Streamlight Siege

You guys remember Hydrox cookies? If you couldn’t pop for real Oreos, you bought Hydrox. Much like how if you’re on a budget, you don’t buy Frosted Flakes but rather the generic store brand ‘Frostie Flakes’ or some such (Slogan: “Theyrrrrrrrre….okay”.)

To me, Streamlight has always been the working-class version of SureFire. Yes, Streamlight has, as I read it, been around a tad longer than SureFire but SureFire gets the rep as the ‘high end’ tacticool product. (Interestingly, Hydrox came out before Oreos, as well.)

20160731_142828I’m kind of a gear snob, but I’m a pragmatists even more. A few years ago Streamlight came out with a product that, as far as  I know, has no comparable version from SureFire…the Streamlight Siege. (Although, to be fair, Eveready and a few others make a similar product but I don’t believe it to be as rugged and well thought out as the Streamlight product.)

The Siege is an LED lantern for area lighting. Nothing remarkable about that, but as you look the product over more closely you get the idea that it was designed for a very particular demographic….we happy survivalists.

20160731_143108The Siege runs on three D-cell batteries….one of the most common sizes of batteries around. Just about everyone has a couple D-cell MagLites floating around the house or car..the Siege takes advantage of that common battery. If you really want to streamline things, there are battery adapters that allow you to run one size of battery in devices meant for a larger size. Most often we see this with adapters that let you run AA-batts in devices that were meant for D-cells. But, my logistics revolves around three battery sizes (AA,D, and CR123) so I have plenty of D-batts laying around. (Interestingly, it seems like virtually the only thing I have that runs on D’s these days are flashlights. The days of radios and other devices running on D-batteries is coming to a close. )

20160731_142908The light source for the Siege is four white LED’s, and a fifth red LED. Holding down the one control button toggles between red or white. When the white LEDs are selected you have a choice of three brightness levels, starting with the highest. When the red LED is selected you have one brightness level, but double-clicking the button puts the red LED into SOS blinky mode.  The plastic ‘shade’ of the Siege diffuses the glow of the LEDs and is removable if you want more harsh lighting.

The top and bottom of the Siege has rugged rubber ‘bumpers’ making the light pretty resistant to being dropped, knocked over, or just banged around. Theres a foldaway clip on the underside of the light for hanging it upsidedown when you have the shade removed, and there’s a bail handle on the other end to hang it from whatever is handy when you do have the shade on.20160731_143039

The non-skid tread on the bumper-like bottom of the light keeps it from sliding on slick surfaces and provides an excellent grip for unscrewing the base to change batteries.

Light output on low is enough to illuminate a room so you don’t trip over anything, on high it’s bright enough to get things done but you’ll still feel like you’re in a power outage. Where this light seems to really shine (as it were) is as an emergency ‘area light’. When the power goes out its the light you turn on and stick high up in a corner of the room, hang in the stairwell, or put in your emergency gear storage area. It’s an awesome emergency light for when the power goes out and you need some light to get your gear together or start up your secondary systems (generator, transfer switch, etc.)

I haven’t beaten the crap out of it yet, but it has rolled off my desk a few times, and once bounced out of the truck….seems to still be doing just fine. Your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve been very pleased with mine and will be getting three or four more as spares/backups/loaners.

They’re available at the usual sources, like Amazon, but once in a while you can find an outdoors-gear vendor having them on sale. Even at regular price, though, they’re a good purchase.

Streamlight Sidewinder cont.

When I was a kid, I loved playing with flashlights. One time I came across a military anglehead flashlight and I was a bit perplexed. All the flashlights I had played with previously were basically tube-shaped with the light coming out of one end of the tube. The GI flashlight was bent into an L-shape and holding the flashlight to get the beam pointed in front of you wasn’t as natural a movement as with the other kind. So…why the awkward design?

Of course, as a little kid it didnt occur to me that when your hands are full (as with a rifle or gear) you needed to hang the flashlight on your webbing and for it to point straight ahead the flashlight had to be in that L-shape.

Nowadays there are several ‘wearable’ flashlight for this sort of thing. A few years back I purchased a Streamlight Sidewinder. It’s been part of my casual everyday carry gear for a while now and it’s worth remarking on how it’s held up and how satisfied I am with it.

The Streamlight Sidewinder is, basically, a 2-AA battery flashlight with four different colors of bulb, and four settings of intentity, with a swivel head. That’s the short version. Longer version is that I’ve found it to be an immensely useful small flashlight. Many times I just drop a little 1-AA light in my pocket and go with that, bur for a more dedicated kit or layout of gear, the Streamlight is my go to.

First off, it’s available with four different color LEDs. You can do white/blue,red/IR or white/blue/red/green. I went with the IR model since you never know when you’ll need to have that sneak factor working in your favor.

The light has one knob with a push button that controls all functions. Push and hold to turn on, and continue to hold to cycle through four levels of brightness. Double-click for flashing strobe mode. Twisting the knob, rather than pushing it, selects which LED is active. There’s a tactile index point so you can select LED’s in the dark.

20160715_184035The Sidewinder has a captive battery compartment lid, which I think is an awesome touch and a sign that someone really sat down and put some thought into this thing. No need to worry about losing the battery compartment lid in the tall grass or in the dark if you’re changing batteries. There are also tactile indicators for battery polarity so you can, literally, change batteries in the dark or with your eyes closed.20160715_183954

The Sidewinder clips to your webbing or whatever using a spring metal clip on the back. In addition to the clip, there is an attachment point for a lanyard or keeper so your light doesn’t go missing if you take a tumble.

The base of the unit is flat, and in conjunction with the adjustable angles head allows you to set the light on a flat surface and point the beam where you want it. One disadvantage is the range of motion for the swivel head…if you have the unit seated on your webbing or otherwise on your shoulder/chest the head doesn’t swivel down enough to light the ground at your feet…it’ll light the area directly in front of you, but not directly beneath and in front of you. This can be remedied by carrying the light upsidedown on your person, but be careful it does’t slide off your gear and get lost.

It’s an excellent light for what it’s designed for – navigation and detail stuff. It’s not the sort of thing you use to light up a field or spotlight something, but for trotting down trails in the dark, navigating pitch black interiors, or examining things where you need both hands free, it excels. As of late, I’ve been spending time in a library facility two stories underground. I notices their emergency lighting is virtually non-existent, so this is the light I take with me in my bag…just in case. I can wear it on the shoulder strap leaving me both hands free to open doors, move obstacles from my path, etc, etc.

They aren’t cheap. In fact, they’re kind of expensive. But mine has held up virtually undamaged over the last several years and I have confidence that if I secure it to my bag and leave it there, it’ll always work no matter how wet things get or how much rough handling it experiences.

There are a few clip-to-your-gear lights out there using LED’s, and I have tried a few of them (and found them wanting) but so far the Sidewinder gets my nod for being the best one out there that I’m aware of.

Local flashlight sale

Years and years ago, the flashlight to have was a MagLite with the ‘Krypton’ bulb. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s these things were practically lightsabers. But…they still used incandescent bulbs (which are somewhat fragile) and sucked down batteries pretty quickly (the tradeoff for lighting intensity). But despite those two issues, MagLites were pretty much the standard flashlight for most folks. Streamlight always controlled a good chunk of the cop market for flashlights, but MagLite wound up becoming quite the major player in that field. One of the great attractions of the MagLite was that they were pretty robust…you could drop them, bang ’em around, and, of course, use them for ‘persuasive concussive techniques’ if the situation called for it. And, even after pulping someones face with them, they still (usually) worked.

When the LED revolution in flashlights finally came, MagLite introduced an LED version of the classic D-batt flashlight. This completely solved the bulb fragility issue (as well as having a longer life) and made a big positive change in battery life as well. As a result, I’ve been slowly phasing out my non-LED MagLites to the LED version. Problem is, the LED versions cost a little more than the non-LED. It is my opinion, though, that the added initial cost is very, very much worth the expense for the tradeoff of battery life and bulb resilience.

So, I was in my local sporting goods store today and they had the LED MagLites marked down by 33% from their normal price. That dropped ’em to about $18. A quick check on my phone shows that Amazon sells them for about $25 and that was the price to beat. So, I managed to get a flashlight upgrade today at a bargain price. Now if only the rest of my day were so bright and promising….

Simple lighting project

This post on arfcom caught my eye. Rather than buy a 12v lamp for use with a battery, this fella converted a regular household AC lamp to run an LED ‘bulb’ off his 12v battery.

This sort of thing intrigued me and I decided to try it. While we have several options for lighting around here, I’d like to have something that doesn’t look like the kind emergency lighting youd find in a stairwell. Something very subtle and ‘normal looking’.

