooth programmable user interface/configurable mode memory

ships with default 3-mode user interface: low, medium and high

aluminum construction

type II hard anodization

aluminum (?) bezel

tail standing reverse clicky tail cap switch with 15mm GITD boot

Bluetooth 2.1

driven by eight 380mA AMC7135 drivers

free Android/Windows app

selected manufacturer specifications:

8mA non-PWM moonlight

super low PWM modes

configurable mode memory

configurable low voltage warning

configurable thermal throttling

non-PWM at 12.5% output, 31.25KHz PWM at other levels

3.040 amp output current

2-hour run time on high

30-hour run time "typical mixed use"

300 hours run time on moonlight

"1,052 lumens"

65.5mm diameter

174mm length

42mm width

328g

"water resistant"

flat top batteries not recommended

PC or smart phone required for programming: Windows XP or higher, Android Gingerbread 2.3 or higher and Bluetooth 2.1 or higher

what you get for $59.00:

Asgard programmable flashlight

black lanyard

white cardboard box

run time test: coming

Package arrived by express mail on Saturday, May 18, 2013 . . .

I wouldn't say it was particularly well packed but, machine quality being what it is, probably not an issue. Foy repurposed this white box to mail winner of raffled L2i . . .

Package did not include "Custom Instructions" shown on packing list. Jus' sayin'.

After the fun of wirelessly programming your modes, you're left with a flashlight upon which those modes perform. In this case, a re-badged Small Sun ZY-T08, itself a copy of the UltraFire UF-T60. If you like the ZY-T08, you will likely be satisfied with the Asgard's build quality. If you own the superb UltraFire original as I do, you will be disappointed. Machine quality and fit and finish are mediocre at best. The sharp edges, thin/sometimes inconsistent ano, multiple chips and unpolished, dull tail cap trim are constant reminders of the Asgard's low caste linage . . .

I fell in love with this form factor the minute I saw it. (the T60) It is a winning design, certainly worth copying and has plenty of room inside for all kinds of driver shenanigans. It's easy to see why FastTech chose this light . . .

Those white dots you see on the tail are thin areas where the anodization has come off. It actually looks like paint in several places . . .

Small chips are everywhere and you can easily see the sharp edges rising up on most cuts . . .

On the other side it looks like someone actually attempted a touch-up . . .

Carefully selected angles are required to show the tail cap bling to advantage. Otherwise, machine swirls and a dull finish scream, slab-of-bare-metal . . .

UltraFire at left.

You have to look at it for a minute in this picture to see the difference but in real life, the Asgard's tail cap (at right) looks and feels like what it is; cheap. Also, Foy hates GITD boots.

Unlike the T60, the Agard's tail cap screws are countersunk flush. Here, we also see more finish issues . . .

Putting aside quality concerns, the design genius can still be seen and begins to explain the popularity of the ZY-T08 . . .

Turned edge-on, the thinner cross section measures just under 24mm. The pill threads in and seats, surrounded on the outside by five large cooling fins, should someone ever decide to jack up the current. Also, mo' scratches and chips . . .

Call me a lathe work snob if you must, I just can't help wondering how awesome this technology would be in a top shelf torch . . .

I suspect the bezel is something other than stainless steel because it weighs significantly less than the T60's bezel, which is actually smaller/more shallow . . .

One important thing they got right with the Asgard is Cree's awesome new XLamp XM-L2. This is my fourth light with this spectacular emitter and although I prefer the 3C tint, this 1C is one of the nicest cool whites I've seen.

I was immediately put off by these fingerprints when the light first arrived . . .

Jasmine sent a new reflector and surprisingly enough, Foy is duly impressed with this plastic piece . . .

It is hardly less bright than aluminum (if at all) and this bad boy is the thickest reflector I have ever seen . . .

When I heard it had to be plastic because of signal issues, I was thinking Mag-Lite type quality but this is much better . . .

Extra thick also is the glass lens; 3.1mm and again, uncoated to minimize signal loss, we are told.

Unlike the T60, the Asgard does away with a separate battery magazine in lieu of a simple drilled solution . . .

Both batteries install positive end up . . .

Another thing I'm not fond of is the press-fit driver. TechnicalFoy couldn't get the light to turn on after installation of the 2nd driver. JoahnnyMac reminded me that it had to be firmly in place to complete the circuit. Couple of hammer hits with Foy's much loved Leatherman Wave and there was light. Problem was, I was never able to make a Bluetooth connection with this driver.

I absolutely love screw-in pill designs like this. It is simple, robust and provides a great thermal pathway . . .

It's a little tricky getting the reflector in while keeping the antenna below the upper lip, without goobering fingerprints on the reflector surface. Foysolved with a piece of electrical tape.

Large pill provides plenty of interior space to accommodate driver R & D . . .

This, apparently, is how the sausage is made. We're told the final release version will be fit for the consumer market . . .

After failing to make a Bluetooth connection with the second driver sent by FastTech, Foy requested and received a complete, new pill with updated driver installed and ready to go. I simply screwed the new pill in and connected wirelessly on the very first try.

