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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Questions!?

Have a question? Want an answer? 
Just add it to the comment field here and I'll answer it in a blog post! 
Anything is game so don't be shy. Okay...go! 

35 comments:

  1. Was talking to Kingston tonight... he wants to get a flashlight for testing. Wanted to know how long the batteries last in the different power modes.

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  2. How long do the batteries last in the Cold? How long do they take to charge?

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  3. What is the difference between LED and HID?

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  4. Is there a way to get the metal casing of the flashlight to operate as the actual battery? No battery per se, just a rechargeable casing.

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  5. How is this more than just some batteries, an LED, and a switch stuck in a fancy housing? Now's your chance to talk about Lithium-Ion battery charging/balancing, constant-current LED drivers, brightness modes, etc!

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  6. Okay... Yes, I do want a bad-ass flashlight... but what I really need, is ground-effects for night walking/night riding... I don't want to look like a dweeb, or a gear queer... Ideas?

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  7. PS... Dark does suck. My question is... is "focused beam" the way to tackle the suckiness. Maybe "make a 5 foot diameter around me feel like the day"... Just a thought.

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  8. You are walking at night in the woods along a path. You hear a noise. A rustling in the bush. You shine your trusty DarkSucks flashlight in the direction of the noise, illuminating your worst nightmare. The last thing on Earth you'd ever want to encounter in this situation. It's a _________?

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  9. Jason, What do you see as the "opportunity space" in this (lighting) market? Both in terms of "un-met user needs" and emerging "technological affordances" that are expanding the bounds of the possible?
    It looks like you are pushing into both these areas. If you had greater resources, what additional capabilities would you like to have so you could develop further into the leading edge of this space?
    BTW - don't answer if this would compromise your competitive position.
    ;-)

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  10. Who is your customer? Or customers? Have you profiled/interviewed the type of person you imagine using your product?

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  11. What are your adjacent markets? Do you plan on only doing flashlights even a few years out? Will you be expanding into other markets like theatre lighting?

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  12. What is the origin of the term "shed some light"? Seems to me that a shed would be a terrible mental image for a structure that would, uh...shed light. Perhaps "mansion some light" or "power plant some light".

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  13. How much are they?

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  14. Kendall the CarpentryHeroFebruary 7, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    Will you make your flashlights with an upgradeable, replaceable Pill like a better version of the P60 and host idea. An upgradeable light even if I'm mailing it in for the upgrade ;-) ?

    From Kendall Lumsden, CPF name of Carpentry Hero

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  15. In your "DtD Update: surprising success!" post, the shot is the head, right? Does the head and the tailcap screw off?
    I'm interested in your heatsinking. The driver is on a copper "pole" of sorts, which isolates the driver, and will concentrate heat, and how is the heatsink for the LED itself? I see you are using 7135 linear drivers-how many? If a user decides to use 2xCR123s or RCRs, the 7135s will be putting out over 5 watts of heat!
    -CPF name:srfreddy

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  16. With all due respect, since new improved LEDs seem to be appearing faster than ever, why would you expect your customers to pony up more than $200 for a soon-to-be underpowered antique?

    CPF name: bob4apple

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  17. Won't it be worth even more when it's an antique?

    Sorry, just had to run with that! I'll get around to a more serious answer at some point so don't forget to check back!

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  18. Besides the mechanical aspect of light making, are you considering getting into or partnering with someone who can program to make the UI? I mean, the UI is really important nowadays.

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  19. LED technology has plateaued recently. Until someone comes out with a higher surface brightness and LED than Cree's FIRST power led and decent efficiency, there is no clear "best" LED.
    -srfreddy

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  20. One of my concerns is dependabiity, warranty and repair. Seeing that this is your first attempt at custom flashlight building, what assurances would we have that these light will perform as advertised? Being a one-man operation, I can forsee the possibility of you being overwhelmed if things don't go as planned. After reading your resume and accomplishments, I am quite impressed and have great confindence in your abilities. However, this endeavour of yours is monsterous and I would want a guarantee of the light's performance before I purchased.

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  21. How many of these will you be making before you retool/progran and offer a second piece? What do you have in mind? Maybe a flex-head torch for increasing the range of usability? Or maybe an item completely remote from the first flashlights utilizing your skills?
    How will you be marketing these works-of-art?

