Saturday, August 13, 2022

Metal mechanical pencil AMP37202 from Aliexpres

Recently I tested a few fountain pens that I bought on AliExpress, and now I went for an all-metal mechanical pencil. The pencil I am testing doesn't seem to have a name beside AMP37202. It isn't the catchiest name out there, for sure. On AliExpress, you can find it if you search for metal mechanical pencil. The pencil cost me $3.65 including shipping, and I chose the metal gray color 0.7 mm lead thickness. You can also find it in black, green, ivory, salmon, white in all sizes from 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm.

The appearance

The pencil has quite a nice look, and it has an all-metal body, which I think is made out of aluminum. At first glance, the pencil punches way above its price level, having a clean design, solid construction, knurled grip and nice colors.

The pencil has quite a pointy tip that would make it good for drafting. It has a sliding sleeve that works. The grip of the pencil is knurled, but not too deeply. It isn’t extra grippy. But it looks very nice with the 5 parallel rings that offer the pen a premium look.

The barrel is hexagonal and on the side it has a big sticker with a bar code lead thickness and model number. The clip is metal and very sturdy. On the part that connects to the body, it has a cutout that shows lead size, 0.7 mm.

The barrel seems to be made from one piece of metal and the tip is screwed on the mechanism. Even though the pencil looks nice, I have the feeling that the proportions of the parts are a bit off. The grip seems very long and in comparison, the body seems a bit short. So does the clip, which can be annoying in hand. If you grip the pencil close to the tip, the clip rubs on my hand quite a bit.

The cap is flared to the connecting and seems to be a bit loose. It doesn’t go over the mechanism too deeply, and I believe there is a high chance that it will get lost sooner rather than later. Under the cap there is an eraser.

The lead advance clutch mechanism is made out of brass, while the internal barrel that holds the leads is just plastic.

How does it perform?

 The pencil sits very well in the hand as it has a long knurled grip section. Having such a long grip section gives you a lot of hand positions, allowing to have a close to the tip grip or a further back one.

The lead advancing mechanism feels snappy and secure, but also has a faint feel of friction.
10 clicks will give just over 8 mm of lead.

End to end, the pencil measures 146, and the diameter is 9 mm.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

How many leads should you keep in a mechanical pencil

How many leads should I store in my mechanical pencil, is a question that I ask myself regularly. Well maybe not as often, or not at all, but why not find out.

Depending, from where you get your information, you will find out that you can store as many leads as you want or there is a strict number that you should put in two or three pieces at most.

The main worry with keeping more leads inside the pencil is that the leads will break and produce fine dust which will clog the pencil eventually, the mechanism will jam, or the leads will be unusable due to breakage.

Rotring in the product care states that you should refill with two or three leads. "We recommend refilling your pencil with 3 fine leads. It’s the best balance for longer use without creating too much dust inside the tube due to an overload of refills."

Staedtler for example, doesn't mention the number of leads that you should keep inside your pencil, but the refill is designed to dump the entire content in one go. "Simple “12-a-go" refilling for many Staedtler mechanical pencils such as Mars micro 775 and graphite 779"

I do believe that the producers of pencils are taking all the needed precautions in advising you to keep just a few leads inside.

At the same time, I have a feeling that the leads have improved a lot over the years. The resistance is a lot better, while the quality of the writing (line darkness and smoothness) remained the same if not improved over time. A good argument for my opinion is the lack of the needle that used to be present in all mechanical pencil erasers, used to clear clogs in the advance mechanism,. Nowadays, the needle is missing basically from all modern mechanical pencils. Some producers still keep it around, but it is more and more a rarity.

To see if the recommendations are still valid today, I will do a test for a 4 week with two Rotring Tikky III 0.5. One of them will be loaded with 3 leads (1 in the chamber ready to write and 2 loose in the barrel), while the second one will carry an entire refill,12 leads. I will carry around both pencils and use them in rotation, trying to keep it as impartial as possible.

From the beginning I can feel the mass of leads slushing around in the pencil which holds an entire refill pack, and defiantly they create more noise and commotion compared with the 3 leads pencil.

