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What this Hobby Needs: A Quality Red Flashlight

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#26 JayinUT

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 06:26 PM

One could try this flashlight LINK as it has 12 white LED, 3 red or a 1 red mode. Aviation flashlights from somewhere like the Pilot Store LINK could be the answer. The first link is to Sportys.com



#27 palmer570

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:08 PM

I can't seem to find it now but years ago I saw mini flashlights that you could wear like a ring. They came with white or red light. No idea if they worked as advertised or could be dimmed.

I plan on getting a hotech astroaimer g3 this year. Waterproof, red and white light with 3 levels of brightness, and the green laser make it a good fit for me. A little pricey at $120 but I don't want to keep buying cheap ones every year or two and i need a green laser. Also the mini tripod/finder mount would make it easy to use as a finder.

I currently use a heavy duty flashlight, energizer brand I think, has red, green, and white LEDs. Rubber coated, tilt able head, and clip on the handle to put on your belt. Was like ~$20-$30. Red light seems to be too bright once dark adapted though. It can however take a beating and hasn't skipped a beat in over a year of rough use.

#28 roscoe

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 07:45 PM

I used to have one of those ring lights, the switch got scratchy fast.....

I haven't looked to see if they are available for mini-mag-lites, but red glass lenses are available for d-cell ones.

I built myself a map-reader using an old battery-light magnifier that I replaced the white incandescent with a red LED, and added a potentiometer to the back end to dim it down. My old-guy eyes like the magnified image of the star map, and the ring around the magnifier contains stray light.

A place you might look is marine supply outlets, boat people use red map lights, and the better of that stuff is pretty ruggedly made. And waterproof, and floats, too, important in the astronomy biz.....
I suspect aircraft supply houses sell red ones, too.
R

#29 beatlejuice

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:10 PM

Takes a lickin and keeps on tickin

Posted Image

It's 10 years old from orion I think. Stepped on it a couple of years ago and lost the plastic face. Tightened up the wheel a couple of times, duct tape carefully folded over the ridge and cut to fit holds the guts in(I thought red was appropriate) and it still works fine.(I guess I'm just a cheap B******.) :jump:

Eric
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#30 zawijava

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:28 PM

I flew Helicopters for many years and accumulated a few really nice aviation flashlights, all of which are going strong to this day. Most were a bit too bulky for Astronomy use except the Smith & Wesson Captains Flashlight [see 1st LINK in Quoted Post]. It's a fantastic flashlight for Astronomy and likely the last one you'll need to buy. Probably can be found elsewhere but Sporty's Pilot Shop is a fine Vendor! -Tim

One could try this flashlight LINK as it has 12 white LED, 3 red or a 1 red mode. Aviation flashlights from somewhere like the Pilot Store LINK could be the answer. The first link is to Sportys.com



#31 Alan French

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:35 PM

I am sure the aviation lights are fine, but they don't have one feature I find invaluable - adjustable brightness like the rheostat on many flashlights made for astronomy. As I mentioned, I find the amount of light required depends both on how dark the night is and on dark adaptation. It is very nice, and agreeable, to set the light at exactly the level needed - enough to just read the charts or write notes.

I do think there would be a market for a better, dedicated astronomy flashlight. It doesn't need a white light, a laser pointer, or an AM/FM radio. Just a good rheostat that doesn't start causing flicker and unpredictable brightness changes as it is used a lot, a knob that stays attached to the rheostat, and parts that don't fall out.

Clear skies, Alan

#32 beatlejuice

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 09:41 PM

Tim, those all look like great flashlights but as Alan said it is the combination of a good red flashlight with variable brightness (very important) and nothilng else, that seems to be missing from the marketplace.

Eric

#33 zawijava

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:09 PM

I do have one Astro specific flashlight, possibly a Rigel(?). It's got 1 or 2 white LED's and 1 red LED with a small slider switch for color choice & ON/OFF plus a thumb wheel rheostat. The rheostat is likely the weak link in the design longevity plus it's hard to tell if the light is OFF or just dimmed so much you can't see it. And the thumb wheel takes too many thumb movements to get full travel. And forget about using it with gloves on. Needless to say, I could do without the rheostat :grin:

Tim


I am sure the aviation lights are fine, but they don't have one feature I find invaluable - adjustable brightness like the rheostat on many flashlights made for astronomy. As I mentioned, I find the amount of light required depends both on how dark the night is and on dark adaptation. It is very nice, and agreeable, to set the light at exactly the level needed - enough to just read the charts or write notes.

