Wednesday, February 23, 2011

DQG Tiny 2/3 AAA

DQG Tiny 2/3 AAA

The DQG tiny 2/3AAA is very similar to the DQG tiny AAA, the review of which can be found here.  The user interface and brightness levels of these two lights are essentially the same.  See the DQG tiny AAA review for more information on this.

Barring some are some minor cosmetic differences, the heads of these two flashlights are basically the same and are interchangeable.  The head of my DQG AAA has a black background with silver writing and comes with a black o-ring.  The DQG 2/3AAA has a green background with brass-coloured writing and a red o-ring.  Unfortunately, the head of my DQG tiny 2/3AAA had problems and is being sent back to the flashlight dealer.

DQG tiny AAA head, DQG tiny 2/3AAA head
The only difference between the two lights is the length of the battery tubes.  As the DQG 2/3AAA uses smaller 2/3AAA rechargeable NiMh batteries; the battery tube is shorter.  The overall length of the DQG 2/3AAA is ~45mm in length, whilst the DQG AAA is ~60mm in length.  This means the DQG 2/3AAA is 15mm shorter than the AAA version.

Modamag drake, 2/3AAA battery, DQG 2/3AAA, DQG AAA, Klarus mi x5

The potential downside of this light is the type of battery it takes.  2/3AAA NiMh batteries are specialised batteries that are not readily available at your usual bricks and mortar stores.  I have found they can be purchased at some specialised battery websites, just do a google search for them.  I bought some from here, as well as the flashlight dealer.

Unfortunately, there are no low-self-discharge (LSD) 2/3AAA nimh.  The 2/3AAA nimh will self discharge even if you don't use them, how quickly it self discharges... I do not know.  Even if you don't use the light, you may need to top up the batteries every so often, to ensure they are full.

2/3AAA nimh may require 'spacers' or special chargers to charge.  The rated capacity of the 2/3AAA is between 400-450mah.  This means, ideally, you should charge it using a NiMh 'smart charger' that charges at 150-450ma (0.3-1.0C).  Or alternatively you can do a timed charge and calculate the charge rate vs time.  I would recommend you fully discharge your batteries before doing a 'timed charge'. 

(I've used a few technical terms in the last couple of paragraphs.  If you are confused or have any questions, feel free ask.)

Battery size comparison:  AAA, AAAA, 2/3AAA, 10180 li-ion, AA

As the 2/3AAA battery is smaller and has less capacity, the run time is also less than the AAA version.  From my tests, the runtime on high is around ~20-23 minutes.  I got around 3 hours on the low setting before it became it became very dim and I discontinued the test.  These tests were done with the DQG AAA head (as mentioned earlier the 2/3AAA was faulty).


If you find AAA lights too large for your keychain, this is one of the alternatives out there.  Measuring only 45mm in length, it still offers a respectable high mode and a usable low mode, both of which have current controlled regulation.  Unfortunately there are no units available at the moment, there may be more made in future.  Keep your eyes out on the cpfmarketplace for updates.

Other lights to consider:

This is the only light I am aware that uses 2/3AAA NiMh batteries.  Some lights do use 10280 li-ion batteries which are comparable in size to 2/3AAA NiMh.

The 'modamag draco' and 'peak eiger' can use 10280 batteries.


Additional Pictures:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tritium Keyfob / Markers / Pendants - Titanium, Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Other Metals

Tritium Keyfobs and Pendants - in Metal Housings

I seem to get a lot of interest on tritium keyfobs, so I thought I would elaborate on a few more options that are out there.  The focus of this will be tritium markers that have a metal housing.  Most are fairly expensive... I haven't actually bought any of these, so I can't provide you with a review.  Photos are from the makers' website/thread, and permission has been obtained from the makers before reproducing them.

TEC Accessories Glow Fob

Comes in aluminium and stainless steel.  It includes a glow-in-the-dark (GITD) fob.  If you buy the replacement kit, you can replace the GITD fob with a 23x3mm tritium instead.  The TEC accessories glow fob is much more affordable than the titanium tritium keyfobs.  You will have to buy your own 23x3mm tritium though

Also available:

G1K Titanium Tritium Pendants/Keyfobs

Customisable with number of slots, sides and colour of tritium.  He still is making them, contact him via cpfmarketplace

Bart TiGlow

Seems to be available.  Bart's been dealing tritium for a while now... a well respected seller!

Krypto-Lite Housings

Comes in a variety of metals; titanium, stainless steel, brass, carbon steel damascus.  You will need to buy your own 23x3mm tritium, so factor this into your costs.

I spoke to the maker, he's still making them but out of action until April.  He's got some new designs and working with some new materials too (copper, bronze, stainless damascus).  He can be contacted via cpfmarketplace.

