Steve Rix

Tech Reviews and Thoughts

TrustFire R5-A3 XP-G R5 1xAA 3-mode Review

Purchased from Deal Extreme
Purchase date: 5/3/2011
Price paid: $18.11
Modes: Hi – Low – Strobe (includes mode memory)
Battery format: 1xAA or 1×14500

Features

Firstly it is worth pointing out that this light is incorrectly listed on Deal Extreme as being fitted with a Cree XP-E-R5 emitter, the emitter which is fitted is in fact a Cree XP-G R5.

The light is capable of being powered from a single AA cell or a 14500 cell for extra light output, since I do not own any 17560 cells this review is based only on the use of AA cells.

The switching of modes generally works quite well, quickly press the switch to cycle through each mode. The light will memorise the last selected mode when the light has been switched off for a period of  <1 second. The low mode isn’t exactly what I would call low, but provides a useful amount of light.

There is a useful amount of glow in the dark material placed on the switch boot cap and also a small circular piece between the bezel and the reflector, quite useful indeed.

I am not much of a fan when it comes to strobe modes, they seem to always get in the way. I cannot help but feel slightly annoyed when cycling through the mode sequence of the the modes of the TrustFire R5-A3. It would be nice if budget lights paid at least some attention to the UI of their lights, rather than focusing their efforts on maximum brightness. But as always, you learn to live with the strobe mode being present.

Strobe mode is a rather quick 8hz.

Design & Build Quality

My sample arrived with a deep scratch on the finish, which was a little disappointing.

But moving on, the overall build quality however is quite solid. Use of gnurling is small, but adequate enough for a light of this size and weight. The pocket clip seems flimsy. I’m not sure if it would be up to the job. The reverse clicky switch requires quite a large amount of force to click on and off, resulting in a nice (but very loud) positive feedback. The threads for the battery compartment aren’t the smoothest.

Personally, I find it to be quite an ugly looking light.

Output and Beam Quality

Despite the emitter on my sample being far from centred correctly; the beam is surprisingly pleasant and is free from any ring artifacts. The beam produced is of a floody nature and the tint is excellent. I would describe it as being ‘cool white’.

The level of brightness in high mode is very good. When comparing the R5-A3 with a Zebralight H51 (200 lumens OTF) the TrustFire R5-A3 really isn’t too far behind at all in turns of brightness to the eye. The beam is slightly less floody and cooler in colour temperature.

Tailcap Measurements

Tailcap measurement tested from a fully charged Sanyo Eneloop.

High mode: 2.1A
Low mode:  200mA

Runtime

 


 

 

Runtime Observations:

  • The Trustfire R5-A3 produces quite a well regulated light output in high mode for an hour before dropping out of regulation for the remaining 30 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes in high mode I noticed a substantial drop in brightness and evidence of PWM – Seems like the driver will dump itself into low mode after around 60 minutes in high mode.
  • Low mode is very decent providing nearly 10 hours of output from an AA cell. There were some early reviews stating that this light has a very poor runtime on low, I can only guess that since then the driver  has been changed.
  • The light will fail to power up with a cell that is reading anything less than 0.7 voltsIntermittent/strange behaviour is observed at such low voltages I noticed a number of times the light will become stuck in strobe mode.

 

PWM

The TrustFire R5-A3 uses PWM to generate the low mode.

PWM Frequency: 196Hz
On: 0.75ms
Off: 7.50ms
Duty Cycle: 9.1%

Sadly, it’s low frequency and low duty cycle. Leaving the tell tale signs of PWM to be extremely visible to the naked eye. Break out the glow sticks as it’s raving time! :(

Summery

For $18 you can’t really complain too much. But spend a little time with the light and you will likely realise the price is a little on the steep side. I’m thinking $12, maybe $15 tops!

The TrustFire R5-A3 does have a cheap and nasty feel about it. The pocket clip looks like it has been machined from a painted paper clip, the threads on the tailcap aren’t very well machined and the XPG-R5 emitter looks like it has been centred by a drunk (at least on my sample it appears so!)

However, it’s bright and has a perfect white tint with a clean beam profile, and is very well regulated on high. Providing good and almost steady output for an hour on high and around 10 hours output on low.

The output generated from an AA cell makes me feel intrigued to find out bright this light runs on a 14500 cell.

 

The Good

Bright light output – 130 lumens OTF (educated guess?!).
Nice emitter tint.
Useful Glow in the dark material.
14500 cell compatible.

The Not So Good

Low frequency PWM used to generate low mode.
Feels cheap.
A little on the pricey side!

 

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