I do think there would be a market for a better, dedicated astronomy flashlight. It doesn't need a white light, a laser pointer, or an AM/FM radio. Just a good rheostat that doesn't start causing flicker and unpredictable brightness changes as it is used a lot, a knob that stays attached to the rheostat, and parts that don't fall out.

Clear skies, Alan



#34 beatlejuice

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:12 PM

I have to think that having the wheel inside the body just protruding a little is more robust than having it on top. That's why I am nut sure about getting the rigel when I finally decide to get a replacement.

Eric

#35 zawijava

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:21 PM

Surely there must be a dimmer that does not require a mechanical wheel.....something along the lines of holding down the ON/OFF switch to dim or brighten :shrug:

I have to think that having the wheel inside the body just protruding a little is more robust than having it on top. That's why I am nut sure about getting the rigel when I finally decide to get a replacement.

Eric



#36 oldstargazer

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 10:33 PM

Have been using a Celestron night vision light for about 3 years now with no problems from it.

#37 beatlejuice

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:13 PM

Surely there must be a dimmer that does not require a mechanical wheel.....something along the lines of holding down the ON/OFF switch to dim or brighten



I'm not sure that the wheel is the problem. It needs to be made with some other material that will allow for longer lasting smooth motion of brightness adjustment and durability along with a quality glass front. The body of a good GLP (sans laser) with a solid wheel(permanantly attached-no screw) and rheostat might be a good starting point.

Eric

#38 mdine1us

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:25 PM

Here is what I use. Not cheap I know, but it is a very very high quality light. And I use it when I go flying as well...

http://www.bhphotovi...RD_A2_LED_Av...

#39 Hilmi

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 11:48 PM

The petzl headlamp I mentioned has 3 brightness levels. If you really need ultra dim lights you shouldn't go to a star party to observe as you won't have control over other people's lights. For those extra dark skies just take the supplied replaceable lenses on the petzl and start adding successive layers of transparent red paint used for building plastic models till you reach the level of dimness you want when the flashlight is set to minimum brightness.

#40 Alan French

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:31 AM

I strongly disagree. Folks who attend star parties should be courteous enough to use proper lighting - lighting that preserves their night vision and protects that of others. Many amateurs spend time and money to travel to star parties at dark sites, and they should do everything possible to get the best views, and allow others to do the same. Getting and maintaining proper dark adaptation is a big part of that.

Clear skies, Alan

#41 Hilmi

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 01:08 AM

Alan,

What should happen and what does happen are usually not the same. People should have good manners but that doesnt stop you bumping into rude people. That is why some of us resort to eye patches and hoodies when observing, because we have no control over what others do. We can advise and we can conduct awareness campaigns.

Also, sometimes you are at a site with lots of obstacles on the ground that are difficult to make out even with dark adaptation, that is why some people use slightly brighter red lights, so that they can walk without tripping over stuff.

The Petzl headlamps are great, for me at the minimum brightness setting it can't bee seen from a few meters away unless you are specifically looking for it. I think that with just one layer of transparent red paint on the lens it will be at the brightness level you expect. i.e. needs to be placed right at the chart for you to be able to read it.

#42 RichardHK

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 02:35 AM

+1 on the Petzl light at minimum red brightness. Works very well for me and doubles up as a bright white lamp when packing up - assuming no other astronuts or other such dark sky fans around.

#43 roscoe

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 07:10 AM

I went looking for mariners' red lights, and though I have seen them hanging on the wall at West Marine (a boater's chain of stores around here) I couldn't find them on their website, or that of another supply house.

I fully agree with Alan that what is needed is both a switch and a rheostat, so the light is preset to the right level when you turn it on.

Slightly aside, I need to replace an older white headlamp that I use all the time, and all I can find nowadays are lights with bright-dim-flash-call-out-for-chinese-food modes, that you have to click through each time you use it, when all I want is on and off. White or red, nobody seems to make basic, useful lights any more.

An interesting page my research led me to last night was a discussion of the eye's response to low light levels, and why red is the preferred color to use. the part that I saw that pertains to preserving night vision is that if a red light is bright enough to look red, it is bright enough to alter vision. When dimmer, it just looks like a slightly grayish dim light. I tried that out last night with my home-made map light, and sure enough, at low settings, it's not red at all, but still bright enough to read the map.

