AIT Nightstar CS

Light Type: 5mm LED
Light Class: Emergency Use / Survival
Short Description:

The Nightstar CS is the compact version of the Nightstar emergency flashlight by Applied Innovative Technologies. The light employs a coil, traveling magnet, and capacitor as a power source, thereby removing the need for batteries. The Nightstar CS is designed to be basically ignored until it is needed, with no maintenance whatsoever. Shaking the light for 2-3 minutes will charge the capacitor and give the user up to 20 minutes of usable light.

The body of the light is made from high impact clear Polycarbonate. The light is sealed to prevent the entrance of any environmental materials. The light is completely submersible.

The bezel employs a lens at the end to focus the light from the single StarCore Security Quality LED which rests in a reflector to help project the light forward. The NightStar line of lights were upgraded (as of January 2005) to use the StarCore LED. This Security Quality LED produces about 2.5x the amount of light of the earlier models. The color temperature is warmer (more yellow than blue) and the output is significantly brighter.

The switch is made of Strontium Aluminate glow-in-the-dark plastic which will easily glow for up to 10 hours. The switch is a little different from previous versions and is now a rotating switch which is easier to clean and is less likely to become inoperable from fouling.

As mentioned, no batteries are required for this light. Simply shake the light and the large magnet in the center travels back and forth, repelling off of opposite-pole magnets at either end of the travel tube. As the magnet travels through the central coil, a capacitor is charged, giving adequate runtime for emergencies.

The tail of the light is protected by a plastic cover which allows the unit to stand on end. Flat sides on the tail cover also act as an anti-roll device and holes in the tail cover can be used for attaching a lanyard.

NOTE As a result of the magnetic field generated by this light, the light MUST be stored and used away from anything sensitive to a strong magnetic field. DO NOT place near a TV, monitor, floppy disks, hard drives, credit cards (don’t stuff it in your back pocket with your wallet!), video tapes, or sensitive electronics.

No accessories are included.

Storage Temperature: -50° F (-45°C) to +140°F (60°C)
Operating Temperate: -40° F (-40°C) to +130°F (55°C)

Size vs. common aluminum 2-AA light (top)
Bezel picture
Beam Profile
Detailed Information:The Nightstar CS is the little brother to the Nightstar. It has a smaller magnet and coil and as a result requires a little more shaking to charge the capacitor. The switch has changed to improve reliability and the addition of the tailcap for standing on end is most welcome.


Fit and finish are very good. It appears that the outer body is molded as one piece. The internals are then inserted from the bezel end and the lens is sealed with adhesive, making the entire unit effectively one piece. The switch is the only external piece added to the light. It contains a magnet that activates a reed switch, thereby operating the light without compromising the sealed case. The tailcap cover will help protect the unit from damaging drops.

The bezel contains the single 5mm StarCore LED, a reflector, and a focusing lens which produces a medium spot of light. In the head of the light you will also see the capacitor which holds the charge generated by the magnet and coil, as well as the magnetic reed switch.

The light produced by the NightStar is in the form of a greenish tinted spot. In total darkness it provides more than adequate light for safety and navigation. As it starts to appear dim simply give it a few shakes to brighten it up again. The interesting thing about the NightStar relative to the other shakelights is that the StarCore Security Quality LED produces more of a greenish tinted light as opposed to the common bluish tint of 5mm LEDs found with the rest of the lights. The result is that the NightStar Security Quality LED is closer in color temperature to the area where the human eye is more sensitive and it gives better color rendition of red and orange objects.

Runtime Plot: Short runtime? Well, not too bad for the small amount of electricity you generate by shaking it back and forth. The NightStar CS takes about twice as long to reach 50% as does the NightStar RS, and it completely beats all the knock-off shakelights I’ve runtime tested so far.

More information on runtime plots is available HERE.

The switch is actually inside the sealed head of the light and it is activated by a rotating cylinder on the outside of the light. The little rotating cylinder, similar in size to the striker on a butane lighter, contains a magnet. When rotated it moves the magnet into position and closes the reed switch inside the head. The folks at AIT decided to go with a rotating switch to decrease the possibility of fouling which could render a sliding switch inoperable.

The unit is completely sealed and is rated watertight to a depth of 160 feet.

Ergonomics: Well, it’s pretty much like any other flashlight. The narrow body inbetween the large head and tailcap make it less likely that it will slip out of the hand. The new switch design works very smoothly.

Batteries are never needed. Just shake back and forth for about 2 minutes and you get about 20 minutes of decreasing light over that time period.

What I Liked: Waterproof, Tough/impact resistant, Never needs batteries Lightweight, Stands up

What I Didn’t Like: No regulation / Dims quickly

Conclusions: It takes longer to charge up, but it is smaller and the magnetic field is no where near as strong as the original Nightstar. The chances of damaging magnetically sensitive materials is therefore reduced, but the user should still be cautious. I like this new version of the Nightstar!