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Map Reading light

Discussion in 'Flashlights & Other Illumination Devices' started by deeker, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. deeker

    deeker Loaded Pockets

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    Out on a SAR training exercise last night, a couple of us were ''blinded'' by another team member's bright light when it was flashed onto the map we were reading. I love bright lights as much as the next person here, but I now have a need for a dimmer - or even different colored emitter - light for reading maps without killing night vision.

    Any suggestions on something that might work well for my needs?
    Small sized (pocket or sheath size), low output, lithium battery (or batteries, CR123 ), LED preferred, possibly different color light - red or green maybe.
     
  2. DSC

    DSC Banned

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    Arc AAA (red LED) (Can use lithium AAA in it)
    Or a CR123 glo-tube...comes in many colors...couple of different brightness settings also.
     
  3. FeebleOldMan

    FeebleOldMan Loaded Pockets

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    How about the Photon Proton Pro by the guys who brought to you the Photon Freedom Micro. It's basically a 2-in-1 red/white torchlight, and runs at $50 bucks with free shipping at Amazon.
     
  4. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    If you want CR123, I've heard those programmable Novatacs can be set for very low light levels. That would get you both bright and really low in the same package.
     
  5. Rocket Jones

    Rocket Jones Empty Pockets

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    Would one of the red or blue LED phauxtons work?
     
  6. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    I'd be wary of using colored LEDs for map reading. If the maps are black & white they will be fine, of course, but if it's a color coded map, try reading them with a colored LED (red etc.) in a bathroom before trying it for real.
     
  7. NastyCop

    NastyCop Loaded Pockets

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    You can also try using a tritium torch. I've seen a few of those on CPF.
     
  8. MandM

    MandM Loaded Pockets

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    The Novatac 120p has a very low level output. Great for nighttime reading. And it's a great all around light too. Could kill many birds with 1 stone.

    If not... get a Fenix E01. It's 1 x AAA, inexpensive, and small. Or a Fauxton (or a real Photon). There are plenty of small, low-ish output lights for you to choose from.
     
  9. rhysman1

    rhysman1 Empty Pockets

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    Hi, Be careful using Red Filters/Lens as you can not see contour lines on maps at night use Green filters, If you dont want to spend much on anew torch you can buy small packs of filters for maglite torches from most good outdoor shops
     
  10. Mitty

    Mitty Loaded Pockets

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    The best one I have found is Rigel Systems' "Skylite." http://www.rigelsys.com/

    It has continuously adjustable brightness, red or white, just by turning a nice big glove-friendly thumbwheel. The guy that designed it, IIRC, is an astronomy prof who was basically doing them in the basement. That was a number of years ago when I bought mine. Now it looks like his business has expanded quite a bit.

    It's a little klunky and I don't like that it uses a 9v battery instead of AAs, but it definitely suits the job you describe.

    If you're flying SAR and wearing a headset, I have found that it works quite well to attach a couple of Photon "Covert" lights to each side of the headset with Velcro. You can aim them to create a horizontal figure eight that coincides with where you are looking and, at that point, you really don't care whether the panel lights in the airplane are working or not. They have three brightness levels. "High" works well over city lights but in the boonies without a moon you will probably set them to "Low."

    Be sure to place any light source above your eye level. Lights that are below eye level, like the mic boom or chest/lanyard lights you see, make it nearly impossible to write on a kneeboard because your pen tip will be in a shadow. The light source needs to be above eye level, ball cap lights for example, to eliminate shadowing.

    BTW if you try this, you need the "Covert" model Photon that has the little snoot over the LED. If not, you get a nice glare source very close to your eyes. Black paint around the led would probably do it too.

    Edit: I found the back story: http://members.cox.net/rigelsys/downloads/Brief_hist_rig_sys.pdf
     
  11. chmsam

    chmsam Loaded Pockets

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    Got to give another mention the Photon Freedom Covert but especially with one of the hands free clips Photon has. Those little clips are one of the best designs I have ever seen, very simple to mount and use and they just plain work great. The clip swivels, mounts with a plastic sping, and even has strong magnets if that's what you need. If you'll be in a vehicle or even just using a clipboard, take a look at the MaxiBeam system they offer.

    The Photon Freedoms can be ramped up or down to the level you need. The Covert feature option is simply a plastic tube that blocks much of the side spill from the LED (they are not removable but add only $1.30 to the cost of the light). Many colors are available that would work for map and chart reading. There should be no problem finding one in the appropriate color for reading almost any map or chart and they are cheap enough to afford having a few for multiple choices. Check out their web site.

    I can swear to the durability of a Photon under bad conditions (rain, mud, dust, snow, cold -- been there, done that). The only gripe I readily hear is that the batteries are coin cells. Well, they last long for me. Also they're easy to find around here and at a good price too but even better if you look on line. 2016 or 2032 cells are very compact (easiest and lightest weight batteries for carrying spares) and changing the battery on a Freedom isn't real difficult even though the light is small. I've done it in the dark (simple suggestion: change the battery over a spread out bandanna to avoid dropping parts and even something like the tiny blade on a SAK Classic can be helpful).

    I'm a big believer in cheap, even bigger when it comes to durable, but I'd just about kill to have stuff work as well for a task as the Photon Freedom Covert does for reading maps at night. I've used them with USGS maps, DeLorme Atlases, road maps, etc. White is the best choice all around but if you also have a red one and a turquoise (a.k.a "night vision green") you should be set for anything.
     
  12. Joe McDoakes

    Joe McDoakes Loaded Pockets

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    Although significantly larger than the photon or other keychain lights, a Streamlight Sidewinder may work for your application.

    White, red, green, blue each with four intensities. It is 2x AA sized, but can accept lithium.

    Link to Sidewinder page on the Streamlight website
     
  13. nezza1694

    nezza1694 BST/Marketplace ban

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    Mate,like you i am in SAR and wear on a piece of paracord round my neck a Photon Freedom the only bad thing about this is it comes on in high mode but just cover it until its at the right level. Also closeone eye that helps so you have your night vision in that eye.
     
  14. Valerian

    Valerian Tea-powered admin

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    The really cool thing about it is that it comes on at the lowest setting if you switch it on by holding the button down for half a second or so. It's probably one of the easiest and most efficient user interfaces out there.

    The Photon Freedom is a great little light, and I love mine too, but it uses PWM for dimming so it does flicker a bit on the low settings. It's nothing to worry about for short duration uses, but I wouldn't want to read more than a page or two with it.
     
  15. chmsam

    chmsam Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, the Photon Freedom can come on full blast if you press and immediately release the switch but Valolammas is also right. Remember, this little guy is a multifunction light. Go to the Photon web site and look for the page for the Freedom Max. There is a tab there for "instructions & support." That's the page that will show you how to use the different modes and all, but it also explains that from "off" if you simply press and hold the switch it will ramp up in brightness starting from very low. You may release the switch when the desired level is reached (the light will blink once when the maximum level is obtained).
     
  16. deeker

    deeker Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the many replies. I will look into all of these lights and see what might be the best fit.

    Again, the folks on the EDC Forum prove to be a valuable resource.
    :ty:
     
  17. icqcq

    icqcq Loaded Pockets

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    I've found a solution for riding the motorcycle: the map is in its clear case on top of the bag, and one of these is on top of it. I can turn it on and off easily through the plastic, and it doesn't have any glare. It's not the Most Solidly Made thing, but it's possible it would suffice, or, being a handy EDCFer, you could find a way to toughen it up a bit.