limited production :: hand crafted :: high performance :: rechargeable :: premium flashlights

This is my blog about creating a startup LED flashlight business. I'm a designer, fabricator, and strategist and I'm passionate about making ideas real. I believe that products are about people, that they should be built to last, deliver real value, and that we need to do a better job than we have in the recent past.

Most of my career has been contract or freelance work and I've crafted products and strategies for both big international companies and startups. I also used to work in the "industry" fabricating special effects for film and TV, along with the occasional hot rod. Bottom line, I love making things.

I'm starting this blog so you can follow along, from day one, and see what it's like to start a business, or fail in the process. Only time will tell, but I hope you find this interesting enough to stay tuned, comment, link, like, tweet, and (most importantly) participate in turning this idea into something tangible and valuable.

For a good place to get started with general info about who, what, why, etc., check out the "Stickies" on the left side of the page. Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to ask questions and get involved!

Please sign up for my email list to get updates and notifications for contests and giveaways!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My latest creation!

Hi folks,

Hope everyone had a good Christmas! I was trying to figure out what to get my Dad this year and then it became pretty obvious that it should be a bespoke light...but what kind of light? I had some roughed out spares for my limited edition copper batch so I pulled a set and stared at it for a couple of hours. A couple more hours of manual machining and viola! Looks easy right?

Thus favorite light!
"Bamboo" is my inspiration for this design and I think it actually came out quite well. I liked the idea of using a "natural" form and applying it to metal with machine tools. Conceptual contrast as we call it in the industry. The finish is completely as-machined. No polishing at all. It was next to impossible keeping the finish pristine while making it and then flying it half way around the world but it worked out.

Just since Christmas the light is already starting to develop it's patina just from handling the light. The oils from your skin (and any other contact) causes the copper to stain and oxidize. Eventually the entire light will become a deep brown/green and only have highlights on the high spots where it gets handled the most.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

POLL: more input on my logo please!

Hi folks,

I'm not super happy with my current logo so I've been playing some more. I figure my brand identity is pretty flexible at this point so I thought I'd make another attempt. So, without further ado, what's your opinion? I have added a brief description of each, below the poll, but it's probably more scientific to vote on your first impression :) Thanks in advance and I'd love some comments as well!

Which logo do you like better?

#1 - My first attempt. I use circles in most of my designs...kind of my trademark. It also reflects the shape of the light. This is actually based on a font with two lettter "P" placed back to back. My brother mentioned it looked  a bit like a torch (what the rest of the world calls flashlights) so I added the little hotrod flame. I like it, but it looses resolution really fast when it's small.

#2 - Still working with the circle but trying to simplify things and get a little more "iconic." This is based on the Japanese "mon" or family crest. They are always inside circles and contain some sort of graphic element. I started with a hexagonal shape in the center, which is the shape of the LED boards. I added the white triangle (upwards facing) over that because it's the alchemical symbol for "fire." That was cool but it looked a little too much like a recycling symbol so I added the next round layer that actually reflects the shape of the LED dome.'s basically a graphic of an LED board with the triangle added.

In general: overall I'd like to get the logo to a place where I can also hand-stamp the shape, and the #2 version is much more conducive to this than #1. I can also have this shape extruded and do an "inlay" on the side of the light (instead of a stamp) which would be pretty awesome. Anyway, let me know what you think.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Alpha "Shorty"

Hi all,

I've had some special requests for a more compact Alpha...and this is the only "finished" light that exists. It uses a smaller battery, but otherwise it's identical. These will not be offered for general sale because they require a special battery and charger that I don't (at this time) have for sale. This light will run on a RCR123 or 18350 sized battery but it must be an IMR chemistry cell to handle the massive current draw. Run time is...not very much. It's a real pocket rocket though.

Smaller size...same punch
These are special order items only, so please email if you are interested. It looks cute but it can be dangerous if used with the incorrect I consider this an "advanced" flashlight. For example, if you don't know what RCR123, 18350, and IMR chemistry means...probably not for you.

This one-off light gets a fancy fluorosilicone o-ring
Fluorosilicone is about 10x the cost of a normal Nitrile o-ring and is the material specified by the US military for use on jet aircraft fuel lines...and stuff like that. Part of what makes them expensive is that they have an "indefinite" shelf life. Nitrile o-rings expire after 10 years. I told you these are made to last right? Do you think I should start using the blue o-rings on all of my lights? Comment below!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Solid Copper: one-of-a-kind custom

Hi folks. Sorry about the lack of content. I've been super busy and slightly de-motivated on the blog front. I've been working hard though! Just wanted to share a one-off custom light I did for a chap in the UK. He's been very patient with me and this is the result. Hope he likes it as this will be the first glimpse of his new light that won't go in the mail till tomorrow :)

I have a batch of limited edition copper lights currently for sale. I had a fellow contact me about doing some special work on his light, and this custom was born.

This thing is a tank. I hope my customer has a stout belt. 
This is also my first light to feature tritium vials. Tritium is a mildly radioactive element that glows on it's own. No need to "charge" it like normal glow in the dark materials. It's half-life is about 10 years. Don't worry, the radiation is so weak that it can't escape the glass vial...and if it did, the amount is so tiny it wouldn't hurt you anyway. Read on after the jump for some photos!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIN: Prometheus Lights featured in FORTUNE?!

Yeah I know! Crazy right? Happy Thanksgiving to me! It sort of seems fake but here is the link and here is the screen shot (below). I keep checking the website just to make sure it's still here. The Alpha is also supposed to be featured in the iPad version of the actual magazine (but not the print version). I'd love it if any iPad subscribers could submit a screen shot or even just write in if you see it.

The Alpha is "techie" gadget #2 (of 6!)
I'd also love to capitalize on the momentum of this press and the best way to do that is through you, yes you dear reader, sharing the news through email, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else you can think of! Since I don't have an advertising budget, basically your good will is the only thing that will help me get the word out.

One last thing, if you are a Facebook user and haven't "liked" my home page yet, would you take 12 seconds and do it? Every little bit helps in this internet economy! This is me giving thanks to you: *thanks!*

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fun with coatings, part 2: Titanium Nitride (TiN)

I've been working with Advanced Coating Technologies to create some special edition lights that are coated with a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process. These coatings are used on extreme applications like carbide tools for milling and turning. The coatings are microns thick, but incredibly hard. Think of it this way, tungsten carbide is one of the hardest man-made metals in existence. They use PVD to protect this material. No joke right?

Ohhh yeah. 
This is my first sample that is coated in Titanium Nitride (TiN). Need a little more bling in your flashlight? I have no idea if this will be popular or not...but it's still pretty awesome. I'll be getting samples in Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) and Titanium Carbon Nitride (TiCN). These will turn out black and deep grey, respectively. Stay tuned, I hope to have samples in the next couple of weeks.

The light pictured above is one-of-a-kind and is now for sale on my website. Check it out here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun with coatings, part 1: Cerakote

I've been doing some experimenting in the "lab" and I started working with a Cerakote applicator to test out the finish on a couple lights. Cerakote is similar to powder coat but it's a proprietary ceramic-based coating developed primarily for firearms. It comes in a variety of flavors and is very durable. It also looks awesome. I had two lights test-coated and you can see them below!

Cerakote by NIC Industries
So a lot of people Cerakote over raw aluminum. The coating is hard, but the aluminum underneath is still pretty soft. I Cerakoted these lights after they have been nickel plated. This means you retain the corrosion and wear protection of the nickel and you get additional surface hardness to make the finish last longer. I'm not aware of any other manufacturer (custom or commercial) that goes to this kind of trouble.

The two colors shown are "carbon black" and "flat dark earth." Read on after the jump for a couple more photos of awesomeness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Best credit card for small business?

Hi everyone,

So now that this is an official company, I'm looking to get a business card. This opens up a world dizzying possibilities. Any recommendations based on your experience? I think at this stage the bar for my actual "needs" is set pretty low. I don't have employees with cards, I don't travel a lot for work, and I don't have a fleet of vehicles that need gas. Mostly I need a credit card to put on file with my various suppliers. Thoughts?

Monday, October 24, 2011

VIDEO: intro video

Hi folks! I'm excited to say that I have a new intro video for my landing page. My friend Chris Whitmore shot and edited this piece. This is basically an intro for a longer segment that will be coming along in a few weeks. Mainly I wanted a quick hook for the landing page, not to explain everything in detail, but to give people a feel for what is going on. Hope you like it and don't forget to leave feedback!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Use Case: Bake bread with an Alpha (sort of)

People often ask why they "need" a flashlight. In my mind, flashlights are intended for those times when you don't know what you'll need it for. Take this example. My friend Jon sent me the photo below. He and his wife bought a bread maker and quickly realized that, despite the glass top, you couldn't really see what was going on in there. Now, if you didn't have a flashlight, you'd probably just accept the fact that you couldn't see inside and live with it. In this case dark doesn't suck, it's just lame :)

Why aren't good flashlights more popular? Most people have never seen a state-of-the-art flashlight. Flashlights have been around since the late 1800's and most modern flashlights still use the same bulbs and the same batteries. No joke. It's hard to seek out something you don't even know exists. I didn't like flashlights before I started making them, and I quickly realized I never cared about flashlights because I'd never seen a good one. Modern LED flashlights are unimaginably better than that thing you keep in your junk drawer for emergencies.

Do you need a car? No, but it makes it easier to get around. Do you need a blender? No, but it makes it easier to turn chunky stuff into smooth stuff. So, do you need a flashlight? No, but it sure makes it easier to see in the dark.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Recommend: PIAA wiper blades will change your life...

Bold title right? I'm not joking around though. PIAA wiper blades will change your life. There, I said it twice. Sometimes when I'm zooming down the freeway surrounded by a sea of cars going 80, I wonder how so many people manage to successfully pilot a vehicle when it takes so little for all of it to go wrong. Then it rains...the veil between order and chaos draws a bit thinner. Suddenly those little things you've been ignoring are (in the case of wiper blades) staring you right in the face. People ignore their wipers until it's too late...and at that point its often dangerous.

Buy the standard PIAA Super Silicone wipers. DO NOT buy the fancy new types...they screwed up the engineering and the wiper will not touch the windshield with even pressure and that causes streaks! 
Put on some PIAA wipers and you will actually look forward to driving in a downpour. Once again, I'm not joking around. PIAA wipers arent just going to work well because they are new. Any wipers work well when the are new. The magic of the PIAA wiper (I know this is going to sound like infomercial BS...but it's not) is it actually conditions your windshield to repel water like a duck's back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's official, Dark Sucks is now Prometheus Lights

Don't worry though. My tag line still says Dark Sucks! Thanks so much to everyone who voted. It makes my process a lot more fun and I hope you enjoy the fact that you get to participate in the creation of my venture.

I'm not going to post an image...because you can just look at the header of this page to see the winning logo/text combination. It was actually a pretty close race. In retrospect, it occurs to me that maybe the choices were just too similar, but hey, it's still a result :)

The paperwork for the name is still being processed but I thought I'd at least change the name on the blog to break in the new branding and see how it sits with me...and you. Thanks again!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

VIDEO: Drop testing the Alpha

I guess I forgot to post the YouTube video from a while here it is! I hosted a Candlepower Forums gathering at my shop a few months ago. Just to spice things up I asked everyone in attendance to help me drop test one of my lights. I'd never actually done this before so it was pretty frightening to do in front of a crowd. Makes for good TV though right?

So as you can see, after 37 drops and some pretty massive hits, the tailcap switch broke. Does that mean the light failed? I don't really know. It would still turn on in momentary mode...but the switch would not latch. So, you decide. I think the bottom line is that if your own flashlight ever sees that much probably have some other broken stuff that is higher on the priority list.

One other thing to keep in mind is that the McClicky switch is literally the best aftermarket clicky switch that exists. Since my light is designed for easy repair, putting in a new switch is really easy and (if you have strong fingers) can be done completely without tools.


This disclaimer is present in order to manage your expectations. Impact is a funny thing and people often have unrealistic expectations with respect to dropping flashlights. For example, in the video above, we dropped the Alpha 37 times and the UCL glass window did not break. I put the light on my bench. When a friend visited the next day I dropped the light from waist high...and the window shattered. Why? Impact is a funny thing.

Flashlights are not meant to be dropped. They are meant to produce light. A good light is engineered in a way that will minimize the statistical probability that something (anything) will break. Engineering is largely balanced by practical considerations like cost and physical size. They key (and the point of my previous anecdote) is that pesky statistical probability. When you drop a light, even from waist high, about a bazillion dice get together to determine the final outcome. Could I make a light that is guaranteed not to break, ever, when dropped from an airplane? Sure, you show me $10,000 and I'll show you an indestructible light. In fact, I'd welcome the challenge :)

I have seen tons of messages on Candlepower Forums where people are irate that they dropped their light, it started working funny, and now they think the light and the entire company are terrible. Do you drop your laptop (or your phone) and then complain to the manufacturer that it broke? No, BECAUSE YOU DROPPED IT. If you drop your light, you should expect it to break. If it doesn't, send the manufacturer a nice letter.

Of course I talked to someone the other day that was really mad at Apple because their iPhone had broken. I said, "What happened to it?" They said, "I dropped it." I had a hard time not saying something really rude in response.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Name/Logo: I Need Your Vote! (only six days to vote)

Okay folks, this little project is in a time of transition. As you know, I just did a big overhaul on the website. You might not know that I'm on the edge of a big "all or nothing" marketing push. I'm going to be sending lights out to some big national magazines and top tier blogs. It's pretty hard to do that since I'm going to be flushing a bunch of lights down the toilet, but hopefully one or two will generate some badly needed big press. Yes, it's psychologically difficult to send out a bunch of my (very few) lights to someone who might just throw it in a drawer and never look at it again...but I know I need to suck it up and do it.

It's kind of like dating...hey, call me back...okay? 
Anyway, the last piece I need to put in place (immediately) is becoming a "real" company and incorporating a business. This also means I need a grown up name and a new logo. I was hoping to have you, dear public, pick my new name; but time is not on my side. So I bit the bullet and I'm going with "Prometheus Lights." I hope it doesn't suck...too late now anyway. In case you don't know, Prometheus is the Greek titan that stole the secret of fire from the gods and gave it to man. Of course he was severely punished for this but let's just ignore that part of the story for the moment. In Greek, the name also means "forethought" which seems appropriate in light of Wired Magazine's latest article on the future of LED lighting.

I was also hoping to have you, dear public, help me pick from a variety of logos I've been working on; but that pesky time thing is still a problem. I need to have all this sorted...say, in the next week. So, I spent a few days beating myself up about my lack of community engagement in the business design process, but here we are.