I feel like I am a master of the mechanical pencil, like badass movie characters that know the difference between an empty gun and a fully loaded gun (Lian Neeson Taken reference)

Ant the results are in...

So from what you can see, the leads came out just fine from both pencils. None of them broke, and no dust came out of the barrel (white paper test). In conclusion, I wouldn't care too much of how many leads there are in a pencil, as this non-scientific tests seems to point that even a big number of leads will do just fine in day to day scenario, stored inside your favorite pencil. Generally, it is a good idea to keep a few extra leads on hand, or in this case in the pencil, so that you don't have to worry about longer writing sessions.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Graphgear 500 used by Gerard Butler in the movie Greenland

In the movie Greenland starring Gerard Butler, right in the starting scene you can see a glimpse of a GraphGear 500 used for a brief moment by the star of the movie.

The movie starts with John Garrity (Gerard Butler) as an engineer on a construction site looking over some designs and taking some notes with a Pentel GraphGear 500 mechanical pencil. It is a disaster movie, a comet is going to hit earth and, and a few selected people are notified to go to a shelter.

This is the first and last time the pencil appears in the movie, but I am sure the pencil survived the comet and is still working today.

In the rest of the movie, you can see the trip to the shelter and all the misfortunes that happen on the way.

I do not know if the crew chose with a reason the Graphgear 500 over its bigger brother 1000 (braking issues) or it was just what they had lying around. Either way I think this is a solid choice, in case of a disaster, to have such a good mechanical pencil.

Monday, June 6, 2022

GShock GA800 long term review

GShock GA810 MMA, GA800 (metallic watch gshock)

My view on the Gshock GA800 / GA810

This is a review of the G-Shock GA800 (810), after a period of 4 years of intense use of the watch.
Before getting the watch, I didn't think too much about it. GShocks are big and useless, right?! Who needs a watch that can survive a drop of a few meters and withstand 200 meters of submersion underwater? I was skeptical that any of these features are meaningful characteristics because I considered them just a bunch of check boxes that Casio has put on the data sheet. The watch has this and that, but I will not use it, and probably most people won't. I am not a diver, and I don’t intend to drop it from the top of the building.
After two years with the watch, I think I get it. The watch definitely has more features in terms of resistance than most people will need. And this makes it bulky, plastic, basically a grownup's toy. On top of the look, the big list of can dos gives the user confidence. You forget the watch is on your wrist, and not just because it is very light. It most likely has to do with the fact that the watch will probably outlive you, so there is no need to worry about going in the pool with it on your wrist. The watch has a unique look, people associate similar styled watches with Gshoks. Even non watch people, at least heard about them. Gshocks can be a fashion statement, or can be whatever you want it to be. It can take the abuse without complaining too much, it can look cool and trendy with see through cases and bands...

So this model in particular the GA 800 (my version is 810 MMA, which has a shiny metallic dial instead of the resin one), has been with me for almost 4 years now. At first, I was consciences about the bold looks, the size and the fact it was making it awkward to put on or take off a jacket, but after some time with it, I realized I keep reaching for it every time I get out of the house. It managed to charm me in this time, to the point that I want more Gshocks.

The watch shares its case with the GBA-800 and GBD-800.

The GA800 (810) is an analogic watch with 5 pushers (one dedicated light button on the face of the watch), The module is one of the “smarter” ones. The hands will adjust to the digital time (older Casios didn’t have this feature, you would have to adjust the digital time and separately adjust the hands to match the digital time).
Another nice feature of the watch is by pressing the C and Light button simultaneous, to move the hands in a position in which the digital display is visible. It can be very useful as the hands on the GA800 are quite bulky and can cover most of the digital display.

What is the GA800 specialty?

The main feature of this model is the stopwatch, which can be easily accessed by pressing D button in home screen. Once pressed, the stopwatch starts instantly. It also has the ability to record lap time. The recall function shows you the date of the timing and the laps recorded.
The stopwatch is 24 hours. It also offers the ability to recall on the times (laps). You can scroll through the memory of the saved laps. The watch will display the date on which the laps were recorded.
Only a 99 minute timer though, which is a pity, the standard 5 alarms and a simple dual time feature.

The battery lasts about 3 years, which is just ok.

