Thursday, April 13, 2006

No Batteries 2

The other day, I stumbled across an improved version of the battery-less flashlight. This yellow version has quite a few improvements over the smaller blue version I found before, and costs only very slightly more priced at US$4.50.

First the beam of light is very focused and bright. It also remains bright without much noticable dropping off even after a few minutes. The second picture was actually taken on a brightly illuminated part of the floor.

The brighter light is achieved with one large LED in place of the three smaller LED's used in the past model. This probably also improves it's energy efficiency.

Here compared with the older version, you can see the more focused and brighter beam of the new version (although both lights were angled slightly differently, the perceived difference is quite similar to the photo).

Inside we find a larger rechargable battery rated at 3.6V 80mAh (8mA-14h) and indicated as a nickel metal-hydride type. This is twice the capacity of the older version.

This version now uses a hand-crank mechanism to turn the dynamo. Less effort is required to turn this crank compared with the pressure trigger. One slight design fault, the crank can be turned in either direction, but power is only generated when turned clock-wise. However the arrow indicating the correct direction is actually on the back-side of the grey lever and hidden from view.

Inside we see a set of gears translating each crank into multiple turns of the smaller dynamo.

An alarm or siren is one of the new features. The packaging actually claims 650dB, but I'm pretty sure it's an exageration even though it is quite loud.

A little compass is also included incase you get lost.

And a little jack for plugging in an optional (not included) cable to "charge your mobile phone". Once a plug is inserted into this socket, it will automatically turn off the LED and create a direct link between the dyanamo and the socket. Testing it with a voltmeter, the output is variable depending on how fast you turn the crank, but limited to a maximum of approximately 5.5-6.0v (it's a little hard to hold the voltmeter probes and crank at the same time).

The packaging, with it's interesting wording. "Hand Shake Torch" even though the mechanism is a hand cranked/turned dyanmo.

I was very happy with how significant the improvement was in brightness and duration of the beam. For only an extra $1 over the previous model, plus a list of extra features (although usefulness of these functions maybe limited to hikers/campers) make it a very good value.

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