Click this image to see a full size version
What I need your help with now, is the final refinement! I've provided 4 versions for your viewing pleasure. Which one do you like the best?

Which combination of logo and text do you like the best?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wired Magazine agrees with me: LEDs are the future

Check out the latest edition of Wired and their article on LED lighting. About time someone with sway picked up this story!  I don't know if this will have any effect on industry (or my business) but I have to imagine that greater public awareness can only help.

Wired must have some budget for cool photography: this image is from their article
Honestly I'm not sure why it's taking so long for companies with millions of dollars in development funds to make a decent LED light bulb. Liquid cooling is a pretty cool idea. That's one reason why the first flashlight I ever made was liquid filled. No, I'm not smart enough to come up with that on my own. My computer uses liquid cooling and there is a lot of research around "submersion cooling" of of power electronics.

One thing I am curious about is how they are keeping the liquid filled bulb from exploding when it heats up. I calculated that my liquid filled light would exert over 700PSI of pressure with each 10(F) rise in temperature. I had a couple of solutions to this but maybe I shouldn't share them yet. Hey "Switch", give me a call. I hear you are down the road. Anyway, the linked article below is worth a read.

"The future of light is the LED" -- Wired Magazine"

"Brett Sharenow is presidingover the Pepsi Challenge of lightbulbs. The CFO of Switch, a Silicon Valley startup, Sharenow has set himself up in a 20-by-20 booth at the back of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, and he’s asking passersby to check out two identical white shades. Behind one hides a standard incandescent bulb, the familiar lighting technology that has gone largely unchanged since Thomas Edison invented it 132 years ago. Behind the other is a stunning, almost art- deco-style prototype that holds 10 LEDs and a secret fluid. It’s a liquid-cooled bulb, as radically different from Edison’s invention as anything that’s ever been screwed into a standard socket and, Sharenow hopes, the next big thing in the $30 billion lighting industry. The challenge: Can you tell which is which?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Economics of Purchasing

As consumers, we spend a lot of time looking at price tags but we don't spend very much time thinking about the cost of ownership. Perhaps because those costs lie in the future and we're not very good at visualizing something as abstract as five years from now. Perhaps it's because we just take the cost of ownership for granted. Do you think about how much gas you are going to buy over the life of the car? Do you think about how much your iPhone plan is going to cost you beyond the purchase of the phone? If you are like me...not really.

However, when you break it down, that doesn't make much sense. Just because you are paying less money "today" doesn't really make the price lower tomorrow. I've been thinking about this a lot. People often ask what makes a $200 light special? I think my new answer is going to be, "because it doesn't cost $1000." Let's take a look at the math.

pop quiz: 20 vs. 2,826...which one is smaller?
One lithium battery is good for about 300 charges. In the Alpha, that equates to about 471 hours of operation on the brightest setting. Think that $30 2D Maglite is a good deal? What if I told you it was going to cost you $283 in disposable batteries to get the same amount of use? Maybe you have an exotic light like the Surefire M3LT (400 lumens & $500.00) or the Fenix TK41 (630 lumens & $130.00). You better be willing to fork out over $2,500 over the life of the light (either one) to pay for the batteries you are going to use. $200 is starting to sound cheap isn't it?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MAJOR website overhaul

Hi everyone, I've been slaving away for the last week on a new website. Prototype #4! Basically a never ending work in progress. The hope is to make things a little more clear and easier to navigate. Please take a look at the site and let me know if you have any feedback on things like layout, content, or navigation.

This is the link to Dark Sucks

Look Ma! YouTube videos!
Also, please let me know if you discover any buggy behavior or broken links. You might have to "refresh" a couple of pages to get a recent view if your browser has cached the site in the past. I attempted to implement a fix for this (it shouldn't happen) so let me know if it does.

One of the main reasons for the update is I also discovered a pretty major compatibility issue with Internet let me know if anything appears really crazy in a visual sense. It's probably a bug and not just because I'm an idiot...though I never rule out the latter ;)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

VIDEO: Table Top Review

So I got an email from a guy named Trent a couple weeks ago asking if I'd do a "table top review" of the Alpha. Here it is! I couldn't afford to spend a ton of time editing so please excuse the roughness. I hope to be doing a bunch more videos in the future so please let me know if you have any requests!

WIN! Alpha Ti clips also fit Surefire, Solarforce, Elzetta and others

I had a pretty amazing (and fortunate) discovery the other day. It turns out that the stock Alpha clip fits a large variety of tactical flashlights as well. If you'd like to order one, just click this link. I'm also offering flame coloring on these clips as well. Let me know if you have any questions!

Each clip ships with 1x black o-ring and 1x GITD o-ring...

An o-ring (included) is needed for proper fit
Add a locator to your light with the GITD o-ring option! 
These clips are confirmed to fit the following lights. Please let me know if you discover others!

