What Happened to the Sten?

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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby potholer » Jan 10, 2012 9:17 am

rlboyce wrote:I can believe that. I did some checking up on the Rebel specifications. They are actually much more efficient than I realized, with supposedly the same efficacy as the xm-l (albeit at different currents).

Even if the best rebels maybe give slightly less light at a given power than the best Cree LEDS, I don't think the difference if practically too significant - if comparing two lights, having a subjectively 'better' beamshape for a particular use can probably wipe out small differences in actual efficiency.

Personally, given my own light, where swapping LEDS to brighter versions from the same or different manufacturer is a simple and cheap task for me to do, even when I had LEDs 20-25% brighter than the ones I was using sitting on my desk, I didn't really the much point doing the swap - given the upgrades I have done, it seems it takes something more like a >=40% brightness increase to make the effort seem worthwhile.

rlboyce wrote:I'm starting to realize that it's more to do with Sten's small size and thermal limitations than anything else. They could really put some serious emitters in there, but the Sten would fry quitckly. I guess one of its best traits is also its weakness.

Apart from photography, there's a limit to how much light is needed for a caving light (and how much a decent-sized battery can realistically support for a worthwhile time), and I think the Sten casing is enough for most practical levels of output (even if from my biased perspective I'd have to comment that variable beamshape would allow higher outputs of the kind of light someone wanted at a particular instant within given power/heatsinking limitations.
Last edited by potholer on Jan 10, 2012 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby jharman2 » Jan 10, 2012 4:59 pm

potholer wrote:Apart from photography, there's a limit to how much light is needed for a caving light (and how much a decent-sized battery can realistically support for a worthwhile time), and I think the Sten casing is enough for most practical levels of output (even if from my biased perspective I'd have to comment that variable beamshape would allow higher outputs of the kind of light someone wanted at a particular instant within given power/heatsinking limitations.


Potholer is 100% spot on. The Sten is more than bright enough. In large, medium to light colored walking passage the Sten can produce enough light on Turbo to stimulate your pupils to constrict. Why do you need anything brighter. Also, mega lights turned up for "normal" caving are a safety hazard to your team members. Nothing makes me more angry than someone blinding me while we're caving together. The only reason to switch to higher output LEDs is to increase battery life. Like Jeff, I've been doing multi day trips one a single 2 cell battery.

All that being said, I will complain about the Sten slightly. There is no combination of optics that gives a really good beam pattern and the frosted lens on the newer models is highly inefficient. I really wish Sten would consider orange peel reflectors similar to the ones that J.S.Burlison was selling. A second minor complaint is the color temperature of the LEDs. The light is very harsh compared to other lights like the Zebra.

I've used the Sten exclusively since 2007 and feel that it is an elegant piece of engineering. After thousands of hours underground I'm not going to run to another light because it's brighter or because it's the flavor of the month. Like Scott said, it's really something that you can strap on your head and completely forget about and that is the primary defining characteristic of a great piece of gear.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jan 10, 2012 5:29 pm

Yeah, you basically have to behind a Scurion caver to not get blinded. As far as I'm concerned, Scurion cavers can go down the passage and eat lunch by themselves.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 10, 2012 6:07 pm

Anonymous_Coward wrote:As far as I'm concerned, Scurion cavers can go down the passage and eat lunch by themselves.

What is it you're always saying... Don't be a hater?
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Evan G » Jan 10, 2012 6:15 pm

Anonymous_Coward wrote:Yeah, you basically have to behind a Scurion caver to not get blinded. As far as I'm concerned, Scurion cavers can go down the passage and eat lunch by themselves.



I disagree, on the "Sinko de Armpit" trip [which was 15 days up at Armpit, WY with 28 cavers from 5 states and two countries] we had 3 Scurion cavers and tons of Sten cavers including yours truly. I had no problem with the Scurions (all being 1500) being in front or back, at the lower settings it was just like a Sten, no more, no less... Actually, I think I saved on battery power because of Scourions.....

