Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wuben TP10 Tactical Penlight Review

Wuben is a relatively new flashlight manufacturer to me.
I have looked at their website some time ago and there was not much to choose from.
I spotted a nice 10180 mini flashlight,from the ones that became very popular lately.
Currently Wuben is adding more flashlights to their product line and offered me two models for test and review.
I really did not know what to expect from this brand,so I agreed to test the flashlight with high interest.
In this review I am writing about the tactical penlight Wuben TP10 which features strong Tungsten tip at the one end,ball point pen at the other and integrated 10180 flashlights in the cap.
Read my review below to find out more about the TP10 and as usual enjoy the pictures!

Wuben TP10 can be easily used as a flashlight with a nice pocket clip.
Below is a comparison with two other 10180 mini flashlights and two AAA flashlights.
Vollsion MK-S, MecArmy Illuminex1, Wuben TP10, Bronte BT01, Fenix E99Ti.
This comparison of course is mostly size comparison.I will compare the beams as well,as the reflector diameters are similar.
I don't know what are the holes at the bottom of the TP10 for,but they could be successfully used for strap attaching.

A look at the reflector side.
All lights except Fenix with a Cree XP-G2 LEDs.
All except Bronte with a TIR reflector.

Pictures from the included instruction sheet.

Wuben TP10 comes in a nice,hard cardboard box with magnetic closing cap.
The Penlight is inserted in a thick rubber foam-looks great as a gift and protects the penlight perfectly.
A short micro USB cable also has a place in the box.
Instruction sheet and four spare O-rings are included,as well.

Below is the pen in my hand with slim fingers.
Even though it is a little longer than needed when writing,I found it comfortable and of course the flashlight part can be detached for better comfort.
The place where we hold the pen has triangular shape which ensures very stable grip.

Here is the flashlight end.

Here is how Wuben TP10 looks like disassembled and the battery out of the tube.
You can see the micro USB port at the battery tube and the mode switching plate in the head.

Close up look at the main parts.
Wuben 10180 Li-Ion battery with capacity of 70mAh.
Triangular cut threads. Thick and very stable pocket clip.With the right form to keep the penlight in proper position.
Dark grey matte anodizing.
The anodized surface on my sample is good,with several imperfections,visible at very close look.

Schneider Gelion 39 Refill-black color ink with 0,4mm line thickness.

A look at the inner side of the tubes.The positive contact points need cleaning as there are some shaves,most likely from the plastic ring covering the driver board(second element from right to left).

Operating the flashlight-
As the other popular 10180 type flashlights,Wuben TP10 has two modes 3 and 130 lumens.
Turning the light On is possible by rotating the head.Rotating further presses the contact plate (which you can see above) and activates the second 130 lumen mode.
No flashing modes.

RunTime Test

I tested Wuben TP10 on its High mode.
Light air cooling to ensure optimal testing temperature.
The light was activated and left static in the integrated sphere until the light level hit 1 lumen.
Initial lumen output of 130 lumens.
No step down. The runtime curve has very similar shape to the other 10180 flashlights I have tested,and looks as a typical direct drive output.
The max brightness depends on the battery voltage,and the tiny 10180 battery is not so powerful to keep the output constant even for a minute.
However the advantage is that we have a compact USB rechargeable battery that fit very small flashlights,in our case with a pen size.

If you use the light on short periods of time,this will give the battery some time to 'breath' which may allow a little less brightness drop compared to the constant 30 minutes discharge.

6 mm width of the pocket clip.Overall matte finish.The clip is not removable without unscrewing the tube,but I did not figure out yet how to do it.

11cm length of the pen without the flashlight cap.
13mm diameter in the widest section.
Very thick square cut threads.

Cree XP-G2 LED. Cool white light. No visible bad tint.
The LED on my sample is not well centered.I don't think this affects the beam that much,though I have no way to compare it with a properly centered sample.
Acrylic TIR reflector.

Really nice laser engraving.The silver looking like a ring part above is just a clean of anodizing section,which gives some style to the Penlight.

Testing my Helios 44M6 lens for macro photos. I think it passes the test successfully(most photos in the review are taken with this lens).
Both ends of the pen. Ball point pen and Tungsten steel tip.
The tip is mostly designed for car window breaking in emergency situation.I have no way to test it,so I can talk only theoretically.


Even though the TIR optics in the compared flashlights appear to be very similar,the produced beams are quite different.
The light from the XP-G2 LED in the Wuben TP10 seems a little cooler white than the other flashlights in the comparison.
It is also better focused and allows longer distance of illumination.
As expected thanks to its conventional aluminum reflector,Bronte BT01 provides much better spill,while the TIR lenses focus most of the light around the central spot.

