PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Review

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Review

Photonphreaks built the HDSRB Turbo Thrower Head, which replaces the stock bezel on HDS flashlights. Let’s see what improvements it makes!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the initial PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head product page.

Versions

There is currently just one version, but version two might be in the works.

Price

MSRP on these is $295, but they do not seem to be available at the moment.  The latest preorder (preorder 2) looks to have just closed.


Short Review

First point:  the difference in throw here is fairly massive.  So that side of the intention has been fulfilled.  The second point, the beam shape is now “better” but that really depends on what you like.  If you’re like me and prefer a throwy beam, then this is going to be perfect.  It’ll improve your HDS flashlight by a large margin.  I will go as far as to say that even if you have just one HDS flashlight, then you should probably run it with the HDSRB.  If you have multiple, then it’s a no-brainer.

Let me also note here that this isn’t really a flashlight review as such…. I’m shoehorning a flashlight part into my usual whole flashlight review format.  This is not a review of the HDS Systems flashlight.  This is a post covering the testing of the difference in using the stock reflector from HDS Systems and the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Throw Head.  So no runtimes, etc.  I’ll marginally cover some HDS-only items, but those are coincidental to the testing of the Turbo Head.

Long Review

The Big Table

I’ll break the important bits out more clearly later.  But all the info is here. 😀

HDS Systems Tactical Rotary
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD (4000K)
Cell: 1×16340
Candela per Lumen 8.9
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 308lux @ 3.191m = 3136cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 112.0
All my HDS Systems reviews!

 

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Throw Head
Emitter: Cree XP-L HD (4000K)
Cell: 1×16340
Candela per Lumen 22.5
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 273lux @ 5.225m = 7453cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 172.7
All my PhotonPhreaks reviews!

 

HDS Systems EDC Rotary SS40
Emitter: Luminus SST-20
Cell: 1×16340
Candela per Lumen 21.5
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 227lux @ 3.688m = 3088cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 111.1
All my HDS Systems reviews!

 

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Throw Head
Emitter: Luminus SST-20
Cell: 1×16340
Candela per Lumen 54.4
Claimed Throw (m)
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 268lux @ 5.426m = 7890cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 177.7
All my PhotonPhreaks reviews!

^ Measurement disclaimer:  Testing flashlights is my hobby. I use hobbyist-level equipment for testing, including some I made myself. Try not to get buried in the details of manufacturer specifications versus measurements recorded here; A certain amount of difference (say, 10 or 15%) is perfectly reasonable.

What’s Included

This is a loaner and came to me on an HDS flashlight, so I didn’t get the retail package.  I believe you get just the head though, and nothing else.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head feature photo

  • PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head^

^ Pictured but not included is an HDS Tactical Rotary with raised switch

The official “what’s included” is as follows:

  • 1 x HDSRB stainless steel bezel
  • 1 x HDSRB reflector housing
  • 1 x HDSRB Custom SMO reflector
  • 1 x UCL Lens
  • 4 x O-rings (installed)

As one piece; you don’t have to assemble it yourself.

Package and Manual

As above.  I’m not sure what packaging the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head ships in, but there is no manual.  There’s no need for a manual.  You unscrew the existing bezel on your HDS flashlight and replace it with the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Build Quality and Disassembly

HDSRB stands for “HDS Search and Rescue Bezel” and was designed for increasing throw for HDS Systems flashlights.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head feature photo

This is a flashlight part that only fits on one other specific part.  So it’s imperative that these parts match perfectly.  They should match in look, in build quality… they should essentially be unidentifiably different.

They are.  The PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head absolutely matches the stock parts in such a perfect way that I don’t think you’d know they weren’t made by HDS Systems if you didn’t know already.

The HDS Systems flashlight I’m mainly testing with here is a Tactical Rotary and has been well-loved…  I didn’t spend the usual amount of time cleaning up dust and whatnot on that item, so enjoy its used, loved state.

As stated in the manual section, installing the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head is easy.  Just unscrew the stock bezel (which is never thread locked on any HDS Systems flashlight, as far as I know).  Then screw in the replacement Turbo Head.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head removed

The threads are short, so the effort required is minimal.  You can see the emitter from the Tactical Rotary below.  This is a Cree XP-L HD, and handwritten in Sharpie is “4K” – a 4000 Kelvin emitter.

The PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head works will any?  all?  versions.  I don’t know of an emitter option from HDS that this Turbo Head won’t fit on.  It could be that some emitters are better suited to the throw head, but we can talk about that in a bit.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head threads PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head connection point

With a bigger reflector, some length and girth is added.  Unlike the stock bezel, there is no branding whatsoever on the stainless front edge of the Turbo Head.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head compared to stock

I happen to have a (nearly completely different) HDS Systems flashlight myself, so the testing here will stand to benefit from comparing these two.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head with stock parts

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Size and Comps

The product site does not include measurements on the bezel itself, so here are mine.

At the widest point (the stainless part):  34.08mm
At the narrowest point (this is the diameter of the HDS flashlight itself:  25.4mm
Height of Turbo Head, including threads:  37.38mm

As a comparison, here are stock bezel measurements:
At the widest point (the stainless part):  25.45mm
At the narrowest point (this is the diameter of the HDS flashlight itself:  25.4mm
Height of Turbo Head, including threads:  20.41mm

So we’re adding around 8.6mm in girth, and 16.97mm in height (or “length” depending on how you’re thinking of it).

If the flashlight will headstand, I’ll show it here (usually the third photo).  If the flashlight will tailstand, I’ll show that here, too (usually the fourth photo).

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head in hand

Here’s the test light with the venerable Convoy S2+.  Mine’s a custom “baked” edition Nichia 219b triple.  A very nice 18650 light.

And here’s the light beside my custom engraved TorchLAB BOSS 35, an 18350 light.  I reviewed the aluminum version of that light in both 35 and 70 formats.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head with torchlab boss 35

Here you can most easily see the difference in stock and replacement.  The switches are different on these two lights, but otherwise, they are the same.

LED and Beam

dotmjeg sent me the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head on a flashlight you can see below – it’s the green mcpcb light, which has a Cree XP-L HD emitter in 4000K.  I happen to also have an HDS light that can accept the Turbo Head, but mine has a Luminus SST-20 emitter.

There are a few points that you need to fully understand before going further!

These two lights are quite different in their stock format.  The “Tactical Rotary” has a much higher output than the “SS40.”  That’s difference 1.  Difference 2 is that these emitters are quite different just in their stock format.  The emitter footprint might look about the same, but the Luminus SST-20 (the “SS40” HDS) has more throw than the Cree XP-L HD (the “Tactical Rotary”)

“But!  But…” you say, “those tables at the top….”

Yes, in their stock setup these two lights have exactly the same amount of throw (112 meters).  Couple the natural throwiness of the SS40 with the light’s overall lower output, and you end up with the same amount of throw out of these two.

Now compare the candela per lumen or cd/lm.  The stock SS40 has grossly more cd/lm (at 21.47) than the Tactical Rotary (at 8.89).

You might say that the SS40 “does more with less” (if you’re talking strictly about throw).  (And we are talking strictly about throw because this is testing of the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head.

two emitters being tested

This gets us caught up on the difference in these two emitters, and the difference in these two lights.  Maybe a bulleted point summary would be nice:

  • SS40: lower output, but higher candela per lumen
  • Tactical Rotary: higher output, but lower candela per lumen

Now we can begin considering what the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head does to these numbers.  Again, the tables at the top show the numbers – you might already have gotten it.  But there’s a good bit of consistency in the data that is quite fun.

Both lights increase in throw from 112 meters to around 175 meters.  Again, these numbers being the same is what we just covered (higher throw from the lower output SS40).  This increase in throw is around 57%.  So total throw is going to be noticeably more.

But more importantly, let’s have a look at the candela per lumen.   That’s where we see the grossest increases.

The higher output, lower throw Tactical Rotary goes from being essentially “quite floody” (at 8.89 cd/lm) to having 22.48 cd/lm.  This is a massive increase in cd/lm, and will positively be noticeable in the beam shape even if it’s not necessarily noticeable in the ability to do surgery at 172 meters.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head with ss40

Now, the difference in the SS40 is quite interesting too.  It already started out as “quite throwy” or at least “more throwy” with a cd/lm of 21.47.  With the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head installed, we see an increase to 54.44 cd/lm.  Again, a massive increase in cd/lm.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head

Pleasantly, we still see the same level of consistency, because the increase in cd/lm is around 152%.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head with tactical rotary

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head

The reflector made and used here is very clean and of nice quality.  Of course as with the stock bezel, when removed that reflector is exposed through the bottom.  You’ll want to be very sure to keep debris and dust out of that reflector.  (Reflectors are hard if not impossible to clean.)

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head

One difference that bears mentioning is that the stock bezel external is completely stainless steel.  On the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head, the bezel itself is stainless, but the reflector housing is aluminum.  This is only slightly different from stock, since the stock bezel screws onto the aluminum reflector, and the aluminum reflector screws into the body.  So ultimately only the look is different, since you’re adding an anodized aluminum section.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head with ss40

The replacement bezel has the same flutes as the original.  Touches like these really display the fact that the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head was designed by an enthusiast!

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head fluted bezel

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head fluted bezel

Now some unclaibrated beamshots.  The specifics don’t really matter too much on these – they’re just generic “in the field” photos.

First is stock:

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head stock photo

Next is the beam with the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head installed.

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head installed photo

Finally, just for fun, is with no reflector at all:

no reflector

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

I did my best to capture … discernable differences – but ultimately these are standard beamshots.  The Tactical Rotary has fewer modes (13 levels, if I counted right) but I dropped one of the (invisible) lower modes for the sake of the gallery.

Cree XP-L HD with PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head:

Cree XP-L HD with stock bezel:

And here’s my SS40 – it has many more modes (24 I think?) but this is just a selection, including lowest and highest.  The modes in between are not 1:1, though (I just couldn’t figure out a great way to do that).

Luminus, SST-20-W with PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head:

Luminus, SST-20-W with stock bezel:

Tint vs BLF-348 (KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b version) (affiliate link)

I keep the test flashlight on the left, and the BLF-348 reference flashlight on the right.

The same information for the galleries as mentioned above applies here, too.

Cree XP-L HD with PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head:

Cree XP-L HD with stock bezel:

Luminus, SST-20-W with PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head:

Luminus, SST-20-W with stock bezel:

I compare everything to the KillzoneFlashlights.com 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!

PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Conclusion

I don’t like to make any blanket statements on what you can expect from adding the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head to whatever HDS Systems flashlight you have, and whatever emitter it has.  But in my (limited to two lights) testing, I observed through testing a very consistent increase in throw (around 57%) and cd/lm (around 153%).  Your specific throw numbers would be different, but you can probably expect these increases as well.

If the data doesn’t demonstrate the difference, the beam photos probably will.

What I like about the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head

  • Exceptional build quality
  • Matching of stock parts seamlessly
  • Greatly increases throw (~57%)
  • Even more fun increase in cd/lm (~153%)

What I don’t like about the PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head

  • Low availability
  • Cost is high, at nearly the cost of light itself

Notes

  • This light was provided by dotmjeg for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • For flashlight-related patches, stickers, and gear, head over to PhotonPhreaks.com!
  • Use my amazon.com referral link if you’re willing to help support making more reviews like this one!
  • Please support me on Patreon!  Feeding flashlights is expensive!  And funding Fun Fund Friday even more so.  I deeply appreciate your support!
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5 thoughts on “PhotonPhreaks HDSRB Turbo Head Review”

  1. Leonardo Da Silva

    I don’t understand why these lights have to be so big considering the size of the battery it uses, and why they aren’t using 18350 batteries as the standard.

    1. These HDS lights are built to last a lifetime. The 123 model runs on both CR123 lithium or 16340 rechargeables, and have adapters on their site for other batteries.

      1. There are many other lights out there that will last a lifetime as well and aren’t as big as the HDS, especially considering their battery size, they should switched to using 18350 a long time ago.

  2. I can’t argue with people who spend their money on things that make them happy, but $300 for a reflector?

  3. Pingback: Flashlight News: Phreaky Briefing Issue 43 – PhotonPhreaks

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