Oct 24, 2020

Down with the Sickness - Cover by Ai Mori & Violet Orlandi


I loved the original but man, this cover is crazy good. Ai Mori (girl with the harsh voice) is just awesome here. You can feel the rage through her.

Let's get down with the sickness!


ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Open Door - Ai Mori & Mike Shinoda


This is such an awesome cover and tribute to Linkin Park from one of its fans.

There is so much energy in this song. It carries you through the highs and the lows, the soft and the rough, and it does so so smoothly. What a journey.



ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 30, 2020

Convoy S21B and S2+


I ordered these lights at the beginning of the month but they took forever to arrive.

The package came from China but actually landed in the US within 4 days. However, at that point, the carrier messed up and routed it to Utah, Nevada, back to CA, then bounce around in CA for a few days before arriving at my door. Sigh...
Anyway, what matters is they're finally here.

I originally wanted a Convoy S2+ with the high powered SST40 emitter (1800 lumens vs 1000 on a typical S2+) so I can add my brass 18350 battery tube to it. However, when it arrived, I found that the thread on the new S2+'s are different now so the brass tube doesn't fit. Doh!

I also wanted a 21700 version so I ordered the S21A (2300 lumens). However, just after I ordered, I learned about a new Convoy flashlight called the S21B. I contacted Simon (manufacturer of all Convoy lights) to switch to the new light. He did it and threw in 2 lighted tail cap switches to boot. 😍

Lowest emitter modes

I love the S21B but the S2+ (at 1800 lumens) is no slouch. Both are very bright.

Brightness comparison
Camera fixed to F1. 5, 1/60s, ISO 400, 5000k WB
*Note: the S2+ high and max mode are dimmer  because I was using a low battery (my bad). 
With fully charged battery, its high and max modes are close to the S21B's.

Beam on max brightness (camera auto-compensated)
Left is S21B vs S2+ on right
This is with 2x 5500 lumen LED shop lights in the background so the beams are much brighter than this picture.

On max, the head on both lights warm up within 40 seconds.
The S21B's black aluminum body feels like it's rubber coated but it's just matte anodized aluminum. Very different design from S2+. The stainless steel bezel is a nice touch although I wish it was a bit larger to create more of a contrast against the rest of the body.

Beautiful emitters & AR glass

Said emitters in lowest mode

Pretty close in size. S21B on top accepts 21700 battery (also 18650) while the S2+ takes 18650. 
That gap between tail cap and battery tube bothers me a bit, but that's my OCD talking 😂

Both are SST40 5000K so they look very similar. This emitter is a bit green on lower power but they're bright white on high or max.

The 2 new lights flanking my current favorite Convoy light: Sand S2+ with 18350 brass tube.

I modded the S2+' s tail switch to a blue lighted switch then changed it to orange. This is on 20% remaining battery so it's dim. 

Here's a pic of it on fresh battery vs S21B (which will get the blue button treatment soon)

ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 26, 2020

Keep them poor!


Wow. This short speech is eye opening.

We all know we have to work but we've been doing it wrong. You're not supposed to receive a paycheck.



Here's another great video. It talks about many things but the one that stood out to me is the 3 types of income. 


ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 20, 2020

New flashlight: Lumintop FW3A


This baby arrived in the mail yesterday. I couldn't help but take it out for a spin.

I don't have any shot of the original light as I immediately converted it to short form with the 18350 copper tube that arrived last week.

This is a 2800 lumens, tri-led flashlight from Lumintop. It is designed by the folks at Budgetlightforum.com. As such, it runs the open-source Anduril user interface.

Specifications:

Emitters: 3 x LEDS on Copper DTP MCPCB 
     Cree XP-L HI 3D (Neutral White 5000K)
Optic: TIR Carclo 10511
Lens: Glass with AR coating
Max Output: 2,800 lumens

In 18650 (original, long) form, it runs at max brightness for about 2 minutes before getting too hot. In 18350 form, it runs about 30 seconds before getting warm. After a minute (and multiple turbo runs), it's uncomfortable to hold due to the copper tube's high heat conductivity. This is a true "pocket rocket" after all.

