Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Path of Light: Custom Lights/High-End Flashlights

Prometheus Lights Alpha MC18-B Flashlight & Prometheus Alpha 'Shorty'

Handcrafted Custom Flashlight by "Dark Sucks" Jason Hui

This is not an in-depth review, but more of a presentation of this functional piece of art. Lovingly hand-made to a very high standard in Mountain View, CA. USA


Overbuilt, over-engineered by a perfectionist "Machinist with an MBA" in every aspect you can think of.

Get one here.

Finnish Ledil Boom MC-S faceted reflector; Angle = FWHM 20°. Perfect match for the MC-E quad-die LED, makes for a very creamy beam profile - perfect for a floody, 'wall of light'.
Cree MC-E flux bin "M"; Tint Bin "WD" 5700K Cool Daylight White. 3-levels of output (100%, 30%, 5%), regulated & with memory. Mine was officially rated at 519 lumens on High, 155 lumens on Med, 25 lumens on Low. YMMV.

Ultra Clear Lens (UCL) with two-sided Anti-Reflective coatings (that's why you can't see the glass. Military-grade blue fluorosilicone O-rings throughout, sets this flashlight apart.

The light's body is made of 6061-T6 aerospace-grade aluminum alloy; Full-brushed finishing with Electroless Nickel plating (Rockwell Hardness: 48-50 Rc); Custom letter stamped with Infinity Stamps

Flame-blued Titanium pocket clip

Three tritium slots affixed with 1.5mm X 5mm ice-blue tritium vials in each. Trits glow by themselves, good for 25 years. Other than making the light easier to be located in the dark, trits are a cool factor.

Dimensions: 1.2" x 5.75", body diameter: 1"; Size comparison: AW 18650 cell, AW IMR 18350, Prometheus Alpha 'Shorty' tube, CR123A primary lithium battery, Maglite Mini Pro+

Fooling around..

The famous McClicky "forward" click switch. Removable Ti clip.

Size comparison. The Prometheus Alpha is more on the heavy side, but it's the good kind of heavy, as it feels remarkably solid in the hand. The Prometheus Alpha Shorty on the other hand, makes for a good EDC flashlight, and with its heft in its compact body, it feels really nice in the hand.

Size comparison of the Alpha Shorty with a SureFire 6PX Tactical.

Okay, this is a Ti 'zipper pull' also made by Jason Hui, attached via 2mm cordage and I did a simple cobra stitch weave with it. I always attach a lanyard, or any other retention method to my flashlights.

Alpha Shorty runs on AW IMR 18350. Same lumens, shorter runtimes.

Hey whadya know? It fits!

It's very hard to catch the glow in the dark without 'proper' camera & equipment. This is taken with the iPhone4 camera so the trits appear dimmer that it really is.

Picture doesn't do this justice..not by a long mile. Since I can't take long-exposure shots some ambient light was still needed, so the glow didn't appear as bright as in real-life.

I have owned many high-end lights, and I am proud to report that the Alpha Series by Prometheus Lights is really on par with the offerings of other well-known custom flashlight makers and modders. To collectors, the light will fit right at home, and for those who uses (and abuses) flashlights need not to fear as the Alpha is over-built, and over-engineered in every aspect you can think of, and in aspects that you never had thought of. The level of attention paid to the immaculate details really show from the inside to the outside, and I do not doubt of its capability to amaze and I would not be surprised if the Alpha lasts for generations. This flashlight will not let you down.

The hefty price tag is hard to be justified by those who do not share the appreciation towards precision, quality, and art. Those who do invest in procuring such high-end product however, will enjoy knowing full well that it is a far more responsible investment to own an illumination tool that symbolizes a unique representation of a philosophy of use. To me, the fact that my Alpha was lovingly crafted from the start to the finish from one set of hands also makes it special. Think of it this way - if you put this much thought and consideration for a 'mere' illumination device, what about the other things in life? Who knows that one can after all, be measured by the littlest of all things.

"Overbuilt, over-engineered by a perfectionist in every aspect you can think of." - Rez

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Path of Light

It seems like it was just yesterday that I dream to own a SureFire. I kept drooling at a G2 Nitrolon basking proudly in a display case at Ace, and how I swear to myself that I will starve just to own one.

John Q. Public would raise a concerned eyebrow looking at the price tag for SureFire's offering of excellent illumination tools, because even the cheapest offering starts with a triple-digit-MYR, and the first most digit is not "1".

"Why the heck would you want to spend that much on a friggin' flashlight?"

That's the question I get asked the most. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass about what you think - because collecting flashlight is a hobby of mine. A practical hobby, if I may say so myself.

Not just any flashlight though.

