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Kitchen table review:The Streamlight Sidewinder *Update:1/18/08: Reflectorized!

Offline Carthas

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If I had to guess, I would say the 1 year warranty would have something to do with the hinging head. Something that has commony-used moving parts is more likely to fail as opposed to something that stays reasonably static. Also, as it's intended for military use, it would probably see a lifetime's worth of (ab)use in 12 months :P. The fancy eletronics may also play a part in this. Maybe it's a combination of all three things?


england Offline Benner

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I hadn't thought about the rotating head. :think:  I just hope it's not because they think it is less reliable so have offerred less warranty so they don't lose so much with the cost of repairs.  Saying that though, there really is no other reason.
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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It was my understanding that the 1-year warranty was applied to the newer imported lights Streamlight has been releasing this year. From the link provided above that seems not to be the case. I am intrigued, Benner, please do share what Streamlight has to say about the subject.

Anywho, I have a bunch of outdoor beamshots for the Sidewinder I took yesterday night. I'll post them as soon as I edit them all together.


england Offline Benner

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It was my understanding that the 1-year warranty was applied to the newer imported lights Streamlight has been releasing this year. From the link provided above that seems not to be the case. I am intrigued, Benner, please do share what Streamlight has to say about the subject.

Anywho, I have a bunch of outdoor beamshots for the Sidewinder I took yesterday night. I'll post them as soon as I edit them all together.

I will let you know what they say (if I get a response of course).

Looking forward to those beamshots.  The more I read and see about this light, the better it looks.   
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england Offline Benner

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Well I have just got an email back and this is the response;

The warranty on the SideWinder is a limited one year warranty. This unit is designed to be tough but we know it will be used in large numbers over seas and the warranty is just one year.


Sounds like a bit of a cop out to me.
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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 :-\

Wow. At least they're honest.

They do know that the vast majority of their lights are taken into buildings that are on fire and/or full of criminals? Doesn't seem conducive to a lifetime warranty anymore than military usage.

Isn't the warranty costed into the final price of the unit? I reckon Surefire has thousands of lights attached to all manner of firearms overseas that are covered for their lifetime. Although I suppose this is only a 60$ light, most Surefire weaponlights are priced upwards of 300$.

Well, that sucks.


england Offline Benner

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You would have thought that the $60 (and I have seen $80 listed as well) would have taken into account the lifetime warranty.  Mind you, I suppose without the waranty you are probably getting more light for your cash which is a good thing I suppose.  I just like to know that when I have bought a light or tool that it is covered in case it breaks.

I have asked what happens outside of warranty with regards to repairs, and they do have many repair centres around (for us in the UK the streamlight repair centre is in Scotland)that will do the work for you and can provide estimates before any work is started if you wish.

Looking at the light though, I suppose the only real part that would wear would be the switch which is subjected to a 300k test anyway.  Anything other than that I suppose you would see signs of in the first year anyway  :-\.
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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Here's the main LED at a distance of 3 meters. Starts at low in the upper left and moves clockwise to high.



Also, if any of you guys in the UK are interested in this light I have a source for getting a few at 40$ per unit. I'm not sure how much actual shipping would be but it looks like First Class International would be from 10-15$, Priority Mail International from 20-30$. It will take about a week for me to get the lights and then whatever the additional time from USPS to you.

Let me know, always glad to help!


england Offline Benner

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That's a really good price guys.  I'd snap spoon up on that offer if I were you.
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england Offline Benner

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Spoonrobot, have you seen or heard of anyone that has done any mods to the sidewinder yet?
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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Spoonrobot, have you seen or heard of anyone that has done any mods to the sidewinder yet?

Haven't seen anyone else mod the light yet but I do plan to put the word out there to some of the CPF modders. I have some plans for my extra model, now it's just a matter of finding someone to mod it.


us Offline Spoonrobot

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In stock form the Sidewinder comes with an optic that does a fair job of dispersing the beam for close/medium use. Although balanced this optic still has the typical lack of spill beam common to all optics. The lack of spill beam makes this light less than desirable for some users who prefer a reflector for the tighter hotspot and spill beam for peripheral illumination.

As it turns out the Sidewinder shares a common optic cavity size and can use a common replacement reflector. Found here the IMS 17mm reflector has been a common optic replacement for some years, replacing optics in lights like the LongBow Micra, and the Princeton Tec EOS. The optic is made of silvered plastic and fits in the Sindewinder with one small modification. There are three feet on the bottom of the reflector that are meant to mate to the LED holder on typical Luxeon lights that need to be removed before it will effectively pair with the head of the Sidewinder. Snapping these feet off is an easy task, go about it in a carefree manner.  ;)

Seen below; the reflector is compared to the stock optic. Centering the reflector takes a few seconds and should be tested a few times before screwing down the bezel since an uneven fit will greatly effect the beam profile.






Reflector on the right, Optic on the left. Both lights are on the lowest level and are placed about 8 inches from the target.


Underexposed two stops to show the beam profile a little better.


