Saturday, 25 July 2009

UK Aquasun eLED Review

UK AQUASUN Eled TORCH>>>> Diving equipment is evolving at an ever increasing speed, generally>> pushed on by advances in technical diving. Dive torches are no>> exception, on dive boats now it¹s not uncommon to see only umbilical>> style torches in use. Materials used have changed from plastics to>> aluminium and derlin and power outputs have gone off the chart, making>> good use of improved battery technology. Bulbs have also changed,>> should the discerning diver go HID or LED??? That debate will burn for>> some time (pun intended) but my opinion is the LED is the better path>> to follow. One thing is certain though as the dive torch has evolved>> the price has gone up up up. The Underwater kinetics (UK) UK D4R, which>> has been a firm favourite with sport divers is still available but for>> those divers wishing a bit more candle power in their dive bag>> underwater Kinetics have produced the Aquasun eLED. I had the chance to>> test this torch just after I completed using the Halcyon Explorer 21w.>> This is how I got on->>>> First impressions- well this torch is Bright YELLOW, this is said to be>> for safety reasons? but you can also get it in black. It¹s slightly>> smaller than the UK D4 and it has a strange attachment at its front>> end. I found out that this was a heat sink. This device is stated to>> provide a 100% increase in light efficiency by using water to cool the>> two high intensity LED's via the heat sink. So when used in water this>> torch burns twice as bright as it does in air. Electronics ensure that>> the LED's do not overheat when used in air. So in relation to the light>> output it¹s great, producing a whopping 825 lumens of light. The light>> given by this torch is very even and bright. The reflector merges the>> light from the two led¹s into single powerful beam. There is no hotspot>> and halo, the Aquasun produces a nice cone of even powerful light. I>> would say the beam angle of this light is just right not being too>> wide, which can cause problems with flare in bad vis. This light won¹t>> penetrate as far as the Halcyon torch with its beam focused tight but>> hey the Aquasun is £1000 cheaper. So as for beam angel and light output>> I think the Aquasun has got it just right. I was really impressed with>> the light output whether I was on a scenic reef or a deep dark wreck>> this torch received top marks.>>>> The Battery>>>> This is where I was slightly less impressed with this torch. Underwater>> kinetics has stuck to tried and tested methods that have been>> successful for them in the past. As stated earlier things have changed>> and divers no longer want to wait 10-12 hours for their battery to>> charge. Also with the Aquasun you still have to remove the whole head>> unit to get the battery out of the case to charge it. In my previous>> experience of using Underwater kinetics torches I have experienced>> floods when I have not screwed the head back on properly. I prefer>> torches that enable the charger to plug straight in.>>>> On the plus side though the Aquasun lasts for 2 hours at its high power>> setting, without the need for recharging. This will see the diver>> through 2 good dives. This I liked as some torches of similar price>> will only last for 1 hour.>>>> A point to note is that the battery type I tested was NiCad. I am>> informed that the battery type will be upgraded shortly to use>> nickel-metal hydride. (NiMH) these are more environmentally friendly>> battery packs which should increase burn time. Another advantage of>> this type of battery is that they do not develop a memory.>>>> Construction>>>> Once again Underwater kinetics have stuck with the tried and tested>> using ABS polycarbonate as the housing for this torch. Initially I>> thought this was a bit cheap but on reflection it doesn¹t corrode. So>> the threads, o ring groves and components should not degrade with use>> in salt water.>>>> One thing I did note whilst using this torch is that the head lens unit>> is heavier than the other end of the torch. This meant that whenever I>> tried to retrieve the torch after taking a picture or letting go of the>> torch, I found the torch positioned itself lens down. For this reason I>> found the pistol grip irritating to use. I had much more joy with the>> Lantern handle. Both types of handle are supplied with the torch along>> with a lanyard. Using the torch underwater I found no problems with>> buoyancy as the unit is slightly negatively buoyant. The on off switch>> is the same as on earlier models and switches the torch between full>> power and half power.>>>> This torch is rated to 150 metres>>>> Underwater kinetics Provide a 10 year warranty on the torch body and>> the torch bezel all underpinned by Sea and Sea limited lifetime>> guarantee which the company are proud of.>>>> in conclusion>>>> This is a very good torch with a great light output. Underwater>> kinetics have kept to their tried and tested methods utilised for over>> 35 years. Whether that¹s enough for today¹s demanding divers, we will>> see but on the plus side retailing at £288 it¹s reasonably priced for a>> torch that delivers a very powerful and nicely balanced light, which is>> what a good torch is all about. I found the Aquasun to be a great>> all-rounder whether diving scenic reefs or dark deep wrecks the torch>> suited my needs very well. All backed up by Sea and Sea limited>> warranty. I don¹t think you can get a torch that delivers so much for>> the price.>>>>>>>> Mike Clark>>>>