I have strict and very specific requirements for a flashlight. To sum it all up: it must be able to project some considerable lumens, and it must be somewhat rugged. Waterproof, and a reliable tool that I can rely on in a post-apocalyptic world after TEOFWAWKI.

If I'm able to beat a nail into a plank with it, I'll consider that as a bonus - but people invent a hammer for a reason. Realistically, I'm set if I can bash your meaty head with it, not that I want to of course, but if situation calls for it, then..just sayin'.

What I'm trying to say is, why won't anybody carry a flashlight with them? Not necessarily these compact, tactical super-bright LED lights, but at least some sort of illumination. Good grief, I can hear you thinking "I got Flashlite app on my phone!"

I give up.

Anyway, I digress. Let's just say that I have a passion for outstandingly made flashlight that I can rely on. By this I mean that the light will fire whenever I hit the button, and fire brightly. It will be waterproof and tough enough to be abused.

I am terribly biased towards flashlight from American companies i.e. MAGLites from Mag Instruments, Pelican lights, SureFire, and FourSevens. These companies stand by their product and I have personally experience first-class after-sales service by them. Each time, everytime. Sadly though, quality doesn't come cheap. So, fast-forward a couple of years and two jobs later, I have amassed a considerable amount of flashlights from the abovesaid manufacturer. I have lost count on SureFire's product that I've purchased, and Average Joes and Plain Janes that was bitten a little by the Flashaholic bug would be more than happy at this stage.

Too bad it wasn't like that in my case. Just too bad.

I have discovered the 'upper-levels' that one can ascend whilst traversing this Path of Light:

Custom Lights

I have grown to love some hand-made lights crafted out of exotic materials. I love Titanium! Don McLeish is legendary with his McGizmo Ti lights (The McGizmo Haiku is just to die for!). I will definitely get my hands on one of them, as well as on a 38DD - the flashlight model, but I won't refuse the other kind - by Steve Ku, yet another outstanding designer in the flashlight realm.

However, upgrading anything is best done step-by-step. In the very near future, I will get a flashlight by Prometheus Lights, hand-crafted to a higher-standard by Jason in California. This is a good 'starter' for my high-end light cuisine. I can't speak highly of him enough. Don't be like me - just go to his site and get one of his lights. It will most probably the last flashlight you'll ever need.

Ahh..choices. Money, where art thou?

Well, I think this post pretty much could be simplified by saying:

"I'm a Flashaholic!"

Thanks for reading!

Malkoff M61 and VME Head

My upgrades will first start with getting a few goodies from yet another red-white-and-blue-blooded Yank by the name of Malkoff. Gene Malkoff.

With his wife, Cathy, Gene owns a family-run business famously creating drop-ins. A drop-in is a lingo that means Gene creates a 'light engine' that is designed as a direct replacement for an existing light engine of a 'host'. The host in question is SureFire flashlight bodies.

The original light engine series is called the 'P60' among flashlight enthusiasts, and Malkoff Devices creates one of the best drop-in in this class. I was lucky enough to get an M61 LED light engine for my SureFire C2 Centurion to replace the stock incandescent P60 lamp module. In the order, I also threw in another coveted item among enthusiasts - the VME head.

The VME head is a collaboration between Valiant Concepts and
Malkoff Devices to produce a head that is SureFire E-Series compatible to host a Malkoff M-Series drop-ins. Since I will be using this M61 in my C2 Centurion, I will get another M-Series drop-in and one of their 2x AA bodies to effectively create another flashlight.

In the mean time, let me present to you the M61 and the VME head.

CR123A battery for size comparison.

VME head disassembled - Lower body, upper body, rubber weather-sealing gaskets, shatterproof polycarbonate window.

Malkoff Devices M61 Module - Exerp from the website:

"This is the Malkoff Devices P60 style dropin with solid brass heatsink construction.This design utilizes a custom orange peel reflector designed by Don McLeish.The reflector offers a very nice balance between throw and spill. It is an outstanding room lighter and short to medium spotter. It was designed specifically for use in Malkoff MD2, Elzetta ZFL-M60, and SureFire 6P, 6Z, C2, M2 and G2 flashlights. It may or may not fit other models. The input voltage is 3.4 - 9 volts. Below 3.4 volts it will drop out of regulation and run direct drive. The output is approximately 260 measured out the front lumens. The current draw is only 650ma at 6 volts. The full output runtime is approximately 2 hours on two CR123 primary batteries with a nice long taper as voltage drops. It will easily illuminate objects at 350+ feet and will blind opponents within a 100 foot radius. The LED is a Cree XP-G."

Business End.
Sealed Unit.
Machining is top-notch!

To install:

Step 1: Place the M-Series module onto the lower body.

