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, April 30, 2012

Feedback on my website please

Hi all,

Now that my site has been up for a while and people have had a chance to use it a you have any suggestions on presentation of information, navigation, layout, pretty much anything? I'm considering doing V4 of the website and I'd love your feedback before I get started.

First question, should the landing page be the page below that allows you to select the store or the blog? I know most blogs link from inside the main site, but the blog content is pretty integral to what I'm doing and I want to make sure people see it.

Second: I'm also hoping to integrate a more sophisticated shopping cart, but one that can be embedded into my existing site and not a complete (template) replacement for my site. Ideally I'd like it to work just like PayPal where I can insert buttons where ever I want; again, not using a template. I'm not aware of anything like this so please let me know!

Third: On the other hand, my navigation is a little crazy...maybe I would be better served by a traditional shopping cart layout? My main problem is making the information now contained in "step 1" and "step 2" easily accessible to someone who is purchasing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tiny batch of Shorty bodies

Hi all,

I made up a hand full of shorty bodies with my last run and just getting around to posting them. Two stone washed, two blasted, and one brushed. I also have a complete stone washed shorty (see photo) available. The complete light is the same price as a regular Alpha. Shorty bodies are $50 each (plus shipping) and include a reducing sleeve for IMR CR123 batteries.

The ideal battery is an IMR 18350. Both are available from Lighthound, I do not sell this type of battery. Please note that you cannot use a single CR123 primary or a standard lithium ion battery; doing so is extremely dangerous. You MUST use an IMR battery. 

These bodies are intended for existing Alpha owners, or a new buyer that wants both the standard body and the shorty body. I know you are going to ask if you can order an Alpha and get the shorty body instead of the regular body. Sorry. Alphas are made as sets and I don't want to break them up.

These are not sold on my website so please email me directly if you'd like to purchase one:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ever seen 200 LEDs in the same place?

This is hardly worth a post but I'm scrambling for content :) I'm putting a little "somethin' somethin'" together and I needed 200 LEDs. I hope to have an announcement about that some time soon. In the mean time I had to buy everything I needed to make 200 complete lights.

200 pcs of 4500K (neutral white) Cree MCE LEDs! 
Some people ask why my lights are expensive and this is the largest single cost besides the actual machining. You are looking at $3,000 worth of LEDs. Doesn't look like much right? This is one of 22 components that goes into a complete Alpha. I guess it adds up :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

WIN: I modded the world's best flashlight switch

I should say right up front this is going to get pretty geeky. Like comparing two different types of springs geeky. Better buckle up. I was at a manufacturing trade show (better latch that tray table as well) and found a company called Smalley Steel Ring Co. They make some really interesting stuff...enter the wave spring. It's time to loose the conical battery contact spring and get with the wave spring. I'll be integrating these into my lights as soon as possible.

No flashlight should use anything else. So, when everyone starts doing this, you heard it here first :) This is henceforth known as the "Prometheus Spring!" Cue the music...or you can just check out my first prototype integration after the jump.

They even look cool right? Besides that, there are even more advantages over a standard conical spring. Here are the highlights:
  1. No sharp edges. A typical conical spring is really sharp where the last coil is cut off and that cuts into the thin metal on each end of the battery. Long term...not good. It also makes the light feel awful and "scratchy" when opening and closing. Right now I have to put a blob of solder on the PCB spring and the McClicky switch spring to prevent them from destroying the batteries.  
  2. Distributed contact area: Each wave spring will contact the battery at the crest of each wave...typically 4 different places. A conical (or coil) spring only has one point of contact. Multiple contact points distribute the load generated when the light suffers shock...for example, when dropped. Every effort should be made to protect li-ion batteries from physical damage. 
  3. Shorter current path. In a typical spring the current must pass along the entire length of the spring, as if it were a straight wire. More distance equals more resistance, and resistance is bad. As you can see in the photo above, each crest touches a trough, making the current path incredibly short.
If you made it this far you might as well read on after the jump. More photos! You like photos right?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Can't leave well enough alone

So I bought a new today: a combination belt/disc sander. Woohoo right? I'm not normally a fan of combo tools. It's like a Swiss army knife: good for some, great for none. In this case, that's just what I was looking for. Nothing hard core, just a little something to help take the edge off. I don't know if you were paying attention but that was a tool pun.

Anyway, those of you that know me, know that I have an obsessive compulsion to modify and customize things. As I was assembling my new sander I spotted a 3L sized V belt on the machine. A deformed and pathetic one at that. Fortunately I remembered I had some high performance 3L Fenner link belt just lying around. No really. That's one of the advantages of being a hoarder. You just have stuff lying around.

If you are wondering, I'm blabbering on about the bright red pulley belt in the photo. Enjoy!

For those that care: a Rikon 1x42 belt + 8" disc sander from Woodcraft. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Help me with an instruction sheet!

Hi folks, so one thing I've been messing around with is an instruction sheet. One of those dozen little things that takes some cents out of my pocket but I think it will be both helpful and a nice touch. I'm having it printed, double sided, on post card stock. Please take a look and let me know what you think. Clarity, content, typos, whatever. I'd like to get some printed up sooner than later so please take a sec and comment!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Zipper Pulls V2 (Titanium boyyyyyye)

Okay so I was feeling a little frisky in the shop the other day. I ordered a 12" chunk of commercially pure titanium and decided to turn the whole thing into a bunch of zipper pulls. All of this was done on my Hardinge HLV-H manual lathe. No fancy computer stuff here, just old school handle crankin'.

Clean as...well, you come up with something
My friend Wilson looked at my first prototype and suggested I come up with some way to hide the knot. After some reflection I decided that was (1) a good idea and (2) perhaps even possible. This is what I came up with. The bottom of the pull has to be flat, instead of rounded, but I'm happy with the well balanced result.

So dear public, is this something you'd be interested in owning? Let's not talk about price yet...but keep in mind titanium is ridiculously expensive. I think these are awesome for adding a little custom touch to any mass produced garment, messenger bag, flashlight, pocket knife, camera bag, key chain, whatevs. I also think they would make awesome gifts that are unusual and classy (remember, it's titanium). Dear public, what say you?

Read on after the jump for more photos and explanation!