Fire~Fly (Homemade flashlight)
Manufactured by DSpeck of Candlepower Forums
Last updated 09-17-09

The Fire~Fly (I tend to call it a Firebug) is a very small, Luxeon Star LED and CR123A cell-powered flashlight. If you look into it while it is on, you'll receive a rather rude and unpleasant surprise - your eyes can't take light this bright very well without some discomfort.

It read 243,000mcd on its single LED and a Lisun CR123A lithium cell (included, already installed in the Firebug - er - Fire~Fly).

It is very small; shorter than a CMG Infinity (an LED flashlight that uses a single AA cell and has a single 5mm LED) and just a tiny hair larger in diameter.


The Fire~Fly came to me ready to use - I just had to rip open the box, unroll some newspaper, and get the Fire~Fly out of its plastic baggie.
(Note: This baggie also contains the Fire~Fly's small split-ring, so don't be too hasty in disposing of it!)

Turn the bezel (head) clockwise (as if tightening it) and the Fire~Fly will come on.
Turn the bezel the other way (as if loosening it) to turn the Fire~Fly off.

Things just don't get too much easier than that. :-)
Not with flashlights, anyway. ;-)

You can affix the included small split ring into the hole for it on the tailcap if you wish. This will allow you to affix the Fire~Fly to the lanyard of your choosing if you desire, or to attach it to a ring of keys if that's your bag.

To change the battery in your Firebu---Fire~Fly, unscrew and remove the bezel (head). Tip the dead cell out of the barrel and into the garbage (or into the recycling box, if your community has a battery reclamation program). Drop a new CR123A cell into the barrel, tail (-) first. Be sure the positive (+) button end is facing outward. Screw the head back on, then back it off slightly when the Fire~Fly springs to life.

Measures 935mA on the included Lisun CR123A cell. This measurement was done with less than 1 minute of "on" time on the Fire~Fly.

The Fire~Fly is a durable and robust instrument that should last for many, many years.

It is water-resistant, so don't be afraid to use it in the rain or snow. I tested it in the bathroom sink, by filling the sink all the way up, turning the Fire~Fly on, and throwing it in the water and leaving it there for several minutes. When I emptied the sink, dried the outside of the Fire~Fly off with some toilet paper, and then disassembled the flashlight, I did not find *any* water in it. So if the dog goes to the bathroom on it, just wash it off in the sink and it'll be good as new.

The Fire~Fly is beautiful to look at even when it's off. The barrel is made of black anodized aluminum, and the head is made of black anodized aluminum with a copper insert to serve as a heatsink. There's a strip of copper visible about 1/4 of the way down the flashlight; you can also see some of that characteristic coppery color when looking at the business-end of the Fire~Fly when it's off.
The copper is part of the Fire~Fly's heatsinking (necessary with large junction, high current LEDs like the Luxeon Star), and is an integral part of the flashlight. It was used primarily because it makes a better heatsinking material than aluminum in small flashlights like this.

The Fire~Fly has knurling (texturising) on both the head and barrel, so you can keep a grip on things even if your hands are wet, cold, or oily. The knurling on the head is slightly more aggresive (slightly sharper) than the knurling on the body. I know that's a minor detail, but it's a detail nonetheless. :-)

As I understand, the acrylic optic in the Fire~Fly is non-standard, rather than an optic that simply drops in. It is protected by what I believe is a pyrex glass window. I tried to scratch it with a knife (would I really do that to such a sweet, loveable little flashlight? You bet I would, if it's in the name of science!!!), and was not able to.
The optic is also clean and shiny, and those things attract fingerprints so well they ought to be used on CSI. So Doug took great care when assembling these flashlights.

The lens and optic are recessed in the head, so you can stand the Fire~Fly on its head (for storage, etc.) without any damage.

The split ring is small and very hard to put on the tailcap. I have still not been able to get this ring on my Fire~Fly (I dropped it twice, and used the Fire~Fly to find its own ring both times), but I haven't given up just yet. (After about 5 more minutes of {vulgar term for having intercourse} with it, using the medium standard screwdriver blade of a Swiss Army knife, and poking myself once, I finally got the split ring on.)

Beam photograph at ~12".
Measures 243,000mcd using a Meterman LM631 light meter
and the Lisun CR123A cell that was included with it.

Picture of the beam from about 6 feet.

That "rotten cat urine green" color you see around the
hotspot does exist, but was "amplified" in these photos
and does not in any way affect the use of this flashlight.
The color is actually very minor and insignificant in real life.

Here's a picture of the Fire~Fly illuminating the front of an argon ion laser.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.

Spectrographic plot
Same as above; newer software setting used.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis.
Image made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.

The Fire~Fly on this page was built and graciously provided by Doug Speck of Candlepower Forums, and was received on 10-24-03.

UPDATE: 10-28-03
The origin of the Fire~Fly can be found right here if you're interested. Give the page a few minutes to load, especially if you're on a yucky slow dial-up like me, because it has around 250 messages and a number of pictures on it.
As you can see, a user of the forum named "Tvodrd" came up with the original Fire~Fly design; it's Doug Speck ("Dspeck") who actually builds and sells them.

UPDATE: 04-30-04
The Firefly is now called the Fire~Fly, to avoid any conflicts with other products called "Firefly" in the US Patent and Trademark Office. That's why the spelling was changed on this page and in other locations on my website.

Doug Speck (the creator of the Fire~Fly) also now has his own forum on Candlepower Forums, right here if you're interested.

UPDATE: 03-05-08
From an email I received this morning (and I know this is true, so this is *NOT* libel!):

Hundreds have paid tens of thousands to preorder FireFlys from Doug since his last production run 2 years ago. I am one of them unfortunately. This is well documented on CPF. He no longer answers emails nor phone calls. We (a group on CPF) have tried to seek justice but the Canadian legal system has yielded little satisfaction from either criminal or civil venues.

Beautiful to look at, whether on or off
Blindingly bright, for such a tiny thing
Durable construction
Water-resistant and submersible to at least 1 foot
Good knurling on head and body of light

O-ring seems just a bit too large
Minor battery rattle
Battery could be expensive or hard to find in an emergency
Can't stand the Firebu--Fire~Fly on it's tail for ceiling illumination
Split ring can be a bit difficult to attach (very nitpicky; pick, pick, pick)

    PRODUCT TYPE: Small flashlight
    LAMP TYPE: 1.2 watt Luxeon Star LED
    No. OF LAMPS: 1
    BEAM TYPE: Circular, hotspot with smooth fall-off
    SWITCH TYPE: Twist bezel on/off
    BEZEL: Metal with LED and its optic inset for protection
    BATTERY: 1 CR123A cell
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 935 milliamps
    SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, to at least a foot
    ACCESSORIES: CR123A cell, small split ring
    SIZE: Approx. 2.6" (7cm)L by 0.8" (2cm)D
    WEIGHT: 39 grams empty, 61 grams fully-loaded

    Light is of a homemade nature and will not be rated like a commercial product.

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