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Blog

Keep up with the latest sales, discounts, news, product releases, and projects here on our blog. 

Night Vision Spotting - IR Illuminators

Silent Thunder Ordnance

The compost pile, a favorite hangout for local rodents. Custom aspheric IR illuminator at only ~60 meters as seen through our digital night vision setup. 

A local predator shows up to hunt one of our spots. We left him to it. 

Rodents..... they're a problem. Poison creates ecological issues, trapping is indiscriminate, however night vision combined with an airgun can take a good bite out of the local population if you're so inclined. 

In this particular case we're using a digital night vision rig that sees into the infrared spectrum (hence the odd colors, leaves reflect IR light so appear white), which blissfully uses the existing scope via an adapter. And, of course, we're using an STO Custom IR illuminator. We'll need to test further, but with just a crescent moon out we could easily spot beyond 500 yards with it. This system on a more powerful rifle would be ideal for larger game at longer range, such as coyotes. 

Excellent brightness is the key to sharp high resolution images, in this case at about 60 meters to the target area, I had enough light and resolution to watch individual insects fly, and see the spider's eyes in the grass. Of course, using a lamp has an added benefit of lighting up the eyes of anything with tapetum lucidum. This includes our rodent prey. 

Turns out we weren't the only ones hunting rodents that night. This local cat showed up to hunt our spot, or perhaps we were hunting his. Not to fear though, we hit up a couple other spots and had a successful night. 

 

PUT A TRIT ON IT!

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

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) 

 Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

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. 

 Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

Convoy S2+, Nichia 319a 4000K guppydrv, orange tritium vial

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. 

 Spyderco Military titanium-g10 black S30v blade, deep blue tritium vial

Spyderco Military titanium-g10 black S30v blade, deep blue tritium vial

And that is how we did it. Now we just need to get trits onto every single other piece of EDC equipment. 

Project - Print Durability Demonstration

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Our Storm of Ra, a light with an impressive lumen/throw ratio and an entirely 3D printed chassis. 

Our Storm of Ra, a light with an impressive lumen/throw ratio and an entirely 3D printed chassis. 

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 thin, light weight, and elegant slingshot design called the Harpy from Bill Hays. This interpertation clocks in at just 41 grams. 

A thin, light weight, and elegant slingshot design called the Harpy from Bill Hays. This interpertation clocks in at just 41 grams. 

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. 

 The pairing of a 3D printed fork/grip/rest assembly with carbon fiber tubes to form an extremely strong but lightweight slingshot. 

The pairing of a 3D printed fork/grip/rest assembly with carbon fiber tubes to form an extremely strong but lightweight slingshot. 

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. 

 Our Lance of Ra showing here a semi-translucent 3D printed head. 

Our Lance of Ra showing here a semi-translucent 3D printed head. 

Ferro Rods - Product Introduction

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Our ferrocerium rods next to one of our scalpeldashi and sheath. 

Our ferrocerium rods next to one of our scalpeldashi and sheath. 

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. 

 A night exposure showing the shower of sparks off one of our ferrocerium rods. With a little practice, you don't need a proper tinder ball, this can light more substantial materials. No delicate ember-transfer game here. 

A night exposure showing the shower of sparks off one of our ferrocerium rods. With a little practice, you don't need a proper tinder ball, this can light more substantial materials. No delicate ember-transfer game here. 

Project - Hasselblad XPan Lens Shade

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Hasselblad XPan with our reproduction lens shade. Note the original lens cap function remains unaffected. 

Hasselblad XPan with our reproduction lens shade. Note the original lens cap function remains unaffected. 

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. 

 Hasselblad XPan with our reproduction lens shade.

Hasselblad XPan with our reproduction lens shade.

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? 

 The lens shade alone. Here you can see on the bottom left an embossed indexing mark for installation alignment. (same positioning as the original) 

The lens shade alone. Here you can see on the bottom left an embossed indexing mark for installation alignment. (same positioning as the original) 

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. 

 Bayonet mount at the base of the lens shade. 

Bayonet mount at the base of the lens shade. 

And there you have it. Lens shade for an exotic antique irreplaceable film camera? DONE!

Scalpeldashi - Product Introduction

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Our Scalpeldashi, seen here with copper or bronze composite handles. 

Our Scalpeldashi, seen here with copper or bronze composite handles. 

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 intro

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 STO arc lighter, custom scalpeldashi in copper w/ carbon fiber sheath, Eye of Sekhmet, 1858 black powder .44 caliber revolver

STO arc lighter, custom scalpeldashi in copper w/ carbon fiber sheath, Eye of Sekhmet, 1858 black powder .44 caliber revolver

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. 

 STO arc lighter

STO arc lighter

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. 

 solid CNC machined brass STO lighter, custom FDE Convoy S2+, custom copper scalpeldashi w/ carbon fiber sheath

solid CNC machined brass STO lighter, custom FDE Convoy S2+, custom copper scalpeldashi w/ carbon fiber sheath

Lance of Ra vs. BLF Giga Thrower

Silent Thunder Ordnance

 Lance of Ra vs. BLF GT. Here you can see just how much heavier the GT is, sinking into the snowbank. 

Lance of Ra vs. BLF GT. Here you can see just how much heavier the GT is, sinking into the snowbank. 

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!

Performance: 
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.

 BLF GT vs. Lance of Ra

BLF GT vs. Lance of Ra

Size: 
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.

 Very similar frontal surface areas between the two lights. Here you can see though that the reflector on the GT isn't perfect, it has a bit of an orange-peel texture to it. This probably contributes to why it has less than half the Lance's throw performance. 

Very similar frontal surface areas between the two lights. Here you can see though that the reflector on the GT isn't perfect, it has a bit of an orange-peel texture to it. This probably contributes to why it has less than half the Lance's throw performance. 

Weight: 
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.

 With all those batteries, we're thinking a lumen-throw combo upgrade is in this GT's future......

With all those batteries, we're thinking a lumen-throw combo upgrade is in this GT's future......

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.

*edit* 
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.