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PHOTON FREEDOM MICRO



Photon Freedom Micro Light, retail $19.95 (www.photonlight.com/products/freedom_micro/index.html)
Manufactured by LRI (www.photonlight.com/)
Buy them here
Last updated 11-17-07





The Photon Freedom Micro Light (hereinafter referred to as the Freedom Micro) is the latest offshoot from the Photon Micro Lights I, II, and 3. It comes housed in a glass filled resin case, runs from 1 CR2032 or 2 CR2016 cells (depending on the LED color), and comes with LRI's unique hands-free clip, allowing you to affix the Freedom Micro to it and use the flashlight totally hands-free.

The Freedom Micro has a microcontroller buried inside that allows it to have dimming, strobe, and SOS functions you cannot get just with an LED and battery alone.


 SIZE



The Freedom Micro is almost ready to use right out of the package.
First thing you'll want to do is hold the Freedom Micro's button down for 20 seconds (until the Freedom Micro turns off) to remove it from "demonstration mode". Then you'll have full use of all the Freedom Micro's features.

To turn the Freedom Micro on, just press and release the button on the top of the flashlight. To turn the Freedom Micro back off, press and release the button again.

Note: Some of the text below is from the LRI website.

To dim the light once it is turned on, simply press and hold the button to dim the light to the desired level.

Pressing and holding the button when the light is already off will turn it on at the lowest level and allow you to gradually increase the brightness to give you just the amount of light you need.

When needed, the four safety strobe functions (fast, medium, slow, & SOS) can be accessed by continuing to hold the button down. Once the light has dimmed or brightened fully, it will proceed to cycle through the various strobe functions. Simply release the button when you reach the desired beacon mode.

Momentary or "signaling" mode can be accessed by tapping the button several times in rapid succession. In this mode, you can send morse code messages to somebody, or just squeeze it to get a shot of light whenever you need it. To exit this and return the Freedom Micro to normal operation, simply press and hold the button for several seconds until the light turns off.

End theft mode.

Included with the Freedom Micro is the new "Hands Free Photon Clip". This simple device allows you to use your Freedom Micro hands-free; clipping to the brim of a hat or to a shirt pocket or even to your collar if your shirt does not have a pocket. You can also clip it to the bridge or lens of your eyeglasses if you wish. The fairly stiff spring-loaded clip has serrated "teeth" on the inner faces of the clip, so it ought to stay put where you clip it on. A ball & socket joint on a pedestal allows the flashlight to be pointed just about anywhere when it's affixed to the clip. There are pictoral instructions included in the Freedom Micro's instructional leaflet.

In case you can't figure them out though, it kinda goes like this:

Insert the front (LED-end) of your Freedom Micro into the front of the clip where the two larger and more widely-spaced plastic tits are. After the front of your flashlight is in there, lower the rear side of the flashlight (where the keychain hole is) into the two narrowly-spaced plastic tits on the Hands Free clip. Be sure it's on there all the way so you don't lose your Freedom Micro. Clip it to whatever you want to clip it to. Turn your Freedom Micro on, and aim it wherever you need the light. Finally, turn your Freedom Micro off, at least until you're ready to use it.
There, that was easy, wasn't it?


Here's the device itself, compared in size to a Photon 3 (the same size & shape as a Freedom Micro).
(yeah, I lifted these pictures off another one of my Photon pages, so sue me!) ;-)


And here it is, clipped to the brim of a baseball hat.
Yes, the hat has "CandlePower Forums" on it. :-)


And, finally, here it is clipped to a pair of eyeglasses, while I'm using them.
My eyes are closed in this photograph because one of them is still {vulgar term for having had intercourse} up from (crash course in) brain surgery I had in late 2002.



Changing the battery or batteries in your Freedom Micro is easy. Just turn the light upside down, and carefully pry the battery cap off by inserting the tip of a knife blade or the tip of a nail file under the recess for it right in front of the keychain hole at the tail end; then pull the cap off once it is lifted far enough for you to grasp.

Remove the one or two dead batteries and dispose of or recycle them as you see fit.

Lay in one or two new ones (remember, this varies depending on LED color; 1 CR2032 cell for infrared, red, orange, and yellow; 2 CR2016 cells for green, blue-green, blue, violet, and white) flat side (+) facing you; being sure the edge of the top battery fits under the brass strap or bridge you see in the battery compartment.

Now, lay the battery cap or door over the opening, and simply press the cap into place like you would the lid on a Tupperware bowl. You'll feel that satisfying "Tupperware snap" as the cap is fitted in place. :)

More than ever, it is important that you get the batteries in correctly. With just an LED, you can sometimes get away with it, but with the new microcontroller something nasty might happen if you put the batteries in backwards.



Like its predecessors, the Photon Freedom Micro is one tough cookie. The housing is made of a glass reinforced polyurethane resin compound, and is, for all intents and purposes, indestructible. The LED is surrounded on all sides by a transluscent plastic grommet, and the light is supposed to be submersible to at least several feet.