The trouble comes when we need something bright enough to safely walk around with, while not lasering other stargazers' vision. Any headlamp bright enough to minimally light up the ground from head level shows red, and any headlamp, even if aimed down, shines right in people's faces when we look at them. Perhaps a small flashlight on a neck cord is a better choice here.... I'll keep researching this issue.....
R

#44 Alan French

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:16 AM

Alan,

What should happen and what does happen are usually not the same. People should have good manners but that doesnt stop you bumping into rude people. That is why some of us resort to eye patches and hoodies when observing, because we have no control over what others do. We can advise and we can conduct awareness campaigns.

Also, sometimes you are at a site with lots of obstacles on the ground that are difficult to make out even with dark adaptation, that is why some people use slightly brighter red lights, so that they can walk without tripping over stuff.

The Petzl headlamps are great, for me at the minimum brightness setting it can't bee seen from a few meters away unless you are specifically looking for it. I think that with just one layer of transparent red paint on the lens it will be at the brightness level you expect. i.e. needs to be placed right at the chart for you to be able to read it.


I understand that, but I do think efforts should be made to educate star party attendees better about lights and dark adaptation. People are quick to address issues with white lights, green laser pointers are often banned, and the guy with the Tiki torches was quickly dealt with at Astrofest one year.

I understand that walking in some places is difficult, and safety is important. I would suggest, however, that head lamps are a poor solution. To properly illuminate the ground at your feet they need to be fairly bright, where a light held down by your side does not. Also, if someone wearing a headlamp stops to talk with you, they are generally looking at you, and the light shines right into your eyes. It can be pretty annoying and its not very courteous.

We have glow-in-the-dark tent stakes we use when camping at star parties. We also have some glow-in-the-dark tape to mark the ends of tripod legs and other trip hazards. (It's great stuff and glows all night.) I noticed someone using glow-in-the-dark wrist bands at WSP this year. Using such things would make it safer and easier for folks to walk around, and is a lot more agreeable than the bright "blinkies" some folks are inclined to use.

Another good product would be glowing feet for those hard to see black observing chairs. (In the meantime, glow tape is effective.)

Clear skies, Alan

#45 csa/montana

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:07 AM

I have a Petzl headlamp



I also have a Petzl, with the red flipdown. One nice thing I found about Petzl, my strap was so worn, that it had lost it's elasticity. Well, you can get replacement straps, and probably other parts as well!

Also, if someone wearing a headlamp stops to talk with you, they are generally looking at you, and the light shines right into your eyes.



My Petzl, has several different angles for adjustment. If angled down, for looking at the ground, charts, etc. when talking with someone, it would not shine in that person's eyes.

#46 csa/montana

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:11 AM



One could try this flashlight LINK as it has 12 white LED, 3 red or a 1 red mode. Aviation flashlights from somewhere like the Pilot Store LINK could be the answer. The first link is to Sportys.com


Tried the first link, and unless you signup with your e-mail, you cannot continue on their site! I refuse to give out my e-mail just to look at a site.

#47 roscoe

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:16 AM

I just Amazon'ed 'flashlight, red LED', which has lots of choices, and found this:
Carson Red LED StarMap Light Flashlight For Low-Light Use (SL-11)

#48 Sarkikos

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:19 AM

I've seen folks walking around star parties and conventions with red headlamps, and they are way too bright. To maintain proper night vision, a light should just allow you to just see charts when your eye is fully dark adapted. If a light mounted up on your head lets you read your charts, it's too bright.

Seriously, many amateurs don't take the need to preserve night vision very seriously, and there are a lot of overly bright lights around at conventions and star parties.

Nights are bright enough that, with proper dark adaption, the only thing you should need a light for is reading a star chart.

Clear skies, Alan


More reasons why I don't go to star parties. When there's a star party at my dark site, I go to an alternate dark site.

Maybe the best thing is to get away from maps entirely and consult something like SkySafari Pro on a tablet. I put a layer of Rubylinth over a layer of AstroGizmo, set the program to night mode, and set the tablet to low. If that's still too bright for some of the purists, they need to find their own island in the Pacific.

:grin:
Mike

#49 Sarkikos

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:21 AM

I agree that headlamps are the most efficient way to go if you must have a lamp. Hands free is nice. Just brush some red paint on the lens to tone it down and be sure not to point the light in anyone's face.

Mike

#50 mich_al

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 09:25 AM

I'd be quite willing to spend two or three times as much for a version that would hold up over time, and continue working well.

Clear skies, Alan


Boy, isn't that true for just about every product out there. Products all around that have been cost reduced until they are a piece of junk. Major appliances used to last forever now ten years is asking too much. Show me the good stuff, I'm willing to pay for it.






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