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UKE Mini Pocket Light


UKE 2-AAA Mini Pocket Light, retail $8.00 (http://www.uwkinetics.com)
Manufactured by Underwater Kinetics (1-858-513-9100)
Last updated: 04-15-03


UKE Light


The UKE Mini Pocket Light is a high-intensity, 2-cell "AAA" flashlight.
With its cells in a side-by-side setup, this light is very compact and portable when compared to "AAA" penlights with the batteries mounted end-to-end.
The body of the light is black, and it has a transparent, jeweled (faceted) plastic head that glows when the light is being used. It comes in the package complete, so you don't need to make an extra run to the store for batteries right off the bat.



When you receive your Pocket Light, it comes with two Duracell "AAA" cells, a keyring, and a hat clip. Unscrew the clear end cap (UKE calls this piece the bezel) and install the batteries (see below). Screw it back on, and you're ready to go.

To turn the light on, simply twist the bezel clockwise until it comes on; to turn it off, unscrew it at least 1 1/2 turns.

If you wish to attach the UKE to your keys, you will need to get the keyring into the hole provided on the light. This can be tricky to get started without help from a knife or screwdriver, as the keyring is very sturdy and difficult to pry open. Once it's on the light, it will not come off again until you want it off.

The UKE also comes with a hat clip. Although it looks useless, nothing could be farther from the truth. It simply clips to the bill of any baseball cap, and the light fits snugly through the opening that remains. Attach the clip to the left or right side of your cap's bill. The flashlight can be slipped into the clip and left that way, or you can remove & replace it at will. With most caps, this should position the light perfectly for walking at night and for more close-up tasks like an engine repair.
More on this later.

The light can be balanced on its tail to illuminate a room if need be.



To remove the batteries, unscrew the clear bezel until it comes off. Watch for the bulb & reflector assembly, as this *can* fall out under some conditions. Usually it will stay inside the bezel and won't give you any trouble though.

Tip out the old batteries, by holding the light so the opening is lower than the keyring hole; they should both slip out, one after another.
Insert two new ones in the following manner: hold the light so the keyring hangs towards the floor, insert the first battery positive (+) end first, jiggle the light gently until it falls in place. Insert the second battery negative (-) end first, then screw the bezel on - being sure the lamp assembly is still inside. :)
It sounds a lot harder than it is, but this battery configuration is different than most other lights you might normally encounter.
Be sure to properly discard your expired batteries. Do not discard in fire or flush down toilet.

Unlike many lights, this one requires occasional maintenance. The "O" ring should be occasionally cleaned and then lubricated with a silicone grease. Remove the "O" ring with your fingers; tools can damage it and eventually your light may spring a leak. Like battery changing, this job sounds far more difficult than it actually is.



This little flashlight is incredibly bright and seems built to take it. It should survive most any common flashlight mishap; such as being dropped, tumbling down a mountainside, being tussled around inside the toolbox, or being accidentally dropped into water.

Speaking of water, don't worry about it. Watertight to 500 feet, this light was meant to be your diving or camping buddy, regardless of the weather. (Please, don't dive during an electrical storm). Should the light ever get flooded though, the manufacturer recommends you empty all of the contents, rinse it out with fresh water, and dry it well before putting it back in service. Somehow I doubt this will happen very often, if at all.

A test-throw made while the UKE was burning didn't seem to affect it at all. Many lights would blow a bulb or have the filament knocked so out of whack that the poor injured thing would cast this useless, ring-shaped beam until you bought a new bulb. The UKE didn't do that.

The included hat clip is made of a sturdy plastic, and grips tightly to the bill of any baseball cap. When the light is correctly placed in this clip, it should never fall off or get turned around all weird. If you position the clip towards the back edge of the cap's bill, the light can be used without any glare from the glowing bezel. Because it works so well, this is an exceptional accessory to have, and the UKE Mini Pocket Light comes with it as standard equipment.

The light carries a limited lifetime warranty, but I don't think this covers major accidents or destruction during testing.
The only possible weakness (besides the glass bulb) I can find is the clear bezel assembly. Being made from this type of clear polycarbonate plastic means it is probably a little on the brittle side - stepping on this piece by mistake may crack or break it. This is not the fault of the light in and of itself - humans simply have not devised an optically transparent plastic that isn't brittle. One day...


Left: Uke 16" inches from the target.
Right: Uke approx. 12 feet from the target.


The light bulb inside is rated at 1.13 watts, and it puts those watts to good use. It throws a tight, focussed beam that really travels well for a light of this size.
It seems brighter than a 2-AA mag lite, and brighter than many common 2-C and 2-D lights. More on this later, as soon as I get a chance to use it outdoors at night. Remember, I live in the center of a large city, and rarely venture out after dark. The next night baseball game I go to will probably be that chance.


TEST NOTES:
Bright narrow beam is whiter than most incandescent sources.
Catalyst inside light is ruined if exposed to water, plus the entire reflector & bulb assembly must be replaced as a unit should this occur.
Beam pattern and more photos coming soon - waiting for a replacement camera.


UPDATE 07-09-01:
This light has seen almost daily use for the several weeks I've had it, and the batteries are still producing a white, non-yellow light. Note that my usage has been limited to a matter of seconds to around a minute at a time - my usual usage pattern for this type of light.

UPDATE 09-20-01:
I still haven't made it to that night baseball game due to lack of money. However I did score tickets for the home closer on Sept. 28th so the UKE will be put to a true outdoor test at that time.



PROS:
Extremely bright for its size, compact and easy to use shape, very functional hat clip, ultimate water resistance, readily available batteries.


CONS:
Supposed limited burn time of only an hour or two, when the bulb burns out you must purchase an entire reflector/catalyst/lamp assembly for approximately $6. Some people may end up simply throwing the whole thing away and buying a whole new light with batteries for $7 or $8.


          MANUFACTURER: Underwater Kinetics
          PRODUCT TYPE: Miniature diving torch
          LAMP TYPE: Incandescent, 1.13 watts
          No. OF LAMPS: 1
          BEAM TYPE: Narrow spot with corona
          SWITCH TYPE: Twist bezel
          BEZEL: Clear plastic. Reflector is part of lamp assembly
          BATTERY: 2 AAA cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Not yet measured
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes
          SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, to 500 feet. Negative buoyancy
          ACCESSORIES: 2 Duracell AAA cells, large keyring, hat clip
          WARRANTY: Limited lifetime




                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 10
                BRIGHTNESS: 10
                USEABILITY: 6
                BATTERY LIFE: 5
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 10

                OVERALL SCORE: 41



UKE Mini Pocket Light * http://www.uwkinetics.com

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