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Those of you who are regular readers may recall that I reviewed several Night Star shake flashlights from Applied Innovative Technologies several years ago. I still have those NightStars and am happy to report that they all continue to work (in spite of my now 2+ year old grandson who has claimed one as his).
AIT is back with another winner but this time with a bit of a
twist (pun intended). Instead of another shake type flashlight, they came
up with a couple of new models and put a crank on them.....the LightStorm CL1 and
LightStorm SL1. For those of you that never considered yourself the shaky
type, don't worry.....now you have an alternative.....you can be cranky.
The LightStorm CL1 and SL1 are very much the same but yet quite different. They both share a hand cranked power source. 2 minutes spent on the rotating handle will charge the capacitor energy cell. Give it another 30~45 seconds worth on the crank after 10 minutes of use and you are good to go again. Unlike many (all other?) crank flashlights, the NightStorms do not use rechargeable batteries for energy storage. They use the time proven storage capacitors that have been used year after year in the NightStar shake flashlights. I believe AIT's decision to not use rechargeable batteries was a good one. My personal experience with rechargeables is that they like to be used (as in daily) and not left on the closet shelf or in a glove box for months on end and then pressed into use during an emergency. They seem to go dead all too often in those situations.
So let's take a look at the LightStorm SL1 and see what it is
The LightStorm SL1 would be the Swiss Army Knife of crank
flashlights if there were such a thing. It provides both spot and flood
lighting from two of the three positions of the power switch. The spot
light uses a Quasar 1/2 watt LED which projects a pretty darn good beam of
light, in my opinion. Three StarCore LEDs are used for the flood light
function. A third switch position enables three red flashing LEDs for
emergency signaling. You literally have three flashlights in one. I
was very impressed with the intensity of the spot light. How AIT gets that
much power out of a storage capacitor is beyond me.....all I know is that it
Around the outer body of the SL1 are the charging jack (more on
that later), charging
LED, and power switch. As previously mentioned, the switch is 3 positions
(plus OFF) that controls the spot, flood, and red flashing LED modes of the
flashlight. I found it easy to manipulate. As the crank is turned,
the charging LED is illuminated giving you visual feedback that your efforts are
producing the desired results. That bright yellow strip is luminescent and
glows for several hours after being exposed to a bright light source.....a nice
feature to have as you reach for the light in the middle of the night in your
tent or bedroom.
The back side of the SL1 provides a recessed area for the
generator crank to fold nicely out of the way. The SL1 has a folding
handle that can be held in the hand or used to prop the light up at an angle,
such as when sitting the light on the ground and aiming it upwards to illuminate
your flat tire at 1:30 AM (oh what fun!). The handle also provides a home for a
recessed hook that allows the light to be hung. Here is an idea...with
Christmas coming up soon, you can use the hook and with the power switch in the
red flashing LED mode, you've got one heck of a snappy looking tree ornament.
<grin again> But seriously, I could easily see it being hooked into one of
the many holes in the bottom side of my Jeep's hood while I work on a engine
related trail fix long after the sun has set....or hung from a rope in camp or
on a tent guy line.
As if all this wasn't enough, there is yet one more neat trick
built into the SL1. The back of the light has three magnets embedded in it
that allows the light to be attached to any ferrous metal surface. While
you won't have any luck on your fiberglass Corvette, it will certainly stick to
almost any place on my Jeep. (ok, it won't do very well on the canvas soft
top but then again, I always have the steel roll bar)