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Thread: MB Sub Tri LED on test

  1. #1
    So many CCR So little etc Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase's Avatar
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    MB Sub Tri LED on test

    MB SUB TRI-LED Cave on test

    In November Michael from MB Sub sent me over the new Tri LED to test. Fortunately I was able to squeeze in two quality dives before the UK turned into a disaster area. As a result of those dives a modification was carried out to the switching pattern and I got the new head back three weeks ago for re testing. Sadly since then both land and sea diving hasnít been optimum for video testing. Two attempts at inland sites found the viz so bad that no meaningful video could be shot.

    Without wishing to delay matters further I have produced the following report. I have another dive booked for the 14th February so hopefully I can get some video of the new switch settings and I will update the report.


    DESIGN



    Lamp Battery Pack: Lithiam-Manganease 3S6P 12.6v 13.5Ah (Airline friendly)

    Bulbs: 3 X Cree XM-L2 1200 Lumen LED

    Burn Time: 4 hours on full power 12 hours on minimum Power

    Total discharge protection

    When the battery pack drops to 9.7v the lamp warns you with a reduction in power output down to 30%. When the voltage drops to 9v the lamp current is reduced to prevent the battery pack ever dropping below 9v. The light will then grow ever weaker before finally switching off automatically. This offers the absolute maximum emergency lighting period without destroying the battery pack.

    I am pleased to say MB-Sub have stuck with their modular design and the Tri LED will be a direct swap on to their standard hard anodised aluminium battery pack and charger. The head can also be used on the Photon battery pack with umbilical adaptor pictured below. I have used this core unit since 2009 when I first tested the MB Sub Twin Cave and it has proven to be very reliable. The internal Coax connection for charging is a vast improvement over external plug in systems. I have found even the capped type external plug-in type suffer from internal corrosion over time where as the MB Subs still looks like new nearly four years after I bought my VB50 in 2010 .



    Another advantage with the MB Sub system is the compact and light weight charger. With every gram being an issue with the cost of modern airlines it is annoying to have to cart about big heavy chargers.
    In practical terms the battery pack is a mid size unit with a 200m depth rating. The weight of the battery and head is 2.2kg which isnít bad for a 13.5 Ah unit. My 9ah Salvo comes in at 2.5kg, my Solus 1250 comes in at 2.2kg but is only 9Ah and my Halcyon 10W HID comes in at 2.5kg but thatís a little unfair as itís a lead acid battery. So of my available primary torches the MB Sub is still the travel unit of choice being both the lightest and with by far the best burn time. Admittedly the other torches on my list are out dated now but it shows progress.

    MB Sub VB50 MB Sub Tri LED Salvo 9ah 21W HID








    The standard torch comes with a well designed adjustable Goodman handle and a webbing loop type mounting buckle with some neat protective rubber covers on the clips. For the purpose of my testing I swapped this over to my standard clip mount that I use to rear mount the unit on my CCR.

    Again the Goodman handle adjustment is via a single bladed screw. Very handy when swapping from reef gloves to dry gloves and all you have available is a dive knife. The profile of the canister is midsized, not being as neat and inconspicuous as the wonderful Greenforce Arrow, but still slimmer than a standard Halcyon 21W HID pack thanks no doubt to the choice of aluminium for its construction.

    In use I found the 1.1m cable length to be suitable of rear mounting and itís typical in comparison to my other torches, so I doubt if there will be complaints about it being too long. The nice curved underside to the torch head was very comfortable for long dives and the head feels balanced if a little cumbersome when clipped off due to its inherent width. A neat mounting point has been included in the design at the back of the head and the 5mm hole would accommodate just about any typical cave line or cable tie mounting for a P clip without specialist threading tools & a magnifying glass that seem necessary on some torches I own.
    The control switch is head mounted which allowed for rear mounting of the canister and operates in a three position slide with a knurled locking screw. If the torch is held by the head it can be operated single handed but for most circumstances it will need the other hand to switch on or between power settings. As with my VB50 I found it best when hanging on the shot in a current, to switch on whilst still clipped off, then unclip.

    The knurled lock is very important because I did find the head had accidentally switched on in my bag when I was unloading the car. I thaught the switch to be a little ďsnaggeyĒ and I do have some concerns about the knurled knob being accidentally snapped off in the hands of a kit slob like me.



    SECRET SWITCHING FUNCTION

    A bit like in some computer games thereís a not so secret switching function for the light sequence
    Standard switching goes:
    • Step 1: 1200 Lumen Single Spot
    • Step 2: 2 X 1200 lumen Spot
    • Step 3: 2 X 1200 Lumen Spot + 1 X 1200 lumen Medium beam


    However if you switch rapidly between Step2 and Step 3 twice you will find the hidden function of LED3 only 1200lumin Medium Beam

    This option is for video work particularly with systems like the Go Pro. Most standard torches will have a centre hot spot which messes with the white balance and light sensitivy on the video and produces a tunnel vision shot. Another disadvantage is the diver tends to aim the brightest part of the beam on the subject they wish to video and this causes the target image to be burnt out. With so many people now taking advantage of compact underwater video systems, the Tri LED offers the option to have a wider beam with reduced hot spot for the sort of diver who doesnít want to take in a full on video rig but does want to capture the moment he finds that elusive bell.

