The Bonfire Blaze is CMG's latest incarnation of the Bonfire Tent Light, which has been popular with campers and other outdoors people.
While the original Bonfire has amber LEDs only; the Blaze features a pair of inverter-driven bright white LEDs and a suprisingly potent single red LED. The Blaze uses the same type of enclosure as the original Bonfire, but there is at least one immediately noticeable improvement besides the LEDs.
The Blaze is almost ready to use right out of its very easy-to-open package. You'll need to install some batteries and maybe install the lanyard.
The lanyard is different on the Blaze than it is on the original Bonfire. I can't quite explain how it goes on, so I'm just going to quote the instructional card that comes with the Blaze: "Attach the lanyard by fitting the loop in the lanyard around the body of the Bonfire. Slide the loop into the two lanyard grooved hooks, then pull tight the two ends of the lanyard to reduce any slack in the lanyard loop."
Got it? :p
As a test, I removed the lanyard (which was already installed on this sample) and tried to reattach it. It didn't seem intuitive, and it took me a couple of tries to figure out exactly how it went on. It's not difficult by any means, but the first couple of times you finally get it on right, you'll want to pay attention. :)
Once that's finished and you have the batteries in, you're ready to go.
There is a three-position rocker switch on the rubber tailpiece. Center position is "off". Press the left edge of the switch cover firmly to get white light, or press the right edge firmly to get red light.
The left picture shows the switch on the bottom. The right picture shows the "business end" of the Blaze with the cap removed.
Yes, you can remove the cap and use it like a regular flashlight; you can also re-aim the LEDs to better suit your individual preference. The cap then just snaps straight on with two noticeable snap sounds, so you'll know if it's on all the way or not.
That black ring inside there is a rubber gasket, which should help improve weather resistance. The original Bonfire had this gasket too, so I'll have to sneak into the shower with the Blaze looped over the showerhead and see what happens. Barring that, I'll just have to wait for a good old fashioned fall storm, and hang it outside the window for awhile.
The Bonfire operates from two "AA" cells, which despite having a long life, will occasionally need changing.
Pull off the Bonfire's grey rubber base. This will expose the switch and the metal battery contact.
The battery contact has two "ears" that fit into slots on the sides, and a larger "ear" on the narrow part of the light.
Press down slightly on this larger ear while sliding the metal piece away from the switch. When it comes free, dump out the dead batteries, and insert two new ones.
The polarity is marked just inside the battery chamber right near the switch. If you have the light so the metal contact is closer to you than the switch is, put the left battery
in button-side up, and put the right battery in button-side down. Press & slide the metal contact back into place, and push the grey rubber end piece back on.
The only thing that might be difficult to do in total darkness is fiddling with the metal battery contact.
Keeping a second flashlight (always a good idea anyway) or even a cigarette lighter handy will be plenty enough to help you through this part of the battery change.
Everything else can be done totally by feel.
Battery life is stated at approximately 25 hours for the white LEDs, and 70 hours for the red. These figures are based on using the same color LED for the entire duration of the battery life; in practise your results may vary because you'll probably switch back and forth between the two.
In one informal "test", I hung the Blaze outside my window for the 9/11 candelight vigil, and it burned acceptably bright for darn near two days before becomining dim enough to seriously warrant a battery change. The red light was then turned on and left on, and it's been burning since the morning of 9/14 (today's the 21st).
The Bonfire is not waterproof, but it is weather resistant. The diffuser cap has a gasket it fits on, and the rubber bottom should keep out all but the hardest rainfall and protect it from the leakiest tent.
You need not be afraid to use it in foul weather or a leaky cave or tent so long as you keep it in the cap-down position.
If your Bonfire does get flooded, just take out the batteries & pop off the diffuser cap, empty the water out, and let it air dry before reassembling it. Done with that. NOTE: If salt water (seawater) gets inside your Bonfire, you should open it up as explained in the last sentence and douche it out with fresh water before setting it aside to dry.
Because the new Blaze uses a step-up circuit, if you flood the light you should try to dry the insides out as soon as you can, and AVOID using the white LEDs until you've done so. I believe it's OK to continue using the RED if you don't have any other light handy at the moment.
Beam photographs (top: white, bottom: red).
Spectrometer plot of the white LEDs in this product.
Spectrometer plot of the red LED in this product. Ocean Optics USB2000 Spectrometer on loan from TWO-CUBED.
Sample of the Blaze was received on 09-05-02. Due to local obligations, testing won't fully commence until 09-10-02.
As described earlier, the Blaze was used in the 9/11 memorial, and burned for about two days on the white LEDs. The batteries were then allowed to rest overnight, and the red LED was turned on. It's still on, bright enough to use as a marker but not for much of anything else. The unit will provide several minutes of bright white light at this point, but it fades quickly because the batteries are, for all intents and purposes, totally exhausted.
I've been using the Bonfire Blaze every single night since early January 2003, and have no problems to report other than the rubber end cap that became lost in late 2002 (I think the cleaners got it while I was away). I emailed CMG about the missing end cap about a week ago, and received the replacement today. I couldn't ask for better customer service than what I got from CMG. I've used the Blaze every night even without its end cap, primarily because of the red LED in it. Now I can use a WHOLE Bonfire Blaze, instead of one missing a part!
Excellent multipurpose area light
Features two colors of light that you can choose at will
Uses inexpensive and commonly-available batteries
Decent battery life
A bit on the large side for the amount of light provided
Not too water resistant
Batteries can be a bit tricky to change in the dark
MANUFACTURER: CMG Equipment
PRODUCT TYPE: Tent/confined area light
LAMP TYPE: LED
No. OF LAMPS: 3 (2 white, 1 red)
BEAM TYPE: Diffuse with partial directivity
SWITCH TYPE: Rocker type, SPDT
BEZEL: Transluscent plastic dome
BATTERY: 2x AA
WATER RESISTANT: Weather resistant when hung from lanyard
ACCESSORIES: Long lanyard
WARRANTY: 3 years, barring accident or abuse
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