New designs from Krypto-lite

Damascus Krypto-lite

Farid Titanium Tritium Keyring

Farid had a thread on cpfmarketplace a little while back.  I believe he also posts in britishblades forum.  He reports he is still making them and is now using 5x40mm tritium (which is larger and brighter than 3x23mm tritium).  You could try private messaging him at cpmarketplace for more information.

If you know of any other metal-housing tritium keyfobs, or if you know of any updates to the ones I have posted, leave a comment or send me an email to update this post.

UPDATE: 9/8/11
Steve Ku from cpfmarketplace is doing a run of large titanium tritium pendants.  These are quite large compared to the other offerings on this post.!%29

Friday, February 11, 2011

Klarus Mi X5 AAAA Review


Klarus has recently released what they claim to be the smallest and brightest AAAA light in the world; the klarus Mi X5.


    * Emitter: Cree XP-E R2 LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
    * Four outputs:
          o 25 lumens(2.2 hours)
          o 2 lumens(26 hours)
          o 76lumens(40 minutes)
          o Strobe (76 lumens, 1.2 hrs)
    * Battery: Single AAAA (Alkaline, Ni-MH, Lithium)
    * Switch: Twist switch, Adjust output by rotating the flashlight head
    * Lens: Toughened ultra-clear glass
    * Material:Stainless steel
    * Dimensions:65.6mm (Length) x 9.2mm (Body) x 10.3mm(Head)
    * Net weight: 11g (Excluding battery)
    * Waterproof to IPX-8 standard
    * Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness, no PWM
    * Reverse polarity protection
The choice of using AAAA batteries is an interesting one, it is not a common battery format, but it does allow the light to be shorter and slimmer. There are very few lights around that actually use AAAA batteries.  The majority of the lights that do use AAAAs are multi-cell or use low-power LEDs.  From a quick google search, the only other single cell AAAA light I could find was the aunoc AAAA, which uses a low-power 5mm LED.  As far as I can tell, the klarus MiX5 does seem to be the smallest and brightest AAAA light on the market.


On receiving this light, I do have to say I was impressed by how small and thin this light actually is.  It has the 'baseball bat' styling found in the 4sevens preon 1; a thicker head that tapers into a thinner body.  This flashlight is significantly thinner than the AAA flashlights out there, with the body measuring 9.2mm and the head 10.3mm in diameter.  It measures 65.6mm in length which is shorter than most AAA lights, barring the DQG tiny which measures ~60mm in length.

Preon 1, Fenix L0D, Klarus Mi X5, Tiny DQG AAA, Modamag Drake, AAA eneloop battery, AAAA battery
Preon 1 (with tailcap), Fenix L0D, Klarus Mi X5, Tiny DQG AAA, Modamag Drake, AAA eneloop battery

The klarus mi x5 feels well made, solid in construction.  It is made from stainless steel, which does add to the weight when comparing it to aluminium.  However, as this light is already so small, the difference in weight between aluminium and stainless steel would not be very noticeable.

The surface texture of this light is a lightly brushed smooth stainless steel, there is no knurling present.  Some texture is provided by engraving of the brand name and serial number.  I feel the addition of knurling at the head, would make it easier to twist the light on-off.

The split-ring attachment on the klarus mi x5 is very solid, there would be minimal worries about this attachment being a weak point and breaking.  Unfortunately the design of the attachment does add a few more millimeters to the total length of the flashlight.  It also forgoes tail-standing abilities.

Solid lanyard attachment

One possible concern I have with this flashlight is the lack of a spring in the tail-end.  Such lights have a reputation of being 'battery crushers'.  However, as the klarus would most likely run on disposable AAAA batteries, there is less concern if the battery is 'crushed'.  The reverse polarity protection appears to be a piece of foam/rubber in the head of the light.  This foam should also help reduce battery crushing.

Included with the flashlight are six o-rings and one split ring.  Some people have reported having issues with the o-rings shredding.  My sample does not seem to have these problems, but I am not surprised to hear it occurring.  The o-rings included are very small and need to be stretched significantly to allow it to fit.  I would imagine as an o-ring gets stretched, the rubber becomes more stressed, resulting in a higher likelihood of fraying or breaking.

The o-ring is on the left.  You can see how small it is compared to the head.


The klarus mi x5 has 4 modes; medium, low, high and strobe.  To change between modes you need to quickly twist the light off-on until the desired mode is reached.  If you leave the light off for more than ~1 second, it will restart on medium mode.

There are pros and cons of having a M-L-H interface (vs L-M-H).  I don't mind the mode sequence in the klarus mi x5.  I find the low setting is fairly dim, and it is not bright enough for certain applications.  Medium would be my most commonly used mode, so it's handy having it at the start of the sequence.  

