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Mon, 25 Sep 2006

Silva L1 and fixing a problem with it - 13:56

My Silva L1 Head Torch (full size)

One of the battery holders, the cut down knobs are visible (full size)

During Geoquest this year, Ian and Michelle were both using a Silva L1 head torch for all night time stuff (bike, foot, etc). This is a 3 W Luxeon Star based LED head torch that is powered by 4 AA cells. It may not be quite bright enough for tight single track as found in endurance mountain biking events, however for adventure racing it appears to be a damn fine light.

I was using a 1w Luxeon LED based head torch on foot and a 5w bar mounted light for bike sections during the race. My head torch was not powerful enough to really navigate with or spot controls and the batteries required for the 5w Nightstick were a pain to lug around. Ian and Michelle on the other hand had strong, focused, adequate light for everything we were doing. Thus I decided to buy myself one of these lights. Alina from AROC gave me a good deal on the (which they stock in the AROCShop) light and hey presto I have one to play with.

I put the Alkaline cells that came with it in and powered it up, rather bright indeed, so I went and purchased a bunch more rechargeable NiMH AA cells to use with it and thought all would be well. During the night rogaine last week I went to change batteries and to my dismay found they did not work (yes I know I should have tested before the event). I was worried that the light required 6v to work and the 4.8v from rechargeables was simply not going to be enough. I could find no details online or with the manuals that came with the light as to voltage requirements. Ian and Sarah who both own one of these lights however claimed they can use rechargeables with the light.

Sitting in my office talking to a colleague about it last week, he looked inside and tried putting the rechargeable batteries in. He noticed they did not appear to touch the contacts in one of the battery holders, looking at the battery, the OEM AA cells had longer nipples than the rechargeable cells. Looking inside the battery case there is a useless plastic knob sitting next to the contacts that juts out and holds the battery nipple away from the contact. So I got out a knife and sliced as much of the knobs away as I could (for some reason only one side of the other battery holder had this problem) and hey presto the rechargeable batteries work perfectly in the light after all.

It would be nice if Silva did not put the little plastic knobs there, however if anyone has a similar problem attempting to use rechargeable NiMH batteries in a Silva L1 have a look and be sure the nipples are touching the contacts.

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