Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Thrunite Ti [AAA flashlight]

Introduction


Thrunite is a Chinese niche manufacturer of LED flashlights using Cree emitters. They have been around for about a couple years now, and are starting to make a name for themselves with innovative designs and attention to detail. Some of their products, like the Ti, have been big hits in the "flashaholic" community. The reason I'm a big fan of Thrunite is because in my opinion they seem to be the only company that really gets the moonlight mode lights.

Most people that are into flashlights have the same mentality as people who are into cars. More power. That pretty much sums it up. Don't get me wrong, power is great, and I love me some lumens. But the ultimate goal of a flashlight is simply to see in the dark. I don't always need that raw power. For example, when I'm camping, I might get up in the middle of the night to, uh, relieve myself. Do I want or need enough lumens for a UFO encounter just to find my way behind some bushes, then back to the tent? No, I just need to see far enough in front of me to not trip over something. So ... I'm a big fan of these firefly type of lights.


Thrunite Ti


This keychain flashlight comes in two models:  The .04/60 "Firefly" and the 3/60 lumen version.
Batteries: 1.2v NiMh Rechargeable or 1.5v Alkaline AAA
Retail: $16

Official Specs


From the Ti product page:

Ti specifications:(Firefly version)

- Uses Cree XP-E R4 LED with a lifespan of 50000 hours
- Uses one 0.9-1.5V AAA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) battery
- 7.2cm (Length) x 1.4cm (Diameter)
- 20-gram weight (excluding batteries)
- OP reflector
- Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation
- Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
- Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
- Reliable twist switch. Tighten for Firefly (0.04) tightens further for max Output (60 lumens)

Operation:
Slightly twist the head tighten to firefly(0.04 lumens), tighten further for max output (60Lumens)

Ti specifications:(3-60 lumens version)
- Uses Cree XP-E R4 LED with a lifespan of 50000 hours
- Uses one 0.9-1.5V AAA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) battery
- 7.2cm (Length) x 1.4cm (Diameter)
- 20-gram weight (excluding batteries)
- OP reflector
- Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation
- Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
- Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard
- Reliable twist switch. Tighten for Firefly (3lumens) tighten further for max Output (60 lumens)

Operation:
Slightly twist the head tighten to firefly(3 lumens), tighten further for max output (60Lumens)

Review Samples


I have a black Ti Firefly which I purchased from Illumination Supply, and I have gold and blue 3 lumen models, which the wife and I recently picked up for $5 during the Thrunite Store grand opening. It's also available now on Amazon.com.

Firefly vs. 3 Lumen


For most people, the 3/60 version will give them the most utility. The firefly version (.04 lumen) is only useful with dark adjusted eyes, and only at short distances. I use the firefly version to check on the family when they are sick. I can check on the wife without blinding her.

When looking for your keys in the dark, or walking the dog, 3 lumens is more useful. Both versions give you extended runtimes in an emergency situation.

Fit and finish


One of the things I've always liked about Thrunite is their aggressive knurling. Even on their cheaper models like this one. It has a great feel to it, even with wet or dirty hands. The machining is good, and the twist action has a great feel to it.

Novel Twist


The Ti uses a novel design in that it's a "two stage" twist. Because of this, there is a foam insert in the front instead of the usual spring in the tail. I wasn't sure I liked this design, but it's held up well over time.


Usability


Both versions have a respectable 60 lumen high mode, and a decently neutral color tint using the Cree XP-E R4 emitter. It's nice to see the classy R4 on a low end light like this. The reflector is textured, giving the Ti a nice, smooth beam. It's a great combination of throw and flood - very usable.

Circuitry


The Ti appears to be current regulated. I could detect no signs of PWM, which I tested by pointing the beam at a running fan. I am personally very sensitive to PWM, especially for low frequency PWM lights. It's nice to see Thrunite step up.

Runtimes


From what I can piece together from reviews and estimates:

High (60) 1-1.5 hours

Low (3) My test got 28 hours exactly on a brand new and freshly charged Eneloop 1500 battery.

Firefly (.04) 125-150 hours real world (Craig @ Illumination Supply) on an Eneloop, and 150-175 on an alkaline estimated.

Conclusions


I've had the firefly version for about 8 months, and in that time it's lived my nightstand. It's the perfect light to wake up in the middle of the night with. With dark adjusted eyes, the moonlight mode is plenty bright. The twist action has a great feel, but the head gets a bit wobbly over time. I've seen where others put on thicker grease than what the light came with, but I put some teflon tape on mine instead. 

