NEW TrustFire TR-DF003 2x26650 3xCREE XM-L Diving Light

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Pokasaha
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Enth wrote:
I’ve been looking at the other drivers online. The 7 led and 9 led series over heat temperatures are 55-60 degrees celsius.

Probably a stupid question but did you “smash thermal paste” between the driver and the body of the torch?

It will be interesting to see the cooling effect of the torch underwater.

No, that was just a test for the current drain and voltage and the driver was lying free on carpet. Pic I was just wondering is it normal that the driver heats up so quick since some driver producers promise something like 98 % efficiency..

I tested the heating when I got this lamp (with the leds still in parallel) and it was very moderate. I could keep the lamp on the whole battery cycle wich was almost an hour. The temp was highest in the “heatsink part” of the body and it was about 45 degrees celsius. Obviously in the water there is no problem especially here in Finland.

The case with triple sst-90 it could be another story :bigsmile:

300winmag
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I just dropped the LED module into my mag head… Not a bad fit!!
If I got a couple 2C mags I wonder if I could make it work. Does anybody make a rubber boot that would make the switch water proof?

Pokasaha
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300winmag wrote:
I just dropped the LED module into my mag head… Not a bad fit!! If I got a couple 2C mags I wonder if I could make it work. Does anybody make a rubber boot that would make the switch water proof?

Check the store link I posted before. Found my rubber boots there

300winmag
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Pokasaha wrote:
300winmag wrote:
I just dropped the LED module into my mag head… Not a bad fit!! If I got a couple 2C mags I wonder if I could make it work. Does anybody make a rubber boot that would make the switch water proof?

Check the store link I posted before. Found my rubber boots there

How are those more waterproof then the OEM mag boot?

DeepDawg
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Hello all, I’m a diver from the Seattle area and I just found your excellent forum. Unfortunately I found it only after buying this particular model of Trustfire “dive” light.

Like many here, I was lusting for lumens and wanted more than my UK Light Cannon or even my single CREE dive lights could put out and I didn’t want to haul a canister around down there. Then I saw the fancy pictures of the TR-DF003 with the doubled-up red o-rings, dual staged machine threads and triple T6 CREE’s. Who could possibly resist such a splendid portrait of luminous SCUBA durability?

After a brief dive to pressure test it, I loaded the batteries and hit the drink. As you may have already guessed, from the start of the dive, my TR-DF003 adopted a poltergeist routine by turning itself on and, of course, doing so while in random strobe mode. WTF!!??

I was perplexed since it behaved well enough in my back yard when it was new. After this experience, and because of the TRD model number, this light was aptly named the CREE TuRD.

This is when I hit the net and found your forum and this thread of tragedies. By that time, mine wasn’t even working all that well OUT OF THE WATER since I had been changing and test diving it many times thus wearing the anodizing off of the tail threads. Perhaps more on that later.

It is actually possible to turn your TR-DF003 into a reliable dive light that will not anode-corrode and that you can TURN OFF and change modes while diving and it can be done with limited expense. Due to the other options available on the market, I DO NOT recommend buying this over the other triple CREE XM-L dive lights that are available. My modification posts are intended to help those like me who are already invested in these over-priced clubs. Okay so now back to fixing the TuRD.

Like Pokasaha, I considered drilling the tail for a switch. For diving I would recommend a canister toggle since the button switches will compress at depth and become useless. I haven’t done a toggle yet as I am reluctant to add yet another potential fail point to an otherwise bulletproof housing.

Here are the results. A few pics of it off and then on during a dive and a video showing it compared to a Light Cannon and then switching modes while on. As you can see from the worn logo, this light has been on many trial dives after a series of changes and test dives over the last month or so. I finally feel like this is a solid dive light and it’s brighter than many canisters I’ve seen.

The video opens with the TR-DF003 and then switches to my Light Cannon HID (at 0:21) and then back to the Modified Trustfire and then switching modes (at 0:49) with the modded TR-DF003.

I left it in HIGH MODE for the remainder of the 34 minute dive to 95 FSW. Voltage in the two Ultrafire 26650 5000mAh only dropped to 3.86 volts and the light did not appear to dim. DO NOT bother using 18650’s in this model. I tried it and did not feel it had enough run-time for diving in HIGH MODE and thus is noticeably brighter at the end of a dive with the 26650’s.

300winmag
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Care to explain how it is you got this light to function properly?
We need details… lots and lots of details…. Glasses

DeepDawg
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300winmag wrote:
Care to explain how it is you got this light to function properly? We need details… lots and lots of details…. Glasses

Believe me, I want to lay it all down but I would have to ask forgiveness in advance for the downright embarrassing length of the explanation.

The other problem (besides the length of the write-up) is that I am still considering other improvements. I promise you I found problems that most will never find because this model usually self-destructs before all the problems reveal themselves. I seriously DO NOT recommend this POS light for the typical user and certainly not for the non-SCUBA diver.

I repeat, there is no good reason to buy this light if you do not plan to dive it and even then, I do not recommend it for most. You must LOVE tinkering to get this beast to work.

That said, I am now happy with this as a reliable and inordinately bright dive light.

If the moderators want a pages long write-up I will put it here.

300winmag
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DeepDawg wrote:
300winmag wrote:
Care to explain how it is you got this light to function properly? We need details… lots and lots of details…. Glasses

Believe me, I want to lay it all down but I would have to ask forgiveness in advance for the downright embarrassing length of the explanation.

