This is my Apex after 2 survey trips

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This is my Apex after 2 survey trips

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Aug 5, 2007 7:50 pm

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yep. it no longer works at all, though i'm currently trying to dry it out and see if i can get it to do anything. it certainly doesn't appear that you can take these things near water - "H20 1M" my ass.

the first trip had a wet entry passage but not one did my helmet have water splashed on it or get dunked; the second was a survey trip that involved some wet belly crawling in 18" passage a separate flooded passage where it was dunked briefly during an ear dip.

so basically it sat in inch-deep water for a minute while i took compass and clino readings, and 5 minutes later it was dead as a doornail. there is condensation not only on both of the outside lenses, but also all over the 3W in the center, literally droplets of water inside the focusing lens itself.

it was BRAND NEW, i bought it from basegear.com 10 days ago, came to me sealed in the package.

upon closer inspection, there are hairline fractures in the plastic on the top of the head, a largish one on the right screw housing and a series of smaller ones on the left screw housing. i had not touched these screws in any way, nor had i scraped the head itself on anything.

has anyone dealt with their customer service regarding warranty replacements? the cracks are an obvious manufacturing defect and i've quickly soured on the Apex. i have another weekend of caving coming up and i now don't have a headlamp to use at all.

PS: we took 4 Apex headlamps into that cave (all 3 of us using them as primaries and one backup), and when we left only one of them was working properly. after mine went out i borrowed a grotto mate's spare, which i made sure NEVER got wet, and it was shorting out before we even finished the survey and decided to head back.
"Although it pains me to say it, in this case Jeff is right. Plan accordingly." --Andy Armstrong
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Postby VACaver » Aug 5, 2007 7:57 pm

Hmmm..mine's been wet numerous times with no problems.

It'll be intereting to see responses from others and from Princeton Tec...

Let us know what they have to say.
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in another thread...

Postby Eric Wright » Aug 5, 2007 8:05 pm

Looks like this was mentioned here, beginning with a post by adleedy.
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Re: in another thread...

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Aug 5, 2007 8:31 pm

Eric Wright wrote:Looks like this was mentioned here, beginning with a post by adleedy.


Yeah, I saw that - I just thought it was worth the pictures and personal experience given the fact that this may be something happening with brand new ones. I wonder if there's just a bad batch of plastic that came out of the PT factory? I didn't see any cracks before I used it, but I can't say I was really looking for them.

I could understand stress fractures developing after a couple of years, especially if you're talking about taking the unit from hot sun into cold water repeatedly or something else causing a drastic thermal shift. but we're talking about products coming out of the packages defective!

regardless, i'm pretty disheartened, especially since the large majority of that 28 page post is extremely positive testimonials.
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Aug 5, 2007 9:06 pm

The Princeton Tec Apex linked to in the above posts has a pretty extensive discussion on why the Apex leaks and what you can do to fix it (voids warranty of course) it also discusses the small cracks near where the Apex screws together and how this can be prevented (again voids warranty, basically the screws are a bit long).

Princeton Tec warranty service by all accounts has been very good and whilst I agree that the 1m waterproof rating is dubious at best IMO it's good Princeton Tec at least tried to make a waterproof light where as alot of other ones around the same price are only rated splash proof.

The above thread also explains that the Princeton Tec Apex responds pretty well to taking it apart and lubing all the seals with silicon grease and putting it back together just don't tighten the screws too far (or better still shorten them a couple of mm read the Apex thread) otherwise you'll crack the housing (as it the photos above).

PS: the cracks in the housing to my mind should not effect the waterproofness of the headlamp and if they remain small are only cosmetic. The cracks are a warranty issue and others have returned thier headlamps with cracks and got a replacement as a result just check the new one doesn't have the cracks.
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Postby NZcaver » Aug 6, 2007 12:33 pm

I've found the Apex works great - for a relatively cheap consumer headlamp. You just have to do the mod mentioned starting here in the original Apex thread, or pick dry caves to go surveying in. :wink: From all accounts, you should have no problem returning it. The store will probably give you your money back if you complain loudly enough, and if not there is always the manufacturers lifetime warranty (at least for replacement).
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Postby Jeff Bartlett » Aug 6, 2007 6:46 pm

NZcaver wrote:I've found the Apex works great - for a relatively cheap consumer headlamp. You just have to do the mod mentioned starting here in the original Apex thread, or pick dry caves to go surveying in. :wink: From all accounts, you should have no problem returning it. The store will probably give you your money back if you complain loudly enough, and if not there is always the manufacturers lifetime warranty (at least for replacement).


the store is taking it back and i will have my replacement shortly.

for the record, before sending it i shortened the screws slightly and put some silicone lube on the gasket, then retightened it and put it in a glass of icewater for 15 minutes. when i took it out, it had a TON of water in it. so even after a healthy dose of the mods mentioned in that PT Apex thread, it wasn't even close to waterproof. i would call it "water resistant" at best.

is there a cheap consumer headlamp that is more waterproof? at this point i'd be willing to sacrifice light output for durability, since 90% of the time everybody uses the 4 LED setting anyway.
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Postby JoeyS » Aug 6, 2007 7:06 pm

Jeff,
I can't think of a cheap waterproof headlamp, but one or two mini maglights, would be very reliable as back ups in case you decide to gamble with another princeton tec as a main. Heck, you could cave with one so long as you fixed it to your helmet. I would upgrade it with LED's though for a better proximity/ flood and good runtimes.
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Postby bsignorelli » Aug 6, 2007 7:17 pm

Yeah... the 3 outta 4 death rate was a bit bothersome. I'm currently drying out the spare the went on the fritz and we'll see how it works later in the week.

