The Abrams Focus 2X Series dash light…to be honest with you, I’ve never really heard about Abrams Manufacturing or their emergency lighting products in the past. I’ve seen some of their products here and there on the interwebs, but I’ve never come across anyone who has used their products. Looking at their price points, the Focus 2X is more than half of the price of their competitors (approximately $115 vs $320 *USD) and it gets you to thinking; is it worth the risk to spend your money on the Focus 2X or do you spend your money on one of the ‘Big Three’?
Now, according to Abram’s website, this particular light is certified on SAE J845 Class 1 & SAE J578 for Amber, Blue, Red, & White and it meets California Title 13 Class B with Amber, Blue, & Red. They also proclaim that it is “completely waterproof” (although not submersible), it has the Turn/Tail/Brake light function, offers synchronization with other Abrams products and only uses 1.8A max at 12vdc. So, without further ado, let’s get away from what the company proclaims and let’s start torture testing this bad boy.
Note: This particular light is single color amber/amber. Also, at the time of this write-up, field testing has only lasted a couple weeks. A lot of testing is being done in the “Lab” and these lights are going through at least the same punishment as previous lights.
On the exterior, the quality of the light looks to be rather high. Having seen many styles of dash lights over the years, both big name and cheap junk, this design is going to get my praise. I like how the flashback shrouding is screwed on to the light versus the ‘snap-on’ annoyance that I’ve had to fuss with in regards to the Federal Signal Viper S2.
When mounting the light, I avoided the stamped steel bracket and went with the front windshield mount that you see in the above photo. Since I am running other lights in the vehicles, this will be mounted close to the dash (at the bottom). Installation is a no-brainer and I decided to leave the cigarette lighter plug alone instead of hardwiring the light.
With the location of the light and the type of windshield that my vehicle has, the flashback is fairly minimal, although you do tend to get some flashback at the top of the light. Understanding that manufacturers cannot create dies for every single style of windshield, this is not a very big issue; a little strip of door/window weatherstripping works wonders with killing off the little flashback that I had.
I decided to run the Focus 2X in the field for about a week before even thinking about taking it into the Lab. After roughly two dozen Code 3 calls, I decided to pull it out and see how hard it would make it through Lab testing.
As an additional note, the Focus 2X won’t be very taxing on your vehicle’s electrical system either. Abrams states that the light can pull 1.8A max on the Focus 2X at 12vdc; during basic testing, I noticed that the light reached a max of 0.89A at 12vdc and a max of 0.77A at 14.4vdc throughout the entire list of flash patterns (including steady burn).
“Lab” testing was pretty standard, I only have the one light, so it will be tested for water ingression, vibration, impact, and thermal cycles.
First I will say that the company proclaims the lights to be weatherproof and not waterproof (“Weatherproof ready for exterior mounting (not submersible)”). However, after starting to take the light apart before testing, I decided to go with IPX6 and IPX7 testing because of what I had found. I would have never imagined that the entire backside of the light would be potted, but I am not complaining in the least.
I rigged the light to the motorized turntable, turned the light on and started spraying it with the 12.5mm nozzle while it rotated 360°. During this test, standards say that each side should be sprayed for 1 minute at a distance of 2.5-3 meters at a flow rate of 100L/min. For my test, I set the flow to the requirement, the pressure at 100 kPa, set my distance of 98″ (about 2.5 meters) and let it run for 20 minutes while the light rotated at about one revolution per minute. After the 20 minutes were up, I looked as best as I could (without doing a complete disassembly and removing potting) and could not see any evidence of water ingression or condensation.
IPX7 testing was next and although Abrams says that it shouldn’t be submerged, I really didn’t care. For the IPX7 rating, the light was placed in a pressure vessel with colored water (I decided to use UV purple coloring for this test) and the pressure vessel was sealed. I built the pressure up to the one-meter mark and let it sit for 30 minutes. After pulling it out, I dried off the exterior and then stripped it down to the PCB (which was a ton of work by the way), but it was worth it because not a single drop of water/dye made it anywhere near the PCB and I also found out that the PCB is conformal coated as well; even better news.
So, moral of this story, I don’t see how water would be able to make it into the lens without something being cracked or broken.
Vibration and Shock Tests
Again, the testing that I performed for vibration and shock wouldn’t pass UL, SAE or TUV parameters, but I still feel that this testing is warranted. Between the shock arm and the vibration table, the setups were made to replicate what would be seen in the real world. I didn’t care about how many Gs the design could withstand, but rather if it could handle years of off-road abuse that may be seen by railroad workers, construction workers and/or possibly even a vehicle in Baja.
I mounted the light on the vibration table, first horizontally and then vertically (I had to use the stamped steel bracket for these tests) and turned up the dial. Granted, it wasn’t extreme vibrations, but it was enough to rattle your fillings and would probably constitute enough to be considered for shaken baby syndrome. I let it run for a half a day on Friday and all weekend long (the same as other tests). The lights were still flashing when I came into the ‘lab’ and I didn’t see any visible damage on the exterior of the light.
After taking the light off of the vibration table, I mounted it horizontally on the shock arm (as if it was in the front windshield) with some small rubber spacers between the bracket and the arm (to simulate a suction cup mounting configuration). Again, the shock arm wasn’t to see how many Gs they could handle before breaking, but it was to resemble what may be seen in a typical application. I turned the shock arm on and left it run for a couple days just like the vibration test. Again, when I came into the ‘lab’, the light was still running and I didn’t see any damage to the lights or the enclosure.
I didn’t see a suggested operating temperature range from the light’s documentation, so I figured that I would set up the chamber to range from the cold of Norway (min -60.5º F) to the blazing heat of Death Valley (max of 134.1º F) (the exact same profile that I’ve used for other lights). In this profile, I programmed the chamber to ramp back and forth between the two temperatures for a period of one week and I would check to see if the lights were still operating on a daily basis. I mounted the light, turned it on, hit the start button on the thermal chamber and walked away. Every day, I checked to see if any of the lights had died and at the end of the week, they were still going relatively strong. I didn’t have any of the LEDs fail on me, nor did the internal flasher circuitry.
I’m really not sure why I haven’t heard of Abrams or this light before, it really is a good light at a decent price. It survived the testing that I’ve thrown at it and (although I did have to re-pot the backside of the light after the water ingression testing), it has been functioning in my POV rather well. So far, the only thing that worries me is if the plastic flashback shroud will start to warp and bend under the warm temperatures and the hot direct sunlight of the summer months. That will have to be added as an update later on.
A good friend of mine is a local firefighter and I assisted him with his POV install not too long ago. Against my advice, he ended up getting a slim dash mount light for the front of his truck and it is one of the styles that only has the bare LED (no lens, see image below), he also shelled out $115 for the light and it is nowhere near as bright as the Focus 2X. Granted, he is running Red/Red and I am running Amber/Amber, but just the lack of a lens seems to make his light less vibrant or ‘poppish’. Honestly, if I knew about the Focus 2X at the time he was buying his gear, I would have suggested the Abrams light instead.
This is a solid and well-constructed light that seems like it will endure several years of field use with no issues. The fact that the company not only conformal coated the PCB, but also went through and potted the entire backside of the light tells me that they want to deliver a product that you will be happy with. To be honest, as of this moment, I cannot find a fault with this light and it really makes me wonder if the construction of their other products (like their lightbars) are at the same build quality of this light. I don’t say that because I believe that other products are possibly more inferior, but if the same quality goes into their ThunderEye lightbar, security companies should definitely take them into consideration.