The other problem (besides the length of the write-up) is that I am still considering other improvements. I promise you I found problems that most will never find because this model usually self-destructs before all the problems reveal themselves. I seriously DO NOT recommend this POS light for the typical user and certainly not for the non-SCUBA diver.

I repeat, there is no good reason to buy this light if you do not plan to dive it and even then, I do not recommend it for most. You must LOVE tinkering to get this beast to work.

That said, I am now happy with this as a reliable and inordinately bright dive light.

If the moderators want a pages long write-up I will put it here.

Hell’s ya we want a long write up, now get typing my man!! :bigsmile:

DeepDawg
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First off, I want to say I’m using Firefox and I was initially not seeing recent posts here. My first post was based on a thread of 199 posts. Then 300winmag replied and I started realizing I needed to clear cash. It worked, I’m seeing all posts now.

I updated my first post to reference Pokasaha’s button switch vs toggle. I also would not recommend a button for a dive light as the pressure will render it useless. If I do a tail switch, it will be either magnetic or toggle (preferably toggle for cost and current). One of my rules with this light is to minimize expense since the usual suspects will almost certainly be cloning the XTAR D35 in a matter of months.

Question for Pokasha: Since you say you’ve already drilled for a button switch, could you use the same hole you’ve made to install a toggle? And if so, where would you recommend getting a good waterproof toggle like the ones on most canister set-ups?

Also, I will guess that the original egg-head designers of this light wired the T6’s in parallel to extend run-time for the two-battery configuration. Even with LED’s in parallel, the smaller 18650 batteries are useless since after about 15 minutes it starts dimming noticeably. And even though it’s a low Amp set up I also noticed my modded light heating up in atmosphere. Certainly not a problem at depth.

300winmag
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DeepDawg wrote:
where would you recommend getting a good waterproof toggle like the ones on most canister set-ups?

Here a good start.

300winmag
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Well, after successfully resoldering the new replacement driver ali express sent me the second light started to crap out on me.
I thought it was the positive wire because I noticed a few frayed wires where it was soldered to the board but after a trim and resolder the light still only put out 10 lumens in one mode only. I thought what the hell???? For some reason or another I decided to take apart the body from the head….Not a chance in hell!
Both the threads corroded together so bad I had to put the body in a vice and use a python grip on the head just to get it apart. I cleaned it as best I could at the time, put it back together and vuala it works. when I shake the light it turns on and off but once I properly clean the threads it will function like it used to.
Such a pity these lights could have been something amazing. So now there both working I have 2 months to find a way to make them reliable underwater for my next dive trip.

Now that the reflectors are off it seems dim. I have a craving for more power but I need an hour and half run time, so what driver could do this for me?

DeepDawg
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300winmag wrote:
Both the threads corroded together so bad I had to put the body in a vice and use a python grip on the head just to get it apart.

Yeah, that’s because they used aluminum threads as a ground contact rather than a press contact like the tail. I fixed that as well.

300winmag wrote:

So now there both working I have 2 months to find a way to make them reliable underwater for my next dive trip.

Now that the reflectors are off it seems dim. I have a craving for more power but I need an hour and half run time, so what driver could do this for me?

I would stick with the stock drivers and wiring config and use 26650 5000mAh batteries. For 90 minute dives, you’ll probably want to have two sets of batteries so you can load fresh charges for the second dive.

I’ve got the ridiculously long write-up done and I’ll just ad photos to it later even though I don’t have that many.

And thanks for your reply on the toggles.

DeepDawg
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Sorry for the safety message folks, but this is a tightly sealed dive-light, which introduces certain unique safety issues. If you are uncomfortable, uncertain, or do not understand any of the concepts described, PLEASE DO NOT DO THESE MODS. IMHO, these lights are not safe from the factory for reasons listed below. If done right, these mods should make your light safer and work much better than original. If done improperly, your light could become even more unsafe than original because it’s a dive light.

I am NOT JOKING!! We’re talking about a tightly sealed cast-metal dive-light housing. It kinda looks like a grenade and we do not want it to act like one. If not done properly your light could flood and your lithium Ion batteries could react to salt water in the tight case and create extreme internal case pressure. I want to help out and this warning might sound like B.S. but I’m 100 percent serious about safety. Most here know what can happen with Lithium Ion batteries. And that’s without involving a high-pressure saltwater environ. Some of these batteries have been known to become unstable during a rapid discharge (like driving 3 T6 CREEs in HIGH MODE) and saltwater exposure will not help because it can damage battery protection circuits or worse. If your light is badly damaged or has already mostly self-destructed, then it’s not worth the risk. Just throw it away or keep it for spare parts. Most of these belong in the trash anyway.

Also important to note is that both of my lights were unmodified when I started, so all of my changes were from factory baseline internal dimensions on undamaged lights. If your light is already modified, some of these changes may not work depending on what you’ve already done to change yours from factory dimensions. Okay, now that that’s out there . . .

