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По умолчанию Niwalker MiniMax Nova MM15 (2xMT-G2, 4x18650) Prototype Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS+

Warning: pic heavy, as usual. :whistle:

Reviewer's note: This is a preliminary review of a prototype. The manufacturer is soliciting feedback from members here for the final design.
Welcome to the prototype review for the Niwalker MiniMax Nova MM15. arty:





The MiniMax comes with two high-output MT-G2 emitters, and is powered by 4x18650. Given the design of the light, it is clearly intended as a flood light and not a throw light.

Specs are pretty minimal at present, but here is what I know from Niwalker:

Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
  • LED: 2x CREE MT-G2 Neutral White
  • Five brightness levels
  • Max output 5233 lumens
  • Uses 4x 18650 battery
  • MSRP: unknown
Like I said, not a lot is known yet. :rolleyes: So let's put this sample through its paces:




From left to right: Eagletac Protected 18650 3400mAh; Niwalker MiniMax Nova MM15; Nitecore TM11; Eagletac SX25L3; Sunwayman T60CS; Niwalker BK-FA02.

All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed (unless indicated):

MiniMax Nova MM15: Weight: 268.3g (452g with 4x18650), Length: 114.0mm, Weight (bezel): 58.0mm
Eagletac SX25L3 3x18650: Weight: 315.9g, Length: 150.2mm, Weight (bezel): 47.0mm
Crelant 7G10: Weight 643.4g (827g with 4x18650), Length: 198mm, Width (bezel): 79.0mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (700g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (476g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Nitecore TM15: Weight: 450.6g (634g with 4x18650). Length 158mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Niwalker BK-FA01 (shipping): Weight: 687.6g (870g with 4x18650), Length: 209mm, Width (bezel): 80.0mm, Width (tailcap): 50.3mm

The MiniMax is the smallest 4x18650 light I've tested to date – compare it to Nitecore TM11 to get an idea. :ooo:











I'll say it again – this is a remarkably tiny light!

I'll also remind everyone that this is an early engineering sample – the final shipping version could change significantly. In fact, that is the whole point of this preview – Niwalker is trying to gauge the market's response to this light.

Exterior styling is fairly minimal at present. There is no real knurling to speak of, but there are sufficient grip elements to help with grip. I would still think the light could be a bit slippery when wet. Anodizing is a black matte finish (presume to be HA). There was no labeling on my sample.

Thanks to the integrated battery carrier, there isn't much wasted space. That said, I do find the carrier to be a bit of tight fit for length – longer cells may require some force to get in. You would also want to be careful not to damage the exposed contact board. But again, final shipping design could be different.

As an aside, despite the appearance, the four 18650 cells are actually in series, not parallel (i.e., 4s1p). This means that a standby drain (due to the electronic switch) only comes into effect once the fourth cell is inserted into the carrier. But since the carrier is integrated into the head, there is no physical option to lock out the light. :shrug:

Note that as a result of the current design, the body's aluminum handle is actually a bit superfluous - you can run the light without it. It does have square-cut thread on my pre-release sample, but the anodizing was worn on the threads. Of course, that doesn't matter, since there is no current passing through the body). There was no lanyard attachment point either. Again, I observed the same thing with the Niwalker BKFA-series lights (these things came later, on the final shipping version).

Currently, there is an electronic switch in the head, with a "N" logo on it. Switch feel is about typical for an electronic switch. The N lights up green when in use. There seems to be a built-in circuit over-discharge protection feature on my sample, as the light shut-off and the N switched to red as the cells were nearing exhaustion. Scroll down for the user interface and performance results.




There is also a tripod mount on the head, as well as small knob that didn't have any obvious function on my sample (all equi-distance with the electronic switch). I suspect this knob was used in assembly of the light. Again, pre-release engineering prototypes can be very different from final shipping versions – I wouldn't get too concerned about these sorts of items.





The head is really distinctive here – with two MG-G2 emitters in relatively shallow reflector wells (heavily textured). As you would expect, this is very much a floody light. Scroll down for a beam pattern.

