Modded Sipik SK58

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Firelight2
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Modded Sipik SK58

Been trying to make a better pocket-sized EDC zoomie for awhile now.  Fairly happy with my latest modifications:

Sipik SK58 - originally came with single mode driver with Osram Golden Dragon Emitter.  Had good throw, but flood mode was very dim.  What I liked most about this light was that it feels great in the hand.  It's nearly fully knurled with square knurling and the head doesn't flare out too much over the width of the body.

Modifications I performed:

  1. Emitter swap - replaced stock Osram Golden Dragon with neutral tint Cree XPG-R4 emitter from Shiningbeam.com.  Original emitter was not glued.  New emitter is held on with Silver Arctic thermal epoxy in the center with heat sink grease near the outside.
  2. Driver swap - replaced stock driver with 3-mode 1.4 amp driver from Shiningbeam.com.  I'm running the light on protected 14500s.
  3. Added 2 strips of copper around the threads at the top of the pill.  The lower strip prevents the pill from screwing into the body all the way.  This keeps the emitter much closer to the lens in flood mode for a much wider flood.  The upper strip on top is narrower.  It acts as a stop for the telescoping head in spot mode so that when fully extended the beam stays at tighest focus without going too far and going out of focus.  Both strips are simply bent around the pill and held on with tension and a bit of thermal grease.
  4. Added thermal grease to pill threads.
  5. Added rubber o-ring to slot on body of telescoping mechanism and lubed upper portion of it with Nyogel.  Removed metal o-ring from slot around rim of head.  Gives a very smooth silent telescoping action.  I debated trying to attach brass sheet around the telescoping mechanism to enhance thermal transfer, but this light's telescoping is actually fairly tight and there wasn't room.  The head and body get hot at about the same rate when the light is on, so I figure thermal transfer is sufficient.
  6. End cap - replaced stock endcap with slightly smaller smooth one from a Sipik SK68.  Replaced internal switch mechanism and switch button with the spare switch mechanism and black switch boot that came with my Shiningbeam S-mini.  Removing the endcap was accomplished by drilling a hole in the plastic retaining ring, then levering it out with a needle-nose pliers.
  7. Removed o-ring between lens assembly and head.  Without this, the light was airtight, which interfered with zooming.  Air pressure would cause the head to retract or extend on its own unless some opening is left so air pressure can equalize.
  8. Added reflector - took a reflector/bulb module from a very old UKE 2xAAA incandescent flashlight I had in a drawer.  Sawed the plastic reflector in half and discarded the bulb.  I then glued the reflector to the plastic retaining ring that was originally used to hold on the flat metal reflector that came with the light. 

Overall result:

I'm fairly pleased with how this turned out.  The neutral tint XPG R4 looks quite nice and produces quite a lot of light in flood mode.  The addition of the reflector gave a very noticeable increase in lumens in this mode.  Unlike most zoomies, this one now has a noticeable, if diffuse, hotspot while in flood.  The quality of the flood beam is also quite nice as the presence of the convex lens largely blends away the rings caused by the smooth reflector.

Full zoom mode with the reflector is quite a bit uglier than without it.  The extra reflected light manifests as large diffuse ring outside of the hotspot in this mode.  Fortunately this doesn't affect the light's ability to throw.  I think having an extra ring in spot mode is worth it for getting a huge increase in lumens in flood mode.  A nice side effect is that the in-between focus is actually useful - it gives a brighter spot than full flood mode, but with lots of usable sidespill missing when a reflector isn't used.  The sidespill from the reflector doesn't separate from the hotspot until the light is nearly fully zoomed into spot mode.

The light still doesn't throw nearly as well as an XRE, which is as expected.  However, for an EDC I prefer first a good flood with throw as more of an afterthought.  This light now gives both.

Only other modification I'm considering is trying to enhance the heatsinking below the emitter.  I don't have a lathe, but could cut thin disks of copper sheet and then laminate them in with thermal epoxy.  However, the light seems to work perfectly right now and I'm hesitant to take it apart to perform this modification if it's not necessary.  The pill on this light is similar to that of the SK68, and had a flat piece with 2 holes on it for the emitter.

Edited by: Firelight2 on 06/12/2011 - 14:36
Match
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Nice work, firelight2.  Sounds like you made yourself a nice little zoomie.  But, I ask, where are the pictures!?! Tongue out

Davx
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Seems to be a great DIY.. Pictures are welcome..

"There are always new jobs, women, and apartments......there is only ONE BLF." - Chicago X (27/03/2012)

Boaz
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sounds like you got serious on this lil light .

 i have always liked the looks of the knurling on this one . Just afraid it would be that far from acceptable as far as performance ..So where do i send my light ??  and what's the turnaround on one of these ? 

       καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν

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bushytails
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I have the same light sitting in front of me, with similar plans.  I got a 16-mode (so I can turn off strobe!) 1050ma driver (soon to be a 1400ma one with a fourth regulator chip), but haven't been able to find a neutral white xm-l yet, as everyone is out of stock.  I like the host, as it's nice and compact yet seems reasonably sturdy, but I absolutely hate the Golden Dragon.  Especially since the first time I left it on for a while, the led overheated and killed the phosphors in places, so it's now half white and half blue in zoom mode.  I've never seen a light like this with an xm-l, so I figure I might as well try.  I'll only be driving it at a tad less than half power, but as it's more efficient then, it should still be pushing out 500lm...  OTF lumens will be a lot lower, of course, but it should still be much, much, much better than the golden dragon.

