Friday, June 13, 2014

Photon Freedom Review

Photon Freedom – The best button cell flashlight!?

Before I went AWOL, I had planned to do a review of this little flashlight.  To this day, out of all the keyring lights that run on button cells, this has been my favourite!  I have taken the Photon Freedom all over the world with me on various travels.  You can see here an example of a keychain setup I take for travelling HERE.  While the Photon Freedom is not overly bright, it's light weight, flexible, reliable and has a good runtime.  It crams a lot of versatility and hidden features into a very small package.

At the Grand Canyon


-Great UI – has adjustable brightness levels that ramps up or down.  Gives you instant access to full brightness with a single click.  Or if you want to preserve you night vision, you can hold down the button and ramp up from low to high.  Sos/blinky modes are available, but tucked away for emergencies
-Unlike some cheap fauxtons, I haven't had any issues with it accidentally turning on.  If it does become a concern, you can set it to signal mode where it will only turn on whilst the button is pressed down.
-Comes with a neck lanyard and cradle for the Photon Freedom.  The cradle comes in handy as a way of storing the light that also prevents accidental activation.  See HERE for an example.
-Comes with a hands-free magnetic clip.  The magnets allow you to attach it to anything metallic.  You can clip it to things such as your hat, becoming a make-shift emergency headlamp.
-Quite a few hidden features/modes – will go into that later
-The ''white light version” uses 2xcr2016 lithium batteries – I feel these lithium button cells are better than the alkaline button cells in the streamlight nano/egear pico light.  I haven't done any objective tests, but I feel the lithium batteries maintains it brightness for longer.  They also work better in extreme temperatures.
-Comes with a life time warranty:
-Comes in a variety of colours (including pink!) and different coloured LEDs.
-Specs suggest 12hr+ runtime.  I wouldn't be surprised if this were true, but I would assume the later stages would be at a much, much reduced output than at the start.

fauxton, photon freedom, different fauxton, abitax tag light, streamlight nano, egear pico lite

Photon Freedom, hands free clip, neck lanyard with cradle.  The original quick-release clip is quite large.  I've switched it to a smaller mcgizmo clip (see above).


-I feel the keyring clip included is a little too big – I've switched to a smaller mcgizmo clip instead
-I got a special version that is camouflage in colour (I don't think they make this style body anymore).  Aesthetics aside, this probably wasn't the best choice in colour, if you drop it in grassland it could be hard to find.  However, there is a “Doug Ritter” version that is bright yellow in colour, which should make it easier to locate when dropped.
-Very prominent PWM if not at max brightness.  But considering it's size and other features, I'm pretty forgiving of this.  Most of the time, I'd be running it at max brightness anyway.
-Not very bright (~5 lumen), but generally enough for keyring use, especially with a fairly fresh batteries.
-Beam fairly ugly, typical of most other 5mm LEDs.  Has a purplish tint and quite 'ringy'
-Costly compared to cheap fauxtons you can buy from many of the chinese electronic webstores

Beam typical of most 5mm LEDs

Camoflauge colour probably wasn't my best choice.  More difficult to see in nature environments

Photon Freedom hidden modes:

These were found in various threads in CPF and EDC forums, which I will link to at the end of this article.

Signal/morse code mode:
Keep clicking the button 5-6 times until the light only stays on momentarily. In this mode the photon freedom will only turn on whilst the button is pushed down.  To turn it off signal mode, hold down the button until the light turns off.

50% mode (potentially useful if you want to prolong your battery life using blinky modes):
From OFF Push until “first light” and then Release quickly. You can now Push & Hold until it reaches the level you would like. It will be using half the power as usual, so “full power” is 50%. This effects all levels and the blinking modes as well. You can check that you are using this mode by setting it to “full power” and waving it back and forth. In 50% mode it will look like a dotted line (strobing or PWM). In normal mode it will be solid. It will return to normal mode when it is turned off.

Demonstration mode (light turns off after ~6 seconds):
This is the way the light comes when new. You can also return to this mode by removing the battery(s) and then Pushing & Holding the switch as you put the battery(s) back in. In this mode none of the blinking modes will work, but all the ON/OFF and brightness controls will work. The light will also turn OFF after about 6 seconds. To exit this mode Push & Hold for about 20 seconds (till it turns OFF) or remove and replace the batteries without Holding the switch.