1 meter

5 meters

My impressions and thoughts of Wuben TP10 so far are good.I like the design
It is comfortable as a pen.I can't discuss much about the tungsten tip,but it seems made as it should be and eventually may come in use for some people.
I rarely like the pocket clips on most of the flashlights I have tested.On this one though I do not have much to criticize.Maybe it could be a little deeper,but as a multi-tool everything is designed to fit well with the overall functionality.
Unscrewing both parts takes just 360 degree rotation(one turn),and they are separated.It is a good idea to keep everything tight and to check it from time to time,especially if you carry on the belt/pants.
In terms of output regulation(or lack of regulation) Wuben TP10 is not better,nor worse than the competing 10180 lights.
I would like a cap for the pen,so I could keep the ball point/tungsten tip covered.
The 0,4mm ink line is a little too wide for my preferences,but the refill could be replaced with a thinner one eventually.
The flashlight part leaves only good thoughts in me.Good beam.Switching the modes is very smooth.Everything operates as it should be.
I am usually looking very precisely at the finish and the overall machine work. The anodization could be a little better on some of the edges,but most of the people may not notice the things I am seeing,as this is tool to be used,not a photography subject.

Thanks for reading and looking at the pictures!

Thanks to Wuben for providing the TP10 for test and review!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thorfire TK4A Review (4xAA)

Thorfire produces a good range of flashlights from very small EDC lights to large thrower type lights.
I have tested almost the full line of their Li-Ion powered flashlights.
This time they offered me their AA powered TK4A for test.
A good chance for me to add a new non-Li-Ion flashlight to my review list,as I don't have much in it and actually I don't use NiMH/Alkaline batteries from a few years now.
The NiMH and alkaline batteries have their advantages over the Li-Ion alternative.
Despite the fact that they store less energy and weight more,many people prefer the safety and availability of the AA batteries.
Storing and using these type of batteries has much less requirements and some spares can be found easily.

Specifications from manufacturer
Uses Cree XP-L LED with a lifespan of 20 years
Modes: Low/Mid/High/Turbo, hidden Strobe and Moonlight
Battery: Uses 4*AA NiMH/NiCd/Alkaline(Not Included)
Material: Made of Aircraft-grade aluminum
Size:approx 115mm(Length) * 41mm(Body Diameter)
Weight: 178.5 gram (excluding batteries)
Water resistant: IPX-8, underwater 2m
Impact resistant: 1m
Intensity: 11600cd (Max)
Distance: 460m (Max)

Battery Capacity Display
The switch button have a battery indicator light. The light will displaying “Green”, if the battery capacity is higher than 50%.
If it is lower than 50%, it will turn to “Orange”. When it less than 15%, it will changed to “Red”.

Click the side switch to turn on, keep on clicking to change brightness levels from Low-Medium-High-Turbo, double click to activate Strobe mode,
and another click goes back to the previous brightness level, press and hold the switch to turn off. When the light is off,
press and hold to activate Moonlight mode, click to turn off.With the light OFF, press and hold the side switch for 1 second goes to Moonlight.

Intelligent Memory Circuit
The flashlight will memorize the last used (more than 3 seconds) brightness level.
The next time you turn the flashlight on, it will activate on the last used output.

Package includes
> 1 x ThorFire TK4A flashlight
> 1 x Use Manual
> 1 x Lanyard
> 1 x Carry Pouch
> 2 x O-ring

User Interface

Thorfire TK4A has a relatively straight,clean design with no deep groves,deep cooling fins or any 'exotic' looking curves. Noticeable is the large and clear brand name with the logo. No serial number on my sample.
Can't confirm if it is usually available.
The TK4A has a glossy black anodizing.No distracting scratches or dents on my sample.The anodizing is also sufficiently consistent.
The whole battery tube and most of the tailcap have fine,not aggressive knurling for a good grip in hand.
There are four cooling fins-not very deep.I could say that they are not a main factor in the heat dissipation circuit.

The TK4A can be operated by an electronic side switch.
My impressions of the switch so far are-It does produce a nice click sound,so I can know for sure that I have pressed the switch to the needed level; The diameter is sufficient for my thin fingers;
The switch sits on the same level with its metal retaining ring,maybe a little higher;There is no much protection of pressing it accidentally;
It is not quite soft,but I found it less resistant to pressure than expected;
The switch has integrated color LED indicator in its center,indicating battery state and light On position;

This is the standard packaging for Thorfire. Sturdy cardboard box.
The flashlight was in a bubble bag as there was an impact insulating foam on top and bottom of the box.

Size comparison picture with other flashlight.
The TK4A is my first flashlight of this type,so I chose a few 18650 flashlights.
(Left to right side) Thorfire VG25(158gr.)- Thorfire VG15(118gr.)- Thorfire TK4A(276gr.), UFC8(195gr. for the Thorfire C8s version), Nitecore EC4(262gr.)
and two AA batteries on both sides. The TK4A can be easily defined as a compact light,if you don't mind the diameter and the weight.

8 mm switch diameter. 30mm diameter reflector. Cree XP-L LED.

