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Old 05-25-09, 04:45 AM   #1
znomit
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Blinkie testing: PBSF vs MARS 4.0 vs Cateye LD1100

I finally gathered up all of these lights so thought I would do some testing.

Planet Bike SUPERFLASH


Blackburn Mars 4.0


Cateye LD1100



Side by side



Last edited by znomit; 05-25-09 at 05:50 AM.
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Old 05-25-09, 04:46 AM   #2
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Initial tests are on Energizer Max alkaline batteries.

Central beam comparison:
This is on steady after 6hrs.
Distance 2M



A few notes.
  • The SF and Mars have crappy beams, not symmetrical.
  • The Cateye is by far the brightest in the middle of the beam.
  • The Cateye is the narrowest beam so needs to be well mounted.
  • I've spent a bit of time looking at all three and I can't pick a clear winner.

Last edited by znomit; 05-25-09 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 05-25-09, 04:49 AM   #3
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Runtime Testing
Energizer Max Batteries. The Cateye takes AAs so should run much longer than the others.
Specified runtimes:
  • SF 30hrs
  • Mars 50hrs
  • Cateye 50hrs

Fresh:


6hrs


12hrs


18hrs


24hrs


30hrs


42hrs


60hrs

Last edited by znomit; 05-25-09 at 05:07 AM.
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Old 05-25-09, 04:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by znomit View Post
Initial tests are on Energizer Max alkaline batteries.

Central beam comparison:
This is on steady after 6hrs



A few notes.
  • The SF and Mars have crappy beams, not symmetrical.
  • The Cateye is by far the brightest in the middle of the beam.
  • The Cateye is the narrowest beam so needs to be well mounted.
  • I've spent a bit of time looking at all three and I can't pick a clear winner.
SF winner on your test.
Your too close.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:12 AM   #5
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Thanks a lot for the comparison Znomit!!!
Do you have nay idea why the biggest light might with multiple LEDs produces the most fouced light (cateye)?
Almost looks to me like the cateye has the advantage, although certainly not price-wise.
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Old 05-25-09, 09:26 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing your results with us. Can you also test this light? http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.20333

How would it compare to the ones you listed?
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Old 05-25-09, 09:55 AM   #7
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I have the mars 4 and the superflash. the mars 4 seems to eat batteries. but that could be a defective unit. the mars has better side lighting with the leds facing out. but overall I think the superflash is a bit better and more noticeable.
both are brighter then the cateye except from the side. lost my cateye when the mount broke when my bike fell over.
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Old 05-25-09, 10:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Big Wheel View Post
Thanks for sharing your results with us. Can you also test this light? http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.20333

How would it compare to the ones you listed?
I don't have the Cateye or the Mars, but I do have two SF and the Ultrafire, and compared them here.

OP, thanks for the reviews. If more folks took beamshots, we'd all be better off.
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Old 05-25-09, 11:16 AM   #9
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can you do a side view test?
but I know the TLD1100 should be the clear winner in that.
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Old 05-26-09, 02:25 AM   #10
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Comparison with older blinkies

This is to give a little perspective to the inevitable, and good natured, flame war that will follow, when we argue the differences between these three bright lights.

I have an LD600 and a Mars 2.0, compared to the LD1100
Freshly charged NiMH in all three.
Over exposed to show the Mars 2.0

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Old 05-26-09, 02:47 AM   #11
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Side beam test

I made a simple test rig to see the beam pattern over a quarter circle.
Propped up some computer paper and marked 0 45 90 degrees on it.
Blinkie in the middle pointing at zero.
Camera across the room pointed at the 45 mark.





Here we have PBSF, MARS 4.0, LD1100
Camera settings the same for all three.
Central pattern over exposed.





Yes the mars sidelights point forward a little, same on the 2.0 version.
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Old 05-26-09, 05:22 AM   #12
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I had the LD1100 for a while. The top and bottom rows are independent ... and that's cool. But, they go out of sync and it kind of destroys the "blink" function.

The PBSF is cheaper anyway.
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Old 05-26-09, 05:46 AM   #13
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Side Beam Test #2

I thought I'd try this from another angle.

Taped the lights to a door and swung it through 180 degrees.



5second exposure at f11, and an ND filter.

5s exposure F11 with a ND filter added.


Note the superflash ... is flashing at a high frequency...

Just for kicks here they are on blink
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Old 05-26-09, 02:35 PM   #14
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http://www.vetta.com/product_show.asp?ptype=whole&id=60
http://www.amazon.com/Vetta-TSL-C-Fl...pr_product_top

Why don't you test a real tail light? 4AA batteries instead of 2AAA indicates that this is a much more serious light and it has a broader viewing area. It puts the three that you tested to shame. The Dinotte is the only one brighter. After seeing this tail light I wish that I had not fooled with any of the others.
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Old 05-26-09, 02:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
http://www.vetta.com/product_show.asp?ptype=whole&id=60
http://www.amazon.com/Vetta-TSL-C-Fl...pr_product_top

Why don't you test a real tail light? 4AA batteries instead of 2AAA indicates that this is a much more serious light and it has a broader viewing area. It puts the three that you tested to shame. The Dinotte is the only one brighter. After seeing this tail light I wish that I had not fooled with any of the others.
He Did.
The Vetta is No Brighter then the PBSF.



