Author Topic: Backup light  (Read 1031 times)

Offline tim.rose2

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Backup light
« on: January 12, 2021, 11:01:14 pm »
I'm aware this has been done before but looks like not for a while so perhaps there's some great options out there I'm unaware of (it's also lockdown & I'm bored so thought I'd start a topic)...

Currently I cave with a custom duo & a couple of side mounted Fenix E35's held on with shock cord so they can be removed.  This works perfectly in sensible sized passage.  The combination gives loads of light, consists of 3 independent light sources so plenty of redundancy, lasts way longer than any trip I've stamina for and has stood up to a good battering over the last few years.  I don't really consider this set up a traditional main / backup light arrangement as all three get used at times.  In many respects I've no reason to change this as nothing's broken or in need of replacement and in all reality I suspect I'll carry on as I am.  I should also add I've not had a single problem with this to date.

However, the downside of this is the weight and size.  Particularly when caving on Portland I often get my head stuck in the tighter rifts and I've no doubt loosing a few grams would make life more comfortable too.  I'm regularly pulling the side lights off and will sooner or later loose one down a hole.  One obvious solution is to cave somewhere more sensible however Portland has an unexplainable attraction to me so we'll discount that as a start.  If I was going to change lights then I rather like the look of the Fenix HL60R or HM65R as a main light however I'm stumped regarding a backup option to accompany it.

So...
Even though I don't cave solo, I don't like the idea of having no backup.  I'm also a very difficult customer who hates having things hanging around his neck (so discounting that option) and has found a single side mounted torch leaves the helmet lopsided (small head and needing headband / cradle fully tightened don't help that).  So assuming I was to purchase a new main light what do you wise folk suggest I do for a back up?  The rules...

1. It must be powerful enough & have sufficient run time to do a caving trip on if the main light fails (i.e. something like turning up having forgotten to charge the battery).  My caving trips tend to be 3 to 6 hours in length and I guess somewhere around 50 lumens over that period of time is the minimum I'd want.
2.  It must have a low light 'emergency' setting which would give many hours of 'oh shit I wish I hadn't blocked my way out with that boulder I moved' time.
3.  It must be helmet mounted rather than dangling round neck, in a tackle sack or pocket.  I'm open to all suggestions as to how to mount it to the helmet though
4.  It must not off balance my helmet (one each side is always an option).
5.  The combination of backup / main light must be significantly lighter & smaller than the current set up otherwise I've achieved nothing.
6.  Must be waterproof and robust.  A backup which is broken when you want it is less than useless.
7.  I'm not looking for cheap but I don't think a backup should cost more than the main light so let's put a max budget of £50.
8.  Bonus points for something that works on AA or AAA rather than lithium's.  I'm a fan of being able to stop at the corner shop for spares, not that I ever have.
9.  I've zero interest in any suggestions which recommend super expensive caving lights such as scurions!

Or am I being old fashioned / OTT and that lights are now so reliable there is no need for a backup?  I guess the 'idiot didn't charge the battery' situation or battery failure can be mitigated against with spare batteries rather than needing a second light.  The Fenix HM65R has two independent LEDs (as far as I can tell) so incorporates some level of redundancy in itself.

Or is there nothing out that than can better what I have?

What do other people do?

Thanks in advance.

UK Caving

Backup light
« on: January 12, 2021, 11:01:14 pm »
Warmbac

Offline Fjell

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2021, 11:23:41 pm »
Pixa 2. You can stand on it. Waterproof. The lock position hides the lense. Just put it in the tackle bag. If solo, put round neck. It goes on the normal helmet clips of a Ecrin when needed or use the Pixadapt helmet mount stuck above your normal light.
I really don’t know why I didn’t get one sooner. You must use NiMH (6 hours full power) as alkaline are dreadful, but the thing is explosion rated so that is the battery quoted.

Offline ZombieCake

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2021, 11:26:57 pm »
I've recently bought a second hand Petzl Micro and put an LED bulb in it, total cost about £18.  Lasts for ages, runs on 2AA batteries.  Turn it on light comes out, no daft cryptic button presses.

I guess something like that or a Petzl Tikkina or Black Diamond LED headlight or similar that runs on AAA batteries with helmet clips might work. Can adjust position as needed.

My main light is a Stenlight - nice and simple to use (bring them back!), funnily enough with a Fenix E35 on the side as back up. ....

Offline PeteHall

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 12:20:23 am »
Another vote for the Pixa, they are a fantastic back-up light!

I've been carrying one around my neck for several years now and I never cave without it (unless I'm diving!).

