Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DQG AAA version II - Now available for pre-order!

For those you who have read my DQG tiny AAA and DQG 2/3AAA review and are interested in getting one yourself, they are now available for pre-order at cpfmarketplace.

This is a newer version that is different from the one I originally bought.  Here are some of the differences that I have noted:

-Version II looks very different.  It has knurling on the body and head.
-Version II is slightly shorter.  Not by much, but it manages to shave a few millimeters, somehow.
-Version II has a longer head, which should make it easier to turn on/off.  This is one of the issues I noted with the first version, and I am glad it has been improved.
-Version II uses XPG R4/R5 instead of XPE R2.  In theory, this should result it a brighter light, but the beam may be more floody.  It's hard to say how this will translate with the optics used in the DQG.  I'd be interested to see comparison beamshots between the two versions.
-There is the option of a neutral tinted LED with the newer version

-Version II should have a lower and longer lasting low mode.  The current on low is 10ma in the new version, while the old version was 25ma
-Version II is reported to turn on in low and then switches to high as you rotate it further.
-The new version is currently only available in stainless steel.  There may be aluminium versions in future.
-The newer upgraded version is more expensive costing $35.  The original was only $27.

Here are some pictures taken by 'coolperl' on the cpfmarketplace thread.  Permission has been obtained to reproduce these pictures:

upgraded version of DQG AAA 3rd from the left, old version 4th from the left.

Will I get one?  Having already had two versions of this light, I'm not that excited about the upgraded version.   I'll wait to see what the other reviewers say about this light.  After using the old version of the DQG for a few months, there's a couple of issues that hold me back from buying the new version.

Based on my experience with the previous version:
-I feel the switching mechanism is not consistent and I can not rely on it.  How tight it needs to be to turn off, the amount of rotations needed to switch from high to low to off, seems to vary depending on the length of the battery and how much the spring has already been compressed.  The light no longer seems to work when going from loosened off->low->high->tightened off, but works the other way.
-The spring tends to crush some batteries if the light is over tightened (to turn off)
-As a side note, I have had to send back a faulty DQG 2/3AAA head, and I have to say the after sales support can be rather slow.

If I did not already have a DQG AAA, I would probably order one of the newer version.  Despite the previously mentioned issues, it is still one of the smallest AAA lights available and would be good to have in your collection.


DQG AAA upgraded version II - pre-order thread
DQG AAA upgraded version II - info
DQG AAA version - photos by coolperl

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TEC accessories - TEC-S3 Glow Fob


I've been eyeing off the TEC accessories Glow Fobs since they were announce and released.  I thought they looked well designed and reasonable in price.  I now have one in my hands and I have to say... I like it!



I have had my self-assembled tritium marker on my keychain for sometime and I've been quite happy with it.  It's lightweight, has a small footprint and is reasonable hardy.  The only downside was in the aesthetics.  It looks rather plain and uninteresting... especially in bright environments when the glow is not noticeable.

As an alternative, I've been considering some tritium keyfobs in metal housings.  A round up of various options can be found in this post:  Metal Tritium Markers/Keyfobs/Pendants.  Some of the designs available look amazing but the majority of them are quite expensive as they use titanium or other 'exotic' materials.

The TEC accessories glow fob was the most economical of the round up, and I have since acquired the stainless steel version; the TEC-S3.


TEC accessories offer the TEC-S3 which has a stainless steel housing, as well as the TEC-A3 which has an aluminium housing.  Specifications (from the manufacturer) are as as follows:

Internal Glow Pellet:

    * Tubing: Clear acrylic
    * Glow powder: strontium aluminate (mixed with resin)
    * Outside Diameter: 6.35 mm [1/4"]
    * Overall Length: 28.6 mm [1-1/8"]

TEC-S3 Glow Fob:

    * Material: Stainless Steel
    * Finish: Bead Blasted
    * Outside Diameter: 9.0 mm [0.35"]
    * Overall Length: 40.0 mm [1.58"]
    * Weight: 5.9 grams [.21 oz]
Cost:  $22

TEC-A3 Glow Fob:

    * Material: Aircraft grade aluminum
    * Finish: Type III hard anodize
    * Outside Diameter: 9.0 mm [0.35"]
    * Overall Length: 40.0 mm [1.58"]
    * Weight: 3.2 grams [.11 oz]
Cost:  $18


The packaging for the TEC accessories glow fob is rather rudimentary, coming only in a plastic ziplock packet.  I don't mind this if it is only for myself, less packaging means less waste and is better for the environment.  However, it is less desirable if you are planning on giving it away as a present. 

