Appeared in DIVER January 2006

LIGHT  Aqua-Star LED
Theres a lot of good kit around but usually quality comes at a price. If you want to buy your diving equipment at that well-known chain of Dutch supermarkets, it will be cheap and you may be cheerful. I know one guy who bought a fistful of diving torches that cost less than a single similar branded item. So long as they work he is happy, and when they stop, he will simply chuck them.
     On the other hand, I like to surround myself with stuff that reflects my personality, and no-one ever said I was cheap.
     I would rather have the corpse of a once-fine antique than some furniture in MDF. I would rather enjoy a single bottle of fine Volnay than get ratted on a gallon of cheap plonk. So having set out my stall as a lover of top quality in all things, I took a cheap lamp to the Red Sea to try it out.

Anatomical shape
The Aqua-Star LED lamp has a single Lexion Star high-output LED, giving it a burntime of around five hours from two standard AA batteries. Use new fully charged 2500mh ni-mh batteries and you can expect almost to double that.
     In fact, you can use almost any batteries including lithium or ni-cad, as long as they are matched and in AA format.
     The Aqua-Star LED torch may be cheap but it doesnt look it. It is made of marine-grade aluminium and nicely anodised. It has a handy anatomical shape too, with a good grip, and a claimed depth-rating of 100m, though I cannot confirm that because I resisted testing it under that pressure.
     The specification seems all well and good but is it any use as a diving light, or is it just something to keep in your BC pocket to illuminate your computer during an ascent in the dark after everything else has gone belly-up
     Surprise, surprise, this little lamp proved invaluable. I would even say that you could use it as a primary night-diving light.
     Its beam is bright and sharply focused. Of higher than usual colour temperature, more akin to daylight than a little torch, it penetrated clear water well and outshone the puny yellow glows from the ordinary tungsten lamps of other divers.
     Of course, at this price dont expect to get anything as complicated as a magnetic switch. You turn it on by screwing the rear battery-cap assembly down onto the battery to make contact. It is leak-protected by double O-rings but, as usual, I would mention that this is not a lamp with which to jump into the water in a switched-off state (the lamp, not you!).
     Carrying it around under water with the battery-cap unscrewed is asking for a catastrophic leak, because you never know how far back you wound it. Similarly, under pressure, it might come on in your BC pocket with you unaware.
     That extended burntime might have expired by the time you call on its services. Turning it off once you are at your greatest depth is another matter, because you can stop turning once the light is out.
     You can certainly outdo that chap who bought a bucket-load of cheap lamps from LIDL and bundled them together with gaffa-tape. The Aqua-Star comes with a couple of standard 1/4in Whitworth bushes pre-drilled so that you can bolt one or more together onto a camera rig or cave helmet.
The other divers on Tornado Marines mv Diamond were well impressed, and not just by the price. The Aqua-Star is made in Taiwan and is available through various sources at around£30. Our test example was supplied by Bristol Scuba, complete with lanyard. Its a nice bit of kit.
  • Bristol Scuba 0117 902 0303,

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Viably bright lamp
    + Remarkably cheap price

    - Relatively narrow beam