See my earlier Niwalker BK-FA02 and Eagletac SX25L3 reviews for a discussion of the MT-G2 emitter more generally.

User Interface

Turn the light on/off by the electronic switch. There is no momentary mode – once you release the switch, the light comes on in constant output.

The light always comes on in Hi mode first. Press and hold the switch to cycle through the lower modes (Moonlight > Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating sequence). Release the switch to select the desired level. Note that that you cannot restart the level ramp once you have selected a level this way – you would need to turn off and back on first. :shrug:

When on, double-click from any mode to access Turbo.

And that's about it – I haven't found any hidden strobe modes so far. :whistle: I will make some general recommendations for interface later in this review.

Video:

For more information on the overall build and user interface, please see my video overview:

Прямая ссылка на видео YouTube


Video was recorded in 720p, but YouTube typically defaults to 360p. Once the video is running, you can click on the configuration settings icon and select the higher 480p to 720p options. You can also run full-screen.

As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.

PWM/Strobe

There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – I believe the light is current-controlled. :)

I did detect high frequency noise with my oscilloscope on some modes (Lo, Med and Hi), but not others (Moonlight, Turbo)

Hi/Med Noise:



Lo Noise:
]

The frequency was a consistent 14 kHz on Lo/Med/Hi, and it was absolutely not visible to the eye in actual use. The light is flicker-free in all modes. :wave:

Standby Drain

A standby current drain is inevitable on this light, due to the electronic. I have measured it on my prototype as 528uA initially, but it rapidly drops down over 30 secs or so to settle at 404uA. Given the serial cell arrangement (4s1p) would translate into a little over 10 and half months on 3100mAh 18650s.

Unfortunately, there is no physical lock-out available on my sample – the standby current is in place as soon as the last cell is connected into the integrated carrier. :shrug:

Beamshots:

And now, what you have all been waiting for. ;) All lights are on their standard battery, or AW protected 18650 2200mAh for the multi-18650 lights. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall).

Automatic white balance is used on most of my wall beamshots (to minimize tint differences), but in this case I went with a Daylight WB on my Canon for the MiniMax.













Note: No matter what white balance I used, these comparisons will never be entirely accurate for tint. In real life, I find my MT-G2 lights all to be relatively neutral white.

On Turbo, the MiniMax has an unbelievable amount of output. Hard to directly compare, but my ceiling bounce results tell me that it actually slightly exceeds my Olight X6 (which is rated at 5000 lumens). :ooo:

For outdoor beamshots, these are all done in the style of my earlier 100-yard round-up review. Please see that thread for a discussion of the topography (i.e. the road dips in the distance, to better show you the corona in the mid-ground).




Given that this location was picked to illustrate relative throw (which the MiniMax is not designed for), it doesn't really capture the overall brightness of this light.

But you can get a few hints of its relative brightness if you examine the far right end of the zoomed-out shots above (i.e., the tree line in the distance on the right). Depending on your monitor calibration, you may be able to faintly make the trees there (which are more than 100 yards away). You'll note how much hard it is to see these on the comparator SX25L3 or X6. :whistle:

To try and show this better, I've resorted to my interior basement shots. These will at least allow you to compare the throw and spill of the three lights. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 8 feet away (~2.4m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 19 feet away (~6m). I am also showing a series of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill.





Subjectively, the MiniMax really does seem to be putting out at least as much light overall as the X6 – just with a completely different beam pattern (i.e., wide flood). As you can see in these indoor shots, the MiniMax has a much wider beam overall.

In that sense, I know people always found it hard to believe how well the X6 throws, but I think the combined beamshots above really tell a compelling story. The MiniMax is really a true flood light - it actually reminds me a lot of diffuser-equipped light. :thumbsup:

Testing Method:

All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.

I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.

Throw/Output Summary Chart:

My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreview... for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).



Since my high-output lights don't fit in my lightbox, I am really relying on my ceiling bounce measures here. But the results match my subject experience – the MiniMax manages to squeeze out a few more lumens than my 5000-lumen rated Olight X6 (which was my previous output champ). :bow:

Throw is definitely pretty minimal, given the overall output of the MiniMax. As always, the MT-G2 produces a very smooth beam profile.

