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PrincetonTec Apex Headlamp – Problems

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  whitey 7 years, 7 months ago.

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  • #421

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    Owners and prospective owners of this apparently great caving light might be interested to hear of problems I’m experiencing with mine. :cry:

    The first signs of trouble were that it occasionally ignored switch presses – for example, to cycle through the modes of high – low – flash, or to change between spot beam and area beam. A few tries and it would catch on. But as I kitted up for my last trip it was really going crazy: changing modes by itself and occasionally even turning itself on and off. It seemed to settle down when it warmed up, and it then behaved in the cave.

    Now, back home, cleaned and dried, it simply doesn’t turn on – though if I leave it sitting with batteries loaded, it will occasionally come on by itself, or flash a few times, before going to sleep again.

    As the trouble seems to have increased since a couple of very wet experiences, I’m fairly sure the problem is water ingress into the head (battery box OK). This is very diappointing since it is rated as ok to 1m depth, which at least means it shouldn’t mind a severe dunking. It’s especially a shame since, in performance terms, it is such a great light.

    Obviously I’ll be making a trip to where I bought it (Paddy Pallin at Ringwood) to make a warranty claim. In the meantime I’ll use my trusty Petzl MYO5 which has never EVER given me the slightest reliability problem (it just has a pathetic, totally useless and juice-gobbling spot beam).

    I know that Tom Aberdeen has also encountered some Apex problems, which seem to be getting more severe. And there now appear to be some reservations on web reviews of the lamp – reviews that are, in other respects, highly approving. Water seems to be implicated in those issues too. Other Apex users (including at least Brett and Doug) – please let us know if you have trouble.

    #1006

    Anonymous

    No problems with mine (touch wood) and it’s spent plenty of time submerged in caves at Buchan and Limestone Creek. I’ve had mine for about 18 months now and got it almost as soon as it was first released in the US, so given that it’s only recently (ie. in the last 6 months) that these problems are being reported, I suspect it may be problems with the newer batches.

    #1007

    tom-aberdeen
    Member

    Hi All,

    Peter – Mine has had the EXACT same sequence of problems, and like yours is now also unusable. I sent an email to Princeton Tec a few weeks ago and have had no response. I have used mine a lot (at least once every 3 weeks) in a huge range of wet and dry caves here and in the UK for the past 1.5 years, and had not had any serious problems until about a month ago. Back to my sewer light for a while <img src=” title=”Sad” />

    Tom

    #1008

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    PrincetonTec have replaced my Apex headlamp under warranty. I’ll let you all know whether it’s still working in another 9 months …. <img src=” title=”Smile” />

    #1009

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    My replacemnt Apex headlamp is behaving perfectly well so far. However, it has not been subjected to any extended immersion. Also, I’m being careful in my cleaning techniques.

    By the way, Tom has also replaced his Apex, which suffered all the same problems as mine. In addition to the black version (Doug’s) and orange version (mine), this lamp is now available in camouflage colours. Tom has that colour – I think it’s so that no-one sees him sneaking around the Potholes Reserve at night-time …….. :wink:

    #1010

    chalky
    Member

    Got my PT Apex a month ago and decided to test its water resistance. After surfing the forums to find out the possible problem areas I pulled it apart to look at the electronics and a possible upgrade of the led from 3 watt to 5 watt. Reassembling, I checked that the 3 screws did not bottom out in their respective holes. Insufficient clamping force is the main reason for water ingress in the headpiece.

    Now for the test.

    I ran the Apex on high beam for 1 hour to get the air inside the headpiece and battery case nice and warm. Then submerged PT Apex in cold water for 3 hours. If water is going to enter the Apex, it will be as the warm air inside the headpiece and battery case cools and contracts.

    Dismantled and found tiny drops of water on the batteries inside the battery case and [b:3k9f4gem]NONE inside the headpiece[/b:3k9f4gem]. I accidentally dropped the PT Apex on the floor and therefore disturbed the location of the water inside the battery case. I’m guessing that the water entered the battery case via the clamping screw and not the rubber O-ring.

    <img src=” title=”Very Happy” /> Overall the PT Apex appears to be a great caving headlamp. The little bit of water that entered the battery case should cause no problems as long as storage is with the battery case open and/or batteries removed. However, nothing will beat real world testing like one of the wet caves at Buchan involving sumps and mud to truly test the Apex’s reliability.