My sample came with a good lanyard and two spare O-rings in the set. I can see a holster on the official pictures but can confirm if only my package lacks it.

Three loops at the tailcap for lanyard attaching.

Below is the TK4A in my hand.

Anodized,rectangular cut threads. Tailcap lock-out is not possible as all batteries are constantly connected because of the springs.

Two metal pins have to go in their respective holes in order to be able to close the tailcap.
When inserting the batteries,especially in the dark,the user should take some care of the correct direction of each battery as they are electrically connected in series and two by two go in different direction.
Aligning the pins takes some time.

Here is another look at the battery compartment and the tailcap.

My sample had a lot of metal filings,probably remnant of drilling the two holes.
I would recommend to check out your sample and clean it if needed.
The filings may affect the electrical circuit and the smooth screwing of the tailcap.
Trying to clean the surface around the holes,I found that the inner part of the flashlight/battery tube is not anodized,but painted with some kind of paint or polish.

30mm diameter reflector with smooth reflective surface.
It is most likely made of aluminum. Well centered Cree XP-L LED. Cool white light.
The glass lens seems clear without anti-reflective coating.

Runtime test
As usual I tested the flashlight on its highest mode first. This allows us to see the optimal performance of the flashlight-how good is its driver.
I used 4 low self discharge NiMH batteries.They were used for quite some time and probably do not represent the maximum that can be taken out of the TK4A,but still the step down timing and lumen readings should be correct.
I tested also High mode,which can be seen on the second graph.

On the first graph we can see the full length Turbo mode-activating the flashlight loaded with fresh batteries,vs the light restarted after its programmed step down.
Take a look at the second graph for a better view of the first minutes.

Here we can see the difference in the brightness after each restart.
The output will be constant as long as the batteries can keep their voltage under load.
The step down is timed to three minutes after activation. The Turbo mode can be restarted if needed.
The output after step down is equal to High mode=350lm.
In my test it gets lower after each restart-I restarted only 3 times.

This graph shows the compared performance on Turbo and High mode.
The TK4A is programmed to step down to Mid mode after working on High mode for 30 minutes(this is stated also in the instruction sheet).
It is interesting to note that this step down is also applied to Turbo mode 30 minutes after its first step down.

I don't detect PWM with a camera or basic oscilloscope.
Because of the electronic switch,the power source is constantly connected with the driver which results in some amount of standby power consumption.
I still did not manage to measure it correctly and once I do it,I will post the results here.
Yet,if you want to prevent this parasitic discharge when storing the flashlight for a long period of time,the only way is to remove the batteries.

My copy of the TK4A produces Cool white light-relatively clear white at the hotspot with yellowish corona around it.
Compared to cleaner white beams,the TK4A's beam may look a little greenish.
White wall.

1 meter
1/20sec All modes plus comparison with other flashlights.

1 meter

5 meters

Noticeable from the beamshots is that the TK4A's beam is pretty well focused and allows good beam range.
The larger reflector without texture allows more light to be focused in the center of the beam,especially compared to the smaller Olight S30 and Thorfire VG15/25.

After testing Thorfire TK4A and using it when possible,my impressions are good.
The beam is good,with no bad artifacts.No bad tint in regular use.
Some people may not like the cool white light,depending on preferences.

My personal thoughts- I would like more diffused light,especially for a flashlight of this kind,which I don't expect to throw very far.
It is hard to get used to the UI if you use a lot of different flashlights like me. I prefer identical operation for On and Off.
I usually don't like to wait even half a second to get the needed light,and I prefer to turn it Off quickly.
This is my prefered way of using a flashlight with frequent On/Off.
If you use the flashlight for long periods of time without many pauses the press and hold On/Off should not cause a trouble.
An advantage of the UI with press and hold Off is that the mode changing is quicker-just a single brief press.

Activating Moonlight mode with press and hold operation and turning it Off with a brief press may be confusing,as this is exactly the opposite operation to other modes. 

The switch may be better with some more resistance on pressing.It is soft in my opinion.
I like the color indicator which shows the different states of voltage and locates the switch in the dark when the light is On.

The step down on Turbo mode is after just 3 minutes and goes directly to High mode which is more than 60% lower output.

+Compact form factor makes the TK4A easy to carry,hold,use.

The maximal brightness highly depends on the batteries,as I got different readings with the same batteries recharged several times,probably to a slightly different level.
Yet the max 1000 lumen output is a pretty good achievement.
Saying this,I have to add that the range from Turbo to High mode may be a little too much,but if the batteries are not freshly charged/new,the initial brightness will be lower,which makes the gap less noticeable.

I like that the driver shuts down the light when reaching defined low voltage level.This is a good protection for the batteries and give use safety,even if we don't apply so much attention to them- LV Protection should be standard feature in every flashlight on the market. In all of the TK4A runtime tests I left the flashlight activated as long as possible and in each test,the resting voltage in each battery was at least 1 volt.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks to Thorfire for providing review samples to the testers!