/ Alpkit Gamma electrics

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chiz - on 15 Jul 2013
A while ago there was a thread on alpkit torches where I mentioned a fault with my old Gamma headtorch (http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=549854&v=1#x7344691), it was replaced by alpkit with one of the new style Gammas.

Because of the late evenings I've only used it a few times and it seemed very good, but has now developed the same fault as my original Gamma: the red LED on the battery pack works fine, but none of the front LEDs will work. Has anyone else had any problems with Gamma electrics? I've contacted Alpkit and expect they will deal with the issue with their usual perfect service, but I'd like to know if its a common fault.
Malt_Loaf - on 15 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz: The large front light works fine on mine, always has- the three lights on the top soon stopped working. I've not bothered complaining because it's easily bright enough without them.

ML.
psaunders - on 15 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz: One of mine got stuck on, it won't turn off without removing the batteries. Doesn't change mode from main beam. I also had the battery case break and I bought a new one which arrived with a defective strap held together with staples.

Alpkit service is really great, but they're cheap torches and quality control is terrible. I wouldn't buy another one now.
chiz - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to psaunders: Doesn't sound good,will see what they say, but a torch that is unreliable is no use to me. Shame, as most Alpkit stuff is 'good value' rather than being 'cheap rubbish' (and I guess should be given that they sell direct).
Neil Williams - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz:

White LEDs seem generally quite unreliable - the departure board at Euston used to have them and they were all knackered within about a month. They replaced with yellow.

Neil
Neil Williams - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

That said, the (expensive) ones in my house are fine touch wood.

Neil
stonemaster - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz: Yikes! Been lucky so far, <knocks wood>
Max factor - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to stonemaster:

Mine is playing up. first teh red light on the battery compartment wouldn't turn off. After a lot of fiddling it fixed itself for a bit. now the main LED & other LEDs work sometimes and not others. Probably a couple of years old.

A headtorch that you cant't rely on is as much use as a chocolate tea-pot, i'll be buying a new one before the alps, however, this is now the third one that has broken in about ten years. Original Tikka, Myo XP, and now the Gamma. For sure I won't be buying one with a separate battery compartment and wires, as this is what always seems to cause the problem.

Maybe DB this time? are they more reliable?
chiz - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Max factor: Hi Max, hope you're getting out and enjoying the weather. All my Petzl ones are still working fine but LEDs seem a bit dim compared to new generation torches as they are fairly old: an old Tikka, an old style MyoXP and another MyoXP. All fine despite several years of hard use. The Gamma was meant to be a back-up torch but despite being hardly used they are successively faulty. I had bought other Gammas as presents and haven't heard back of any problems so it could be bad luck.

Alpkit have got back to me and I'm sure will sort it, but will I trust the replacement?
captain paranoia - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:

My suspicion is that driver voltages are quite critical, and that the drive voltage was incorrect, or a poor batch of devices, or poor soldering (overheating the devices on installation). For them all to fail within a month is very suspicious, and smacks of a production fault somewhere.

Generally, LEDs use similar technology, and there's not a lot of difference between the construction of a white LED and a yellow LED, other than the addition of the fluorescing chip on top of the emitter ('white LEDs' are high-end blue/UV emitters with a fluorescent material to convert to broad-spectrum white).

Failures of headtorches are most likely down to the mechanical elements; wiring, switches, etc. There may be reliability problems with the electronics due to ingress of water, either into the LED package itself, or into the drive electronics.

High power LEDs might have inadequate cooling, resulting in high die temperatures, leading to premature failure.

But, generally, LEDs treated well during assembly and driven correctly, and not exposed to harsh environments should be very reliable. It's the bits around them that will fail.
chiz - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:
Thanks for that, the last torch never got wet, but I'd expect a headtorch to survive a light shower at the very least.
I wonder if Alpkit design their own torches, or they are generic ones with Alpkit branding so they have less control over the production.
EddInaBox on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz:

If none of the front LEDs work it's probably the wire from the battery pack, this failed on both of mine more than once, I took them to pieces, worked out where the break was, shortened the wires and soldered them back on, which cured it each time. It's an inherent problem with having the battery housing on the back. Speaking of which the closure on the battery compartment also failed on both of mine, I now use zip-ties to hold them closed.
Martin W on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz:

> I wonder if Alpkit design their own torches, or they are generic ones with Alpkit branding so they have less control over the production.