Step 2: Place the gasket inside the upper body, on the inside.

Step 3: Carefully place the window onto the module. Don't touch the reflector, the lens, and the LED emitter. Screw the upper body onto the lower body to complete the unit.

Awesome combo!

The VME head is Hard Anodized (HA) a.k.a. Type III (mil-spec) anodized. The color is a rather muted black, but not as matte as the SureFire body.

Overall, I am perfectly happy with this purchase, as it allows further options for my SureFire lights.

Options are always good, right?

Thanks for watchin'!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Chilling Falls

I love adventures!

I love the sense of expedition - to explore and see what I've never been to and experience before. That is why you will see me so into adventuring, outdoor-sy gears.

This time we picked a waterfall - the Chilling Falls in Kuala Kubu Baru. It is about an hour plus drive along trunk roads from the City.

It was very fortunate that the rain has pretty much poured the whole day yesterday, so on this day the weather is very favorable. Along the way, we passed by a dam.

When we arrived, it was about mid-morning. However there were already many cars that parked along the road. We joined the queue.

Once everything is set, we walked 5 minutes to the registration hut at the Base Camp.

Registration is compulsory and the admission is RM1. At Base Camp, there's a campsite and it is downriver. This is the only place where one is allowed to pitch a tent or light a campfire.

The 'gateway' is actually a suspension cable bridge.

Only four is allowed at a time to cross.

We were set to claim the topmost falls, at the very peak. To get there, we have to hike for more than an hour.

Throughout the hike, we followed a trail that follows the terrain - not cut through it. That means that we trod on beaten path made by hikers before.

There were no paved steps and man-made railings, but a trail that made us duck under dead trees, climb over giant rocks, and wade through rivers.

Chilling Falls has many tiered falls, and the rivers that we crossed were actually the run-offs from one fall and feeds the fall below.

The rivers are actually waist-deep, and the current is quite strong. Waterfalls are known to have slippery submerged rocks that can trip one over, and the current will drag you along the rapids and off over the fall itself.

Thus, necessitating a human-chain bridge.

The hike gets harder as the altitude rose. The trail gets less-beaten as most hikers chose not to proceed beyond the Fourth Crossing.

I'll say that they opted out for a good reason.

It was an absolute PAIN to reach the topmost falls.

We had to climb on sheer terrain about 100 feet tall, and it was the most dangerous part of the hike to the top. At this point, the group broke into two, separated by our most portly member.

The other half has to cheer, and help the person on. I swore the person begged to be thrown off the cliff as the person could not take the climb anymore - or maybe because Alex has been persistently when he drilled the fact that this person was severely overweight for this excursion.

Maybe that was it. All I hear was Alex pestering this person to put one foot on that rock, another on that root, stop eating greasy fatty foods, grab that vine, go for more cardio, watch out for that loose rock, stop eating, don't look below, etc. ...

Soon, we got a peak at the Top Falls.

Alas, our expedition has reached its goal. We have arrived at the topmost falls!

It was a grueling trek as most of us were regular urbanites - city folks that venture into our concrete jungles. We're also not in the best shape as well for adventuring, but we worked as a team.

Even the weakest link on our chain has successfully made it, and we're quite proud of that. Thankfully nothing major happened, although I have managed to grab a member that's about to fall to certain death when the person slipped.

All in all, it was the best adventure this group has had thus far.

And it won't be the last!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Custom Bushcrafting Knife & Kit

Simon a.k.a. Landroza has done it again.

Apparently after tedious and meticulous hours of crafting, Simon has unveiled his latest pride and joy to me for review - a fully-custom and one-of-a-kind bushcrafting knife that's ready to take on the wilds.

I remembered going with him to a bladesmith to forge out the blade for this project knife. Simon then sculpted the handle from a very special wood - Raja Kayu (literally means King of Wood) - that is revered among some circle of superstitious bushmen.

The sheath is modular, and features a pouch to store a sharpening stone, and slot for the firesteel. Wrapping the whole system with some length of 550 paracord would prove invaluable in times of need, and presents itself as a method of lashing or fastening via the retention holes built onto the sheath. Hardware used are brass studs and Chicago screws.

Lots of work has been invested in the creation of the perfect fitting sheath from hi-quality leather.

A clever feature that I'm highlighting is the retention system for the strap. Once the snap button are popped, the elastic string draws the strap open and away for fast deployment.

Ironically, the end products looks to good to be deployed but Simon ensures that this is no cupboard queen - it will serve its intended purpose well and earn its status as an object that inspires assurance as a survival piece.

After all, the knife is the earliest form of tool created by ancient modern humans, and it is a icon that symbolizes the onset of the age of modern man.

Another job well done Simon!