Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 7, 2011 8:27 am

Marduke wrote:For those commenting on the weight difference, I would point out that the HP-11 is balanced front-rear, while the spark is disproportioned to all front. Not a big deal for some folks, downright annoying to others.



Guess you never wore a helmet-mounted carbide lamp... Compared to that, this is practically air. :laughing:


-Dean
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 7, 2011 8:31 am

rlboyce wrote:As far as the waterproof thing goes, without actually testing it underground it appears that it would do well in river caves....still waiting to see an actual underground trial performed by cavers.


This one's waterproof. No doubt. Couldn't tell you a specific depth rating, but the threading for the battery case and the lens are very precise. I've seen less well-engineered fittings do just fine underwater and in the muck.

-Dean
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Cody JW » Sep 7, 2011 5:01 pm

DeanWiseman wrote:
rlboyce wrote:As far as the waterproof thing goes, without actually testing it underground it appears that it would do well in river caves....still waiting to see an actual underground trial performed by cavers.


This one's waterproof. No doubt. Couldn't tell you a specific depth rating, but the threading for the battery case and the lens are very precise. I've seen less well-engineered fittings do just fine underwater and in the muck.

-Dean
Dean, cannot wait to hear your in cave review. Keep us posted , also anyone else who has one let us know what you think after caving with it. If anyone figures out a way to hard mount the thing , I would like to know. I would like to know if anyone used industrial Velcro. I use industrial Velcro to mount my HP-10, it seems to work but does not seem like the same stuff Sten uses. I have tried to get my hands on the exact stuff Sten uses but so far I cannot find it.
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Extremeophile » Sep 7, 2011 5:53 pm

Cody JW wrote:If anyone figures out a way to hard mount the thing , I would like to know. I would like to know if anyone used industrial Velcro. I use industrial Velcro to mount my HP-10, it seems to work but does not seem like the same stuff Sten uses. I have tried to get my hands on the exact stuff Sten uses but so far I cannot find it.

Disclaimer: I don't own one, but I've seen it and operated it.
It's rated IPX8 waterproof, which is >3 ft continuous submersion. I suspect, as Dean has said, that it can probably withstand much more. Since the emitter and battery are in one housing you don't have wire penetrations and the housing is solidly built aluminum.

If you want to permanently mount it to a helmet, a pair of heavy zip ties should do the job quite well. This way you could rotate the lamp up and down and have access to replace the battery. You would naturally need to drill 4 small holes in the front of the helmet, which is no big deal.

I don't think industrial velcro (i.e. 3M Dual Lock) will work. The back of the Spark is round and this doesn't provide a large contact area with the surface of the helmet. BTW, I've seen 3M Dual Lock at Target in the office supply area.
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Cody JW » Sep 7, 2011 7:09 pm

I was thinking about using Velcro to mount the rubber piece to the Ecrin, Zip ties might be better, no rubber piece would be needed. So far Industrial Velcro has worked to mount the battery pack of the HP-10, I use zip tie for the head piece.
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Lava » Sep 9, 2011 12:32 am

As I mentioned previously, I received my ST-6 500CW in the mail the other day. Not sure how I didn't notice this before, but tonight I actually read the number on it and they accidentally sent me an ST-6 460NW instead! When I originally ordered I agonized over which one to get, but went with the higher lumen version. I hadn't really played around with the light much in a dark setting, but after discovering that I had an NW I had to try it out in my garage. I compared it to the only other light in my collection that can sort of hold a candle to it, a Surefire LX2 flashlight (the backup light on the side of my helmet) which is a cool white LED that can hit 200 lumens.

Basically, I'm blown away. The color is so much warmer, especially compared to the LX2, and takes me back to my halogen/wheat lamp days. You couldn't pay me to use a wheat lamp again, of course, but the color is no doubt superior. I've been using cool white LEDs for so long I'd forgotten how nice a warm light is. Second, the beam pattern of the ST-6 is amazing. I can only describe it as having a spot light mounted in the center of a diffused light. It really does feel like you have both. Top that off with quality workmanship, a good interface, long battery life and LOTS of light... I'll reserve judgement until I cave with it, but this is probably going to be the best light I've ever owned. We are truly in the golden age of portable lighting.
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby rlboyce » Sep 9, 2011 5:30 am

:kewl:
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby NSS8921 » Sep 9, 2011 6:02 am

Bruce, I used my Spark 460NW in medium to fairly large passages in the Culverson Complex (WV) last Sunday. First I used it with the reflector and clear lens – very nice. Due to passage size, I used the medium-high setting. Next I removed the reflector to try the flood effect. It also was nice but to get it comfortably bright, I used the high setting. I didn’t use the diffuser this trip because in home tests, it seems to really dim the light.

The Spark was mounted below my HP10 and a small diameter bungie secures it in place and keeps it from rotating.

I intend to use it primarily with the clear lens and reflector the next time I cave, but I will try the diffuser lens.

Having used a Zebralight H60 of very similar color temperature, I chose the Spark 460NW for it's color and will never go back to cool white for caving.

I am very pleased with this light – it is the best LED light I have used. Now, if only it was focusable…

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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Chads93GT » Sep 9, 2011 10:49 am

what i dont understand is this frosted lense option on the link to buy the light. are the lenses interchangable? if you select yes for frosted, does it still come with the clear lense?
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby NSS8921 » Sep 9, 2011 11:04 am

Chad, the frosted lens is part of the package - one clear and one frosted. They are easily changed. If you want an artifact-free flood, you remove the reflector - also easy - and replace the clear lens. This light is more versatile than the Zebralight H60. It also seems quite waterproof - 2-3 hours in 2' of water with no leakage. I did lightly grease the lens o-ring with silicone dielectric grease.

