Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. #1
    Kir
    Kir is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    165

    User review: Solarstorm X2, original version

    This will be a quick reference review for another bigger project.
    Sorry for any possible errors or weird spelling - english is not my native language. Feel free to ask me any questions about this light, I'll try to answer them all.

    SolarStorm X2 first appeared on market in spring 2013, it was designed and sold by company called "Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology/Shenzhen Mingxiao Technology". This is their official website:
    Solarstorm.hk
    And their official store:
    Shenzhen Blackshadow Technology Co., LTD - Small Orders Online Store, Hot Selling box pencil case,light greens,flashlight mini and more on Aliexpress.com
    It quickly became a very popular light so it was cloned by many different factories and is now sold everywhere for prices ranging from $20 to $80.
    This review is for original SolarStorm X2, it was purchased in march 2013 for $70.


    SolarStorm X2 Review/Comparison / Original all pictures are available here, you can also view high-res originals (click on any picture, bottom-right corner will list all resolutions, use google translate if needed)


    PACKAGING / CONTENTS


    Cardboard "gift box", with "Bicycle Light X2" written on it and a small sticker in the lop left corner that indicates the light's color (black or red).

    Inside the box there are the light itself, battery, charger with euro adapter, 2 rubber mounting o-rings with tabs and a manual. No headstrap/helmet mount.

    Picture of manual, click for full size.

    DESIGN

    Small (60x25x42mm without mount) lightweight (80g) body, sharp edges with cooling fins on sides. Looks very good imo, one of the best original chinese designs.

    View from the front, 2 smooth reflectors, 2 XM-L (presumably U2 brightness bins in this version) leds.

    Plastic mount with a strip of rubber glued to it.

    On the back there are power cable, one big rubber button with good clicky switch underneath it and 3 leds that are used as battery voltage indicator.

    SSX2 in the center compared to D-50/MJ880 clone on the left and Yinding on the right. SSX2 has larger reflectors compared to D-50 that give it more throw and a smaller hotspot. Yinding uses TIR lenses.

    Solarstorm lights (X2, X3, XT30, XT40) use this special connector, it has additional o-ring and a threaded cover that make it competely waterproof. It's not needed imo as magicshine connectors were already waterproof enough but it's made like this. And yes, you can use most standart 5.5x2.1mm batteries with it.

    BATTERY


    Usual cheap chinese battery, 4x18650 2S2P cells in shrinkwrap, 7.4v voltage. Not waterproof! You have to cover it in plastic bags/rubber balloon/gloves or something to protect it from water.

    Battery capacity - 3300mAh, good result. You may ask why I'm saying "good" about an obviously low-capacity battery...well, you'll see why soon. This battery will work for about 2 hours on high mode.

    UI

    3 modes, switched with single click in this sequence: off-low-mid-high-off, and strobe on hold (about 1-1.5 blinks per second, good usable frequency).

    TEARDOWN

    Lets open it up and see how its made
    Starting from the mount:

    One screw, one threaded hole in casing, nothing interesting here.

    Front plate is held by 2 small hex screws. There are 2 glass lenses, 2 o-rings between them and the front plate and 2 aluminium reflectors underneath. Light should be completely waterproof.

    Leds are soldered to 16mm stars, stars are mounted with proper amount of thermal paste on aluminium pills. Pills are press-fitted into the body, thermal transfer is excellent here.

    Moving on to the back, there are 2 small hex screws that hold the backplate. Again - you can see that led's pills are press-fitted into the outer case, reflectors are removed from the front and pills stay in place.
    Led's wires are 26awg with silicone insulation. Soldering is very good everywhere, this light has great build quality.

    Picture of driver's pcb, you can see that it has "BlackShadow Mantis 5954" model name written on it

    and HX-1289 on the main and subboards.

    PCB with the button and 3 smd leds. Leds were probably supposed to be red, green and blue (this color setup is used on many other lights) but this final version has 3 green leds.

    Entire pcb is covered by big blue rubber cover and there is an aluminium backplate over it. All edges of this backplate (and the front plate too) are chamfered.

    Power cable is fixed with a hex nut which is glued in place - this should provide a good pull-out protection.

    This is it for teardown, build quality is excellent everywhere. But this is the original $70 light and it's clones can be much, much worse...

    ELECTRONICS



    Driver will go out of regulation at 6.6v on input = leds will start to dim. This is a good feature as you'll notice this dimming even if your light is mounted on the helmet and you can't see the battery indicator on it. At about 5v it will turn off competely.
    Lumens output is a very rough estimation (I don't have integrated sphere to properly measure lumens output) based on this calculator:
    LEDCalc.fonarevka.ru
    And with 20% reduction for losses in optics to calculate estimated OTF lumens.
    You can see that leds are not driven to the max, but that was probably intentional to avoid overheating and to provide longer runtime on included battery.

    IMPORTANT NOTICE!
    This light is very lightweight so it will heat up fast. While moving it will be cooled by air so its not a problem, but don't run it on high mode for a long time when standing still - it can and will overheat very easily.
    Some users have reported that it has overheat protection that will dim/turn off the light but I haven't tested that and I don't recommend to rely on such protections - overheating is bad for leds and electronics.

    BEAMSHOTS

    2 simple beamshots on the ceiling:


    Wide bright hotspot and wide dim sidespill. It can be roughly compared to MJ-808 and its clones but it has a much better beam imo - hotspot is bigger, brightness is higher, it gives enough throw for high-speed riding on the roads.
    Probably not the best light for forest/trail riding as its not very floody but it will work there too.