As I’ve already said, although this light is NEARLY UN-FIXABLE, it is actually possible to turn your TR-DF003 (AKA TuRD) into a usable dive light that will not anode-corrode and that you can TURN OFF and change modes while diving and it can be done with limited expense, which was one of my objectives. I have tried my best to give good verbal detail and a few pictures when I could but in some cases, you will want to improvise. If you get my intent, you’ll make it happen as I have. It took a lot of trial-and-error to find and solve some problems but I now use this for underwater photography and I never see anode corrosion. Once modified, mine is easier to use and I can change modes while diving with or without twisting the base in and out. I can also turn it on and off at depth without flooding it by twisting the tail. But make no mistake, if I were shopping for a hand-held 3X CREE dive light today, I would consider something like either the X-Beam U2×3 or the XTAR D35 since they are better designed and have proper magnetic switching. Hopefully someone who owns one will chime in soon with a review. Prices are falling on both these and other models and they should all provide a much better experience than the TR-DF003 for a number of reasons including magnetic switching. But if you’re already invested in these TuRD’s like I am, then you don’t have a choice but to make it work better since its weight probably makes return shipping unfeasible. So here’s how to fix them.

Forgive the long write-up, but my thought was to write a complete “to do” list for this light while instructing not only on the improvements I’ve made but also on understanding the original light design intentions as well as certain concepts as relevant. I prefer providing a complete instruction that should not require many questions, if any. I know most here already know the light pretty well so you’ll want to skip down a bit.

For starters, I will bring any TR-DF003 newbies up to speed.

The TR-DF003 is a Trustfire brand SCUBA diving light using 3 XM-L T6 CREE LEDs wired in parallel and powered by two 3.7V Lithium-ion batteries. The unmodified head and driver produce anywhere from 1600 to 4500 lumen depending on who’s selling it. Of course it is important to distinguish total lumens out vs candlepower intensity but this is definitely NOT a 4500 lumen light, or even 3800.

I don’t own an official sphere, but I will estimate maximum reality lumen output for this light at about 1700, 900 and 300 for high medium and low modes respectively with a fresh battery charge. As your batteries drop to 3 volts, the output will also drop accordingly. If no changes are made to this model, I believe those numbers will drop fairly fast for a host of reasons. If you do my mods, the output should sustain and using good 26650 batteries (5000mAh) instead of 18650’s has given me a much longer run-time.

This model also has SOS and rapid-strobe modes. The housing design is rated from 100 meters to 200 meters seawater also depending on who’s selling it. Some come as a kit with the batteries and a charger. Probably due to poor reviews, these once $200 lights are now hard to find for more than $120; and that’s with a charger and two large 26650 batteries. I just bought another brand new one with two Ultrafire brand 5000mAh 26650’s and a double-charger from a private party for just over $60 USD and I’m seeing them on the retail market now for under $70 without batteries or a charger. My second one was worth it to me for spares ONLY BECAUSE it was cheap, I was already invested in one, I know how to fix it well and I was willing to spend the time and a few more bucks modding it. The batteries and the charger are worth nearly half the $60 I paid for the second one as is a complete head for a 3X CREE XM-L T6 with driver; so I bought the second one. But at this point given the time investment required to fix these and the fact that even the “fixed” units do not have magnetic switching, I would just recommend buying the XTAR D35, X-BEAM U2×3 and no doubt the usual suspects will be cranking out clones of them before long. And be careful since the X-BEAM might be the same parent company that built the TuRD so definitely wait for better pricing.

Current market pricing for the TR-DF003 is based on the fact that it is becoming increasingly known that these things suck giant rhino out of the factory, particularly for diving. Well, that is IMHO but word is spreading fast.

The problems with the Trustfire TR-DF003 as it arrives to you from the factory are many, particularly if you plan to SCUBA dive with it.

If you don’t plan to dive it, you shouldn’t have bought it but you will still benefit from doing these changes even though many flaws relate to how the light behaves in seawater and at the pressures of depth. For land use, I still recommend my servicing and modifications with one exception; remove one of each of the large and small o-rings at the tail. You will be much happier with the light for frequent use and still enjoy excessive o-ring protection for foul weather. Divers will be replacing at least all of the o-rings at the tail.

The Problems I fixed with the stock light:

-1-The factory o-rings are substandard and must be removed and improved. They produce way too much friction and also fail quickly.
-2-The light comes on automatically when immersed in water.
-3-The light may behave erratically throughout a dive.
-4-The light may turn off and on even with the tail screwed down.
-5-The CREEs may have a short lifespan.
-6-The aluminum case will corrode badly due to anode decay (worse in salt water).
-7-The tail cap switch operation is too stiff for practical use and sometimes instead causes the handle to unscrew from the head.
-8-Forward threads typically seize together due to anode corrosion.
-9-It cannot and should not be turned off while diving.
-10-The light eventually will not shut off completely without removing the tail cap, even when dry.
-11-The case o-rings may leak and wreak havoc on the batteries and maybe even turn your dive light into a dangerous explosive.
-12-Ground contact resistance is high and may reduce emitter output and lifespan.

My guess is that these lights were designed with cases capable of enduring extreme-pressure environs but without ever seeing a test-dive in saltwater (or even freshwater) before being released to market. Most likely what happened is that Trustfire already had a great CREE 3X head with a 5-mode driver for a land light and just wanted rapid rights to a SCUBA application. It is also quite possible that the Chinese navy had these designed and produced in mass to stow on their naval vessels not knowing how useless they’d be if ever actually needed.

My brand new TR-DF003 arrived with all tail threads anodized and no anodizing in the forward threading. This is no accident. The reason for this relates to the very bad design intent, which attempted to isolate the tail-cap from the main handle when not screwed home. And that was done because the mode/power “switch” relies on this isolation as this model is DESIGNED to power on only when the tail is screwed home tight against the main handle and to change modes only when it’s unscrewed slightly and then re-screwed. Saltwater test diving was clearly NOT considered. Also not considered is that even the best anodizing on a wearing thread surface will eventually come off and allow SOME current to pass between the metallic threads. Once that happens, it becomes difficult to impossible to turn off the unmodified light EVEN IN ATMOSPHERE.

THE HEAD-SHAVE MOD: Also overlooked was the fact that the forward threads, even without anodizing, are aluminum threads and thus are very poor ground contact terminals for this much current; particularly when lubed with silicone or anything other than a conductive grease. Silicone, WD40, Triflow, and pretty much all household lubricants are dielectrics. Dielectric is non-conductive. Because the forward threads are also a high resistance ground terminal, the life of the CREE emitters is shortened even with proper use. The forward most ring of the handle SHOULD extend far enough into the head to seat against the inner head ring that surrounds the forward battery spring; but it does not. (Go right ahead and re-read that last sentence.) So, the CREEs depend on the contact between the forward threads to provide a high current ground from the handle to the head; but they don’t because they’re threads and even worse, they’re aluminum threads. They are even worse at depth. At depth, the housing is greatly compressed thus actually reducing pressure in these dirty, lubricated aluminum threads. In time, this will cause your light to act erratically as contact at these threads becomes intermittent. This is the gremlin that took the longest to discover but finally made the light bright, happy and reliable when combined with my other modifications.

To prevent resistance from handle to head, you must shave the anodizing off of just the ring at the base of the head where it makes final contact with the outer handle (thus the “head shave” name.) AND YOU MUST also remove a ring of anodizing from the raised shoulder that the base ring of the head torques against. This was not that easy for me since I don’t own a lathe and since the anodizing used is Type III and thus more like a ceramic coating so I had to hand file it off of both rings. You want to be careful to keep the shaved contact ring at the head-base flat (not jagged) so it will mate nicely against the receiving ring you will shave around the handle. I started with a flat file and finished by working the base of the head against a hard flat surface with sandpaper on it. Remember this is an o-ring seal joint so don’t over do it grinding off material or you’ll change the relative positions of the four o-ring seals if you shave off too much.

By doing this head-shave modification, you are giving the current a better path than the threads and so conductive grease on these forward threads should not be necessary. And by creating this improved critical contact point, the forward threads also shouldn’t seize due to grounding and your light should stay as bright as new (and not cut-out sporadically while at depth). And keep in mind that at depth, this new pressure contact will actually get better as the housing is compressed instead of worse.



When immersed in water (a moderate electrolyte); or even worse, seawater (a better electrolyte), the tail is grounded to the head directly through the water (albeit poorly) on the unmodified light. The water conduction is poor but sufficient to pass just enough current to at least partially activate the CREEs. In this mode (let’s call it “water on”) conduction is low so resistance is extremely high and this is very hard on the CREEs and the driver circuits, thus you will have a very short lifespan for the head-unit without even getting moisture inside. That’s why, even with the head-shave mod, it is best to ALWAYS have the tail screwed tight while turned on in the water. This ensures solid connections from tail to head and prevents high resistance exposure to the CREEs

It’s a big problem when the unintended “automatic water on” function of the unmodified light has you starting a dive in the wrong mode, i.e., “Random Flash”. Due to water conduction, you cannot turn the unmodified light off to change the mode so you must abort the dive or be the village idiot for the remainder of that dive while your super CREEs are barfing up strobe for all to be blinded by.

The light’s original design allows only for pre-immersion power up, and post-immersion power down. Again; you MUST keep the tail screwed tight for the entire dive with the UNMODIFIED TR-DF003. You must then wait until you are out of the water to turn it off to avoid anode corrosion. If you follow these rules, your light is dive-able without anode corrosion but you still have to do the “head shave” mod or your CREE’s will die young from high resistance at the forward threads; and without the “Tail Cap” Mod, you will eventually need to actually remove the tail cap to completely cut power to the light as the anodizing wears off of the tail threads.

CLEAN THE THREADS: My brand new light arrived with an abundance of tiny aluminum shards that were debris resulting from the recent factory cutting of the machine threads. The thread quality is fine, especially for a dual stage synchronized thread pattern. But they didn’t clean things out very well at the factory so all that remaining aluminum debris was helping to destroy the o-rings quickly. I removed all o-rings forward and aft and then thoroughly worked all threads against each other with lubricating solvent in full rotations to release any remaining loose material. I then completely cleaned all thread surfaces with solvent and installed improved buna-nitride o-rings with silicone lubricant.

UPGRADE THE O-RINGS: The light I received had a better quality of o-rings as spares than the ones that were already installed on the unit but I still recommend that SCUBA divers buy nitride replacements for at least the tail-cap seal. I don’t unscrew the handle from the head often so the stock o-rings at the forward threads are good enough for me since I cleaned them and the threads, plus they form a static seal, plus there are FOUR OF THEM. The tail threads are another matter.

The tail o-rings are not a static seal. They are intended as a sealed dynamic rotation-type mode-switch. But because the factory o-rings are soft silicone, frequent unscrewing of the tail-cap pulls them back over the threading just enough to chew at them when you are unscrewing the tail-cap. I downsized by switching from the supplied metric sized silicone o-rings to the next smaller U.S. size in a better material. I also used THE SAME SIZE (H70-024) for both the large and small diameter seals thus slightly reducing the cross section of the ones on the larger seals. Because of the hardness of the nitrides, this provides a more than adequate pressure seal. These new Buna-N’s stay in the o-ring channels and because they’re a bit harder, the tail is still stiff but much easier to rotate in and out than it was originally. O-ring problems solved.