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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 10, 2012 6:33 pm

jharman2 wrote:
potholer wrote:Apart from photography, there's a limit to how much light is needed for a caving light (and how much a decent-sized battery can realistically support for a worthwhile time), and I think the Sten casing is enough for most practical levels of output (even if from my biased perspective I'd have to comment that variable beamshape would allow higher outputs of the kind of light someone wanted at a particular instant within given power/heatsinking limitations.


Potholer is 100% spot on. The Sten is more than bright enough. In large, medium to light colored walking passage the Sten can produce enough light on Turbo to stimulate your pupils to constrict. Why do you need anything brighter. Also, mega lights turned up for "normal" caving are a safety hazard to your team members. Nothing makes me more angry than someone blinding me while we're caving together. The only reason to switch to higher output LEDs is to increase battery life. Like Jeff, I've been doing multi day trips one a single 2 cell battery.

All that being said, I will complain about the Sten slightly. There is no combination of optics that gives a really good beam pattern and the frosted lens on the newer models is highly inefficient. I really wish Sten would consider orange peel reflectors similar to the ones that J.S.Burlison was selling. A second minor complaint is the color temperature of the LEDs. The light is very harsh compared to other lights like the Zebra.

I've used the Sten exclusively since 2007 and feel that it is an elegant piece of engineering. After thousands of hours underground I'm not going to run to another light because it's brighter or because it's the flavor of the month. Like Scott said, it's really something that you can strap on your head and completely forget about and that is the primary defining characteristic of a great piece of gear.

Exactly!!! More lumens takes all the mystery and intrigue out of exploring dark places, and is completely unsafe. I mean, if we could see the tops of all those 300' domes in Germany Valley, then there would be no point in climbing them, and all the adventure would be lost.

And despite what others might say, all those lumens bouncing around the cave is far more dangerous than carbide. This is exactly why I drive a VW instead of a Porsche... safety. My VW can easily go the speed limit.

These are all excellent rationalizations.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby potholer » Jan 10, 2012 7:25 pm

Extremeophile wrote:Exactly!!! More lumens takes all the mystery and intrigue out of exploring dark places, and is completely unsafe. I mean, if we could see the tops of all those 300' domes in Germany Valley, then there would be no point in climbing them, and all the adventure would be lost.

And despite what others might say, all those lumens bouncing around the cave is far more dangerous than carbide. This is exactly why I drive a VW instead of a Porsche... safety. My VW can easily go the speed limit.

These are all excellent rationalizations.

Well, looking at a new lots-of-lumens light a couple of years ago, a well-known UK caving retailer was heard to say:
"What's wrong with these people - are they afraid of the dark?"
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Evan G » Jan 10, 2012 7:26 pm

LOL! And I thought my sense of humor was dry....WOW! Bravo! Both of you!
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby LukeM » Jan 10, 2012 8:07 pm

In the context of this conversation brighter LEDs = more efficient LEDs so I don't really see how anyone could take issue with their existence in headlamps. Do you all realize that an LED can be run at ridiculously low levels no matter what it is? Given the battery life of the Scurion at it's lowest power it seems that the brightness must be reasonable when run that way. If people are getting blinded it's an etiquette issue not a headlamp issue.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby paul » Jan 11, 2012 7:13 am

LukeM wrote:In the context of this conversation brighter LEDs = more efficient LEDs so I don't really see how anyone could take issue with their existence in headlamps. Do you all realize that an LED can be run at ridiculously low levels no matter what it is? Given the battery life of the Scurion at it's lowest power it seems that the brightness must be reasonable when run that way. If people are getting blinded it's an etiquette issue not a headlamp issue.


Precisely.

I bet when the early cavers switched from candles to other sorts of lighting all the stick-in-the-mud candle users were complaining about "these new fangled too bright and expensive lights..."
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jan 11, 2012 8:05 am

I would like to see this conversation migrate away from how bright a light is. And, move it towards other features that make it great or suck. Making a bright light is child's play. It's the other stuff that make lights great.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jan 11, 2012 10:51 am

Extremeophile wrote:What is it you're always saying... Don't be a hater?