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Old 05-26-09, 03:05 PM   #16
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Please PM me if anyone wishes to donate Blinkies to the cause!
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Old 05-26-09, 03:11 PM   #17
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interesting stuff
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Old 05-27-09, 12:41 AM   #18
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I've also tested these three lights, and have found that both the Mars 4 and the TL-1100 are better than the SF for daytime riding as cars seem to give me more room when using these. I assume that they are more visible during daytime.

Currently I use the Mars 4 (I dropped and broke the TL-1100), and it does consume batteries quickly, although it's not really an issue as I use rechargeables.
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Old 05-27-09, 12:54 AM   #19
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Comparison with a 1W led

The PBSF has a 1/2W LED and the Mars has a huge 1W.
Note they don't actually claim to drive the LEDs at these powers, and the AAA batteries would only run for an hour or two at 1W power.

Here is a cree red LED driven at 500mA, approximately 1W.
The LD1100 is used for comparison.
I tried a few different optics and found this reflector looked a bit like the cateye beam.
The central brightness is similar but the cateye only covers a small fraction on the area.





This is about what you would expect from a red torch from DX.
It is a huge amount of light.
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Old 05-27-09, 03:40 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
He Did.
The Vetta is No Brighter then the PBSF.
I've got both. My vetta is much brighter than my pbsf. Actually it's brighter than 2 of my pbsfs. They're not even close. On a wall bounce, the vetta obliterates the pbsf. Since they're priced nearly the same, it's a simple decision to buy the vetta, if light output is your primary objective. Side-by-side, their output very closely resembles Znomit's "DIY red cree vs cateye" picture above.

The vetta is not a perfect taillight. The 4AA batteries are heavy. The holder and head assembly mount 2 or 3 different ways, and all of them are sorta bad. The actual battery life is much shorter than specified (120hrs on strobe), especially for nimh. If you use nimhs with 1.2v nominal, ~1.35v fresh off the charger, you've only got a short time till the voltage drops until it's inadequate to power the circuit. The light quits on you at about 1.15v/per cell. In my case I get about 4-5 hrs out of sanyo eneloops on strobe, then she's dead. By extrapolation, I estimate you'd get only 10 hrs runtime on strobe with 1.5v alkaline batteries. I don't know how Vetta figures 120 hrs.
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Old 05-27-09, 03:56 AM   #21
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Yes guys I'm testing blinkies.
Small self contained lights you can leave on your bike and expect to change the batteries monthly, not after every ride.
Next up, runtime tests in flash mode.
See y'all in about 150hrs...
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Old 05-27-09, 07:50 AM   #22
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znomit, what reflector did you use with the Cree? I haven't gotten around to building my rear light yet since I only have spot reflectors. I figure they would work, but if someone hit the bright spot it might blind them and then they would run me over.
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Old 05-27-09, 07:54 AM   #23
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Given the old eyball test, side by side, with new batteries, there is no doubt that my Mars 3.0 is the better light.

Hard to believe, but the SF comes in a very good second. It's still a good light, but the Mars is better to the human eye.
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Old 05-28-09, 02:01 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
He Did.
The Vetta is No Brighter then the PBSF.



I hope you know more about other topics that you comment on than you do about tail lights since it is obvious to me that you know absolutely nothing about tail lights. The Vetta I referenced is so much brighter than the other lights reviewed that it is laughable.
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Old 05-28-09, 02:06 PM   #25
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I've got both. My vetta is much brighter than my pbsf. Actually it's brighter than 2 of my pbsfs. They're not even close. On a wall bounce, the vetta obliterates the pbsf. Since they're priced nearly the same, it's a simple decision to buy the vetta, if light output is your primary objective. Side-by-side, their output very closely resembles Znomit's "DIY red cree vs cateye" picture above.

The vetta is not a perfect taillight. The 4AA batteries are heavy. The holder and head assembly mount 2 or 3 different ways, and all of them are sorta bad. The actual battery life is much shorter than specified (120hrs on strobe), especially for nimh. If you use nimhs with 1.2v nominal, ~1.35v fresh off the charger, you've only got a short time till the voltage drops until it's inadequate to power the circuit. The light quits on you at about 1.15v/per cell. In my case I get about 4-5 hrs out of sanyo eneloops on strobe, then she's dead. By extrapolation, I estimate you'd get only 10 hrs runtime on strobe with 1.5v alkaline batteries. I don't know how Vetta figures 120 hrs.
I have not used my Vetta enough yet to deplete the original batteries or to gauge battery life. I will use hybrid rechargeables next. Even if the run time is short the batteries can be recharged hundreds of times and the superior light is worth the effort to recharge them even if it is after every ride.

The bulk of the light does present some mounting challenges. Again the light output is worth the effort.
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