Replacing the optic with the IMS reflector changes the beam profile dramatically. The hotspot becomes much tighter and throw increases fairly significantly. A wide spill beam is also created that adds a different utility to the light. I personally prefer the profile of the stock balanced optic on this light but like to have the choice between two lights.

Outdoor beamshots will be up later in the week comparing the two.  :)


england Offline Benner

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Well I have just had a long play with my new Sidewinder and Spoon was right, this is a great light!

One thing I have noticed Spoon is that on the brightest setting with the white LED the flashlight sings a little.  Does yours do that?  You have to listen carefully but it is definitely there.
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england Offline Benner

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Well so far I am more than impressed.   :) This light feels solid and looks like it can take quite a hammering.  I went up into the loft this afternoon and although the light is not exceptionally bright, it can be placed pretty much anywhere, sending light wherever you need it.  The clip is really good as well, it is tight enough so it firmly clips on but not really tight so it can't be put on very easily.

I am trully happy with this light and I can see myself EDCing it very often.  Together with my P1D I have most of my light needs covered in a very small and lightweight package.
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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One thing I have noticed Spoon is that on the brightest setting with the white LED the flashlight sings a little.  Does yours do that?  You have to listen carefully but it is definitely there.
Congratulations on your new light!

My two Sidewinders starting "singing" at level 2 and continue with a raise in volume to level 4 on the white LED. It's just barely audible at level 4 pressed against my ear in a normal room but if I listen when my house is all quiet I can hear it begin at level 2.

The IR version of the Sidewinder appears to have an interesting problem with certain radios and GSM cellphones.

I've been carrying my reflectored Sidewinder in my coat pocket for the wintertime and it's gotten some good use in the cold. Keeps me from having to hold a cold lump of aluminium when it's 20 degrees out.


As far as mods go; I can't seem to get any of the modders on CPF to reply back to me.  :-\


england Offline Benner

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Well the reflector mod worked out pretty well.  Would be cool if you could pop in a much brighter white LED and clean up the coloured 5mm ones.b Would be almost perfect then.

That is an interesting problem :think:, glad we won't see that with the green LED.
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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Modding wouldn't be such an issue if the LEDs weren't reflow soldered. I've swapped out Luxeon emitters before so my mod experience is existent, if small.

Perhaps the Shot Show will hold some wonderful new incantation of this light?


england Offline Benner

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I asked again about the warranty issue BTW and this time I got a response saying that the reason it only carries a years warranty is because it is a "speciality item" :think:.  I suppose if you modded it that would void the warranty anyway.

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us Offline NutSAK

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Spoon,

Can you please confirm for me whether this light uses PWM for the dimming function or not?  I think I've just about talked myself into on of these, and I plan to mod it with a Khatod reflector I have on hand, and put some light diffusion film over the 5mm LEDs for a smoother beam.  I think I will buy the IR version--I don't really have any use for a green LED.

Thanks!
- Terry


england Offline Benner

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Spoon,

Can you please confirm for me whether this light uses PWM for the dimming function or not?  I think I've just about talked myself into on of these, and I plan to mod it with a Khatod reflector I have on hand, and put some light diffusion film over the 5mm LEDs for a smoother beam.  I think I will buy the IR version--I don't really have any use for a green LED.

Thanks!


I knew you'd buckle Terry! :D
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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Spoon,

Can you please confirm for me whether this light uses PWM for the dimming function or not?  I think I've just about talked myself into on of these, and I plan to mod it with a Khatod reflector I have on hand, and put some light diffusion film over the 5mm LEDs for a smoother beam.  I think I will buy the IR version--I don't really have any use for a green LED.

Thanks!


I haven't detected PWM with my eyes when reading/during general use or with my camera on the various modes. Is there a surefire way to check without any fancy instruments?

The SideWinder I bought second-hand had some Fellowes Writeright over the LEDs and it really smoothed out the beams with only minor effects on brightness and throw, a very worthwhile application I felt. Problem was that the previous own didn't apply it right and it was trapping water so I removed it and haven't had the cash to buy an entire pack of something I only need a square inch of.

Also, there are little white rubber (silicone?) caps that are made to diffuse 5mm LEDs that one poster on CPF seemed to like. I think you can only get them from Japan though.

What use do you have for the IR beam?


us Offline NutSAK

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Spoon,

Can you please confirm for me whether this light uses PWM for the dimming function or not?  I think I've just about talked myself into on of these, and I plan to mod it with a Khatod reflector I have on hand, and put some light diffusion film over the 5mm LEDs for a smoother beam.  I think I will buy the IR version--I don't really have any use for a green LED.

Thanks!


I haven't detected PWM with my eyes when reading/during general use or with my camera on the various modes. Is there a surefire way to check without any fancy instruments?

The SideWinder I bought second-hand had some Fellowes Writeright over the LEDs and it really smoothed out the beams with only minor effects on brightness and throw, a very worthwhile application I felt. Problem was that the previous own didn't apply it right and it was trapping water so I removed it and haven't had the cash to buy an entire pack of something I only need a square inch of.

