Friday, June 22, 2018

Crank It: The DECATHLON dynamo flashlight

I am so glad that these things weren`t on the market when I still had my shop! I also sold high-end dynamo torches and lamps...they were really good and came at a high price. So finding sturdy, well made dynamo flashlights with powerful LED`s for under 10 Euro really shook me.

They are produced for and sold by the French DECATHLON sports outlet group and I soon came back some more.

Its cheap, water resistant and powerful.

My advise: BUY!

Sturdy and water resistant case, no nonsense controls (high power, low power, SOS)

The dynamo crank and mechanism in general leave a good impression.

I think its a CREE LED, but am not sure.

BAM! So much light from a dynamo torch is nothing less than impressive.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Crank it: Freeplay Indigo Plus

The Freeplay Indigo lantern is a good friend of mine since my wife sent me a scan of a newspaper article about dynamo powered lanterns/flashlights/radios. The Freeplay products were also featured: 

"Civilian" versions of products used in third world relief and built to last...forever.

My credit card got heat blisters from the air friction as I ordered 2-3 things from the Freeplay website and they arrived 2-3 days after I came home from the Sea.

Bit of specs: 

  • Charge via solar, hand crank and USB
  • Rechargeable NiMH battery built in
  • 9 white LED cluster
  • Dimmer switch adjusts brightness from night light to ultra-bright
  • Separate task light for spot beam and flashlight use
  • Tough casing ( "To prevent fall-apart" - The Simpsons)
  • Can recharge mobile phones and smaller devices in an emergency
  • The wind up mechanism runs via a transmission: So you can`t actually feel resistance when extra "load" is put on the AC alternator

Freeplay Indigo Plus with solar panel.

 The LED cluster shines on for up to 50 hours on the lowest setting, while the task light shines for up to 25 hours on a full charge.

To easiest way to charge the lantern is via the standard USB connection, this takes a LONG time: About 8 hours.

If you tried to achieve the same with the crank you`d probably get a carpal tunnel syndrome, so I use it mostly to trickle charge the batteries and make up for used energy as I go (1 minute of turning the dynamo gives roughly 45-60 minutes light).

So, the solar panel comes as a godsend: It is a small 2W unit with a 2 m cable which is mighty practical as you can charge your lantern away from where you use it (e.g in tents).

The 3.5 mm to USB adapter cable which is needed to charge phones/other small devices.

From left to right: Output to charge phones, mini USB for charging lantern and input for solar charging

Charging my trusty SONIM phone.

Extremely sturdy crank.

`nuff said.

Left: Newer Freeplay Indigo Plus, right Freeplay Indigo "Classic" (been in the family for 9 years)

The task light at night.
Makes a decent flashlight for a dynamo lantern.

The LED cluster at full power.