May 30, 2020

Review: INOVA’s X5 UV flashlight.

Last week, we delved into the exciting world of orbital ultraviolet astronomy. Keeping with a theme, this week, we here at Astroguyz will review a favorite new toy of ours; the INOVA X5 personal UV flashlight.

What good is a UV flashlight, you say, and why should I shell out hard earning blogging money for one? Well, like many toys, this is one that we didn’t see many applications for until we played with it for a bit.  A Short list of UV applications are as follows;

-Geology: Certain gems and minerals fluoresce under UV inspection, a key to a positive identification.

-Biology: Some animals, most notably western scorpions, will fluoresce under UV light, a spooky sight in what you might think is a “safe” backyard!

-Numismatics: Wonder if that bill is counterfeit? A UV flashlight can provide a quick check.

-Forensics: Ever watch Dexter? You’ll note that he’s never without a UV flashlight in the field. Blood spatter and other invisibles will light up under UV light.

-Art Collecting: A UV light is a powerful instrument for detecting glass and pottery defects.

-Astronomy: And for the reason above, UV can also be used in astronomy (the reason you’re reading this, right?) for the purpose of inspecting optics for tiny cracks or defects.

And that’s just the short list. In the military, I remember using UV to inspect 40mm firing blocks for hairline cracks… and heck, it’s just fun to run through the house at night, seeing what fluoresces! Time to break out those old Jimi Hendrix posters…

With that being said, a UV flashlight is not a toy, and the X5 comes with a dire warning to “Not Expose Eyes to Ultraviolet Light…” I would afford this instrument the same safe-guards you hopefully use for your hand-held laser pointer; keep it under lock and key, and permit zero horse play during its use.

We purchased our INOVA X5 UV flashlight from UnbeatableSale, Inc on for $64.79 USD. True, this is a bit higher than traditional AC powered “black lights” but I believe that the use in the field portability option makes the X5 worth it. Like all of its X5 lights, the UV version comes in a durable aluminum cast body coated with anodized titanium. It also has the five LED lighting configuration to assure a lifetime of bulb use, and comes with a nylon belt holster and strap. The UV light functions at Long-Wave Ultraviolet, which is centered on 395nm. Some reviews have objected to this, in that there is some inherent light “spillage” over into the visible violet. This does give objects a purplish cast, although we haven’t found this to be objectionable. For best use, the UV flashlight should be used in a darkened room, or at least one where the outside light sources are muted. Perhaps this visible light component may not be suitable for precise laboratory applications, but we found it acceptable in the field, which is really what having a UV flashlight is all about.

True, it’s hard to make a battery DC-powered “true” dedicated UV light because of the juice involved. INOVA’s X5 utilizes two lithium 123 3-volt photographic batteries, not your most common but widely commercially available and suitable for the job. It’s also a shame that this takes the rechargeable option out of the picture, but thus far, the light has held up to near-daily use at Astroguyz HQ.

In short, do check out the INOVA’s X5 Long-Wave Ultraviolet flashlight if you need specialty, in-the field UV applications, like science toys, or just like to tinker. Our motto here at Astroguyz is you can never have too many flashlights (or cameras!) and the X5 helps us cover that UV end of the spectrum as well as assure someone’s not trying to pass off fake dead presidents or sub-par optics, to boot!

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