Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Hydra Light Review

I got word a water powered Flashlight was heading my way for a product review & immediately pictured a contraption with a propeller to dip in a running stream, or some penlight hooked up to a water bottle. Instead, I got the Hydra Light, a foot long, rubber-coated, yellow & black plastic cylinder, looking every inch a serious lighting device. It sported some heft to it too, but strangely, no propeller or water tank. Instead, inside it was a long white cylinder where a battery would be, with two metal ends and holes along the length of it’s sides.
End-cap with fold-out hook

The end-cap flares out forming a stable base with a recessed fold-out plastic hook to hang it upside down. (Although I doubt the hook will hold up long.)

At the business end, a clear plastic lamp bezel sports a mirrored concave top cover, and an aperture in the center. Around the single white LED inside the bezel, was more mirrored plastic.

The bezel does double duty. Slide the bezel fully extended, the light is configured as a lantern, with the bezel retracted, it becomes a directed flashlight, projecting the light out the end through the aperture.

So far, it LOOKS like a flashlight. But now what's up with this white plastic can-like tube inside, where a proper battery would be? It looked intriguing.
The fuel cell of tomorrow?
I learned it's the fuel cell that relies on a process of Ion Transfer involving oxygen as fuel. The Hydra-Light Fuel cell has a generous heft to it. It rattles, which I assume is something that somehow reacts to moisture.

I began to figure out that this ISN'T a water POWERED flashlight as the advertising implies. Instead, water is used another way, as a CONDUCTOR.

A chemical reaction occurs when two dissimilar forms of metal interact with each other. It's called ELECTROLYSIS. Simply put, molecular ions from one metal flows to another metal when a current path between the two is present. A common example of electrolysis is galvanic Iron becomes rusty when exposed to oxygen. All it takes is a conductor. It just so happens WATER is a conductor, and it's conductivity is greatly increased when MINERALS are dissolved in it.

It clicked...(like a light bulb over my head). In this moistened fuel cell container, enough electrical current is generated when the contents of the fuel cell is moistened and exposed to oxygen. Causing Ions to flow from one metal end-cap to the other.

Even though it only takes water to create electrical current, there's not a whole lot of electrical current being produced. There's another component in this that makes it work... a super efficient LED!
The star of the show is this LED

 LED's have revolutionized lighting. Light Emitting Diodes have become very efficient after years of development, all but replacing the incandescent light bulb. Being able to radiate bright white light from very little energy, modern LED's are now the ideal low cost, low maintenance, long-life light source.

And it's a single LED that makes the Hydra-Light happen.

Now...  Something needs pointing out.

While the Ion transfer process results in electrical current being generated, it isn't a LOT of electrical current. So, while the LED is efficiently producing light, it's not the brightest of lights. The Hydra Light isn't meant to blind, it's made to produce light just using water.

Within those narrow constraints, the Hydra Light DOES IT'S JOB LIKE NO OTHER!

The Hydra Light is ideally suited as an emergency light source, one that can provide light with just water, without ANY other technology.  I get that, and anyone who is desperately NEEDING light when ALL ELSE FAILS would get that too.

The Hydra-Light boasts of up to 100 hours of continuous service. One short dunking of the fuel cell in water is all it takes.

THAT I put it to the test.

I dipped the power cell in a glass of tap water, shook out the excess, slipped it in the Hydra Light and turned it on.  The LED immediately produced a bright blue-white light. As a flashlight it threw a very impressive beam. As a Lantern the single LED was able to light up a totally dark room to a respectable level, not super bright, but still bright enough.  Then I left the Hydra Light on and started the clock.

72 hours later (that's THREE DAYS), the light was noticeably dimmer, and it went dark while I was away at work on day four, at least 90 hours total. That's close enough for me.
Again, this is just dunking the fuel cell in water, shaking out the excess and turning the lamp on.

Again, this is just dunking the fuel cell in water, shaking out the excess and turning the lamp on.

Pretty darn impressive IMHO.

For the Hydra-light, the duration test is more of showing how long the fuel cell will conduct current until the fuel cell dries out.  Of course, normal battery powered flashlights can last 100 hours, (often brighter too). But after that, you just need to briefly re-moisten the fuel cell of the Hydra Light & the light will stay on for 100 hours more. (Do that with a regular battery flashlight)

After a few dips in water, the efficiency of the fuel cell diminishes. Still, that's remedied by simply adding salt to the water. The saltier the water, the brighter the lamp will glow. According to the maker, more fuel cells are available. But generally speaking, the whole idea of a emergency light source that can be left on a shelf for decades, & still be able to produce light after just a dip in some water, is just the thing to have when all else fails.

And for that, I TOTALLY approve.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The G.O.O.D. Board Game Review

I can't remember the last time I played a board game. It may have been 40 years ago, playing Clue, or Monopoly, long before I discovered computers & computer games. I don't know why it's been so long. Board Games are great family fun. It's something everyone can get involved with, sitting around the dining room table. Something to enjoy that doesn't involve a TV remote control or internet access.

So when I got the call that I got a Board Game heading my way to review, I was a bit reluctant at first. After so many years, so many other after-dinner pastimes, so many internet or electronic games, this one better be good. Turned out it was. It was The G.O.O.D. Game.

The G.O.O.D. Game, a.k.a  The "Get Out Of Dodge" Game, lived up to it's title. It was adventure, it was survival, it was hilarious.

Imagine Monopoly for a Zombie Apocalypse, or The Game of Life where a box of MRE's is worth more than your penthouse apartment in the city. In this game, you NEED to flee the city. Civilization has collapsed, you need to bug out with only what few supplies you can carry or scrounge along the way, to your safe house in the hills.  But along the way, you need to watch out! So many traps await you, you could wind up arrested in a FIMA Camp, or starving on top of Freeze Your A** Pass.

You'll use your wits, your luck, & occasionally your skill at bartering, to see your way through. It's ultimately the roll of the dice that'll determine if you're lucky enough to survive your journey, to make it to your bug out haven in the hills.

Amazing that Susan Kellerman-Hogue, the designer of The G.O.O.D. Game, could make S.H.T.F. an entertaining board game, but she certainly did, with tongue-in-cheek humor too. A few left-handed social comments thrown in the game along the way will have you giggling in your Flak Vest as you move your player piece along the board. BTW, since this IS a game of survival, you make your OWN game piece. Just be sure whoever uses a live .50 FMJ round as their game piece, gets first roll.

The Game Board is large & hilariously illustrated. The gameplay is roll the dice & land on a space, if it tells you to follow the instructions on the included "Determiner" Card, you'll do what the card says. It's pure luck if the outcome helps your cause or beats you bloody, you just have to take your turn to find out. Land on a space along with another player you can barter your gear. But be careful, one's man's treasure may be what you NEED the next turn you take. Ultimately, one person will get through & win, but along the way a whole evening will be spent in fun-filled survival & a battle of wits.  NOTE: Contains some Politically Incorrect Material & Some Harsh Language.
Yes, I got to say it's been at least 40 years since I last played a board game. But I'm glad the long dry spell is over, & it was by a good board game I got to play. The G.O.O.D. Game.