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Red flashlights... what do you use?

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#301 james7ca

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Posted 14 October 2019 - 11:04 PM

...The best I've found are some of the 2019 Black Diamonds.  Confusingly, although the model name (but not the number) remains the same, many have been totally redesigned for 2019 with two buttons instead of just one...

I have a question for anyone who has one of these Black Diamond headlamps. Is the hinge that allows for the tilting of the light well-made and strong? I assume that this is plastic and that it attaches to the part of the housing that holds the head strap. I had a similar looking unit (but NOT made by Black Diamond) where the plastic that supports the hinge broke after a few months of use and I don't want to buy another headlamp that will suffer the same problem. Now, I have to use electrical tape in order to keep this headlamp upright and secured to the strap. And note, two other reviews on Amazon reported the same issue with this other headlamp (and again, here I'm NOT talking about one of the Black Diamond units, although the head strap/hinge design looks similar).

 

Here is a picture of the broken plastic on the other light, I wonder whether the Black Diamond has a similarly weak design. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Broken Headlamp.jpg

Edited by james7ca, 15 October 2019 - 03:26 AM.


#302 prototype3a

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 12:02 AM

I got a Nitecore Tube RL and found it really annoying until I disassembled it and added a black heatshrink sleeve to the 5mm LED.  Now it is just about perfect.

 

https://www.amazon.c...n/dp/B01NGYFOBC


Edited by prototype3a, 15 October 2019 - 12:02 AM.


#303 Sp0nG3Bo8

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 02:45 AM

i used the celestron firecell elements flashlight , handwarmer and power bank(2500mah) which i got for free with a purchase. i think the handwarmer part is what i use the most tongue2.gif Only issue i have is when you want to turn the light off you need to cycle trough the "mode"  including the bright white leds and flashing leds...  not great i also have a cpl of fenix light ( super great quality) i just need to buy the filters for my uc 35  or maybe find a small red filter and change one of them. 

 

i also got olight E3Eos and a fenix E12 for other purchases and i already had a fenix uc35 (very nice flashlight) mentioned above


Edited by Sp0nG3Bo8, 15 October 2019 - 02:46 AM.


#304 Second Time Around

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 05:47 AM

James, the hinge on all 3 Black Diamonds I've tested is made from toothed plastic.  They seem OK, but I've not had them long.

 

There were complaints about older versions of these products having a weak closure on the battery compartments.  This appears to be rectified nicely in the new models that have a firm, precise click action.

 

I'd add that, here in Europe at least, these Black Diamonds have a 3 year guarantee.  That doesn't of course prove anything, but they're expected to last at least that long.


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#305 Lister85

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 08:40 AM

I've got that cheapie Celestron single-purpose red light. I followed the advice of several other folks and put some Scotch tape on the inside of the lens to diffuse the light from each of the LEDs a little better.

 

It works fine for star chart reading. I also switched out the lanyard because the one it came with seemed a little flimsy. Got that at work for free!

 

If I had it to do it over again (and on a pay week instead of an off week lol.gif ), I'd get something a little more pricey and nicer. But overall, I'm not dissatisfied. 



#306 DeWynter

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 02:04 AM

Based on August '94 S&T article and very successful flashlight by kfiscus I built my own. There are only two differences from the original design:

  • Two different night vision lights:
    • Traditional red with 640nm light;
    • Amber with 600nm light based on two articles in S&T - June '16 and August '19.
  • Two LED's for each light. Just in case. Used 10K potentiometer so it could be dimmed quite well.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DIY-Red-Orange-Flashlight-01-s.jpg
  • DIY-Red-Orange-Flashlight-02-s.jpg

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#307 bmurphy495

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 10:28 AM

The best headlamp I have used for astronomy is the Photon Freedom Micro. It can be had with a covert cover (costs an additional $2) that shields the actual LED and directs the beam so you don't blind your friends. It also has a variable intensity. 

 

If you order from Photonlight.com you can get them with a hat clip, that also has magnets if you want to stick it to somthing ferrous. They can be had in numerous colors including yellow if you like to dabble with that. I would not order from Amazon as they sometimes ship them without the hat clip, even though the picture on the Amazon page shows a hat clip, and previous orders also include a hat clip. 

