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!

Friday, January 21, 2011

More prototype images

Everyone likes pictures right? The first prototype for this style light (this post) was revised three or four times, but that process became tedious and didn't allow me to do any side by side comparisons. About a month ago I made up a batch of six identical chassis to test two different LED's and a variety of optics.

Three of the lights are all aluminum and three have brass heads. The brass ads a lot of weight, expense, and steam-punk factor. Anyone like the brass? In practice, people fall into two camps:
  1. The brass makes it way too heavy.
  2. The brass gives it a nice solid weight.
Perhaps the subject of a future poll? In the meantime, feel free to comment on whether you are the "nice and light" type or the "like some swing weight" type. Without further ado.

The surface of these lights are all in an unfinished state, straight off the lathe.
Only four of the six made it into this photo shoot. I didn't have a specific "design" in mind, just playing with different types of grooving tools that I have.  At some point I hope to get around to making samples finished with bead blasting, brushing, polishing, or maybe combinations of different surface finishes. 

More photos after the jump!

Asphric lens (left), Ledil Boom reflector (right)

These are the two optics I'll be focusing on to start out with. The aspheric produces a concentrated beam with more throw (distance). The reflector produces a wide and smooth flood with an area of higher concentration in the center. Click here for my post with a more in depth comparison.

The Cree MCE LED is about 5mm square, large for LED emitters.
It's actually 4 smaller emitters combined into one.
This LED is being driven at 2.8 amps (quite high) and this generates heat. Not as much heat as an incandescent, but this is about the maximum practical power for a light this size. When the light is run continuously on high, the body will become noticeably warm. However, this is not a defect, nor is it a problem. The thermal mass of the head is sufficient to dissipate the heat and prevent damage to the LED.

The aspheric lens magnifies the LED but it's the same Cree MCE
The aspheric works like the lens in a slide projector. Remember slide projectors? The aspheric actually projects an image of the LED die (at a given focal distance) just like you would project an image of a slide. Therefore the relative brightness of the light is equal to the surface brightness of the LED.

Square bottom grooves

Radius grooves

Tailcaps in black, orange, and glow-in-the-dark green will be available
The rubber tailcap switch is recessed into the tail of the light to prevent accidental activation and so the light can "tail stand" other words...stand on its tail. Some people call this candle mode.

Basic components: head, body, tailcap
It sure looks a lot simpler than it is! You can see the circuit board inside the bottom of the head (on the left). There is a significant DIY market for flashlights (believe it or not) and I purchase the boards as a retail product. At some point I'd love to have enough volume to justify custom boards, but at the moment I'm restricted to what's on the retail market. These meet my needs really well, but some people have been asking about tricky "user interface" type features that would require significant engineering.


  1. Looks very nicely crafted, even unfinished. I am definitely the Brass type! :)Adds a bit more mass, contrast and texture to a small design. I don't mind the slight increase in weight. Should feel good in your hand.

  2. Cheryl (sassaquin on CPF)February 9, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    The "radius grooves" has smooth beautiful lines that flow just right. I am not fond of the big brass head as it adds too much contrast. Maybe just a line or two of brass somewhere would add a little pop without over doing it. Overall, I wish the light was a bit smaller (around 4 inches) with cr123 batteries for better EDC.