    The following website http://radiolocation.tripod.com/ApexHeadlamp.html has a good technical review of the PT Apex.

    Chalky

    #1011

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    A definite weakness of this lamp, encountered by most of us by now, is the attachment of the battery carrier to the helmet band. The box sometimes slips off, due to the gap deliberately left in the plastic attachment lugs. Of course, this event always occurs at the most inconvenient time (such as when you are struggling off the head of a bastard of a pitch, or immersed up to your nostrils in some filthy sump).

    I am considering a mod to fix it, so perhaps more on this later.

    It’s still a great caving lamp.

    #1012

    Anonymous

    I’m still yet to experience any of these problems discussed (touch wood again). I’m very happy with the performance of my unit which is now getting close to 2 years old.

    #1013

    chalky
    Member

    :cry: PROBLEM – Whilst in tight situations underground, the battery case has a habit of falling off by slipping out of its elastic headband. Probable cause is due to the attachment slot being too wide.

    <img src=” title=”Razz” /> SOLUTION – My solution is to cut 4.8mm dia heatshrink the same width as the elastic. Place this over the two posts bridging the slot. Apply heat to shrink and you then have a very securely attached elastic headband.

    #1014

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    This seems to be a good solution to a significant problem. Following Chalky’s lead I have implemented the same fix, so we can both monitor the results.

    My implementation has bridged the gap in the two SIDE attachments of the battery box, only. Chalky has also treated (a) the battery box’s top attachment (where it attaches to the over-head strap) and (b) the similar lugs-with-gaps on the headlamp component. These other areas are not as susceptible to the problem as the main two points, but fixing the whole lot was a good move.

    Thanks for the initiative Chalky. Let’s see how this goes. I’m glad it’s done before the upcoming Tasmania trip.

    #1015

    tom-aberdeen
    Member

    I am very very unhappy:

    My *SECOND* Princeton Tec Apex Headlight failed yesterday while in Elk River Cave. It seems clear now that they are NOT at all water proof. I have taken it apart and am letting it dry in the hope it may revive. I think I will get something different this time around.

    Tom

    #1016

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    Lynne is now using a Petzl MYO-XP. This was the runner-up to Apex in my original assessment.

    It has many good features, and overall light-output performance is similar to Apex. My original assessment guessed that it might not be as robust as Apex, but in view of all our problems this was probably a misjudgement.

    My previous MYO-5 was always 100% reliable, including any water abuse. Let’s see how this Petzl goes.

    #1017

    tom-aberdeen
    Member

    My Apex (2) has been in bits on my kitchen table for a few days, and now turns on some of the time, but the buttons are not responding properly – the same symptom as last time before my first light failed. An intermitant torch is even worse then a completely dead one in my opinion. I think I will send it and my first one back to Princeton Tec with an assertive letter.

    Research on my next light begins…. back to the Laurie (Sewer) Light for a while i spose.

    Tom

    #1018

    Peter Freeman
    Moderator

    I have recently experienced two short-lived problems with my 2nd Apex headlamp.

    First, it went out while negotiating a tricky uphill crawl (the Hell Hole) in Mammoth Cave at Jenolan. It would not turn on again until I gave the battery box a hard slap. Ok after that.

    Second, it went into a dim mode while coming oiut of the lower roof sniff in Elk River. Not out, but just about 1/3 intensity. It would still switch between modes! Again, a good clout to the battery box fixed it.

    It would seem that these two problems were caused by poor contacts in the battery compartment, so they are different to the original problems of water ingress to the headpiece. The second incident WAS in water, and I did find later that water had extered the battery box. I have since ensured that the battery contacts are very clean (though I thought I was already doing that ….. !).

    By the way, the previously described heatshrink tube fix for the battery box detachment issue, devised by Chalky and implemented on his and my units, has definitely eliminated that problem.

    #1019

    tom-aberdeen
    Member

    Hi all,

    Thought you might be interested to know that today I got a package from Princeton Tec, containing 2 brand new Apex headlights, AND two ‘Just In Case’ LED lights (little led lights that run on lithium coin cells) that clip onto the straps of your apex as a backup light. I sent them my two broken lights about 3 weeks ago. WOW. I am now considering if I will sell one or keep both of them. Anyway, impressive for them to send so much gear.

    Tom

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