CORROSION: Nothing can stop unprotected aluminum from decaying in salt water, nothing. But with proper service and rinsing, this light’s beefy housing might even outlast you. However, the anode corrosion process is fast and furious and must be stopped. In fact, aluminum is often chosen as a sacrificial anode in many marine applications because it is more susceptible than many other metals to anode decay. So why is the TR-DF003 housing made of cast aluminum?

Traditional dive lights like Underwater Kinetics use PVC light housings. Their hottest emitters were xenon and halide which sent most of the heat out the front so a plastic housing was fine. Although LED’s run cooler, three CREE XM-L T6 emitters in HIGH-mode can generate quite a lot of static heat. Dissipating that heat requires a conductive metal housing; and even better, one with heat-sinks.

We all know this exact light model can act like an Alka-Seltzer tablet while in saltwater but I promise you that won’t happen if you do these mods correctly. I solved this in a way that also allows me to turn my light off at will, WHILE DIVING and also change modes if needed with or WITHOUT UNSCREWING THE BASE.

THE TAIL CAP MOD: You have to remove the spring in the tail-cap. First I offer another short explanation. This light has two springs; one attached to the driver board at the head, and a larger one in the tail cap. The springs keep the batteries compressed and in contact with both the head and the tail-cap (battery chain) EVEN WHEN THE TAIL IS NOT SCREWED TIGHT AGAINST THE HANDLE. This is not an accident. This tail spring design was used to keep the tail-cap as the ready waiting battery negative so when the tail is screwed in tight, a ground connection is completed and the head gets power. This works great OUT OF WATER until the anodizing on the tail threads wears off (and it will) at which point it won’t even work right in atmosphere.

If you look at the third photo above, you can see the tail thread anodizing on my used light (on the right) has completely worn off from normal use while the brand new light still has black tail threads. The effect of losing this coating is that, with the original tail-spring design, you had to pretty much remove the tail cap completely just to get the light to completely shut off reliably even when dry and nowhere near water.

Seawater is a way for some of those ambitious electrons waiting at the tail to connect to the head by swimming a very short distance even when the tail is unscrewed, thanks to that tail spring keeping the tail-cap charged. Each one of those swimming electrons causes its share of material decay in the process. You must decompress AND uncouple the batteries from the tail (or from each other) to both power-off while in water AND prevent anode decay. With the original tail-spring design, you would have to unscrew the tail-cap to the point of case-flood to shut off the unmodified light while in the water and eventually you will have to do the same on dry land as the tail threads lose their anodized coating. So you must REMOVE THE TAIL SPRING and replace it with a fixed contact point in the tail-cap. Remember, you will still have a forward spring at the head to compress the battery chain.

Making the battery contact is the trickiest part of this mod and it will take some time trimming its length until it’s JUST RIGHT. It’s tricky because there isn’t all that much thread range within O-ring seal and different batteries have slightly different lengths. It’s so important to hear your batteries begin to rattle with the tail unscrewed two-rotations out from tight. If it’s beyond two rotations to rattle, then you risk losing o-ring seal when cutting power under water. What that really means is you will not be able to cut power while in the water.

On the other hand, if power cuts too soon, then your head-spring probably won’t be tight enough when powered on and it will constantly change modes with the slightest bump as the battery chain uncouples. I found a half-inch (13mm) about right for my 18650 batteries and about a quarter-inch for my 26650 batteries. Sadly, most batteries vary enough that you will likely be playing with contact heights until you get it JUST RIGHT. And pick good batteries because they will be matched to the battery contact insert you will make unless all of your batteries are exactly the same length. If you look at my third photo above, you can see that the distance my batteries extend beyond the tail ring without compression is different for each of my lights!! So each light ended up with a different battery contact height. One battery contact is 0.26-inch and the other is 0.31-inch with the 26650 batteries matched to each.

IMPORTANT: You still need to be able to keep the tail screwed tight to the handle while diving with the light on. This is necessary to create a good ground contact for the 2 AMPS. If the correct height is used for the tail contact insert, you can unscrew and shut off your light (break the battery chain) and thus have NO ANODE effect while in the water and turned off. The light cannot come on if there is any break in voltage connection (batteries slightly loose). And there can be no charge differential between the tail and handle if there is even the slightest space anywhere in the battery chain and thus no aquatic anode effect. Be sure the fixed tail-contact is conductive (of course) and in tight contact with the bare aluminum in the tail AND HELD IN PLACE OR AFFIXED. If the contact is just a loose metallic spacer, it may flop about and act as a sporadic contact even when the tail is unscrewed. I used a brass screw soldered to a copper plate held tight against the tail with a plastic disc and conductive grease. I cut the plastic disc from a container lid, punched the center for the screw and then trimmed it just right so it snaps tightly into the grove that once held the tail spring.

In the photo below, all you see is the screw coming through the hole punched in the plastic disc. I used Permatex 09128 Copper Conductive Grease between the back of my copper battery contacts and the bare aluminum of the inner tail, but there are better and much more expensive options for conductive greases. For now the round plastic disc I made is working to hold the screw tight against the inner cap.

I adjusted my contact height several times so that I can now switch modes by simply giving a firm snap backwards on the tail lanyard or a swift backwards bump to the front of the light with my neoprene glove while at depth and I’m learning to switch modes with just a very firm shake. This causes the head-spring to compress for an instant thus momentarily breaking the battery chain. This provides an instantaneous cut in power and thus shifts the light to the next mode until the next tug or bump. If you accidentally bump the light into the wrong mode, it’s easy enough to quickly cycle it back to the mode you want. The CREE driver doesn’t care if it’s powered off for a millisecond or a week; it will still advance to the next mode when powered back on with the occasional exception of leaving mode 5. (See “The Trouble with Bumps” below.) This bump switch effect is a seriously nice feature of the modified light. I stiffened the head spring to minimize accidental mode changes while also improving pressure at all ground contacts. Again, my goal for battery contact height is to have the battery chain break at two full rotations out. This position should still give you an o-ring seal while cutting power. So again, you should be able to hear your batteries just rattle loose when the tail reaches its second full rotation away from the handle.

You can STIFFEN THE HEAD SPRING by replacing it, doubling it up, or in my case just locking stiff material into some of the coils to reduce its compression range. If you’re not comfortable bumping or yanking your light while diving, then these modifications also make it possible to power off by safely unscrewing and re-screwing the tail while at depth. I’m pretty sure the unique quadruple o-ring design assumes that you will. Even so, it’s best to minimize doing that with o-ring seals while exposed to high water pressure. At the end of a dive, you could just “bump” the modified light into low mode and leave it there until after exiting the water but I don’t worry about unscrewing the base now in the shallows to shut it off since my tail contact height allows me to power off by backing out the tail cap two full rotations. This should keep the threads within o-ring seal and it’s easy to do while exiting the water. If you power off mid-dive, just be sure you’re fully powered off so you don’t get anode corrosion. I use the battery rattle test to know for sure.

The trouble with BUMPS: I’ve discovered that bumps work great for going from mode 1 to 2 to 3 to 4. But leaving mode 5 can sometimes take a few bumps unless you always time it right. You can bump the heck out of it during an off phase of a slow strobe like SOS and it won’t change modes because to change modes, the logic chip needs the power cut for a duration that will run at least partly into an ON-PHASE. The original design assumed you would unscrew the tail and then re-screw it to change modes. That was a long power cut.

The power cut created by a bump is quite short, so for the rapid strobe, a bump is usually a long enough power-cut to touch an ON PHASE and advance to the next mode. But for the slow SOS mode, there are some very long OFF phases (between the letters and at the end of each SOS sequence). You can either try timing your bumps to catch an ON phase (see my videos), or just keep bumping until you happen to get it right. Obviously, it will be easiest to catch it during one of the 3 long dashes of the “O” in SOS.

If you’re not diving with this light, you should still do these mods but you can leave one each of the large and small aft tail o-rings out.

Unfortunately, it is safest and best to do these things while the light is still in good shape and not already modified. Again, if your light is already modified, some of my improvements may not work depending on what you’ve already done to yours because the internal dimensions may be changed.

It’s still not perfect and I still can’t recommend it for any price over $80 (with batteries), but it should stay bright and last much longer now with these mods. If you’re not diving it, it makes no sense to buy it. There are now water resistant 5X CREE XM-L T6 lights that are selling for less than this beast and they have nice functional button switches.

For diving, there are much better existing 3X CREE dive lights that are far better designed and have magnetic switching which is becoming the standard for dive lights. They are a bit more money, but they’re ready to go and prices are only falling. This thing is fairly bright for a dive light but with batteries loaded it’s heavy enough to double as a ditch-able weight.

DanielMar2010
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That took a while to write up. Glad you did Thanks. Good to know all the info you provide will come in very handy when I go looking for scallops and depend on a light to find them.
Thanks again Smileys!!!

Oh, I just bought this light called:TrustFire 3x CREE XM-L T6 LED 4000Lm Diving Flashlight Torch+Bat for $82. with batteries and charger. I think its the same one.
Should be here in a week Smile

I own a Trustfire 12XT6 AKA Ultrafire 12T6, Trust Fire 15XT6, Cree XML-T6, Trustfire 15XT6, Trustfire TR-DF003 I like BIG lights and I cannot lie!

DeepDawg
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DanielMar2010 wrote:
Oh, I just bought this light called:TrustFire 3x CREE XM-L T6 LED 4000Lm Diving Flashlight Torch+Bat for $82. with batteries and charger. Should be here in a week Smile

I hope that means you bought it to dive it. If so, I strongly suggest reading my mods BEFORE diving it to prevent any damage to the housing and the driver that will result from seawater grounding and anode corrosion.

Best of luck!

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You bet I did and thanks AGAIN. I will definitely be modding this thing!!!! Oh how many hours on the light down under? And how deep are you going?

I own a Trustfire 12XT6 AKA Ultrafire 12T6, Trust Fire 15XT6, Cree XML-T6, Trustfire 15XT6, Trustfire TR-DF003 I like BIG lights and I cannot lie!

DeepDawg
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DanielMar2010 wrote:
You bet I did and thanks AGAIN. I will definitely be modding this thing!!!! Oh how many hours on the light down under? And how deep are you going?

The light has been on 11 dives for a total of 370 minutes per log. As I’ve mentioned, it was only trouble-free for the last two dives. The rest were dives testing changes I had made along the way.

I pulled the tail spring almost immediately after one dive. I then played with battery contact heights but I was still noticing my light was cutting out at depth and only after its 8th dive did I discover the need for my head-shave mod since the forward threads become worse and worse over time as a ground contact between the head and the handle. As soon as I fixed that it was golden since all other mods were already done.

Most of my Puget Sound dives are no more than 100 FSW for 35 minutes to an hour. I don’t see all that many species worth taking a picture of beyond 100 Feet but I did follow a Six Gill down to 120 once before deciding he wasn’t worth a deco stop. I just dive air using either a PST 130 or PST 119 and I don’t own a re-breather.

With the tail screwed tight and good o-rings, I would rate this light for a depth equivalent of at least my UK Light Cannon.

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Hey Deepdawg, thank you for all the time you’ve put into posting about this. I’m going to start modding mine thanks to all this great information. I’ll repost when complete.

Richie

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Can either of you post a few pics detailing what you did? I just cleaned all the corrosion off the threads and it looks pretty good. Gotta find something to get the anodising off the inside of the head.

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Quick question, prior to performing the head-shave mod and forward handle mode, my tail-cap current on 2 × 26650 was 2a on HIGH. After modding, the tail cap current remained the same at 2a, was this supposed to increase? Also, I did notice it’s much easier to get a tail cap reading now and prior to this mod was a bit tedious.

Richie

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300winmag wrote:
Can either of you post a few pics detailing what you did? I just cleaned all the corrosion off the threads and it looks pretty good. Gotta find something to get the anodising off the inside of the head.

I finally got my pics into my post. I hope this helps rescue your lights and anyone else who may have bought these calamities.

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Richie086 wrote:
Quick question, prior to performing the head-shave mod and forward handle mode, my tail-cap current on 2 × 26650 was 2a on HIGH. After modding, the tail cap current remained the same at 2a, was this supposed to increase? Also, I did notice it’s much easier to get a tail cap reading now and prior to this mod was a bit tedious.

Thanks for taking readings since I have not. I suspect that by the time I did the head shave, my forward threads were so bad that it was brighter but was only back to as bright as it was out of the box. But since you’re already getting a more steady reading with the mod, you may already have had an intermittent connection from handle to head. At depth, this aluminum thread contact becomes even worse prior to doing the head-shave contact improvement and probably greatly reduces output while also giving intermittent function.

I’ve edited my mod post to stay conservative on my output estimates since I have never felt that this light comes even close to what most vendors are claiming.

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Excellent job modding and solving that mode changing problem! I’m thinking that maybe I buy a second one for a brighter backup lamp and mod it your way, since I’m gonna make a canister light of this first one..

Just tested this lamp with my new driver yesterday with thermal padding inserted and it didn’t start dimming right away so I guess the heat is not a problem with that driver either. Also tested with three cells in series instead of two and it was a LOT brighter. If only three could be used..

One question, how did you stiff that front spring?

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Pokasaha wrote:
Excellent job modding and solving that mode changing problem! I’m thinking that maybe I buy a second one for a brighter backup lamp and mod it your way, since I’m gonna make a canister light of this first one.

Just tested this lamp with my new driver yesterday with thermal padding inserted and it didn’t start dimming right away so I guess the heat is not a problem with that driver either. Also tested with three cells in series instead of two and it was a LOT brighter. If only three could be used..

One question, how did you stiff that front spring?

Thanks for the comment, I’m honored.

Technically I haven’t stiffened the head spring so much as I’ve limited its compression range by inserting stiff Styrofoam pads into the spring coils. It has always been intended as temporary until a better permanent solution strikes. My guess is that you’ve probably got stiffer springs on hand that you can use to simply replace or augment the original. I will probably just coil a second spring into the original to double its stiffness.

If you’re thinking of buying another one (like I did) I expect you will need it for diving. If NOT diving it, then this would be a much more economical water resistant light and it allows the third battery you mention. Unfortunately they would have to be 18650’s

Otherwise this is as cheap as I’m finding the TuRD.

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Tonight I did the third successful test dive of my modified TR-DF003.

Man, it was cold out there; warmer under the water than above!

It seemed to perform better than the camera on this dive. :bigsmile:
I need to work on the auto-macro setting since you can clearly see it focusing on the particulates on the housing lens once it’s tucked in the Octopus den.

The video opens just after initial decent and the light is off. I needed both hands to turn it on by twisting the tail cap home so I had to let the camera dangle while I powered on the light.

The light came on in mode 5 (SOS strobe) so you can see me switch it to HIGH (mode 1) at the 0:20 second point before approaching the Giant Pacific Octopus den. From that point forward it performed well on this dive. I switched it by just giving it a firm shake.

At 0:29 seconds I briefly switch to my Light Cannon just for beam-shot comparison and then back to the TR-DF003 at 0:37 seconds. This thing is MUCH brighter than my Light Cannon!

I kept it on HIGH for the remainder of the 32 minute dive and battery voltage only had dropped to 3.89V using ultrafire 5000mAh 26650 batteries. A couple times I accidentally bumped it to a lower mode and had to cycle it back to high but it was easy to do.

Like Pokasaha, I too wish a third battery could be used to increase output without losing run-time.

This particular light now has over 400 minutes underwater.

Dawg

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That would be funny if the Octo took off with the light Smile Uh only if you had another one. BTW crazy cold water diver. You should check out Monterey CA for diving. That’s where I got certified. And then my Openwater II up north at Jenner CA Both beautiful, got to see it.

