The Maratac TLL (Temporary Landing Light) offers a unique fix to a common situation besides helping land aircraft in less than ideal situations. Specifically it provides a fine spread light at two levels and access to a slow beacon strobe using a single D Cell battery for power. This makes it a portable lamp for people who are less excited about esoteric batteries and charging solutions.
The sillhouette of the light appears to be a very large caliber bullet perhaps crafted by Marvin the Martian in attempts to assault the Earth. It also reminds me of every action hero’s bandoleer from the 1990’s. It has to be fairly squat to accommodate the 32mm diameter cell and the dome is an elegant solution to the problem of evenly diffusing an intense Cree XP-E LED.
The diameter is 1.5” and the length is 4.1”. Overall without the battery it’s just over 3.5 ounces and almost 8.8 ounces with an Alkaline D Cell.
The lens is a dome of translucent polypropalene which protects the LED and diffuses the beam into a lamp-like glow. It’s designed to take low-voltage batteries such as Alkalines or Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries of standard size.
The aluminum body is black hard anodized and features crisp greased threads with a single rubber o-ring at the top of both sets (lens and tailcap). The base has a bolt inlet that allows it to be attached to tripods and similar devices. It also has four machined holes at the base which you could thread paracord through for a wrist strap.
Both posts use a standard spring and operation is done via twist, cycling modes is the standard “off/on” motion from high to low to strobe. It does not have mode-memory and starts on high. Here is a 20 second video of it's operation. Sorry I couldn't add my whiny voice or some offensive music to the background.
For test equipment I only have a cheap digital multimeter. I do not have a light box. Performance testing was a mix of two timed tests, non-load voltage testing, current testing via DMM, and my own impressions based on visual comparisons.
As marketed the driver has three modes:
• Constant High = manufacturer rated 150 lumens for up to 100 hours
• Constant Low = manufacturer rated 40 lumens for up to 500 hours
• Strobe/Beacon = Manufacturer rated 150 lumens for up to 225 hours
This product is powered by an advertised Cree XP-E R5 on the Countycomm website. Cree lists R4 being available for this model of LED. I suspect Maratac/Countycomm transposed “R5” which is a common XP-G output bin. In cool white the XP-E (R3-R4) has a emitter rated 122-130 lumens at 350 mah or .35 amps. Given my readings of 1.30 amps () on a fresh Duracell Copper Top it’s fairly safe to say it’s putting out at least 150 lumens. I was unable to take the current reading on the low setting but comparing lights It’s not regulated so output diminishes over time.
My own runtime uses Duracell Copper Top batteries dated January 2013 that were purchased new. My house temperature set on the thermostat ranged from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The low test resulted in 501 hours until the light was significantly dimmer than a fresh cell at 1.61v (half or less original brightness). You could still navigate a dark room but it was less than ideal.
The high test resulted in 30 hours until the light was significantly dimmer than the same fresh cell used above. Without proper light-testing equipment I simply checked the output on “high” with the used cell to the output of “low” on a fresh cell, in a dark room. The goal was to get a reasonably accurate idea of how much time you would have access to 40+ lumens if runtime was not a priority. At 25 hours the high mode was quite a bit less bright but much brighter than the “low” setting with a fresh battery. At 30 hours it was even more dim but still brighter than “low” on a fresh battery. It did not turn back on to test past 30 hours where it ended at .74 volts. I didn’t have the patience to start a 30+ hour runtest again.
Given the aggressive current draw and battery chemistry and nature of the flashlight driver this makes sense. Boost-drivers will allow low voltage batteries to power higher voltage LED’s but less sophisticated units are not current regulated (or at least not as well). The benefit though to this less than regulated circuit is the tapering output allows for more runtime, albeit more dim. I believe Countycomm got 100 hours out of their test but don’t feel it was indicative of “high” for that long. Regardless, the light produced ample amounts of light for 30 hours and would likely have gone past that if kept on. If using a LSD (low self discharge) Ni-Mh battery like from Tenergy I assume even better high mode performance due to less voltage sag.
This light is well constructed and unique in form-factor. It takes less than conventional cells further adding to your available options for light power. I frequently hear people wanting to switch to a universal cell for all their appliances. That is a very compact methodology and not necessarily a bad thing. However, while most single D-cell products can run on a single AA (with less performance) a D-Cell cannot shrink into an AA body tool. Having a light that can take D-Cells further adds to your salvaging ability; it might allow you to locate cells which are not as desirable compared to the common AA and AAA’s.
On low the runtime was applause worthy; most lights need to push a fraction of a single lumen to get over 20 days of light. Due to the lofty size of an off-the-shelf D cell you could supply approximately 20-40 lumens for the same amount of time. Cheers Maratac!
On high it never got hot even after 25 hours straight which is something none of my other lights can do. On that note, even at 30 hours the output was considerable compared to most flashlights people are accustomed to (the non-hobbyists). I expect the strobe to be VERY useful in a rescue situation and expect nearly full brightness flashes for about 100 hours, maybe more. If you only turned it on in the dark that’s over 8 days of rescue chopper circling. For fun and games the strobe could also be used for night sporting events as locators since it's of the non-seizure frequency.
The dome diffuses the beam quite well and even can be removed by way of a threaded aluminum ring. Beneath is a 20mm star-mounted LED star with sizable exposed wires for negative and positive voltage. Modding should be easy especially keeping changes considerate such as changing the LED to a neutral or warm tint using the same battery. As a host it’s an expensive starting point but well designed and very different.
I have two Tenergy Ni-Mh LSD rechargeable batteries on order as this has become my resident portable lighting system.
The light is a boat anchor when loaded with an alkaline. The diffused globe while playing a great lamp limits the throw obviously on the lower setting. In fact, anytime you diffuse a beam you rob some of the output so the most efficient way around this would be to configure a reflector or even clear lens to protect the LED. Being used to variable mode lights the 40/150 spread is pretty drastic and a medium would be ideal. With the tapering output though and considerable runtime either option gives a significant amount of light.
The cells are affordable ($1.50-2.00). They aren’t as readily available in some places like grocery stores but most hardware and outdoor shops have them in stock. There is no low temp/long lasting alternative/no chance of leaking option like Energizer Lithium Ultimate Advanced besides rechargeable cells which can be bought online. Charging these cells requires specific chargers which are less common than AA/AAA units. On that same notion of price this light isn’t dirt cheap which might turn some people away.
Lastly PWM. I can’t tell if there is any on low but am not sensitive to it. My brother is pretty sensitive and can’t either. We both don’t like the Cool White XP-E tint simply because it’s bleached white; luckily it doesn’t have a blue or green hue. A Nichia219 or Neutral XM-L star will likely eventually be modded into the mix.
If you love flashlights this product fits an intriguing niche role. If you don’t care about flashlights it would be a very helpful tool for those black-out conditions, camping, or a potential rescue situation. It would also be a great light to give to a loved one to use; one twist and they can set it down without fear of it warming up or killing the battery.
One more cell to stock is a chore but one more you can potentially use is a blessing. If your only flashlight is an old 3D Maglite this would be a welcome upgrade. It would make a trusted friend while playing cards with family waiting for power grids to be fixed.
Thank you for reading!