 

I have found that the white light version that I use when I'm not doing visual, can benefit with an additional shield, so I stuck a piece of a red plastic straw over the covert nosepiece. Colored tape is my way of securing the lamp to the hat clip.

 

They are pricey, but well worth it. 

 

20191019 112041
 
20191019 112116
 

B


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#308 fred1diver

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 05:36 PM

I have 2 red bicycle lights that I use and a PETZL E+lite that I can use in red light mode, pretty dim so nice and it's really small so easy to carry and store.



#309 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 10:34 AM

I made a nice little discovery on my Black Diamond headlamp - Scotch Blue Painters tape!

 

After trying 8 layers of regular translucent tape and not getting satisfactory results, one piece of blue painters tape gave a very acceptable result.

 

When you try this, be sure to do it at night - in daylight (standing in a dark room) it looks like too much blocking. But under real night conditions, the illumination strikes a very good balance.

 

I even stood in front of a mirror to take a full dose to the eyes and it was not painfully bright like a normal red LED. I would not want to make a habit of that, but with respect to dark adaptation the experience was downgraded from Heinous Crime to Minor Annoyance.



#310 Aurneth

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 03:43 PM

 

Based on August '94 S&T article and very successful flashlight by kfiscus I built my own. There are only two differences from the original design:

  • Two different night vision lights:
    • Traditional red with 640nm light;
    • Amber with 600nm light based on two articles in S&T - June '16 and August '19.
  • Two LED's for each light. Just in case. Used 10K potentiometer so it could be dimmed quite well.

 

smile.gif

 

Looks like a long lost cousin to mine, which I built as a teen in the 90s. Even the pairing of LEDs and the orientation of the colours is the same. The thing is, I never read that S&T article.

 

I don't actually use it much though since the 9v battery always seems to run out at inopportune moments. A few years later once I had bought a used Meade LX3 with its map light socket (1/8" headphone style), I built myself another one that runs off 12v. The other end was originally the Meade standard 5.5/2.5 jack but I have since switched that to the more common 5.5/2.1 jack (I have a converter piece in my Meade accessory box in case I need to plug the Meade power supply in directly). I have also built a power distribution box with a collection of 1/8" and cigarette lighter sockets, so there's always something I can plug it into.

 

Adding a potentiometer would be a good idea, though.

Attached Thumbnails

  • DSCF0593-reduc_sq.jpg
  • DSCF0598-reduc.jpg

Edited by Aurneth, 02 January 2020 - 05:50 PM.

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#311 Pelayo

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 05:20 PM

I used a head lamp with red lights. Despite being red, It's too intense so I coated the plastic cover with some red paint to dim it. It makes very easy changing eyepieces, focusing, and doing whatever you need two hands for. The lamp has got white leds too, which I did not coat, and I use them when I have to take everything apart at the end of the session.

 

In addition I also have got a red light made by celestron, usually hanging around my neck. I use that one to check the star charts, for that purpose is far better than the headlamp.



#312 jwaldo

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Posted 02 January 2020 - 07:42 PM

Under normal backyard conditions I use current generation Black Diamond Storm headlamp. It's a nice headlamp, but IMO the current model has two drawbacks over the older model: the red LED doesn't seem to dim quite as far, and the battery status LEDs are blinking bright blue LEDs instead of a single dim R/Y/G LED. 

 

When I need a really dim light I have an old Orion DualBeam flashlight that has some frosted plastic added in front of the LEDs to dim and diffuse the light. That S&T article has me contemplating replacing its white LEDs with amber ones. Since I got the headlamp the only purpose the DualBeam's white mode serves is to be an annoyance when I accidentally switch it on while going for the red light.


Edited by jwaldo, 02 January 2020 - 07:55 PM.


#313 DeWynter

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 05:15 PM

smile.gif

 

Looks like a long lost cousin to mine, which I built as a teen in the 90s. Even the pairing of LEDs and the orientation of the colours is the same. The thing is, I never read that S&T article.

Nice one! wink.gif

 

I'm thinking about adding some semi-permanent LED to the mount so it highlights the EP tray a bit.


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#314 Starman1

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 05:42 PM

Nice one! wink.gif

 

I'm thinking about adding some semi-permanent LED to the mount so it highlights the EP tray a bit.

Trust me, it'll be more annoying than helpful.