    Beamshots on the road (sorry for cellphone quality), beam is directed at the far and then near distance to show the beam profile at different angles:


    Same for trail/grass:


    And a quick comparison with my own light that uses neutral-white XM-L2 T5-5B leds with ~4200k color temperature, SSX2 beam at the top:

    Its kinda hard to see here but neutral-white leds provide much better contrast/image depth with better color rendering. I really don't like cool white U2 leds on SSX2.


    And another beamshot made by bhocewar in this excellent thread:
    2013 Budget Light Shootout
    User review: Solarstorm X2, original version-ssx2-2xmlu2.jpg

    CONCLUSION

    Pros:
    Small, lightweight body.
    Good beam profile, much better than on 1 XML MJ-808 clones.
    3 brightness modes, 4 stages battery indicator.

    Cons:
    Overheats very fast when not in motion.
    Low-capacity battery.
    Body has sharp edges which could be dangerous.
    Battery indicator leds are too bright and distracting at night.
    U2 leds are bright but have horrible color rendering.

    Overall this is a great light, one of the best choices for single light on your bike.
    But this review was mainly made for another project, which you will see soon
    Last edited by Kir; 11-24-2013 at 05:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Kir
    Kir is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    165
    ...and I almost lost all this text, had some browser problems while typing. Only auto-save saved me, I should probably write all this stuff in proper text editor.

    Anyway, this is just a quick review. To be continued!


  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    434
    Did you take the pill out? I wonder why mine are very loose on the version I have, and yours are press fit. I'm curious if your light has a different shaped pill. Did they change the design along the way, or did I get some sort of clone?

    Why do you estimate the loss of the reflectors at 20%? That seems steep to me.

    Also, just out of politeness, I would give explicit credit to the person who originally posted that beamshot, not just a reference to the thread where they posted it.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Cat-man-do's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    3,763
    Quote Originally Posted by varider View Post
    Did you take the pill out? I wonder why mine are very loose on the version I have, and yours are press fit. I'm curious if your light has a different shaped pill. Did they change the design along the way, or did I get some sort of clone?

    Why do you estimate the loss of the reflectors at 20%? That seems steep to me.

    Also, just out of politeness, I would give explicit credit to the person who originally posted that beamshot, not just a reference to the thread where they posted it.
    That original version does look well made. I'm now curious as to what my cheaper Manafont version looks like inside. I might just might have to take a look-see this weekend to get the low-down.

    Can't wait till the whiter XM-L2 ( U2's ) become more widely available. Judging from the photos it shouldn't be too hard to replace the emitters.

    BTW, very good review Kir.

  5. #5
    Kir
    Kir is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    165
    Took a ride with it, made beamshots and added them to review. Light is very good imo, small and light so it stays in place even when riding trails at high speed (my own light is much heavier and moves up/down on large bumps).
    Also noticed that 3 green leds on the back are way too bright and very distracting at night, added that to cons section.

    Did you take the pill out? I wonder why mine are very loose on the version I have, and yours are press fit. I'm curious if your light has a different shaped pill. Did they change the design along the way, or did I get some sort of clone?
    I didn't take the pill out as I would have to hammer it out and I don't want to ruin this light
    You just got a cheaper clone.

    Why do you estimate the loss of the reflectors at 20%? That seems steep to me.
    Uncoated glass lens alone gives about 8% of light loss:
    Lenses - Flashlight Wiki
    Add losses on reflectors, led's heat up and total would probably be even higher than 20%.

    Can't wait till the whiter XM-L2 ( U2's ) become more widely available. Judging from the photos it shouldn't be too hard to replace the emitters.
    On this version its very easy to replace leds, just buy new ones on 16mm stars and solder 2 wires on each one. On clones its a different story...
    And I don't understand why so many ppl like "whiter" cool-white U1-U2-U3 leds. They have such horrible color, everything looks flat and washed-out

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Gharddog03's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    289
    Another great review. Thanks Kir!

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    1
    I bought the X2 from PCMall on Ebay..
    Two of 4 batteries were no good, they wouldn't help and EBAY/Paypal wouldn't help either..
    Through some friends in China I have made contact with the manufacture of Solarstorm and will be getting the original lights sent to me with proper Samsung batteries and sealed cases.

    After reading this thread I took one of the lights apart this morning and it's quite different inside.
    Some say the plug on the back of the original product are square, personally I think it doesn't matter, Solarstorm use square and round, no biggy.

    The screws used may very well be the determination from the outside as many posts I have read suggest the Phillips screw signifies the cloned product (as with the units we have here)

    Tonight I will be talking with Solarstorm and sending off photos of what I have here to confirm a cloned product.

    As for prices.. We paid $22 each for the X2's
    The price for the Original product should run closer to $100 because it comes with sealed batteries cases and Samsung 2600mah batteries not some grey covered generic cell (Which BTW do last a couple of hours, unfortunately as mentioned above, only two of the 4 batteries worked)

    If this is the clone, here is what it looks like.




    Great review BTW, it helped me determine what I had here for lights.

    Cheers,

    C.

Similar Threads

  1. SOLARSTORM X2 5000 Lumens - e-bay purchase - mini review
    By Skyraider59 in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 04-25-2014, 05:43 AM
  2. User Review: Xeccon S-12 ( Cree U2 )
    By Cat-man-do in forum Lights and Night Riding
    Replies: 50
    Last Post: 07-22-2013, 06:44 AM
  3. 1st Web User Raleigh Tripper Review
    By Dr_MurdocChongo in forum Cyclocross
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-16-2012, 01:52 PM
  4. Which is better, original or the cover version?
    By Dummyrunner in forum Off Camber (off topic)
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 04-22-2012, 09:02 AM
  5. Replies: 10
    Last Post: 02-18-2012, 12:16 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •