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!