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As part of our ongoing efforts to put tritium vials on literally everything, may we present to you our mod for the metal switch Convoy S2+.
Why this light? Well it is sort of odd coincidence, but one day we noticed everyone here at STO was carrying a modded S2+ with a metal tail switch. The mods are all different, and vary greatly in terms of their relative sanity, but they all have the common thread of a metal tail switch because we all love how crisp and clean of an interface it allows. This particular S2+ is one of my personal EDCs, hence the weathered look which is hard earned, and is a pretty mild combination of new driver, upgraded thermal management, optical tuning, and a Nicha 319A in 4000K. It combines good visual acuity for tools and small parts up close, but still has enough go-juice to illuminate targets out to about 150 yards. (subjective real-world distance observations, not ANSI based)
So how to mod these lights for a nice big trit? There were several goals we wanted to achieve regarding placement. First and foremost we wanted the illumination to be visible from both the rear of the light, and from the side with as wide a viewing angle as possible. This makes the light very convenient to spot under the maximum number of circumstances. Most pointedly, when it is sitting lens-down on your nightstand, it shouldn't need a specific orientation to be very visible so it is quick and easy to grab in the dark. (presumably next to the trits in your pistol sights) Second, we wanted the trit to be held as securely, well supported, and as protected as was reasonable. The reasons behind this are obvious, but they run somewhat counter to the first requirement; the more protected the trit is, such as machined into a solid deep slot, the less visible it would be. Third and finally we wanted as much of the trit's light to be used as possible. End-on installation for example is very easy to do, but only a tiny fraction of the trit's total light exits the end.
What we settled on is a machined side-slot and a saddle cut into the side of the tail switch housing. It seems simple and obvious once you see it, and we feel it accomplishes our goals very well. When the light is head-standing, and your eye is parallel to the top of it, the trit is directly visible from almost 360 degrees rotation, and where it isn't directly visible there tends to be enough spill that the light's location is obvious anyway. The trit is also, of course, very visible when viewed from the rear. It is well protected, being several milimeters below the top of the light, below the metal switch housing too. And, finally, it is securely held at both its ends and center, as it sits in a saddle cut into the switch housing. Retention could be further increased by adding adhesive underneath the full length of the trit where it rests against the inside rear face of the light, however so far this hasn't proven necessary.
And that is how we did it. Now we just need to get trits onto every single other piece of EDC equipment.
With the advent of new technologies come obvious questions: how good is something? Will it last? How is this different from a consumer grade item? In the case of our lights with major 3D printed components, we've repeatedly gotten these sorts of questions, no doubt spurred with less-than-positive experiences with prints off of earlier more fragile 3D printed technologies (such as early SLA) or brittle PLA printed parts off consumer grade 3D printers. We can say that these prints are different, they're done on custom built professional grade 3D printers, strong and impact resistant polymers are used, structures are designed for durability, etc, but what about a more tangible demonstration?
A recent personal project from a member of STO was an excellent demonstration of this performance. This individual wanted to make a slingshot, print it out, but before use wanted to test strength. After all, if the fork on a slingshot were to break off the results would be unpleasant at best, dangerous at worse. The design is based off the Bill Hays Harpy, which has very slender and comparatively weak forks. So we clamped it up in a vice, attached some paracord to the forks, put a load cell in the middle, attached the other end to a winch, and pulled until it broke.
Remember this is the same material we make most of our flashlights out of run on the same machines. The result? Well for starters we had to get a larger load cell, as our standard 50 kilogram one wasn't enough. Failure occurred at 156 kilograms (344 pounds), and amazingly our camera captured the PRECISE moment of failure. Keep in mind this wasn't a solid print, an exercise in maximizing strength, or anything else like that. Just an experiment to see what a fairly normal print profile would endure. Remember this slingshot only weighed 41 grams, meaning it held 3.6 thousand times its own weight.
Funny enough, we had the opportunity to repeat the experiment on a slightly more robust slingshot fork design. Our load cell is only rated to 300 kilograms. We chickened out at 260 kilograms (570 pounds force), with NO FAILURE TO THE FORK WHATSOEVER. Below is a gallery of the before, after, and a lousy peak force image taken from far far away behind a tool cabinet.
So we hope this goes a little distance toward answering the question of how strong our printed parts are. They're certainly not indestructable, nothing is, however they are remarkably robust.
Every EDC needs a good fire source. Ferrocerium rods are BY FAR the most reliable and longest lasting option. Each rod can be scraped by anything from the back of a knife to the edge of a rock or broken piece of glass to produce sparks in excess of 5000 degrees Fahrenheit, and this can be done thousands of times on each rod. No batteries to go dead, fuel to leak out, flint to get wet, just reliable hot ignition strike after strike. We offer ours with a variety of cool and exotic handle options, perfect to toss in your pocket or loop on your keychain.
For those not already aware, Hasselblad are the makers of some of the finest film cameras ever made. The XPan is a discontinued panoramic 35mm film camera, which is to say it uses the standard, or at least what used to be the standard, 35mm film however takes non-standard exceptionally wide (panoramic) exposures on it. In an era when 35mm film cameras are falling in value like rocks (take the Nikon F5 for example, arguably the finest pro 35mm film camera body ever made, they were over 3000$ in the 1990s and now can be had for an order of magnitude less), unusual gems such as the Hasselblad XPan are skyrocketing in price.
