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August 1997 Vol. 12, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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More Light on Lights

Not designed as a primary?

from the August, 1997 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

After last month's mention of Ikelite's new PCa dive light, I've heard from three readers (I'm one of them) who have experienced some problems with the light dimming at depth or failing to come on. Jeff Milman (New York) writes, "I also have many sad stories to tell of dive lights failing within minutes after purchase. I am forever sending them back to the manufacturers for repair and replacement. If I give my PCa a slight whack when the light is on, guess what? It dies and cannot be relit without opening the case and jiggling the batteries and connectors. I also find that no matter how I place the batteries before each dive, back on the surface I have to reopen the battery housing and jiggle the batteries and the flimsy metal connectors before I can get the light operating again."

If you read last month's issue, you know that I've been packing a PCa because of its small size and bright burn, but during a night dive on my last trip I experienced a 75 percent drop in brightness during a dive (with fresh batteries). Turns out it was due to loss of battery contact.

Good service is one of Ikelite's strong points, and Ike Brigham has always been a square shooter talking about his products. Here's what Ike had to say about the PCa when I contacted him about the problem:

"Our intent was to produce an ultra-powerful backup light that would be used sparingly or in an emergency. The bulb draws a tremendous amount of current from the little AA batteries to achieve the intensity in this light. It is fair to say that AA batteries are not really intended for use in products that require this much current draw.

"I am not completely comfortable if people consider the PCa a primary dive light. It produces primary light intensity, but our PC with C-cell batteries was intended as a primary light. "If the light is bumped hard, the contacts can be smashed flat against the plastic and not put enough pressure on the batteries. Simply bend the contacts back up so the end of each contact is about 1/4 inch above the plastic and it should be fine.

"The bigger PC is interesting because we find a hard jolt will dent the end of the C cells, making them short enough that contact is broken. Simply place a penny (or bigger denomination for big spenders) between the batteries on each side to make them work. You get your money back when batteries are replaced."

The Pca is still my pick and I'm using it for my primary light source when I travel, because of its size. I do carry a backup on dives. Ikelite has replaced the bulb in its Mini C with the same bulb used in the new PC, which is suppose to have improved its brightness considerably. I'll take a look at it, compare it with the old Mini C, and let you know.

J. Q.

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