The hands have a bit of luminous paint on them, but it is not very durable in traditional Casio fashion. The marking on the dial do not have luminous paint applied to them. I do not consider this a problem, as the watch has a backlight that can do the job well.

The light on the watch is good and compared to other models you both the analog and the digital display are illuminated. It uses a LED placed under the 9 o'clock marker and backlighting on the digital display. It has an auto-light function that can be turned on by holding the light button for a few seconds (I do not use it). You can also set the duration of the light at 1 or 3 seconds. This could be another decisive feature for you, not all Gshocks illuminate both the analog and the digital displays.

Like any other GShock it is robust, bulky, covered in black resin and too big for most of the wrists out there.
The GA-800 is one of the few G-Shock that features second-hand. Right off the bat, if you're looking for a G-Shock with seconds hand, you can pick up the GA800 or 810, and you won't be disappointed.
It's an affordable model that offers just the basics, it doesn't have atomic timekeeping or solar power, or anything fancy, but it has the seconds hand :). It is a bit weird bragging with the fact that you have a watch with a seconds hand, but it is what it is.

My version as I mentioned is the GA810, which has a metallic silver dial with metallic hands, and a small negative display. The analog face of the watch and the negative digital display are not the best in terms of visibility, I think the basic standard model GA-800-1AJF does a better job. But I like the fact the metallic face makes it a bit less plastic. It is a better rounded watch in my eyes.
The writing on the dial is very unobtrusive, also on the resin case, you can see it only if the light hits it in a certain way.

The negative display at the bottom of the dial is small, and the visibility is not great. In good lighting you can see it clear and that is about it. I like the watch has a dedicated light button, and it doesn't share one of the standard buttons. It is more accessible and easier to press.

The digital display on the main screen shows either the day/date or the hour in digital format. To switch between the two, press the A button.

Why do I like it?

It is very comfortable on hand, light, I have all the features I need on it, and it gives me more confidence, knowing that my watch is more capable than me. I don’t shy away from activities and labor with the watch on my wrist. At the beginning I saw it more as a sports watch, outdoor watch. Now I just wear it almost anywhere. Plus it looks nice on my wrist even though it is a bit big for it.
It is a very accurate watch, my model gains about 3-4 seconds per month.
I like the fact it can show two different time zones at a glance. The analog hands plus the digital display set on dual time.

What would I change about it?

I would like a longer lasting battery in the watch, it takes a CR2016 which lasts about 3 years.
A second neat pick is the digital display which is a bit small for my eyes to see it clearly especially if the lighting is not the best (being inverted, black background with white lettering doesn’t help either)
Module wise, I would like it to have a world time instead of dual time. But Casio usually puts just a feature on these low end models, on the GA800 is the lap timer that can be accessed superfast from the home screen by pressing the C button.
Small pet peeves is the luminous paint, only applied on the hands and not on the markers, plus the quality of the paint is not the best. This is not a real issue because the watch has its own illumination system, which is actually good. I would put this in the category nice to have. (Seiko, Orient, even Lorus has very good luminous paint applied generously on watches that have a low price tag)
Another feature that I am not that fond of, but for many it might be a plus, is the fact that the back of the watch is held in place by 4 screws instead of a threaded back case. I feel that I am going to strip the holes when I have to open the watch to replace the battery (the case is resin after all and the screws are metal). Not all people might consider this a negative, just because it is more common to have a small Philips head screwdriver lying around in your home, or you can easily find it at the store near you, rather than having a specialized watchmakers tool to open watches back cases.

Would I recommend the watch?

Yes I would. I like the fact it has a traditional 3 hands. There are other models, but usually you will find the 3rd hand on the expensive masters only.
It gets a lot of attention from other, especially from non watch people.

Is it too big?

My wrist is about 16.5 cm in circumference, and the watch is 54.1 x 48.6 x15.5 mm. It looks big on my wrist, and it is big. It is difficult to get a coat cuff over it. But it is supposed to be this way, to be bold and tough looking. I’ve tried smaller Gshock and I can’t say they look better. Even though I prefer smaller watches in general, and I am against the dying trend of wearing oversized watches with G Shocks I am making an exception