“Auto off” after 3 minutes:
1) press the button rapidly 6 times, which puts the light into "signal/morse code mode."
2) Then press and hold the button for about 5 seconds until the light goes out (this takes the light back out of "signal mode").
3) Continue holding the button for another 5 seconds until there is a brief flash of light.
-Now the light is in "auto off" mode.  At ~3minutes the flashlight will slowly ramp down in brightness until it is completely off.
-To return the light to normal operation without auto-off, Repeat steps 1 and 2 above without doing step 3 (ie. Let go of the button before that brief flash of light)


If you want something small and light, and don't need more than ~5 lumens, the Photon Freedom is worth some serious consideration.  Personally, I like the brighter modes and nicer beam available with 10180 lights, so that remains my format of choice for a keyring light.  However, the 10180 batteries don't last very long on higher modes, so you'll need to recharging them relatively regularly.

This is why I like having the Photon Freedom as my keyring travel companion.  The batteries usually last the duration of the trip (provided your not TOO heavy with it's usage), and I don't need to any extra chargers that I'd need with a 10180 flashlight.  I'll often EDC an AA/AAA flashlight when travelling, so usually ~5 lumens is enough for keychain usage and an emergency backup to the EDC.


Good round up of information on the photon freedom:

Hidden auto-off mode:

For specifications and to purchase:

Doug Ritter Version, also with some good ideas/info.

Another review from a serious hiker

Extra Pictures of Packaging:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

TEC-S323 Isotope Fob Review

TEC-S323 Isotope Fob Review

With the recent addition of the diminutive “DQG spy” to my current keychain setup, I've been finding my usual Tec Accessories S3 glow fob, a little too large in comparison.  Looking around for a smaller alternative that is still encased in metal, brought me to the TEC-S323 Isotope Fob, also made by Tec Accessories.

I've been out of the loop with these sorts of things, but the TEC-S323 Isotope Fob appears to have been released around a year ago.  It is a metal housing built to hold a 3x23 tritium vial.  The dimensions of the Tec Accessories Isotope promise to be slightly smaller, thinner and lighter than the TEC-S3/A3/T3 glow fobs.


(Taken from the manufacturers website)
Material: Stainless Steel
Finish: Bead Blasted
Outside Diameter: 5.0 mm [0.197"]
Overall Length: 31.5 mm [1.24"]
Split Ring Hole Size: 3.0mm [0.118"]
Total Assembled Weight (without tritium vial): 1.8 grams [.06 oz]
Total Assembled Weight (with tritium vial): 2.0 grams [.07 oz]
Cost: $23 (not including the tritium)

Packaging and Accessories:

The packaging is pretty plain from the Tec Accessories.  Everything comes in a ziplock bag.  Included is a small container with a small split ring and 3 rubber plugs.  You only need one plug for the installation of the tritium, so the others are spares.  Another small cylindrical plastic container holds the metal housing and keeps it safe whilst in transit.  A card with basic instructions is included.

Please note that the tritium vial is not actually included, if purchased directly from Tec Accessories.  You need to buy the 3x23mm tritium separately, or alternatively Merkava from cpfmarketplace sells the Isotope preinstalled with the tritium.  Merkava is one of my regular sources for tritium, but there are a few others also on cpfmarketplace forums.




Pretty simple to put it together... no need to mess around with any glue or adhesives.  Put the 3x23 tritium vial into the metal housing. GENTLY ease one of the rubber plugs on top of the tritium.  Place split ring through the appropriate hole.  I tend to use a pair of fine pliers to open the split ring.  With the rubber plug and the split ring in place, the tritium vial is very unlikely to ever come out by itself.


-Smaller than the TEC A3/S3/T3 glow fobs
-Simple to install
-Feels well made
-It's subjective, but I like how it looks
-Once again subjective, but I think tritium in a metal housing looks more classy than a plain plastic tube
-Reasonably priced compared to other custom metal housings


-Not covered by a plastic shell, like the TEC S3/A3/T3.  This means it's smaller, but also potentially less protected if something hits it through one of the gaps in the metal housing.  However as of this stage, google does not find any reports of broken tritium in the Isotope
-Even though the TEC “Isotope” has been designed to maximise visibility, I feel that the tritium is slightly more visible in the TEC S3/A3/T3.  I feels this is the case, because the plastic shell provides more “spacing” from the tritium to the metal housing.
-Tritium definitely not as visible when compared to a plain acrylic housing.