Some people prefer their lights to start on low, as they feel it is less likely to ruin their night-adapted vision.  Also medium can be too bright and distraction in some situations (e.g. looking for something you've dropped in the cinemas).  YMMV.  Some people don't like strobe or beacon modes, in this case the strobe is tucked away at the end of the sequence... I don't feel it is a huge problem having it there.

This light has current controlled regulation, there is no PWM... a big plus for me!  I am quite sensitive to PWM and find noticeable PWM can be distracting. 

I am a little dubious about the run-times that Klarus has advertised with Mi X5.  I ran a brand new energizer AAAA battery on the high mode.  Initially the output is quite bright, I checked again at 13 minutes and the light was less bright, maybe a little brighter than its medium mode.  By ~20 minutes the light was very dim, the output was unusable.  If you let the battery rest, the battery voltage will recover and it will run on high again, but for a shorter period than last.  The klarus will NOT offer 40 minutes of continual brightness on high, perhaps its will give you 40minutes in total if you use it sporadically.  I haven't tested the run times on the other modes, but I am dubious whether it is able to give continuous output at the manufacturer reported run times.

I don't have any equipment to test output and regulation, but to my eyes; after an initial drop in brightness, the medium and low modes do seem to maintain a consistent output, until the end when the battery starts to fail.  High does seem to tax the AAAA alkaline battery, the output does not appear as well regulated.  Hopefully, someone with a lightbox and measuring equipment can provide more empirical data.

Update:  Current draw from a fresh battery is ~170ma on medium, ~30ma on low, ~860ma on high


My sample of this light has a creamy white tint.  When looking at the beam from a further distance, my eyes detect a hint of green to it.  I'm not sure what tint bin it is.  It is not the usual WC 'cool-white' bin, I'm guessing it could be a WH or WG tint bin.

Due to it's smaller reflector the klarus mi x5 it has a fairly floody beam.  This may have been why Klarus has opted to used a XPE-R2 LED, instead of a XPG LED.  While XPG offers more efficient LEDs, the larger die tends to create a wider hot spot and beam.  In this flashlight a XPG would arguably be too floody.

Beamshots @ ISO 1600, F2.8, 1/8 shutter speed

Klarus Mi X5 AAA - medium mode
Klarus Mi X5 AAA - low mode

Klarus Mi X5 AAA - high mode


One of the initial things holding me back from buying this light was the cost.  In the end, I still bought one for novelty sake.  I like small lights, and I found the AAAA format an interesting one to have in my budding collection.  The klarus mi x5 can be bought from for $69 (not including shipping), which does seem pretty expensive for such a small light.

In discussions with Klarus, they claim the reason for this higher price, is that it is harder assemble and has a higher scrap rate.  The first batch is hand assembled by their chief designer, and as the light is so small, there is higher defect rate when inserting the circuit board into the body.

I feel one of the major limitations of this flashlight is the available AAAA battery chemistries.  The only AAAA battery that seems to fit this light are alkaline AAAA.  Alkaline batteries have a bad reputation of leaking, especially in high drain applications (such as power-LED flashlights). Alkalines are also prone to voltage sag, meaning the battery tends to drop in voltage as it is being used.  This means the alkaline battery can having trouble delivering enough power to the LED, when using it on brighter modes for longer periods.   However if you are only using the flashlight on your keychain for short periods of time, this voltage sag is less of a problem.

There are no primary lithium AAAAs available.  This is a shame, as they have a longer shelf-life, are less prone to leaking and have less voltage sag, than alkaline batteries.

There are actually AAAA nimh batteries with capacity of ~300mah (not very high considering a AAA can offer 900-1000mah).  They are difficult to find, however I did locate a source and bought a few to test out.  Much to my disappointment, I discovered they are a little too wide and do not fit into this light.
6xAAAA disassembled from a 9V battery

AAAA is not a common format and may be a little harder to find.  They can be bought cheaper online, however they are still more expensive than their AA or AAA counterparts.  If you are looking for a cheaper source of AAAAs, some 9v batteries can be taken apart to give you 6xAAAA batteries.  Just do a google search on how to do it.  Do note, if you are harvesting the AAAA from a 9v battery, the nipple is actually the negative end of the light and the flat surface is the positive end.  For these harvested batteries to work, you need to create contact in the positive end of the light.   Some aluminium foil or a very small magnet, will do the trick.  If you are going to use these harvested batteries, make sure you don't get your positive and negative ends mixed up.  By placing the aluminium foil/magnet in the head, you are bypassing the reverse polarity protection and you may damage your light if you put it in the wrong way.