Some have reported problems with the metal tab in the head making the light get stuck on high mode. Prying up on the tab just a tiny bit should fix that. I've done that once and haven't had any problems since. There are also a few mods floating around that involve putting a piece of tape or plastic between the tabs, making the light low mode only. This light is also referred to by some as a "battery crusher" because there is no spring in the tail. I have found it not to be that big of a deal as long as I don't tighten it too hard on high. 

I have my new gold 3 lumen version n my EDC bag (below) with an Eneloop in it. The 3 lumen version makes a much better EDC, while the firefly version makes a much better night stand light. I also keep the firefly version in the little pocket of my sleeping bag when I'm camping. The 60 lumen high is great when I need the extra light, and the firefly mode lets me get up in the middle of the night without waking up the whole camp site.

The wife loves her blue one. I was hoping she would give it to me, but she won't part with it.

Other Notes


  • The light will tail stand, even on a key chain. 
  • It has survived several torture tests on the Internet.
  • It comes with a couple extra o-rings.
  • The newer ones seem to have better knurling than the one I bought last year.

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Below are a couple pictures using a blue Blistex cap as a diffuser, which has a really neat effect.



















Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: IDL T7 [Keychain Multitool]

I saw this little tool browsing through Amazon one day, and decided to take a chance. For about $10, I figured it was worth a shot.

My review sample was purchased from Amazon.com.

Specs


  • 7 tools in 1 - 1) Large Philips screwdriver 2) Small Phillips screwdriver 3) Small Flathead screwdriver 4) Large Flathead screwdriver 5) Large pliers, 6) Fine pliers 7) Wire cutters and strippers
  • Hardened Steel
  • Interlocking, fine-tooth pliers
  • Lifetime Warranty

Fit And Finish


The fit and finish is decent. No obvious flaws, pitting or scratches that I regularly see with cheap Chinese tools. My main issue with it is that my sample is almost too tight for me to open. The wife couldn't open it. I am expecting / hoping it will loosen up over time. Most of the reviews I see for these sort of muli-tools complain that they are too loose, so I guess better too tight than too loose.

Tools / Design


The tools look to be decent quality. The large flathead is a little on the thick side, but overall the two philips and two flathead screwdrivers look well made, and I like the design. They also seem a bit stiff, but we'll see.

I'm really impressed with the pliers on the T7. They have a good feel to them. Not awkward like the SwissTech.

The keychain attachment point is well designed, but with the tool so hard to open, it's a real chore moving them between attachment points.

Conclusion


This is a decent tool. As you can see below, I have it attached to my EDC bag. I was honestly surprised at the quality of this tool. I just wish it wasn't so stiff to open and close. But I am giving it the benefit of the doubt, and it's going to sink or swim on my EDC bag. If it doesn't loosen up, I'm going to see how many times it will skip across the lake.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Knot Tying Basics: Half Hitch

Introduction


Knot tying is something we do often enough to need the skill, but seldom enough to where it's not something we normally feel the need to master. A few times in my life I've been called upon to drive something big, or tow a trailer, or tie a load down in a pickup truck. All of the sudden I need to tie something down and I'm usually guessing until I throw enough random loops to where it feels secure, which has usually been a frustrating experience. So ... I wanted to do a few blog posts about tying knots as I learn to tie them the right way, as well as do my own nerdy interpretation of them. Rope, check. Camera, check. Let's do this.

Half Hitch

Wikipedia Entry

The thing to understand about a half hitch knot is that it's not actually used for anything. It looks useless because it is useless. However, it is used by many other useful knots. This knot is also referred to as an overhand knot. You can pretty much keep stringing half hitches together and the knot will get stronger, as well as harder to untie.
















Two Half Hitches

Wikipedia Entry

Here is where things start to get interesting. Two half hitches together make for a strong knot. It's important to note that the loop will want to close; it's not adjustable. If you want a loop with adjustable tension, then you want a taut line hitch, which will be the next blog post in the series.




















Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

Wikipedia Entry

When you go to secure a knot to a fixed object, add a turn around/through something before doing the two half hitches knot above.




















Also, check out the Notable Knot Index 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Drill Your Grill

About 5 years ago, I discovered that I could put a little wire wheel attachment on my drill. Since then, I can't remember the last time I used a wire brush.