FW3A in sand & copper
2800lumens, 5000k goodness in a super short body (18350)
This is shot in my "studio", aka the top of my convection oven, against the kitchen backsplash 😁

Price:

Typically $50 but it can be had for ~$38 on sale. I bought mine from Lights and Tools, a small specialized tools dealer in Mississippi.
+ $10 for 18350 copper tube
+ $10 for Turboglow GITD gasket

Cigar-grip dual-wielding

Lumen candies
That optic looks fuzzy because it's frosted to create a diffused, smooth beam.

Lowest possible beams
Color Temps (left to right): XPL-HI 5000K, XPL-HI 6500k, SST20 4000K

Comparing green Turboglow (glow in the dark) vs Aux green led on D4SV2

Low beams on with 18650 battery for size comparison

The FW3A looks like a salt shaker

Cigar grip

Love that beautiful Turbo glow
It's bright, even in a well-lit room

Brothers in sand
The sand color on FW3A is darker than the desert sand color on the S2+. I like the lighter tan color but the chocolate brown on FW3A fits well with copper.

The D4SV2 in 26350 form is down right stubby. I like it in the regular 26650 form better...maybe because of the knurling.

For everyday carry, I needed a clip. The included clip is too long so I had to find another solution. Here's the clip from S2+. It's not the best but it will do for now. 


Some final thoughts:

  • This flashlight is a lot smaller than I expected. I got the Emisar D4SV2, which is a big brother to the D4V2 (direct competitor of this light) and it was fairly large. The D4V2 is also pretty nice and, seeing pictures online for both "edc" lights, I expected the FW3A to be a bit bigger than it is. Pleasantly surprised when I saw it in person. It's a good surprise though as it's definitely pocketable.
  • The electronic button takes some getting used to. Initially I had a few clicks that didn't register. You have to get used to pushing in the middle of the button. That said, the shallow stainless steel button is a beauty.
  • Very bright for its small size. I'm using vapcell 1100mAh battery for the short body but I'll probably use it more with Sanyo GA 3500mAh battery in long (18650) body.
  • I wish it had a drilled lanyard hole in the back. It would be quite painful to drop this beauty. Ugh...can't even think about that. They do sell a small lanyard ring thing but it sticks out and wouldn't feel right in pocket so I skipped it.

ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 19, 2020

Poets of the Fall - Where Do We Draw the Line


Such a sad but beautiful song.

It's fair to say that things haven't been easy in 2020. In this time where many of us are going through sadness, loss, pain, uncertainty, or depression, we need comfort, and a reminder that we still have our freedom: our choice.
ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 8, 2020

Poets of The Fall - Angel


This is such a beautiful song, both acoustically and and poetically.

Poetry in Rhyme. Vocals in Flight. Music for the Soul.

This tear I cry...falls like healing rain. Softly soothe my pain...

My home is my skin
And in the world I've within
All I have... Is my love for you...

If I can seal my fears. Will I be in the clear?
Or am I giving life...to phantom pain

Cos it's playing out... Every note in the score.
I surrender once more...



ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 7, 2020

A dive light you can use around the house: Wurkkos WK20s


In my quest to try different kinds of flashlights, I came across dive lights.
These are flashlights that are extremely waterproof and can shine further than typical flashlights.

I don't dive but I go swimming quite often. I figured I might need a dive light one of these days. Until then, a light I can carry around and not have to worry about getting water damaged could be useful. I saw a deal on the Wurkkos WK20s and figured I'd check it out. One of the main reasons I wanted it is the advertised 2000 lumens at a sustained 1.5hrs! That's a long run time for that much light.

I wasn't planning on doing a review right away but, since I had time during Labor Day weekend and it arrived ahead of schedule, I might as well put up a review.


This is a decent light to have around the house. Its 2000 max lumens plus 4 brightness modes are more than most people need. There's a similar model called WK20 but I opted for this one as it has twice as much lumens and is about the same price.
Being a dive light, the WK20s is guaranteed to be waterproof down to about 500ft (150 meters). I don't dive but I could use a flashlight that I don't have to worry about getting water damaged when I take a swim. 
I dropped this light into the pool a few times to test and it survived without a hitch. The included lanyard helps you locate it as well as helps it float a bit.

One odd thing is the button on this light does not click. Rather, it steps through the 4 modes (low, medium, high, max) without noise. I think this is a sealed design that helps it keep out water. Also, the rear threads are protected by 2 O-rings (vs 1 in typical flashlights). Due to all the added protection, the head is larger than typical EDC lights like the FC11. I tried to detach the head from its battery tube but couldn't. You're probably not supposed to do that due to enhanced water-proofing. Regardless, the tail cap is very well built as are the threads.

Price: $40 (with coupon)
Emitter: Cree XHP35 - 5000k-5500k
Max power: 2000 lumens

Pros (in addition to the above):
  1. The head doesn't get hot for a long time. This means you get 2000 lumens for much longer periods than pocket rockets like the D4V2, D4SV2, or even the large SP36 BLF. Those lights can only sustain their 3k+ lumens output for a less than a minute before getting uncomfortably hot.
  2. Includes charger (micro USB)
  3. Includes 3000mAh 18650 battery
  4. Includes dive/water lanyard.
Cons:
  1. I am not used to the non-click button. I would prefer a twist mechanism.
  2. I would prefer some knurling on the battery tube to help with grip but I'm nitpicking here. It actually feels pretty good in hand. 
Size comparisons vs an AA battery

Cree XHP35 emitter | 5000k-5500k





High mode (1000 lumens) on WK20s vs max mode on S2+ (1000 lumens)

Here's a comparison between various brightness levels. Note that I inadvertently overexposed these a bit. The real brightness should be half what is seen here, but you can see difference in brightness levels. 
For these pictures, I set the camera to F 1.5, 1/180s, ISO 320

Conclusion

If you want a no-frills, waterproof (for real, not just for rain), bright, long lasting light for use around the house, this is it.


ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Storage case for flashlights


Over the past few months my collection of flashlights and accessories have increased quite significantly. This means I need to find a good storage solution.

I saw some people on reddit using waterproof Pelican-like cases with thick foam inserts (the kind you use to store guns and stuff). I was going to buy one too but they're too bulky and not space efficient. I continued my search for something that fits the bill. Here are my criteria:
  1. Space efficient - it should be able to store a lot of things and not have too much wasted space.
  2. Configurable - not all compartments will be filled up and some lights are much larger than others. I need the storage box to be "flexible". 
  3. Portable - I need to be able to quickly grab it and go.
  4. Secure - If I'm putting a bunch of things into this box, I need it to be securely closed with some sort of lock so the contents don't just spill out. That would be bad. 😬
  5. Economical - a storage case for flashlight shouldn't cost more than $10. Pelican cases that can store 4 flashlights run about $50 and increase by $10 per flashlight space. Crazy
Well, I happen to be in a 99 Cents Only store the other day and came across a great solution: a configurable tools storage case that has a built-in handle.

Price: $3.99 
It's not "99 cents only" but I'll splurge 🤑

Here it is with all my flashlight sfuff:

It's filling up fast. Looks like I'll need to get another one. Or I can take the SP36 out and have enough space for the rest.

Here's how it looks without that fat boy. As you can see, this case is fully configurable by moving the orange dividers around. You can also add foam inserts to pad the bottom to prevent things from moving around.

Closed - The lid is transparent so you can see what's inside before opening.
There are 2 latches (to the left and right of handle) that lock the lid in place when closed. 

Future upgrade: foam inserts or silicone liner to prevent scratches on flashlights and to prevent them from moving around during transport.

That's it. Pretty simple, cheap, and efficient storage solution for flashlights and parts.

Let me know what you think in the comments.
ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

We're in a recession yet stock market is at all-time high. What?!


I've been focused on my flashlight hobby as an escape from the real world, but it's time to talk about the real world. 

Let's face it, we're in a recession. Many companies are struggling to survive; many people are out of jobs, and things are getting worse by the day. Yet, why is the stock market at all-time high? It doesn't make sense. What the heck is going on?!

I've been perplexed by this for a while and only recently did I find the answer: smart money is moving to safe havens.

Wall Street doesn't necessarily represent Main 
Street. In fact, the stock maket hasn't represented the economy for a while. SP500's performance is heavily weighted towards a few huge companies like Apple and Amazon. The people investing in them (thus driving up their prices) are mostly the top 5 investment houses, not retail investors like you or I. Surely, those people know better than to invest in highly overvalued companies right? Yes, as a matter of fact, they do! 
Here's why: the US economy is in really bad shape. It's full of companies on the verge of bankruptcy or are already in the process of bankruptcy. Things are continuing to get worse as time goes by, despite the fact that this Federal Reserve has been doing everything it can to artificially keep things afloat. However, investment money still needs to be invested (otherwise investment banks would be out of a job). It's better to put that money into large companies that have tons of money in the bank than any other option (including holding onto it). Huge companies like Apple and Amazon have so much cash that they can afford to not make money for a long time, thus making them safe bets to ride out the storms. More money invested in these companies = higher SP500 while the the rest of the economy struggles.

Oh and there's the hope that the economy will rapidly recover once covid-19 vaccine is here. That's a possibility, but one that will probably be too late for most companies out there. 

Summary

Stocks are up because smart money is moving to safe havens. Apart from the biggest companies, most companies (and their workers) are struggling to survive. We're in for a world of hurt, but the rich are doing great. 
ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 6, 2020

Lumen candies - My favorite flashlights


It's that time again: New Light Day!
A day when I receive new flashlight(s). A day full of anticipation, joy, and excitement... Ok, I'm not that manic but NLDs are definitely fun days. 😁


There are functional flashlights then there are fun ones. At the intersection of function and fun, you have what I call "lumen candies". Ridiculous amount of light (measured in lumens) is what drew me to this hobby, but lumen candies are what kept me here. 
Alright, let's get to my (current) lumen candies:

Emisar D4SV2 on left vs Convoy S2+
I added two batteries for size comparison. The purple 18350 is what's used inside this short S2+.
ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Sep 3, 2020

Awesome all-in-one flashlight: Wurkkos WK30



As I dive deeper into my newfound hobby, I came across UV and red lights.
UV lights are used for many purposes, from verifying authenticity of money to finding scorpions and stains in the dark, but do you know why red flashlights are used? Me neither 😜

Luckily we can look it up on something called the Internet (or a "series of tubes" as some like to call it).

Turns out, red flashlights are generally used in hunting or any application where you don't want to disturb or blind your subject at night. Want to see that deer ahead without disturbing it? Turn on a red light. Wanna see more stuff at night without blinding other people around you? Turn on red light.
Here's a much better explanation of why red light is superior in the dark. 

Ok, so now you want a red flashlight. 😁
Instead of buying 3 separate flashlights to get regular, UV, and red light, why not get one that can do all 3? Better yet, why not get one that excels at all 3 functions? Well you're in luck. Checkout the Wurkkos WK30.

Review


ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Aug 31, 2020

My new EDC flashlight: Custom Convoy S2+


I ordered this from China about 9 days ago and it is already here! Craziness. 

Convoy S2+ in its original 18650 form

This is a great, minimalistic flashlight. It's even better in this beautiful "sand" color -- blends right in with nature while keeping a bit of that "executive" flair.

Convoy S2+ in desert sand

Emitter: XPL-HI 5000k - 1000 lumens.
This light runs on the 7135x8 driver (highest power) with 3/5 mode groups.

Price: $19 for the latest version at Convoy official store
Or an older version for $16 at Neal's Gadgets

+ $5 for 18350 brass tube & lighted switch

Batteries:
+ $6 for 18650 battery (high drain, 3000 mAh, Samsung 30Q recommended)
+ $5 for 18350 battery (for use with short tube)




Here it is compared to its brothers
Left to right: Sofirn SP36 BLF - 5000k (5,600 lumens | Samsung LH351D), Folomov Camp D4 - 5000k (800 lumens | Nichia 219D), Convoy S2+ 6500K (1000 lumens | Cree XPL-HI), Wurkkos FC11 - 6000k (1,300 lumens | Samsung LH351D)

Beautiful brass and sand (dark brown) anodized aluminum 


What's more fun than a LED light lit up by RGB? 🤩

 


ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast

Aug 15, 2020

Flashlight collection & review of Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril flashlight


Things are pretty crazy these days. Like everyone else, I'm trying to make it through while keeping my sanity. In times like these, we all need to escape--to find something positive and fun to focus on. What better way to cope than to start a new hobby. Well, allow me introduce my new obsession: high performance flashlight. 

A bit of history

I own my fair share of D-battery Maglites. You know, the long baton flashlights you can use as a bat to fight off intruders? Yeah, those.
They're decent and pretty well built. But in terms of brightness and efficiency, they're nothing compared to new, LED-powered flashlights that are less than 2 fingers thick and can output a ton of light (700+ lumens).
For reference, the brightness of 1 candle is roughly 13 lumens so, 700 lumens is about 54 candles.

Actually, I've been loving the new generation of LED-based flashlights for a while. However, being the cheapskate that I am, I've only purchased flashlights that are good deals. That means nothing over $12. 

My first, real good LED flashlight is the 2-cell Anker Bolder LC90. It was on sale for $17... A bit over my budget, but I figured I'd splurge. 

Man, that thing is bright! At 900 lumens, it will blind you if you look into it. At less than one third the size of my 3 D-cell Maglite (45 lumens), this thing is 20 times brighter! What's more? It's rechargeable via micro USB and has two 18650 batteries (high capacity, high drain, rechargeable batteries that make up the most popular battery type out there). It lasts quite a long time and runs pretty cool. Perfect for replacing the Maglites.

Current collection

Between Maglites and the LC90, I went through quite a few flashlights. Some are great, most are crap, but a few stood out. Here's the short list (they all use 18650 battery):

Convoy S2+ - $13 (battery not included) - 1000 lumens - Cree XM-L2 U2 LED.
Compact, understated, very well built and powerful for its size. This grey flashlight was my daily carry for a long time.

Thorfire VG10 - $10 (battery not included) - 847 lumens - Cree XM-L2 LED.
This is similar to the Convoy S2+ but a bit less bright. Similar size but more rugged (tactical light). Comes with a nice case and a very nice lanyard.

Anker Bolder LC90 2-cell - $17 - 900 lumens - Cree XM-L2 LED.
This is my current flashlight for the house. It's like the others but a bit longer. 2 cells mean double the run time. It also has a zoomable front so you can focus the light for throw (focused light), or pull it back for flood (wide beam). USB rechargeable means you don't need to remove and swap batteries. You can't do it on this light anyway.

Note: prices above are what I paid during "good deals". Current prices are usually higher.

Introducing a new family member: Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril


Choices

Since the spread of Covid-19, I've been looking to get into a new hobby to keep me busy. By chance, I came across a deal on the Wowtac A5, a 3.6k lumen flashlight running off of one large battery. So, I started reading reviews and dove deep into various forums (/r/flashlight on Reddit and budgetlightforum.com). Who knew that there's a whole world of light enthusiasts out there. 
Anyway, my top choices came down to the following:
  1. Emisar D4V2 ($45 without battery)
  2. Wowtac A5 ($50)
  3. Sofirn SP36 ($70). Current deal: You can get this flashlight (includes 3 batteries) for $49.69 by clicking the 10% off discount and applying a special, 1-time coupon. You have to request it from the manufacturer but I was able to find a few so I'm sharing here: 

At $50+ each, these aren't exactly "budget" lights, but they are all worth it. However, I promised myself I'd only buy one. I chose the Sofirn because I think it's a great value at $50 (including batteries. They usually go for $8 each). I also wanted something much brighter than my previous lights. Go big or go home right? 😁
The A5 isn't as big of a jump and D4V2 doesn't have as much runtime. Although I'll probably end up getting a D4V2 sometime in the future. It's a lot more pocketable. 

Sofirn SP36 BLF Anduril - Impression & review

I've been using this light for the past 2 days and my oh my, this thing is a beast! It's the size of a short (and thin) soda can. It takes three 18650 batteries and puts out 5,600 lumens! 🤯 This ridiculous amount of light is possible through the use of 4 Samsung LH351D emitters (LEDs). 

BLF means it was designed in collaboration with flashlight enthusiasts at BudgetLighForum.com. As such, its UI (User Interface) is an open source interface designed by a light enthusiast named ToyKeeper
This UI is called Anduril and offers a ton of functions. And yes, in 2020, you can update your flashlight's software!
Here's a graphic explaining how to use an Anduril flashlight:

I tested the flashlight outside and the throw (how far the light reaches) is amazing. It lights up objects over 500ft away. At night, you can clearly see a fat beam coming from this monster. This light is actually NOT designed to be a throw light but it does pretty decent. The flood (how much the light fills the surrounding) is its main focus, and it does that job admirally.
In my house, turning it on lights up the entire living room. Coincidentally, power just went out today so I put it to good use. I went into the restroom, put it on a flat surface (pointing to the ceiling) and turned it on medium (1.2k lm). That was enough to comfortably light up the whole restroom for over 20 minutes.

Here are a few pictures:


Line up of my current favorites.
Left to right: Japanese Coke can (for size), Braun 380lm (COB LED) light bar, 2-cell Anker LC90 (900lm), Sofirn SP36 BLF (5,600lm), ThruNite Ti3 V2 (120lm), and Olight I1R2 EOS (130lm).
The last 2 are keychain lights. I love the Olight. I'm getting a 2nd one soon (free +$5 shipping). 


Here's a collage that shows this ligh's power. Top left is with nothing on. Then with my undercounter RGB LED strip vs with the Sofirn light on. Actually, I turned on the Braun light bar to show how the SP36's horizontal flood completely overwhelms it. 


2 halves of the light: battery tube and the head.
Cool tip: you can plug the head into a USB power source and run it indefinitely, no need for batteries. This is great for many applications. You can also hook it up to a phone battery pack. 
The 3 batteries run in parallel so you can actually operate the light with just 1 or 2.

Another shot of all current flashlights I have in the house. This time, with the Olight on my keychain.
Notice the auxiliary green led on the Sofirn. That's to help you find it at night.
Also, I don't have a Jag. I got that keychain thing as a gift.


Beam and tint comparison.
You can see the Sofirn's beam is warmer (5000k temperature). This tint is ideal because it doesn't have any blue and is high CRI, which means it accurately renders colors of objects it lights up. Most daylight color (6000k+) flashlights look brighter, and tend to have tints of blue or green, but they wash out things you need to see. What good is light if you can't accurately see what's being lit? 
For more on CRI, here's a great video explaining the difference between low CRI and high CRI. 
CRI depends on the light emitters used. The ones in this light are Samsung LH351D. They are rated at 90 CRI and are one of the most liked emitters currently on the market. 


Comparison shot of all the emitters (actual LEDs in each light). 


Charging view. The Braun work light was used for painting recently so it's a bit dirty. I tried to clean it but gave up after 10 mins. Getting paint out of those knurling gaps is pretty tough.



ZEROSVN Tech Enthusiast