Instruments of Illumination – Say “Ah…”

During the medical instruments fair, where stethoscopes took centre stage, most of the companies also hawked smaller medical equipment such as

  • tourniquets (rendered useless by the improvised use of latex gloves)
  • blood pressure sets (well, if you’re starting your own GP practice…)
  • opthalmoscopes/otoscopes (your Dad owns Microsoft? yes, you can afford one)
  • tuning forks (one 128Hz, one 512Hz)
  • tendon tappers (one adult, one paediatric)

What most people think about buying after immediately after stethoscopes and immediately before tendon tappers (both instruments symbolic of doctors) is the humble pentorch. In the instruments fair, most of them cost in the vicinity of $16.

Why a pentorch and not a torch, you ask? The answer is in convenience. One wants something that’s small, preferably able to clip/hang on to something, easy to wield with one hand, and able to be whipped out quickly. A large torch just doesn’t cut it.

Now before you fall for the tricky, tricky instrument vendor’s hard sell (no, kidding, they’re actually quite friendly), J. would like to feature a couple of the instruments of illumination he has.

  1. Energizer Pentorch (S$3.70 at NUS Co-op, S$6.05 at Homefix D.I.Y.)
    Energizer Pentorch

    As you can see, J.’s pentorch has been through quite a bit with a few tiny dents and some of its paint coming off. This can be bought at most places. D.I.Y. stores, supermarkets, the university co-op, it’s very easy to find. The price doesn’t really vary much from place to place, too.

    The pentorch only comes in one colour: black with gold clip and bright yellow tip. It requires two AAA batteries, which increases the weight of the pentorch but it’s still fairly light.

    The beautiful thing about this baby is its focused beam. Where you point is the point of highest illumination, instead of a ring around that point.

    Unfortunately, after the repeated droppings and possibly J.’s mistake of unscrewing the cap slightly to prevent the battery from running flat too soon, it’s currently slightly unreliable. It looks somewhat unprofessional in a physical examination to have to shake the pentorch in a multitude of directions before it lights up. J. recently bought a Mag-Lite Solitaire and made the mistake of not properly testing it in a less well-lit environment. He’ll probably buy another Energizer pentorch.

  2. Mag-Lite Solitaire (S$16.25)
    Mag-Lite Solitaire

    J. bought this at the local D.I.Y. store. That’s also a great place to buy the Leatherman C304/305 knife which is blade, bottle opener, Phillips screwdriver, flat blade scewdriver in a one-hand operational device. beautiful. Right, back to the torches.

  3. The Mag-Lite Solitatire comes in a variety of colours, including silver, blue, bluish tinge, red, etc. It only requires one AAA battery to run and is incredibly light.

    Unfortunately, when first turned out (by turning the tip) is that its light beam isn’t focused and gives a shadow in the centre. This is absolutely terrible, because one of the key uses of the pentorch in medical examinations is to look at pupillary constriction. Bad, bad. Fortunately, it allows the focusing of the beam by twisting the top further. In general, it takes about 4 3/4 turns before you get a focused light beam. And how focused! Impressive.

  4. Unnamed Black Torch, a.k.a. Destroyer of Sight, Vision-Slayer, The Blinding Blight, Eye-Piercer (Present from AmK)

    J. doesn’t really use this. It’s blindingly bright and the bluish tinge makes everyone look cyanosed. It’s here because it looks cool. And can be used to destroy the visual acuity of your enemies.

Given its uber-cheap price, focused light beam and healthy battery life, it seems that the Energizer pentorch is still the pentorch of choice.

Oops. Looks like J. has neglected to mention any of the pentorches that were actually sold at the fair or dangled as bait to attract people to buy fundoscopes. If J. gets his hands on a few of those pentorches, he’ll be sure to include them in. Most of them, however, aren’t superior to the Energizer pentorch, which is why even after J. lost his first Energizer pentorch, he simply went and bought another one.

Hey, fellas, if you meet J. in the wards, be sure to let him play with your pentorch and take a picture of it, alright? He’ll be ever so gentle.


One response to this post.

  1. By the way, I went back and took closer looks at the Leatherman C305 at Home-Fix D.I.Y. store. While the combined functionality is cool and there’s an extremely easy one-handed opening blade, I just don’t think the workmanship on the blade’s finishing is up to par. And the blade is a major part of the instrument. I don’t recommend it.


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