The Freedom Micro seems built to take any punishment or misfortune you may bestow upon it. I ran one over with a 400lb electric wheelchair four times, and did not break it. Nothing happened during the first rollover, it turned itself on during the second, turned itself off during the third, and turned itself back on during the fourth. And when I got out of the chair and picked it up, I had no problems whatsoever turning it off - and a little later, back on, then off again.
This test was done with a 400lb (with me in it) electric Rascal wheelchair, on very low pile (<0.10") carpeting with no backing, laid directly on linoleum flooring.

The instruction booklet doesn't specify the degree of water resistance, but does provide instructions for resurrecting a flooded light (disassemble it and let the pieces dry).

The only real construction fault I can find is lack of protection for the LED (this is the case with ALL Photon Micro Lights, not just the Freedom Micro); after being dropped a lot or spending a lot of time in a pants pocket with change & keys, the LED's finish may become marred. The LED has been known to break in a head-first fall, but this probably doesn't happen very often and I honestly wouldn't worry about it. And the guarantee should cover it, so that's even less to worry about.

The Freedom Micro comes with a spring-loaded quick-release keyring attachment, already affixed to the light with a small split ring. This allows you to "snap" the Freedom Micro onto your keyring with just a flick of the wrist, and allows you to quickly remove it by depressing the flat "gate" on its ring. So you don't have to fumble with jingling keys and try to get a split ring aligned correctly in order to get the Freedom Micro off your keychain. It goes on and comes off easily.

According to the electronics engineer at LRI:
For those who want to fiddle with it, the LED plugs into pin sockets so the LED is interchangeable with other colors.



Beam photo at ~12".
Measures 28,800mcd on its highest setting.
Measures 30mcd on its lowest setting.

Dimming functions use a method called PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). This means the LED rapidly blinks on and off; faster than human vision can detect it. The LED receives high current during its "on" time, so current-based LED light output discolorations will not occur with the Freedom Micro, the Photon 3, or the Photon Fusion; lights that LRI makes that use PWM to dim their LEDs.

There are quite a few different brightnesses; more than I can readily discern.



Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.





TEST NOTES:
Test units (1 packaged, 1 unpackaged) were sent by B.A. of LRI (Laughing Rabbit Incorporated) and were received on the morning of 03-08-04. Lights are in their initial stages of testing.


UPDATE: 04-07-04
The Freedom Micro also comes in a "covert" version, with a hood or hosel around the LED. This eliminates sidespill that some users could find annoying. See the photograph directly below comparing a covert Freedom Micro with a regular Freedom Micro.


The covert Freedom Micro I was sent also came with a Hands-Free Photon Clip; same as the other Freedom Micros I evaluated earlier.


UPDATE: 11-25-05
I received an email today, with one solution to the reported problem of unwanted activation:

Hi Craig.
Just a note about my 'Doug Ritter' version of the Photon Freedom. I wasn't too happy when it turned on in my pocket twice in the first week I had it. The second time I got up in the night and it was flashing in my pants pocket, so I know the switch was pressed just long enough to go into flashing mode but not long enough to trigger the 'crush' feature that would have turned it off. Anyway, following advice I found on the photon forum I pried out the electronics (pry from the end opposite the led) and sanded off about half the 'nub' on the inside of the case that presses the switch. It's now harder to turn on and at least so far the problem is solved.



PROS:
Super bright in HIGH mode
Easy to change modes
Durable construction
Good color rendition
Useably wide beam
Doesn't discolor when dimmed
Tiny in size
Easy to carry & store
Better water resistance than Photon II
Screw-free battery changing
No plastic switch to fumble with, leak, or break off.
Comes with versatile clip accessory


CONS:
Batteries can be expensive & hard to find in an emergency
Some users may dislike the one-button interface - will not figure into my rating



    MANUFACTURER: LRI
    PRODUCT TYPE: Mini keychain flashlight
    LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm, all colors + IR + NUV
    No. OF LAMPS: 1
    BEAM TYPE: Circular; beam quality varies with LED type
    SWITCH TYPE: Snap-action microswitch with digital signal processing.
    BEZEL: None
    BATTERY: 1 CR2032 or 2 CR2016 lithium coin cells
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Varies, 2 uA to ~60 mA (req. re-measure)
    WATER RESISTANT: Yes
    SUBMERSIBLE: No, but should be OK after accidental dunking
    ACCESSORIES: Battery(ies), spring clip keyring, hands-free clip*
    WARRANTY: Full lifetime

    *
    As of 03-08-04, hands-free clip is only packaged with the Freedom Micro for a limited time.

    PRODUCT RATING:

    Star RatingStar Rating





Photon Freedom Micro Light * www.photonlight.com/products/freedom_micro/index.html







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