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Saturday, August 7, 2010


I have a nice solid Mag-Lite flashlight. I've had it for years. The batteries, being batteries, are getting weak. I should replace them, but alkaline batteries are expensive. Then Kathryn and I stumble across these little bitty flashlights at Office Depot: two for $6. They are a nice size, they use LED's so batteries should last longer, and they look like they use one C-cell. Unfortunately, when I get them home I discover that they do not use one C-cell, they use three AAA batteries. Why? Why would you make something like that? Why use three tiny, expensive batteries, when you could get by with just one battery with substantially more capacity? What the frak is wrong with people?

Of course it probably doesn't make much difference. I don't use a flashlight that much, and with LED's, it will probably be years before I need to replace the batteries. Still it's the principle of the thing. Every LED circuit I have ever seen uses a resistor to drop the voltage to somewhere around one volt, presumably so the LED doesn't burn up. Here they've put in three batteries, and if they're wired in series (presumably they are. Why else would you use three batteries?) then you've bumped the voltage up to 4.5, and now you'll need a resistor to drop the voltage back down. If they had just used one C-cell they could have done away with a whole lot of crap.

The light is "white". It is very different from the light I get from the Mag-Lite with it's incandescent bulb. On one hand it is very illuminating, on the other it doesn't really seem to be bright. Something about the spectrum, I suppose.

It doesn't have the adjustable beam like the Mag-Lite. That adjustable beam is a mixed blessing, as there seems to be a dark spot right in the center. I suspect that is due to the uneven shape of the bulb.

One problem with the Mag-Lite is that it is perfectly round and if left on a flat, tilted surface it will roll right off. My new mini-lite as small flutes around the bezel that will keep it from rolling if the surface is not too tilted.

It just occurred to me that LED's are embedded in little blobs of plastic, and the plastic generally is the same color as the LED, but it wouldn't have to be. You could put any color LED in a clear plastic, and you wouldn't know what color it was until you turned it on. You might even be able to put an LED in complementary color and not get any light out at all.

It may not be as cool as Tam's tactical light, but it didn't have a tactical price either. And it fits in my pocket.


Anonymous said...

AA batteries are available mostly anywhere in the world. C cells are not. That's why.

Chuck Pergiel said...

What!?! No C-cells? Why, why, why, (here I turn red and steam comes out of my ears) that's un-American! Oh. I guess that explains it. Interesting.