Nite Glowring, tritium in acrylic casing, Tec S3 Glow Fob, Tec Isotope Fob, DQG Spy


I suspect the Tec Isotope Fob will be a permanent addition to my current keychain.  I like how it looks, and the smaller size better suits my keyring setup.  My only possible concern is whether the housing provides enough protection for the tritium.  It would take a very unfortunate knock to break the tritium, though.  I guess we'll find out with time and usage...

My keyring setup

Wife's keyring


Information on tritium and TEC Isotope Fob:

Manufacturer's Webpage:

Forums to buy 3x23 tritium and preinstalled Isotope:

Monday, April 14, 2014

DQG Spy 10180 – Quick Review

DQG Spy 10180 – Quick Review

Additonal Photos:


Smallest 10180 that I've found – weights next to nothing
Simple UI – tighten for low, tighten further for high
No PWM – at least none that I can notice
Floody beam useful for close quarters
Good knurling
Tritium on the tail
Can tail-stand easily



Minor issue – a few sharp edges at the tail, near the grooves for the split ring
Need to take a little care when changing batteries, I find it it relatively easily to cross-thread the threads.
Beam is pure flood with no hotspot – brightness fades off quite quickly with distance
Tritium seems quite exposed – I'd be a little worried it might break with keychain duty. I might try and encase it with some Norland 61, if I get a chance.
Difficult to operate one handed, as it's so small

Tritium feels a little exposed.  Some sharp edges at the tail end.

Wide pure flood beam

Versus the Quantum DD

-The DQG spy is significantly smaller and lighter than the Quantum DD.
-In terms of usability, I prefer the DQG Spy over the Quantum DD. I find with the QTC in the Quantum DD, you have to tighten it with a fair bit of force to get it to max brightness. The lack of decent knurling, compounds this issue further, as it's harder to get good finger support to tighten the light firmly.
-The tritium you can install into the Quantum DD, is longer in length. And since it is larger, it's also potentially brighter. Also, you can install two pieces of tritium in the Quantum DD without affecting tail-standing ability. With the DQG Spy, if you install a second rod of tritium, you potentially lose the split ring attachment.
-I feel the Quantum DD has a more modern futuristic look. I feel the DQG spy is more utilitarian in appearance.
-DQG has a wider and a “pure flood” beam. My version of the Quantum DD, is still a fairly floody beam but has a slight hotspot in the centre.
-Quantum DD comes with a charger. You have you source your own charger with the DQG Spy.

Size comparison: Modamag Drake, Quantum DD, DQG Spy, Streamlight Nano, Egear Pico Lite

Other thoughts:

There is also a brass version that is available for even cheaper! The DQG Fairy. Basically, it has the same 'guts' as the DQG Spy, but with a different exterior. Personally, I feel it looks rather plain, so I'm going to give this one a miss.

On my wish list, I'd like to see a version with a reflector or a more focused TIR optic. This will make the flashlight a little more longer, but I'd be happy to accept the trade off. The floody beam is actually quite useful for keychain duties, where it's mostly used to illuminate objects at close quarters. But realistically do we need a keychain light to blast 120 lumens, but only lasts for >10mins at this level? The reason why we (or at least I) have have such an overpowered keychain light is the blast the socks off the “unilluminated”, with their piddly 5-15 lumen button cell light/mag solitaire/iphone LED. A more collimated beam with a brighter hot spot, looks more impressive than a floody beam, particularly if your lighting up an object more than a few metres away.

Ideally, my perfect 10180 flashlight, would be something like the Modamag Drake, but without the PWM, a better looking exterior and an updated LED emitter .

Added to my current keychain duties

Everyone loves a knife and light combo right?  With the Spyderco Bug.

Specifications for DQG spy (taken from a sales page):

Dimension: 27mmx12.5mm
Netweight: 6 gram
Material: Titanium Alloy
Emitter: CREE XP-G2 R5 1A CW / 4C NW
Battery: 10180 Li-ion  (included)
Mode: Low (20mA)>High  (300mA)
Brightness: 200Lumens on High;  10Lumens on Low
(Editors note: According to some reviews High mode is actually only around 120 lumens)
Runtime: 10-15 minutes on High ; 4-5 hours on Low
Switch: Head Rotate switch; Tighten for on; Loose for Off
Come With Yellow / Orange 1.6x5mm Trit on the tail
This light can install 2 pcs of trit on the tail


Where to buy:

Other reviews/threads:

Friday, April 11, 2014

DQG Spy 10180 Photos!