    I hope to be able to put this function to the test properly in the near future but to date the visibility at my available dive sites has prevented this. Till then I have shot a short clip in the pond to show how it works. Please note with the current weather in the UK even my pond is struggling with viz.


    (Sorry clip to folow later due to down load error)


    PART 2 SHORTLY WITH TESTING

  2. #2
    So many CCR So little etc Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase's Avatar
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    Re: MB Sub Tri LED on test

    TESTING

    Test one was the standard dry test. As a benchmark I have a 21W Salvo HID shining on the brickwork at a range of 10m and about a 30 degree elevation. The by now familiar hot spot tight beam with limited peripheral light being very popular in the cave diving community.

    Salvo 21W HID



    Pic two shows the Tri LED on a low power setting single spot 1200 lumen which is a much wider beam but with surprisingly better defined outer edge



    Pic 3 shows the second position with duel 1200 lumen spot beam. Again much wider than the Salvo HID but obviously much brighter



    Pic4 Shows full power setting twin LED Spot + medium beam. I have purposefully moved this to the left to better show the width of the illuminated area. The significant increase in brightness over the 21W HID is apparent as is the greatly increased width of the usable beam



    Pic 5 showing the test pond at a range of 9m shows how on full power the beam illuminates the foreground significantly when compared to the light sabre effect of the HID or the VB50 on tight mode



    Pic 6 shows the Mk1 VB50 in tight mode at 9m with its incredibly tight beam focus allowing very little light spillage



    Before moving on to the wet pics I have to stress just how difficult conditions have been in comparison to previous torch tests. The level of rain we have had is incredible and despite the filtration the pond is very cloudy with very heavy particulate. The result is far more back scatter reflection than normal and greatly reduced penetration of the beam.
    In diving terms id say visibility in the pond is currently below 1.0m

    As a demonstration of this. This is the 21W HID tested in January 2014 demonstrating barely 3m of penetration and the picture below it is the same torch in the same pond taking in 2009



    21W HID Left VB50 Right



    So the most meaningful pictures taken in the pond are the side by side comparison shots.

    Left side MB Sub Tri LED right side 21W HID Salvo



    The pond is freshwater and the torches are resting on a ledge which is exactly 1.0m deep. The general depth of the pond is 2m and it is 4m across at the widest point

    In the first picture I have the Tri LED on twin spot function doing a side by side comparison with a 21W HID. The punch of the LED is defiantly not cutting through the gloom in the same way as the HID but the power of the beam over the 3m is quite obviously dwarfing the HID and the peripheral illumination even in duel spot mode, is quite significant.

    I tried to remove the haze from arround the shot using various camera settings and came up with this to demonstrate the diferance in power output (ignore the blue colour its just a by product of the camera setting)




    In the next picture we have the Tri LED in full power mode with the addition of the third wider angled LED in comparison to the HID in wide mode. Again the step up in illumination power over the HID is apparent and now the continuation of the power across the width of the beam can be better appreciated.



    One thing that is apparent in all the pictures is the tinge of blue in the HID and the white white in the LED. This contrast is more apparent when viewed with the naked eye


    VIDEO
    This is a short selection of clips taken on two dives. The first the Moldavia at 50m and the second the Duke at 60m Viability on the Moldavia was 4-6m and on the duke 6-8m. The video was shot on a Go Pro Black with no additional lighting. The video camera was mounted on my arm immediately above and behind the Tri LED head. In the Duke Video my buddy Pete is using a 200W Metal Sub HID




    TBC

  3. #3
    So many CCR So little etc Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase has a reputation beyond repute Mark Chase's Avatar
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    Re: MB Sub Tri LED on test

    CONCLUSIONS

    In previous reviews my task has been relatively simple. I did a side by side comparison with a 21W HID and we debated whether or not the LED had finally come of age. Did it have the power and more importantly, the level of control over its beam, to offer a alternative to HID tecnolagy. The comparison was based mainly on the light sabre properties of the 21W HID and backed up with length of beam and brightness.
    However today it seems that even in the hard to please GUE / Hogarthian cave market, the less power hungry and more reliable LED option has gained acceptance and strangely its occurred at a time when LED finally matched and arguably beet the standard HID at its own game.

    The Mk1 MB Sub VB50 was easily a match for the benchmark HID in terms of power and in its tight beam control. It was also far superior in wide mode with a much cleaner & more defined beam across its width. For those still in doubt the latest VB50 now some 30% tighter and 30% more powerful as it comes in a 6 degree mode. Thatís surely enough to signal a buddy on a passing space station, let alone in a cave.
    When I tested the 1000 lumen LED enabled Twin LED in 2009 it came with two bulb configurations. Spot Spot or Spot Wide.

    I dived it in the Mexico Caves and whilst the Spot/Spot mode was good, it was no match in terms of long range signalling to the 21W HIDs of my buddies. That was a disappointment but it was short lived as I then dived the torch in Spot/Wide mode. And thatís how it staid for the rest of the trip.

    I only wish the prototype V Cam I took on that trip had worked so I could show you why I preferred it. The torch lit up the cave so well with its peripheral light. This was something I noticed when I swapped from the Spot/Spot set up but didnít fulley understand until the last day of the trip when I dived my 21W Salvo to get a better comparison. I was so disappointed with the way the three 21W HIDS lit up the cave. For me it felt like I had reduced my enjoyment significantly because 30-40 % of the stuff I could previously see on the edges of my torch beam were now in darkness. I donít get to go to Mexico every year, but if I did Id have ordered a MB Sub twin LED and id have requested wide/wide as a beam mode.

    The Twin LED would still have my vote over other options because it has two separate bulbs. The most likely failure on torches in my experience is flooding and for that we have to accept that a single power source is never going to offer true redundancy. However for bulb failure having a twin bulb unit with each bulb producing 1200lumins, a Twin or Tri LED head offers a primary light exit or arguably a continuation of the dive where a single element system would force an exit / end to the dive.

    My first thought when I looked at the Tri LED was ďwhat does another bulb bring to the party?Ē

    Well I have to admit the twin spot option delivers an awesome level of lumen power and as I said before I still want the wide mode so having the power of twin LEDs and the wide mode of the third bulb is a bit of a ďhaving your cake and eating itĒ type scenario.

    So I flipped back to the cost issue.

    The Twin Led is currently 984 euro with tax and the tri LED is 1093euro?

    So would I pay another 109 euro for the privilege of a third LED?

    Having thought about it for a while I have decided, yes I would. Some will have a different opinion and I can well understand it.
    But this ignores the Tri LEDs party piece.

    Having a torch that can double as a video light is for me as a Go Pro user a significant advantage. Now the extra 109 euro seems a pittance. I would perhaps argue the medium beam LED on offer should be switched to a wide beam but this obviously means you will loose depth of punch. For me thatís fine as most of the interesting Go Pro work I do is close up easily within a 1m range as it seems to me that the best shots you can get on most dives.

    No way is this torch enough to light up a cave system for great video, we all know you need some serious power for that to work and I am not expecting to shoot high broad cast quality scenes using a single 1200 W wide beam LED, but to video catching a lobster or bagging a porthole or some china in a cargo hold? Itís ideal.

    And thatís mostly what I do.

    To me my Go Pro is low dive impact fire and forget system that one day will be there to video me finding my first bell. I donít want the hassle of taking in a full on video system every dive I just want it working away in the background for those unexpected diving gem moments.

    OK so id definitely choose the Tri Led over the Twin LED but would I chose it over the VB50?

    The answer to this question is not so easy. The VB50 is not much cop as a Go Pro light. So much so that I went out and bought a mini LED lighting system for my Go Pro and kind of admitted defeat on my goal to take in a Go Pro every dive. I know one day ill regret this. It really should be a no brainer choosing the Tri LED over the VB50, but its not. The VBs powerful long range punch in tight mode is stunning for scootering and its wide mode makes it an excellent wreck diving torch. QED Id not chose the Tri LED over the VB50 for any other reason than the video issue.

    Tri LED v VB50 in wide Mode




    VB 50 in Tight Mode





    If the Tri LED doesnít appeal to you it will most likely be because its not got that light sabre ability. To me thatís a simple solution. Get a VB50. If there is a better light sabre LED on the market, I havenít seen it yet.
    For pure power in a wide beam torch I was blown away by the near biblical Heinrichs Weikamp HW80 which in a low power mode would I am sure make an excellent torch for Go Pro Work. No one will claim the Tri LED is in that league and there are now a raft of tight beam LEDs on the market which I am sure could put up a good fight against the Tri LED in tight mode.

    The simply assume Heinrichs Weikamp HW80



    VB50 in wide mode for comparison



    However, for a much more than adequate signalling tool, an excelent wreck illumination tool and something that has the option of being a video light? I am not aware of any rivals for the Tri LED at this time.

    So I give you the MB Sub Tri LED. The Swiss Army Knife of torches.

    ATB

    Mark


    For Information: I dont work for MB Sub & I am not paid to write up these tests I own several torches including a MB Sub VB50 Solus 1250 Salvo 21W HID

  4. #4
    RBW Member ssk is an unknown quantity at this point ssk's Avatar
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    Re: MB Sub Tri LED on test

    Hi Mark,
    Very very well made report, thanks for sharing.
    Brgds,
    D.

  5. #5
    Nick Cunningham-Moorat scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick is a jewel in the rough scunick's Avatar
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    MB Sub Tri LED on test

    Awesome report.... I am about to mount my GoPro to my MB50 and this has cast some shadows on that decision.
    Later
    Nick


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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