Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: UVPaqlite - Mule Light Orb

As first published on BreachBangClear!

I do so love my glowing lights. There is something very satisfying about a renewable light source that is charged by the sun to mark out the dark corners of a room, locate a bag or device in the dark or even to ID friends vs foes. I have gathered quite a collection of glow in the dark items over the years, all starting with those little stars you put on the ceiling to make constellations, as a kid. My girls have them too, now.

I've been an even bigger fan of the products from UV PaqLite for some time, I keep them in my packs, hand them to my kids when we go out at night and generally have them on hand for those "where did everybody go moments, where I might need more than just one of my multitude of flashlights.

One is none, two is one, and batteries run low. I kept tabs on the family team of Steve Nagel and Alexis Nagel, and their inspiration, gun-toting outdoors-man Uncle Vernon, who was their inspiration. Their basic product is based around the fact that if you embed the raw strontium aluminate crystals in a solid resin you get a long glowing light-source, in a solid, stable and resilient unit.

The problem with all this type of glow-in-the dark products are that they all still need to be charged to work. If your emergency happens when you're already in the dark, or the light is in the bottom of a bag, you are not going to get much use from them. This is where the folks from UVPaqlite came up with another option. They embedded a LED in the middle of two halves, with USB rechargable lithium ion rechargeable batteries, light-detection sensors and some clever circuitry to give you a hybrid light that gives you an infinitely renewable GITD shell and long lasting electronics that can hold 100hours of illumination on a single charge.
So the UVPaqLite people have came up with a hybrid model.

To operate the flashlight mode, you press the button built into the middle band. This illuminates one side of the orb, right through the embedded crystals, and casts a very satisfying light, as well as charging up the GITD crystals. Holding the button until the light flashes sets a timer mode, which will set the LED's on either side of the orb to flash every two minutes recharging the crystals to peak performance. The batteries will hold around 100 hours of these flashes.

An even smarter feature utilizes a small photo-receptor built into the side of the Orb, just beside the USB charge port.
 Holding the on-off button for a double-flash of the light letting you know you've activated the light sensor and now the Orb will only function in hybrid mode when it’s dark. It lights up for about 4 seconds, which can be a bit disconcerting if you're trying to get to sleep and it's dangling over your head. This means you can set it up wherever you want it and forget about it. Clip it to the side of your pack with the built in split ring and snap-clip, hang it from the top of your tent, or drop it in your bag.
 It will self-charge the crystals as you go about your life. This is really good for the forgetful or the over-packed.

The on-theme USB cable they supply is just long enough to do the job and not so much to get in the way. The 45g (1.5 oz) Orb is  37mm (1.4") x 25mm (1") is a little big for a key-fob, but perfect for pockets. I've had it on the side of my Hazard4 Escape RG harness for a while and didn't find it getting in my way at all.

It's weather-resistant in its native state, meaning it can take some rain and exposure, but don't soak it. If you're expecting a big wet, they've thought of that too. The dive capsule is rated to 100m (300') which is more than three times the depth I've ever been rated to SCUBA dive to, but I suppose some day I might want to tag some salvage and come back to it with a ROV. 

I'm a lot more likely to be yomping through a storm though, so the extra weather protection and night-swimming illumination is what appeals to me. You can't access the button from inside the capsule, so whatever setting you have selected before you hit the water is what you're stuck with, unless you feel brave enough to pop it open in the wet. In the capsule the Orb is positively buoyant and floats around happily on an even keel. It's a well designed accessory, with a smooth threading action, and a sturdy o-ring and flat-folding attachment ring.

I was really impressed with both the GITD illumination that the Orb offered, and the flashlight mode. It certainly has a lot of potential to give medium term, renewable and reusable illumination, on-demand, really the best of both worlds. Since getting my hands on the UVPaqlite range I haven't used a cylume stick, but I've kept some around just in case I've been caught out without an immediate light source and now that I have the Orb, I might just pass them off to the kids to have one last hurrah.

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