--Bushytails

Firelight2
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bushytails wrote:

I have the same light sitting in front of me, with similar plans.  I got a 16-mode (so I can turn off strobe!) 1050ma driver (soon to be a 1400ma one with a fourth regulator chip), but haven't been able to find a neutral white xm-l yet, as everyone is out of stock.  I like the host, as it's nice and compact yet seems reasonably sturdy, but I absolutely hate the Golden Dragon.  Especially since the first time I left it on for a while, the led overheated and killed the phosphors in places, so it's now half white and half blue in zoom mode.  I've never seen a light like this with an xm-l, so I figure I might as well try.  I'll only be driving it at a tad less than half power, but as it's more efficient then, it should still be pushing out 500lm...  OTF lumens will be a lot lower, of course, but it should still be much, much, much better than the golden dragon.

--Bushytails

This body actually works fairly well with an XML.  The SK68 body didn't work for me because the telescoping zoom mechanism didn't have enough play to fully focus in zoom mode  However, the SK58 body does.  Only a small single spacer made out of a strip of copper is needed to get it to properly focus with an XML.  Keep in mind that while an XML will be very bright in flood mode, the spot mode won't be very focused.  Still, it should be an excellent flooder for up close with the ability to focus for medium range illumination. 

Before my XPG-R4 arrived, I tried an XML in this light and was pretty impressed.  So much so that I've ordered another fresh one from Amazon so I can have an XML version without destroying my XPG version.  I'm currently using a 3-mode 1.4 amp Shiningbeam driver.  However, I'd like to get a driver that has a lower low.  This one's low is a little too bright for me.

I think the most unusual part of my build was the addition of the reflector.  Aspheric lights typically don't have reflectors because in spot mode the lens will pick up on imperfections in the reflector and give an ugly beam.  LED Lenser gets around this with their "reflector lense" setup by having a small aspheric in the center around the emitter with no reflector directly below.  Then outside of the aspheric the lense becomes flat and there is a reflector.

Such a lens arrangement is well beyond my capabilities.  So instead I simply added a small reflector directly below the aspheric, with the goal of getting more light going out the front of the lens rather than into the sides of the head.  The result:

  1. Very nice flood mode that feels almost twice as bright as without the reflector.  It doesn't have any noticeable rings in this mode and has a very wide gentle spot.  This is definitely the light's best looking mode.
  2. In-between modes are also quite useful:  As the spot narrows it maintains a large sidespill around it, unlike a typical aspheric.  This sidespill is very ringy and looks pretty ugly - but at the same time it's actually bright enough to be useful and makes for a much more usable beam than just a plain spot with no sidespill. 
  3. In full spot mode, the sidespill produced by the lense separates from the image of the die.  Some small imperfections at the center of the reflector become visible, but because I used a smooth reflector this is not so distracting.  The image of the die itself is just as bright as with no reflector giving this light a fair bit of throw.

I've considered adding clearcoat to the reflector to give it an orange peal effect.  However, I think this might backfire.  It might help to reduce ringiness in in-between mode, but in full spot mode, all the texturing of the orange peal would appear at the inside edge of the sidespill ring around the die.

Firelight2
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Boaz wrote:

sounds like you got serious on this lil light .

 i have always liked the looks of the knurling on this one . Just afraid it would be that far from acceptable as far as performance ..So where do i send my light ??  and what's the turnaround on one of these ? 

Sorry Boaz, I am not taking orders at present.  Ordering parts online takes a long time - especially the reflector since I used one from an old lamp module, which I'm not even sure is available anymore.  I'll try to post some pics though.

Firelight2
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Here's some pics:

Modified Sipik SK58 with XM-L and reflector taken from old underwater kinetics 2xAAA incandescent.  Lens is off:

Modded SK58 wth reflector

Here's a pic down the business end of the light in full flood mode with the reflector and lens on:

SK58 with reflector and lens

Here's a beamshot in full flood mode.  The reflector eliminates all rings in this mode while adding a wide diffuse spot in the center of the beam.  Unlike other zoomies there also are no rings outside of the spill in this mode.  I love how flood mode looks.  Much floodier than the beam from a Xeno E03.  And much brighter too with the driver I'm using:

flood mode

Halfway mode.  This looks a lot uglier, but on the other hand the reflector is providing usable spill.  Without the reflector everything outside of the bright spot in the center is gone:

Halfway mode

Full spot mode.  Note the halo and artifacts from the reflector.  The beam is pretty ugly, but in real-world use this halo is bright enough to serve as usable spill, without affecting the light's throw.  Note that the slight black half circle just above the image of the die was where a bit of the silver reflective coating accidentally chipped off when I was drilling the hole for the emitter.

full spot mode

Note that all modifications on this light were performed using my own rather amateurish do-it-yourself methods.  Nothing professional quality about this mod.

Tas62
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I'd be gluing the head there and forget about zooming at all.

Firelight2
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Tas62 wrote:

I'd be gluing the head there and forget about zooming at all.

 

Can see stuff a hundred yards away zoomed.  Can't do that in flood mode.

hank
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Wow, has anyone else done more along this line?  What diameter driver board does the _58_ take?

(I know the _68_ takes 15mm diameter and shiningbeam hasn't been able to get more of those for quite a while)

So getting a _58_ sounds tempting, if ....

dthrckt
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that's a good mod!  makes me think a reflector could be designed to work (even better than that) w/ an aspheric.

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