I've got a Pixa1 and a Pixa2 and while I swear by the Pixa1 as the ultimate back-up, I tend to take the Pixa2 more often these days.

The Pixa1 is great, because it is pretty dim, so it lasts ages. It doesn't have a brighter mode, so you are never tempted to see a bit more and reduce your burn time. It is however perfectly bright enough to cave on.

The Pixa2 has two light levels. On low, it lasts as long as the Pixa1, but you can turn it up to see a bit more if you want.

The fact that it's always around your neck means that it's there when you need to helmet off for a tight bit or to look through a small gap into the unknown. It also means that you don't loose your back-up light if you need to abandon your helmet when it jams in a squeeze, or falls down a tight rift or big pitch!  :o

The fact that it runs on AA batteries means it's easy to carry spares, or otherwise the batteries from your Duo will fit in (if it packs up before the batteries are flat). As it's 2 batteries (rather than a lot of smaller lights on 3 AAA's) you can charge them on any cheap charger, rather than needing some fancy thing with individual channels.

I can't remember what the depth rating is, but one of mine has been to the end of Swildon's more than once and they have been through the free-dives more times than I can remember. They have been to the most filthy digs and had a lot of abuse, but I've never had a single issue with one, ever! I bought my first one shortly after they were released, which must be getting on for 10 years ago now and still working flawlessly, albeit the casing is pretty scratched and scuffed!

As Fjell says, the lens is protected when not in use (the body rotates all the way around) and this also locks the switch, so it can't switch on by mistake.

After a trip, the mud does work itself quite far up the seal, so it's always worth opening it, pulling the seal off and cleaning it thoroughly. I always apply a light smear of silicone grease to the seal before putting it back together, just to be sure.

I think the Pixa1 is about £25 and the Pixa2 about £40, so pretty cheap really considering how tough the are.:thumbsup:

I honestly can't praise them enough, they are bloody brilliant as a back-up! Go and buy one, now! 
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Offline PeteHall

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 12:42:06 am »
3.  It must be helmet mounted rather than dangling round neck, in a tackle sack or pocket.  I'm open to all suggestions as to how to mount it to the helmet though
On this point, I have nearly lost my helmet on 2 occasions (the only flaw with the ecrin is the clip) with potentially catastrophic consequences if your back-up is fixed to the helmet.

The first was at a pitch head after a digging trip where I'd had my helmet off to fit up a narrow bedding half filled with liquid mud. The clip got jammed with mud and didn't properly engage. As I looked up to clip in a cows tail, my helmet fell off, complete with my only back-up light! Somehow it jammed between my shoulder and the cave wall and I was able to grab it before disaster struck.

The second was free-diving Swildon's Sump 3. I stopped to clear my ears at the low point and as I pulled on the rope again, my head bumped the roof and my helmet fell off. The clip hadn't properly engaged after I took my helmet off to put on a neoprene hood. I grabbed at the only thing I could see through the brown water (my light), knocking the switch and plunging myself into total darkness. Fortunately, I managed to keep hold of the helmet and complete the free-dive in darkness with one hand on the rope and the other on the helmet. Ironically, on this occasion, I had the Pixa around my neck but it was off and rotated into the lock position, so I couldn't switch it on in a hurry without losing the dive line... Since then, I always switch on the Pixa around my neck before starting a free-dive  ;D

As in my last post, it's also great when you want to be able to turn your head in a narrow bit as you can take your helmet off and wear it on your head.

When in use, you can just pull it up with one hand, and it sits on top of your main light just fine, with the elastic strap under the back of the helmet. No faffing looking in tackle sacks or pockets, or trying to fix it onto those silly helmet clips.  :thumbsup:
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Offline pwhole

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 01:07:55 am »
I always assume that my backup light may have to be used if I lose my helmet! So for that reason I keep it round my neck - a Fenix L55 or whatever they are. It has four brightness levels, including very dim, and quite a spot beam and is very bright on full power. However, as Alastair will attest, I find it impossible to keep it on my person if it's not round my neck, and twice he's now found it for me (last time a fortnight ago in fact), so I tend to sleep with it on now. Very dim indeed.

My main lights are:

Stenlight for 'close-up work' - which is hilarious really as it was the brightest thing out there when it came out. But again it has a very dim setting - and it really does have the best light beam out there, bar none - it's utterly without a boundary, and is beautiful. I've got spares of everything except the connector cable from the lamp to the battery as they ran out. I hope to god I don't bust that.

Roy Fellows Dragon EX, when I need to see a long way for quite a long time. This only has two levels - bright and very bright, but I find they work great in larger caves and mines, especially the dark and gloomy ones! You know what I mean. It has more of a spot beam, but that's better for distance work.

I have these permanently mounted on separate helmets, depending what the trip is. If it's digging or bolting it'll be the Stenlight, but for big SRT trips or exploration it'll be the Dragon. Both are small and balanced, and I now have a Roy Fellows battery pack on the Stenlight too.

Offline Ian Ball

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 08:23:51 am »
You could convert your custom duo to a single 18650 to reduce weight on the head.


Offline Fulk

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 09:14:17 am »
Well Tim, I must say I'm very amused by the answers so far, given your comment:

Quote
3.  It must be helmet mounted rather than dangling round neck, in a tackle sack or pocket.  I'm open to all suggestions as to how to mount it to the helmet though

I have a tiny Fenix E11 mounted on my helmet; I believe that this is no longer available, and has been superseded by the E12, with a claimed light output of 1 hour at 160 lumens, 13 hours at 30 lumen, and 70 hours at 5 lumens. It works off one AA battery (so you could easily carry several spares) and weigh in at 27.3 g (excluding battery); it's 17.6 mm long. My E11 is held in place by cable ties.

Incidentally, my main light is the Fenix HP25R which is, I believe, the predecessor to the HM65R; I find it an excellent light.

Offline paul

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2021, 12:18:26 pm »
Backup Light: a receptacle for dead batteries.
I'm not a complete idiot: some parts are missing!

Offline Ed

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2021, 01:23:34 pm »
Fenix HL50 - around my neck but small enough to fit below main lamp or in a pocket

Offline mountainpenguin

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2021, 01:35:20 pm »
for a while i carried a third light in the form of a AAA powered led lamp attached to the zipper of my suit. With a lithium aaa it is good for a few hours and not really noticeable.

Offline tim.rose2

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2021, 06:35:54 pm »
Thanks for the comments so far. 

Petzl Pixa's - I actually own a Pixa3.  It goes caving properly from time to time when I lend it to newbies but typically gets used by me as a general head torch or occasionally ferreting around some hole somewhere.  The only reason it's not my main headlamp is that the duo upgrade is significantly brighter and has a better run time.  I totally agree they are excellent, indestructible and highly recommend them myself.  However, I see them more as a main light rather than backup due to weight and size and just wish Petzl would kit them out with the same technology found in a Fenix!  I've never taken it apart but, assuming it's possible if somebody made pixa insert with better electronics then I'm sure they'd be onto a massive winner.

I fully appreciate all the comments about having a back up around your neck and completely agree that this is the safest option, however I violently object to things around my neck so much I'd rather go back to an FX5 and car battery strapped to my waist!  I'll accept the risk on this one and take a friend to go fetch my helmet when I throw it down a hole.  I've not come close to loosing a helmet myself yet (will probably happen one day) but I did have to rescue a mates a few years back when he threw it down a really stupid hole in Hillier's.  Was very funny to be honest but he'd have been up shit creek if he's was on his own.  Perhaps a separate thread on 'whilst caving I have lost....' might amuse us all.

Fenix E12 - looked at those.  Could well be the best contender.  Just might need two to balance things up.  I also looked at the Fenix E01 and came to the conclusion there's just not enough juice in one.  Being cable tied on and therefore permanent do you find you knock it a lot / wish you could remove it?  I used to cable tie side mounted torches but found being able to take them off an advantage.  Something you can use whilst your helmet is off / put in a pocket is definitely helpful at times.

The comment about receptacle for dead batteries - this is one of the reasons I like my current set up.  Lighting up chambers, photographs, poking torch through small hole is all done with the E35s, general caving with the duo.  Sometimes I use a low light setting on the E35 and not the duo for general caving.  Basically everything gets used most trips and more specifically charged.

I'm sure one day we'll have microscopic LEDs implanted into our foreheads or eyebrows then all this will be laughed at like the idea of having a lead from your helmet joined to a bucket of sulfuric acid strapped to your waist.

Keep the ideas coming.  I'm even keen to hear what people have dangling around their necks (I just won't be joining you)!


Offline Fjell

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2021, 09:51:24 pm »
It’s basically a battery issue. How big a battery do you want in it, and are you prepared to change them.

It’s about 1W per 100lm. 6hrs is 6W.hr. That is 2 x AA at 2400mA.hr. This is the Pixa lamps. There is no magic way to get more, although you lose efficiency the harder you drive the LED. Fenix don’t have different tech, just different objectives (high power spot for instance).

100lm is fine for modest caves. My wife is now running at about 300lm all the time, so 3W. My lamp is very often running at 8W on full flood, but it’s not 800lm (it has no lense though). I only use spot sometimes (with a reduced flood). If I try and pull the full 16W, it invariably steps down pretty quickly.

Life seemed simpler with a carbide. And when you dropped your helmet, it didn’t disappear. I have battle tested this.

Offline Ian P

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2021, 10:18:40 pm »
Tough one.

My suggestion based on this Criteria.

Main Light. A Fenix HM65 R   Really lightweight, very bright, 2 independent lights (bit of a faff to switch on, but built in back up”).

https://www.fenixtorch.co.uk/Shop/Fenix-Torches/Head-Torches/13868-Fenix-HM65R.html

Back up . A Fenix HM61R  Fixed on the rear to help with balance.  Fixed with a shock cord arrangement  (One on the front in case you need to mount it there. )
https://www.fenixtorch.co.uk/Shop/Fenix-Torches/Head-Torches/13917-Fenix-HM61R.html

Both lights work off 18650 batteries, so a couple of spare batteries in your pocket should see you right for any trip / incident.

If one around the neck is not an option, Would a “wrist mounted”back up be an option ?

Ian

Offline Fjell

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2021, 10:32:08 pm »
Tough one.

My suggestion based on this Criteria.

Main Light. A Fenix HM65 R   Really lightweight, very bright, 2 independent lights (bit of a faff to switch on, but built in back up”).

https://www.fenixtorch.co.uk/Shop/Fenix-Torches/Head-Torches/13868-Fenix-HM65R.html

Back up . A Fenix HM61R  Fixed on the rear to help with balance.  Fixed with a shock cord arrangement  (One on the front in case you need to mount it there. )
https://www.fenixtorch.co.uk/Shop/Fenix-Torches/Head-Torches/13917-Fenix-HM61R.html

Both lights work off 18650 batteries, so a couple of spare batteries in your pocket should see you right for any trip / incident.

If one around the neck is not an option, Would a “wrist mounted”back up be an option ?

Ian

My wife and I now go caving with 7 x 18650, 3 x 18500 and 2 x AA. Or we can switch back to 6 x 18650 and 10 x AA. You know it makes sense.  :kiss2:

Offline tim.rose2

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2021, 10:44:35 pm »
Thanks Ian, two great ideas there you've suggested which I'd not thought of.  An arm mounted backup is unlikely to annoy me.  I'm actually thinking upper arm rather than wrist though.  Might give this a go sometime.  Sounds obvious now but I'd not thought of mounting a backup on the rear of a helmet either.  Two lights which use the same mounting bracket / clips etc., one front, one back just swap over if necessary. 

Offline Ian P

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2021, 11:00:47 pm »
Thanks Ian, two great ideas there you've suggested which I'd not thought of.  An arm mounted backup is unlikely to annoy me.  I'm actually thinking upper arm rather than wrist though.  Might give this a go sometime.  Sounds obvious now but I'd not thought of mounting a backup on the rear of a helmet either.  Two lights which use the same mounting bracket / clips etc., one front, one back just swap over if necessary.

Alternatively you could just turn your helmet around  ;D

My wife has a Rude Nora, she has a Petzl e light wrapped around the battery box. I have a  Rude Nora and have a small Fenix around my neck. “Each to their own”.

Offline Ian P

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2021, 11:08:34 pm »

[/quote]

My wife and I now go caving with 7 x 18650, 3 x 18500 and 2 x AA. Or we can switch back to 6 x 18650 and 10 x AA. You know it makes sense.  :kiss2:
[/quote]

I feel that the 18650 batteries could become a nice standard for caving lights.  I have just “upgraded” our Rude Noras with the 18650 adaptor. Takes standard unprotected batteries, feels just like using AA’s. The more we can share batteries/ chargers the better in my humble opinion.   :thumbsup:

Offline andrewmc

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2021, 03:33:24 pm »
I feel that the 18650 batteries could become a nice standard for caving lights.

I doubt you'll find a (non-Petzl) caving lamp using lithium-ion batteries that isn't using 18650s, at least internally (they may be in shrink-wrapped units).

Offline Ian P

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Re: Backup light
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2021, 04:12:05 pm »

I doubt you'll find a (non-Petzl) caving lamp using lithium-ion batteries that isn't using 18650s, at least internally (they may be in shrink-wrapped units).
[/quote]

This is what I love about the new Rude Nora adaptor. It gets away from the shrink wrapped “specialist” battery and just takes standard non protected 18650’s. It even runs off just one battery (cell ?), so you could “donate” one in an emergency. It would be nice if all light manufacturers offered adaptors. (Wishful thinking  ;D).

The other great advantage is you don’t have to fiddle with those tiny RC connectors.

 

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