Hi, yes, it has been a while since my last post!

I've just received a new 10180 keychain flashlight; the DQG Spy 10180!  This thing is an amazingly small beast!  Smaller than any other 10180 flashlight around.

I thought I'd share some photos, first up.  Hope to get some thoughts up about it in the near future.

Where to buy:

This thing is puny!  It's smaller than my tritium fob... I think this means I need to find a new and smaller tritium fob!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Random Stuff from Dealextreme

Hello again!  Yes, I know it's been a while since I last posted.  Unfortunately there's been a bit stuff going on in life, so the blog has been put on hold for a few months.  I thought I'd breathe some life into this blog with a couple of posts on some small cheapo gadgets I found interesting from Dealextreme.

Glass/Screen cleaner with Keychain Attachment

When I saw this on the dealextreme website, I thought it looked interesting.  I was planning on attaching it to my phone and using it to clean and wipe down the screen when necessary (glossy touch screen smartphones always seem to pick up alot of finger prints!)

 The screen cleaner is pretty small; with the circular portion measuring ~27mm in diameter.  On one side is a plastic covering which says ezyflash (I have no idea what that is?!).  The other side is felt-like surface that is actually used to clean the screen.  Extending from the circular portion is a small strap that can be used to attach the screen cleaner to your keychain or phone.

Felt-side of the cleaner is used to wipe the screen

Unfortunately in practice I'm finding the screen cleaner a little lacking.  It does okay in removing dust and gross deposits from small LCD screens such as those found on your phone or camera.  However, it doesn't do a very good job of removing oily deposits.  Instead of lifting up the oily residue, it just smears it around.  If you need to remove oily residue and fingerprints, I'd suggest using a microfibre cloth.  I find this microfibre cloth to work well, however it is a little more expensive.



Keychain Dynamo Flashlight with 2 LEDs

I like the idea of having a keychain flashlight that can be manually charged by winding the handle.  Hopefully this means you will never have to worry about the flashlight running out of batteries. 

This keychain dynamo flashlight measures ~42mm x 32mm x 13mm.  On one side of the body is a button that is used to turn the flashlight light on/off.  On the other side is a wind-up handle that can be retracted in or folded out.

Handle can be folded out or retracted
 The body is made from plastic and to be honest feels a little toy-like.  Its sort of fun winding up the handle to charge the battery, however care needs to be taken not the use too much force.  I was a little over vigorous and I believe the internal cogs lost traction with each other.  I took it part and had a little fiddle to realign the gears.  Here's a photo I took after I opened up the flashlight:

This keychain flashlight has 2 LEDs.  The beam is fairly floody and has a blue/purplish tint (which is typical for this sort of LED).  The output is not particularly bright and I estimate it would only be around 2-4 lumens.  When fully charged the light is brighter, however with usage the output drops quite quickly.

Overall, I would consider this dynamo keychain flashlight a cool toy to have, but I would not rely on it for important usage. 


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Keychain CPR Face Shield

I received one of these a few years back after having done a first aid course.  It's a CPR face shield held inside a small nylon pouch.  The pouch itself, has split ring which allows you to attach keys and other items to it.

Attached with keys and miscellaneous items

In the unfortunate situation where someone is passed out or not breathing, this face shield allows you perform CPR without having to worry about breathing or swallowing that person's blood or saliva.  This helps to reduce the risk of getting transmissible diseases such as hepatitis or HIV.

Face shield contained within

Considering what is contained inside, the package is fairly small and light, though a little on the bulky side.  The shape of the package makes it hard to take measurements but it's roughly; 55mm (H) x 55mm (L) x 15-20mm (W).  It weighs around 14 grams.

 To be honest I don't carry this one around on my keychain, but I usually keep in my laptop bag which I carry around with me a lot.  Thankfully I have never had you use it, but it's nice to know I've got it there if I need it.

I'm not too sure where you can get them from in your own country.  I did bit of a google search for you guys and came up with a few australian websites which sell these or something similar.  The first link closest resembles the CPR face shield that I have:

(links removed on request)

Additional Pictures: