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Astrolux EA02 Review: Long-range Flashlight
Astrolux EA02 specifications
|LED||Osram Boost HX, KW CULPM1.TG|
|Beam intensity||469,000 cd / 1369m|
|Blinkies||Lots: strobe, bike mode, candlelight, lightning, etc|
|Review date||June 2021|
Astrolux is Banggood’s flashlight brand. Their lights are made by a few different manufacturers with Mateminco being the ones behind the EA02. Mateminco calls this light the MTY1 (or MT-Y1). If you can’t already tell from the photo, the Astrolux EA02 is a single cell thrower – long beam distance but not that many lumens.
This is their first light with a host in this shape. I’m expecting variants to come along at some point, like we’ve seen with the FT03 (S, Copper, Mini).
There were a couple of incorrect specs when the EA02 was first announced. To clear things up quickly: the LED is the Boost HX (not the W2) and the driver is a FET+1 linear driver (not “7-8A CC”). More details on this below.
Astrolux is a budget flashlight brand, so don’t expect anything fancy here, just a cardboard box with foam insert. This was enough to protect the light in transport, so I can’t complain.
Inside are the essentials. I’m actually surprised Astrolux still includes a lanyard with their flashlights and doesn’t try to save a few cents.
Note that there’s no USB-C cable provided in the box.
- Astrolux EA02
- 2 spare o-rings
- Cell adaptor (for 21700 or 18650 cells)
Flashlight in use
The Astrolux EA02 has the same bumpy body tube as a few other Astrolux flashlights, like the EA01, EA01A and FT02S (in fact it legos with my sand coloured FT02S quite nicely. The 26650 size host is very easy to grip.
The centre of mass is where the code meets the area where the driver and switch are. That makes it front heavy but it’s not too bad. I prefer the weight distribution of the FT02S.
The head near the bezel has indentations but I’m not sure what use they have aside from decoration.
The side e-switch protrudes 2mm and is easy enough to find without looking. The switch lights up blue too, in case you’re struggling to find it.
It tail stands fine, though being top heavy you’d need to be careful. Speaking of which, be careful it doesn’t roll off a table too, as the shape means it rolls easily.
The lanyard probably fits through the tiny single hole on the corner of the tailcap but only if you have more patience than I had. This is the same as my FT02S, which I gave up and used a small split ring to attach the lanyard instead.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Although Astrolux are a budget brand, from the flashlights I’ve seen, their quality is generally pretty good. They sometimes have QC issues with batches but I haven’t noticed anything with the Astrolux EA02.
The threads are triangular but still smooth. Square or trapezoid threads would have been nicer. The threads anodised too, though there seem to be some small chips in the anodisation right at the end. This is just cosmetic and a quarter turn of the tailcap still acts as a physical lockout.
The light has shiny anodisation and no knurling. Mine came in black but there’s also a dull green option.
The tailcap has 2 springs, just like the FT02S. Having 2 is probably unnecessary on this light, as it doesn’t need a particularly high current. The driver end has a brass post to make contact with the cell.
The driver end also has 2 contacts for firmware flashing.
Astrolux only claims IPX7 resistance, which is less than what many lights are rated. The light has o-rings and the charging port is covered, so it should be fine in the rain.
Astrolux says “Warranty Guaranteed”. There’s no details of this so I assume Banggood’s standard returns policy applies: full refund if returned within 7 days or full refund minus shipping if returned within 30 days, for any reason. Bangood have a 180 day warranty for quality issues.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
Yes, the reflector is deep! The head is 78mm deep down to where the base of the reflector should be (by 64mm wide)! I tried to unscrew the bezel to get at the reflector but wasn’t successful. For comparison, the Astrolux FT03 head is 70mm wide by 56mm deep. The reflector is very smooth and seems to be machined well.
The reflector sits behind an aluminium bezel and anti-reflective coated glass lens. Below the reflector is the tiny LED. As mentioned above, the EA02 is sometimes listed as having an Osram KW CSLPM1.TG LED, also known as the W2. In fact this one (and all others from what I’ve seen on BLF) definitely has the CULPM1 Boost HX. This is good, as the Boost HX is on a 4040 footprint and can take a bit more power than the W2.
It’s listed as 6000K (cool white), which to my eye looks correct. The tint looks close to the black body line on higher levels – no greens or pinks – but slightly warmer and yellower on low. Some product listings for the EA02 mention the 5SF bin. I have no way to verify that but if true, that’s one of the highest bins available.
The Boost HX has a 2mm emitting area and with the large reflector this results in a very focused beam. If my maths is right then it’s a massive 343 cd per lumen.
One cool thing about throwers like this, especially with Anduril, is that even the 1.4mA moonlight mode still throws 9 meters. At that distance it has a hotspot around 20cm.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 18.1 cm / 7.1 inches
- Head diameter: 6.34 cm / 2.50 inches
- Body diameter: 3.31 cm / 1.30 inches
- Without cells: 287g / 10.1 oz
- With 26650 cell: 380g / 13.4 oz
Throw flashlights comparison
Throwers, from left to right:
Driver & User Interface:
Some listings of the EA02 say “driven by 7-8A CC”. People (like me) were excited that this flashlight would be driven by a 8A fully regulated constant current driver: very efficient and beating the 6A CC from the Osram Fireflies T9R and 7A from the Sofirn SF47T. That’s not the case though. There was clarification on BLF that the driver is not constant current.
Being a single small emitter LED, you might expect this to use linear regulator chips to reach 8A but that’s not the case either. In fact the EA02 uses a FET+1 driver, just like many high power flashlights. The FET is limited with PWM, so hopefully high drain cells won’t damage the LED. Some people have noted that the Boost HX goes blue at high currents but mine seems fine – even with a Samsung 30T cell.
As with all Andril lights, check the temperature calibration to ensure the flashlight doesn’t step down too early or late. Mine thought my home was 42℃ instead of 20℃!
Some previous Astrolux flashlights have had high residual current. The EA02 seems fine, pulling 0.08mA with the e-switch light on or 0.02mA with it off, so it would take years to drain a cell.
The Anduril firmware on the EA02 is fairly old – annoyingly before the version check feature was introduced. It includes factory reset though, so the firmware build is between 2019-06-27 and 2019-09-24. The back of the driver board contains a row of 6 flashing pads. There’s a chip on the back too, so I wouldn’t recommend screwing the body tube in with the cell already in.
The driver is using a Anduril UI.
This is the image of the UI, but forget about the bottom part, because this particular light has no AUX LEDs.
- Single-click: ON
- Double click: High (Top of ramp, to get to Turbo, you need to do another double click)
- 3 clicks: Access blinky/utility modes.
Enter Special/Fun modes from OFF:
- 2 clicks + hold: Strobe modes
- 4 clicks: Lock Out mode
- 5 clicks: Momentary on
- 6 clicks: Muggle mode
- Single-click: Off
- Double click: Turbo
- 3 clicks: change ramping mode.. Instead of a smooth increase, it has 6 little steps between Lowest and Max.
- 4 clicks: change to ramping configuration mode
- Press and hold: brightness ramps up.. release and press and hold again to ramp down.
INTERESTING, SPECIAL AND FUN MODES:
Please read the manual carefully to know how to access or customize these modes. Also see the firmware picture, above.
- Blinky Utility mode:
- Battery check
- Sunset Mode
- Beacon mode
- Temperature check
Strobe / Mood modes:
When in the strobes mode, double-click to rotate between them – all modes except party strobe are brightness, changed the same way as a normal ramp. In party strobe mode, ramping up and down will increase and decrease the frequency of the strobe, for incredible effects.
- Bike flasher
- Party strobe
- Tactical Strobe
- Lightning mode
- Lockout mode (can’t use the light)
- Lockout mode is available by clicking four times from off – while in lockout mode, click-and-hold will light up at bottom of the ramp, and a double-click-and-hold will light up somewhat brighter. This is to give you a way to quickly use the light if necessary, but if it activates in your pocket, it will only be at very low modes, and only for as long as the button is pressed. No more holes in pants!
- Momentary mode (signaling/ morse coding)
- Muggle mode: (safer for children)
- Configuration mode
- Ramp config mode
Batteries & Charging
Thanks to the long (double) spring and the plastic cell adaptors. The 27.1mm wide body tube took every cell I could throw at it: 18650, 21700, and 26650. Both flat and button top 16850 and 26650 are fine, including protected ones. A 71mm flat top 21700 cell was OK but you can tell the springs wouldn’t be happy with much more than that. Some people have mentioned that the tube is narrow and had trouble with some cells but I haven’t found any that don’t fit.
The Astrolux EA02 comes with a USB-C port (but no cable). Plugging it into USB power, the blue switch indicator light gains a red colour when charging and green when fully charged. I found that a C-C cable worked too, which is fairly uncommon on budget lights.
Just the head of the light will turn on when powered over USB, drawing up to 1.6A. The PWM is clearly audible when running on lower modes from USB.
Lux meter: All lux and lumen measurements are from my home made integrating sphere, calibrated with a S2+ measured by Maukka. Measurements are done with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter and Adafruit TSL2591 connected to a Raspberry Pi (using RuTiTe by bmengineer). Expect them to be within +/-10%.
DMM: Current readings were taken with a Precision Gold PG10B DMM for low currents and a Mustool X1 clamp meter for high currents, all with the cells fully charged via the built-in USB charging.
Amp and lumen measurements
Measurements were taken on “stepped” mode, which defaults to 7 levels (instead of the normal ramping mode). I used a 5000mAh 26650 LiitoKala cell for all tests. I checked current levels with a few other cells too and couldn’t get over 7A.
|Mode||Current (A)||Spec (lm)||Measured (lm)|
|1/7||0.01a mA||–||3 lm|
|2/7||0.07 mA||–||22 lm|
|3/7||0.20 A||–||69 lm|
|Turbo (0s)||6.86A||–||1208 lm|
|Turbo (30s)||–||1365 lm||1155 lm|
|Turbo (10m)||–||–||151 lm|
The host only steps down due to heat on turbo and level 7, where it tries not to go above the thermal limit. Turbo lasts 6 minutes at over 1000lm, whereas level 7 lasts 11 minutes at around 800 lm. Both level 7 and turbo hover around 500 lm last just over 2 hours. The thermal calibration seems to overshoot on turbo, dropping the light down to around 100 lumens before it goes back up to 500 lumens.
Levels 5 and 6 don’t step down due to heat but you can clearly see the output dropping as the cell voltage drops. This is a clear sign that there’s a FET at work. Level 5 lasts 5 hours and level 6 lasts 2 hours 40
From what I can tell. level 4 (and below) use the linear regulator instead of the FET. These have much more consistent output. Level 4 suddenly drops after 11 hours.
The EA02 can sustain around level 6 for 2 hours, which is over 800m throw.
|1/7||–||72m / 1295 cd|
|2/7||–||182m / 8267 cd|
|3/7||–||274m / 18,824 cd|
|4/7||–||476m / 56,673 cd|
|5/7||–||657m / 10,8066 cd|
|6/7||–||877m / 192,428 cd|
|7/7||–||1106m / 305,972 cd|
|Turbo (0s)||–||1339m / 448,401 cd|
|Turbo (30s)||1369m / 469,000 cd||1309m / 428,282 cd|
Distance to the building is 170m. Photos were taken with a Pixel 3a, set to 1/3s shutter speed and ISO 400, F1.8.
- Astrolux EA02 (Boost HX)
- Astrolux FT03 (XHP50.2)
- Astrolux MF04 (XHP35 HI)
- Convoy Z1 (W2)
- Imalent RT90 (SBT90.2)
- Lumintop Thor II (LEP)
- Sofirn SF47T (Boost HX)
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Banggood. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Throws over 1300m
- Cell compatibility and USB-C charging
- Anduril UI
- Has the better Boost HX LED
- Not constant current (though FET+1 seems to be fine here)
- Needs to be thermally calibrated
- Thermal calibration seems to overshoot on turbo
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price – 3: Average: some defects or issues – 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
Although the Astrolux EA02 didn’t quite meet its specs, it was pretty close and still performs very well. It’s generally well built, it’s a good price and there’s no major issues.
As mentioned, some people have seen the LED go blue on high currents. Mine has been fine, so hopefully this was just an issue with an early batch.
The EA02 competes against the Fireflies T9R or Noctigon K1. All three of these are single cell USB-C Anduril 500kcd+ throwers with a Boost HX LED. The Firelies and Noctigon cost around $100 and have better drivers than the EA02 but the EA02 is about 2/3 of the price (maybe even half if there’s a discount) and is not far off when it comes to performance. In some ways I’d like the EA02 to come with a constant current driver but I know that if that was the case then it’d cost closer to $100 and not be such a good budget option.
The EA02 also competes against Astrolux’s own FT03, though at the moment it’s not offered with any Osram LEDs. I’m not sure why though, as an FT03 with the Boost HX would make a great thrower.
Interestingly, the K1, T9R and FT03 both come with the option of a 5000 lumen SBT90.2 LED. Perhaps Astrolux will follow suit and make an EA02S. While I’m speculating, a smaller EA02 Mini (like the Astrolux FT03 Mini) would be a nice option, as would a larger version between the Astrolux MF02 and MF04.
The EA02 also competes against the very affordable Convoy L21A, with a mechanical tail switch. If you go with the Astrolux, you get a side e-switch, USB-C charging and Anduril for a few $ more. I love Convoys but Andruil on the EA02 wins me over.
The Astrolux EA02 isn’t the ultimate single cell thrower but for its price, performance, and features I don’t think it can be beaten.