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Старый 02.07.2010, 00:47 Автор темы   1
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По умолчанию Arc6 Review

Preface: I was invited here by the forum administrator who asked me to share my review of Peter Gransee's Arc6 with you all. The original post, reproduced here, is dated 10 December 2009 is still very relevant, although some question has been raised lately on Arc's ability to fulfill orders satisfactorily in a reasonable amount of time. While I cannot comment on said issues having experienced none of them for myself, I would like to point out that those issues do indeed exist.

Arc6 Review

a hopefully comprehensive review

by carrot

Like many of you I am always on the lookout for my next illumination fix. Recently Arc Flashlight's Arc6 went on sale, and, being in my ideal configuration (1x123, multi-stage, twisty, pocket clip) I snagged one.

Peter Gransee, proprietor of Arc Flashlight, collaborated with Don "McGizmo" McLeish in creating the Arc6. During the two years it was being developed, the Arc6 (then called the "New ArcLS") cultivated an almost legendary status. It was to be the be-all, end-all of flashlight EDC's. It was said to be a light that that offered extreme brightness, but also ease of carry and ruggedness. Indeed, the Arc6 has a lot to live up to, considering its bright heritage, the ArcLS, which lay claim to being the first Luxeon Star flashlight, the Arc4+, the first truly programmable flashlight, and the McLux-III PD, the legendary custom flashlight coveted by many.

When the Arc6 finally came out in summer 2008, it entered the world with an unforgettable beginning, a light whose "production" was seriously limited by the (un)availability of Lumileds' K2 TFFC LED's, and caused quite a ruckus due to the "eBay fiasco" which I will gloss over.

Fast forward to today, and I have an Arc6 from a true production run, using a Seoul Semiconductor P4 LED, which is a suitable replacement for the K2, although possibly not as satisfying.

The Design
The Arc6 has some undeniable heritage from one famous custom flashlight designer and maker, Don "McGizmo" McLeish. ArcFlashlight does not try to hide this fact, and indeed, the Arc6 is fully thread-compatible with McGizmo's series of McLux PD (piston drive) lights. On the other hand, they don't mention it in any of their literature either, which I find strange, given that the PD design and system is a huge selling point.

The Arc6 is diminutive, even compared to its PD bretheren. The body is slightly slimmer, and the head much shorter, making for a positively tiny light that still fits comfortably into a fist for momentary activation while easily disappearing into a pocket. The Arc6 comes in two variants, Guarded and NG, signifying the body design. The Guarded, which I picked, is a little bit larger, but offers a tail flange (for a reliable grip) and pocket clip, both of which I consider practically essential features. The NG body is as small as they could make it, and is best for those who wish to pocket their lights, rather than clip them. You can buy whichever body you didn't get originally from Arc's website for about $50.

The overall design of the Arc6 is very good, with Peter Gransee of Arc Flashlight taking many subtle features I enjoy on Don's custom lights and adding his own "flair" to the overall package. For instance, the flaired tail flange and body ribs make it easy to depress the button for momementary activation, and together the pocket clip and head scallops make it easy to twist the head of the light one-handed for constant activation. Peter's own major addition to the design, the ribbed tail flange, makes it even easier to activate the light when slippery or wet.

Those of you familiar with the Piston Drive system will readily agree with me that it is one of the best switching mechanisms being used in flashlights today, and, subsequently, offers one of the best user interfaces for a two-stage device. Those of you so unfortunate to have not used the Piston Drive system may try to compare it Surefire's two-stage switch, found on the A2, L1, L2, K2, LX1 and LX2, which is functionally similar but mechanically different. The Piston Drive is electronically and mechanically superior, and features no rubber or silicone tailcap boot to wear out or tear.

Rather than re-state what has been written many, many times, I will simply quote Surefire's words, and Don McLeish's own. More thoughts on switches may be read at my flashlight guide.
 Сообщение от SureFire :
Press for momentary-on low-output LED, press further for momentary-on high-output LED, twist for constant-on at either level
 Сообщение от McGizmo :
The piston is an electrically conductive sleeve that houses the battery riding on a contact spring. The environmental seal is achieved by an o-ring riding at the lower part of the piston making contact with the inner wall of the body. The piston is exposed at the rear end of the light (see pic above) and serves as momentary switch. The cool thing about this very complicated and innovative switching method is that it allows for a fully regulated 2-stage switching at the driver board location with the perfect electrical path (see diagram) in a completely anodised light body for maximum protection from harm while retaining the perfect seal from the environment. There is no electrical path through either the body or the head and both are completely anodized with no breaks in the plating.

The Arc6 uses a chromed aluminum piston, and, combined with its thinner body, results in a light that feels a good deal lighter than its McLux bretheren. The piston is machined to allow the end-user to insert a tritium vial, which increases a flashlight's findability in the dark when turned off. I have heard a lot of complaints about the piston spring in the Arc6 and I agree with all of them. The pressure required to activate the light is too high. I was able to adjust the spring tension by removing it (with a bent paper clip) and compressing it. I replaced the spring into the piston by using the hollow body of a broken Zebra F301 pen to push it into place, which happened to be the exact right size to place the spring.