Let's see how the rest of the output levels compare:



Again, take these with a bit grain salt, given my limited ability to measure output on these lights. But it gives you a general idea of spacing - which is a little peculiar, as there is nothing in-between 900 and 5200 lumens.

Output/Runtime Graphs:

Given that the MiniMax is actually the highest output light in my collection at the moment, let's start by comparing it to the big guns – on an estimated lumen output scale.



As you will see, this helps explain how such a tiny light could produce these kind of eye-popping outputs – it steps down to the <900 estimated lumens Hi level within 3.5 mins on Turbo. :sweat:

Note that you could re-start the light on Turbo again if you wanted … but it does indeed get pretty warm quickly if you try. :whistle:

Given this step down, let's compare the Hi/Med levels to the most typical 3x/4x18650 competition (in my relative lightbox output scale):




Output/runtime performance is pretty consistent with other MT-G2 lights in my collection. For comparable output, the MiniMax is showing a very similar "direct-drive" like pattern, with comparable runtime. Note of course that the MiniMax has two emitters instead of one, but that doesn't seem to be making a huge difference (again, these curves are based on total output over time).

Potential Issues

Given that this is a protoyype, I thought I would provide a more specific list of potential issues/features Niwalker may want to consider. Niwalker is soliciting feedback, so feel free to add your comments. :wave:

The default Hi level is plenty of light for me, but it is about the same as a modern 1x18650 light. Since the Turbo mode steps down to this level, I suspect most people would like to see something brighter here (e.g., maybe something in 1500-2000 lumens range?).

The user interface has some quirks. For one, the timings take some getting used to. Also, it's odd and that the output selection ramp always starts as the Moonlight level. Typically, it's better that the ramp start from whatever level you are in. And that's another quirk - you can't re-start the mode selection ramp after you have done it once - you need to turn the light off/on again first on my sample (and thus go back to Hi, then Moonlight through the ramp).

I would think mode memory would be a good idea, rather than starting in Hi. That said, I know many here will want a way to start in Turbo directly from off. In that sense, always starting in Hi is likely to satisfy no one - better to have mode memory, or always start in Turbo.

I don't need one personally, but I know a lot of people here will also want a "hidden" tactical strobe mode.

Some sort of lock-out mode is necessary, to prevent accidental activation. This is especially important since no physical lockout is possible in the current design (i.e., you need to remove a cell to break the standby current). The standby current is reasonable for this type of light, though.

I am impressed with how small the light is (although the integrated carrier was very tight for getting longer cells into). That said, the switch is hard to find by touch alone (i.e., the tripod point and the other raised disc are more prominent by touch). I would think having the tripod mount directly opposite the switch would be good. A wrist lanyard attschment point would be nice.

A standby/locator flash in the switch could be a good idea, since there is already an LED under there. But there would have to be a way to lock it out as well, for those who don't want to see it.

Preliminary Observations

Since this isn't a commercially available light yet, I think I will let the results and commentary above stand by themselves. :)

One general point that I will make is that the output really is unbelievably bright on Turbo (at least initially). :ooo: When I first activated it in my living room, the dog jumped off the couch and scampered off. :laughing:

It is remarkable to see about twice the max output, compared to other compact lights out there. And all that in a build that is the smallest 4x18650 I've ever seen. Of course, it can't keep that output up for long, and the present step-down level is about that of 1x18650 light on max.

Also, keep in mind that this is a true flood light. Its beam reminds more of a diffused light than a typical reflectored one. That makes it hard to provide beamshot comparisons, but I've done the best I can above. In practice, I believe the >5000 lumen claim.

As for the build and UI, I am sure these will change when we get to the final shipping versions. My experience with other prototypes that Niwalker has sent (for other models) strongly suggests this. I know they are looking for feedback, so fire away everyone! :wave:

P.S.: I'm going to be away for the next week, so there may be delays in my ability to respond to questions in this thread.

----

MiniMax prototype was provided by Niwalker for review.
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