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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Chads93GT » Sep 9, 2011 11:14 am

thanks. I ordered one earlier then i was like crap. i hope i didnt screw myself by getting a permanent lense that I didnt want permanent. Right now I have 2 lights on my helmet cuz I like bright lights.........HP10 and HP20........too much damn weight with 8 double 8's although im buff so its all good, lol. But still, looking forward to removing the hp20 at least and probably the hp10 as well. Probably make my neck feel better on those long 10 hour underground marches.
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Spark st-6 500cw AND Fenix hp-11 cave trip report

Postby DeanWiseman » Sep 10, 2011 10:07 pm

Okay... here's my trip report: :grin:


I was on a trip to Suicide Cave in Indiana with ~10 other folks. I deliberately hung back behind the group, firstly in order to serve as a "sweeper" in case some of the folks up front encountered trouble (had several first-timers on the trip), and secondly in order to play around with the lamp.

Suicide Cave has a decent diversity of passage types and rooms. Nothing huge... but several decent rooms, some formation areas, and plenty of opportunities to scramble, squirm, climb, traverse, etc. There was some crawling, too, and we also negotiated a nice slithery narrow cut-down canyon on the trip out. Excellent cave. On this trip, I was running the clear lens (though I did have the diffuser with me, I didn't bother to put it on).

As a general rule, unless I'm going into some honking Camps Gulf-sized cave with no crawling, if I must choose stealthy profile vs. light output, I choose stealth. This light makes you not have to choose, because it delivers BOTH. I found the lowest power setting on the ST-6 to be perfectly adequate for 90% of my light needs... well suited to most passages, while not overpowering in the tight spots. Just keep in mind that I've been running a 50-lumen lamp for a little while now, so this ST-6 is a BIG step up. Also, I'm a perpetual adjuster, so I'm always adjusting the angle of the light (sometimes I tip my helmet back on my head a little when I get hot, or I like a slightly different angle of attack for a climb vs. crawl, etc.). Given the previous comments about asymmetric weight on the helmet, this light is small and very light, which I think makes the asymmetry a complete non-issue to all but the most sensitive noggins. The brighter settings came in quite handy at times like traversing around pits and step-over canyons... and the overdrive setting was a beast in formation areas. I was feeling very spoiled.

I did fumble a little with the button sequences at times, double-clicking when I shouldn't or vice-versa, but I assume this will improve as I use the light more. The unit did respond well to muddy gloves, unlike some other switches I've used... and the unit was easy to clean and decon.

It might sound a little self-serving, given that I've already sprung for this light, but in my best effort at objective assessment, I'd give the ST-6 an "A" grade. The only way I think such a stealthy and well-designed light could be improved is if there were ~maybe~ :shrug: more mounting options. Don't get me wrong, the mount it comes with is great. But I do hope the rubber on the mounting "bracket" doesn't stretch or get brittle with age. If it does, we'll cross that bridge when we get there... right now, it's beautiful. Other than that, I was super stoked about performance, especially in such a stealthy package.

As it came to pass, I also had the good fortune to have two cavers on the trip wearing Fenix lights. Not sure if they were the HP-11s or not. But these were brand new rigs, so I'm thinking they were. From my perspective, I think the Fenix looked like a decent rig, too. Maybe even great--these two folks sure weren't complaining. One thing I noticed was the Fenix had the diffuser lens was permanently mounted to the housing with a hinge, so you could swivel it on or off at will. Not a bad idea, but I was worried about the durability of having that diffuser hanging "out in the wind" like that, susceptible to either impact or jamming from debris in the hinge. Other than that, and the battery pack being mounted on the rear of the helmet, performance seemed fairly similar to mine, with the high-power edge going to the ST-6.

I don't think you could go wrong with either light. But coming out of the cave, I had that sort of blissful feeling one gets at the start of a beautiful relationship.

:kiss: :toast:

The ST-6 is a damn good light... and I think it will hold its own against much more expensive lights.


Hope this helps,


-Dean
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Caver John » Sep 10, 2011 11:15 pm

Great write up ^^ ! Thanks! Try it out without the reflector in there and cOmpare that to the diffuser. Lots of good input here thanks!
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby Lava » Sep 11, 2011 12:31 am

Dean,

Did they send you a 500CW or a 460NW like they did me?
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Re: Fenix hp-11 or Spark st-6 500cw

Postby rlboyce » Sep 11, 2011 7:22 am

Awesome guys!!! I'm so happy that we've found a light that works well for us, and isn't ridiculously expensive. Beam profile was a concern among us from the start, but it seems that all of you find it to be perfectly acceptable without even having to use the diffuser. Forward weight was another concern, but it seems that this is mostly a non-issue to the average caver as well. Excellent!!

The Zebralight H600w was going to come out this month, but they changed it to "TBD." The H600 (cool white version) is still on schedule for this month, but I don't think I want to compromise with the tint color. I guess we'll see once the beamshots come out, but I'm almost certain it'll be too blue for my taste. With such great reviews of the 500CW/460NW, I am highly inclined to just buy one of these and forget about waiting to see what Zebralight has up their sleeve.

Thanks again guys for taking the plunge for the rest of us! Now others can buy this light in confidence.
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