  1. 6P
  2. G2X Pro
  3. 6PX Pro
  1. L2
  2. L2T
  1. 2 cell
  2. 3 cell

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flame Colored Pocket Clips

Is this cool or what? I've done some flame coloring of Ti before so it occurred to me that I should play around with these pocket clips. They are so small it's hard to accomplish but I've never seen anyone do this with a Ti clip before. The colors go great with the natural warmth of the nickel coloring. I'm more about photos than blabbering on these days so here you go.
Reminds me of a peacock! 
This looks pretty awesome if you ask me! I've decided to offer this option for $5.00 with the purchase of any clip. Since these are done by hand, each one is a little different and a unique work in it's own right. As such, I don't take requests for a specific just get what you get. I know, it's a little risky. Feeling crazy though?

Don't forget to click for a larger image! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

VIDEO: Indoor and Outdoor Beamshots!

Hi all,

I've been working on getting some better video of the flashlight beam. It's really hard to get everything set up right, but here is my first attempt with my new camera! Cheers, Jason.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

REVIEW: Alpha scores 19/20 @ Every Day Commentary

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to say that I got my first "official" online review. I noticed, while cruising my analytics, that Every Day Commentary mentioned me in this post. So I decided to get in touch and send in a light for review. I was out of production lights so I sent my personal light that I use for EDC (Every Day Carry). I was thrilled to get 19 out of 20 points, and also happy to leave some room for improvement! Every Day Commentary had my light for 10 days and I encouraged him to carry it like it was his own light, no special favors, and no playing nice.

Yes, this is a random image and not related to the review. Nice shot though eh? 
Here is the result...excerpted from the review's summary: 

"This is a staggeringly capable light. It is beautiful. It is easy to use. And for a first offering from a new maker, it is a testament to his skill and design chops, as well as how far the flashlight world has come in the past ten years. This is a great light and for just over $200 it is a very good deal. " --Every Day Commentary

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Goodies: Custom as usual

I'm trying to class things up a bit. Unfortunately that costs money. I have been wrapping the batteries (for shipping) in a little piece of paper. Functional, but not much to get excited about. I don't know if this moves the excitement needle very far either, but I had some custom battery tubes made by Caplugs. Why custom? Cause I couldn't find "exactly" what I needed. I'm including one tube with every battery purchases, gratis. However, I'll be selling these guys on my site (empty) for $1.99 each...probably some volume discount like 5 for $8.00 or something like that.

Tubes fit 1x18650 battery or 2xCR123 batteries! 
I had the caps done in high-vis orange so your spares are easy to see in the bottom of a bag or pack. They are square to provide anti-roll capability. Fresh batteries get stored with the + terminal towards the "head" of the battery tube. (think of it like a mini flashlight) When you deplete a battery, store it with the + terminal towards the tail. Since the tubes are clear, you can tell at a glance whether the battery is fresh...or dead. Cool huh? Around here we call that product design. Just one more close up for your viewing pleasure.

I have 1000 of these so don't be shy! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"machined" finish light, what do you think?

So I've been doing a lot of "fancy" surface finishes but I do love a nice, raw machined finish. I've been playing around with the idea of offering this as a standard "retail" light that I will sell through other online and brick and mortar retailers. You'll still be able to buy the fancy finishes directly from me.

Raw machined body with flame colored titainum clip
I've also been considering having an outside machine shop make these lights in higher volume that is practical for me to make in my shop. Again, this version would only be available through other retail outlets. If you want to hear a little more about why, and see another photo, read on after the jump.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting a little fancy: Titanium flame coloring

So I've been meaning to do this for ages. Finally remembered while I was in the shop today. Titanium produces some awesome temper colors when heated, much like steel, but even more dramatic. I do this by hand with a propane torch so every one will look a little different. The fade and asymmetry is intentional :)

I think it goes great with the nickel finish! But I'm biased. 
The different colors represent different temperatures as I heated the material. I've done this on some other Ti stuff over the years and I'm really pleased with how the clip turned out. I plan to offer this as a new option for an extra $5 bucks. Any feedback? Don't forget to click on the image for a larger view!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Flashlights: (NOT) all fun and games

Ouch. So this actually happened about a month ago and I'm all healed up so don't worry. I'm scrounging for content because being buried under stuff to do has turned me into a poor documenter. That's not a word is it?

Anyway, the cut I gave myself was actually much worse that it looks in the photo. I was reaching inside a storage cabinet to pick up my 4 jaw chuck...and apparently there is an exposed edge of sheet metal inside the cabinet. My thanks to the manufacturer.

Worshipers of duct painters tape. 
Since I was holding the chuck in my hand it had a ton of momentum and even though it was just a "bump," it cut through all the layers of skin over the knuckle of my thumb. I stopped short of flexing my thumb enough to see if there was any tendon or bone showing beneath.

I braced it with a tongue depressor (that I use for mixing silicone rubber) and babied it for about a week because I had to go out on a contract fabrication job for one of your favorite TV shows the next weekend. It was tender for a long time but it seems 100% now! A little more gore for your viewing pleasure...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Can your flashlight do this?