I own a Trustfire 12XT6 AKA Ultrafire 12T6, Trust Fire 15XT6, Cree XML-T6, Trustfire 15XT6, Trustfire TR-DF003 I like BIG lights and I cannot lie!

DeepDawg
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DanielMar2010 wrote:
That would be funny if the Octo took off with the light Smile Uh only if you had another one. BTW crazy cold water diver. You should check out Monterey CA for diving. That’s where I got certified. And then my Openwater II up north at Jenner CA Both beautiful, got to see it.

That is too funny since a friend of mine actually had his dive light stolen by a Giant Pacific Octopus. Once they get the third arm on something, it’s theirs! They have about a three-year-old “MINE” mentality. He ran out of air before we could figure out a way to get it back. When we went back down, that light was nowhere to be found.

Even though I do have two of these modded lights now, I’m not ready to feed one to the Octos although I was pretty close after my 5th dive with the first one of these P.O.S. lights. |(

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DeepDawg wrote:
Richie086 wrote:
Quick question, prior to performing the head-shave mod and forward handle mode, my tail-cap current on 2 × 26650 was 2a on HIGH. After modding, the tail cap current remained the same at 2a, was this supposed to increase? Also, I did notice it’s much easier to get a tail cap reading now and prior to this mod was a bit tedious.

Thanks for taking readings since I have not. I suspect that by the time I did the head shave, my forward threads were so bad that it was brighter but was only back to as bright as it was out of the box. But since you’re already getting a more steady reading with the mod, you may already have had an intermittent connection from handle to head. At depth, this aluminum thread contact becomes even worse prior to doing the head-shave contact improvement and probably greatly reduces output while also giving intermittent function.

I’ve edited my mod post to stay conservative on my output estimates since I have never felt that this light comes even close to what most vendors are claiming.

Hi Deepdawg,

I had completed the mod prior to you posting the photos. I don’t know if this is bad or not, but in addition to performing the mod on the handle and head contact points, using my dremel with a mini wire wheel, I had also removed the anodizing in-between the threads on the handle too, in addition to removing the wide anodized strip below the heads contact point. Was this bad that I did this?

As I mentioned before, the light appears to work excellent and is as easy as any of my normal lights to get an amp reading at the tail. I only have to perform the tail spring mode at this point. Thanks.

Richie

DeepDawg
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Richie086 wrote:

Hi Deepdawg,

I had completed the mod prior to you posting the photos. I don’t know if this is bad or not, but in addition to performing the mod on the handle and head contact points, using my dremel with a mini wire wheel, I had also removed the anodizing in-between the threads on the handle too, in addition to removing the wide anodized strip below the heads contact point. Was this bad that I did this?

As I mentioned before, the light appears to work excellent and is as easy as any of my normal lights to get an amp reading at the tail. I only have to perform the tail spring mode at this point. Thanks.

I’m not sure I understand exactly all locations you’ve removed anodizing from so a pic would help.

The only risks of excessive removal of anodizing are increased risk of oxidation and seawater corrosion, possible reduction in o-ring seal-pressure.

If you also worked on the o-ring channels or the portion of the head that acts as the outer o-ring seal, then you just need to be sure you’ve left them very smooth and uniform so you don’t compromise your o-ring seals at depth.

This particular anodizing has a thickness so I didn’t want to mess with any of the o-ring surfaces thus changing the seal pressure but since I left the “too-fat” stock silicone o-rings up front, you could just do the same and they should compensate. I don’t unscrew the handle often and probably won’t again until deciding on a more permanent spring fix.

EDIT: If you look at my second photo, you can clearly see that some of the anodizing has worn off of the inside o-ring surface of the head of mine just from all the previous assembly and dis-assembly that I’ve done with mine trying to get it to work. I just try to keep that surface real smooth so the o-rings will seal well.

So really, as long as the light always gets a good post-dive rinse, the only real issue might be appearance. Heck, maybe now you could just strip the entire handle and polish it. It might be a nice aesthetic. jk

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I made some minor edits to the mod post and I will leave them in bold for a while.

EDIT 1:

I had forgotten how the unmodified light would not even shut off on dry land without removing the tail spring. This is because the anodized coating on the tail thread wears off with normal use.

The effect WITH the tail spring in place is that you have to remove the tail cap completely to avoid the partial connection at the tail thread. You’ll begin noticing it as an intermittent blinking of the light at first even when the tail is backed off but eventually it just gets worse and you’ll risk current draw while the light is in standby.

The effect on the modified light is that, like when diving, you just have to retract the tail 2 rotations to uncouple the battery chain and that will cut power completely. I added this to the post as problem number 10 that is ultimately solved by the tail cap modification and I added a small paragraph in the TAIL CAP MOD section.

I forgot to mention this because I recognized the problem before it even happened so I removed the tail spring almost immediately after getting the light so I was used to it needing a 2 rotation retraction to shut off on dry land.

What took me a few more dives to discover was the need for the HEAD SHAVE MOD which had me puzzled for quite some time until I figured out why the light was working fine on dry land but not when at the pressures of depth.

EDIT 2:

In the HEAD SHAVE MOD section, I just emphasize the importance of keeping the mating surface between the head and handle as flat as possible for a good grounding mate between the two and I touch on how I addressed this with my limited shop.

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