TEC-S3 Packaging
A cardboard instruction manual containing information on 'glow-in-the-dark' is included.  It also includes an 11.1mm diameter split ring, which feels stiff and well made.


I find the appearance of the tec accessories glow fob to be quite nice... it puts me in mind of an elongated mini-lantern.  The design of the metal housing does not inhibit too much of the glow fob, allowing good exposure and illumination from the fob.

There is a thick black o-ring at the end of the metal housing, which holds the inner glow pellet in place.  This o-ring seems pretty sturdy and I doubt the glow pellet will fall out by itself.  The o-ring can be pried out with a small screwdriver, allowing you to change the inner glow pellet.

Thick black o-ring holds the glow pellet in place

 It is nice to know, the tec accessories glow fobs come with a life time warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

TEC-A3 vs TEC-S3

As mentioned earlier I have the stainless steel version of the glow fobs, the TEC-S3.  I find the colour matches the rest of my keyring, better.

Whether you get the aluminium (TEC-A3) or the stainless steel version comes down to personal preference.

The aluminium version is slightly lighter at 3.2g (vs 5.9g) and is slightly cheaper.  The TEC-A3 is annodised black, while the TEC-S3 has a matte silver-grey appearance.

From general experience, I find annodise aluminium tends to develop wear on the edges and sharp corners.  Stainless steel can still get minor scratches, but may be less noticeable and often blends in better.


The GITD pellet in the tec accessories glow fobs requires exposure to light to be 'charged up'.  In their instruction manual, tec accessories indicate the GITD fob charges better with natural sunlight or UV light.  It also suggests exposure over a longer period will offer a longer lasting glow.  With night adapted vision, it is still possible to see it glowing after 8-12 hours (though it would be very feint).

I do have some GITD fobs from other sources and I do have to say; the tec accessories GITD pellet is slightly superior.  The GITD pellet from tec accessories seems to glow brighter for a longer period.  I believe TEC accessories source their GITD pellets from 'andygold' who has a sales thread on cpfmarketplace.  Andygold has good reputation for GITD key fobs. 

Tritium marker, TEC S-3, GITD fob from another maker

Directly after 'charging up' GITD fobs are brighter than tritium, but this burst in brightness will fade fairly quickly

Tec accessories offer a 'glow fob pellet kit', which can be used to replace the existing GITD pellet.  You can use this kit to either create your own GITD fob, or create a tritium fob using 23x3mm tritium.  I plan on getting one of these kits in future, and replace the GITD fob with some tritium!

Here are some of the advantages/disadvantages I see between tritium and GITD.

-Tritium does not need to be charged up with light
-While GITD fobs can initially be brighter than tritium, the brightness will fade and often after an hour (or less), the tritium will be more brighter than the GITD fob.

-a very minor amount of radiation is released.  It is not meant to be harmful unless you break the tritium vial and breathe-in or ingest the tritium.
-Tritium has a half life of 10-12 years.  Over time tritium will very slowly fade in brightness.  In 10-12 years it will be half as bright.


Not much to say on this aspect, if I had to  be picky, I do note some machining marks on the inner edges of the 'window struts'.  There are some very small air bubbles in the glow fob, but I think this is inevitable, all my other GITD fobs also have this issue.


While a little larger and heavier, the TEC S-3 glow fob does look nicer and more attention grabbing than my usual tritium marker.  I have now added it to my keychain, but I may consider taking it off if I'm finding my keyring gets too heavy.  I feel its worth the price... it's not overly expensive when you compare it some of the custom products available. 

TEC-S3 on the keyring


Tritium Keyfob Review
Metal Tritium Keyfob/Pendants/Markers


Friday, March 18, 2011

My Current Keychain (2) - Update

Here's an update on what I now have on my keyring.  See here for my previous keychain setup:

No Glow


Listed as follows:

Car keys

Tec S3 Glow Fob
Modamag Drake
True Utility Telepen
Victorinox Alox Rambler

Not shown - detachable house keys with Tec accessories P7 suspension clip

It's gotten a little heavier than my last keychain setup, but I am finding the victorinox alox rambler a better tool than the swisstech utilitkey.  The true utility telepen comes in handy, but I may consider taking it off, if I want to free up some weight.  I've tried a few other keychain lights such as the klarus mi x5 and the DQG tiny AAA, but I keep coming back to my modamag drake.  The diminutive size of the modamag drake is hard to beat.  I do have a Steve Ku 38DD flashlight on order; I'm keen to see if it can knock off the drake.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Headphone Cable Wrap (From Dealextreme)

Headphone Cable Wrap

Do you ever carry your ipod (or alternative music player) in your pocket, pull it out and find out all the headphone wires are tangled up.  Untangling and separating the wires, can sometimes be annoying and takes some time.