We were up in Sun Valley, Idaho last week and I found a cool spot for a "beam shot." This is inside the Sun Valley Opera House. Not much explanation needed. Just note the distance and width of the beam...and then how you can barely see the actual flashlight in the shot. This is not a "long" exposure shot, it's basically what you see with the naked eye.

A "wall of light" as we call it in the industry
Every time I get into a setting like this I'm astonished at the amount of light the Alpha produces. I know, you can't take my word for it because I'm selling them...but I tell ya, the ability to blast darkness into submission with a little light I carry in my pants pocket still makes me giddy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ohhhhh yes I did!

Let's keep this one short. A photo is worth a thousand words right? Put me down for 2K...done.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tinkering and a new camera

Welp, after 10 years of dithering I finally bought a digital SLR camera. I thought this would also be a good opportunity to show you something I've been tinkering with in the lab...the "copper head." Is that to literal? I got some new "N bin" MCEs in stock; they are the brightest bin of MCE in existance and costs nearly double compared to a "regular" MCE. In honor of that I decided to go crazy and make a solid copper head. It's immensely heavy and looks fantastic paired with the raw aluminum body. I've been carrying it my pocket for a while and it's starting to patina nicely.

Creative huh? 
Hopefully I'll be able to live up to the Nikon D7000. As you can see, I'm reaching already and had to come up with a fancy setting :) This SLR also shoots HD video (that's foreshadowing) and now I can put the lenses I have back into service. I have a Nikon film camera that has been gathering dust, along with the lenses, so I'm pretty excited to give them a new life, paired to the new D-SLR. Okay, okay. One more photo.

That's a real reflection. The light is sitting on a sheet of "60% lighting white" acrylic. 
So, have anything you want to see in a YouTube video? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tiffani Saxton Designs . . .The Blog: Gifts For Your Groomsmen

Tiffani Saxton Designs . . .The Blog: Gifts For Your Groomsmen: "...As your rehearsal dinner nears, you might be pondering how best to thank the friends and relatives who you've invited to stand with you.  With so many possibilities, I've narrowed down my Top Etsy Picks for Groomsmen Gifts."

It's starting to be that time of year season! I was recently featured on the (above) blog and that's pretty exciting!...if you are me. I might be biased but I totally agree with Tiffani; I think one of my lights would make a fantastic groomsman's gift...or wedding gift! A matched set perhaps?

In the past, I've personalized a few lights with letter-stamped initials and they look really nice. Just be sure to give me at least 30 days lead time because I take batches of lights to the plating company every month or so, and I have to stamp the lights before the are plated. Alternately I'm happy to pass on the $75 minimum charge from the plating company if you need right now! :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mission Motors sets EV lap record at Laguna Seca

Saw this post on the Mission blog today and thought I'd share it here. Congrats to them on another ground breaking technical achievement! I also wanted to toot my own horn and say that I machined some of the parts on this bike. It's really exciting to contribute to an effort like this!

Midway through the famous (and dangerous) cork screw at Laguna.
Takes me back to my GranTurismo days (on Playstation)  
Don't forget to click the blog link so you can see an on-board video of the record lap. That thing makes some crazy noises.

New Accessory: Mini Volt Meter

I found this on CandlePower Forums and thought it was super cool. It's hand made by one of the members there and you can't get one unless you are a forum member...until now! I bought a handful of these and are offering them for sale on my site. If I was smart I would have put a coin next to this thing to show how tiny it's really tiny. The display is about the size of a quarter.

4.2V is full, 3.8V(35% remaining) is time to recharge
The Alpha has a "low battery warning" that comes on at 3.2V; however, recharging before the battery gets this low will prolong its life. Of course there was no way to know how full the battery was, but now there is a very cool solution! Each wire has a small magnet on each end so you just attach it to the battery and get instant feedback on battery's charge condition.

This is also GREAT for checking spare batteries. Whaaaat? You don't have spare batteries? "Two is one, and one is none" as they say. Think about that one for a minute, it will sink in.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Accessory: Presentation Bag

I'm pleased to announce I have a new accessory available: the Presentation Bag. Several customers, giving an Alpha light as a gift, requested something special to dress up their presentation. Another customer travels a lot and has decided to carry an Alpha full time, for those "unexpected" situations. He wanted to keep it in his carry-on but didn't like the idea of it being loose and beating up the other contents.

Perfectly sized for the Alpha
The Presentation Bag is the answer to both of those requests. Made of furniture grade velvet, the two-tone bag looks great and will take a beating. Pull straps are genuine leather. Adding a little color is fun but it's also functional; it's easier to see when you are searching for the light in your bag.

Each bag is hand-tailored in small volume, just like my lights. Would you expect anything less? Visit the store to purchase!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

VIDEO: More outdoor video!