Here's the whole works along with a couple of IMRs I used for testing.

Here's a white wall on high from about 4-feet. The center spot looks a little more off-center in real life because the antenna on my light pushes against the reflector. Other than that, it has a slightly green, somewhat inconsistent corona and a beautiful ringless spill. My other lights with the upgraded XM-L2 are all 3C. This is my first cool white and to my eyes, it seems a little warm. Not at all a bad thing but I would like to compare it to another 1C . . .

Asgard on the left and the UltraFire UF-T60 on the right. The T60's spectacular aluminum SMO is strictly for throw and is a bit more ringy than it appears in this picture. The UltraFire has a highly focused and blazing center spot. To the eye its corona looks like an eclipse and the bluish spill has 4 or 5 thin rings. The Asgard's spill is actually more useful and I'm hoping the following beam shots will show that . . .

These were all taken with a .8 second shutter speed @ f3.2.

Asgard with 2 x protected Tenergy 18650/2600.

T60 with 2 x unprotected Panasonic NCR18650PD. (2900 mAh)

Asgard on the left, T60 at right . . .

Asgard . . .

T60 . . .

Asgard at left and T60 on the right again. The T60 definitely has more throw but the Asgard's spill is better for closer duties.

While we're here, let's have a little fun . . .

This is my new Shadow S-L3 with a single unprotected King Kong 26650. (4000mAh)

Is that incredible or what? Review soon . . .

Finally . . . the pièce de résistance. Foy's programming description will narcissistically assume everybody has a Galaxy S3 and speedy 4G connection WiFi. There are other ways to connect the Asgard but Foy doesn't care.

To begin programming, reach into your pocket and fetch a much loved Samsung Galaxy S3. Find your way to Google's lame named "Play Store" and type in "fasttech." You'll probably get two results and you want the one that isn't "Track and Support Beta." Install that bad boy, fire it up and pair your flashlight just as you would a Bluetooth earpiece. Mine seems to connect best with flashlight and phone parallel to one another, about an inch or two apart. Once connected, you should see the above . . .

The original driver had an "FLEXA3-30003" serial number that correctly reflected Foy's third place finish but the updated pill is number 25 . . .

Turning on battery protect elicits this response. Foy hit cancel and went on his way . . .

Putting a fat thumb on the temperature brings up the temperature throttle trigger point. The low voltage warning can be configured in similar manner. Kinda cool, being able to control this, no?

To create new profiles, swipe to the next screen and you get this. You can make as many modes as you wish and store several different profiles in cloud with your FastTech account . . .

To set a mode, press and old that mode and the above happens . . .

Output is set by moving the slider to the right . . .

. . . until the desired level is reached . . .

These standard modes have 31.25KHz PWM. (I think) . . .

100% would represent "high" with a claimed current of 3,040 amps and presumably, 1,052 lumens . . .

There are also some great moonlight modes . . .

The PWM moonlight mode choices are: .06, .09, 1.25, 1.9, 2.5, 4.3, 6.3 and 9.4% . . .

There's also an 18mA and (I think) an 8mA non-PWM mode . . .

You can then choose mode stepping . . .

Add a step and select the seconds . . .

When you're done, press "Send Profile to Asgard." Exit the app, turn your light off and then turn it back on and wooo hooo! You now have a torch with exactly the modes you want. All other issues aside, it's a pretty neat trick.

Foy's Asgard story arc . . .

I was honestly amazed I got as many votes as I did and was genuinely surprised to actually eek out a third place finish. Foy appreciates everyone's support and having a handful of sincere fans is truly a privilege, one I absolutely do not take for granted.

After being officially offered the opportunity to review the light, it arrived 5-18-13 by express courier. Don't know what I expected but the indifferent packaging didn't match the build-up and much commentary by excited members on BLF. Nevertheless, the next day (Mrs. Foy made Foy chop down a tree first) I dropped in two IMRs I had charged for just this occasion and confirmed the three shipping modes. It had some serious flickering issues and I couldn't help noticing all the fingerprints on the reflector. Worst I've ever seen so, I took pictures of it and decided it was time for some programming.

Having already installed the apk from a link provided by Jasmine (very first, original app) I paired the flashlight and attempted a connection. I created a simple 3-mode profile different from the one it had and sent it to Asgard. It changed to single mode for whatever reason and no matter what I did, all it would do is flicker in single mode. I tried everything and because it was reporting incorrect voltage, I tried different batteries too. Nothing worked. I became ambivalent rather than frustrated and decided to take some of my review photographs of the light. This I did and per normal, removed the pill and took a peek inside. I finished the rest of my macros, put the light back together and uploaded the images to my computer.

Not sure why I thought anything would be different at this point but for whatever reason, I decided to try connecting one more time. As before, I started the app, put the light in Bluetooth mode and hit "connect." It immediately connected and I almost dropped my phone, I was so damn excited. When I took the macros, I merely removed the contact base, leaving the other boards inside untouched. Somehow, this operation fixed the connection problem and the flickering went away too! Not only that, software function was reliable and rock steady. It had great range as well; I connected once with the light 3-feet from the phone. I was a very happy camper and the Asgard's programmability went a long ways toward softening my feeling about its basic build quality.