A friend of the company, and lucky owner of a few Hasselblads, came to us with an issue. The 45 and 90 mm lenses for the XPan each came with an usual lens shade. To my knowledge, the number of lens shades produced matched the number of lenses, they were never sold as after-market. Unfortunately the design was rather delicate and prone to cracking over time. Broken ones now are expensive, pristine ones even more so, and that is if you're lucky enough to even be able to find one. Could we precisely replicate the design?
It took a few tries, but as you may have guessed from the images the answer is obviously yes. We did up a couple, both in full opacity black polymer, using ABS for some and Polycarbonate Alloy for others. The shade matches the original design profile and style, and attaches via the original bayonet mount indexing off a small mark. Use of the original cap is even preserved. Why the two materials though? A function of lens shades isn't just to protect the lens from flare, but to protect the objective and the entire camera from bumps, scratches, and god forbid a drop. ABS offers a great finish, good impact resistance, and good durability. Polycarbonate Alloy however has EXCEPTIONAL impact properties and elongation at break. This makes for a lens shade even better able to mop up the odd bump and keep running. In both cases the bayonet mount on the shade is intended to, in the event of a catastrophic drop, act as a mechanical fuse, sacrificing the shade to absorb energy rather than transmit it to the camera mounts potentially breaking them.
And there you have it. Lens shade for an exotic antique irreplaceable film camera? DONE!
The unholy union between a scalpel and a kiridashi, the Scalpeldashi is a long running concept we've been slowly simmering. All sorts of different production technologies have been experimented with, the end goal being to keep the design beautiful and exotic but the price reasonable. This production run is available in an exotic copper and bronze composite.
Schwag, AKA branded merchandise. The world seems to be filling up with everyone's branded T-shirts, sweatshirts, beanies, socks, etc. We wanted to do something a little more gadget/EDC specific, a little more STO. Enter these two types of lighters. A fire source is an important part of any good EDC lineup. We offer not one, but two, different styles. Both are brass and offer a good sense of weight in the hand.
The first is an arc lighter AKA Tesla lighter. This particular model offers dual arcs in an X shape. These things are fantastic because they charge off micro USB, and produce an extremely hot ignition source. To use simply flip it open, and depress the glowing blue button.
For those more traditionally inclined, we offer a kerosene (lighter fluid) based option as well. Initially we wanted Zippo brand lighters, the American classic, however we stumbled across these which we like a lot better. Instead of a thin stamped case and spot welded hinge, each half is machined from a solid brass billet. The hinge is integral, milled right in there with it. A small rubber gasket seals the lighter when closed, minimizing gas leakage, which is another major design improvement.
We've gotten the question several times now: how does the Lance of Ra compare to the BLF Giga Thrower? Well our sample of the GT is finally in, so we can answer!
The BLF GT is about half the output of the Lance, our sample meters at slightly less than half the standard 2.6million of the Lance.
The short version is that the GT actually a pretty similar length and head diameter to the Lance. The Lance is slightly longer, however you can separate the battery tubes and use a pair of 18350s in the Lance to make it a hair shorter than the BLF GT if that is your thing.
This is the killer here with the BLF GT. Without batteries a Lance is 1.165 kilos, thanks mostly to the hybrid head that houses an internal heatsink, but isn't entirely metal. The BLF GT is 1.775 kilos without batteries. If you figure an 18650 weighs about 45 grams, that makes the Lance 1.255 to the BLF GT's 2.135 kilos fully loaded. Almost twice the weight for not quite half the throw.
And all this leads into our only major gripe with the GT. The tube diameter is a bit too large and tube a bit too slick to comfortably and securely wield such a heavy light. The battery numbers are also a little comical, if you figure 15$ per protected cell a full matched set of batteries for the GT cost as much as the pre-order price of the light itself, but that seems to be in keeping with the light's intentionally comical nature.
All in all, we think the GT has real potential as a host. All that power on tap, it seems like it is just begging for a major lumens upgrade. As an aside, the GT fits nicely in our large Hard Case.
For those who interpreted this post in a negative way, please understand we didn't intend it that way. We like the GT as it offers a lot of performance at a very modest price (about 1/5th the price of a Lance at its pre-order price, and about 1/2 the price of a Lance at its projected retail price). That huge battery capacity and thermal mass also mean it has massive potential as a host. We have plans for the GT. So fear not. We bought one, we know many of our customers who purchased Lances also got one. So far we think it is a great light, and that it is going places.
These are solid cases, robust, well padded, and weather tight. Each is filled with two tiers of pluck-able foam, and can easily fit a Storm of Ra with room to spare for batteries and a handgun, other optics, or whatever else you may want. The case is actually so generous it can, on the diagonal, accommodate a whole Lance of Ra, or horizontally accommodate an LoR with the battery tube unscrewed to half-length. The lid and latches open to firm detents, so stay open while you work with the contents. There is a pressure purge valve should you ever move from high to low altitude and wish to open the case.