Hi folks, I'm on a quest to get some decent video of my lights in action. I'm very surprised at how hard it is...and I'm just filming with a little Sony digital camera. Anyway, here is the latest attempt. These light are astonishingly bright...and that's really hard to capture on film. We were up in Idaho last week, where it gets really (really) dark. Thought it might be a good opportunity to get some footage. What the camera fails to capture is the "spill" light that is around the center hot spot. There is a ton of spill that your eyes can see but the camera can't. Here it is!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WIN!: Tried to bust it...can't

I hosted an open house at my shop last night. A great crowd of my random friends and a bunch of folks from Candlepower Forums were in attendance. Part of the diversion for the evening was drop testing one of my lights. I'd never tried anything like this before soooooo...the day before I took one of my lights and gave it a private beating in an "attempt" to no look foolish in front of the crowd in case it busted on the first drop.

My Toyota 4Runner weighs in at 4,800 lbs,
 putting 1,200 lbs. of weight on this Alpha light.
Alpha light says, "meh." 
After throwing it around for a while I started to get bored and thought I'd try something different. They drive cars over products to prove they are tough right? Pre-test I gave this a 50% chance of success, 30% chance of significant damage, and a 20% chance of catastrophic failure.

Turns out it wasn't an issue at all; the Alpha didn't even flinch. It did not deform at all and the threads are good as new. The photo shows the full weight of my 4Runner on top of the flashlight. This tire is not touching the ground at all (see the daylight underneath) and is fully supported by just the flashlight. Win? Win!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I got featured on !

Everyday-carry is a site dedicated to...things you carry everyday. It was one of TIME's "top blogs of 2011" so it's pretty exciting to be featured there. Check it out!

This is "my" EDC
From "Everyday Carry, or EDC, generally refers to small items or gadgets worn, carried, or made available in pockets, holsters, or bags on a daily basis to manage common tasks or for use in unexpected situations or emergencies. In a broader sense, it is a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Variations on a theme

I've been playing around with some variations...partly to evolve the design, and partly experimenting with better thermal management. Several people have mentioned they would like something more complex and ornate. So, I'm starting to work with some different options. Of course more machining take more time...and costs more money. I can afford to add some complexity but not a lot.

Click for a larger view
At this stage I'm just trying things out...prototyping as we call it in the industry. A lot of people would sit down and "design" something on paper. In this case, I'm using aluminum as my "paper" because I tend to think better in three dimensions. I'd love any feedback or suggestions. Have an idea that you want to see me try out? Let me know and I'll do my best to make it happen!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Odd Job: Mission Motors

Hi folks, thought I would do a bit of a random post today. Before I started flashlights a few months ago I was doing custom fabrication work out of my shop. Mostly one-off things and mixed fabrication/project management. Say you need something designed, machined, welded, coated, and delivered's hard to find one shop that can do all of people come to me. I used to work for Mission Motors up in SF, and I still do the odd job for them from time to time.

parts and prints, always satisfying! 
A couple weeks ago they needed some bits for their race bike so I spent a couple days getting these together. This job was straight forward CNC and manual machining from their prints so it went pretty quick. The last big job I did for them was a set of display stands for SEMA. Read on after the jump to see the bike and the parts I made!

Monday, May 23, 2011

DTD: New prototype head...what do you think?

Hi folks,

I was playing around in the shop the other day and started some more complex machining on the head. These lights generate a fair amount of heat when run on "high" for extended period. Creating more surface area on the head is one way to reduce the heat build up. I've been dong a lot of empirical testing in my integrating sphere and the reason I finned this head was to see if I could get more lumens out of this light.

Like it? Hate it? Don't care? Comment! 
Just adding these fins gave me about 20 more lumens over the first three minutes of operation (the duration of my test). The difference between 500 and 520 lumens is not visible to the human eye, but if I can find several of these incremental efficiencies I might be able to get up around 600 OTF lumens. It's sort of like squeezing more horse power out of a Ferrari though. You can do it, but is it necessary? Probably not :)

More photos, less talk, after the jump....

Friday, May 20, 2011

"I Recommend": G-Wizard Calculator (for machinists)

If you couldn't tell by the title--Warning: machinist's content & business content (if you are a machinist) after the jump

Okay, I have a notebook with a list of things I think are AWESOME. Most of the time I forget to write things down on that list, but I have a few and thought I'd start sharing them on my blog. These things aren't necessarily flashlight related, but if they apply to you, they will change your life. Bold claim eh? But I'm serious. I'm going to call this segment, "I Recommend..." I can't think of a better product to start with that Bob Warfield's G-Wizard machining calculator. It's like having a master machinist in your back pocket. Normally that would be really uncomfortable...but not with G-Wizard. You should really stop reading this and download the trial from this link right: here.

A perfect example of what the internet should be used for
From time to time I have an ah-ha moment when things suddenly become clear. This little piece of incredibly sophisticated software brought me one of those moments. The quick story: machinist and software engineer (Bob Warfield) decided one day to take on a little pet project, and G-Wizard is the result. First, this is what the power of the internet is all about. Second, it's well designed. Third, it's something every machine shop should have...especially small ones. I'll tackle those points in order, after the read on!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Launched new version of my site

Hi folks,

Just wanted to let you know I launched a new version of my site today. Please let me know what you like, what you don't like, and if you find any bugs or bad links. Thanks for doing QC for me :)

One new change is to the way I name my lights. Figured it was better to change early than late. So, now this first design is henceforth, herewith, thereby knows as the Alpha Series. Within that series are several different LED available now...and one coming soon.

The current new LED option: Cree XML. About the same output in lumens but it has a brighter hot spot (more focused) and a bit longer range. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Father's Day Special: Ti Clip for $1.00 (with a light)

Looking for a gift for they guy that has everything? Look no further! 

Your Dad has been trying to illuminate you for years...return the favor. 
>> Offer is valid till June 19th or until this run sells out - quantities are limited (as always). <<

These clips will retail for $25 so you might as well get one while the gettin's good.

  1. pick a light 
  2. put the Ti clip in your basket and be amazed at the $1.00 price
  3. wait by the mail box
  4. install the battery (correctly) 
  5. wait for dark
  6. sit down (because of step 8) 
  7. turn on 
  8. swoon at the power you wield in the palm of your hand
  9. show friends
  10. get Dad a card when you decide to keep the light for yourself

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tentative warranty policy...your thoughts?

I think it's about time to establish a more formal warranty policy for my lights and I'd like your feedback before I post it to the store. Many people participated in my first warranty thread and I've incorporated some of your feedback, some things I've learned while building the lights, and other manufacturer's policies. I want to make it as simple as possible, plain English, no fine print. Here goes:

The content is after the jump...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Production Run #1 For Sale Now! (...also a few design changes)

Hi everyone,

I'm excited to announce that Production Run #1 is now for sale in the store! In this post I'll update you on the new features and changes. One of the most exciting is my custom titanium pocket clip. I designed it myself and had it waterjet cut, just up the road, at Keller Industries in San Carlos, CA.

Waterjet from .040" CP2 Titanium
You'll have to check out the store for more images of the clip attached to my lights. The good news is, you can remove/install it without any tools and it doesn't require permanent (and ugly) screw holes for attachment. Making this work (and accommodating the new switch) required a significant re-design of the tailcap. Highlights of the design changes:
  1. McClicky tailcap switch
  2. Provision for the "no-tools" Ti pocket clip
  3. Improved fit for all 18650 batteries (protected, unprotected, flat top, button top) 
  4. More LED/Driver options (subject of a separate post, so stay tuned)
  5. Serial numbers! 
More detailed info after the jump so read on...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cheryl's Question: Answered!

Cheryl said...

"Do you have any plans for a smaller single cell CR123 light that would be more adaptable for EDC? The MC18-B has many things that I look for in a light - great design and beautiful looks, high quality build, premium components and American made. However, the MC18-B is just too big for my liking. 

I'm thinking there may be a large customer base for a smaller light. Just for kicks and giggles (and a little market research), maybe you could run a poll to see if there is any interest. Anyhoo, I'm so glad to see you've had quite a few sales and things appear to be moving alone nicely. I wish you continued good luck."

Hi Cheryl, first of all, thanks for staying tuned! :) Another great question...the "123 quandary" as I like to call it. I've deliberately stayed away from 123 (battery size) lights because these are quite common. Several custom builders already focus exclusively on this size EDC (Every Day Carry) type of light. Eventually I'd like to make a smaller light. Maybe 123 size or maybe AA size. So far there aren't too many customs in the AA size. Of course a small light means less output and perhaps less run time as well.

the 18650 battery (left) is twice the size of the CR123 size (right) 
However, in the interest of market research, here is a poll:

Would you be more inclined to buy the MC18-B if it was physically smaller?

This is a very specific question. The question is not, "do you like the idea of a smaller light." I want to know (specifically) if the size of the MC18-B is an obstacle to your purchasing.

Here is a scale shot from the store (just in case you haven't seen it)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Integrating Sphere: up and running!

Woah, what is an integrating sphere!? Don't worry, it's not as fancy as it sounds. It's basically a doohickey that lets me take direct measurements of the lumen output of my lights. A lot of companies list the "laboratory rated" lumens of a light which is typically 25% higher than the lumens you actually get OTF (Out The Front). Only reputable companies actually measure the output of their lights. Less reputable companies just "make up whatever sounds good at the time." Really, I'n not kidding. If you want to hear a rant about that let me know. For now, back on topic.

In this shot the light is actually "on" 
Typically an integrating sphere is a multi-thousand dollar piece of lab equipment. The other alternative is home brew. Giant styrofoam ball, a lolly pop looking thing, a couple holes, and a high quality light mete...viola. It's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better than guessing. This sphere should be accurate to within +/- 5% of the actual output. The design is a tried-and-true method developed by several CPF members. It was nice not to re-invent the wheel (this time). More info after the jump!