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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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!


The tritium vials are installed with an optical-grade adhesive, normally used for joining things like lenses in microscopes, cameras, and telescopes. It hardens when exposed to UV light. So, I have a small UV flashlight that I use to "set" the adhesive, but to harden it I leave it out in the sun for about 45 minutes. That means it takes about 3 hours to install the three tiny vials. I also think it's pretty cool that I need the direct power of the sun to make a flashlight :) Quite appropriate.

Each vial is only 1.5mm x 5mm
I machined 3 tiny slots around the circumference of the tailcap, 120 degrees apart. It looks simple, but it took me nearly two full days to get everything dialed in perfectly. When you are working with small features, every tiny misalignment gets magnified. 

Up close and personal with tritium (10 second exposure) 
If you click on this image and take a look at the zoomed photo you can see the tool marks on the bottom of the slot. Pretty cool huh? One of the most difficult parts was getting a .0100" chamfer around the edge of the pocket. That's a little thicker than a 3 sheets of printer paper. 

10 second exposure was used to capture the very faint glow
Cool right? Since they are spaced 120 degrees apart it's a little hard to get two of them into the shot. The glow is incredibly faint...quite a bit dimmer than it looks here. But...if you are in a pitch dark room (or cave) or whatever...the tiny glow is plenty to locate your light. This particular color is "ice blue." You can also get tritium in a variety of colors. 

7 comments:

  1. I want a nuclear flashlight!

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  2. Gorgeous .... patience pays off!

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  3. Congratulations! Getting better and better! Great work!

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  4. Damn!!!!I was going to order one of your lights. Now I think I want a custom one off...That light is bad ass!!!!!

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  5. Thanks for all the comments! It was hard to send this one off to its new owner :)

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