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!

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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!