If you find the AAA flashlight format is a little too large for your keychain, this may be the light for you.  Due to the small sized battery, it will have reduced runtimes, but it still offers you 4 current regulated modes with a respectable max of 76 lumens.  There are some other lights that also offer power-LEDs in a smaller than AAA format.  However these other lights usually need rechargeable batteries (e.g. 10180 li-ion, 10280 li-ion, 2/3AAA nimh).  The klarus mi x5 is a good alternative if you do not want to deal with the hassles of rechargeables.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alox Ramblers and Alox Minichamps now available!

Hey guys just noticed on swiss biancos website the alox ramblers are now available.  If you liked what you saw in my review of them, get them while you can.

See here for my victorinox alox rambler review

He's got them in red and silver colours.  Also there is a silver minichamp available too:

Swiss Bianco Facebook Page:

Alox Minichamps:

Red Alox Ramblers

Silver (with red cross) Alox Ramblers

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Alox Victorinox Rambler Review



The alox victorinox rambler is swiss army knife (SAK) that has the follow features:

-Small blade
-Nail file with screwdriver tip
-Bottle opener with magnetic Phillips screwdriver tip & wire stripper
-Key ring attachment

Length:  58 mm
Width:  19.5 mm
Height:  6.5mm

The traditional rambler from victorinox has plastic 'cellidor' scales.  This alox rambler has aluminium oxide (or alox) metal scales.  These alox scales are thinner and more resistant to chemicals, than the cellidor scales.  However, the alox rambler forgoes the tweezers and toothpick that the traditional cellidor version includes.

The alox rambler is a limited edition SAK assembled for Swiss Bianco, a knife maker who seems to have special connections with victorinox.  Victorinox themselves do not offer the alox rambler, though they do produce and sell an alox version of their 'classic' SAK.


There's not much to say about the small blade in the rambler; is pretty much what you would expect from a small SAK.  The working edge of the knife is approximately 34mm in length.  I sharpened it up a little bit, and it slices through paper and cardboard with ease.

The scissor are acceptable, they are small but they do a decent job of cutting.  I feel the scissors on something like the leatherman squirt are a little larger and easier to use, but the trade off would be increased size and weight.

This is a personal thing, but given a choice I would prefer to have something else in place of the scissors.  I feel the knife can cut most things that the scissor would cut.  YMMV (your mileage may vary), I suppose its easier to cut circular shapes with the scissors instead of the knife.

The bottle opener, phillips screwdriver and wire stripper are all combined in the same pull-out tool.  I have yet to use the wire stripper, I can not comment on how it performs.

I find the bottle opener works better than some of the other tools I have reviewed (e.g. the Swisstech Utilikey and True Utility Keytool).  You are able to get decent leverage with the handle, and there are no sharp edges that will cut your hand.  I usually find you do have to pry open the bottle at two points to lift up the cap.

I feel one of the best thing about this tool is the phillips screwdriver.  Surprisingly it can fit into quite a wide range of phillips screws, from small ones that are found in electronics, to the larger ones that are just generally used.  I find the tip of the phillips screwdriver can be a little too large for the extra small screws found in some eye glasses.  Do note, the tip of the phillips screwdriver is magnetic.  This can be useful for picking up smaller screws.

Included in the victorinox rambler is a nail file with a flat head screwdriver at the tip.  The flat head screwdriver will also fit in some phillips screws as well.  The nail file does its job, but I feel it would be more efficient if the texture were more coarse.


On the whole, the victorinox rambler is handy SAK to have.  It has currently replaced my Swisstech Utilikey + Spyderco Bug combo, which I usually have on my keychain.  It is a little heavier than the utilikey and spyderco bug, however I do feel offers better functionality.  The tools in the rambler are more accessible and easier to use.

Swisstech Utilikey, Orange Alox Rambler, Silver Alox Rambler, Spyderco Bug

Personally, I prefer the look and feel of the alox scales over the traditional 'cellidor' rambler.  If you require the tooth pick or tweezers, perhaps the traditional rambler is for you (it is also easier to buy).  For my uses, the loss of these two items is not a big deal.

Note the alox scales are thinner than the usual cellidor scales found on the rambler.  There is no room for the toothpick and tweezers though.
 This run of alox ramblers is currently over.  If you want to acquire one, you may need to look at the second hand market.  I have heard rumours that Swiss Bianco plans on doing another run of the alox ramblers, in red and silver colours.  I would recommend signing up to his newsletter, as this is where he usual announces these special runs.

Other SAKs to consider:

If you don't mind slight added thickness, available in the traditional victorinox range; there is the manager (has a pen) and midnite manager (has a pen and small red LED light) . These are basically the same as the rambler, but have different tools contained in the cellidor scales.

Swissbianco website:
Victorinox website with traditional rambler: