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  1. #1
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    Quick review; K/D Tri-Clone XM-L2 U2 lamp: Stepless UI

    Too early in the year to do a full user review as all the trails where I live are nothing but mud. I did do a quick ride on some paved bike paths so I thought I'd give some initial comments.

    First up, this is the lamp I ordered: 3 x Cree XM-L2 U2 Stepless Adjusted Bicycle Light with Battery Set and Charger. Unfortunately I didn't exactly get what I ordered. I was sent the Manta Ray D003. Not U2 like I wanted but still looks like the emitters are XM-L2's.

    After taking my initial spin I was very impressed with what I was seeing. That pleased me because initial test inside my home ( wall test ) showed a yellowish ring in the beam pattern. Fortunately such rings don't always translate over to actually use and thankfully such was the case with the D003. Basically the D003 has a medium wide beam and VERY GOOD distance throw. This lamp is a little wider and a little heavier than your typical tri-clone. The reflectors are also a little deeper. This helps explain the excellent throw which actually compared very favorably to my Gloworm X2 (v3). The GW still has the edge as far as having a cleaner, smoother slightly wider beam pattern but I was very impressed with the useability of the D003 output. As I rounded tight turns I was never compelled to turn on my helmet lamp ( AND that is saying a lot! )

    Before leaving for the ride I pre-adjusted the mid-mode to be a little brighter. ( Not sure if it was step 5 or 6 ). Once I got out I quickly noticed that the low mode was not to my liking. I stopped and then adjusted it to a nice useable level ( step 3 or 4 ). Once done it was absolutely beautiful! I est. the low was now in the 350 lumen range. The previously set-up mid mode was perfect. The output on mid-mode was so good that I really had no need for more light. I could tell that on mid-mode ( step 5 or 6 ) that I could easily see about 150 ft. ( and that on wet, damp dark paved trail ) Clearly most of the light is thrown towards the center of the beam pattern but there is still more than enough spill to clearly see things in the perimeter without any problems.

    Too early to rate the total output on high. I need to do some inside lux comparisons before I do that. What I will say is that if I didn't own the Gloworm lights the D003 would be my bar lamp of choice. Now if I encounter unacceptable thermal issues that may change but for the time being I like what I'm seeing. More testing being done tomorrow. ( **OH, almost forgot to mention; this lamp bought with my own money ).
    Last edited by Cat-man-do; 02-23-2014 at 05:42 AM.

  2. #2
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    Connectors in the pic look to not be the locking/sealed MS type - what does it have?
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    Connectors in the pic look to not be the locking/sealed MS type - what does it have?
    They are pretty much standard MS type connectors. As cheap batteries/connectors go these are not the best but definitely not the worst I've seen. The provided battery and male connector seal very well. Other MS type batteries work with it as well, some good, some better.

  4. #4
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    Seems Kaidomain didn't provide very good explanation of how the modes work. It sounded "stepless" (i.e. Ramping output level up/down as you hold the button) but in fact has 10 preset levels you can set your low & medium too. Did I get this right?
    -Garry

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    Seems Kaidomain didn't provide very good explanation of how the modes work. It sounded "stepless" (i.e. Ramping output level up/down as you hold the button) but in fact has 10 preset levels you can set your low & medium too. Did I get this right?
    -Garry
    Yes, the lamp has three steady modes, L-M-H. Each or the three modes can be adjusted through 9 output levels by doing a push/hold for each level.

    Example, adjust mid level mode: Turn lamp on with one push. Lamp comes on in low, press again lamp is in mid-mode. Once in mid mode press and hold switch lamp goes off and then comes back on. You will notice rear led light is now blinking which indicates "stepless mode". At this point you keep ( momentarily quick press ) the button till you get the output you want. It will go from lowest to highest and they cycle back until you chose the level you want. When the desired level is reached you press/hold the switch and the output is set/saved for that mode level. One quick press/hold turns the lamp off. Once set if will retain the same setting even after you remove the battery.

  6. #6
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    K/D triple ( Manta Ray ) D003: Thermal and Lux test.

    THERMAL RUN TEST: Manta Ray D003

    Starting room temperature 75F / 23.9C
    A small 1ft. fan was used at 3ft distance on high to simulate moving air when riding a bike. Thermal readings taken with a Craftsman infrared thermometer. Lamp set on high.

    Starting temperature on lamp head .......80F / 26.6C

    2 minutes...........................80F / 26.6C

    4 minutes...........................98F / 36.6C

    6 minutes.........................104F / 40C

    8 minutes.........................107F / 41.6C

    10 minutes.......................110F / 43.3C

    LUX COMPARISON; Manta Ray D003 ( *XM-L2 ) vs. Gloworm X2 ( v3 ) ( *XM-L2 "U2") *emitters
    All readings in LUX. Both lamps have a "stepless" menu and are adjusted to my liking. Test done at about 4 meters

    Manta Ray D003..............Gloworm X2 (v3)

    low....234 ........................245

    Mid....500.........................608

    High..1030........................1030

    Things to note about the Lux test; No pre-warm up was done with either lamp. The two lamps have different optical characteristics. The GW uses optics while the D003 uses reflectors. Reflectors tend to focus more light toward the center and usually will have a brighter hot spot. In a lux test a lamp with reflectors will have an advantage. A higher lux reading will not necessarily mean it has a higher output when compared to a lamp using optics ( lumen wise ). The Gloworm is the brigher lamp BUT the MRay holds it's own and has throw that rivals the Gloworm. If the Gloworm is truely 1500 lumen I would judge the MRay to be somewhere around 1300 lumen ( give or take 50 lumen ) I'll also note that the beam tint on the MRay is also very good as well. No bluishness to the tint at all.

    Things to note about the Thermal test: I was very impressed with the thermal management of the MRay D003. The readings I got were lower than expected. Thermal "shut down" never came into play but I didn't run the lamp on high for more than 12 minutes. After I finished doing the temperature readings I did a quick lux test to see how much the output had dropped. Not to my surprise the Lux output only dropped to 981 lux! In my opinion this represents pretty good thermal management ( right out of the box ).

  7. #7
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    Wow this sounds really nice for a budget light! So you can also change your mode order if wanted to, to H-M-L? And all three LED's are on at the same time in each mode?

    Looking forward to beamshots!

    -Garry

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrybunk View Post
    Wow this sounds really nice for a budget light! So you can also change your mode order if wanted to, to H-M-L? And all three LED's are on at the same time in each mode?

    Looking forward to beamshots!

    -Garry
    Ha! YES!...I never thought about that but YES you can change the mode order by reprogramming them AND if you wanted you can change it to only TWO modes ...H-L-H...or H-M-H..etc.
    That's the beauty of having a "Stepless" option and one of the reasons I bought the light.

    Eventually I plan on buying a new camera for beam shots. My old camera works fine but I am not able to transfer the photos easily to my PC because the camera is so out of date. I can do it but a total PITA. Anyway, trail conditions too muddy at the moment for any good photos ( or riding ) and still waiting for all the snow to melt. Jonesing big time for some trail time. Crossing my fingers hoping no more snow shows up.

  9. #9
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    Cat-man-do, thanks for review!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
    Not U2 like I wanted but still looks like the emitters are XM-L2's.
    How do you know whether it's U2 or not?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Archie- View Post
    Cat-man-do, thanks for review!


    How do you know whether it's U2 or not?
    Good question. Basically I'm comparing it to the ones I already have. I also ordered an XM-L2 "U2" emitter on 16mm copper base with my K/D order so I could mod one of my torches for more output. Looking at that emitter and the plain XM-L2 emitters in some of my other lamps I don't see much difference. Perhaps someone else might want to chime in on the structural differences between the L2 and L2 "U2".

    The lamp I ordered was suppose to be with the L2 "U2's". As I said before that one didn't come but was substituted with the Manta Ray which looks almost exactly like it. It might actually be with U2 but since the other site which sells the Manta Ray D003 has it listed as only, "XM-L2", I'm not going to assume the one I have is using the U2 upgrade. My Gloworm X2 (v3) is using the XM-L2 U2's. Only problem is since it is using optics I can't really get a good look at the emitters unless I take off the front off of the lamp. Now if the one's on the GW look like the others than perhaps I'm wrong and the Manta Ray is indeed U2. At some point I will e-mail K/D and ask them the same question.

