“What is that, a Lightsaber?” Quite simply, that is the most common question people ask upon first seeing this light. Is this really the chosen illumination for the dark-destroying Jedi Knight?
Meat and Potatoes
Once existing purely as a custom, hand-crafted flashlight, the Prometheus Alpha is now being unleashed on the public in ready-made form with their MC18-B model. Still sharing all the same features and electronics as the original, the only sacrifice being made is the ability to customize your options.
Still retaining the same Nickel plated Aluminum body, Jason Hui of Darksucks.com has limited the Ready-Made run to a single surface finish, but it is lacking nothing in my opinion. The Alpha is intentionally left with many machining marks still intact, giving it a uniquely textured surface. The visual appeal of this torch is exquisite and nearly universal. It is simple and understated, but very beautiful. The Alpha is also very well balanced and quite comfortable to hold at the same time. The forward clicky switch is easy to use and thankfully does not suffer from any scallops around the rim. Prometheus lights are fully tailstandable. Always good to see a company take a decisive stance on this one. The custom Titanium pocket clip as well is nothing but the highest quality. It is very strong and secure. I wish that the light came with a holster as well as I generally carry duty sized lights like this on my belt, but that is only a minor oversight.
The LED of choice for this instrument of illumination is definitely not the newest kid on the block, but that gives it a few advantages that more recent players don’t have. The Ready-Made Alpha MC18-B is home to a quad-die Cree MC-E in a 4500K neutral white flavor. I’m almost ashamed to admit, but this is actually my first experience with a NW LED and I am suddenly finding myself understanding better what I have been missing. Nestled behind a faceted reflector with precise geometry designed specifically for the MC-E, the Alpha emits such a pleasing flood of creamy warm light that I am wishing I had tried this sooner. The beam is nearly devoid of any hotspot, rather graduating its intensity evenly from center to edge. It’s not a thrower by any means, but most of the time I find myself preferring a more diffuse beam anyway. That isn’t to say that it has no distance illuminating capacity at all though. Jason claims the LED and driver combination in this light puts out a minimum of 400 lumens on high, so there is still a distance component achieved through brute force.
Power comes compliments of a single 18650 Li-ion cell. These are included along with a single bay Xtar charger in any of the Apprentice, Journeyman, or Master bundled packages. One useful feature is that the electrical contacts of the Alpha are arranged such that flat-top, high capacity cells work just fine. The cell included in my Apprentice package was an AW 2900 mAh cell. It will take a little getting used to the oddball shape of a cell like this if I need to ever insert it in the dark, but I doubt it will cause me any lasting trouble.
Sporting a simple 3-mode L-M-H interface, the Alpha has very well spaced modes at 5%, 30% and 100%. With these numbers instead of actual lumens readings (or even calculated outputs, my initial suspicions always gravitate toward PWM, but try as I might, there is none that I have yet detected. Either the frequency is too high to worry about the associated flicker, or Jason has gone with current regulation instead. The light does have mode memory though to allow you to select the desired starting output for your next activation. Its method of selecting this, or even changing modes in general, though is what I call out as less than perfection.
The Alpha memorizes its current mode when it has been activated for more than two seconds. This translates into a light that is all too easy to bring up in the wrong mode, but still quite often annoyingly difficult when trying to intentionally change modes. When you quickly pulse the light to check out what that rustle was in the hedge, you have changed modes for the next time you start up, be it in a few minutes, or not until tomorrow night. Conversely, If you have been using the light on high for a minute or so and decide that you don’t need to run full tilt and overheat the LED, a quick cycle will not bring you down to low, but rather back to high where you were trying to escape. You will not change modes until you have had the light on for less than 2 seconds before cycling the power. This issue would be solved by using the same style mode switching and memorization on the majority of power-cycle lights on the market. If the light has been off for more than 2 seconds, it will come on at the last used level. If it was off for less, it will cycle to the next mode. This seems like a change that would be very simple to make, however I have not yet acquired the necessary knowledge on how to program microcontrollers such as this (a shortcoming I intend to rectify at some point). It just feels like a somewhat major flaw in the usefulness of what is otherwise a very strong light.
The Prometheus Alpha MC18-B may not be a truly custom light, but its level of construction quality still feels as if it is. The UI isn’t perfect, but it is still very functional and the output is such smooth and useful light that the overall effect is quite magnificent.
Provided for review by the kind folks at DarkSucks.