The thinner body brings a welcome decrease in weight and increase in pocketability, though structural integrity may be compromised compared to the much thicker walls of the McLux PD lights that the Arc6 is based on. In practice, the Arc6 appears to be quite durable enough though in theory it is not as sturdy as its predecessors. I have already dinged the tail of my Arc6 a few times, at the point where the aluminum is thinnest, but they are small dings and only noticeable in good lighting. The anodizing is fantastic, glossy and as durable as Arc has come to be known for, but it has some uneven coloration where you can see the grain of the metal, which is normal but may bug some. I personally like it.

Titanium is also used in the Arc6, and it is put to very good use here. The pocket clip and bezel ring are both titanium, and titanium's properties are leveraged for the best. Titanium is a springy metal, and makes for an exceedingly good pocket clip, one that is both forgiving and strong, allowing for excellent pocket retention. The pocket clip is identical to those on the McLux PD, and tucks the flashlight safely away deep inside your pocket where it is safer from getting lost or misplaced. Unfortunately, a small oversight has placed the pocket clip a little too close to the edge of the flashlight's tail, which causes the Arc6 to be a little unsteady when tailstanding, though it still does a fine job of doing so. My sample of one had an extremely tight pocket clip, which was rectified by flexing to loosen it up.

The titanium bezel of the Arc6 is a little on the thin side, but appears to be large enough to provide adequate protection to the sapphire crystal window. It remains to be seen whether the bezel itself is too thin to resist permanent deformation due to impact damage. Onto the sapphire crystal window itself (sometimes mistakenly called a "lens") -- I am told that it is AR coated on both sides, and sapphire is a very hard window material, often used on high-end watches due to its scratch resistance. The window is pressed by the bezel against a nice, large o-ring, which should help prevent the crystal from breaking on hard impacts. This is exactly the same design as on my McLux PD lights, which I have constantly abused for the past three years with no failure. I have one complaint with regard to the titanium bezel, which is that it has some very sharp edges and really should have been chamfered for a $200+ flashlight that borders on custom prices.

The soldering job on the light is a bit messy, and it does not seem to affect reliability or performance, but it is worth noting.

Making light
I would be much amiss if I didn't write something about how the Arc6, besides being nice to look at and hold also happens to make light.

The Arc6, despite having a very small bezel, has a surprisingly deep reflector, and has a wonderful beam. I'm unfortunately not setup to do beamshots, but the beam is exceptionally smooth and clean, free of artifacts or rings, and has a very smooth transition from hotspot to spill, making it a joy to use both close up and at distances. It does not excel at throw, since the bezel is small and not very deep, but it does an admirable job anyway. I consider this flashlight to have a perfect beam.

The Arc6 is also programmable, which many consider to be a benefit. I don't, because I don't generally use programmable flashlights, but it is very nice to be able to pick the output levels you want your flashlight to be at. Like other PD lights, the Arc6 offers two stages, and adds an ingenious little hack that allows the light to emulate a third, virtual stage. If the flashlight is off, and you press the button all the way, this is akin to slamming the brakes on a car and the Arc6 will activate the virtual stage, which, according to Peter Gransee, should be used as a sort of "turbo" mode. The Arc6 distinguishes between the virtual stage and the second stage by how quickly you press the button -- if you take less than half a second to go from off to stage one to stage two, it activates the virtual stage. This hack can be disabled, but is a nice nod to those who believe a third stage is necessary.

I have stage one set to level one and stage two set to level three. The virtual stage is set to level seven, not so much because I require the brightness but for the novelty of it. On level seven with an RCR123, the Arc6 appears to put out more light than the Ti Quark 123 (Cree XP-G R4) on turbo but almost imperceptibly so. I find this a bit disappointing, since the Arc6 draws 3A on level seven. According to Gransee, seven is a bit of an exception and does not regulate the same way as the other six levels. The other levels should be significantly more efficient, although I did not test them thoroughly yet. Using an RCR123 is necessary if you wish to make the most out of the higher levels, and I am told that IMR RCR123's (which I have not yet obtained) are even better.

Programming the Arc6 is an absolute piece of cake. I won't go into exact detail here since the instructions are given with every Arc6 and also provided online, but I'll provide the basic jist of it: you twist the light into constant activation on low and press the button repeatedly. It will enter a menu where you first select a stage to modify, and then you select the output level you wish for that stage. It will save the level, or you can choose to exit without saving.

I admit that the Arc6 is a little disappointing after all the hype. Perhaps this is why it has received so little discussion on the forums. It does have its flaws, but overall it is a solid light. Attention to detail in the finishing process could be a bit better, but on the other hand there are many more lights out there that get far more things wrong than the Arc6 and are more popular.

It is a solid light that anyone could be proud to carry, is well-designed and well-constructed, and should serve many years of (ab)use. I like mine, and I would buy another should I need to replace it, but I doubt it will replace my usual EDC, one of Don's PD lights. I recommend it, although I believe Gransee's asking price of $250 makes it a hard sell since there are so many excellent lights at nearly half the price.

It's no McLux but it's still an excellent light. Even with my nit picks, I still love the damn thing.
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Старый 02.07.2010, 01:23   2
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По умолчанию Re: Arc6 Review

Отличный обзор. Спасибо! Только не хватает тестовых фотографий... Если есть возможность, опубликуйте в данной теме.
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