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  22. I'm following your progress with great interest. I hope to start limited production of a product of my own design later this year (in a totally different field), and I find that I'm going through thought processes and prototype development activities that are similar to yours in many ways.

    My question is, how are you keeping track of all of the automated machining operations as well as manual operations, jigs and fixtures and setup steps, bill of materials, tooling requirements and most efficient order of operations, labor and materials budgets, and the like so that you will be able to do things such as: properly price your end products while accounting for and allocating all of your costs (so that you are not operating at a loss or break-even), making sure that you can remember how to replicate the work that you've done with one batch on subsequent production runs (so that you don't have to 'reinvent the wheel'), figuring out what operations are most "expensive" in time or effort or materials so that you can simplify or improve them, keeping track of suppliers and placing orders with sufficient lead times while optimizing economic order quantities, and so on.

    My first anticipated product development is an order of magnitude less complicated than your flashlight prototypes, yet issues such as those are becoming increasingly important to me as I go down the product creation path... A "real" company has standard procedures and departments and systems and lots of people to handle all of those details, but a one-man shop needs to have a more straightforward and simple way to bring order to the universe.

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  23. Hey all, sorry for the back log of questions. I'm trying to catch up but not post a ton of "answer" posts all at the same time (booooring) so keep 'em coming! I'll get caught up eventually.

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  24. wantsusa (K North Bay)February 23, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    So as development of 3D printing gets better and cheaper, especially with materials like titanium which sound like they are strong enough printed for production parts, do you believe that soon someone will be producing printed runs of flashlights for specialty? With the precision of titanium and if they get the ability to print titanium with say abs like plastic for isolation of circuits/qtcs/etc the ability to create truly one of a kind or super rare runs of flashlights that are stylish enough to wear as jewelry. Do you think this is only a few years out or still a ways away?

    I think it it becomes possible, you might see a double helix from a small battery compartment go to a stylized LED head in something like a 38DD (by Steve Ku) since it you are able to print a permanent isolated wire inside the positive helix side, it could end up as a lovely useful necklace with even spots for gems that the super rich might go for as evening wear.

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  25. Lol whats up with the massive head for that triple on the top of your page?
    -srfreddy

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  26. Do you have any plans for a smaller single cell cr123 light that would be more adaptable for EDC? The MC18-B has many things that I look for in a light - great design and beautiful looks, high quality build, premium components and American made. However, the MC18-B is just too big for my liking. I'm thinking there may be a large customer base for a smaller light. Just for kicks and giggles (and a little market research), maybe you could run a poll to see if there is any interest.
    Anyhoo, I'm so glad to see you've had quite a few sales and things appear to be moving alone nicely. I wish you continued good luck.

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  27. This is just a though but.... would you consider doing a "all in one light" such as hds UI, moddoolar/dereelight modular capability, 18650/rcr123/18350/26650 battery tubes, aspheric lens such as DEFT. All of this in a modular set up would be an amazing light in my opinion.

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  28. What makes your flashlight stand apart from other in the "high-performance" category? I have lights made by Streamlight, Innova, Pelican and of course Mag and they all perform superbly at a cost far below half of what your ready made unit goes for. How can I justify the purchase of a basic Alpha?

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  29. Also, as I now notice the previous message dated 2011, are you even in business?

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  30. Hello......I have sent a couple emails with no response, so I thought I would try here. How can I get in touch with you?
    Thanks.....

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  31. G'day from Australia love your lights and just tried to purchase an alpha ready made on your website but it says they're out of stock. I'm itchin' to get one do you have an estimate on when they will be available again?
    Cheers.

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  32. I have one of your Beta-QR flashlights and I'm looking to get a couple of the keychain connector. was this part an off-the-shelf item or was it make just for this Beta-QR?
    I've tried a couple of quick release keychains I already have but they don't fit I'm hoping you can point me to a source.

    Thanks
    Jerry

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  33. What kind of mobile coffee mug do you use? I am shopping for one but I am not 100% on ANY of the mugs I have seen for sale. I like your attention to detail and I suspect you use a good one.

    THANKS!
    --Dan

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  34. Copper Beta QR still on track to ship early Sept?

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  35. What is your stance on filter adapters?

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