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#315 LDW47

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:43 PM

I just ordered a red, rechargeable head lamp with a solid head strap rather than elastic from Amazon for $29 C, I’ll get it on Wed. I don’t use one very often but when I want one I’ll have it.


Edited by LDW47, 05 January 2020 - 08:44 PM.


#316 Starman1

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:53 PM

I'm a little distressed to see the increased popularity of headlamps.

I think they're fine if you observe alone, but they should be banned at public star parties.


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#317 LDW47

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Posted 05 January 2020 - 08:58 PM

I'm a little distressed to see the increased popularity of headlamps.

I think they're fine if you observe alone, but they should be banned at public star parties.

I observe strictly alone !



#318 jwaldo

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 02:07 AM

If I'm using my headlamp at star parties or other group situations I tend to take it off my head and use it like a regular handheld flashlight so it's not in anyone's face. Banning might be a little extreme, but awareness of where your flashlight beam is going should be part of any Night Etiquette 101.


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#319 AstroKerr

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 05:33 AM

1$ & 2$ flashlights, booklights and headlamps from Dollar Tree and Walmart w/ Red filter from Amazon. 1 or two layers of filter.  Sometimes a 3~5$ treat from American Scientific Surplus.



#320 halx

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 01:17 PM

I'm a little distressed to see the increased popularity of headlamps.

I think they're fine if you observe alone, but they should be banned at public star parties.

Actually, a dim flashlight is a nonsense for the astronomy application nowadays in general. Paper star charts are so old school... If you don't use a paper star chart ditch all your flashlights and you will see much more goodies in the eyepiece after just an hour of abstinence grin.gif



#321 Starman1

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 03:57 PM

Actually, a dim flashlight is a nonsense for the astronomy application nowadays in general. Paper star charts are so old school... If you don't use a paper star chart ditch all your flashlights and you will see much more goodies in the eyepiece after just an hour of abstinence grin.gif

I've stopped using a book or guide at the telescope because I set up my own observing programs in the Nexus DSC.

I do use a dim red LED flashlight to record my notes, however.  Dim, that is, thanks to Ken Fiscus (poster here on CN).

A tablet, even on red, is worse than a red LED flashlight because it shines directly into the eye and has such a large surface area.

I see many people using tablets in the field, and I can ALWAYS see the light on their faces when they are using the tablets.

I used one for a while, but when I turned it down enough to not affect my night vision, I could no longer read it.

The best is to avoid all light at all times, but that is not always possible.

But at least a dim red LED flashlight won't point at anyone else when you look at him.

And if the flashlight is dim enough and illuminates a small enough area, it won't affect your night vision for more than a minute after using it.

But even the night sky brightness affects your night vision, and all red lights are brighter than the night sky, regardless of source.



#322 halx

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Posted 06 January 2020 - 05:48 PM

I guess you have missed that discussion, Don. But as soon as your screen is of an OLED type (like Samsung AMOLED) AND your digital sky chart app is designed with the serious visual astronomy in mind, the "light pollution" from such a chart is no more than from the starry sky itself (actually, even better). I have even had the undeniable proof image taken with my DSLR at 30 sec bulb showing my smartphone on top of my z12 with the Milky Way visible right behind it in the background. On the image the low in the sky Mars looks brighter than stars and DSO symbols visible on my screen (if you wish I can dig that image out again).

EDIT: found it: https://www.cloudyni...-3#entry8877862

For the observation notes taking I'm using the dedicated notes taker also integrated in my properly darkness adapted star chart app: conditions info is one tap, the rest I'm just voice-recording as an attachment to the text note for digitizing later. Needless to say that it's stored in the fully integrated database which I'm using to semi-automatically plan the following observing night. Try that with paper notes.

By the way. Recently I even got the Tapstrap 2 device so I can type notes blindly without even taking the phone out of the pocket or taking off my mittens as I actually don't like breaking the magic silence of the night with my loud voice grin.gif (that Tap Strap works with any computer actually):
 

tapgenius.gif

 

To stay on topic: the same app also providing the ultimate flashlight screen option, Where you can simply slide your finger over the screen to change brightness from 0 to 100% with 0.01% accuracy if necessary. There is a white flashlight switch available as well which makes a bright enough flood light to comfortably take down the field setup in the dark.