Halcyon 21w Explorer torch review


I must admit I was a little bit excited when I was given the HALCEON EXPLORER 9/21W PRIMARY LIGHT to test. It’s a piece of kit from an American manufacturer with a loyal following. I had some deep and dark dives planned for February, which were ideal to test this light out. Would I become a Halcyon fan or would this light not live up to my expectations?
Slipping into Jeremy Clarkson mode some would say that this light is so powerful that it can place a dot of light on the moon and that its beam is so intense it’s solely responsible for melting the polar ice caps. This is total rubbish of course but when you hear of the massive £1219.00 price tag for the version I tested you can bet my expectations were high. It’s a serious price that demands a torch of the highest quality.
On looks, quality and materials used the torch certainly delivers. The battery compartment is manufactured from a solid rod of derlin, which is strong and light. Two stainless steel locking latches press the lid of the canister down on a large blue dry “o” ring. Two stainless steel jubilee clips secure webbing to the canister and this enables the unit to be secured to cylinder bands or a suitable mounting point. The on/off switch is on the top of the canister so the final position must bear this in mind.
The cord is strong and flexible and includes strain relief fittings. Should the cord be pierced or damaged the lid of the battery canister is completely sealed from the cord and light head, protecting the battery. The unit I tested was supplied with an E/O cord, which enabled the light to be disconnected underwater. I found this to be a great aid when rinsing the light off after the dive. I could leave the canister attached to my wing whilst safely storing the head unit.
The light head is the business end of this system. It’s fitted with a Goodman handle, which was a joy to use, and the light head rested along my forearm. I quite happily used the unit while also using my camera. The light itself is supplied from a 21 watt HID bulb, which costs £95 to replace. (If you wish to learn the difference between HID and LED lights take a look at Halcyon’s website It contains all the facts). I found this light took around 10 seconds to warm up to full power. The head unit contains a small plastic screw, which enables the head unit to be moved around 1 cm and this widens or focuses the beam of light. Here I was disappointed to note that the wide setting was throwing out a doughnut of light with a dark unlit hole at its centre. Flare coming off the light was also a problem. It had the similar effect of driving with full beam on in the fog. For me that setting was completely useless. Bringing the light into a more focused beam the black spot in the centre disappeared halfway through the available adjustment. At the other extreme the beam at its narrowest sent a very powerful but narrow beam of light that penetrated through the dark water. Apart from the hotspot there was very little peripheral lighting. My time with this torch was limited to the month of February and weather considerably reduced the dives I managed with this torch, so I didn’t get the beam setting I really liked on my dives but minute adjustments to the beam setting could eventually get it right.
That said other similar torches don’t suffer from that annoying black spot at the wider settings.
This is a serious torch for serious divers. The burntime is 4hrs, which is excellent. The torch comes with a quick charger that charges the quality battery in under an hour, which is superb. The torch can be dived to a depth of 90 metres. (Its tested to 152 metres)
In conclusion this is a beautifully made torch using high quality materials. For me though the wide beam setting was a disappointment.
I also tested the Halcyon, 2 cell, LED scout back up torch. Made again from derlin this unit was light and strong and gave out a nice beam of light. It’s rated to 90 metres. In comparison with the led lenser frogman torch I reviewed a couple of months ago, the scout gave off a brighter light and if you have read my review you will know the frogman is no slouch. That said the 2-cell LED scout retails at £135. Realistically then the Scout will only be of interest to Technical Divers that dive over 60 metres of depth.
Tough torches for extreme diving but at a price.
Mike Clark