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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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Comparing LED color temperatures

So when you look at a data sheet and order a 4500K LED you know what you are getting right? Right? Wrong. With respect to LED bins, tints, and output specs we research a world of absolutes but we live in world of ambiguity. I took the photo below to illustrate the point. The same color temperature in different model LEDs looks different.

LEFT (MCE 6500K & 4500K) / RIGHT (XML 6500K & 4500K)
On the left is the Cree MCE in 6500K and 4500K. On the right is the Cree XML in 6500K and 4500K. I don't care what the data sheet says because the look different and that's all that counts. I don't bring this up to say it's bad in any way, I just mean that we should be aware that these sorts of things are not at all absolute. There are a lot of variables that go into the appearance of LED light. We haven't talked about tint for example. But my point is that you shouldn't expect to different models of LED, with the same specs on paper, to appear the same to your eyes in real life.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Prometheus "Writes": Montblanc style

Okay, so I haven't been posting much because I've been busy coming up with more awesome. I've been wanting to do this project for years but just never got around to it. I've you've never used a Montblanc, it's writing nirvana. I mean the cartridge, not the pens themselves. Considering a Montblanc starts at about $350 and goes to well over a grand, most people have never used one. I bought a good friend a Montblanc when they graduated from law school and I took it for a test drive before handing it over. I was astonished and I've used nearly every pen on earth.
The Mont-Alpha ? 
The prototype in the photo is armed with the Montblanc "FineLiner" which refers not to a cosmetic product, but to a fiber-tip ink cartridge. It's kind of like a felt tip, but it's firm and doesn't wear down and get fat like felt pens. However, you can control the line weight like with a fountain pen, and it writes just as smooth and dries immediately. For you traditionalists they also make a liquid-ink ball point cartridge that is interchangeable. The FineLiner comes in blue and black, while the RollerBall comes in a host of colors.

A brass button head screw
This prototype is raw, un-plated aluminum with a "machined" finish. This is how it looks right off the lathe, no sanding or polishing or anything like that. I plan to offer a nickel plated (to match my lights) and (drum roll) a titanium version as well!

The cap screws on and uses the titanium clip that I make for the Peak Eiger flashlight, with a slightly shorter bend at the shoulder. Blue fluorosilicone o-rings provide a nice grip surface. Soft but positive. Since the photo was taken I've added a 5th ring closer to the tip of the pen. The "styling" is up in the air and just what ended up with after a frenzy of machining. The production version may (or may not) look similar. Whatever the case, it will be a full-size pen with a screw cap and accept either the Montblanc FineLiner or RollerBall refill. The refills cost about $7-$8 each.

Any interest? :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Joby, meet Alpha. Alpha, meet Joby.

I've been fooling around with some "other' ideas about what you can do with a light. One drawback to flashlights is that you have to hold them in your hands. Joby even makes their own line of lights that mount to their tripods...but they are...wimpy. I wanted power, anywhere, anytime. So, I headed over to the CNC mill and made myself a set of three mounts. These are prototypes so I just hacked them out in an afternoon.

The cool thing about this particular tripod is the little red feet are magnetic, increasing the versatility even more. It's amazing for automotive work.

Time to start putting light where I need it
Most people think headlamps are the solution to hands free personal lighting, but I think for the most part, they suck. Don't get me wrong, I have 4 headlamps and they have their purpose...last resort lighting. My most frequent use is a tiny Black Diamond light that I wear around my neck when I'm in camp. Oh but you need to "work on something" and have your hands free right. Ever notice how having the light close to your line of sight is guaranteed to make your hands cast shadows on your work-space instead of actually lighting it?

Friday, July 27, 2012

"field testing" the Alpha

This actually has no real point, but that won't stop me. I was out doing some beam shots a while back and decided some horsing around was in order. I flipped the video camera on and started hurling some Alphas in the dark. I probably enjoyed it more than you will...hope you still watch :) Oh and yes, it's on grass so no real danger to the lights.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For Sale: EL USB charging cables

This is my latest installment in my mission to bring you more awesome. This USB cable has moving Electroluminescent lights that slow down as your charge nears completion and turns off when your device is full. You can tell when your charge is done from across the room! Who really cares though, when you can just sit in the dark and stare at the thing. You can buy them from my website through this link. There are three versions available. All have Standard USB on one end. The others have Mini USB, Micro USB, and iPhone/iPad. The Apple version is white. I only have 20 of each so don't dilly dally. Price is $25 and includes free shipping via USPS first class mail. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The ultimate home toolkit

I was recently tasked with putting together a home tool kit from scratch. I have a shop full of about every tool you can imagine, but at home, a cobbled together mish mash of tools collected from childhood, from my father, from high school, college, that one time I decided to change my own spark plugs. You get the idea. So, this time it was pretty fun that I had free license to choose the tools I wanted and an hour to kill at Home Depot.

25 must have tools for the home repairman
(and woman, just don't make me say repairperson)
I picked out this kit with the 80/20 rule in will work for 80% of home fix-it situations. The other 20%? Well, you know that's how tools multiply :) So, you'll see that I haven't cheaped out. This set will set you back about $400 bones and you won't find a Leatherman in the group. A friend once said about the Swiss Army Knife: Good for some, great for none. One thing I've learned tinkering throughout my life, at machining school, in a hot rod shop, and two special effects shops...good tools never let you down, bad tools always do. They waste time and time is money. You don't want to waste money do you? 

Read on after the jump if you want to hear me babble on about what I picked out :)