HDS Action Light

HDS Action Light, retail $349.00
Manufactured by HDS Systems (http://www.hdssystems.com)
Last updated 10-23-03

LED Light

The Action Light is a rugged and robust light that uses an array of 24 white LEDs, a special power supply, and special lithium "D" battery. The unit was designed to survive the unsurvivable, and to provide reliable light in situations that would leave cheap plastic flashlights in flushable sized pieces.

It is made of anodized aluminum, and has a thick Lexan (brand) polycarbonate lens protecting the LED array.

Size reference (note the "D" cells)

The Action Light comes with a pair of special lithium sulfur dioxide 3 volt "D" cells.
One is already installed in the battery compartment, and one additional battery is included as a spare.

Twist the multi-sided rotary switch counterclockwise one or more "clicks" to get light; turn it all the way clockwise (until it stops moving) to shut the Action Light off. More info about the various settings will be found farther down the page.

The Action Light has multiple brightness levels, and newer units will also have some additional features which will only be covered lightly. The unit I am testing is an earlier, 1st generation (V1) model with three brightness levels only.

Both the battery holder and the light unit itself come equipped with a swivelling 3/4" 'flat hook', which is used to affix it to your helmet. A fan of the website has stated that the flat hook originated with mining helmets, as all mining lights come with this fixture.
As I do not own or have access to a mining helmet (or any helmet or other article with such a receptacle), I won't be able to test this aspect of the Action Light.

[image 1 LiSO2 'D' cell]
To feed your Action Light when it finally does become hungry, unscrew the knurled knob on one end of the battery compartment until it comes off. Gently turn the light over your hand and tap it in your palm until the battery starts to drop out. Carefully lift away the metal disc you see affixed to the bottom of the battery, and swing it out of the way. You will note that it is attached to a length of strategically-folded ribbon cable; this allows the disc to be moved far enough out of the way to remove or install the battery.

Slide out the old battery, and slide in a new one, button (+) end first. Lay the metal contact disc over the negative end of the battery. It is specially designed to fit the base of the battery. Be sure the ribbon cable is not twisted, and fold it back into the indentation on top of the disc that was made to accomodate it.


Once you are sure everything is correctly aligned and in place, screw the battery cover back onto the battery compartment, and gently tighten until it feels firm.

Battery life varies depending on how you use your Action Light, but it can range anywhere from 12 to 300 hours. More on this farther down the page. In addition, a graph is being constructed, to be shown directly below.

This is the final result of the Action Light battery testing.
The light now goes back to its owner - thanks Ted!!

The Action Light is very solidly built, and should provide a lifetime of light even if you're notorious for the abuse & murder of ordinary flashlights. It has been said that cavers are rougher on their equipment than anyone else, including the military. The Action Light was made to take this kind of abuse and come out smelling flower-fresh every time.

If you drop it, just pick it up and keep going..
If it gets all muddied up, take the garden hose to it.
If you keep bonking your head on the cave roof, so what? That's why you wear a helmet, and that's why an Action Light should be on it.

The unit is sealed tight, and should be submersible to 100 meters (around 330 feet). All entry points for liquid are sealed with O rings, and the rotary action switch will keep going when an ordinary push-on, push-off switch would be permanently smooshed into the "on" position. In a microcontroller style light, this can leave you in the dark.

The LEDs are protected by a thick Lexan lens affixed with four special hex bolts. A replaceable protective film over the lens can be easily and cheaply replaced anytime it becomes marred; plus if necessary, this protective layer can be removed altogether if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a f$*@#%ed up lens. The LEDs themselves are potted in place with what appears to be Torr-Seal, so they will *never* get whacked out of alignment no matter what you do to your Action Light.

LED Light LED Light
LEFT: The front face of the HDS Action Light.
RIGHT: Close-up of the LED array. Photographed with the unit on "Low".

LED Light LED Light LED Light
.HIGH....................MEDIUM .....................LOW
Measured at 50,250mcd, 12,340mcd , and 2,922mcd respectively.
The camera's auto-exposure doesn't help here, but the meter does.
Anybody got a decent camera?


This is the "target" that will be used for testing color rendition.
Shown in evening sun... all of my windows face north, and do not allow for a more accurate early afternoon picture.

Plants pictured: summer flowering heather (pink tuft-like blooms), Euphorbia x lomi (red bract-like blossoms) and "pink polka dot plant" (mottled pale pink & dark green foliage).

...3-D MAG LITE.........................ACTION LIGHT
Note: the orangish background light is from those %@#* sodium streetlamps that I can't escape from.
The camera settings were *not* changed between shots, and position & distance remained constant.
Notice how the Action Light shows me the foliage & blooms with better color than the Mag Lite.

Sample was graciously loaned by Theodore Williams, or 'Ted The Led' on Candlepower Forums.
Thanks Ted!

UPDATE 08-29-01:
As you can see above, the "flower test" was completed early this morning.
The city in which I live is stuffed full of sodium vapor street lighting, so the orange background color in all outdoor night shots is unavoidable. There is no "wilderness" or totally dark area anywhere close to where I can get to it in the wheelchair, so I must make do with what I've got.

UPDATE 09-01-01:
Additional batteries are being provided by Verge ('2nd Edge on CPF) so that testing can be more complete. These things cost $20 apiece! Again, some more thank-you's are due... thanks!!! :-D
When these batteries are finally located & shipped here, I expect to see runtimes in the range of 11-13 hours on "high", 45-55 hours on "medium", and 280-320 hours on "low".

UPDATE 09-05-01:
The tested unit was manufactured near the time when Nichia was just introducing their 5,600mcd LED, and it is likely, with a 95%+ probability, that this specific sample of Action Light is still loaded with Nichia 4,000mcd lamps. Considering the LEDs used, the Action Light is bright on its highest setting. Unit will be given special consideration because of the LEDs, knowing their is a considerably brighter model on the horizon.

UPDATE 10-23-01:
Testing is officially finished. See the battery usage graph earlier in this article.
Light is now to be returned to its owner. Because it is a loaner, I will not be able to compare it to other LED lights, so please don't e-mail me asking me to do so.

UPDATE 10-23-03:
I heard from the light's owner today that you CAN use an ordinary D cell in it if you can't get your hands on a lithium. You will not be able to access the highest brightness mode, but the others work.

Potential for *long* battery life
Bright (see the 09-05 update)
Virtually indestructible
Appears to be very meticulously and lovingly made with only the best components
Can be operated from an ordinary D cell if you can't find lithiums.

"Form factor" - tested model clunky to use as a hand torch; intended specifically for helmet attachment
Lithium sulfur dioxide battery it should use is EXPENSIVE and proving to be impossible to locate

          MANUFACTURER: HDS Systems
          PRODUCT TYPE: Two-piece "caver's" headlamp
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm, white
          No. OF LAMPS: 24
          BEAM TYPE: Central bright zone with soft fall-off
          SWITCH TYPE: Rotary, 4-position with detents
          BEZEL: Lexan, flat and of good thickness
          BATTERY: 1 Saft lithium sulfur dioxide "D" size 3v; 1 alkaline "D" 1.5v
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Not measured
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes
          SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, though it is not a diving light
          ACCESSORIES: LiSO2 batteries (2 ea.)
          WARRANTY: Full lifetime

                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 10
                BRIGHTNESS: 9
                USEABILITY: 7*
                BATTERY LIFE: 10
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 1 / 10**

                OVERALL SCORE: 37/46

            * Clunky form factor; meant specifically for helmet mount
            **LiSO2 extremely hard to find, alkaline "D" easy to find

HDS Action Light * HDS Systems (http://www.hdssystems.com)

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