At one point after that, JohnnyMac asked me if my light would program the three lowest PWM modes. I tried and it would not. The light worked otherwise fantastic and I was ready to do my review. During all this, because of all the problems JohnnyMac and _the_ were having, it was decided a new driver was needed. They were sent with instructions to solder them and install into our existing pills. I put this off because, unlike the other two reviewers, other than the three low modes my Asgard worked great. Problem was, FastTech had updated the app and if I updated my app, I could no longer program my light. Finally, I ripped apart my functioning torch and installed the new driver. The light came on with its 3-mode shipping profile but would not connect no matter what I did. I threw my hands up in despair and told Jasmine I could write the review now as things stood, or she could send me a new pill with new driver installed and I would be willing to wait and see how it performed then. All three of us received new pills with drivers installed.

When the new pill arrived, I simply removed the old one and screwed in the new. After pairing, my Asgard connected on the first try. It doesn't have the range of the first driver but it programs all modes without a hitch. The light has performed flawless ever since, allowing me to form some basic conclusions . . .

Product development is hard. Hitting a retail price target is hard. Dealing with fickle, demanding customers is hard. These are not defenses or excuses for FastTech; business is difficult and this is the business they're in. I understand the important decision of making the Asgard a $60 light instead of a $100 light. Problem is, although the ZY-T08 may have been economically right and physically easy to modify, I feel that the designed-in low quality and oh-so-familiar shape everybody already knew, detracted from the exciting technology inside. A new design, never before seen, with high quality would have showcased the new technology congruent to the build-up and positive buzz FastTech successfully created prior to launch.

Once a customer programs his or her new Asgard, it then simply becomes a rebranded Small Sun ZY-T08. It is definitely worth $60 but other than its unique programmability, there is nothing special about it. That's a shame because the technology inside really is special.

Foy

awesome!

Great job Foy!

Unfinished. I think you are referring to the review itself. That’s how I would describe the light and the support software.
Mine is supposedly a production version, but it has a lot of the same issues of the prototypes; fingerprints, dirty reflector, not connecting well, app not working (apparently an Android OS problem).
I did not have the same host issues, my finish is free of serious defects.
I like the concept, and would like to see it in a smaller host for EDC use. This one is a shelf queen and programming toy right now since I have other lights I’d rather use as lights. Those with less ‘selection’ might find this light more useful.

Thanks for the review, this is the future of our hobby very cool.

I think Foy well portrayed the Asgard in his conclusion:

i dont always quote a quote

but when i do, its to say "+1"

LOL
Oh no, don’t let this turn into that thread again! :smiley:

i almost bought a bare driver, but wanted to wait and see what others have done with them, what they will fit and all that.

the zy-t08 format never really did it for me... cant remember the original light like that, but when that first 2 cell flatty came out i liked it

Thanks Foy. Enough said.

Honest. But appreciated sorry edited dang spell check it is appreciated keeps from misspending money tbank you for honesty

The way I see it:

“It is definitely NOT worth $60 but other than its unique programmability, there is nothing special about it. ”

“Once a customer programs his or her new Asgard, it then simply becomes a rebranded Small Sun ZY-T08”
:beer:

above.

Agree as well, not worth $60. I paid right around $50 and still not worth it. Too many issues with build quality, like dirty lens, reflector, and shoddy driver mount (held in place with chunks of silicone). App release was a bit hasty as well, which has led to some lingering issues.
The concept is awesome, execution falls short.

That's all i read, that's all i needed to hear, that's all i needed to know.

I am not buying.

EDIT:

i am realizing that the review does not contain any info on brightness stabilization graphs, lumens measurements in relation to other lights, runtime tests, comparative beamshots white wall and or outdoors, tint performance, regulation/efficiency data, etc.

Eek!

I can confirm your conclusion. The cheapo Body destroys everything. Even compared to Ultrafire/Trustfire Lights I own/ed, this host is the worst made I ever owned :frowning: - As said in other Thread mine is full of scratches. Bezelquality is very poor, Reflector has scratches, LED is dirty and so on. Fasttech trys to work this out with me. But I bought a full flashlight and not a DIY host :frowning: When I place some of my nitecore lights next to it, it really lookes like garbage :confused:

On the other hand there is the bluetooth functionality. When it connects it is really great. The App is really nice too… But at the end, you always see what you have in your hands. And thats a cheapo light

As always, love the Foy reviews. Not often I actually read all the words, but when Foy does his thing, I enjoy every word! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the honest review Foy, much appreciated

Sometimes it looks as reviewers feel obliged to give positive reviews for the free samples they receive.
NotFoy.Honest and to the point.Thanks again.

I will not be buying any programmable flashlights until they are voice activated .

" Honey , was that man just talking to his flashlight ? "

" Just keep going , dear , don't make eye contact . "