A quick trip to Amazon for the necessary parts:

The next step was to pick up a lamp to experiment on. As it turns out, I found a lamp that already ran on DC (it used a transformer to run off AC house current) and was LED. Since that was 2/3 of the battle right there, I figured I’d start with that.

20150419_164135Reading the details on the made-in-China transformer said, if they can be believed, that power draw was something like .33 amps. 20150419_164052Conveniently, they labeled the wires as to +/-. Simple matter to cut the transformer off and connect the wires for the cigarette plug to the lamp wires…keeping the polarity the same.

20150419_164114

 

Once the transformer had been removed and replaced with the 12v plug, I plugged it into my old ConSci battery pack to test.

20150421_093016

 

20150420_224627Unsurprisingly, it works. I’ll tuck it away with the battery box and leave it for the next time I need lighting when there’s no available electricity.

Of course, the bigger plan is to use it in conjunction with the larger battery backup system I’m planning. Nothing fancy..a couple big deep cycle batteries, a smart charger, and a bunch of outlets and wiring to allow me to run emergency lighting and communications for a week or so on battery power. Thats the bigger post Im working on. Gonna be a little while on it, though, since it’s going to take a while to scratch up the cash for the batteries. But…when it’s moved from ‘theory’ to ‘in progress’ there’ll be plenty of posting on it.

 

 

 

Generator run day

Nice day outside. Time to set out the generator and run it for a while to make sure everything is working for when we need it.

20150419_145545I keep a copy of the startup/shutdown instructions attached to the generator so there’s no doubt about doing things the right way. Sure, I commit as much of it to memory as I can but you never know when someone else may be needed to start/stop it and this way they can have all the proper info right there.

In a crisis the only thing I really need the generator for is to keep the freezer/fridge cool and maybe run the furnace blower. In the winter any food can simply go outside and the generator will be mostly for just running the blower and charging batteries.

Household emergency lighting will be mostly LED lights run off a couple deep-cycle batteries. Thats a project I’m kinda working on at the moment.

 

Repurposing Christmas lights

I’m not going to get into posting a commentary about the election. I’m fairly confident that, by and large, things in this world have reached a point that playing musical chairs in Washington won’t do much to change the path we’re on. As Kosh pointed out, once the avalanche has started its too late for the pebbles to vote.

This isn’t to say I’m one of those ‘If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal’ idiots. I vote every chance I get. While it may not make much of a difference in terminal performance it might affect the exterior ballistics a touch.

And before I move from the topic, let me leave with a joke: Did you hear the one about the Illinois Democrat who said that when he died he wanted to be buried in Chicago so he could remain active in the party?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

My wife, sadly, like many wives, has a ‘crafty’ bent that can only be appeased by sacrificing greenbacks on an altar at the local Michaels shop. I go with her to help keep her under control but also because, if youre creative enough, you can find something preparedness-related in pretty much any store. One thing I found of interest was a string of tiny LED Christmas lights that ran on 3 AA-batts. Something very similar to thisproduct. My planned use was to splice the wires to an old solar panel that was used to charge some yard lights and use the string of LED’s to illuminate the house numbers. However, I discovered that these are excellent lights for odd places that dont require huge amounts of light…like the interior of my gun safe. Affixing them inside the gun safe around the interior of the door frame lights things up perfectly. I’d like to mount a photoresistor or pressure switch to turn them on/off when the door is open/closed, but they appear to do a nice job of showing me where things are. Since they run on three AA-batts and LED’s draw low power, its not too hard to imagine some useful emergency lighting options…most notably to light a pathway to emergency gear…much like the lights on the floor in the aisle of a plane.

I’ve seen pictures of peoples storerooms and basements where light ‘ropes’ are used to provide a sort of emergency area lighting and it seems an interesting idea. Most of the ‘ropes’ you come across this time of year (CostCo and WalMart are full of them right now) run on household current but use a 12v transformer, so you could, I suppose, just run them right off a DC power source. On the other hand, since my use would be for emergency lighting to guide me to my stash of gear, they could be considered a ‘one time’ use item. That is to say, in a hypothetical scenario, the power goes out and I’m standing in the dark. I hit the Big Red Button and five or six of these daisy-chained lights light up guiding me to where I keep all the gear. Since all the strings are running off a battery pack meant for one string they’ll remain lit only for a brief amount of time….but by that time I’ll have gotten to my gear where my other illumination supplies are. I suppose I could use a larger battery pack but then I’d have to get some resistors or something in there to keep from putting too much current through the LEDs and burning ’em out. Should be an interesting project.