Mine was the only one to still work after this weekends survey but it didn't get dunked (though it has on previous trips).

Just remember folks... PT has great customer service and you can buy 5 or so Apexes for the price of a Stenlight :-)
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Postby hank moon » Aug 6, 2007 7:43 pm

bsignorelli wrote:Just remember folks... PT has great customer service and you can buy 5 or so Apexes for the price of a Stenlight :-)


But...let's also remember that those 5 headlamps are essentially future trash. NBD in our disposable culture, right? I'd rather have one well designed, superbly engineered, and repairable light than any number of mass-market cheapies destined for the dustbin. And yes, that does include most Petzl lights when used for caving. :tonguecheek:

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Postby JoeyS » Aug 6, 2007 7:46 pm

Just wondering, did you all buy your Apex's from the same place in a short period of time/ all at once? They might have all been built on a Friday afternoon, as the saying goes.. It just doesn't seem right that 3 out of 4 would fail, considering all the mostly-positive reviews it's gotten.

Regarding your comment on 5 apexes=one stenlight; If I were to go on the testimony of this thread alone, I need to carry at least 4 back-up Apexes with me on a wet cave trip. I just don't have that much room in my pack! I'm only joking, sort-of, but you get what I'm saying... You can't really compare the two products. Yes, Princeton Tec has a good warranty, but what good is that when you're two miles from the surface? The stenlight is built from the ground up for caving, whereas the Apex was built from the ground up to be a very nice headlight, and was adopted by cavers who found it to be a mostly reliable, very bright, modestly priced light that has made a good cave light thus-far. In the end, you still get what you pay for.
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Postby cob » Aug 6, 2007 7:48 pm

Oh to h*** with it... let's all go back to carbide (easy for me to say)

disclaimer: I carry a Princeton Apex for a backup... never as my main light.

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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Aug 6, 2007 7:50 pm

xcathodex wrote:is there a cheap consumer headlamp that is more waterproof? at this point i'd be willing to sacrifice light output for durability, since 90% of the time everybody uses the 4 LED setting anyway.


Have a look here (note the website says it has stopped being updated so newer lights might not be present):
http://www.flashlightreviews.com/reviews_index/reviews_index_headlamps.htm

Apart from the Stenlight and the nova3 (more specialist caving lights) Princeton Tec are the only headlamps which have waterproof ratings.

Note: this guy rates the Apex as dunkable/water-resistant not waterproof so maybe his ratings are more accurate than Princeton Tec's :grin:

Maybe there is a Corona in your future :question:
Other than that there are dive torches (LED or not) small enough to be zip tied to the side of your helmet and run off AA batteries.
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Postby Jeff Bartlett » Aug 6, 2007 9:27 pm

JoeyS wrote:Just wondering, did you all buy your Apex's from the same place in a short period of time/ all at once? They might have all been built on a Friday afternoon, as the saying goes.. It just doesn't seem right that 3 out of 4 would fail, considering all the mostly-positive reviews it's gotten.


if i'm not mistaken, 2 of them were purchased together (1 of the survivors and 1 of the casualties). Mine was brand spankin' new, and i'm not sure about the fourth.

of the failures, the first (mine) died after sitting for 2-3 minutes in about an inch of water while i took compass and clino readings... it wasn't dunked at all beyond that and within 15 minutes it was mostly done.

the second died after a helmet was dropped into a ~4.5' deep water passage during another survey shot - the helmet sank and drifted on the bottom a bit before being retrieved, and the Apex never turned back on. ironically, the same helmet had a "water resistant" Petzl on it that continued to work fine for the remainder of the trip.

the third (Bryan's backup) never quite worked right out of the pack, i used it in place of mine when mine went down. it functioned intermittently until the wet passage at the end, where it wasn't dunked but went out anyway and i used my Petzl Tikka XP backup without any problem.


fuzzy-hair-man wrote:Other than that there are dive torches (LED or not) small enough to be zip tied to the side of your helmet and run off AA batteries.


i just bought a PT Impact XL to keep on a lanyard around my neck if (when?) my Apex goes out. worst case, it will get zip-tied to the holes on the side of my ecrin roc. if THAT thing fails 200 feet into a wet cave i'm going to molotov the Princeton Tec factory.

I recognize that maybe i'm expecting the Apex to perform on a level with the Sten or the Nova, and this expectation is unrealistic. however, not only has the Apex been very widely regarded as an excellent caving headlamp, it boasts a lifetime warranty and 1M waterproof rating. i find it vaguely ridiculous that a legitimate manufacturer can call something "waterproof" if the general consensus is clearly no such thing. 1M for up to 30 min? 2" for 3 min and 6" for 15 min both prove: "bull".

here's to hoping that one of these days a $300+ sten is in my price range?
"Although it pains me to say it, in this case Jeff is right. Plan accordingly." --Andy Armstrong
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Postby bsignorelli » Aug 6, 2007 9:36 pm

JoeyS wrote:Just wondering, did you all buy your Apex's from the same place in a short period of time/ all at once?


Nope... two were about a year old... one was about six months old and one was a week old.

(It just doesn't seem right that 3 out of 4 would fail, considering all the mostly-positive reviews it's gotten.)

I know... I love mine and think it's a great bang-for-buck but it was strange to see that happen. We'll dry them out this week and see what happens when we return to that same cave to sketch next weekend.
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