To help solve this problem, I bought some of these 'fishbone smart wrap' from Dealextreme, a Hong Kong/China based online store.  I guess these aren't something you usually think of as being a pocket tool, but I find them quite handy and wanted to share them with you.

As the name implies, these 'fishbone smart wrap' are shaped like a fish skeleton.  The spaces between the 'fish-bones' can be used to wind up small cables, reducing tangle and mess.  I find they are a good size for most headphone cables.
All wound up!

The fishbone cable wrapper is made from a soft felixible silicone.  This silicone is meant to have a dirt repelling coating, however even if the silicone does get dirty, I'm sure you can wash it with some soapy water.

Dealextreme sells these  in a pack of five with variable colours.  My packet included a red, light blue, white, black and pink skeleton fish.

One of the great things I like about this, is the price.  A packet of five, at less than $2.48 shipped... these are dirt cheap!  It's nice ordering something without having to deliberate whether my money is better spent else where.

The ends of the cable go through the 'mouth' and 'tail' - however the ends are not very tight and the cable can unwind
 One issue that I have noted with these heaphone cable wrappers, is the ends of your heaphones can sometimes get undone from the 'ends' of the fish skeleton.  I find wrapping a second loop around the ends of the skeleton reduces the likelihood of the heaphones unravelling.

I have looped the cable twice around the fish tail end
Also, if you leave your cable wrapped up for too long; when unwound the cable tends to be quite 'curly'.  This is more noticeable in cables that have a stiffer rubber.

Overall I feel this is a great buy.  They're handy for wrapping up headphone cables and avoiding the tangly mess that can develop later.

Other options to consider:

I have also come across these cable turtle - earphone cable wrap.  They are little more pricey though.


Length: 8 cm
Height: 0.5 cm
Width: 3.4 cm
Weight: 9 g

Cost:  $2.48 shipped


Friday, March 4, 2011



The LED light on my keyring is probably one of my most used keychain items.  I find a small flashlight comes in handy for those times you drop something in the car, or for opening the house door in the dark.

So obviously, I wanted to equip my wife with a keyring light as well.  Unfortunately she doesn't share my enthusiasm for flashlights and wasn't particularly interested.  If I had to subject her to having a keyring light, here conditions were; (a) it had to be something small and light weight (b) not too expensive (she doesn't want me to 'waste' money on something she doesn't appreciate).  Surprisingly she wasn't too concerned about aesthetics.

I've come across the streamlight nano in the past, and having seen a pink version, I thought this would be ideal.  She has since had it on her keyring for over a year now.


The elongated 'bell-shaped' streamlight nano is made from an aircraft-grade aluminum with an anodised finish.  The original streamlight nano comes in black, but since then, a pink and blue version have also come out.  $1 from the sale of the pink version goes towards the breast cancer research foundation, while the blue version goes towards 'concerns of police survivors' (C.O.P.S)

Streamlight nano, Modamag drake, DQG tiny 2/3AAA, Dealextreme 'fauxton'

There's no mention of what sort of annodisation the streamlight nano uses, it does not feel very thick and I doubt it is HAIII. From over a year of usage on my wife's keychain, it's developed some wear on the edges and corners of the flashlight.  I feel this is normal wear characteristics for annodised aluminium... it arguably adds character.

The streamlight nano is one of the smallest keychain lights around, measuring only 3.73cm in length, 1.3cm in diameter at the head and 1.09cm at the body.  It adds minimal weight to your keychain, weighing only 10 grams.

The light is rated as being weatherproof, so if you get a few splashes on it, it should be okay.  It has a small o-ring to help keep out moisture and dust.

The streamlight nano comes with a clip that makes it easy to attach and detach the light.  The pink and blue versions also come with a FOB that features the logo of the institution it supports.  If you want to minimise bulk and weight, you can take the FOB off.