    Kaidomain has some explaining to do anyway. I also ordered an XM-L2 "U2", 5-mode drop-in . The emitter on that drop-in is flawed and has about 10-15% of the die missing. While it still works it is not as bright as expected and has a large yellow artifact in the center of the beam pattern. Looks like I got a bad one.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat-man-do View Post
    Looking at that emitter and the plain XM-L2 emitters in some of my other lamps I don't see much difference. Perhaps someone else might want to chime in on the structural differences between the L2 and L2 "U2".
    There's none. After manufacturing, the LEDs are sorted by measuring their output, and get appropriate bin/tint marking assigned. And BTW, there's no such thing as "plain XM-L2": all of them have brightness and color codes.

  12. #12
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    "U2" is simply a flux bin (emitters are rated for output level "flux bin" and color output - "tint". A "U2" is simply the next bin level above "T6". There is no structural difference; no difference in appearance at all. Now as most know already, there is a "structural" difference between the XM-L and XM-L2. Also, the higher you go on the flux bins, the more cool white you tend to get in the tint (more bluish or purplish of a color). And these Chinese stores will lie about bins & tints too! There is a nice reference page on Flashlight WiKi explaining tints & bins with nice charts for each emitter type, but it's really tough for me to post a link from my phone.

    EDIT - Archie beat me to it!
    -Garry

  13. #13
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    Very nice. This is the same light I got last year so I'm looking forward to reading your reviews on it. I posted before about my initial thermal management issues. It's worth noting that this light has a very nice (and bright) "pulse" instead of a strobe when you activate the flash mode.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelhmr View Post
    Very nice. This is the same light I got last year so I'm looking forward to reading your reviews on it. I posted before about my initial thermal management issues. It's worth noting that this light has a very nice (and bright) "pulse" instead of a strobe when you activate the flash mode.
    Link to your post?

    EDIT - Oh nevermind, I see there's been a bunch of posts about this light and thermal issues in the "New Clone 3 x XML T-6 49.88" thread and saw your post 447 (and some others, but gave up reading that thread). Please excuse the newbie . By the way, I see you're not too far away from me.

    Thanks,
    Garry

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Archie- View Post
    There's none. After manufacturing, the LEDs are sorted by measuring their output, and get appropriate bin/tint marking assigned. And BTW, there's no such thing as "plain XM-L2": all of them have brightness and color codes.
    Yes Arch, I know all that. When I say, "plain" I'm just referring to one of the standard T6 bins that are usually used. Choice of tint varies and as you said is part of the sorting process. The U2 bins are usually rated as having a higher output than the T6 rated emitters.

    When I ordered the XM-L2 "U2" from K/D the bin was also listed as "1A". This is the cool white version. Not exactly what I wanted but you take what you can get. The cool white sometimes tends to have some bluishness to the beam pattern. I would have preferred the 2B tint but those are really hard to find. I like the tint to be more white with less blue which usually is somewhere just over the 6000K range. Once you get over 6500K there tends to be more blue to the tint.

    At some point I'd like to order several versions and choose which I like the best. The "neutral white" ( NW ) bins are fine but appear to be not as bright in certain situations. NW works very well though when conditions are dry and all the foliage is in full bloom. NW brings out the colors better and is easier on the eye. In the fall and winter the leaves fall off of everything and things get damp and wet. Reflectivity of trail terrain drops. In those conditions ( IMO ) the brighter white tint works better ( as long as it is not too blue )

  16. #16
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    Cat.....how does this compare to the original Tri Clone as far as brightness, spread, etc?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by the mayor View Post
    Cat.....how does this compare to the original Tri Clone as far as brightness, spread, etc?
    Ah, good question. I did do a quick comparison with the older tri-clone ( with T6 emitters ). The original Tri-clone has a slightly wider beam pattern ( with all emitters on ) but doesn't match the total output or throw of the bigger/heavier MRay D003. The old Tri-clones heated up much faster as well as I recall.

    Something that I didn't mention before was that I also quickly compared the lux output of the D/X Nitefire Hero2 triple XM-L U2 ( think SStorm X3 emitter clone, not to be confused with the newer 3 and 4 emitter SStorm "round" lamps ) and the MRay clearly was the brighter lamp.

    Oh, btw the the Manta Ray also comes in a quad version ( D004 ) as well although I don't know if that one's stepless or not.