I use it to clean my grills now, too. What used to be a real chore, now takes a couple minutes.

My DeWalt makes quick work of cleaning the grill, so I thought I'd share this little tip!





Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Case Lockback 156 [Pocket Knife]

December 25th, 2011. That was the last time I saw my Cutco pocket knife. I was using it to open presents, and it must have fallen into a box or bag, or something. I haven't seen it since. The next day, I dug through all the trashes. I actually dumped all the trash on the garage floor and sifted through it by hand - to no avail.

So, after that I decided to find a similar pocket knife that wasn't so hard to come across. I wanted one about the same size and functionality, except one that could be had by purchasing it straight from the Internet.

Case Lockback


About a dozen pocket knives later, I think I've finally found the one I am looking for. It's made in the USA, it's light, and it's high quality. And at around $15 from Amazon, the price is sure right.

Specifications


  • Made in USA
  • Synthetic Handle
  • Surgical Steel Blade
  • Drop Point Blade
  • Weight: .8 Ounces
  • Length Closed: 3 Inches
  • Blade Length: 2 Inches



Fit And Finish


I did not think that the fit and finish could be this good on a $15 pocket knife. The synthetic handle has no flaws and the blade is perfectly centered. The action is tight and there's no wobble or play at all. The blade comes plenty sharp and is of good quality. This is one little gem of a knife!

Usability


The lockback mechanism is smooth and tight. The handle has fairly aggressive knurling on the front of the knife, where you would hold it between thumb and forefinger. The handle is smooth in the back. I would've preferred knurling along the full length of the handle (like my Cutco), but it has it where it needs it.

Overall the knife has a superb feel, which again, is quite surprising given its price. The synthetic handle has no metal liner, but is almost as rigid as knives with a liner. 

Conclusions


I think this may just be the perfect little EDC for around the house and about town. Unlike the Case Executive, which I recently reviewed, this knife seems like it will take lots of abuse and not even show any wear. It's also much lighter. It's the lightest of the 4 pocket knives shown below - even the Victorinox! And at $15, I'm not scared about losing it or having to figure out how to replace it. If I lose it, then I'll just buy another.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: Case Executive [Lockback Pocket Knife]

Last week I was buying some tools at Ace Hardware, and I noticed they had a nice display case full of Case, Buck and Gerber knives. It was the usual assortment you'd expect, but there were a couple of Case pocket knives that caught my eye. The display case was dusty and the box on mine said 2008 on it. It looks like my knife sat quite a while waiting for me to purchase it.

This particular one, the Case Executive, caught my eye because of the fit and finish. Even without my reading glasses, I could tell the machining and workmanship stood out from the usual knives they had, so I bought it.

Specifications


  • Made in USA
  • Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Surgical Steel Blade
  • Drop Point Blade
  • Lockback
  • Weight: 1.4 Ounces
  • Length Closed: 3 inches
  • Blade Length: 2 1/4 inches


Fit And Finish


The fit and finish on this knife is superb. The tolerances are the best I have seen on a pocket knife. The rivets and lockback mechanism are completely flush with the body and polished to where I have to look closely to see how the unit is fastened together. The Chinese may be making much better knives these days, but they still cannot compare to the attention to detail shown by what few American manufacturers there are.

The only downside to the fit and finish is that the body scratches so easily. It's my fault though, for treating it more like a high usage EDC than a gentleman's executive knife that it's meant to be. Don't get me wrong, this is about as rugged looking of a knife as I've seen, but I could picture it getting scratched up.

Usability


I'm not sure I like the ergonomics on this knife. I didn't expect it to have much grip being so sleek, but I didn't expect to be a bit awkward either. One saving grace though with the grip is that it's contoured a little bit to better fit in the hand. 

The lockback mechanism is a little tight, but that's fine. I expect it to loosen up over time. It's another area which is a little awkward. It locks great, but until it loosens up, it seems to be determined to nick my finger when I close it. Again, this probably won't be a big deal once it loosens up.

Conclusions


This is an amazing little knife, but as the model name suggests, it would be more at home in a tuxedo than as an EDC in your blue jeans. There are rare times where I want to leave the house looking nice, and this knife will be with me. Until then, I think I'll keeping looking for that perfect, small, locking and high-tech pocket knife to replace my lost Cutco.

Gallery