Given the many stylistic similarities between the Alpkit Gamma and the Lifesystems Intensity 80 http://www.lifesystems.co.uk/products/outdoor-survival/intensity-80-head-torch.html I reckon they're both made in a factory in China based on a design portfolio that the manufacturer touts around brand owners, who choose their preferred set of options to sell with their badge on. In Lifesystem's case, they went for the wave-your-hand-in-front-to-switch-it-on option.

Here's another head torch that looks almost identical but has a focusing lens on the main LED: http://www.batteryjunction.com/egear-hl-130.html

According to a post I found on another forum, what we now know as the Alpkit Gamma was previously sold under the Ring brand name, and was also available from 7dayshop.com for a while.
andyathome - on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to chiz:
I've got two Gammas. One has been going strong for 2/3 years but the elastic headband is giving up the ghost; the other, bought at the same time 'died' about a year ago and I've been humming and haa'ing about binning it or asking for advice/repair/replacement. After seeing this thread I pressed the power button and got a flicker. Off and on again and I got full beam with batteries that have been in there for a year. Seems to be a full on 'intermittent fault': and I've had this before with earlier version Gammas - stopped working and then came alive.
Martin W on 16 Jul 2013
In reply to andyathome:

> I've got two Gammas. One has been going strong for 2/3 years but the elastic headband is giving up the ghost

Alpkit will sell you a replacement: http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?target=product&product_id=16704&category_id=288
Alpnick - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to everyone enjoying the sun:

Your right that we share a factory with many other brands and that at our level the most economic way to get a headtorch is to use an existing mould/design that a factory use. This is becoming more common and you only need to look at stoves and pans to see the same thing happening.

We started Alpkit as we saw costs drop and prices rise and saw a gap in the market. When we first started doing headtorches (remember the Indigo) the torch cost us a couple of dollars and we retailed them for a fiver, the same torch was going for 20 elsewhere. I'd like to think that if nothing else the gamma has brought a modicum of sensibility in headtorch pricing. Sure there are many people that want and need a better torch, but at least you know what a half decent torch should cost.

Reliability - We have sold enough to know that it is a reliable headtorch with a low return rate (even taking into account people that don't return then). We will continue to sell the Gamma, and will look at other suppliers and improvements to quality.

Cheers

Nick




SteveRi - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Alpnick:
Hello Nick, I'm sure you've done your homework and you've definitely shaken up the market for the better. I'd love you to give it another shake with a 4-500 lumen torch for more technical running :)
chiz - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Alpnick: Thanks Nick, I'm not really bothered whether the torches are a unique product to you, just about the quality control issue and what level of control you may have on production. This is the third consecutive Gamma that I've had electric problems with, and I just can't trust it anymore so I guess will relegate to the shed as I need a torch that will work every time, not let me down when I need it most. You have all the figures for returns so I guess I've just been unlucky with the ones I have bought. I'll send the torch back for you to look at it.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Alpnick:

Nick, on the previous generation did you have many problems with the catch that holds the battery holder together? I find it to be rather "non-robust" - you have already magically fixed mine once (assuming a replacement catch) and it's gone again. I will pop it in the post for AlpKit to have another look at it, and this is not me "naming and shaming" at all (quite the opposite really) - just wondering if anyone else has had this problem and if it was addressed for the next design. I have had no electrical or headband-elastic problems, just the same little bit of plastic snapping twice now despite not treating things particularly roughly. It seems to be a flaw that you might say is a combination of design and material.
captain paranoia - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> It seems to be a flaw that you might say is a combination of design and material.

And injection moulding QC: if the injection process isn't properly controlled, it can lead to weaknesses for a number of reasons (voids, cold spots/flow interruptions, etc).
Doghouse - on 17 Jul 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:

I had the same problem and to be honest the torch had only been used a hnadful of times so a tad disappointing.
Max factor - on 18 Jul 2013
In reply to Alpnick:

Nick,

what is the warranty on these please? are wiring problems wear and tear, or have you had enough of them to fix these as a recall (as Petzl were doing wiht the myo-xp?).

thanks.
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Alpnick - on 23 Jul 2013
In reply to Max factor:


We have a simple warranty if it's our fault we will fix it, and if it's your fault then we will sort it out as economically as possible.

Send us an email, support@alpkit.com and we should be able to sort something out.

Cheers

Nick

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