Exactly! Stop hatin' on me with those Scurions when I'm tryin' to eat my lunch!

Actually Derek, it is usually Jansen or Putnam tellin' ME not to be a hater. Even though I am obviously not a hater, it is much easier for them (both career haters) to label me as such than to actually attempt to correct their ingrained offensive behavior. I was just pointing out an actual problem that I have witnessed on the few trips where I have caved with Scurion people. Although the Scurion throws out a lot of side light, I agree it is more of an etiquette issue than a technology one. I have seen the same problem many times with Sten cavers.

So, excuse me cavechat universe for unsuccessfully trying to inject humor into a somewhat dry headlamp nerd thread.

........heading off down the passage now to eat lunch by myself.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby Cody JW » Jan 11, 2012 11:13 am

Scurions, Stens , Zebra, Spark ect. and all the neat LED lights out there now gives us more choices and is a good thing for all. Sten seems to me to be the least expensive of the "premium" lights, I suspect that is why they are popular. I am someone who used to cave with a carbide cap lamp or a Justrite electric 30 years ago. For me the choices we now have are mind boggling. I wish I had a Sten or a Rude or a Scurion , all are great lights . I have said before we are in the "golden age" of sport lights. I suspect the folks at Sten see what they are competing with and will upgrade LEDs when they see sales drop off. Still a great light, not the brightest but cave worthy and loved by its followers.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby shibumi » Jan 14, 2012 9:33 am

I've been using Stens since 2007 and have been pretty happy with them. I own 4 now (have owned 6 and sold the older ones off to friends to buy newer ones) and consider them "among the best" cave lights. But they are not perfect and they are getting long in the tooth a bit. Initially I was loathe to invest that much money in a light since I tend to go through equipment fast and previous "premium" lights were only giving me six months to a year of service life (I cave a couple times a week, often through some nasty stuff). My oldest Sten is almost 4 years old now and it's still working fine with only repair of the cord (and I'm on my umpteenth set of batteries). I run twin Stens on my helmets because I like running with a lot of light. I have excellent night vision but I like seeing the cave, and I like having the redundancy right there. In walking passage I'm usually running on high and in crawls on medium (and yes, Andy, I try to be very aware of where my light is and not blind my caving companions, that's just basic courtesy).

Of all the side-light-blind-your-caving-buddy issues though, nothing compares to caving with someone else who has a ceiling burner. I only use mine in large wet caves :)

I've looked at the Scurion and caved with some folks who have one and I am not sold, mostly for the expense and also they just don't "feel" as durable to me. I am not willing to spend up to a grand to find out.

While I would like the Sten to have more light, what I really want is more battery life for the same light. So upgrading to more efficient LEDs always interests me. I am also not happy with fixed beam lights and that is my biggest complaint about the Sten. My second biggest complaint is the long throw of the switch, which makes it difficult to co-locate them on top of each other which is unfortunate since the shape of the body makes that a good configuration.

I just got the new Spark ST6-500cw and will be trying it out for a while as a third light on my helmet. So far I am impressed with it overall. I like the fact that I can not only use the larger rechargeable battery but I can put 2 CR123 cells in it which is what my tactical lights use so I have a ton of them and often use the tac lights as my in-pack backup. If it has the long term durability I might start recommending it over the Sten for most people simply because of the cost.
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Re: What Happened to the Sten?

Postby DeanWiseman » Jan 14, 2012 4:04 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:I would like to see this conversation migrate away from how bright a light is. And, move it towards other features that make it great or suck. Making a bright light is child's play. It's the other stuff that make lights great.


I think this is a great point. For example, the Spark ST-6 has the best spot vs. total area of illumination I've yet seen. This in direct comparison with Stens and Fenix (and others I can't remember). We were just in the Green Eye pits in Indiana, and I was able to illuminate domes extremely well without any too-hot spots in the lit area, which is so common with powerful lights dating back to time immemorial.
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