Edited by halx, 07 January 2020 - 02:07 PM.


#323 rhetfield

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Posted 07 January 2020 - 12:26 PM

For the past three years I've been using a cheap plastic flashlight I bought for a whopping $1 and then painted the inside of the lens red with my wife's nail polish. It's worked well enough although the switch has been temperamental (making the brightness vary a lot) and it eats AA batteries (I use rechargeables). The switch has broken a few times and I've epoxied it back together again. Okay, maybe it hasn't worked "well enough" after all, because I certainly have fought with it a lot to get it to work many, many nights. It's become almost like that one old friend I have political arguments with; you know the type. The insufferable ones where you wonder why the heck you keep bothering to interact with them when you are together but think fondly of them when they're not around . Sadly, the cheap, chewed up, blue plastic flashlight finally reached the point of no return and I need another flashlight.

 

While I *could* buy another $1 flashlight and repeat (and repeat and repeat) the process I thought I'd look around and see if there wasn't a better option. Red LEDs seemed to be the way to go since reportedly the light from them is "purer" somehow and more importantly LEDs consume less power meaning less need to carry around extra batteries all the time. Plus, LED bulbs should last longer than incandescent ones.

 

What started as a quick look through Amazon became a long, grueling ordeal of dissatisfaction. Reviews are often not helpful because just not that many people put much effort into thoughtfully exploring the nuances of a sub $10 item. Specifications are often less than helpful, and most focus on how extremely bright the flashlight is. Wanting a flashlight for reading charts at the telescope means extremely bright (even if it is red) is among the last things I want, and manufacturers usually don't brag about how dim their flashlights are in the sales print. Counterintuitively I spend much of my time looking for 1 star reviews complaining about how little light was produced thinking that was the way to find a winner. Many of the 4 and 5 star reviews talk about how useful the flashlights are for lighting up wild game at 200 yards. Unless I want to try to set up a spotting scope to read my charts at 200 yards then that is probably a sign this isn't the light for me. I don't particularly want to spend $150 on buying a dozen flashlights to test them all out, so I thought I'd check with this group and see what others liked using.

 

My preferred criteria:

 

-Red LED. If I have to paint the lens of a white LED I might as well buy another $1 flashlight and paint it.

-Handheld, the smaller the better. Don't want a "headlight" because it's less versatile (to me)

-Uses AA or AAA batteries so I can use the rechargeable ones I have without needing to get hard to find batteries that I won't use for any other gadget. (Edit: 9V batteries would also be acceptable. I just don't want coin, button, or irreplaceable built-in rechargeable batteries.)

-Ideally a plastic or rubberized body so I can hold it in my mouth while I use both hands on the chart or book. Aluminum and steel don't taste very good and are rough on the teeth.

-Ideally under $15 so I don't nag at myself about how much more economical it would have been to keep buying $1 flashlights and so I don't feel bad if I leave it at an observing site. I don't want a Questar or Takahashi Astro Flashlight for $700 no matter how buttery the switch is.

-Durable. If a $15 flashlight doesn't last longer than a $1 flashlight then I'm back to where I started and there's not much advantage to the pricier one.

 

Thanks!

I use my camping headlamp.  It has white, red and green LEDs and is dimmable.  Since it is a headlamp, there is no hands being used.  It uses AAA batteries.  It does cost a couple or three times more than your $15 limit.  Others in the camping section might be cheaper.



#324 Jeff Struve

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Posted 07 January 2020 - 01:40 PM

I use a red Zebralight that I bought about 10 years ago



#325 DeWynter

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Posted 07 January 2020 - 03:46 PM

Trust me, it'll be more annoying than helpful.

Thanks! Noted. Is it just because it's always on and creates unnecessary light?
 

I've stopped using a book or guide at the telescope because I set up my own observing programs in the Nexus DSC.
...
A tablet, even on red, is worse than a red LED flashlight because it shines directly into the eye and has such a large surface area.
I see many people using tablets in the field, and I can ALWAYS see the light on their faces when they are using the tablets.
I used one for a while, but when I turned it down enough to not affect my night vision, I could no longer read it.
The best is to avoid all light at all times, but that is not always possible.

True, but unfortunately applications like SkySafari and SynScan are on a phone/tablet. Handheld SynScan device is pretty bad I'd say...




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