HexBright, the Programmable Open Source Flashlight

hexbright_feat

Have you ever wished you could disassemble your flashlight so you could install new, upgraded components? How about programming the internal microcontroller so you could configure different lighting modes to correspond to your movements as detected by the internal accelerometer?

No? Well…neither have we, but it certainly sounds pretty cool now that it’s actually possible.

HexBright

The HexBright targets a niche that most people probably don’t even know exists: the flashlight connoisseur. These are people not satisfied with the average lights on the market, and want to be able to construct and modify their own. In the past, this has been more or less limited to picking a case, driver, and LED module. But the HexBright introduces a whole new dynamic to the hobby, as it offers an Arduino-compatible MCU onboard which let’s the user program the light however they like.

Thanks to the MCU, thermometer, and accelerometer, the HexBright offers an incredible level of flexibility. For example, the HexBright can be programmed to dim the LED if the internal temperature begins to rise, or cause the LED to blink if the accelerometer detects it has been dropped.

Aside from the revolutionary onboard electronics, the HexBright stands its own as a high quality light:

  • 500 Lumens Maximum
  • USA Made CREE XM-L U2
  • Rugged Aluminum Construction
  • High Mode – 500 Lumens/1 Hour
  • Endurance Mode – 150 lm/8 Hours
  • USB Rechargeable

Open Source

Currently, HexBright offers some sample programs of various complexity as well as the source code to the flashlight’s bootloader (there’s something I never thought I would ever write) on GitHub. Since the HexBright is Arduino compatible, anyone who has experience with developing for that MCU (or similar boards) should have no problem loading up the demo programs and getting to work on their own projects.

While on the subject of projects, the HexBright site has a section where users can share their projects or knowledge about working with and modifying the HexBright software and hardware. Since the light hasn’t been released yet this section is a bit bare, but it probably won’t be long before modders begin filling those pages up.

Purchasing

The HexBright is open for preorders now, and is expected to ship sometime in December (hopefully before the holidays). The HexBright usually retails for $130, but if you preorder you can get it for only $99.

For those of us who are satisfied enough with your basic hardware store flashlights, the price tag of the HexBright might cause some sticker shock. But if you look around online, you’ll find that the $100 price bracket is fairly common for high performance LED flashlights. Of course, none of those have anywhere near the same capabilities as the HexBright, so the value is certainly there if this is the kind of product you’re into.


Tom Nardi

Tom is a Network Engineer with focus on GNU/Linux and open source software. He is a frequent submitter to "2600", and maintains a personal site of his projects and areas of research at: www.digifail.com .

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