Fob and clip attached to the streamlight nano


The streamlight nano contains a 5mm LED rated with a lifespan of 100,000 hours.  This 5mm LED provides around 10 lumens of light, which is enough for lighting up objects at short distances.  Unfortunately like a lot of other 5mm LEDs, there is a blue-purple tint to it's beam.  The beam is also quite 'ringy' and has a lot of artefacts.

Beam at ~5 metres

Beam at ~0.75 metres

5mm LEDs have their limitations, they can not provide a lot of lumens like the 'CREE' powered LEDs.  However, the 5mm LEDs are more resilent and do not need a lens to protect the LED.  The LED itself can focus the light, avoiding the need for a reflector.  Both these last two points, help to reduce the size and the cost of the flashlight.

According to the streamlight specifications, the nano is meant give 8 hours of 'usable' output.  However this output is not at a constant brightness.  The streamlight nano is direct driven, meaning as the voltage in the batteries drop, the brightness will also drop.   So if you notice the light seems less bright with time, you may consider changing to a fresh set of batteries.

4xLR41 button cells on the right

Streamlight advertise this light as running on 4xLR41 batteries.  LR41 batteries are alkaline button cell batteries, they can be bought fairly cheap from internet sources.  If you are willing to pay a premium, consider getting the SR41; the 'silver oxide' version of LR41.  Silver oxide coin cell batteries tend to have a higher capacity than the alkaline equivalent.  They also have a flatter discharge curve and are better at providing a constant voltage.  To simplify... in theory, the SR41 should not dim as quickly compared to using LR41 batteries.

Be aware there can be a difference between SR41W (also called '392') and SR41SW (also called '382').  The SR41SW are low drain while SR41W are high drain.  Flashlights would be better suited for the high drain version (SR41W/392). 

You should also be aware of fake silver oxide batteries!  Have a read here  and here.


One of the most common issues that people report with the streamlight nano, is the light has tendency to come apart by itself. The o-rings and threads provide little resistance to twisting, so it is not suprising to hear this happens. 

Some suggested solutions to this problem are:
-adding some telfon tape (the sort that is used in plumbing), around the threads of the light.  This creates more friction and resistance to turning.
-adding some sort of swivel to the keyring attachment.  This means when the light accidentally rotates, it will hopefully rotate at the swivel, rather than untwisting between the head and body.

Streamlight nano with teflon tape on the threads, example of some swivels, roll of teflon tape
I have read some complaints that the light is difficult to operate one-handed.  I guess this is one of the trade offs of having a very small 'twisty' flashlight.


If you are looking for something ultra small and lightweight, the streamlight nano is a good contender.  It's not the brightest light around, but it will do the job for short distance applications.  The pink colour would be popular with most of the female population... and maybe some of the male population to boot!  If you get a pink version, its nice to know that little bit of the money is going towards a good cause.


There are quite a few button cell/coin cell lights around, with varying degrees of price and quality.  Some that come to mind are:

- egear pico zipper lite - I would consider this the direct competitor to the streamlight nano.  It's slightly larger as it has a battery carrier.  The manufacturer reports a longer runtime than the nano.  Comes in a wider range of colours

- '2x2016 coin cell lights' - in this category are the photon 'micro' range, inova microlight and the cheapo 'fauxtons'. From this range of lights, the photon freedom stands out the most to me.  It has variable brightness control and beacon modes included.

(example of a pink 'fauxton'):  http://www.dealextreme.com/p/22000mcd-bright-white-led-keychain-flashlights-pink-casing-2-pack-20286


CASE MATERIAL: Machined aircraft-grade aluminum with anodized finish. LED available in white.
DIMENSIONS: Length: 1.47 in. (3.73 cm) Diameter: Head Diameter: 0.51 in. (1.30 cm)
Body Diameter: 0.43 in. (1.09 cm)
WEIGHT: 0.36 oz (10 grams)*
LIGHT SOURCE: 5mm white LED, impervious to shock with a 100,000 hour lifetime.
LIGHT OUTPUT: LED Rating: 10 Lumens typical. Parabolic shaped LED area optimizes beam performance.
ON/OFF: Rotating On/Off head switch.
RUN TIME: Up to 8 hours declining usable output.
BATTERY: Four (4) IEC-LR41 coin cells.
WARRANTY: Limited lifetime warranty.

COST:  $6-$10