Details

Posted by Enrique Muyshondt on

I’ve talked about quality and design before. This post is somewhat of an extension of those, but I hope it also serves as a bit of perspective and provides a bit of understanding of what it is Muyshondt products are about.

The short of it all is pretty simple: When you purchase something from Muyshondt, you need to be receiving the best product, period. No caveats.

What, exactly, does this mean, though? How is this achieved? What is it that is distinguishing about these products versus anything else?

A common refrain from people familiar with watches, or knives, two industries with which I am acquainted, is “I can understand why a high end watch, or a high end knife, but a flashlight?

I’ve always found this question perplexing, and I realized that what is obvious to me (because I spend the majority of my time involved in electric torches), may not be quite so evident to others, so allow me to explain:

There reaches a certain level of sophistication in some items where the technology becomes indistinguishable from magic for the average person. When this happens, there are people who will claim to be magicians, and put on a show that they don’t really understand, peddling junk, but it ‘sounds good’, and then there are engineers, who will meticulously pore over the details to achieve the functions that they require for their design.

Every electric torch has a Light Engine in it. This is analogous to a watch movement. How well that light engine works – how adept it is at turning electricity into light – is determined by how well it is designed. To make small light engines, that retain a high degree of electrical efficiency, is difficult.

To achieve this you have to decide on what regulator type to use – boost, buck, or buck/boost at the primary three, but you also have charge pumps, cùk, linear, and a pile of other types of possible considerations. These basic selections are not created equal – for example, a linear regulator is very poor, bleeding off any excess energy as heat to achieve whatever output you desire.

Once you’ve chosen a basic regulator design, you then still have hundreds of options to choose from to select a proper chip that will be efficient at the levels you’re intending to run at. Once you’ve decided on the levels, and settled on a suitable chip (each regulator has an optimum point of efficiency – like a car. If you plan to be running at 65mph, your engine design [and your aerodynamics] are optimized for that speed. Same thing in selecting which chips and components to use for a proper light engine design), you then need to design a full circuit around it in an intelligent manner, add in your control arrangement (whether it’s analog, or a digital microcontroller, or some combination), and then start selecting the parts that will be used for this design.

Parts selection can be as fast, or as slow, as you want it to be. Most people just select the cheapest chip they can find that will make a passable solution, and then select the cheapest parts to go along with it.

Do you choose electrolytic capacitors, or something else? An electrolytic capacitor is cheaper, and offers high capacitance at a low cost, but has a rated lifespan of a few thousand hours (and, in fact, the reason most electronics fail is from a busted electrolytic capacitor). Which types of resistors do you choose – thick film, thin film, carbon, metal – and how far do you over-spec them? Which inductor – ferrite core, air core, shielded, non-shielded?

When you design the circuit board all of this goes onto, are your traces optimized to maximize performance? Are your components placed in a manner that is going to result in the best operation? This isn’t a joke, either – if you place some parts too close to others, you’ll get electromagnetic noise in the circuit and unpredictable operation. If you place certain parts too far apart, you’ll also create problems that can reduce efficiency or prevent function outright. If you have the traces on a circuit board close together, you can introduce stray resistances or capacitances that can reduce your performance.

Do you use ENIG (Electroless-Nickel Immersion Gold) or HASL (Hot Air Solder Leveling) finishing on your boards? HASL is cheaper. Is it good enough?

Which LED do you choose? There are thousands of them now. The natural response is “the brightest one!”, which means the starkest white-blue one. Is this the most useful though? What about High-CRI? What about a more neutral color temperature? What about the non-linear response of the human eye to light? What is it that is actually the most useful in practice? Do you participate in a “lumens contest” that is as ludicrous as the megapixels game was in cameras, or do you focus on simply making something better? What metrics do you choose to define “better” as?

What style control program do you write? Memory or no mode memory? Programmable? Special modes? Strobes, SOS, etc.? What approach do you take when designing this that will result in the best performance for the largest number of people?

This is just (and I say “just” even though this is the most vital technical element of the light) the light engine, and speaks nothing to the rest of the design of the torch. The materials choices, the mechanical and industrial design, the reflector design, thermal design, the activation mechanism (and consequent pushbutton selection and design), the fit and finish, and the ultimate attention to every detail large and small to make sure that what is delivered is truly the best it can be.

Then, once all of this has been decided, prototyped, and tested, being able to enforce a consistent delivery of quality from unit to unit.

When this is all done right, “Transparent Design” is achieved, where the technical and the artful are done in such a manner that the product is elevated from being the mere sum of its parts – where the technology and design become entirely secondary to the actual use of the item, making the product vastly superior.

A Muyshondt Electric Torch is the finest lighting instrument you will own. Every aspect of the light is very carefully crafted with an obsessive level of attention given to all details, electronic, mechanical, and aesthetic. The light engine is designed to maximize performance – providing generous runtimes for the power plant of each torch, each component chosen specifically. The mechanical design gives you smooth threads and action for every feature, a well tuned reflector, and excellent fit and finish. No expense was spared in creating a superior torch; Be it the mill-cut square pyramid knurling on the Maus – with each peak cut individually instead of doing a faster and lower quality pressed diamond knurl, or the chamfers on the edge of every contour of the Flieger – requiring a lathe with a multi-axis milling attachment to slowly carve each light to a perfect form. Each light is machined and finished to extremely high standards and tolerances, and hand assembled with care to create a tool that is designed to be at your side at all times and remove darkness reliably. 

The point in all of this is that every little detail matters, in any effort. In electric torches, these details span electronic minutiae, mechanical considerations, and artful aesthetics. I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a fine watch, or a well-made knife, and for those of you unacquainted with my work yet, I hope that this post helps to create an understanding of what goes into each one of my torches.

Behind every electric torch there are hundreds of hours of thought and planning that draw upon over a decade of experience, before the first sketch or CAD drawing is made, which is followed by thousands more in the design and production of every part that goes into your torch, along with every detail of the artwork and packaging, such that what you finally receive is the culmination of countless man hours distilled into the functional form you hold in your hands.

I again hope that this has served to give some understanding of what goes into a Muyshondt electric torch, and that one lights your path for many years to come.

Enrique Muyshondt

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