Also, there are little white rubber (silicone?) caps that are made to diffuse 5mm LEDs that one poster on CPF seemed to like. I think you can only get them from Japan though.

What use do you have for the IR beam?

PWM can easily be detected by putting the flashlight on a low setting, and shaking the light back and forth quickly as you look at the light reflected in a mirror.  You should see "dashes" of light as it moves back and forth, instead of a continuous "streak" of light.  You can also shine it at moving objects to look for a strobing effect--a ceiling fan works great for this.

The diffuser I plan to use is just like Writeright, but I believe it's made by 3M.  It's a very light diffusion, so it should be perfect to just smooth the beam a bit without losing too much light.  They diffuse the light about the same amount as a OP reflector would vs. a smooth one.  I will fit it between the window and the LEDs so it is protected.  I have a source for the diffusion sheets if you'd like to buy some.  They are $2 each, shipped from CPF member waynejitsu.  PM me if you'd like his Paypal address. 

From the results I've seen of the diffuser caps, they would reduce the output of the 5mm LEDs more than I would like--but thanks for the idea.  I believe Nekomane sells those.

The IR beam will be used (rarely) in conjunction with night vision.  It might work for some neat effects in IR photography also.  Do you find the green LED useful for anything?

« Last Edit: January 31, 2008, 10:38:43 PM by NutSAK »
- Terry


us Offline NutSAK

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Spoon,

Can you please confirm for me whether this light uses PWM for the dimming function or not?  I think I've just about talked myself into on of these, and I plan to mod it with a Khatod reflector I have on hand, and put some light diffusion film over the 5mm LEDs for a smoother beam.  I think I will buy the IR version--I don't really have any use for a green LED.

Thanks!


I knew you'd buckle Terry! :D

Yeah, I cave WAY to easily when it comes to torches!  ::)
- Terry


us Offline Spoonrobot

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Quote
PWM can easily be detected... 

The IR beam will be used (rarely) in conjunction with night vision.  It might work for some neat effects in IR photography also.  Do you find the green LED useful for anything?

I did the mirror/moving object test and I'm going to go ahead and say no to the PWM. Also, bonus amatuer light painting to illustrate.


Ah, figured it would be something night vision related, very cool indeed.

Nope, it just makes things green.  :)


us Offline NutSAK

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Quote
PWM can easily be detected... 

The IR beam will be used (rarely) in conjunction with night vision.  It might work for some neat effects in IR photography also.  Do you find the green LED useful for anything?

I did the mirror/moving object test and I'm going to go ahead and say no to the PWM. Also, bonus amatuer light painting to illustrate.
(Image removed from quote.)

Ah, figured it would be something night vision related, very cool indeed.

Nope, it just makes things green.  :)

That definitely confirms it--no PWM.

Thanks for taking the time to do that!



- Terry


gb Offline Roadie

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That is a very cool photo Spoon! May i ask how you did it?

Roadie
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us Offline Spoonrobot

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That is a very cool photo Spoon! May i ask how you did it?

Roadie

I put my camera on Night Mode and then waved the light around.  :D

I've played with light painting before but don't really have enough control with my camera to get any really good shots. I've seen some excellent shots taken by Urban Explorers but their set-up usually runs around 700-800$ to get the ISO and exposure control needed.


gb Offline Roadie

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I put my camera on Night Mode and then waved the light around.  :D

I've played with light painting before but don't really have enough control with my camera to get any really good shots. I've seen some excellent shots taken by Urban Explorers but their set-up usually runs around 700-800$ to get the ISO and exposure control needed.

That simple eh?!

Cameras do get ridiculously expensive don't they. Would love a DLSR though!
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us Offline NutSAK

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I did the mirror/moving object test and I'm going to go ahead and say no to the PWM. Also, bonus amatuer light painting to illustrate.



Well....  I just saw a thread over at CPF that quoted a Streamlight engineer stating that the Sidewinder does indeed use PWM.  I'm guessing that the frequency might be higher than what would show in the picture.  How long was the exposure?

I have some PWM lights (Jetbeam comes to mind) that have a high frequency PWM that can be seen if the light is shaken VERY fast.  Though it is high frequency, it still bothers me in use sometimes--especially if it is snowing or raining or I'm looking at something that is moving quickly.
- Terry


us Offline Spoonrobot

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I did the mirror/moving object test and I'm going to go ahead and say no to the PWM. Also, bonus amatuer light painting to illustrate.



Well....  I just saw a thread over at CPF that quoted a Streamlight engineer stating that the Sidewinder does indeed use PWM.  I'm guessing that the frequency might be higher than what would show in the picture.  How long was the exposure?

I have some PWM lights (Jetbeam comes to mind) that have a high frequency PWM that can be seen if the light is shaken VERY fast.  Though it is high frequency, it still bothers me in use sometimes--especially if it is snowing or raining or I'm looking at something that is moving quickly.

Interesting.

Exposure was about 3 seconds, with the light on low. I took a picture of each level on white mode and all looked the same (smooth lines, no breaks.)

You can borrow one of mine if you want to see if the frequency bothers you.


 

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