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    Cat, don't you have an olympia? i am curious to see a comparison between the two

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by manbeer View Post
    Cat, don't you have an olympia? i am curious to see a comparison between the two
    No, don't have an Olympia. Since the Olympia is using XM-L2 emitters with optics it would make an interesting comparison. The Olympia is likely brighter but since it's using a 19 optic it should have a more evenly dispersed beam pattern with perhaps a little less throw. Been a while since someone's reviewed an Olympia. I'd like to see a good user review of the Olympia 2100.

    BTW, a quick google search indicates that the Manta Ray quad version ( D004 ) does indeed include a "stepless" menu. Kaidomain sells two versions, one with 4-cell and one with 8-cell battery. Both are using the T-6 emitter unfortunately.

  20. #20
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    I took the MRay D003 with me to work yesterday to shine it around when I got chance. When I found a rather nice dark area I happened to hold the lamp up head high to simulate what would happen if the lamp were helmet mounted. All I can say is, "Wow!", this would make an awesome helmet lamp. With it's wide yet far throwing beam pattern it would rock on a helmet. At some point I'll probably try it out on the helmet but I'll likely have to center mount it high on the helmet because of the weight issue. I generally can only tolerate so much weight on my head so I'm crossing my fingers hoping it will work.

    If this works it will of course mean that the lamp will stick out like a sore thumb when mounted on the very top of the helmet. As long as I'm not dodging low branches though it shouldn't be a problem. Can't wait to get a chance to try this stuff out. Still dealing with the winter/mucky trails doldrums.

    *Edit ; I threw on the lamp on the helmet. Ummm...The weight not so much a problem but with the lamp so high on the helmet the center of gravity on the helmet is now much higher. That translates over into making the helmet rock back and forth a bit when moving my head. This means I have to try to make the helmet more stable by tighting the straps under my neck. This is something I don't know if I can deal with on a prolonged ride. I won't have that answer till I try it out.

  21. #21
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    Just wanted to say thanks for the review! I was looking for a budget riding light and just ordered one of these base one your info.

  22. #22
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    A couple quick comments; Not sure if the MRay D003 has voltage indicators. Looks like I'll have to let it run one of my batteries down to check that out.

    Also of minor interest; when changing modes the lamp does a "small fade" rather than instant "next level". Not really noticeable when going from low to higher levels but going from High to low is kinda cool.

    I'm beating my head on the wall, more snow coming tonight. What a strange winter it's been this year. Record cold temps while the arctic regions are having warmer than usual temps. Hey Alaska, you want your "Cold" back? Take it it's yours.

  23. #23
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    I did put in a product request at FastTech for them to carry this light and also the Pannovo battery case. We'll see. I also asked them to carry the lighthead only.

    -Garry

  24. #24
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    Tonight I put the MRay D003 through some more tests. I hooked the lamp up to the provided battery that had yet to be charged. I was hoping to see if the lamp had voltage indicators. This meant I had to run the lamp again with a fan on it only this time for a somewhat longer period than I did before.

    When I first turned the lamp on the back led is lit green. The lamp ran about 20 minutes on the partially charged battery before the indicator on the back turned red. At this point the lamp automatically powered down to low with the back led blinking red. There was no blue intermediate led.

    This immediately gave me pause to think; Was this a thermal shut-down or a low voltage shut-down? In order to answer that question I quickly changed batteries and continued with the lamp running on high. I ran the lamp a total of 30 minutes on high. ( using both batteries ). The lamp did not power down after switching batteries, therefore I believe the power-down was because of the low voltage level of the first ( partially charged ) battery.

    During the test the lamp head never got above 113F ( 45C )
    Now the question is ; How long will the lamp run in power-down mode before it cuts out? THAT..I will try to answer tomorrow.

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    By my test, thermal rump down should happen at about 50C. Of course it depends on the housing, heat dissipation and input power. Mine driver SKU: 231936 was lately tested in identical housing to SKU: 232195 at DX at room temperature, no additional cooling.
    Voltage rump down and its light signaling is depended by quality and voltage drop curve of battery pack. With almost empty or very low quality ones you might even get complete shut off (battery protection might cick in). This is because the driver is regulated and it tries to pull high current at low voltage while batteries can't stand it.
    Cat you might try different packs at their voltage end. At better ones, you might experience mid signaling stage at around 6.6V. Lower than that you could get flashing red. I'm writing from memory so this might not be exact numbers.

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